Editors’ note: We are live at GoPro’s launch event and will continue to update this article with additional info, including pricing and specs, as well as any hands-on experience. In the meantime, you can watch the official launch keynote from GoPro founder and CEO, Nick Woodman, above.
GoPro made its biggest product announcement to date on September 19, with the reveal of the highly anticipated Karma drone and the next-generation of the Hero camera, the Hero5. The company is also introducing a cloud-based subscription service, new accessories, and the desktop version of its Quik mobile app.
Connecting all the products and services is this new focus on giving users an “end-to-end storytelling” situation – from the hardware to capture the content and the software to edit and share.
“We want to help you become great storytellers,” said GoPro founder and CEO, Nick Woodman, during the company’s launch event in Squaw Valley, California.
Here’s a quick look at what’s coming.
As the recent teasers hinted, we knew Karma would have a small form-factor and would be easy to maneuver. We didn’t know much else, though, except that its launch would be delayed until late 2016.
Well, the wait is finally over: Karma is a small, foldable drone that fits inside an included backpack. It incorporates a three-axis image-stabilization grip (gimbal) that’s removable, which can be used handheld or mounted to almost anything else. One of the issues with the Hero cameras is that they lack any sort of internal image stabilization, and while the Hero5 now includes electronic IS, the Karma’s grip offers greater control.
The stabilizer is placed at the front so that when the camera is recording, it doesn’t capture the propellers in the shot.
To control Karma itself, there’s a gamepad-style controller with a display that lets you see what the drone sees, without needing to pair with a phone. You can manually operate the drone, or set it to automatically fly to deliver Hollywood-like production. However, there is a “passenger mode” that lets a second person control the camera through a phone or tablet.
You can purchase the Karma on its own for $799, or with the new Hero5 Session for $999 or Hero5 Black for $1,099. Karma will also work with the Hero4 cameras. Karma will hit shelves on October 23.
Karma needs “not only be a flying solution, but a handheld solution and a mounting solution. In some sense, Karma has become the ultimate GoPro,” Woodman said.
GoPro calls the Hero5 Black its “most power, easy-to-use GoPro ever.” The Black designation is used for flagship cameras, although GoPro didn’t announce a companion Silver edition. But it seems GoPro has taken the best things about the Hero4 Silver and implemented it into the Hero5 Black.
Like the Hero4 Black, the Hero5 Black shoots video up to 4K at 30 frames per second (fps) and still images up to 12 megapixels, but is now able to shoot RAW and WDR, or wide dynamic range (GoPro is emphasizing professional quality). GoPro says it can record distortion-free wide-angle video and photos with a new Linear-View setting, and audio has been improved, thanks to a three mics that pick the best audio quality, with wind noise reduction. As mentioned, the camera now has electronic image stabilization.
But the new camera now has a 2-inch touch display with simplified controls, similar to what we’ve been getting (and loving) with the Hero4 Silver or a Hero4 Black with an LCD backpack accessory attached. The reason why the Hero4 Black lacked an LCD is due to power and overheating issues. This suggests GoPro has found a way manage heat.
Also new is voice control with support for seven languages, which makes it easier to control the camera without having to touch it. There is one-button control to start recording, and you can upload content to the new cloud service while the camera is charging. And, there’s now built-in GPS to geo-tag your content.
The Hero5 black is now waterproof without a housing, down to 33 feet (anything lower would still require one, we suspect). As with previous cameras, the Hero5 Black is compatible with all existing accessories, as well as Karma.
Despite it being a flagship product, GoPro is dropping the price, to $399. The camera goes on sale on October 2.
“You’re getting a lot of GoPro for $399,” Woodman said. “Hero5 Black is the camera we always wanted to make. It just took us 14 years to get here.”
The Hero5 Session was unexpected, but nice to see. We aren’t sure if this is slated as an entry-level camera like the Hero Session, but the specs make us think this may be the replacement for the Silver model.
The camera has the same small form-factor and controls of the Hero Session, but it’s a much stronger camera. It can shoot 4K video at 30 fps and photos up to 10 megapixels. It has many of the features in the Hero5 Black, including voice control, Linear-View, and electronic IS. But it lacks RAW/WDR support, GPS, and a stereo mic. However, the size and weight would make it an ideal companion for Karma.
The Hero5 Session will sell for $299 and will also go on sale on October 2.
Offloading content from a camera can be a chore, and GoPro is looking to make it less painful with the new GoPro Plus subscription service. While a Hero5 camera is charging, it can upload photos and videos to the cloud, which can then be accessed anywhere and on any device. Included in the subscription is use of an expansive library of music, 20-percent discount on mounts and accessories at GoPro.com, members-only apparel, and support.
The service will cost $5 a month after a free trial, and will launch on October 2 in the U.S., and hitting new markets in January 2017.
Quik is a mobile app GoPro acquired that makes it easy to quickly compile a video from clips, automatically finding what it thinks are the best moments (or anything that the user manually tags) and adding music. GoPro is bringing that same ease-of-use to the desktop. While the mobile app is effective for on-the-go editing, the desktop version should give you greater control over the editing process.
GoPro is adding a small Micro USB keychain card reader to its accessories lineup, called the Quik Key. It’s also introducing a new voice-activated remote control, called Remo, that also extends the voice range of the Hero5 cameras.