GoPro’s Hero11 gets improved image quality, stabilization and a Mini version

This year marks GoPro’s 20th year. It’s been an interesting journey for a company that has become synonymous with a specific product category for well over a decade. I’d venture to guess that – to this day — more people are familiar with the GoPro name than the term “action camera,” which may have proved a difficult box for early competition to break out of.

Likewise, for GoPro, it’s been difficult to extend its value proposition outside its core competency. See the Karma drone for the greatest example of a failure to launch (in more ways than one). In the wake of such struggles, the company has done, perhaps, the most sensible thing: focused on what it’s good at.

GoPro Hero11 Creator Edition

This morning, GoPro announced the launch of the Hero11 – almost exactly a year to the day after the Hero10’s launch. The latest version of the $500 action cam ($400 for GoPro Subscribers) also focuses on the important things: image quality, battery and stability. Hard to argue with that.

Specifically, the latest version of the Hero gets in improved  1/1.9 sensor (versus the 10’s 1/2.3), which brings 10-bit color for content capture, with a resolution of up to 5.3K at 60 frames a second. Stills, meanwhile, can be captured at 24-megapixels. The company claims the new Enduro Battery, meanwhile (which ships in-box with all the Hero11 iterations) extends recording by “up to 38%” on a charge.

Also new here are a new Night Effect Timelapse feature for capturing star trails, a wider 16:9 lens and improved image stabilization via HyperSmooth 5.0.

GoPro is also looking to lower the barrier of entry for what has traditionally been a specialize product with the addition of “Easy Controls.” The “Pro Controls” meanwhile, offer much wider settings adjustments for more seasoned users.

Image Credits: GoPro

The device is joined by a $400 Mini version ($300 for GoPro Subscribers), which maintains many of its larger sibling’s best new features, including the improved sensor. The Hero11 Black is available starting today, along with a $700 ($580 for GoPro Subscribers) Creator Edition (that adds in a battery grip, additional mics, an LED and an HDMI port. The Mini, meanwhile, won’t start shipping until October 25.

There’s a strong case to be made that the Hero line continues to be — not only the best-known – the best action camera, full stop. Of course, it’s been a busy news morning already – DJI dropped news of its Osmo 4, which features an improved 1770mAh battery.

Also, our iPhone review was just posted. That product adds some impressive optical image stabilization into the mix. I’m still dubious of the company’s claims of “replacing a gimbal,” but GoPro has really been getting it from all sides of late. There’s definitely still a market for these sorts of highly specialized. GoPro also noted that it recently hit two million subscribers for its premium service, for example. But long gone are the days when it was the only real game in town.

GoPro’s Hero11 gets improved image quality, stabilization and a Mini version by Brian Heater originally published on TechCrunch

DJI turns the world of action cams on its side with the Osmo Action 3

DJI is best known for its quadcopter drones, but over the past few years, the company has been picking a few interesting fights with established players in adjacent markets. Today, DJI is releasing the third iteration of its Osmo series of action cameras, the Osmo 3. The new camera ramps up the battery capacity significantly, and makes the camera more creator-friendly than ever.

A lot of content is consumed vertically these day — think TikTok and the Stories features on various platforms, and one of the (in retrospect obvious) updates to the camera is that Osmo 3 is designed to be used both in landscape and portrait orientation. The designers built the camera around a 1770mAh battery, which lets the camera record for two and a half hours. They’ve also added rapid-charge functionality that’ll charge from dead to 80% in just 18 minutes. In less than an hour, it’ll be fully charged.

“Ever since we released the original Osmo Action in 2019, we have been continuously inspired by the stunning footage captured with it,” said Paul Pan, senior product line manager at DJI. “As our users keep pushing further, moving faster and diving deeper, our mission is to provide a device built to keep up with them. Every new feature made Osmo Action 3 the most reliable, tough and easy-to-use action camera. We can’t wait to see what our users create when they push their limits with Osmo Action 3.”

The camera shoots in 4K at 120 fps, and has a super-wide field of view, with advanced image stabilization. The camera also manages its temperature better than before; the company claims the camera doesn’t need a little break to cool down. If you have battery, you can record.

DJI Osmo Action 3 has a ‘delete selfie stick’ feature, that makes the pole invisible as you’re cruising down the mountain. Image Credits: DJI

The camera loves extreme conditions, both in terms of temperature and waterproofing. Surfing, skiing and some snorkeling is all done with great panache: You can take it down to 16 meters depth without additional waterproof housing, and the camera can keep functioning at temperatures down to -20ºC (-6ºF). It’s also drop-resistant to about 1.5 meters (five feet).

Osmo Action 3 is available today, and comes in two packages: The Osmo Action 3 Standard Combo retails for $329 and includes Osmo Action 3, one Osmo Action 3 Extreme Battery, the Osmo Action 3 Horizontal-Vertical Protective Frame, the Osmo Action 3 Quick-Release Adapter Mount and the Osmo Flat Adhesive Base. The Osmo Action 3 Adventure Combo retails for $439 and includes the same package, but with three batteries, two quick-release mounts and a battery case. A slew of accessories are available, including strap mounts, handlebar mounts, helmet and suction cup mounts, lens covers, etc. You can learn more about the camera on the DJI website.

DJI turns the world of action cams on its side with the Osmo Action 3 by Haje Jan Kamps originally published on TechCrunch

DJI’s latest GoPro competitor is a stunner, but can’t handle the heat

DJI’s second-generation GoPro killer couldn’t look better… on paper.

The stunning little Action 2 is compact and boasts a full-featured list of specs with a fascinating modular design which allows users to augment the functionality of a core camera unit. It honestly looks like what Apple would create if they were tasked with redesigning the GoPro Session camera of yesteryear. It comes in dual variations, a $399 bundle that includes the core camera unit and a battery cube which snaps to it magnetically adding hours of recording time to the device, and a pricier $519 varietal that includes the camera unit and a front-facing display module. The 56 gram Action 2 core camera unit matches the 4K/120fps power of the latest GoPro Hero10 Black in a package that’s half the size, or at least that’s how it’s advertised.

I got a chance to spend a few days with the device and, as the headline suggests, I wasn’t all that pleased with my hands-on time. In short, this device is very pretty and innovates in a couple of clear ways but also was nowhere near ready for launch.

First off, the good stuff.

The hardware is quite nice and the modular design is better executed than one might expect. The magnetic clips and locking mechanisms are solid and overall everything has a really dense heftiness to it that feels more premium than any action camera I’ve tried. Video quality generally met expectations for an action camera of this price point and I enjoyed some of the accessories that DJI sent along including a necklace-like mount and a magnetic macro lens. There are some quirks like not being able to charge the central camera unit without it being attached to either the external battery unit or front-facing display, but overall the modularity is done pretty well.

Image credit: DJI

That design is mostly about balancing portability with battery life. If a user just wants to shoot a few quick videos for their Instagram, they can choose to leave the additional modules at home. DJI has aims to sell the Action 2 as a crossover action camera that’s built for pro athletes and influencers alike with a compact design that can be worn on a user’s chest with the included magnetic lanyard. Shooting (well, trying to shoot) 4K video on the Action 2, I found you can get about 30 minutes worth of footage from the core camera unit on a single charge, which is a lot for social media clips but not that much for a standard action cam (DJI claims up to 70 minutes of run time). Shooting when connected to either the battery module or front-facing camera module allowed for much lengthier usage.

Now, the bad stuff.

On paper, stabilized 4K video at 120 frames is incredibly impressive in a package this small, but unfortunately I found those claims to be too good to be true — way too good to be true. The device was able to shoot at its highest end setting for less than five minutes before the device automatically stopped recording because of overheating. Indeed, I wasn’t able to shoot 4K at any setting without the device eventually shutting down due to overheating even at the device’s lowest 24fps setting (I was able to capture just under 15 minutes of footage in that mode). Becoming so hot that it can no longer function is a rough issue for a product that DJI is partially pitching as a chest-mounted or head-mounted wearable.

A DJI spokesperson confirmed that other reviewers had similar issues with overheating and that the only fix for now is to shoot at a lower resolution.

Image credit: DJI

I struggle to go much more in depth than this for the hands-on, because not being able to consistently shoot 4K quality video at any frame rate makes this is a pretty hard sell for anyone to buy at launch. While I can appreciate the boldness of such a major inter-generational design change for the Action 2, I’ve also gained a respect for GoPro’s more incremental successive upgrades which may lack some of the pizazz of the Action 2 but do consistently function as advertised.

We were generally big fans of the first DJI Action camera, which launched in 2019 and proved to be a convincing competitor to GoPro. The original Action showcased a very convincing set of features, many of which would be adopted by GoPro in successive generations. “For now, however, most of the nits that can be picked here are on the small side. That’s fairly remarkable for what’s essentially a first-generation product — albeit one from a well-established company,” my colleague Brian Heater wrote at the time.

It’s a different story with the Action 2, and while DJI may resolve these issues with firmware updates, this device clearly wasn’t ready to send out to reviewers and I’d be wary to order one (the Action 2 is available for purchase today) until the company has showcased a number of key fixes.

GoPro debuts the HERO10 Black action camera

GoPro today announced a new flagship action camera for its lineup, the HERO10 Black. The main update for the camera is a brand new processor inside, called the GP2, which enables big improvements to image quality and video captures, including recording at 5.3K revolution at up to 60 frames per second, 4K video capture bumped to a max of 120 FPS, and 2.7K video at 240 FPS which enables awesome slow-mo capabilities.

The new HERO10 Black also offers better still images, with 23.6 megapixel captures, and better performance in low light. That improved low-light capture applies to video, too, with 3D noise reduction applied so that even nighttime scenes have a lot less grain. The improved processing capabilities of the GP2 chip also mean that using the GoPro interface and software on the camera is generally much snappier, too.

Another new feature made possible by the improved processor is the 4.0 version of HyperSmooth, which is GoPro’s tech for offering gimbal-like stabilization via software. HyperSmooth was already impressive, and based on our initial testing (a full review will follow soon), it’s fantastic on this new generation of camera. HERO10 also packs an upgraded horizon levelling system, which locks the horizon even when the camera is tilted up to 45 degrees in either direction.

DCIM100GOPROG0053711.JPG

The GoPro HERO10 includes a front-facing screen as well as a rear touch screen, with better frame rates on the front selfie screen. The new lens cover has a hydrophobic treatment to improve its ability to get wet and shed water, and it works with the existing Media Mod, Display Mod and Light Mod for GoPro cameras. It works as a webcam out of the box, has fast-charging support, and now offers wired content transfers to your smartphone or device in addition to cloud uploading and wireless transfer.

Also returning is GoPro’s SuperView lens, which offers an even wider angle capture, and which will be available in new 5.3K 30/25/24 FPS capture modes when a firmware update arrives on November 16. That will also delivers support for GoPro’s Max Lens Mods, as well as the following additional capture modes:

  • 5K 4:3 24fps
  • 4K 4:3 30/25/24fps
  • 5.3K 24fps
  • 1080 24fps

GoPro’s HERO10 is available now, priced at $399.98 with a bundled one-year GoPro subscription or for existing subscribers, or you’ll pay $499.99 without the recurring sub, which will cost $49.99 annually or $4.99 per month after the trial. There’s a HERO10 Black bundle that includes a Shorty tripod mount, a magnetic swivel clip, an additional battery and a 32GB microSD card for $549 without subscription, or $449 with one. GoPro subscribers can also upgrade to the bundle from their existing camera for a further discounted $399.

The company will continue to offer both the GoPro HERO9 Black and the HERO8 Black alongside the HERO10, at lower price points, as well as its MAX 360 action camera.

GoPro’s Hero 9 Black arrives with a bigger battery and front-facing screen

After leaking like crazy, the GoPro Hero 9 Black arrives today, bringing with it a handful of features aimed at keeping the company on the bleeding edge of the action camera category. GoPro has, of course, experienced a good deal of competition in the category for which it’s become synonymous. The most notable recent entrant is drone giant DJI, which aimed to carve out a name in the space with a few key features.

It’s hard not to see the Hero 9 Black’s biggest addition as a direct counterstrike against one-time partner, DJI. The new action cam joins the Osmo Action camera by picking up a front-facing display. The 1.4-inch selfie-screen is designed to, among other things, make it easier to set up shots — something that’s been difficult with just a rear display to rely on. The touchscreen has been made larger (from 1.95 to 2.27 inch), too.

That’s owing, in part, to a bigger body. That’s nice as far as the screen and battery (upgraded from 1,220 to 1,720 mAh) are concerned, but poses an issue for those looking to hang onto older accessories from previous models. The shooting resolution has been bumped up. You can now grab 20-megapixel stills and shoot 5K video at 30 FPS.

The camera goes up for sale today, priced at $450 or $350, if you also buy the one-year subscription to GoPro’s software service. There’s also a $100 Max Lens mod, which increase’s the camera’s stabilization and field-of-view.

The GoPro MAX is the ultimate pocketable travel vlogging camera

GoPro’s first foray into the 360-degree action was the GoPro Fusion, and while it was a strong first offering, the new GoPro MAX ($499) is a very different – and much improved – immersive action camera that has a lot to offer experienced videographers and voices alike. To be sure, the MAX has trade-offs, but taken together, it presents arguably the best overall combination of features and value for travel and adventure vloggers who don’t want to break the bank or haul a huge amount of kit while they get out and explore.

It’s hip to be square

The new GoPro MAX’s form factor is both familiar and different for fans of the company’s Hero line. It’s almost like you stacked two Heros on top of each other, with a square box instead of a small rectangle as a result. The design helps accommodate both the dual optics that GoPro uses to achieve its 360-degree capture, as well as the built-in touchscreen display that can be used as a selfie viewfinder, too, when operating in Hero mode.

The ruggedized case can survive submersion in water up to 16 feet deep, and it’s splash proof as well. There are additional protective lenses for the two dome-shamed cameras in the box, as well, which GoPro advises you use in potentially messy environments to protect the optics. Both front and back sides of the camera also feature grills for microphones, which can capture 360 immersive audio when the camera is operating in 360 mode, or act as truly impressive directional shotgun mics when vlogging or working in Hero mode.

GoPro MAX 3Like the new Hero 8, the MAX has built-in GoPro accessory mounts, that fold out of the body on the bottom. This ensure you won’t have to pack the MAX in an external cage to attach it to the wide range of available GoPro mounts that exist out there, cutting down on bulk and the amount of stuff you need to pack when you take it out on the road.

The rubberized coating ensures you can keep a firm grip on the camera when you’re using it without any accessories, and GoPro’s easy to access and prominently placed external buttons mean that you can control shutter and power while you’re using it in even the messiest circumstances. Removable batteries mean you can charge and keep a few on hand to ensure you don’t miss an opportunity to get some great footage.

360 or not to 360

The MAX is a very capable 360-degree camera, on par with some of the best in the market. It handles stitching automatically, and when paired with the MAX Grip + Tripod, it’ll even get rid of any awkward stitch lines where you’re gripping the camera. Using their software, you can then use the 360 footage to create a lot of compelling effects during edits, including panning and transitioning between views, zooming in and out, and basically pulling off final edits that you wouldn’t even be able to get with a few different cameras and shooters all going at once.

That said, there are some limits to the 360 shooting: You can see where GoPro’s software has stitched together its two wide angle captures to achieve the effect, for instance, even if only slightly. And while the tools that GoPro provides for stringing together edits are surprisingly user-friendly, you will need to spend some time with it in order to make the most of the tools available – novices can easily create somewhat disorienting cuts before they get there bearings.

The beauty of the MAX, however, is that 360 is just one of the capabilities it offers – and in fact, that provides the basis for much more interesting things that most users will get plenty more value out of. Foremost among these is HyperSmooth, which, when combined with MAX’s exclusive horizon levelling feature, makes for some of the smoothest, best quality stabilized video footage you can get with any camera without a gimbal.

By default, horizon levelling on the MAX will work in both landscape and portrait modes, and switch between those orientations when you turn the camera 90 degrees. But if you lock the orientation to landscape, you can rotate the MAX freely and the horizon stays level, with footage staying smooth and stable – to an almost spooky degree.

There can sometimes be a slightly noticeable fuzziness when you pivot from one orientation to the other in captured footage, but it’s barely detectable, and it only happens if you rotate fully 90 degrees. Otherwise, the horizon stays look and footage stays smooth, regardless of how much movement, bounce or jitters you have holding the camera. It’s amazing, and should be experienced in person to truly appreciate how much tech went into this.

The perfect run-and-gun mix

That is one reason that this is the camera you want with you when you’re out and about. But it’s not all the MAX offers in this regard. GoPro has made use of the 360 capture to implement so-called ‘Digital Lenses,’ which change the field of view, and adjust distortion to get at final results that can really change the look and feel of the video you capture. There’s a new ‘Narrow’ mode that’s even more constrained than the typical ‘Linear’ mode GoPro offers, and a new Max SuperView mode that pushes wide beyond previous limits for a really dramatic look.

Because the camera is capturing 360 content at 6K, you don’t get 4K resolution when it’s cropped down to Hero mode. But you do get up to 1440p as well as 1080p options, which are plenty for most vlogging and travel log purposes. This is one area where there’s a compromise to be made in exchange for some of the flexibility and convenience you get from the MAX, but in my opinion it’s a worthwhile trade-off.

As mentioned, you also get a ruggedized camera that can even snorkel with you in the MAX 360, as well as a selfie screen and highly capable microphones built-in (in the video above you’ll notice that there is some deterioration in sound when it detects water). It really seems like GoPro did everything they could to ensure that if you wanted to, you could easily just grab the MAX and get out there, without worrying about packing any accessories beyond maybe their Shorty tripod or that MAX grip I mentioned.

GoPro MAX 2Bottom Line

GoPro’s Fusion was a compelling camera for a specific set of users, but the MAX feels like it might be flipping the script on the whole GoPro lineup. In short, the MAX seems like a great default option for anyone new to action cameras or looking for a comprehensive all-arounder that’s easy to learn, but becomes more powerful in time.

The MAX’s amazing stabilization is also probably better suited to vlogging and social video than it is to the actual action camera set, because it’s so smooth and refined. You can alter to what extent it triggers, of course, but overall MAX just seems like a device that can do magic with its built in software for aspiring content creators who would rather leave the DSLR and the gimbal at one – or who never thought to pick one up in the first place.

GoPro launches new Hero8 Black and MAX action cameras

GoPro has released new versions of both its hero line, and its newer 360-degree ruggedized action cameras. The $399 GoPro Hero8 Black’s most significant change is that it gains a new body design that incorporates GoPro’s signature mounting system right into the case, so that you no longer need add-on frames to attach it to selfie sticks, suction mounts, body mounts and more.

The GoPro Hero8 Black shoots at resolution between 1080p and 4K, and also gains HyperSmooth 2.0, the aptly named second generation version of GoPro’s proprietary digital stabilization technology. The first version, which premiered on the GoPro Hero7, was hailed for its effectiveness, and the follow-up is apparently even more powerful – plus, it provides new adjustment options so you can tweak how aggressive it is.

GoPro’s proprietary variable speed recording mode TimeWarp also gets upgraded to 2.0, and there’s better on-board wind suppression for mic-free recording. The body changes mean that the lens is no longer removable, but GoPro is planning to release a new mounting system for filters soon to make up for this limitation.

On top of the new design, there’s a series of new aftermarket add-ons, which GoPro calls “Mods,” to provide add-on features. There’s a Media Mod ($79.99) that includes a built-in shotgun mic; a Display Mod ($79.99) which has a flip up LCD viewfinder for vlogging, and a Light Mod ($49.99) which has a 200 lumen LED continuous video light source.

The other new camera, the GoPro MAX, is a $499 successor to the GoPro Fusion, and provides 360 capture. It’s designed to also produce great single lens, traditional wide angle footage, and has its own version of HyperSmooth stabilization called Max HyperSmooth (which you know much be extreme because it’s called ‘Max’).

The MAX seems less oriented at 360 video and more at advanced content creators who want maximum editing flexibility and the ability to more easily vlog, since it also includes a front-facing display.

GoPro faces increased competition from legit sources in their home category, including competing devices from DJI and Insta360, but the slate of new upgrades here really do sound like quality, meaningful improvements vs. the existing Hero7, and the new all-in-one body design should make it even more convenient for general use while out on the go.

Pre-orders are live now for the cameras, with shipping starting on October 15 for the GoPro Hero8, and shipments for the Max starting on October 24.

GoPro teases next-generation action camera announcement for October 1

GoPro’s successor to the Hero 7 is likely coming on October 1, as the action camera maker has posted a teaser with the date to its official website. The tagline “This is Action” appears over a fast cut mash-up of variety of shots, including off-road racing, underwater diving and what looks like close-up footage of Frank Zapata (or someone else with a jetpack) flying around, along with the date.

The mostly shadowed image above is the closest we get to an official product shot, but we’ve seen leaks sourced from photo-focused rumor site Photo Rumors that suggest a redesign with added expandability options for advanced accessories including front-facing display monitors and external flash. These leaks also include some potential specs, like a new GP2 chip to help with on-board image stabilization, better lenses and image quality, and a new 12MP sensor, in addition to the new optional housing and accessories.

this is action gopro

GoPro’s Hero 7 introduced HyperSmooth stabilization, which provides gimbal-like results without the actual gimbal thanks to advanced digital stabilization technology that GoPro developed in-house. But the company also saw the introduction of its strongest-yet competitor in the market this year with the DJI Osmo Action, a GoPro-like action camera from drone and gimbal-maker DJI, which is at least on par with the Hero 7 in terms of stabilization and quality, with added features aimed at the vlogging market like a built-in front-facing display.

The slogan “This is Action.” could actually be interpreted as a dig against its newest rival, since Action is capitalized and the DJI camera is literally named the “Osmo Action.” Hopefully GoPro does indeed get a little spicy about its competitor, since it’s a market that could definitely stand to benefit from some genuine competition in the higher end of the category.

Camera maker Insta360 raises $30M as it eyes 2020 IPO

Insta360, one of the pioneers in making 360-degree cameras, just raised $30 million in a Series C+ funding round from Chinese investors including Everest Venture Capital, MG Holdings and Huajin Capital.

The Shenzhen-based camera maker declines to disclose its latest valuation. It plans to use the fresh proceeds in research and development, marketing and after-sales services in its key international markets including the United States and Japan, which are the company’s second and third-largest markets behind China.

Some of its past backers include IDG Capital, Qiming Ventures, home appliance maker Suning Holdings Group and file sharing service Xunlei.

The company started making 360 cameras — thus the brand name — in 2014 when founder Liu Jingkang saw a gap in the market for compact, easy-to-use cameras shooting high-definition 360-degree footage. Over the years it has evolved into a four-pronged business covering all sorts of needs: 360 cameras for professionals and amateur users creating virtual reality content, action cameras for sports lovers, and smartphone accessories for average consumers.

In stark contrast to loss-making GoPro, which Insta360 rivals in the action camera vertical, the Chinese firm has been profitable since 2017 and is planning to file for an initial public offering in China next year, Liu told TechCrunch in an interview. The company declined to provide more details of the planned flotation but said the success of its action camera line has helped it achieve five-times revenue growth in two years and reach profitability.

From professionals to amateurs

Though the VR sector remains in its infant stage, Liu is optimistic that 360 content will become a much sought-after media form in the years to come.

“Many families will be consuming virtual reality content for entertainment in the future, so we have a huge market for 360 content. That’s why we make a 360 camera each year to keep our top-tier position,” said Liu.

insta360

The Insta360 One X / Photo: Insta360

The action camera market, by comparison, is more mature. Insta360 is riding a larger social trend of live blogging and short-form videos that has generated a huge demand for quality video content. Dozens of camera options, from Snap Spectacles to Tencent’s clone of the Snap glasses, are available to help people churn out content for video sharing apps, but Liu saw problems in many of these products.

“[Video-shooting] spectacles, for examples, are quite offensive. Not everyone wants to wear them,” said the founder. “Many cameras do a bad job at video stabilization, so people end up with unusable footage. Lastly, and this is the key issue, users don’t know how to handle their footage.”

To that end, Insta360’s latest answer to documenting sports events and traveling is a camera that can easily be held in hand or slipped into a pocket. Called the One X, the gadget shoots in 5.7K resolution at 30 frames per second, delivering pleasingly smooth stabilization even when thrown around. The camera also comes with a software toolkit that automatically selects and stitches users’ footages together, which makes sharing to TikTok and Instagram a cinch. Check out TechCrunch’s review of One X below:

Insta360 has also been chasing after the masses and its latest bid is an add-on lens that can instantly turn an iPhone into a 360-degree camera. The idea is that as users get a taste of the basic 360-degree experience, they may want to upgrade to a higher-end model.

“Insta360 has a rare ability to take cutting-edge imaging tech and put it into products that consumers want to use today,” said Gavin Li, senior director at Huajin Capital. “They’re moving faster and innovating more than their competitors, and they’re taking bold new approaches to the defining communication tool of our time: the camera.”