GoPro Hero 12 Black
How to improve an already stunning device? PAT PILCHER takes GoPro’s latest for a ride and is wowed by its improvements.
GoPro cameras are synonymous with sporty types filming daring stunts, so we were a little stumped when their latest flagship shooter, the Hero 12 Black, arrived at Witchdoctor towers. The most daring stunt I tend to do is lifting a pint of good stout to my gob. That said, the Hero 12 Black packs some useful upgrades that’ll up your video game, whether amateur or pro-level videography.
As with the Hero 11 Black which I reviewed here, one of the signature features of the Hero 12 Black is its use of HyperSmooth 6.0 image stabilisation. Whether jumping out of a plane, diving into the pool at Marina Bay sands or just peddling like batshit on your mountain bike, the Hero 12 Black has you covered. It’s footage is rock-solid and crazily stable, making it look like it was shot on a pro-level steady cam costing tens of thousands of dollars (yes, HyperSmooth 6.0 is that good).
Add to this a native vertical shooting mode, and your social media posts are covered too. It sports an almost idiot-proof interface for ease of control and external Bluetooth mic support. In short, the Hero 12 Black is a tiny but mighty videography powerhouse.
Design-wise, you’d be hard-pressed to tell the Hero 12 Black from its earlier sibling. The only immediately noticeable difference is its speckled blue-on-black finish. Look a little deeper, and some pretty useful differences soon become apparent. This time, the standard GoPro mount also has a tripod thread, which makes for easier shooting. Its dimensions are the same size as the Hero 11 Black, but it also has a 1.4″ LCD screen on its front and a touch-sensitive 2.27″ screen on its back. Like the Hero 11 Black, it has a small sliding door that houses its battery, microSD card and USB.
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That GoPro decided to keep the Hero 12 Black the same size as the 11 makes a metric tonne of good sense if you’ve already invested in GoPro accessories, which will conveniently play nice with the Hero 12 Black. It can handle submersion of up to 10m and, like its older siblings, feels built to withstand thermonuclear war.
If you’re a pro/semi-pro videographer, three key upgrades will get you fizzing at the bung: HDR video, log capture and LUTs. HDR video supports 5.3K in a 16:9 screen ratio and 4K in 8:7 at up to 30fps. Frame rates can be cranked up to 4K 60fps. HDR footage looks fantastic too, with fewer blown-out shots and more shadow details. Thanks to LOG support, technical stuff, such as using multiple GoPro footage feeds for more precise colour grading, is now also possible. With footage shot in 10-bit, the video looks super crisp, too.
Another stand-out add-on with the GoPro Hero 12 Black is Max Lens Mod. By default, footage is captured at the same field of view as the Hero 11 Black. Still, once the default lens is twisted and removed and with the Max Lens installed, FOV is upped to an impressive 177º, allowing for ultra-wide captures, and making your action footage pop.
Timecode sync also makes editing footage shot with multiple GoPro cameras easier, and it’ll play nice with edit apps such as Final Cut Pro X and Adobe Premiere. GoPro has also put considerable effort into simplifying and streamlining the Hero 12’s user interface, and removed shooting modes, replacing them with better alternatives. The 2.7K horizon lock is gone-burgers, replaced with a 5.3K horizon lock mode. In terms of high-end modes, you get the same 5.3K to 60fps and 4K to 120fps, or 2.7K/1080p to 240fps. The net result was that after unboxing and charging the Hero 12 Black, I could start shooting without diving into manuals.
The other feature that will appeal to content creators is the Hero 12’s ability to play nice with Bluetooth headphones, effectively transforming your Bluetooth buds into a low-cost lapel mic for more professional-sounding podcast videos and YouTube clips.
This handily allows one audio channel to be used with an external Bluetooth mic and the other with the camera mic. The levels of both audio channels can be easily tweaked using the rather excellent GoPro Quick app in which both channels are displayed.
Last but not least, GPS support has been removed. Compensating for that, GoPro says that the Hero 12 Black can record up to 70 minutes of 5.6K 60fps with Hypersmooth 6.0 on, which is almost double the run time of the Hero 11.
If you’re thinking I am impressed by now, you’d be right. GoPro has taken the Hero 11 Black and made it super user-friendly for novices while adding oodles of features for more advanced users. Add to this GoPro’s near-legendary durability and accessory ecosystem, and the Hero 12 Black is easily one of the better action cameras currently available.