GoPro Hero 12 Black Review: The Quintessential Action camera
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GoPro Hero 12 Black Review: The Quintessential Action camera

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If you ask people what comes to their mind when they think of an action camera, most would say GoPro. The word action camera has become synonymous with GoPro, that’s the kind of reputation the company has made for itself. Yes, their cameras are not perfect and there are a few other brands that can do certain things better, but when given a choice, most people would still simply get a GoPro.

The latest GoPro Hero 12 Black¬†keeps up to the standards set by its predecessor, while offering several new features. If you’re considering getting one but can’t decide, here’s our review to make things easier.

GoPro Hero 12 Black price in India

Let’s start with the price, which I think GoPro has done a good job with this time around. Last year, the Hero 11 Black (Review) was priced at Rs. 51,500 for the basic kit. The new Hero 12 Black, meanwhile, will cost you Rs. 45,000. That’s instantly a better deal, especially if you’re still using a GoPro Hero 10 or older. If you’ve got the Hero 11 Black, then I’d recommend you hold on to it a little longer.

There’s also a GoPro Hero 12 Black Creator Edition that’s available for Rs. 65,000 which is once again cheaper than the Hero 11 Black Creator Edition, which was priced at Rs. 71,500. The creator edition is meant for vloggers as it comes with the Media Mod, Light Mod, and the Volta Battery grip.

Compared to the competition, which is mostly the DJI Osmo Action 4, the Hero 12 Black is priced quite well.

GoPro Hero 12 Black design

GoPro has stuck to a similar design since the major revamp that the Hero 9 Black brought about. The GoPro Hero 12 Black has a removable camera lens protector, large 2.27-inch touchscreen display at the back, and a 1.4-inch colour display at the front. The displays are bright enough even under direct sunlight and you can adjust the brightness as well. The Hero 12 Black is only available in black with a rubberised body just like the older models, but GoPro has now added blue specks all over the body. You can easily differentiate it from older models though, thanks to the big Hero 12 Black lettering on the side.

GoPro Hero 12 Black features blue specks on its body

The only new design change with the Hero 12 Black is the addition of the 1/4-20 tripod thread at the bottom in between the mounting fingers. The new GoPro feels as sturdy as it looks and I can attest to its ruggedness as I’ve dropped it a couple of times already while throwing it in the air, and it had no damage at all. The lens has a hydrophobic coating to keep the water away and it does work well. If your lens has water droplets, then a simple wipe or a blow will get rid of all the water.

GoPro continues to use the same battery flap design that was introduced with the Hero 9 Black, and it is still a pain to access the battery and the memory card.

With the Hero 12 Black, GoPro has also brought the Max Lens Mod 2.0, which offers an even wider field than before. You now get 177 degree FoV, which is a lot. The attachment is easy to use, just remove the standard lens cover and use the Max Lens Mod 2.0 cover. It feels secure after it’s been attached, but it does protrude out a bit more than the standard cover. Once it’s attached, you will need to turn on the Max Lens Mod 2.0 option on the camera to fully utilise the lens.

GoPro Hero 12 Black features

There are several features that are new with the GoPro Hero 12 Black. Apart from the different resolutions, frame rates, and FoVs that the GoPro offers, there’s things such as HDR video recording, Night Effects in 8:7 ratio, and a vertical capture mode for all those who want to shoot for social media.

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You can connect up to four Bluetooth devices to the Hero 12 Black simultaneously

I’ll start with one of my favourite new features on the Hero 12 Black, Bluetooth audio recording. You can now connect any Bluetooth enabled earphones to the GoPro and record audio from the earphones. This is such a useful feature as you can not just record audio from a Bluetooth earphone, but you can also use it to go hands-free with voice commands. As a biker, I sometimes like to record videos and talk, but that would normally require the GoPro Media Mod and a microphone. Now, I can simply pair my helmet intercom to the Hero 12 Black and record my voice and ask it to take a photo or start or pause video recording.

gopro Hero 12 black hdr video gopro-hero-12-black-hdr-video

GoPro Hero 12 Black can now record HDR video in 4K or 5.3K

The HDR video recording feature brings GoPro’s excellent HDR software prowess to videos. However, the feature is only available in 5.3K and 4K resolutions. You can record HDR videos in either 16:9 or 8:7 ratio. When shooting in 16:9, you can choose either 4K or 5.3K resolutions in available framerates of 24, 30, or 60. In 8:7, you can only shoot at 4K resolution in 24 or 30fps. Go lower and the HDR toggle disappears. There is a notable difference between non-HDR and HDR videos, the colours are more vibrant and the shadows and blacks are deeper.

If you loved the Night effects on the Hero 11 Black, then you’d be happy to know that you can now capture TimeWarp in 8:7 and in 5.3K resolution with the new Hero 12 Black. Also, when recording video using Night Effects such as Light Painting, Star Trails, and Vehicle Light Trails, you’ll also get a still image taken from the last few seconds of the video. There are plenty of settings to play with and you get great night shots if you take the time to set things up.

gopro Hero 12 black vertical mode gopro-hero-12-black-vertical-mode

The vertical mode on GoPro Hero 12 Black doesn’t support HDR

For all those who want to record exclusively for Instagram or TikTok, there’s now a new Vertical capture mode in GoPro Hero 12 Black. The 9:16 ratio Vertical mode is available only in 4K and 1080p resolutions and it does not support HDR. You can also only record in either 30 or 60 fps in wide when using the Vertical mode.

However, I would still prefer to record in 8:7 and then crop that down to 9:16, since you can record in HDR and get that extra pop of colours and deeper blacks. However, if you don’t particularly care about HDR and want to record vertical videos from the get go, then simply use the GoPro in Vertical capture mode. This is especially great since you no longer have to mount the GoPro vertically to record a vertical video.

Now, if you’re a professional videographer, then you’d be happy to know that the Hero 12 Black now offers GP-Log with LUTs for better post editing. You can also combine this with the 10-bit colour to get even better control in post. Then there’s the new Timecode Sync feature, which offers unlimited syncing and makes editing easy when you’re playing around with multiple cameras. This will work with editing tools such as Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premier, and others. However, I wasn’t able to test this out as it’s not out yet.

There’s also a new feature called Interval Photo, which can be turned on in Photo mode. It essentially captures photos at fixed intervals that can be set for 5, 10, 30, 60 and 120 seconds. I tested this out and it works great. This feature can come in handy when you’re doing an activity and want to get some shots hands-free.

Finally, the GoPro Hero 12 Black comes with improved stabilisation. The Hero 11 Black already offered incredible stabilisation, and the new model makes things even better. I can only say that the stabilisation on the GoPro Hero 12 Black is the best on any action camera out there. GoPro also introduced the AutoBoost feature last year that automatically improves stabilisation based on speed and movement in a footage. This is now four times better than before, according to GoPro.

GoPro Hero 12 Black battery life

With the Hero 12 Black, GoPro is claiming that they’ve managed to double the battery life. Obviously, the numbers they showcased were achieved under specific conditions and it will not be possible to replicate it at all times.

When I tested the Hero 12 Black, I managed to get about 25 minutes of recording at 5.3k and 60fps. This was with HyperSmooth 6.0 turned on, and Voice Control turned off. The GoPro had about 85 percent of battery when I started recording, so this would have lasted longer. However, the camera shut down after 25 mins due to overheating. When I turned it on, the battery had 44 percent charge left.

Therefore, under better conditions (I tried the test indoors with no wind and ambient temperature of 32 degree Celsius) the GoPro Hero 12 Black should be able to last at least 40-50 mins before shutting down. With a 100 percent charge, I expect it to last 50-60 mins in ideal conditions wherein there’s wind and the ambient temperature is 25 degree Celsius or lower.

GoPro Hero 12 Black Sample videos

 

Verdict

If you own the GoPro Hero 11 Black, I’d say you don’t need to get the Hero 12 Black. However, if HDR video, Bluetooth wireless audio recording, and the improved battery life is enticing you, then I’d recommend getting this. The Bluetooth wireless audio capability is an excellent feature and a lot of people will find it useful. The new GoPro offers several new features over the Hero 11 Black in terms of software, and the battery life is also better. GoPro also launched the Hero 12 Black at a lower price, so if you’re planning to upgrade from a Hero 10 Black or lower, then you should definitely get the new model.

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