The daredevils and their stunts are getting a major colour upgrade thanks to the GoPro Hero12 Black. While physically and internally the GoPro Hero12 Black remains the same, besides the addition of 1/4-20 mounting threads, it’s the software polish that brings additional features to the action camera. GoPro hasn’t said anything about these features coming to the Hero11 Black, so if you want GP-Log with LUT, HDR videos and 9:16 aspect ratio without turning the camera, this is the only place you’ll find it.
GoPro Hero12 Black review
Go pro or go home…
Isn’t it ironic that a camera that has always been included in a professional’s camera kit, the GoPro, never had an option for LOG profile or HDR while shooting videos? GP-Log is GoPro’s way of answering that question by adding a LOG profile to its camera chops which can be later edited in post for tonal balance and colour correction. It’s not uncompressed but there’s a fair bit of freedom in post. Combining the 10-bit colour with GP-Log is the sweet spot. You can check out our Instagram Reel here to see it in action. It works well, you just have to know what you’re doing with it. If you’re new to cameras or don’t want to bother with any settings, the GoPro will give you an Easy Control mode where you can just use the preset settings and get your shots.
Albeit, it’s in the Pro controls where the GoPro really thrives. Here you can change existing and create new camera presets for yourself and tweak what modes you want to shoot on. HDR videos have also made their way to the camera but it’s only available in 5.3K (16:9), 4K (8:7) and 4K (16:9). It’s slightly frustrating that most of these features don’t work across all modes, aspect ratios and resolutions. Even GP-Log mode is locked to 4K and 5.3K resolution and only 16:9 and 8:7 aspect ratios.
Hence, it’s always better to shoot in 8:7 because that gives you the maximum freedom to crop later into your desired aspect ratio. Vertical mode (9:16) videos are also available now but only as standard output, you won’t be able to do HDR or GP-Log with it.
Once you find yourself in the studio, the GP-Log file gives you a good amount of headroom to adjust the colours, tonal balance and even sharpness. It won’t give you a massive playground to tweak the exposure and blacks extensively because it’s not a RAW file but in the hands of a good editor, you can make it work.
Another pro-focused feature is the ability to connect up to four Bluetooth headphones to capture audio. The GoPro Hero12 Black will capture audio from your Bluetooth microphone like Apple AirPods and simultaneously capture audio from the GoPro as well. You’ll find both the files in post when you put them in your edit timeline. For Stuff YouTube and IG videos, we can use this to capture our impressions from inside a car while the GoPro hangs for dear life on the rear bumper. We tried it and it works flawlessly with the Apple AirPods Pro. You can check out a sample here on our Instagram Reel.
Another pro feature on the GoPro Hero12 Black is Timecode Sync. We couldn’t test this feature during our review period because it wasn’t available at the time of reviewing the GoPro. However, GoPro says you can do unlimited syncing of Hero12 Black cameras to make multi-camera editing easier. This works with Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premier and other editing software to streamline post-production.
Physically the GoPro Hero12 Black has the same dimensions and weight as the Hero11 Black. It has the same Enduro battery, works with all the GoPro Mods, has the same 8:7 sensor and can be dunked up to 33ft in water. However, there’s a 1/4-20 mounting thread between the built-in mounting fingers on the Hero12 Black so now you can prop the GoPro on a professional tripod as well. Neat!
You can also shoot Timelapses and Timewrap videos in an 8:7 aspect ratio this time. However, it’s always the insanely effective stabilisation that keeps wooing us. The Hypersmooth 6.0 stabilisation on the Hero12 Black is smoother, yes without a doubt, but it can do Horizon Lock even if your camera rotates 360°. That was available on the previous Hero11 Black as well and it still works like magic here. As with most features on the GoPro, there’s fine print here as well. The Horizon Lock for 360° Rotation only works with 5.3K30, 4K60 and 2.7K120 and in 16:9 aspect ratio. If you want this single-lens camera to perform miracles, you’re better off waiting for the upcoming GoPro Hero Max (yes, it’s coming).
When it comes to battery life, this camera only runs 10% longer than the Hero11 Black. However, thanks to some clever software tuning and thermals, the Hero12 Black will keep recording two times longer on 5.3K and 4K, before the thermals turn off the camera. This means the Hero12 Black can do 70 minutes of continuous recording with HyperSmooth 6.0 on at 5.3K60 before thermal shutdown whereas the GoPro Hero11 Black could do 5.3K60 for 35 minutes of continuous recording before thermal shutdown.
Like all GoPro cameras, the photos come out the best in good lighting conditions and better if you know which mode to shoot them on. Once the sun is down, the camera is good with low light if you use the Night Time preset. If you simply point and shoot in the regular mode, the shot will be grainy. HDR and colour balance are possibly the best of all action cameras. The GoPro Hero12 Black tries to strike a balance between natural tones and eye-catching colours. Between the Hero11 Black and 12, we couldn’t tell the difference in still captures. However, there are also presets called Star Trails, Light Painting and Vehicle Lights which are uniquely made for the Hero12 to capture lowlight shots in interesting ways. The Star Trails timelapse feature looked very promising. It basically shoots an entire star trail and presents it to you as a video file. No need to sit to edit and stack the photos yourself. The GoPro does that for you. We couldn’t try it properly between the cloudy Mumbai weather and the bright Blue Moon of Rameshwaram but stick around on our social media and we’ll post a few star trails and time-lapses from our ride with Royal Enfield in the upcoming weeks.
If you want to do the whole thing manually, GoPro has added a feature called Interval Photo. It basically snaps photos at fixed intervals which is from 0.5 seconds all the way up to 120 seconds. You can mount it anywhere and the GoPro will keep taking shots at dedicated intervals. You can also pull 24.7MP frames from videos you shoot.
There’s also the new Max Lens Mod 2.0 which can record 4K60 at 177°FOV. It’s a big jump from the 155° FOV of Max Lens Mod 1.0 and we’ll be testing this out again during our motorcycle rides in the Himalayas in the coming weeks. The lens is also extremely Hydrophobic. Both the standard GoPro Hero12 Black and the Max Mod lens are hydrophobic and repel water in an instant.
Historically, GoPro has never drastically changed its internals and size without good reason and with the 8:7 frame sensor, things are looking quite good for the brand. If you’re a casual user then the Hero12 Black won’t convince you enough but if you’re a filmmaker or someone who appreciates and understands colour grading, the GoPro Hero12 Black is a solid upgrade over the previous camera. Even connecting Bluetooth microphones is an absolute game changer for many folks who use the GoPro to shoot for work (including us and our friends at Autocar India).
The processor and its neighbouring insides remain largely the same so performance is down to optimization from GoPro and in terms of battery life, it’s not a giant leap for this tiny camera.
Filmmakers hop on board! The GoPro can help you in more ways than just stable action shots this time