Jefferson Graham reviews the new GoPro Hero6 camera from a seaplane above San Francisco and an ice cream museum, where the shots are steadier than with previous models on TalkingTech.
SAUSALITO, Calif. — Flying over the Golden Gate Bridge while in a seaplane is a pretty awesome experience.
In the past, attempting to get video footage in a rickety 6-seater manufactured in the 1950s would have resulted in some pretty shaky video footage.
Well, hello GoPro Hero6.
Flying over the Golden Gate Bridge in a seaplane, captured by a GoPro Hero6 camera. (Photo: Jefferson Graham)
The new $499 camera, introduced Thursday at a press event here, is billed as the first GoPro model to have real image stabilization. And in our first look, it didn’t disappoint, although it wasn’t steady 100% of the time or as universally shake-free as mounts known as gimbals.
But in our shots Thursday in the air and on the ground at the Museum of Ice Cream and California Academy of Sciences, the results are pretty solid. Be sure to watch the accompanying video above to see examples.
The beauty of the GoPro cameras is that they are tiny and easy to attach to bicycles, surfboards, skateboards and even dog collars, resulting in video footage that could look really stellar—once you went in and edited out all the shakes.
In my clips from Thursday, I had far less of those moments to eliminate.
GoPro CEO Nick Woodman said his goal was to make the Hero footage look as steady as that of a drone, which is a lofty wish, and one not fully realized with the Hero6. It is a tiny GoPro camera without a gimbal, after all.
Sure, there are still shakes, like in those moments when I ran across the dock by the sea plane, or even walked slowly on it.
But for more normal situations—like panning the wall of ice cream posters or sitting in a pool of sprinkles at the ice cream museum and having them thrown at the camera, the results are everything you’d wish for.
The camera comes at an important time for GoPro. Since going public in 2014, the company has been hurting, as investors worry that the action camera crowd bought their GoPros, and saw no need to upgrade. The stock is down from its 52-week high of just over $17.68, closing at $11.01 Friday, off 4% for the day. It opened at $31.34 in its 2014 debut.
But in a TalkingTech podcast interview with USA TODAY Thursday, GoPro founder Nick Woodman said he believes there’s lots of upside for the company, and that his audience of camera users will feel the need to upgrade to the Hero 6.
“Because of the image stabilization, your shots look much more professional and accomplished than they did on our previous generation of cameras,” he says. And that will appeal to both consumers and professionals, he adds.
Beyond the steadier images, GoPro added a new processor to the Hero6 that makes off-loading clips from a GoPro to the smartphone three times faster, the company says.
The goal at GoPro is to stop people from running to their computers to import footage, and use the GoPro app instead, where on the phone, the new Quik Stories app will make an automatic movie for you.
GoPro has a long ways go to there. The app is cute, but after using the templates once or twice, the auto movies can get a little stale.
And at a time when smartphones have gotten better than ever with state-of-the-art cameras that can shoot in ultra-high 4K resolution, why buy a GoPro at all, Woodman was asked Thursday.
“You can’t surf with an iPhone and you can’t ski with one,” he replied.
Beyond the Hero6, GoPro is also introducing a consumer 360-degree virtual reality camera, the $699 Fusion, at a time when consumers have shown little interest in previously released VR cameras.
The Fusion is an expensive buy, but Woodman thinks he has a shot thanks to his software, which offers consumers the best of both worlds—360 degree and flat views.
With a new plug in, coming later this year, consumers can shoot in virtual reality, and use the software to pull out a flat version that can be shared to social media.
The Fusion will be available in November.
Follow USA TODAY’s Jefferson Graham on Twitter, @jeffersongraham
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