GoPro cameras are great for hands-free, point-of-view recording — but that doesn’t mean they can replace a camcorder or larger DSLR or mirrorless camera. For advanced users, a GoPro’s lack of fully manual control may be problematic (you can set exposure compensation using the Protune feature, but you have no direct control over aperture and shutter speed). The lack of buttons and dials also means you’ll have to rely on the touchscreen or your smartphone to make changes, which is fine for set-it-and-forget-it adventure filming, but isn’t great if you need to make adjustments on the fly.
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But it’s not only the lens lending credit to the impressive video GoPros capture. GoPro’s new Hero6 Black captures 4K video at 60 frames per second (fps) and Full HD 1080 at up to 240 fps. This isn’t just impressive for such a small camera — few interchangeable lens models have achieved 4K/60, with the $2,000 Panasonic Lumix GH5 being the first. As for still photography, the Hero6 shoots 12-megapixel images with features such as WDR (wide-dynamic range, GoPro’s lingo for high-dynamic range or HDR) and RAW file capture. And a new image processor — a first for GoPro cameras — helps improve performance and image stabilization. GoPro has managed to put all of this into a camera that’s not much larger than most DSLR batteries.
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GoPro is leading the charge toward consumer-created virtual reality (VR) environments, and their first VR-ready cameras make it happen with what they’ve dubbed “spherical capture,” which is pretty accurate, given the 360° field of view they record. VR is still a nascent technology, but it’s definitely the future. If you’re an early adopter, you’ll want to pick up a GoPro with spherical capture.