Review: GoPro HERO12 Black—Worthy for FPV Drones? Better than OSMO Action 4?

by Oscar
Gopro Hero 12 Action Camera Fpv Drone Preview

GoPro’s had been the best action camera in terms of image quality in the past decade without doubts. With their latest release, the HERO12 Black, they are claiming to have crafted the “most versatile, most capable, most feature-packed” camera to date. Those are some heavy claims and you might wonder if it’s the ideal choice for FPV drones. Let’s break it down and see if it’s worth the upgrade and how it compares to the DJI OSMO Action 4.

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To learn more about action cameras for FPV flying, check out our buyer’s guide: https://oscarliang.com/action-camera/

Where to Buy?

The packaging, reminiscent of GoPro’s classic style, was easy to open, revealing the much-anticipated camera. Along with the Hero 12, the box contained a set of stickers (always a delightful bonus), the new Enduro battery, a GoPro cable, a sticky mount, and the universal slide clip.

Gopro Hero 12 Action Camera Fpv Drone Preview Accessories

Specifications and Features

Design and Dimensions

  • Dimensions: 71.8 mm x 50.8 mm x 33.6 mm
  • Weight: 154g with mounting fingers and battery, 121g without battery
  • Waterproof: 10m (33ft) without housing, 60m (196ft) with protective housing

Hardware

  • MicroSD card rating: v30 or UHS-3 recommended
  • Battery: Removable 1720mAh Enduro Battery
  • System Processor: GP2
  • Image Sensor: 1/1.9″ CMOS
  • Field of View: 156° in 8:7 aspect ratio

Video Capabilities

  • Video Resolutions & Frame Rates:
    • 5.3K at up to 60 FPS
    • 4K at up to 120 FPS
    • 2.7K at up to 240 FPS
    • 1080P at up to 240 FPS

Photo Capabilities

  • Maximum Resolution: 27.13MP (5568×4872)
  • Frame-grabs from Video: 24.69MP from 5.3K video

Audio Features

  • 3 built-in microphones
  • 3.5mm audio mic input with Media Mod (sold separately)
  • Raw audio capture in .WAV format
  • Wireless Audio Support

Connectivity Features

  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
  • Automatic cloud uploads and highlight video creation with GoPro subscription

User Interface

  • Voice Control: 14 commands in 11 languages with 6 accents
  • Compatible with Quik App, GoPro Labs, Open GoPro

Please note that Horizon Lock is unavailable when recording at the highest performance settings.

Build Quality and Design

Gopro Hero 12 Action Camera Fpv Drone Preview

The HERO12 Black boasts a compact and durable design, crafted to withstand extreme environments. It’s waterproof down to 33 feet without any additional housing, which makes it an ideal companion for any underwater or action-packed adventure. If you’re into surfing or even extreme winter sports, this camera has got you covered.

The Hero 12 Black’s robust build ensures it can withstand a fair share of bumps and accidents, a common scenario in FPV flying. This makes it great for mounting on FPV drones for cinematic shots. At 154g including battery it is a bit on the heavy side, but it is about the same as the previous generation, the Hero 11 Black at 155g. So it shouldn’t be a deal breaker if you are already used to flying with a GoPro on your quad.

The Hero 12 Black comes with little blue speckles on its case, giving it a distinct appearance.

Power and Battery

Battery life has often been a contentious issue with action cameras, but it seems like GoPro has turned a corner. The HERO12 Black offers up to 2x longer runtimes than its predecessors thanks to the new battery, truly makes a difference in the field.

Additionally, more efficient processing allows the camera to shoot up to 70 minutes in 5.3K60 and an incredible 155 minutes in 1080p30.

The included Enduro battery ensures the camera keeps running even in colder temperatures. The extended battery life makes this camera a reliable companion for long hikes or even multi-day adventures.

Video and Image Quality

Gopro Hero 12 Action Camera Fpv Drone Preview Interface

HDR Video

With the new HDR video feature, your footage is about to come alive like never before. The camera combines multiple exposures into a single frame to provide more vivid color and even exposure, all in brilliant 5.3K30 or 4K60.

Versatile Resolutions

The HERO12 Black offers cinema-quality video resolutions in a pocket-sized form. From full-frame 5.3K to slo-mo capture in 2.7K240 and 4K120, the camera gives you the flexibility to capture the most intricate details.

Photos and More

The camera takes 27-megapixel photos with a host of additional features, such as SuperPhoto and HDR photo modes. For those who love post-production, the RAW photo mode provides unprecedented flexibility.

Unique Features

8:7 Image Sensor

The HERO12 Black’s 8:7 image sensor offers a unique, extra-large field of view, perfect for capturing more of your experiences. This sensor allows for versatile horizontal to vertical capture transitions without even rotating the camera.

The full sensor readout with gyrodata and 5,3K is also better for Gyroflow to work effectively.

Hyperview and Hypersmooth 6.0

The Hypersmooth 6.0 ensures your videos remain shake-free, even during those nerve-racking and shaky FPV drone sessions. Horizon lock ensures that the horizon stays level, regardless of the camera’s orientation. Also Hyperview offers the widest possible field of view.

Max Lens Mod 2.0

Max Lens Mod 2.0 is a lens modification that allows vertical filming without compromising the wide view. It transforms your HERO12 Black into the ultimate POV camera. This accessory offers an ultra-wide field of view and unbreakable stabilization at a stunning 4K60 resolution.

Pro-Level Capabilities

The most significant enhancement in the Hero 12 is the introduction of the GoPro log profile. Last year’s Hero 11 introduced a 10-bit color, but with the Hero 12, you get the log profile which essentially offers more dynamic range in videos. This new feature enables greater dynamic range in videos, especially compared to the Hero 11. With the Hero 12, capturing intricate details, especially in the shadows, became a breeze.

Creative Modes and Capture Options

From creating time-lapse videos to capturing footage with the Scheduled Capture feature, HERO12 Black gives you multiple modes to explore your creativity. Voice commands in 11 languages and wireless remote operation add to the versatility of this powerful little device.

Vlogging Capabilities

For those into vlogging, the Hero 12 Black is a game-changer. The front screen aids in framing, and you can connect headphones to the GoPro via Bluetooth and use them as a wireless mic.

Quik App

After capturing, the Quik App makes managing, editing, and sharing your photos and videos incredibly simple. Auto-highlight videos are generated for you, making it easier than ever to share your adventures.

Comparing to the DJI Osmo Action 4

Here’s a specs comparison table between the GoPro Hero 12 Black and DJI Osmo Action 4. Both cameras offers impressive features and image quality. The DJI Action 4 offers better low light performance thanks to its larger image sensor, however the GoPro 12 offers overall slightly better image quality, higher resolution, not to mention the support of 8:7 aspect ratio is great for social media.

Feature DJI Action 4 GoPro 12
Image Sensor Size 1/1.3-inch 1/1.9-inch
Effective Pixels 10MP 27.6MP
Field of View (FOV) 155° TBC
Video Resolutions 4K: 3840×2160@120fps 5.3K: 5312×2988@60fps
2.7K: 2688×1512@120fps 4K: 3840×2160@120fps
1080p: 1920×1080@240fps 2.7K: 2688×1512@120fps
1080p: 1920×1080@240fps
Aspect Ratio 4:3 / 16:9 8:7 / 4:3 / 16:9
Max Video Bitrate 130 Mbps 120 Mbps
10-bit Mode Yes Yes
Slow Motion 8x @ 1080p 8x @ 1080p
Digital Zoom Up to 4x Up to 4x
Stabilization RockSteady 3.0+ HyperSmooth 6.0
Screens Front: 1.4-inch Front: 1.4-inch
Rear: 2.25-inch Rear: 2.27-inch
Water Resistance up to 18m up to 10m
Battery Capacity 1770mAh 1720mAh
Operation Time up to 160 mins up to 155 mins
Connectivity Wi-Fi + Bluetooth Wi-Fi + Bluetooth
Dimensions 70.5×44.2×32.8 mm 71.8 x 50.8 x 33.6 mm
Weight 145g 154g
Price USD $399 USD $399

Image Quality

Quite disappointingly, the GoPro 12 continued with the Hero 11 sensor. Larger sensors generally equate to better low-light performance, and while the rumoured one-inch sensor would’ve been groundbreaking, it might have introduced overheating issues.

Contrastingly, the Action 4 boasts a 1/1.3 inch sensor, outdoing GoPro 12’s 1/1.9 inch. This larger sensor not only promises superior low-light performance due to its larger size, but also produces more accurate colors, thanks to DJI’s color temp sensor.

The GoPro 12 offers better dynamic range in daylight than the DJI Action 4.

Low Light Performance

Compared to the Osmo Action 4, the GoPro Hero 12 is slightly weaker when it comes to filming at night. Although both cameras cap their ISO range at 3200, the Action 4’s larger sensor and better pixel pitch makes it superior in low light conditions.

Video Specs and Color Grading

While GoPro offers 5.3K at 60fps, the Action 4 maxes out at 4K at 120fps. Editing on a 4K timeline means I rarely notice the resolution difference. Both cameras also support 10-bit color, enabling a richer color grading experience, with the GoPro Hero 12’s log profile being notably less flat than DJI’s d-log m.

Audio Quality

Good in-camera audio is crucial for action cams. Both models do a respectable job, but for optimal audio, external recording or DJI’s Lavalier mics are recommended.

Reliability and Usability

Heat management is crucial for an action cam. While both cameras can overheat, the Hero 12 does so faster than the Action 4. The Action 4’s more responsive touchscreen further enhances user experience, making it quicker and easier to change settings on the fly.

Extra Features

For those seeking GPS data, the Action 4 has it, while the Hero 12 opted out. Both cameras offer pre-record features, with the Action 4 allowing up to 60 seconds and the Hero 12 up to 30. They also support Wi-Fi live streaming, time code, and boast 10-bit color for advanced color grading.

The GoPro having “GoPro Labs” makes it a more powerful camera. For instance, you can set these parameters in GoPro labs: WIDE=1, LOGB=400 BITR=200 NR01=1. 

  • WIDE=1: color gamut is now not longer limited to Rec.709, its like using native white balance without using native white balance.
  • LOGB=400: flattens the “Flat” color profile even more
  • BITR=200: Video bitrate can now go up to 200mbps
  • NR01=1: Turns off the noice reduction, now its grainy instead of blured noisy, better for post

You can’t do the same in any other action cameras.

Overall Experience

Factoring in image quality, user experience, and additional features, my personal preference leans toward the DJI Action 4 for everyday usage. The magnetic mount alone is a game-changer for me. However, both are top-tier action cameras, each with its strengths and weaknesses. Ultimately, your choice will boil down to personal preference and specific needs.

Conclusion

Looking at specs, the Hero 12 Black does seem like a versatile camera packed with features that will satisfy both newcomers and experienced users.

For FPV drone pilots, the GoPro Hero 12 Black is a notable upgrade. Its enhanced video capabilities, improved battery life, and added features make it a worthy investment. The log video feature alone, pivotal for post-processing and color grading, is a game-changer.

Whether you’re prefer GoPro or DJI, there’s no denying that both the Hero 12 and OSMO Action 4 are impressive contenders in the action camera arena. Choosing between them is a matter of weighing their pros and cons against your requirements.

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