September 18, 2023

Deep Dive on the GoPro Hero 12 - Is it worth buying?

Deep Dive on the GoPro Hero 12 - Is it worth buying?

It's September, and like clockwork, we have a new iPhone coming, a new iOS, and a new GoPro.

So, is it worth buying? have the issues from previous models been addressed? and is it worth buying or upgrading? We grabbed the new action camera on release day, and put it to the test.

The new Hero12 Black features the same almost-square 8:7 aspect ratio sensor and GP2 processor as its predecessor, yet is now capable of longer runtime, better image stabilization performance, 10-bit Log video, wireless audio connectivity and more.
Type 1/1.9 (6.3 x 5.5mm) CMOS sensor with native 8:7 aspect ratio
5.3K at up to 60p, 4K at up to 120p
8x slow-mo (2.7K at 240p)
'HDR' video mode
Vertical video support (9:16 ratio)
10-bit video, and new GP-Log video option
24.7MP still photos from video
27MP photos, including Raw + JPEG
Ultra-wide 177° field of view with optional new Max Lens Mod 2.0
2 times longer runtime than the Hero11 Black: 70min at 5.3K60, 58min at 4K120
Improved image stabilization
Wireless audio support for Apple AirPods and other Bluetooth headphones
Waterproof up to 10m (33ft)
Standard 1/4-20 mounting thread on the bottom

Common issues and complaints about the latest crop of cameras include overheating. In our test, GoPro Hero 12 did overheat. But only in certain conditions.
I was filming in 5.3k30P 10bit, so pretty much the highest quality possible.
The camera was in a room with no moving air, and an ambient temperature of 18 degrees. With all this in mind, the camera managed to record for 59 minutes and 30odd seconds. With any sort of airflow, something that is hard to avoid in a motorcycling setting, I have not been able to get the camera to overheat.

If you follow this channel, the assumption is you’re more likely to use this camera on your motorcycle, and we pretty much always have moving air while riding. So honestly, I don’t see these sorts of overheating issues as something we will actually have to contend with. If you are worried about your Hero 12 overheating, drop the quality to 4k, or even 1080p, and this will also give you much more room on your SD card.

Freezing, Corrupting SD cards/losing footage
These two issues are generally down to a slow SD card. Remember, you are recording 4k or 5.3k footage at a minimum of 30 frames per second. You will need a minimum class 10, but read and write speeds play a big part here.
The factor you need to look at is the “V rating”
V30 at a minimum for any action cam is my benchmark, but if you can afford it, look for a v60 or V90 if you have any thoughts about recording 4k or 5.3k.
this will also help with the freezing and other usability issues.

Crappy touch screen
The Hero 9 has a slow touch screen, you needed to use very deliberate gestures on it and still at times it simply didn’t work. I’m glad to report that the screen on the Hero 12 is perfectly responsive and I’ve had no issues at all.

In a bid to improve battery life and lower the processing going on in the box, the Hero 12 loses the GPS module, though it retains the accelerometers for on-screen telemetry. This likely helps with the heat management also. This is only really a thing when you want to geotag your photos, but I don't actually know anyone who uses their GoPro for still photography.

The Hero 12 also has additional modes for creating unique content, such as star trail, light painting, night shot, time lapse, hyper lapse, slow mo at up to 8x, 28mp photos.

Because it has the same form factor as the previous 4 models, it can use the same accessories, like my free well ND filters. It has a standard tripod screw mount now as well as the standard GoPro loops.

As a beginner, feel free to play with the settings. Basic mode does all the work for you, but it’s good to know what the camera can do, so pop it into pro mode for a bit and check it out. I like to record in 5.3k

All my videos go out in 4K, so this gives me the ability to reframe and zoom in digitally in post-production without losing image quality.

30fps is a good place to start. Though recording in 60fps allows you to go to 2x slow mo, faster frame rates will give you more slow mo ability while retaining buttery smooth video. But faster frame rates will also fill your card faster.

For Pro shooters, you'll be pleased to know you have the following "Protune" settings to play with.

Shutter speed
Colour space
Log video
Image stabilisation
Aspect ratio - 16:9 | 9:16 | Full frame (square) 8:7

Field of view
Linier with horizon lock
Ultra wide
Super view

There is a lot of negativity about GoPro currently, it’s true they have had their issues, but honestly, this camera feels solid. I have the Hero 9 and have had some issues in the past but nothing from the Hero 12 yet.

It seems like a lot of people have seen a few negative reports on the internet, specifically around the overheating issue and formed a blanket opinion that GoPro is not worth the money.

It’s also true that there are some seriously impressive offerings from the competitor brands. But in real-world use, this GoPro is a worthy contender.

If it’s your first action cam, then I would say yes the GoPro should at minimum be one of the options on your list. If your question is more “should I upgrade from the Hero 10 or 11?” Then I’m not sure… with an RRP of $749.99 it’s a lot of money for not much of an upgrade.

I don’t think the GoPro Hero 12 is the be all and end-all, this is not one camera to rule them all, and should be thought of more as a tool in the tool box of any content creator.

If you’re looking for something for trail riding, or recording the occasional road trip, then this will more than cover you, but there are other offerings out there that are more cost-effective. Hell, the Hero 9 is still available and with an RRP of around $500, it shouldn’t be overlooked.

As I mentioned, this is just one tool in my ever-growing toolbox of cameras and gear, and its I like it, so no regrets here, and with the added flexibility of Bluetooth connections, I will likely use it more than my Hero 9 moving forward.