The GoPro MAX is the ultimate pocketable travel vlogging camera

GoPro’s first foray into the 360-degree action was the GoPro Fusion, and while it was a strong first offering, the new GoPro MAX ($ 499) is a very different – and much improved – immersive action camera that has a lot to offer experienced videographers and voices alike. To be sure, the MAX has trade-offs, but taken together, it presents arguably the best overall combination of features and value for travel and adventure vloggers who don’t want to break the bank or haul a huge amount of kit while they get out and explore.

It’s hip to be square

The new GoPro MAX’s form factor is both familiar and different for fans of the company’s Hero line. It’s almost like you stacked two Heros on top of each other, with a square box instead of a small rectangle as a result. The design helps accommodate both the dual optics that GoPro uses to achieve its 360-degree capture, as well as the built-in touchscreen display that can be used as a selfie viewfinder, too, when operating in Hero mode.

The ruggedized case can survive submersion in water up to 16 feet deep, and it’s splash proof as well. There are additional protective lenses for the two dome-shamed cameras in the box, as well, which GoPro advises you use in potentially messy environments to protect the optics. Both front and back sides of the camera also feature grills for microphones, which can capture 360 immersive audio when the camera is operating in 360 mode, or act as truly impressive directional shotgun mics when vlogging or working in Hero mode.

GoPro MAX 3Like the new Hero 8, the MAX has built-in GoPro accessory mounts, that fold out of the body on the bottom. This ensure you won’t have to pack the MAX in an external cage to attach it to the wide range of available GoPro mounts that exist out there, cutting down on bulk and the amount of stuff you need to pack when you take it out on the road.

The rubberized coating ensures you can keep a firm grip on the camera when you’re using it without any accessories, and GoPro’s easy to access and prominently placed external buttons mean that you can control shutter and power while you’re using it in even the messiest circumstances. Removable batteries mean you can charge and keep a few on hand to ensure you don’t miss an opportunity to get some great footage.

360 or not to 360

The MAX is a very capable 360-degree camera, on par with some of the best in the market. It handles stitching automatically, and when paired with the MAX Grip + Tripod, it’ll even get rid of any awkward stitch lines where you’re gripping the camera. Using their software, you can then use the 360 footage to create a lot of compelling effects during edits, including panning and transitioning between views, zooming in and out, and basically pulling off final edits that you wouldn’t even be able to get with a few different cameras and shooters all going at once.

That said, there are some limits to the 360 shooting: You can see where GoPro’s software has stitched together its two wide angle captures to achieve the effect, for instance, even if only slightly. And while the tools that GoPro provides for stringing together edits are surprisingly user-friendly, you will need to spend some time with it in order to make the most of the tools available – novices can easily create somewhat disorienting cuts before they get there bearings.

The beauty of the MAX, however, is that 360 is just one of the capabilities it offers – and in fact, that provides the basis for much more interesting things that most users will get plenty more value out of. Foremost among these is HyperSmooth, which, when combined with MAX’s exclusive horizon levelling feature, makes for some of the smoothest, best quality stabilized video footage you can get with any camera without a gimbal.

By default, horizon levelling on the MAX will work in both landscape and portrait modes, and switch between those orientations when you turn the camera 90 degrees. But if you lock the orientation to landscape, you can rotate the MAX freely and the horizon stays level, with footage staying smooth and stable – to an almost spooky degree.

There can sometimes be a slightly noticeable fuzziness when you pivot from one orientation to the other in captured footage, but it’s barely detectable, and it only happens if you rotate fully 90 degrees. Otherwise, the horizon stays look and footage stays smooth, regardless of how much movement, bounce or jitters you have holding the camera. It’s amazing, and should be experienced in person to truly appreciate how much tech went into this.

The perfect run-and-gun mix

That is one reason that this is the camera you want with you when you’re out and about. But it’s not all the MAX offers in this regard. GoPro has made use of the 360 capture to implement so-called ‘Digital Lenses,’ which change the field of view, and adjust distortion to get at final results that can really change the look and feel of the video you capture. There’s a new ‘Narrow’ mode that’s even more constrained than the typical ‘Linear’ mode GoPro offers, and a new Max SuperView mode that pushes wide beyond previous limits for a really dramatic look.

Because the camera is capturing 360 content at 6K, you don’t get 4K resolution when it’s cropped down to Hero mode. But you do get up to 1440p as well as 1080p options, which are plenty for most vlogging and travel log purposes. This is one area where there’s a compromise to be made in exchange for some of the flexibility and convenience you get from the MAX, but in my opinion it’s a worthwhile trade-off.

As mentioned, you also get a ruggedized camera that can even snorkel with you in the MAX 360, as well as a selfie screen and highly capable microphones built-in (in the video above you’ll notice that there is some deterioration in sound when it detects water). It really seems like GoPro did everything they could to ensure that if you wanted to, you could easily just grab the MAX and get out there, without worrying about packing any accessories beyond maybe their Shorty tripod or that MAX grip I mentioned.

GoPro MAX 2Bottom Line

GoPro’s Fusion was a compelling camera for a specific set of users, but the MAX feels like it might be flipping the script on the whole GoPro lineup. In short, the MAX seems like a great default option for anyone new to action cameras or looking for a comprehensive all-arounder that’s easy to learn, but becomes more powerful in time.

The MAX’s amazing stabilization is also probably better suited to vlogging and social video than it is to the actual action camera set, because it’s so smooth and refined. You can alter to what extent it triggers, of course, but overall MAX just seems like a device that can do magic with its built in software for aspiring content creators who would rather leave the DSLR and the gimbal at one – or who never thought to pick one up in the first place.

Gadgets – TechCrunch

GoPro launches new Hero8 Black and MAX action cameras

GoPro has released new versions of both its hero line, and its newer 360-degree ruggedized action cameras. The $ 399 GoPro Hero8 Black’s most significant change is that it gains a new body design that incorporates GoPro’s signature mounting system right into the case, so that you no longer need add-on frames to attach it to selfie sticks, suction mounts, body mounts and more.

The GoPro Hero8 Black shoots at resolution between 1080p and 4K, and also gains HyperSmooth 2.0, the aptly named second generation version of GoPro’s proprietary digital stabilization technology. The first version, which premiered on the GoPro Hero7, was hailed for its effectiveness, and the follow-up is apparently even more powerful – plus, it provides new adjustment options so you can tweak how aggressive it is.

GoPro’s proprietary variable speed recording mode TimeWarp also gets upgraded to 2.0, and there’s better on-board wind suppression for mic-free recording. The body changes mean that the lens is no longer removable, but GoPro is planning to release a new mounting system for filters soon to make up for this limitation.

On top of the new design, there’s a series of new aftermarket add-ons, which GoPro calls “Mods,” to provide add-on features. There’s a Media Mod ($ 79.99) that includes a built-in shotgun mic; a Display Mod ($ 79.99) which has a flip up LCD viewfinder for vlogging, and a Light Mod ($ 49.99) which has a 200 lumen LED continuous video light source.

The other new camera, the GoPro MAX, is a $ 499 successor to the GoPro Fusion, and provides 360 capture. It’s designed to also produce great single lens, traditional wide angle footage, and has its own version of HyperSmooth stabilization called Max HyperSmooth (which you know much be extreme because it’s called ‘Max’).

The MAX seems less oriented at 360 video and more at advanced content creators who want maximum editing flexibility and the ability to more easily vlog, since it also includes a front-facing display.

GoPro faces increased competition from legit sources in their home category, including competing devices from DJI and Insta360, but the slate of new upgrades here really do sound like quality, meaningful improvements vs. the existing Hero7, and the new all-in-one body design should make it even more convenient for general use while out on the go.

Pre-orders are live now for the cameras, with shipping starting on October 15 for the GoPro Hero8, and shipments for the Max starting on October 24.

Gadgets – TechCrunch

GoPro teases next-generation action camera announcement for October 1

GoPro’s successor to the Hero 7 is likely coming on October 1, as the action camera maker has posted a teaser with the date to its official website. The tagline “This is Action” appears over a fast cut mash-up of variety of shots, including off-road racing, underwater diving and what looks like close-up footage of Frank Zapata (or someone else with a jetpack) flying around, along with the date.

The mostly shadowed image above is the closest we get to an official product shot, but we’ve seen leaks sourced from photo-focused rumor site Photo Rumors that suggest a redesign with added expandability options for advanced accessories including front-facing display monitors and external flash. These leaks also include some potential specs, like a new GP2 chip to help with on-board image stabilization, better lenses and image quality, and a new 12MP sensor, in addition to the new optional housing and accessories.

this is action gopro

GoPro’s Hero 7 introduced HyperSmooth stabilization, which provides gimbal-like results without the actual gimbal thanks to advanced digital stabilization technology that GoPro developed in-house. But the company also saw the introduction of its strongest-yet competitor in the market this year with the DJI Osmo Action, a GoPro-like action camera from drone and gimbal-maker DJI, which is at least on par with the Hero 7 in terms of stabilization and quality, with added features aimed at the vlogging market like a built-in front-facing display.

The slogan “This is Action.” could actually be interpreted as a dig against its newest rival, since Action is capitalized and the DJI camera is literally named the “Osmo Action.” Hopefully GoPro does indeed get a little spicy about its competitor, since it’s a market that could definitely stand to benefit from some genuine competition in the higher end of the category.

Gadgets – TechCrunch

DJI is out-GoProing GoPro with its own action camera

For a brief time, DJI and GoPro were partners — or at least uncomfortable allies. Way back in 2014, the companies were joined together with the intention of building a drone designed to capture athletes in motion. It must have seemed like a perfect piece of synergy from two players at the top of their respective games.

Of course, things didn’t shake out that way. The best laid plans and all that. GoPro went all in on its own drone, but Karma’s launch was wobbly, to say the least. Sixteen days after release, GoPro recalled the drone after battery issues caused it to start falling from the sky. The drone was re-released, but the division was seemingly doomed from the beginning. Early last year, the company announced plans to axe around a fifth of its staff, effectively ending its drone division in the process.

DJI’s own business, on the other hand, has been booming. The Mavic Pro, announced shortly after the Karma, has redefined the consumer drone space, spawning a sequel and several other folding quadcopters from the company, including the Mavic Air, Zoom and Spark. All the while, the Shenzhen-based company has been making strides in imaging, with products like the impressive Osmo Pocket gimbal.

But until now, DJI had never taken a direct swing at GoPro’s true bread and butter: the action camera.

The Osmo Action is a shot across the bow. DJI is gunning directly for GoPro with its own action camera that brings a compelling feature set to the conversation. The camera arrives at a time of relative calm for GoPro. The company’s first quarter financials were looking up, with a 20% year-over-year revenue increase.

Just yesterday, the company’s stock price got a healthy bump on the news that it was shifting manufacturing to Mexico in an attempt to address rising U.S. tariffs resulting from the company’s Chinese manufacturing. Thinknum published its own take on GoPro’s future, as the California-based company appears to be undergoing a hiring spike on the software side. We’ve reached out to GoPro, asking whether this points to a shift away from hardware moving forward, but have yet to hear back.

For now, of course, GoPro’s still very much invested in the action camera category. The GoPro Hero7 arrived late last year to positive reviews. Our own Lucas Matney gave it good marks for its stabilization and live streaming capabilities, while noting that the company hadn’t made many strides on the hardware front since the last gen.

Quoting Lucas here:

[GoPro’s 2018 story]  seems to be a more conservative one with the company’s new flagship device the Hero7 Black moving mostly laterally on hardware specs while throwing its focus to software tech like digital video stabilization. The moves seem designed to reduce R&D costs while widening the gap between the low and high-end on the company’s far cleaner new product line.

While the action camera market has been crowded for several years now, GoPro’s name continues to be synonymous with the category for many consumers. DJI is far from the first company to go head to head with GoPro in the space, but in 2019, it may well be the best positioned. It has proven itself a master of imaging with drones and gimbals, making the move into action cameras an easy enough lift.

Still, DJI knows enough to not enter a new category without actually bringing something new to the table. The Osmo Action certainly looks like a GoPro at first glance. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and all of that, but after a decade and a half of GoPro Heroes, the entire industry appears to have settled on the boxy design as the ideal form factor, with regards to portability, durability and all of that other fun stuff.

The most immediate difference is at the dual-screen design. There’s a standard 2.25 inch rear touchscreen, coupled with a 1.4 inch display on the front. The new feature certainly makes sense on for quick setup options and selfies. While it’s true that plenty of action cameras offer streaming to mobile devices, the front screen works really well for last minute adjustments — and to give you a little added confidence that the camera is capturing what you want.

TechCrunch video producer Gregory Manalo has been playing around with the Osmo Action for a couple of weeks now and so far has a lot of nice things to say about the execution. Like me, he wasn’t entirely sold on the front facing screen initially, but has since come to appreciate the value it adds.

“I found it great for composing the shot on my motorcycle,” Gregory reports back. “You can switch back to the other screen while still recording. Switching screens was snappy. The lack of touch on the front screen is a bummer but not a deal breaker.”

The camera utilizes DJI’s propriety Action OS. I played around with it a bit myself in a briefing about a month or so ago at a parkour gym in Brooklyn. There was a bit of a learning curve for my first few minutes, but once you’ve got the initial lay of the land, it’s quite easy to use on the fly. Gregory concurs, calling it “clean and easy to navigate.”

Ditto for SnapShot. The feature is designed to capture quick shots on the go. As anyone who’s ever used an action (or frankly any) camera can tell you, things don’t always go the way you’ve mapped them out in your head. Press the shutter button once and the camera will power up and start recording in under two seconds.

Of course, you do lose the time it takes to fire up. Gregory again: “What would be even cooler is a pre-record option so that it covers that two seconds of lag. But I’m guessing that would either zap the batteries sooner or add more bulk to the camera somehow.” I suspect that’s a pretty fair assessment of the camera’s limitations on that front.

Once fired up, the camera is capable of shooting 4K videos at up to 60FPS, along with 12 megapixel photos. The Osmo Action features an option effect to de-warp videos, removing the fisheye effect in the process. And in keeping with the rest of DJI’s offerings, there are a number of different in-camera effects for creating compelling videos on the fly, including time-lapse, 8x slow motion and a variety of custom exposure effects that will give you cool shots of things like the stars.

From a shooting standpoint, however, the biggest standouts are HDR and, naturally, Electronic Image Stabilization — something DJI’s perfected over several generations of drones. Strangely, in the current configuration, however, the two features don’t appear to work in tandem.

“The HDR video feature claims three stops of additional dynamic range in the scene with natural transitions between light and dark areas,” Gregory says. “Based on the footage you can definitely tell a difference. I’d shoot with HDR more often than not, just so I can have the information in the footage when I go to post. But here’s the trade-off: EIS cannot be enabled in HDR video.”

It could be arriving in a firmware update, or maybe it’s just more than the hardware is currently capable of handling. Either way, it seems like prime candidate for some future upgrade. For now, however, most of the nits that can be picked here are on the small side. That’s fairly remarkable for what’s essentially a first generation product — albeit one from a well established company.

The Osmo Action is available today, priced at $ 349. That puts the camera at $ 50 below the Hero7 Black’s $ 399 retail price. Though GoPro’s premium action camera has been on sale for some time now. It’s currently priced at $ 299 on the company’s official site, perhaps in anticipation of the Osmo’s release.

Whatever the case, DJI’s made it very clear that it’s not messing around here. GoPro’s status as the end all, be all of action cameras probably isn’t going away any time soon, but DJI’s just made an extremely compelling argument for its own spot in the conversation.

Gadgets – TechCrunch