GoPro Hero 6 Review

An in depth review of the GoPro HERO6 featuring amazing technological improvements in underwater video!
By Todd Kortte

GoPro cameras are among the quickest, easiest, ergonomic, and powerful tools for capturing underwater memories of your underwater experiences.  The small profile and technological capabilities of the GoPro line make them a great series of cameras for all levels and forms of use. Often underestimated, GoPros can create broadcast quality video, and are even used in Hollywood for certain shots in TV and Film.  Used correctly you can produce astonishing results.  But which GoPro should you invest in and why?  What GoPro should you take with you on your next underwater vacation or dive adventure?  Many divers these days own the Hero4 or Hero5.

The recent release of the GoPro Hero6 Black is making strides in underwater videography, so is it really worth the upgrade for your underwater use?  

The GoPro Hero6 Black boasts significant improvement over previous versions of the GoPro.  Improvements that specifically benefit underwater use.  This is good news for scuba divers! Our team is conducting underwater video tests on the Hero6 Black, and making direct comparisons to the Hero5 Black.  So far in what we have discovered, there is no reason for any diver to jump in the water with any version of the GoPro less than the Hero6!  The improvements in 4K, Stabilization, Auto Exposure, Auto White Balance, Global Tone Mapping, and Color Accuracy are all giant steps ahead of all previous versions of the GoPro.  Upgrading to the Hero6 for underwater use is strongly recommended. 

Below are descriptions of the new advancements in the Hero6, along with videos showing side-by-side comparisons between the GoPro Hero5 Black and the GoPro Hero6 Black using the exact same settings.  You be the judge and let us know which camera you think is better.  For me, it's clearly the Hero6.  The Hero6 may look exactly like the Hero5, but without a doubt, what's inside the Hero6 clearly makes it the best GoPro camera to date for underwater use.

Purchase: GoPro HERO6 Black

Availability: Now

U.S. MSRP: $399.99

 


Shop GoPro on Bluewater Photo for all the housing, accessory and shooting tips you need to bring home excellent underwater video.


 

Jump to section:

Specs   |   Features Overview   |   Technological Improvements

4K   |   Stabilization   |  Auto Exposure

Auto White Balance   |   Color Accuracy and Global Tone Mapping   

GoPro HERO6 Accessories   |   Conclusion

Full GoPro Tutorial Series

GoPro HERO6 Specifications

  • Waterproof camera with a depth rating of 33ft (10 M) *without housing sold seperately
  • Simple 1 button control
  • Wifi + Bluetooth
  • Advanced wind noise reduction
  • Voice Command
  • Video stabilization
  • Touchscreen Display
  • Auto Upload to Cloud
  • GPS - Location Capture
  • Great low-light performance
  • Raw + WDR Photos
  • Wide-Angle Glass Lens
  • 30 fps burst with a new Auto Burst mode!
  • Video Resolution: 
    • 4K Video @ 60fps
    • 2.7K Video @ 120fps
    • 1440p Video @ 60fps
    • 1080p Video @ 240fps
    • 720p Video @ 60fps

Features Overview

  • Twice the Performance - The all-new GP1 chip delivers the best image quality in a GoPro yet with twice the overall performance
  • 2-Inch Touch Display - Controlling the settings, preview and playing back your shots taken will all be done through the 2 inch touchscreen display
  • Touch Screen Zoom - Get closer to the action simply by touching the screen (note will not work inside the Super Suit)
  • Rugged + Waterproof - The GoPro Hero6 Black is designed to be durable.  It is also waterproof up to 33ft or 10 meters without using a housing. 
  • Improved Low-light Performance
  • Hands Free Operation - new hands free control with simple voice commands (will not work underwater)
  • Advanced Video Stabilization - It can capture awesome smooth video even it is handheld, mounted to your gear or using different mounting accessories
  • GoPro QuickStories - let your devices do the work, GoPro Hero6 can automatically transfer your footage to your phone via the GoPro App, then edit and add music and effects so you can share immediately!
  • Wear it. Mount it. Love it. - Capture amazing moments in a new way using multiple options of GoPro mounts and accessories.

Loss of underwater "narrow" field of view setting: 

Unfortunately, shooting macro video got a little more difficult with the GoPro Hero6. The "narrow" field of view setting was used in the Hero5 to take macro footage; it is necessary for use with the macro lens. In the Hero6, this setting is replaced by a touch screen slider that is used to adjust how narrow the field of view is. Unfortunately, when the Hero6 is placed in the Super Suit housing, the slider cannot be moved. Essentially, you can't switch between wide and macro underwater. If you wish to shoot macro with the Hero6 then you need to slide the slider to narrow before the dive, place the camera in the housing, and then leave the camera running without making any changes the whole dive. We are hoping that a future firmware update will be made to fix this problem. 

New Technological Strides 

4K

4K is a buzz word these days – everyone wants to shoot 4K resolution.  The Hero6 offers large improvements in 4K technology since the Hero5.  These improvements are significant for those serious about their 4k.  The Hero6 can shoot 4K at 60 frames per second resolution with no stabilization, and at 30 frames per second WITH stabilization.  The Hero5 is limited to only 30 fps at 4K resolution and DOES NOT have stabilization.   Winner in the 4K category clearly goes to the Hero6!

 

4K Comparison Test GoPro Hero5 vs Hero6 from Todd Kortte on Vimeo.

Recommended Resolution

Keep in mind that 4K is also more difficult to edit.  The file size can be 4-8x larger (depending on your frame rate) than shooting 2.7k or 1080.  4K resolution is 3840x2160. 2.7K resolution is 2704x1520. 1080, also known as HD, has the resolution of 1920x1080.  You need a powerful computer and powerful graphics card to edit 4K.  Most social media sites play your videos back at 720p or 1080p.  If you have no use for 4K resolution, I would recommend shooting at 2.7k and editing your files down to 1080 in your post production editing software.   You can post your 1080 file on social media for your friends and followers.

 

Stabilization

The Hero6 claims improvement in video stabilization over the Hero5.  Surprisingly, the Hero5 was the first GoPro to even have video stabilization!  The Hero4, Hero3, and any previous versions of the GoPro have no option for video stabilization and resulted in very shaky and difficult to watch underwater videos.  Most editing software programs have a stabilization option you can use with your videos from older versions of the GoPro. Often the results are not very appealing.  They end up looking warped and distorted.  Adding stabilization to the Hero5 was a much-welcomed improvement to the GoPro.  For us divers, having stabilization greatly helped reduce the shakiness that is an inherent problem of our underwater hobby.  The Hero6 has shown more stability over the Hero5 making this category a bonus for topside and underwater videos.  Another reason to jump into the Hero6.  Winner in this category goes to the Hero6.  

 

Stabiliaztion Comparison Test GoPro Hero5 vs Hero6 from Todd Kortte on Vimeo.

Stabilization Tips

While there is stabilization built into the camera, I would not recommend attaching your GoPro to your wrists, mask, or holding it in your hand.  Get a selfie stick and add a float so your setup is neutrally buoyant to the point where it can stay in one place if you let go of it underwater.  You want to do everything possible to keep the camera from moving too much.  Current, surge, swimming... this all creates shaky underwater videos that are difficult to watch later.  Do anything you can to keep the camera steady underwater.

 

Auto Exposure

Not only does the auto exposure on the Hero6 have more control than the Hero5, but thanks to the increased frame rate of the image processing, the Hero6 is able to shift from dark to bright regions significantly faster.  How does this benefit the underwater user?  Things happen quickly underwater and you need a camera that can quickly adjust from light to dark in the constantly moving underwater world.  A bright fish swimming close to your underwater lights can throw off your exposure.  Shooting up into the sunlight while following your subject can do the same.  A fish swimming from the sunlit part of a reef into the darker area of a reef forces your camera to think quickly and adjust for best results in colors.  The ability of the GoPro to adjust quicker and smarter to the constantly changing and unpredictable underwater world is another big plus for the Hero6!

 

Auto Exposure Comparison Test GoPro Hero5 vs Hero6 from Todd Kortte on Vimeo.

 

Auto White Balance 

The GoPro Hero6 introduces an incredible and much needed improvement in automatic white balance!  The difference from previous models alone is every reason to ditch your old GoPro and upgrade to a Hero6.  No other version of the GoPro can do what the Hero6 does… NO FILTERS NEEDED!  That's right!  The creators of the GoPro Hero6 greatly enhanced the auto white balance to do scene detection with much more accurate color detection across a broad range of environments and lighting conditions. This has resulted in a camera that can capture the natural colors of underwater shots without the need for ANY UNDERWATER FILTERS!!!  This improvement makes the Hero6, without any doubt, the GoPro you should be using in the water.

 

Auto White Balance Comparison Test GoPro Hero5 vs Hero6 from Todd Kortte on Vimeo.

Every GoPro before the Hero6 had a hurdle to jump when shooting underwater video – the auto white balance had difficulty compensating underwater, resulting in blue and green tinted videos. You were either forced to use a filter, or when using underwater video lights, just deal with the white balance shifting the colors in your video to shades of green and blue in the middle of your shot.

While every new version of the GoPro has produced better white balance results, the jump the Hero6 has made is a huge improvement.  This is great news for the world of underwater GoPro users!  For this reason alone, you should upgrade immediately. Hands down, the Hero6 wins this category by a landslide.

 

Color Accuracy and Global Tone Mapping

Other than the auto white balance being the biggest reason to upgrade, improvements in color accuracy and detail from global tone mapping make the Hero6 stand out as the ONLY GoPro you should be taking underwater!  The global tone mapping in video mode allows high-contrast shots with bright and dark regions to have improved exposure and retain details across the entire scene.  The level of detail of underwater video has drastically improved over the Hero5.  Colors are more accurate to how we see the real world.  You can instantly see in the side-by-side video comparisons the richer and more vibrant colors with the Hero6.  Again, the Hero6 wins.

Global Tone Mapping Comparison Test GoPro Hero5 vs Hero6 from Todd Kortte on Vimeo.

 

GoPro HERO6 Accessories

 

Super Suit Housing

*A must-have to venture below 33 ft (10m)

The GoPro Hero6 is waterproof down the 33ft (10m) without the housing, due to a more robust build than previous GoPro models. New waterproof features include a new removable lens cover and rubber seals to protect the battery / Micro SD card compartment and the HDMI / USB compartment.

This is great for snorkeling, but for scuba divers and freedivers it is necessary to use the Super Suit housing, which is rated down to 197ft (60m).

To insert the Hero6 into the Super Suit dive housing, you need to first remove the waterproof lens cover by twisting to the left and popping off. Then just drop the camera in and lock the latch.

GoPro Hero6 Super Suit Housing

 


Micro SD Card

GoPro recommends using a Class 10 memory card. For underwater video, we recommend a card with 64GB memory so that you can record video all day without changing cards. The Max-Flash Hyperspeed Micro SD cards are fast enough to capture 4K at fast framerates and a great companion to your HERO5. They come with a SD Card mount so that you can insert the card into your computer or card reader.

Max-Flash Hyperspeed 64GB Micro SD Card

Max-Flash Hyperspeed 32GB Micro SD Card

 

 

Spare Battery

GoPro Hero4 Battery

The battery in your GoPro Hero6 will last one to two dives, depending how much you're shooting. Buying one or two extra batteries allows to you change it out during your surface intervals. GoPro Hero5 batteries are compatible with the GoPro Hero6.

 GoPro Hero6 Spare Battery

 

 

Dual Battery Charger

GoPro Hero4 Dual Battery Charger

If you're shooting a lot on dive trips, don't hesitate on this. The alternative is to charge the batteries one at a time through the GoPro, which isn't always ideal or easy on tight schedules packed full of diving. 

GoPro Hero6 Dual Battery Charger

 

 

SeaLife Aquapod

SeaLife Aquapod

Capture your best selfie yet with the extendable Aquapod. Made by SeaLife, the Aquapod is designed for underwater use. Not only can you capture that selfie, but you can get the camera closer to your subject, whether it is something small or something skittish that you can't approach.

SeaLife Aquapod

 

 

GoPro Multigrip Handle

GoPro Multigrip Handle

Adding a handle like the Beneath the Surface Multigrip handle adds stability and is an easy way to hold your GoPro while diving, or any other activity. Often, if handholding your GoPro, you'll see your fingers wrap around into the picture. This problem is solved with the handle.

GoPro Multigrip Handle

 

 

GoPro Tray and Handles

GoPro Handles and Tray

Attaching your GoPro Hero6 to a tray and handles will make the camera easier to hold on to and much, much more stable underwater. In addition, the handles serve as a mounting point for video lights. Below are a few of our favorities:

Ultralight Tray & Handles for GoPro

R Innovations Tray & Handles for GoPro

Beneath the Surface Angled Double GoPro Tray

 


Video Lights

i-torch fishlite video light

Bring color back into the picture with use of video lights. Even a high-powered light will only illuminate a subject a few feet in front of you, so these are most useful for macro and close focus wide-angle video. Adding a video light to your GoPro setup will allow you to shoot professional-quality video on your next dive! Below are a few of our favorites: 

Kracken Sports Hydra 3500

Dual Light Value Package

Be sure to visit Bluewater Photo to learn about more video lights, whether professional high-lumen or small and affordable.

 

Conclusion

The GoPro Hero6 is a must-have upgrade from the Hero5. If you are torn about upgrading or wondering if the $100 increase from the HERO5 is worth it – watch our side by side comparisons and you be the judge. In these comparisons, the GoPro Hero5 and the GoPro Hero 6 were filmed with the exact same settings. They reveal the true quality of technological improvement. 

The GoPro Hero6 builds on the HERO5’s improvements on sharpness and image quality with superior white balance, color, auto exposure, stabilization, and resolution. Throughout the history of the product, the GoPro has been an extreme sports video camera first with its underwater functions as a bit of an afterthought. The GoPro Hero6’s underwater ability is not an afterthought – it is exceptional. With improvements in white balance, exposure, and color, the major kinks of underwater GoPro videography have now been worked out. You are looking at a diver’s dream GoPro. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Todd Kortte is an actor in Hollywood and has a passion for the underwater world.  He brings his experience and knowledge from working on over 150 different shoots in Hollywood to the underwater filming and editing genre.  Todd has published underwater films, has won 8 film festival awards with his underwater work, and is a 3-time winner in the Bluewater Photo SoCal Shootout for the Edited Video category

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