Go Pro Hero 5 Black: Is It a Good Travel Video Camera?

go pro hero 5 travel cam

Excited about Go Pro action cameras? Hesitating to take the plunge with your credit card in your hand?

I was in your situation too.

Lets face it.

Go Pro’s marketing team makes some sick videos.

You feel like you’ll be able to take similar videos on your travels and the whole world will stop to gawk.

I was in that position too.

And after spending a few hours rolling around in my bed struggling with the decision, I finally decided to just buy it.

I had a couple months to play with it, so I can share my honest opinions.

But before we dive into the details of this specific model, let’s take a peak at the other models.

Go Pro Models:


If you don’t know, Go Pros are pocket-sized action cameras.

You’re meant to strap them to your helmet or a selfie stick, and embark on some crazy adventures.

There are a few versions on the market, with a new entry-level one just hitting stores.

Here are the ones you should know about:

  • Go Pro Hero 4 (Mid-range)
  • Go Pro Hero 5 (I have this one!) (Mid-range)
  • Go Pro Hero 6 (Upper Range)
  • Go Pro Fusion (Most Expensive)
  • Go Pro 2018 (Entry Level, Cheapest)

Pretty much all of them can take decent quality videos, but the Go Pro Hero 6 and Fusion can take videos in much higher resolutions.

Just keep in mind these are action cameras.

They’re waterproof and extremely durable, but they don’t have as many shooting options as other video cameras.

One more thing to keep in mind is Go Pro cameras can only use mini-SD cards, and they fill them up FAST.

For the best quality, it’s recommended to buy an SD card with the fastest possible write speed, at least 60mb/s. 

The battery is also something to consider, which we’ll talk about later on.

Anyways, let’s get back to the model at hand, my trust little Go Pro Hero 5 Black.

We’ll talk about the limitations later on in this review.

Go Pro Hero 5 Black: What I Love about It…


For starters, it’s my first action camera ever, so I was quite obsessed with it.

I took it out to the closest park and ran it through all kinds of tests, like sticking it into murky ponds and throwing it around.

I was quite happy with the results.

Let’s run through the video modes: 

  • 480P
  • 720P
  • 1080P
  • 2.4K
  • 4K

Unfortunately the Go Pro Hero 5 can only shoot 4K at 30 frames a second. 

With 2.4K you can get a maximum of 60 frames a second, and with all the lower modes you can go well over 120 frames a second.

At 1080P you can record up to 120 frames a second.

On 480 and 720P you can record at 240 frames a second, which lets you take some really cool slow motion shots.

Except, the field of view is stuck on Narrow. 

I usually film at 2.4K in 60 FPS so I can slow it down later, or zoom in and out digitally, without losing too much image quality.

You can also slow it down to 30 frames a second in your video editing software to get some cool scenes. 

Zoom:


Speaking of zoom, a question I see a lot is do Go Pro cameras have zoom?

And the answer is: no, they don’t. 

And it sucks.

Then again, if the camera is strapped to a body part, who has time to zoom in and out?

I made the mistake of trying to use a Go Pro as my main video camera.

It really doesn’t cut it. 

For a main camera you need something with zoom and focus capabilities.

(And that’s why I bought a Nikon B700, click to read my review)

But as far as video quality is concerned, the Go Pro can create some really high definition videos.

I have no complaints about the video quality – it looks wonderful.

Mounting & Accessories:


Not that kind of mounting! 

When you order a Go Pro, it comes with a plastic housing you can mount to various accessories.

Included housing and camera

What I recommend is a sturdy selfie stick, not those crappy flimsy ones, but something made from metal.

A wrist strap is helpful too. 

I bought a selfie-stick/mini tripod package from a store here in Taiwan, it includes a blue tooth capture button too.

Except, that button doesn’t work with the Go Pro – but oh, well.

The other accessories work fine. 

Before you take it on a trip, you’ll definitely need a selfie stick or some other mount like a head or chest.

If you’re going to swim with it, it wouldn’t hurt to buy a stick that floats, so you can find your camera if it ever slips off.

Of course I did the opposite and bought a dumbbell selfie stick.

I’m not videoing! I’m curling! 

Here’s a picture of my handheld setup: 

You can get pretty much any selfie stick as long as it is secure and stable.

You don’t want your camera to fly away! 

Wireless & Voice Features:


The Go Pro Hero 5 has voice activated features too.

Here are some of the voice commands:

  • Go Pro take a picture
  • Go Pro start recording
  • Go Pro stop recording

There are some other commands too, but these are the most useful.

Read this for a list of all the official voice commands.

I wasn’t really a fan of the voice command feature, it’s cool, but not practical.

When in the housing the Go Pro doesn’t seem to pick up voice commands very well.

Wireless:

You can download the Go Pro app on your phone, connect it to the camera, and control the camera from your phone.

I really like this feature, and it works quite well.

You can see a live-view of your Go Pro on your smartphone, a great feature for selfies and stuff.

And you can also change the settings on the camera via the app too, which is useful.

It connects via WiFi so the battery does drain quite fast.

Generally, for travel videos, I recommend turning off WiFi and voice control because they quickly drain the battery.

What Go Pro’s Do Well:


Go Pros were made for one purpose: action point of view videos, like head cams and what not.

So you can’t really expect that much from them.

But what they can do, they do really well.

For example, underwater shots are great. 

I love the clarity, and the wide-view is perfect for underwater.

If you go snorkeling or scuba diving, these cameras can take some really beautiful videos.

Perfect for you’re trips to Philippines! 

Just keep in mind, though the camera is waterproof without a case, it’s only water proof up to ten meters.

If you need to go deeper than that, it’s recommended to buy an official diving case for the camera.

Also remember to securely close all the ports before you jump in water.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s better to pair this camera with another, better, video camera.

I pair this camera with my Nikon B700.

It’s not the absolute best for videos, but it works quite well, mainly due to the 63X optical zoom.

Configuring the Slow Motion:


How do people get those slick slow motion videos with their Go Pro cameras?

It took me awhile to figure out, but it’s quite simple.

What you want to do is take a video and a high frame rate, and then reduce the speed to a lower frame rate inside your video editing software.

The video editing software I use is Adobe Premier Pro.

With Adobe Premier Pro you can right click on a video in the timeline and select speed.

And then you have to do some math: 

Since Premier Pro only lets you change the speed in percentages, it’s time to do some fractions.

Just a heads up, most cinematic movies are filmed in 24 frames a second. 

But most video editors like to use 30 frames a second for their videos, it’s the most standard mode.

Anyways, what you want to do is divide the frame rate you want your video to be, by the frame rate it’s recorded at, and then slow it down that amount in Premier Pro.

For example, if I record at 60 FPS, and I want the video to be at 30 frames a second, I’ll reduce the speed in Premier Pro by 50%.

When I do that, the video clip will slow down by 50% but it will still look smooth.

Likewise, if you take a higher frame-rate video, filmed at 120 FPS, to reach the 30 FPS project, divide 120 by 30 and you get four.

1/4= 25% so that’s what you put into Adobe Premier Pro, which will slow the video down by 25% and you’ll have some cool slow motion.

Here’s a list of the numbers you’re probably looking for: 

  • 240/30 = 8 = 12.5%
  • 120/30 = 4 = 25%
  • 60/30 = 2 = 50%

So if you shoot a 240 FPS video with the Go Pro you’ll want to reduce the speed by 12.5% in Adobe Premier Pro to get the slow motion.

So, the Go Pro Hero 5 has a good amount of frame rate modes, and you can get some really cool slow motion videos.

Stabilization:


The main issue you’re going to have with videos is stabilization. 

Trying to capture an absolutely smooth shot is pretty much impossible without accessories like tripods and gimbals.

Go Pro Hero 5 has a built-in video stabilization mode, and it’s decent, but it won’t remove all the shakiness.

The best way to reduce the shakiness is to use a selfie stick, tripod, or gimbals. 

Most video editing software like Premier Pro have digital functions to stabilize the image further, which can be quite helpful.

You can also slow down the video to remove some the shakiness as well.

Do all those tricks, and the final video should be relatively smooth. 

Gimbals will eliminate this problem all together, but they can be quite expensive.

And ain’t nobody got money for that. 

So just try to use a selfie stick and keep your hands as stable as possible, the Go Pro will automatically remove some of the jerky movements.

Overall, the shakiness with the Go Pro Hero 5 is not too bad. 

I’v found if you keep the camera close to your body, and hold the selfie stick with two hands, elbows in, and then slow down the footage later, the final version is relatively smooth.

Static Focus:


This is the main issue I had with the Go Pro:

The focus is static. 

In other words, you can’t focus on individual objects, everything is in focus.

This means you can’t take macro shots of bugs and other gross creepy crawlers.

So you can’t zoom and you can’t focus on objects, which are two important features the Go Pro lacks.

Then again, when you’re underwater, there’s no need to focus on individual fish anyways.

I wouldn’t say these are deal breakers, I still love the camera, but I wish there were at least some modes for this.

No Timer:


As strange as it might sound, Go Pro cameras do not have timers.

It’s weird for such modern cameras to not have a feature most cameras have, even ancient ones, but oh well. 

The only way to get around this is to use your phone as a remote, and hide the phone behind your back or something like that.

Maybe the firmware will be updated to include a timer, but as of this writing there is no option.

Final Thoughts:


Overall, I still love my Go Pro Hero. 

There are just a few downsides, but overall, it’s a great camera, and perfect for beaches and water activities.

But if you want to take good travel videos and have more configuration options (like zoom and focus) then you’ll need another camera.

So that’s pretty much everything I have to say about this camera.

If you want to grab a Go Pro for yourself, feel free to do so through one of the links below.


Thanks for taking the time to read this Go Pro Hero 5 review!

Hopefully now you know what to expect from the camera.

Leave a comment if you have any questions! 

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