Camera Shootouts

GoPro HERO 6 Black vs HERO 5 Black Comparison

Which is the action camera for you?

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GoPro is one of the biggest names in sports videography and is a name that first comes to mind when the need for a portable, easy-to-set-up camera arises. Although, the past couple of years were a bit hard for the company as sales plummeted, and after introducing their first-ever drone, some literally fell from the sky.

Still working hard on making another hit, GoPro has returned with their latest action camera, the HERO 6 Black, and it boasts some pretty impressive features. Will it be the saving grace the company needs right now? How does it fare compared to its predecessor, the HERO 5? We answer those questions plus more in this comparison.

Design

On the outside, nothing has changed with the new action camera at all. It’s made of the same robust, rubbery material that’s designed to go underwater for as deep as 10 meters without needing an extra waterproof case. Button placements are carried over — one up top to start recording and another one on its side to switch between shooting modes.

Underneath, the same 1220mAh battery is stored while connectivity ports are on the other side. Even the protective lens is still removable and replaceable. There’s virtually no way of telling the two apart except for the small print on the side of the camera.

Features

The biggest upgrade of the HERO 6 has more to do with output. It can now shoot up to 4K resolution at 60fps, whereas the previous HERO 5 topped out at 4K 30fps. It might seem like a small detail but having the option to shoot smoother video is always a good thing.

Another difference is frame rate. The HERO 5 Black can capture videos at a speedy 240fps but resolution is limited to 720p. The newer HERO 6 Black, on the other hand, can shoot the same 240fps rate at a clearer 1080p resolution.

For more flexibility, the HERO 6 can also shoot at 2.7K at 120fps so you get nice slow-mo video with the ability to resize or re-scale your footage if the need arises. Other features that differentiate the new action camera from its predecessor include better low-light performance and dynamic range.

Video Sample

Of course, all this means nothing if we can’t see for ourselves. I brought both cameras during my travels and you may refer to the embedded video below (starting at 2:46) for some sample video comparisons.

You can easily see that the sky from the HERO 6’s shots is more vibrant than the pale blue color from the HERO 5. There’s also a noticeable difference in exposure. The HERO 5 has darker blacks which, in this case, worked well since it was able to bring out more details on the snowy mountain.

Although both are set to auto white balance, footage from the HERO 5 still turns out to be warmer as seen in the indoor shoot.

In terms of stabilization, the new HERO 6 really stepped up its game to remove unwanted jerks and jitters. The difference is day and night, and it’s impressive how the HERO 6 almost looks like it was mounted on a gimbal thanks to its electronic image stabilization.

Don’t get us wrong, the HERO 5 also has its own EIS, but just not as good as the new flagship’s.

One more thing to notice when the camera’s EIS is turned on is that the HERO 5 needs to crop the image by 10 percent to achieve a smoother shot, while the HERO 6 has improved this and only crops about 5 percent of the original image.

Additionally, stabilization on the HERO 5 can only be used until 2.7K resolution at 60fps, while the HERO 6 supports stabilization until 4K. The only limitation here is that EIS maxes out at 30fps with no support for the higher 60fps.

Onto low-light shooting: Footage taken with the older HERO 5 couldn’t achieve the same level of clarity shot on the HERO 6. Colors are also livelier and digital noise has been reduced significantly on the latter.

Although there were instances, like when we went ice skating, that we preferred the color and details shot by the HERO 5. It looked more natural and the ice on the floor is still visible, unlike the one shot by the HERO 6.

Photo Samples

We now look at some photo samples from both action cameras.

This photo was taken at Italy’s oldest shopping mall and shows a good balance between light and dark areas. We like how the HERO 5 has a higher contrast which added detail to the metal structure of the mall. 

While waiting for a train, we see the sun lighting the Swiss Alps from behind with a dark and shaded station in the foreground. Again, we see a more vibrant blue sky from the HERO 6 with good details.

But look closer on the warning sign in front of you and the HERO 5 was actually able to deliver a better, more legible image. Even when you crop them to 100 percent, the smallest details seem to appear better on the HERO 5.

At night, both proved to be capable shooters, but the HERO 6 showed more details by effectively capturing the cracks on the floor. One thing that I had been complaining about with my HERO 5 is that it easily overshoots light flares, creating an unwanted glow and losing details.

It’s very much distracting here since it washed out the person’s face. Meanwhile, we’re happy that it was addressed on the HERO 6 as it’s clearly the better photo.

Zooming in to 100 percent shows that the green motorcycle has a livelier color and less noise on the HERO 6 compared to its predecessor. Here are more sample photos:

Battery Life

As mentioned earlier in this video, the HERO 6 Black carries the same 1220mAh battery capacity as the HERO 5 Black. So it should technically last for the same amount of time right? Well, no.

We conducted a battery test on the two at full capacities, same video settings, and started recording until they both drained their batteries. After more than an hour and a half, the HERO 6 actually gave up first at 1 hour and 42 minutes while the HERO 5 continued on and reached 2 hours and 5 minutes. That’s 23 minutes of difference and could go a long way in real-world shooting.

Responsible for this result might be the HERO 6’s newer custom processor. Yes, it could produce better dynamic range, low light shots, and stabilize the camera really well — but at the cost of a more power-hungry chip. That’s definitely a trade-off to consider.

Conclusion

So the question here is this: Should you upgrade to a HERO 6 Black from a HERO 5 Black?

Well, you first have to ask yourself the question: Will you be using it to shoot serious action scenes with really fast movement? Are you after the best quality there is? Or are you more of a casual user who just uses a sports camera to document your out-of-town trips?  

 

Because if it’s not for professional work, the HERO 5 Black is more than capable to document all your trips. It’s also worth every penny since it just dropped its price to US$ 299, making it a really attractive offering — not to mention longer battery life.

Although if you plan to use your action videos for broadcast and want to have a lot of flexibility in shooting and editing, then you can’t go wrong with the HERO 6 Black at US$ 399.

Camera Shootouts

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 vs Note 8: Camera shootout

Is there any improvement?

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It was made clear that the brand-new Galaxy Note 9 has the same set of cameras as that of the Galaxy S9+ — they were released in the same year, after all. But there’s a more pressing concern: How much of an improvement is there over the Note 8?

Being the curious techies that we are, we took the two S Pen-equipped smartphones around New York City to see how they fare against each other. To make this shootout more interesting, we’re turning it into a blind comparison.

How blind? All rounds are in a random order, so you won’t know which phone shot Photo A and Photo B without checking the answer sheet at the end of this article.

To make things fair, all samples were shot using the default camera app on auto settings. No post-processing or editing was done, except for resizing so that they load faster.

Here we go:

#1

 

#2

 

#3

 

#4

 

#5

 

#6

 

#7

 

#8

 

#9

 

#10

 

#11

 

#12

 

Now it’s time to see which phones you actually picked:

#1: Note 8 (left) vs Note 9 (right)

#2: Note 9 (left) vs Note 8 (right)

#3: Note 8 (left) vs Note 9 (right)

#4: Note 9 (left) vs Note 8 (right)

#5: Note 9 (left) vs Note 8 (right)

#6: Note 8 (left) vs Note 9(right)

#7: Note 8 (left) vs Note 9 (right)

#8: Note 8 (left) vs Note 9 (right)

#9: Note 9 (left) vs Note 9 (right)

#10: Note 8 (left) vs Note 9 (right)

#11: Note 8 (left) vs Note 9 (right)

#12: Note 8 (left) vs Note 9 (right)

As you can see, the differences are minor except for specific instances. The Note 9 seems to perform slightly better when it comes to portraits using either the front or rear cameras. Skin tone is more accurate and the photos look sharper up close.

Although the Note 8’s output is often too warm, it does surprisingly well, especially in low-light environments. And despite lacking the Dual Aperture feature of the Note 9, the predecessor can keep up in terms of overall exposure and dynamic range.

Do note that the Note 8 has had a year to refine its cameras, whereas the Note 9 just came out with its fresh software. These results could easily change in a few months with software updates.

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Camera Shootouts

Does AI on Honor 10 photos really work?

We took plenty of snaps to find out

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Artificial Intelligence or AI appears to have become a staple feature on smartphones released in 2018. It’s even a headline feature on the Honor 10 with its tagline “Beauty in AI.”

Just how much can AI enhance your images? We took a stroll one afternoon and took a few photos to find out. Side note: The only editing done on these photos was resizing to make sure they load faster on the website.

Even without AI, the Honor 10’s pair of cameras does a good job of capturing the details of the buildings, but with AI turned on, the colors pop. If you look closely at the clouds, it almost appears as if the gates of heaven are about to open.

Moving on, we spotted this colorful set of umbrellas. You’ll notice right away that the photo taken with AI is more vibrant. This will be a recurring theme throughout this entire article.

This flower photo shows how color translates well even in closer shots.

Inside the mall, the photo taken with AI captured the feeling evoked by the installation better. Felt pretty bright and cheery seeing inanimate flamingos in love.

Before heading out to eat, I checked out some new kicks because apparently, that’s something I’m really into now. I’m not a fan of King James but this Nike LeBron 15 Low “Ashes” caught my eye. In this photo, I thought the one without AI did a better job at focusing my attention on the shoe.

Snapped this quick portrait of Leez right before we ate. The AI did fantastic work here, but as you’ll see later on, it doesn’t always get things right.

Here’s what I had for late lunch and the AI made it look super sumptuous. I’m crazy about Hot Star’s large fried chicken — the BBQ flavor, in particular. 🤤

We ran into a few superheroes when we stepped out. Iron Man Hulkbuster looked lackluster without AI, but he shines once it’s turned on.

Leez’s photo with Deadpool shows the Honor 10 does a decent job identifying more than one subject when applying bokeh.

Now, here’s an example of when the Honor 10 just didn’t get it right. We had more results like this than really good ones. I don’t know if it was me being a little too emo here, but bokeh on the photo went a little too far.

However, when it does bokeh right, the photo can look magical.

Took one more shot before leaving and honestly, this was my reaction after seeing how much enhancement the AI does on the Honor 10. Can it be better? Sure. But for what it does now, we were pretty happy with the results.

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Camera Shootouts

Huawei P20 vs P20 Lite: Camera Shootout

Double the price, double the performance?

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We all know the Huawei P20 family has a fantastic set of cameras, but the questions is: How do they compare against each other?

While a P20 versus P20 Pro comparison would be interesting, I figured comparing the P20 against the lower-end P20 Lite is more compelling. Why? Because the latter is half the price of the former.

And yet, they both share a dual-camera setup, sans the Leica branding on the Lite model. But do those sweet German lenses justify the doubling in price? That’s something we need to find out in this shootout.

As usual, every photo is taken on Auto mode without any post-processing, except for resizing to let this page load faster. To make this comparison more fun, we’ll make it a blind shootout. You can find the answer sheet at the bottom.

Let’s start!

#1

 

#2

 

#3

 

#4

 

#5

 

#6

 

#7

 

#8

 

#9

 

#10

 

#11

 

#12

 

So, was it closer than you expected? Here’s the answer sheet:

#1: P20 Lite (left) vs P20 (right)

#2: P20 Lite (left) vs P20 (right)

#3: P20 (left) vs P20 Lite (right)

#4: P20 (left) vs P20 Lite (right)

#5: P20 (left) vs P20 Lite (right)

#6: P20 Lite (left) vs P20 (right)

#7: P20 (left) vs P20 Lite (right)

#8: P20 Lite (left) vs P20 (right)

#9: P20 Lite (left) vs P20 (right)

#10: P20 Lite (left) vs P20 (right)

#11: P20 (left) vs P20 Lite (right)

#12: P20 (left) vs P20 Lite (right)

From my own experience, I’d say the P20 clearly does better at night, but they do equally well during daytime. Another thing to consider — and this doesn’t show up on the results — is that the P20 focuses on subjects faster and has a richer camera app. The P20 also has that useful night mode allowing four-second handheld photos, which weren’t included in this shootout.

So, what do you think about the comparison? And which phones should we compare next? Let us know in the comments section below.

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