Can New Hero 7 Steady Cam Save Shaky Go Pro
GoPro who is desperate to make a comeback in the action camera market and whose business is up for sale, is now punting on new steady cam technology to drive consumers to upgrade their old Go Pro cameras.
The technology that removes need for stabilisation has been built into a new $750 Hero 7 Black which Go Pro claims records “Hypersmooth” steadied clips in real-time. At this stage the US company that has made losses during the past 11 quarters has not provided us with a camera for testing.
There are no improvements to frame rates or resolution – the maximum setting in the new camera is still 4K at 60 frames per second on the Black edition and lower on the other cameras. In addition, the white and silver models take 10 megapixel rather than 12MP photos. Although the previous generation of camera did something similar, GoPro says the results are far superior this time round.
It says they even exceed what was possible with its own Karma Grip gimbal, an accessory that some camera users use. This device effectively double the cost of a camera.
“It can be used underwater… Hypersmooth is wind resistant at any speed,” said CEO Nick Mr Woodman
The new Hypersmooth feature delivers the new capability digitally rather than by physically moving the camera sensor internally to compensate for shake.
The new Hero 7 Black also offers a Time warp feature that marries the stabilising effect to time-lapses.
This allows the users to move about as they film, to create sped-up footage that does not look shaky.
The result is similar to a Hyperlapse – a process that usually requires a user to take hundreds of still images and then laboriously edit them together.
The company is also making it easier to livestream footage to Facebook and other social media platforms.
Mr Woodman said his company’s use of its GP1 chip, which debuted last year, had helped make this possible.
“If we were still relying on open-market available processor and were developing cameras the way some of our competitors do, I don’t think it would be possible to have made this breakthrough,” he said.
GoPro’s own app can now livestream footage to Facebook without the need for additional third-party software. This is limited to 720p resolution. It intends to add support for YouTube and Instagram later.
Go Pro management believe half its active customers were still using Hero 4 or older cameras, presenting it with a “huge opportunity”.
“I have a responsibility as GoPro’s [chief executive] to be looking for the best return in value creation for our investors and also to realise the best product experience for our customers,” Nick Woodman the CEO said.
“And if there’s a way to do that more effectively with a strategic partner, then of course that’s something we are going to look at.
“But to be candid, my focus and our leadership team’s focus is not on trying to sell the business.
In Australia brands such as Laser Corporation have been selling action cameras with more features than what Go Pro have been offering for half the price of a Go Pro camera.
“As much as they have improved a lot of stuff in the new cameras, there’s still a real question as to whether there’s enough to convince existing GoPro owners to upgrade,” said Cam Bunton, a reviewer for UK Pocket-lint.
Mr Woodman said GoPro expected to sell about 16% more cameras this year than in 2017.
But with smartphones becoming more robust and mirrorless cameras offering a more travel-friendly alternative to digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLRs), GoPro risks getting squeezed say experts.