©2022 Michael Raven
So… As I had already said several times this past week or so, I decided to take the plunge and pick up a GoPro Hero 10 Black. It arrived this afternoon and, while I haven’t experimented much with taking any usable pictures, I have been exploring the various features to try and become familiar with the little guy. [Note: this is not a product review, just initial impressions].
And goodness, is he little — smaller than the span of my hand. Of course, that means there are some limitations that come with that, but ones that I am willing to overlook. While some people might complain about those limitations, I see them as constraints, rather than true limitations. They are something to work within instead of bemoaning they exist at all.
But I am still in discovery mode with the device, I may live to eat those words.
However, while the device itself it relatively intuitive, some of the setup is less so. Connecting it to my phone had some missed steps which resulted in me sitting while wheels spun, waiting for a thumbs up which never came. This seems to be a common issue with their overall approach to the instructions, so I think they might want to invest in having someone overhaul their documentation and app. Mostly it was things like “hey, you should swipe down on your phone and authorize a bluetooth connection after doing so from the app”. Simple things that can frustrate less patient people than I. Or merely notifying that initial battery charging can take several hours (especially when using the extended battery that I purchased separately (which is now sporting 94% charge after 2 hours).
But they packaged it decently. I wish they had also included a pouch for when you don’t want or need all of the space of the included case, but that is a quibble on my part and I’ll probably just pick up a velvet slip pouch and a lanyard.
Another tiny quibble that I’ll get out of the way is just how difficult it is to open the battery/microSD/chargeport panel. It might be me just needing to get used to the operation, but it seems there should be a better way. The intent, I am certain, is to make it tight as hell so that the camera is waterproof, as advertised, but there is probably a better way to do that.
The camera itself comes with a number of essential accessories: charge cable, things to mount on a helmet, a 32GB microSD, and a standard battery. I think I may add a tripod/selfie-stick (more for the tripod element than for selfies).
I explored the menus and got it hooked up to the phone. I like that you can use your phone as a remote, with a preview screen, so you don’t have to use the small viewscreens (front and rear), thereby taking advantage of not needing to be behind the camera to take a picture.
The camera feels solid, like it can take a beating. There are a ton of modes that I am still exploring, from night photography/video, to time-lapse, to scheduled photos/video, and then are a ton of ways to capture media, from quality to quantity, wide-angle to linear-angle, to HDR and RAW, stabilization that beats the hell out of my phone’s camera… the list goes on and, while I explored most or all of the menus, I don’t always have a good sense as to what exactly is packaged in this tiny device.
Well, I’ve been playing around and found some limitations in the device that I will have to learn to work within, some of which are a tad frustrating — but have more to do with my expectations rather than reality.
I was expecting a better picture quality than I am getting (and I may still find inside the settings). It may have something to do with the focal point and what I was trying to accomplish, and so I may have to adjust for that in my expectations. I may be trying too hard to treat the GoPro like a regular camera, which is likely not how it was designed. But I was surprised as the graininess of the photo mode on my 1440 monitor for what is supposed to have 5k video capabilities. It might have to do with internal processing (I have yet to explore not having the post-processing), the distance to the subject or any number of other elements that I am still learning to work with.
One of the considerations I am toying with is doing burst-mode 5k video and doing a subsequent screen-grab to see if that gives me something I am happier with; or, I’ve just been spoiled by having a high-end PC and seeing other, more expensive cameras photos; or, I’m too much of a noob to get my settings/post production right. Whatever it is, I am slightly disappointed in the photo quality.
I tried taking pictures in RAW format, but it looks like only way I can actually utilize RAW is to go with a Photoshop/Lightroom license, which is unpalatable at $10/mo. I tried a conversion tool to shift to DNG so that other software can read the RAW file (embedded in a .gpr file on my microSD), but the tools don’t want to recognize the .gpr extension to convert. So, I am stuck with .jpg for export format, another frustration.
Again, it might be all due to my expectations not matching reality, so I try to not spend too much time being frustrated.
Some of the features are not intuitive or explained real well, and it would likely be to GoPro’s benefit if they invested more time in making things more intuitive to use, in their apps as well as on the device itself. Or explained things a wee bit better than they do. Some of my learning has been pure trial and error, or looking up on various webpages for tips and guides.
Frustrations aside, I am happy with the overall feel of using the device. It’s just learning to work within its limitations that will take some time getting used to. I’ll probably start posting pictures soon, but want to get a better feel for how to improve quality before doing so.