GoPro Hero 6 Review: Is it the ultimate Christmas gift?

I have managed to head out on a lot of hiking and running trips this year with my cameras in tote. From the West Coast Trail to snowshoeing Kananaskis with our Blitzed Trail Running team, I’ve managed to shoot a few thousand frames and video hours of footage for both personal use and for commercial gigs with Blitz, CBC Edmonton, Sport Chek, Atmosphere, BCA Tours and Jasper Tourism. My job has taken me to some pretty amazing places and using photos and video as tools to tell stories has become a passion of mine.

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Sport Chek sent me a GoPro Hero 6 a few months ago to test on my adventures. It has taken me a while to come out with a full review of this camera as I have been jumping into pools, running and hiking with it up mountains, and exposing it to some pretty extreme conditions. This thing is bomb proof, it shoots absolutely amazing images and videos, and it’s one of my favourite tools to have in my arsenal of story making gear.

If you’re considering getting a Hero 6 as a gift for someone or yourself here are my thoughts on whether it’s worth the $650 price tag.

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Pros of the GoPro Hero 6

Buttery smooth image stabilization

If you are into video and want to shoot similar to the pros with non-shaky image stabilized video in standard 1080p or 4k format all while flying down a hill a maximum velocity; this is the camera for you. You still need to practice a few techniques to stabilize the image if you are holding the unit by hand but it takes away a majority of the micro shakiness.

Dynamic range

The camera has the ability to gather a lot of information in really high contrasting situations. Shooting into the sunlight the Hero 6 can handle it without over-exposing video and photo.

Slow motion capture

I have been playing around with this for many of my videos. Shooting in 4k at 60 frames per second or 1080p at 240 frames per second allows you to slow videos down to make that cinematic style.

The Pro-Mode

Letting the camera chose the right settings is usually the norm for most people but if you want to play around with settings or keep something like the exposure consistent then Pro-mode unlocks an amazing way to play around with the camera.

Ability to zoom

This is the first GoPro that allows you to zoom in and take video or photos. It is only digital zoom so the final product will be a bit grainy but we’re getting somewhere with this technology!

Camera durability

If you haven’t used a GoPro Hero 5 before, these things are practically bomb proof without any cases or housing! You can drop these things, jam them in cracks and crevices, dive in water with them, take them out in – 20C conditions and they will still turn on and work like magic.

Quick record

The record button can be set to quickly (kind of, I’ll get to this in the “Con” portion) turn on and start recording in your chosen setting. You can just hit the button and get to capture a moment, this is gold when your shooting at the hip and you don’t want to miss anything.

No Need to Buy New Accesories

It works with your old GoPro gear so no need to buy all new mounts!

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GoPro Hero 6 Cons

Big glitches

There have been multiple instances where the Hero 6 will freeze right when I’m setting up to capture something. No word of a lie I’ve lost a few epic once in a lifetime shots because I try to turn it on and it just will not start up. Then I’m left standing on the side of a mountain trying to reset the darned thing wishing I pulled out my camera instead. This issue was known when the Hero 6 first came out and still hasn’t been fixed.

Camera lag

The quick-on button just isn’t that quick. It takes between 5-10 seconds for the GoPro to turn on and then start recording, ultimately this is probably no different in terms of speed compared to pulling your phone out of your pocket or turning a camera on. But there’s this moment where I stand there waiting for it to turn on fearing that I’ve missed my opportunity to catch that critical moment.

The battery life

Even at a lower quality image or video capture, you are guaranteed that this device will not last past a few hours of filming. Buy a few extra batteries if you are planning on heading out for a while.

Shooting in low light or indoors

GoPro has made some pretty big leaps and bounds when it comes to night time photography with this device but ultimately low light video capture still needs a lot of improvement. The video comes up grainy when shooting indoors or out of direct sunlight. Bring an alternate light source if you plan on doing either of these.

Image quality

Remember these are action cameras so the Hero 6 still will not replace a good point and shoot camera, a DSLR/mirrorless, or even some of the flagship phones. These cameras are meant to be used for situations where you need that really nice wide shot or environments where you would definitely break another camera. Know the purpose of each piece of gear you are bringing on your trip: you don’t need the most expensive and up to date technology that will add more weight!

The cost

I have seen a lot of great video and photos captured with the Hero 5 and Hero 4 which are respectively $100 and $200 less than the cost of the Hero 6. Also, the $650 price range is getting to the same cost as a good quality point and shoot camera with a zoom lens. I really do like the Hero 6 for everything that I shoot but I always give people as many options as possible so that they can pick something that suits their lifestyle.

Final Thoughts on the GoPro Hero 6

Perfect for action videos and the modern day adventurer.

So would I recommend the Hero 6? Yes but for a specific person. If you are regularly creating action videos and want something durable then this is probably the camera to pick up! But also remember that there are many alternatives that are less pricey that will give similar quality images and video without the huge price tag.

About Chris Tse

I’m a scientist turned owner of Blitz Conditioning, a Fitness Columnist at CBC Radio on Thursdays at 8:20 am, and owner of Tse Social Strategy. Follow me on Twitter or Read my full bio.

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