GoPro’s discontinued Karma drone had such a bad take-off in 2016 that you’d forgive its cameras for never wanting to fly again. But its new Hero drone for FPV (first-person view) reveals a more sensitive, laser-focused approach that should help banish those ghosts – and gives us an intriguing glimpse of what other Hero cameras are expecting this year.
The Hero 10 Black Bones is the real anti-Karma. Instead of jumping out of its comfort zone and building a drone with an annoying tendency to lose power mid-flight, GoPro instead ditched its flagship action camera and created what looks like the perfect little camera for FPV fans. You can see why in our hands-on GoPro Hero 10 Black Bones review.
As far as product launches go, that’s about as close to a guaranteed home run as it gets. Yes, FPV drones are still quite niche, but a significant number of pilots have reverse-engineered Hero action cameras to make them suitable for small drones for years. The growing community has also frequently begged GoPro to make a newer version of its previous small action camera, the Hero Session (which arrived in 2015).
Well, the Hero 10 Black Bones is that camera. And that means we can expect to see a lot more videos like Tesla’s Gigafactory tour. The only real downsides are that Bones is currently US-only, with GoPro telling us “we don’t have an international availability date yet.” And the fact that it’s oddly more expensive than the Hero 10 Black, despite the fact that ‘Bones’ doesn’t have its sibling’s screen, battery, speaker, GPS or waterproof build quality. versatile.
When we asked GoPro about it, he told us that his new action camera costs “significantly less than the going industry rate for a ‘naked’ GoPro, and Bones helps you save time, money and risk by providing a quality product with the GoPro warranty”. Maybe, but there’s no doubt that GoPro benefits from the unique combination of Bones and the ReelSteady stabilization software it acquired in 2020, which only works with GoPro gyro data. And that’s a sign of things to come.
Naturally, we’d rather the GoPro Hero 10 Black Bones be priced more like the Hero 4 Session, which quickly dropped to $199 from its original price of $399. But this strategy, which seems more likely to succeed than the all-in-one DJI FPV, reflects a new, more savvy GoPro that sees niche specialty cameras as the answer to capping demand for its do-it-all Hero line.
So where else could GoPro take the “Bones” approach? A strong contender, based on some patents we recently uncovered, is a rival to the DJI Pocket 2 vlogging camera. The patents describe a modular Session-style camera that, unusually for GoPro, would sit in a three-axis mechanical gimbal for ultra-smooth stabilization. This
sets it apart from the recent GoPro Volta grip accessory.
Interestingly, the camera is also described as modular and drone-compatible. Could the Hero 10 Black Bones have already given us a glimpse of GoPro’s vlogging camera? If so, the move would again have echoes of its Karma Drone, whose camera could be removed and used with the now discontinued Karma Grip Stabilizer.
The possibilities for specialist GoPro cameras don’t end there either: a dashcam, streaming camera, bike camera and, in particular, a high-end professional GoPro are also surely on the cards. One of our few issues with the Hero 10 Black Bones is that it still only lets you shoot at 8-bit color depth – which means there might just be room for a hero high-end, offering features such as 10-bit color depth, in the near future.
As we get into the realm of speculation here, it has a solid foundation – a recent earnings call confirmed that this sort of specialization is going to be GoPro’s direction for the next two years. On the call in February, GoPro CEO Nick Woodman said that “in late 2022, we plan to increase our hardware offering of the two product types we have today, Hero and Max, to four distinct camera products”.
Is the Hero 10 Black Bones one of these four products? Given that it’s part of the Hero line, maybe not – and that apparently won’t be the end of GoPro’s expansion. According to Woodman, GoPro “plans to expand it further by the end of 2023.” In other words, “Bones” is just a taste of what’s to come from the action camera maker.
This change of course is long overdue. GoPro took a long time to recover from the hedonism of the mid-2010s when it overextended itself with launches like the Karma drone.
This set the company on a more focused path that led to the Hero 9 Black, Hero 10 Black, and most importantly, a new software-focused model that produced popular wins. These include the GoPro Quik app, the new GoPro Player + ReelSteady desktop app, and its GoPro subscription, which we consider a good investment (especially if you’re considering buying one of its cameras). ).
The upshot of all of this is that GoPro is ready to make exciting new cameras again, if not like the ones of the past. The Hero 10 Black Bones is an interesting start, but it’s just a taste of how GoPro plans to chop its all-in-one action camera into smaller and possibly more useful pieces.
Smartphones may mean GoPros will never reach the heights of their previous mainstream appeal again, but in its 20th year, it looks like the king of the action camera is getting ready to show off its new tricks – and we can’t wait. to see what they will be later. year.