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GoPro HERO5 Hands-on Underwater Review

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GoPro HERO5 Hands-on Underwater Review

We've put the new GoPro HERO5 through a series of test dives and have explored all the menus. Watch the videos below for an overview of new features and great underwater footage.

Monterey GoPro HERO5 Underwater Review Footage by Patrick Webster
Backscatter test pilot Patrick Webster used the GoPro HERO5 Black to record a cormorant capturing a fish and other great underwater scenes in Monterey Bay. The new image stabilization helps make camera moves rock solid. Follow Patrick Webster @UnderwaterPat on Instagram and Vimeo

GoPro Hero5 Underwater Review - Backscatter First Look
In this video Robin Dodd of Backscatter walks you through the new GoPro HERO5 features.

HERO5 - First Waterproof GoPro

We're excited to see GoPro embrace folks like us with a true waterproof design. The new battery and cable hatches are indeed a bit tougher on the fingers to open, but they are now watertight. The entire camera is now more drop-proof and crash-proof than ever before. With a waterproof rating of 33 ft (10m) in the nude and a Super Suit rating of 196ft (60m) this is indeed the best GoPro ever made for underwater use.

The GoPro HERO5 Black is the choice for scuba divers as the optional GoPro HERO5 Super Suit provides depths up to 196FT (60M). The smaller GoPro HERO5 Session does not have an LCD screen and is only waterproof to 33FT (10M).

RAW and WDR Photo Modes - Cleaner Corrections in Post

Raw file capability is a huge bonus for GoPro photographers. With earlier GoPro cameras we captured photos where the background was too bright or the auto white balance was too green. Since the photos were JPEGs they would quickly fall apart with editing in post. The GoPro HERO5 Black now has RAW photo capabilities that allow stronger image corrections with a much cleaner result. Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) mode helps correct for bright backgrounds in camera further streamlining your workflow.

Image Stabilization - Might Save Your Friendships

Nothing is worse than making your friends seasick with your wobbly video. The HERO5's new image stabilization feature will smooth out the up and down bumps producing a much more watchable video. In our tests, we found it does not correct the left and right twist motions common to pole users, but will have a huge impact on the amount of watchable footage in the future. Image stabilization does not work in 4K, but does work in 2.7K and lower resolutions. While it's not the preferred optical stabilization on higher end cameras, the HERO5's digital stabilization looks great in our tests.

One Press Quickcapture - Less Fiddling and Longer Battery Life

If you're new to GoPro this might not seem like a big feature, but some of us consider it a godsend. As underwater photographers we're always trying to save batteries by minimizing power-on time. Older GoPros required a two button press to power on and start recording or a menu setting that typically started recording when you really just wanted to turn on the camera. With the GoPro HERO5 Black you can turn on the camera with the side button for traditional use or even better tap the top button for Quickcapture mode. A top button Quickcapture press will automatically turn the camera on and begin recording. A second top button press will stop recording and automatically power the camera off. This is a very cool feature to minimize shutter response time while maximizing battery life.

Exposure Lock - For Use On Land

Tap and hold on the touch display until you see brackets in the corner of the screen. When you release your tap, a spot exposure box will appear on screen. You can position this box to an over or under exposed area to dial in a better exposure. Further, a pulldown menu on the bottom of the screen will allow you to lock exposure. This is an awesome feature for land use, but unfortunately not available when your camera is wearing its Super Suit.

New Lower Price - Includes LCD

The GoPro HERO5 Black boasts the feature set & price we had hoped for with the HERO4. The $399 price tag includes the built-in LCD back and is waterproof for snorkeling. For full diving use, the new $49.99 Super Suit is all you really need other than a spare battery and micro SD card.

The FLIP4 Filters and Macro Lenses will actually work on the GoPro HERO5 Supersuit, but require DIY shims. The new FLIP5 will ship January 2017.

Hack a FLIP4 to Fit a HERO5?

If you're like us, you'd like to dive a HERO5 tomorrow. The lens port of the new GoPro HERO5 Super Suit (Dive housing) is slightly smaller than the Hero 4 dive housing. For our underwater tests, we simply used a few 0.35mm thick stickers to shim out the FLIP4 frame. Unfortunately, the FLIP4 frame is also a little too thick and could cause vignetting (dark corners) in the edges of superwide shots. If you're down with DIY, you'll see it's an easy hack, but the new FLIP5 will fit like a glove and will come with a new set of filters.

FLIP5 Ships January 2017

The new FLIP5 will work with Hero 3, 3+, 4, and 5. FLIP5 kits include a neoprene filter wallet to store the HERO5 Black's lens port and spare filters. All FLIP4 and FLIP5 filters are fully interchangeable making FLIP the most future-proof filter system on the market.


The wildly popular +15 MACROMATE MINI lens looks even sharper on the HERO5 and offers an increased depth of field over the HERO4. If you already own a +15 MACROMATE MINI lens, simply use the HERO4 focus position for great results.

You can't use the touch display underwater. Watch this video to discover the secret button menu that allows you to change shooting settings even with the Super Suit.

Switching from Macro to Wide Angle? - Use the Secret Button Menu!

We'll it's not really a secret menu, but we overlooked this feature on the latest firmware update. When using the GoPro HERO5 Black in a Super Suit for diving, you can't access the touch display to change shooting settings. Updating your camera with the latest firmware will allow you to access shooting settings underwater. While holding the side button down, click the top button quickly and a menu will pop-up on the front LCD screen. This is a critical feature when switching from Narrow FOV for macro and back to Wide FOV for normal shooting. It's also handy if you overlooked a shooting setting prior to a dive. However, you can't reformat the card or access other preferences, so make sure you remember to format before the dive. Also, don't hold the side button down for more than two seconds or you'll power down the camera accidentally. Page 19 of the GoPro HERO5 Black user manual gives an explanation of this feature.

GoPro HERO5 available now from Backscatter

  • 4K Video / 12MP Photo
  • Camera Waterproof to 33FT (10M)
  • Housing Waterproof to 196FT (60M)
  • Expanded Exposure Control
  • Expanded White Balance Settings
  • Image Stabilization
  • Voice Control

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GoPro Dual Battery Charger + Spare Battery for HERO5 Black


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