GoPro Hero 12 Black review in a nutshell: If you want the best action camera, you need the GoPro Hero 12 Black. Simple as that.
It's hard – if not impossible – not to be amazed by the best GoPros. Every time a new model comes out, we get reminded why most people think of GoPros as the best action cameras. They are technically advanced, have tons of user-friendly features and provide the crispest footage out there. In short, GoPros are amazing.
This comes from a person obsessed with his Insta360 X3 and also recently enjoyed playing around with the DJI Osmo Action 3. I'm also a keen user of the super-compact Insta360 GO 3. And there is nothing wrong with that; there is enough space in the action camera market for a whole host of different devices to co-exist.
But, man, the GoPro Hero 12 Black is in a league of its own. With the latest updates, GoPro really pushed the boat out to ensure professionals and beginner content creators can all enjoy using the action camera for whatever they want. As always, the new model is an iteration, not a complete reimagination of the concept, but it's a good iteration and one that everyone interested in action cams should be excited about.
Read my full GoPro Hero 12 Black review to learn more about why that's the case.
GoPro Hero 12 Black review: price and availability
The GoPro Hero12 Black ($399.99/ £399.99/ AU$ 649.95) and Max Lens Mod 2.0 ($99.99 or $79.99 for GoPro subscribers/ £99.99/ AU$ 169.95) are available to buy directly from GoPro US, GoPro UK, GoPro AU and select third-party retailers.
As you might know, the brand got rid of GoPro Subscription pricing for its action cameras earlier this year, making it cheaper for people with no subscription to buy an action camera. This means you can buy the Hero 12 Black for the same price as the Hero 11 Black was sold for GoPro Subscribers.
The GoPro Hero 12 Black Accessories Bundle ($449.99/ £449.99/ AU$ 729.95) includes the camera, two Endure batteries, the Handler and Head Strap 2.0 accessories, and a carry case. This is a pretty solid bundle that can save you a bit of money compared to buying all the bits separately.
There is also the GoPro Hero 12 Black Creator Edition ($599.99/ £599.99/ AU$ 949.95), which includes the Volta Battery Grip, Media Mod, Light Mod and an Enduro Battery. This is best suited for content creators shooting solo.
For the best prices on the GoPro Hero 12 Black and other GoPros, head over to T3's best cheap GoPro deals page.
GoPro Hero 12 Black review: specifications
- Dimensions (mm): 71.8 W x 50.8 H x 33.6 D
- Weight (Camera + Mounting + Battery): 154g
- Rear Display Size: 2.27" Touch LCD
- Front Display Size: 1.4" Color LCD
- Water rating: 10ATM
- Sensor: 1/1.9" CMOS with 27.6 MP active pixels (5599x4927)
- Max video resolution: 5.3K (16:9) @ 60fps, 4K (16:9) @ 120fps, 2.7K (16:9) @ 240fps
- Max photo resolution: 27.13MP (5568x4872)
- Max screengrab from videos: 24.69MP from (8:7) 5.3K Video
- Maximum video bit rate: 120Mbps
- Built-in GPS: no
- Battery life: 70 minutes of continuous recording at 5.3K @ 60 fps
GoPro Hero 12 Black review: design and build quality
GoPro is getting to the point where applying any physical changes to its action cameras is becoming more and more futile. One could say the brand perfected the action camera form. What I would say is that based on current technical limitations and the ergonomics of the human body, the GoPro Hero 12 Black is as good as it gets from a physical point of view.
Not surprisingly, it's like-for-like the same as its predecessor, the GoPro Hero 11 Black. Same dimensions, same weight, same sensors, same displays, same everything. The button layout is also the same; the only difference is the speckled cover of the camera and, of course, the large '12 BLACK' lettering on the side.
There is something new, however, the 1/4-20 mounting thread. Positioned between the two folding fingers at the bottom of the action camera, the new mounting option allows for more accessories to be used with the GoPro Hero 12 Black. To drive the message home, GoPro launched a 48-inch-long extension pole that collapses to just 10 inches alongside the new cam, designed to work with the new mounting threads.
The new thread is excellent as it allows content creators to mount the GoPro Hero 12 Black in even more ways. That said, It doesn't necessarily make sense to have this mounting option. You see, with 360-degree action cams, sticking the camera at the end of a selfie pole pointing away from the user is fine, as the camera sees the person just fine thanks to the overlapping, wide-angle lens positioned on each side.
The GoPro Hero 12 Black hasn't got this functionality, so if it's mounted on the end of a pole using the new thread, it won't be able to see you if you're holding the pole. This doesn't mean the new mounting option is useless – on the contrary. After all, different mounting options allow you to mount the camera in more ways, which helps unleash more creativity.
GoPro Hero 12 Black review: (new) features
An exciting new camera feature on the GoPro Hero 12 Black is the native vertical capture mode that allows you to shoot videos in a 9:16 ratio when mounted horizontally. This mode can be activated on the camera by tapping on the icon in the bottom right corner and using the slider on the screen.
You already had the ability to crop footage shot in a 4:3 ratio in the Quik app, but allowing people to do this directly on the cam shortens the process of getting the footage from the Hero 12 Black onto social media where vertical videos belong.
Another big update is the high-definition range video that delivers greater detail and colour in highlights and is now available in 5.3K and 4K @ 60fps.
GoPro added wireless audio support for Apple AirPods and other Bluetooth audio devices such as earbuds, headphones and microphones, making it easier to shoot videos with voiceover on location. Bluetooth audio devices can also be used for issuing voice commands to control your Hero 12 Black from a distance, which is a heaven-sent for solo videographers.
Image stabilisation has also been revamped, although it was somewhat expected, as GoPro often updates its Hypersmooth algorithm when launching a new Hero model. The GoPro Hero 12 Black features the new HyperSmooth 6.0 image stabilisation with next-generation AutoBoost that automatically boosts video stabilisation while maintaining the smallest cropping margin possible with 'imperceptible' transitions between crop levels.
HyperSmooth 6.0 also enables horizon-leveling even with full 360° camera rotation in the Linear + Horizon Lock digital lens or in all lens settings when using the Max Lens Mod 2.0 accessory. In action, the footage captured with HyperSmooth 5.0 and HyperSmooth 6.0 is hard to distinguish unless you record the same footage from the same vantage points with both cameras simultaneously.
GoPro also added some professional features. New pro features include GP-Log with available LUTs for more control and colour grading in post-production and the ability to wireless timecode sync an unlimited number of Hero 12 Black cameras for easy multicamera editing with Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premier and other editing apps.
GoPro Hero 12 Black review: Battery performance
The GoPro Hero 12 Black has twice the battery life of the Hero 11 Black, thanks to the redesigned power management system. The company also removed a potentially energy-intense feature – GPS – to enhance battery life even further.
"In GoPro's quest to provide the best battery runtimes possible, they found that less than 1% of GoPro users were actually applying GPS stickers to content," the brand told T3, "GPS was previously a feature that users were encouraged to switch off to achieve the best battery runtimes possible, so it was eliminated from HERO12 as one of the many steps taken to increase runtimes across the highest speeds and feeds."
The improved power management system delivers 70 minutes of continuous recording at 5.3K @ 60 fps (the highest performance setting), over 95 minutes at 5.3K at 30 fps and over 155 minutes of continuous recording at 1080p @ 30 fps, all with HyperSmooth 6.0 video stabilization on.
The most interesting thing about the battery life improvements is that the actual physical battery unit hasn't changed at all. GoPro 'simply' improved the way the camera uses the 1720mAh Enduro battery. Running the Hero 12 Black on the maximum resolution for a long will make the camera unit heat up, but as long as you use it where it's supposed to be used – outdoors, doing crazy shenanigans – this elevation in temperature shouldn't be an issue.
The GoPro Hero 12 Black's official recharge time from zero to 100% is around three hours (1A / 5W). There is a 'fast charging' option that replenishes the battery from zero to 80% in approximately two hours (3A / 15W).
GoPro Hero 12 Black review: action performance
Expecting the GoPro Hero 12 Black to perform any less impressive than the already capable Hero 11 Black would be foolish. All the predecessor's features are still present, and image stabilisation has been improved, as well as the onboard navigation, making it easier to capture amazing footage in situations where standard cameras or smartphones would struggle.
GoPro-style action cams are best used for high-speed activities, such as mountain biking, motocross, dirt racing, etc. Although GoPro leans into the selfie stick being fully visible in handheld shots, I think 360-degree action cameras are better suited for self-shot videos. GoPros are perfect POV footage in difficult situations where magnetic-mounted devices might struggle (e.g. Insta360 Go 3).
Thanks to the rugged body and water-tight construction of the GoPro Hero 12 Black, you'll never be afraid of getting it wet or accidentally dropping it, which is what you need when you're thundering down a mountainside with your mountain bike on fore whilst juggling bowling pins in your hands. The least you want in a situation like that is worrying about the action cam.
I love the crisp, high-definition look of the GoPro Hero 12 Black's videos. HDR video is new to the latest generation GoPro, and it suits the type of footage you most likely create with the Hero 12 Black. Pros might find it a bit too processed, but they can always fiddle with LUTs and whatnot in post. Us enthusiasts will appreciate a bit of on-camera processing that allows us to upload footage to social media instantly.
GoPro Hero 12 Black review: verdict
The GoPro Hero 12 Black delivers the exact experience I expected from the brand. The new iteration builds on the two decades' worth of innovation that made GoPro the premier action camera manufacturer and adds some exciting new features that will delight amateurs and pros alike.
Better still, the Hero 12 Black is sold for the same price the Hero 11 Black was sold for GoPro Members, but this time around, you don't need the membership to unlock the lower price. Essentially, you get a more competent action camera for no extra money. That's a pretty good deal, people!
Of the new features, the HDR video is probably the one that'll make most people happy. It helps those action shots pop a little bit more, making #shotonGoPro videos even more exciting to look at. Not to mention the ability to record vertical videos on the camera, allowing you to create attention-grabbing footage for social media without post-processing in the Quik app.
If you want the best action camera, you need the GoPro Hero 12 Black. Simple as that.
GoPro Hero 12 Black review: also consider
Can't decide whether you want a traditional action camera or a 360° cam? The modular design of the Insta360 One RS allows you to reap the benefits of both shooting modes at an affordable price point. The 4K boost lens delivers excellent quality video and, alongside the existing 360 lens module, offers a well-rounded action camera package that delivers on all fronts. Read Mark's full Insta360 One RS Twin Edition review.
Another alternative to GoPro's Hero 12 Black is Insta360's latest action cam, the Ace Pro. It has all the ingredients of the best action cameras: premium optics, a large sensor, a variety of shooting modes, easy operation, and a game-changing display. Better still, it offers loads of unique editing options via the Insta360 smartphone app and the Insta360 Studio desktop app. Read my full Insta360 Ace Pro review.
With excellent image stabilisation, ease of use and a brilliant magnetic mounting system for accessories, the DJI Osmo Action 4 is an excellent rugged action camera that loses out to the likes of GoPro Hero 12 Black only in its lack of 5.7K video resolution. If that’s not important to you, then you’ll love the DJI Osmo Action 4. Read Jamie's full DJI Osmo Action 4 review.