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A first-time user’s review: To the tip of India and depths of Palk Strait with the GoPro Hero 12 Black

I am not an influencer, nor am I an aggressive content creator out to grab likes and comments by the millions. However, the phenomenon of short-form content has swept me off my feet. I can’t help but take out my iPhone for a perspective shot or a cinematic video each time I encounter a scenic road, a sunrise, or a picturesque highway under a canopy of foliage.

All this time, I had secretly wished for a compact device that could step up whenever I was travelling—something that wouldn’t interrupt the music blasting from the car’s audio system each time I wanted to capture a short video of the sites flanking the roads. There’s an aspiring vlogger in each of us, and mine, although quite elusive, is always on the lookout for the right opportunity. A device like a GoPro would be the ideal travel companion.

I have never used a GoPro before, nor have I ever tried any extreme adventure sports. Recently, the GoPro team organised a short excursion to the temple town of Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu. I wasn’t prepared for the adventure that awaited me in this remote city, known for its pristine azure waters and religious edifices that unravel stories of a lost civilisation. My journey to the extreme end of India was a rickety one, involving multiple flights and taxis. However, the sense of anticipation and the delight of unwrapping the latest offering from GoPro – the Hero 12 Black eased my momentary discomforts.

My experience with the GoPro Hero 12 Black

From the moment you unbox the device to start capturing, sharing and editing, it is evident that the company has put a lot of thought into making its latest iteration of the GoPro. I had an inkling about the functions beforehand, however, I was in for a surprise when the team handed me the review unit. 

Hero Black 12 in use The Hero12 Black features an updated user interface and a new Vertical Capture Mode, designed for social media. (Image: Bijin Jose/The Indian Express)

The Hero 12 Black is, as they say, ‘GoPro-tough’, designed to thrive in the most rugged conditions. It felt lightweight yet solid. This is perhaps the most pocketable camera that I have ever tried. The boxy form with smatters of blue on the casing adds to the solid finish of the camera. The makers have already carved a niche when it comes to making some of the most durable cameras, and the Hero 12 Black is no exception. It felt sturdy in my hands, and I, being an attentive user of gadgets, was carefree while handling the device. This was possible after one of the instructors demonstrated the sturdiness of the device. 

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When it comes to Hero 12 Black, the company has ensured that it is not merely an incremental upgrade but a major leap in terms of crisp visuals and capabilities. The device comes with a variety of accessories and mods to suit a user’s shooting preferences. I was given both the three-way 2.0 (tripod, grip and arm) and the handler or the floating grip. Throughout my experience, which involved road trips and cruising over sea waters, the floating grip came in handy. The lanyard loop on the floating grip ensured greater agility when climbing atop the catamaran and alighting the same with ease. 

Made for adventure

Our trip also included sailing across the shimmering waters of the Palk Bay. To demonstrate the capabilities of the Hero 12 Black, the hosts organised a snorkelling expedition. While I floundered at my attempts to snorkel like a regular human, the Hero 12 Black turned out to be an ideal companion to all our fellow divers. From capturing videos in 5.3K HDR resolution, slow motion, and even time lapses, the Hero 12 Black truly felt like a game changer. 

Hero 12 Black review Diving instructor Rishab Menon assisting the crew with snorkelling and also demonstrating his spectacular headstand on the surfboard. (Image captured using Hero 12 Black)

The Hero 12 Black not only carries forward the legacy of its predecessors but also amplifies the same. The image quality is breathtaking – it oozes with vivid colours and details. Stabilisation, which is GoPro’s strong suit, is matched here with impressive video capabilities. I was mighty impressed with how smooth the footage was, even in shaky conditions. 

The company claims that the Hero 12 Black is optimised to offer two times longer battery life compared to previous models. In my experience, I found the run time adequate enough to last a whole two-day trip. I used a fully charged battery at 5:30 AM on day two to visit the Rameshwaram temple, came back, took some tracking shots, and returned to Delhi. Then, a day later, I visited the majestic Nehru Park to take some walkthroughs. As a user, I am satisfied with the run time. 

Hero Black 12 Review Hero Black 12 can also let you access some stunning pictures from your video clips. (Image captured using Hero 12 Black)

Specifications for the go-getter

The Hero 12 Black also has the Max Lens Mod 2.0 (sold separately) that promises better stabilisation and a wider field of view. Besides, the plethora of accessories aimed at content creators gave me the impression that the company was leaving no stone unturned to make this camera a versatile device for a variety of use cases, including vlogging, underwater photography, and adventure sports.

When it comes to the user interface, I found it to be intuitive and easy to go about. We also accessed the mobile app – Quik. The app, which has come with some improvements, made it easier to edit and share videos. I particularly liked that we could simply stop a video at any time and download a high-res image at will. There is also a GoPro subscription service that offers some more advanced features related to themes, royalty-free music, cloud storage, etc. 

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Another feature on the Hero 12 Black users will enjoy is its ability to record audio straight from Bluetooth devices such as AirPods, earbuds, and microphones. This can be a great way to provide scene narration as well as offer voice commands to control the Hero 12 Black from a distance.

Hero12 Black Creator Edition The Hero12 Black Creator Edition which is priced at Rs 65,000 is aimed at content creators looking for a high-octane device to capture all their creativity. (Image: GoPro)

iPhone vs Hero 12 Black

In my opinion, this comparison is skewed. An iPhone is essentially a communication device and comes with an assortment of functions along with its incredible cameras. But as a man who loves to travel light, I detest the minor inconveniences such as a notification or a call popping out each time I am shooting a video. The Hero 12 Black is a dedicated adventure camera that comes with no such strings. It’s easy to set up and equally easy to connect to your iPhone via Quik. For avid travellers who do not want to use their primary smartphones for all the photography and videos, I feel the Hero 12 Black is a worthy investment. 

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My verdict

If you are an adventure enthusiast looking for a compact camera to capture all the thrills on the go, or a content creator looking for a versatile device, the Hero 12 Black is a camera that delivers. Its advanced and power-efficient camera lives up to the expectations. Whether you are a pro at adventure photography or an absolute newbie, the Hero 12 Black is here to impress.

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