GoPro announced the Hero5 Black action camera, Hero5 Session and the Karma drone in September 2016. Both the new action cameras are compatible with the drone and both offer some exciting features and good advancements over their predecessors.

How do they compare to each other though and which one is right for you? Here are the differences and similarities between the GoPro Hero5 Black and the Hero5 Session.

GoPro Hero5 Black vs Hero5 Session: Design

  • Hero5 Black has a touchscreen for easier control
  • Both offer one-button recording
  • Hero5 Session is smaller and more subtle

The GoPro Hero5 Black is the larger of the two action cameras being compared here. The camera lens is positioned next to a small monochrome LCD display on the front, while a two-inch built-in touchscreen display sits on the rear, offering easy control of settings, such as resolution and field of view (FOV).

The removable battery and microSD card slot are hidden in the bottom, while the USB type-C port and micro HDMI port are hidden behind a flap on the right. The large recording button sits on the top.

The GoPro Hero5 Session is smaller and more subtle than the Hero5 Black, perhaps making it more appealing to those who want to mount it on a helmet or elsewhere on themselves. It has a built-in battery and the USB Type-C port and microSD slot can be found on the right behind a flap.

A very small monochrome display is positioned on the top of the Session behind the large recording button, while a small button on the rear offers access to settings, which consequently appear on the screen. To change settings on the Session without the app, users need to use the small button and the recording button to skip and select various options. It's a little more fiddly than just tapping a touchscreen but you get used to it.

GoPro Hero5 Black vs Hero5 Session: Video capabilities

  • Both offer up to 4K video capture
  • Both have SuperView, Wide, Medium, Narrow and Linear FOVs
  • Hero5 Black capable of higher frame rates at some resolutions

Both the GoPro Hero5 Black and the Hero5 Session are capable of capturing up to 4K video at 30 frames per second (fps). They also both offer 2.7K, 1440p, 1080p, 960p and 720p resolutions, while the Hero5 Black is also capable of 480p.

The Hero5 Black offers higher frame rates than the Hero5 Sessions in most resolutions other than 4K and 2.7K at 4:3 ratio however. The Hero5 Black is capable of 2.7K at up to 60fps, 1440p at up to 80fps, 1080p at up to 120fps, 960 at up to 120fps and 720 at up to 240fps. The Hero5 Session is capable of 2.7K at up to 48fps, 1440p at up to 60fps, 1080p at up to 90fps, 960p at up to 100fps and 720p at up to 120fps.

Both the Black and the Session offer high bitrate video at up to 60Mb/s and they both have looping video and auto image rotation features, as well as GoPro Protune software.

In terms of FOVs, the Hero5 Black and the Hero5 Session both offer SuperView, Wide, Medium, Narrow and a new option called Linear, but restrictions apply based on the resolution chosen.

For example, SuperView, which is the FOV that distinguishes GoPro devices, is not available for 4K recording on the Hero5 Session and Narrow isn't available for 720p recording. The higher frame rates on the Hero5 Black also have FOV restrictions. SuperView can only be used at 24fps when filming in 4K for example, 1080 (120fps) is only available in Wide and Narrow FOVs and 1080p (80fps) is restricted to SuperView only.

GoPro Hero5 Black vs Hero5 Session: Photo capabilities

  • Hero5 Black has a higher resolution sensor
  • Hero5 Black has better low-light performance ultra-sharp and image quality
  • Same features including burst, time lapse, night lapse

Both the Hero5 Black and the Hero5 Session are capable of capturing images separately or simultaneously to video. They also both offer time lapse and night lapse and the interval options are the same.

For time lapse, the Hero5 Black and Hero5 Session have 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30 and 60-second intervals, while night lapse has an auto option, along with 4, 5, 10, 15, 20 and 30-second intervals, as well as 1, 2, 5, 30 and 60-minute intervals.

The Hero5 Black has a higher resolution sensor, offering photo, night photo and burst at 12-megapixels wide, compared to the Hero5 Session's 10-megapixels wide. Both capture burst at up to 30fps.

The Black has professional grade low-light performance, while the Session opts for consumer grade. GoPro also says the Black has ultra-sharp image quality with reduced distortion, while the Session just offers reduced distortion.

GoPro Hero5 Black vs Hero5 Session: Audio capabilities

  • Same audio capabilities

The GoPro Hero5 Black and the Hero5 Session offer the same audio capabilities. Both have external microphone support, both are able to handle twice the dynamic range of the Hero3+ and both also offer increased audio range to the Hero3+.

The two devices have mono 48kHz, AAC compression with advanced multi-band automatic gain control and they both support 3.5mm stereo microphones via an optional adapter that can be bought separately.

GoPro Hero5 Black vs Hero5 Session: Features and hardware

  • Both have voice control, waterproofing without housing and video stabilisation
  • Hero5 Black has touchscreen, RAW image capture and GPS location tagging
  • Hero5 Black has larger battery and micro HDMI port

The GoPro Hero5 Black and the Hero5 Session both offer simple one-button control as we mentioned, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built-in, advanced wind noise reduction and video stabilisation. They are also both waterproof up to 10-metres without housing and they will both allow for auto upload to the cloud with GoPro's Plus subscription.

Additionally, the two devices also have voice control functionality. They will respond to 12 specific commands, such as "GoPro Take a Photo" or "GoPro Stop Recording" and they will both understand these commands in seven languages, with more coming.

The Hero5 Black offers a few extras compared to the Hero5 Session though. The two-inch touch display built into the Hero5 Black's design is one of the biggest differences allowing for simpler setting control as we said previously, as well as on-screen exposure control. The Hero5 Black also has the ability to capture RAW and WDR images, and your GPS location.

There is also a larger battery on board the Hero5 Black, which is also removable, unlike the Hero5 Session's. The Black has a 1200mAh capacity, compared to the Session's 1000mAh capacity. Both have a USB Type-C port and microSD slot, while the Black also has a micro HDMI port.

GoPro Hero5 Black vs Hero5 Session: Price and what's in the box?

  • Hero5 Session is £100/$100 cheaper
  • Same mounts included in box

The GoPro Hero5 Black costs £349/$399. The camera itself is in the box, along with the frame, rechargeable battery, mounting buckle, curved and flat adhesive mounts and a USB Type-C cable.

The GoPro Hero5 Session costs £249/$299. In the box, you'll find the Session camera itself, the standard frame, mounting buckle, curved and flat adhesive mounts and a USB Type-C cable.

GoPro Hero5 Black vs Hero5 Session: Conclusion

The GoPro Hero5 Black and Hero5 Session offer many of the same features. They are both capable of up to 4K video recording, they both offer voice control functionality, they both have video image stabilisation and they both have the same audio capabilities, as well as waterproofing up to 10-metres without housing.

The Hero5 Session is cheaper, smaller and more subtle, but controlling it is more difficult than the Hero5 Black and its touchscreen. The larger device also offers higher frame rates at some resolutions, a higher resolution sensor with better low light capability and a couple of other additional extras, such as RAW image capture and GPS location tagging.

Ultimately, it will depend on what you need from your action camera as to which of these is better for you. You don't miss out on a huge amount by opting for the Hero5 Session, but for some of you, the higher frame rates, touchscreen control, slightly larger battery and extra features like RAW images and GPS capture will be worth the extra cash.

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