After weeks of leaks, the GoPro Hero 12 Black is officially here – and it's one of the smallest updates we've seen to GoPro's flagship action camera.
GoPro Hero 12 Black specs
Sensor: 1/1.9in (8:7 aspect ratio)
Video (max resolution): 5K/60p
Video (bit-rate): 10-bit or 8-bit
Video (slo-mo): 4K/120p
Stabilization: HyperSmooth 6.0
Battery: GoPro Enduro
Still, while there's nothing as radical as a new 1-inch sensor, the Hero 12 Black does deliver a handful of new upgrades on the Hero 11 Black that are particularly geared towards more advanced video shooters.
These include support for dual-channel audio, HyperSmooth 6.0 stabilization, a new built-in tripod thread and a much-improved battery life (on paper, at least). You can also now use its full 8:7 sensor area in all shooting modes, which is handy for TikTok and social media.
This does also mean that a lot remains unchanged, including the 1/1.7-inch sensor (which is smaller than the one in the DJI Osmo Action 4), 5.3K video recording and the body design, which is at least compatible with all the usual Media Mods and accessories.
Talking of which, GoPro has also announced a new Media Mod 2.0 that offers an ultra-wide, 177-degree field of view and, most interestingly, a new GoPro Quik desktop app (which will be available in November 2023). So when is the Hero 12 Black available and will it retain GoPro's long-held reign at the top of our guide to the best action cameras? Here's everything you need to know.
GoPro Hero 12 Black: Cut to the chase
What is it? GoPro's latest flagship action camera.
When is it available? Right now from GoPro's store, on from September 13 at stores globally.
How much does it cost? The Hero 12 Black costs $399 / £399 / AU$649, and it also available in a bundle with the Max Lens Mod 2.0 for $479 / £479 / AU$785.
GoPro Hero 12 Black price and release date
The GoPro Hero 12 Black is available to pre-order right now from GoPro's store in three different bundles, and go on sale in stores globally from September 13.
If you just need the action cam itself, it costs $399 / £399 / AU$649. That's the same price that the Hero 11 Black launched for last year when it was bought with a GoPro Subscription. You don't need a Subscription this time to get that price, which is a bonus for those who don't want to be tied down with monthly payments.
The other two bundles are an Accessories bundle (which gives you an extra Enduro battery, Handler tripod and Head Strap) for $449 / £449 / AU$729, and a bundle with the Max Lens Mod 2.0 for $479 / £479 / AU$785.
The new GoPro Quik desktop app will be a part of the GoPro Subscription and will be available from November 2023. We're checking to see if there'll be a version of the app for non-Subscribers and will update this page when we hear back.
GoPro Hero 12 Black features and battery life
The GoPro Hero 12 Black is a pretty minor upgrade on its predecessor, and one of the smallest updates we've seen for its flagship action camera. But there are five main upgrades that could encourage you choose it over the cheaper Hero 11 Black or the new DJI Osmo Action 4.
Arguably the biggest one, particularly for vloggers or shooting for social media, is support for dual channel audio. As the name suggests, this lets you record two audio tracks at the same time – for example, one from the GoPro's Media Mod and another from an external mic.
Alongside that, the Hero 12 Black also now has support for any wireless Bluetooth microphone, including Apple AirPods, and lets you hook it up to four Bluetooth devices simultaneously. This could be particularly handy for adding voiceovers, or just listening to recording alerts through your earphones.
Another important quality-of-life upgrade is what GoPro claims is a much-improved battery life. It still uses the same Enduro batteries as the Hero 11 Black, mind, but GoPro says that improved power management can deliver up to 70 minutes of continuous video recording in 5K/60p, even with HyperSmooth 6.0 turned on. That's a decent leap over its predecessor in theory, but one we'll need to test out in the field.
While the Hero 12 Black uses the same 1/1.9in sensor (with a versatile 8:7 aspect ratio) as before, alongside the GP2 processor we first saw on the Hero 10 Black, it does have a few new image quality tricks. The video resolution and frame-rates are the same as before, but you can now use that full 8:7 sensor area in all shooting modes. That means it's possible to shoot TimeWarps, Time Lapses, Night Lapses and Night Effects in a TikTok-friendly vertical format.
A more pro-friendly new feature is the addition of GP-Log encoding, which when paired with 10-bit recording should give color graders some extra dynamic range and color variations to play with during video editing.
Lastly, on the underside of the Hero 12 Black there's now an industry standard 1/4-inch tripod thread, in between its usual mounting fingers. Okay, it's not exactly a revolutionary addition, but it is pretty handy if you regularly use a standard tripod with your action cams or don't want to shell out for extra accessories.
GoPro Hero 12 Black: early thoughts
Given the early rumors and our original wishlist for the Hero 12 Black, it's hard not to be a little underwhelmed – we'd hoped for a 1-inch sensor and an edge-to-edge screen, but what we've got instead is a mildly upgraded Hero 11 Black with the same sensor, processor and design (aside from that new tripod thread).
Clearly, GoPro is struggling to evolve its action cam hardware and that may make its battle with the DJI Osmo Action 4 the closest one we've seen so far. Still, dig into the Hero 12 Black's spec sheet and you do find little bonuses that could still make it the most appealing choice for pros who needed a super-rugged B-cam – including dual-channel audio and GP-Log encoding for color graders.
We're looking forward to putting those battery life claims to the test and also seeing GoPro's new Quik desktop app in action, even if the latter is only free for Subscribers. Until then, we'd recommend looking at some of the best GoPros of the recent past if you need a more affordable action camera, as they will likely bring much of the same polish and image quality of the Hero 12 Black for less.