GoPro announced that they’re launching Hero 12 on September 6. I saw only one new feature. 9/6 UPDATE: GoPro confirmed Hero 12 has the third type of HDR mentioned below.
GoPro releases a new Hero around this time every year. Some years, there are significant changes such as Hero 11’s use of a new 1/1.9 inch sensor with an 8 x 7 aspect ratio. Other times, it’s a minor update that is little more than using the next number on the Hero series.
The listing has since been pulled but other people on Reddit have spotted the Hero 12 and they all look consistent:
Since we have multiple sources independently corroborating each other, it appears the eBay listing was genuine. In that regard, the box showed the specs and they seem to be almost exactly the same as Hero 11. The only difference I saw was HDR video.
Update: GoPro confirmed that Hero 12 will have HDR Video in posts on Facebook and Twitter.
— GoPro (@GoPro) September 4, 2023
What is HDR Video? Depends who you ask…
When manufacturers say their cameras can do “HDR video,” they can mean it in three ways. The first way is when the video just exposes for the highlights and then they bring up the shadows in post processing to make it appear to have more highlight detail. This is not a technical innovation and this is probably not what GoPro means.
The second way they mean HDR video is a video that has a wider gamut, which can be used to show wider dynamic range in an HDR-capable monitor or display. This is the kind of HDR video in some smartphones, for example, that can use Dolby Vision or HDR10+. Hero 11 can already be configured to capture this type of HDR video (10-bit color, Rec2020, flat gamma), so if this is what GoPro means by HDR video in Hero 12, then it wouldn’t really be new.
A third type of HDR video uses multiple exposures. This is the kind of HDR video used in cameras such as Insta360 X3 (reviewed here) and in some DJI drones such as the Mini 3 Pro. It captures a wider dynamic range by taking two or more shots at different exposures and combining them. The darker exposure provides the highlight details, helping to retain them. The brighter exposure provides the shadow details with less noise. Here is a video by Omnivision explaining this technology used in some of their sensors:
If you shoot the exposures at two different times, then any movement will appear as ghosting. However, sensors such as the one in the Insta360 X3 have a quad Bayer array and some of the sub-pixels can shoot at a darker exposure to provide more highlight range without ghosting. This is something Hero 11 cannot do, so if this is the kind of HDR video that Hero 12 has, then it would be a more noteworthy difference over the Hero 11.
UPDATE: GoPro confirmed that Hero 12 has the third type of HDR video that uses multiple exposures in the same frame:
Whether it is the second type or third type, is this enough for people to buy it if they already have a Hero 11 or even a Hero 10 or Hero 9? I think HDR video won’t make that much of a difference for average consumers. In fact, DJI Osmo Action series has had HDR video for a while (yes, even the original one, as well as Action 3 and Action 4). But no one talked about it. In my opinion, what would make a bigger difference is a third person view. If that sounds interesting to you, check out the Insta360 X3 (see comparison vs GoPro Hero 11) and the Hover X1, a self flying camera.