GoPro’s new camera is the Hero10 Black Bones – and you solder it to a drone

When GoPro said it would build more specialized cameras this year, we did not quite know what that meant. Today, it unveils the GoPro Hero10 Black Bones, a cut-down version of its flagship camera that is explicitly intended for FPV drone pilots like the one that famously crashed through that bowling alley last year. The idea is that pilots will strap one of these onto their drone to film brilliant footage while using a separate low-latency analog camera and a pair of FPV goggles to see where their drone is heading.

When I say cut down, I mean there are no screens, no speakers, no doors, no waterproofing, and no battery inside this thing: the $ 500 camera ($ 350- $ 400 with subscription) is the first GoPro ever made that requires soldering skills, the company tells me.

The Hero10 Black Bones.
Image: GoPro

Why? Because GoPro saw that its customers were already to halve their GoPros to keep their acrobatic flying film tools in the air longer, and the company realized it could do better. “You’ve seen the rise in videos like flying into the bowling alley, or even the latest Tesla Gigafactory video – they’re all made by people who took the time to try to make a GoPro lighter,” said Pablo Lema, GoPro’s product manager. Narrator The edge on a call.

Lema says some pilots literally cut their cameras up to reduce their weight by removing unnecessary components, but that it could lead to overheating, especially during takeoff and landing. So GoPro’s new Bones brings its flagship Hero10 Blacks sensor, lens, processor and long-impressive HyperSmooth built-in stabilization software to a newly ventilated, heatsink-equipped barebones camera that weighs only 54 grams.

It’s the lightest GoPro ever, just over a third of the weight of the original Hero10 Black, and it’s lighter than the 74-gram, cube-shaped GoPro Session, which did not exactly shake the action camera world back in 2015. Which is, of course, to be expected, when you throw away many of the things that make a GoPro a GoPro, including that battery.

It’s even smaller without a GoPro mount. It has a replaceable coverslip that is compatible with Hero10 and Hero9 ND filters.
Image: GoPro

“To make a camera that a father can film their child in the pool without any problems, we’ve had to make it a little bit bigger, a little bit heavier,” says Lema about the original GoPros you know (and maybe , lover). But now the company is experimenting with giving niche but growing customer populations the specialized GoPros they might want. “We are quite uniquely positioned to attack unique verticals in image capture that other companies honestly do not have or would not have the appetite or technology to be able to.”

FPV is one of these possibilities, says Lema and says that it has become a fairly important perspective for film photographers. He also says that customers for this product will not shy away from a soldering station; connecting motors and control circuits is how they build their drones to begin with.

And it’s a place where Bones does a nice trick: it has a built-in controller circuit, so you do not have to worry about how much voltage your LiPo delivers. It will run from anywhere from 5-27 volts so you can fly, whether your drone has a relatively stiff 2S or up to a 6S rechargeable lithium battery. “You can solder this into the battery wires on your drone and it will work fine,” says Lema.

You can also control it from your drone’s controller. If you do not want to use its two physical buttons or GoPro’s app or optional remote control, there is a third cord that you can connect to a flight controller and operate with the open source software Betaflight or GoPro’s Open GoPro APIs. “You can develop the software you want,” says Lema. However, GoPro does not yet offer the ability to read raw images directly from the camera, so it may not be ready for the computer vision applications you may be thinking of now.

It’s a bit wild to see GoPro re-enter the drone market after its high-profile failure at launch in 2018. When I ask, Lema laughs and says no, there are no plans to make another drone right now. But he suggests that there are more custom-built GoPros on the way to other use cases that may seem niche today – where if you asked today’s GoPro users where they need a slightly different kind of camera, they would have a clear answer. (I’m curious if VR video is still on the table.)

DJI has recently shown that it also sees opportunities in FPV. After mostly ignoring this sector of drones for years, it released its own FPV racing goggles and flight camera in 2019 as well as a full-on FPV drone in 2021. For non-FPV applications, drone makers like DJI had long ago ruled out GoPro . While the original Phantom drones and once promising rivals like the 3D Robotics Solo were explicitly designed to carry GoPros, they quickly replaced them with relatively small custom-built cameras that were easier to manipulate with a motorized gimbal.

Hero10 Black Bones will be available exclusively on starting today, without retail availability, for $ 350 for existing GoPro subscribers, $ 400 including one year subscription or $ 500 without. Yes, that seems to mean the camera costs more if you does not want a free subscription worth $ 50 that includes camera replacement and cloud backup – we ask GoPro why.

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