GoPro just announces GoPro MAX — a $499 dual-lens camera that the GoPro swears is a far better device than its previous consumer version, the GoPro Fusion. I love GoPro Fusion and I use it to create breathtaking 360 footage.
BUT, judging from the newly released spec, the MAX is no better than the Fusion. It is still 5.6K, in 30fps. That is less than Insta360 ONE X or the Vuze XR. The really disappointing thing is, MAX decides to only use 1 micro SD card instead of 2 like Fusion. The bit rate of MAX, according to GoPro official website, is 78 Mb/s. Compared to Fusion, which each card is around 65 Mb/s with total bitrate of 130 Mb/s — that is 40% RAW data loss.
For 360 video, the image quality is going to suffer by more aggressive compression.
Watch this in-depth specs breakdown to learn more:
So, should you buy the GoPro Hero Max if you already own the GoPro Fusion? Or should you get a GoPro Fusion instead as it is only $299 right now or even cheaper on eBay.
Well, there are still lots of great reasons why you want to upgrade to GoPro MAX. I speak from a 360 content creator perspective. I don’t really care about the gimmicky overcapture 2D video and all the new HERO mode that probably better on the Hero 8 Black.
So let me give you a list of reasons for spending another $500 on GoPro, of course, if you have the extra cash for new toys.
- New compression codec. Both MAX and Hero8 Black support H.265 HEVC compression. This is an advanced standard used on Insta360 Titan, Teche Phiimax 3D, and the newly release Panasonic S1H 6K full-frame DSLR. The advantage is higher quality with less file size. So if we capture 78 Mb/s in H.265, in theory, it should be equal to 150 Mb/s in H.264 — higher than the current GoPro Fusion, which is 130 Mb/s with 2 SD card. If you watch my Insta360 Titan sample footage, H.265 compression can also do 10-bit color depth video — and has impressive image quality when stretching it back out into ProRes. So I hope MAX PC desktop software can really do that like the amazing Fusion desktop software, to leverage H.265 in its max potential.
- GP1 chip V.S. ambarella chip. The MAX uses the brand new GoPro GP1 Image Singal Processor (ISP) instead of what Fusion or Insta360 ONE X uses — the ambarella chip. Well, what’s that mean? You can read all about why GP1 is better here, and I will provide the link below. But basically, it gives you the same image quality boost from GoPro hero 4 to GoPro Hero 7. If you own those GoPro, you will know what I mean. Having a third party chip is also one of the main issues why Fusion is so hard to upgrade and unlock new features. Now with GoPro very own GP1, they can do whatever they want to low level coding. So it means faster updates and more features in future releases. So it is quite a big deal that everyone seems to miss.
- Spatial Audio. This reason alone will make me buy the new MAX. The MAX has 6 high-quality mic with Advanced Wind Noise Reduction. 6 channels are close to 2nd order Ambisonic. In theory, it should be better than my Zoom H3VR. So potentially, you can replace the H3VR with a MAX — to capture spatial audio and to give the director a live view in a professional production instead of doing stuffs like this.
4. Weight and dimension. The MAX is a lot lighter than the Fusion. It only weight 154g. The Fusion weight 220g. It also a little bit smaller than the Fusion. This is really important if you going to attach your 360 camera on drone like I do. It let you fly longer and safer.
5. Replaceable lens cover and waterproof. One thing I love about my old Nikon Keymission is replaceable lens cover. Now MAX has that as well. It is also waterproof up to 16ft (5m). So for all those surfers, this is great news.
6. Video stabilization and Horizon leveling. Fusion has the best 360 video stabilization in the industry and MAX promise even better stabilization with new horizon leveling. I am very excited about this and can’t wait to throw this on my OneWheel to give it a test.
7. 1600mAh removable battery. GoPro Fusion is one of the long last 360 cameras in the market — just a little bit shorter than Kandao Qoocam — but a lot better than Insta360 ONE X and Vuze XR. Max is even better. Now it comes with a removable 1600mAh rechargeable battery. Practically it lasts all-day.
8. Touchscreen with shortcuts. Even tho this is a very consumer focus feature, having touchscreen is really nice with your camera is mounted on somewhere, and you need to address setting quickly.
9. Max timewrap (Hyperlapse) and mobile editing. Again, another consumer and gimmicky feature in my opinion. Nothing new here as Insta360 ONE X can already do that.
Okay, let’s quickly take a look at some of the disappointment. There is basically no 60fps. 1440P is basically unusable in VR. I said it but I will say it again, 1 micro SD card instead of 2 with limited bitrate will greatly impact image quality. 16.6MP 360 Photo is low compared to other competitors. And there is no RAW DNG or bracketed HDR feature. If you are a 360 virtual tour creator, stay away from GoPro. Night Lapse Photo and video, aka long exposure mode, are also not available in the MAX. But it is available in the GoPro Hero8 Black. Resolution is the biggest disappointment of all. We all hope MAX can do 8K video — but it cannot. It does not even do 5.7K — which is the max resolution of Oculus Quest. So it will be tough to mix with a professional 360 camera unless you upscale your footage.
Here is the detailed specs for GoPro MAX:
GoPro MAX specs: Video Resolution: 5.6K 30fps, 1440p 60fps, 1080p 60fps
Video codec: H.264 / H.265 (HEVC)
Photo Resolution 16.6 MP
Stabilization: Yes with the new horizon leveling feature
Bit Rate: up to 78mb/s
Waterproof: Yes, up to 16'’ / 5m
Video modes: Time Lapse, Time Warp, Slow Motion, Power Pano
Audio: x6 Microphones / Ambisonic Audio / Shotgun audio
Livestream: Yes, 1080p
Color: Protune, Manual Control
Connection: GPS, WiFi, Bluetooth, USB-C
Extra Features: Voice Control, On screen shortcuts
Addon: replaceable lens cap
For a hand-on review of the GoPro MAX and more 360 Camera review and tutorials, please subscribe CreatorUp YouTube Channel: http://bit.ly/2KoY9zT