GoPro Max Review: Taking 360-degree video mainstream
The GoPro has an incredibly strong two years, again placing the camera tough. The company was once rumored to be for sale, but then they launched the Hero 7’s brand new Hypersmooth with image stabilization. This new image stabilization has finally brought the camera closer to the stabilization that was designed for use in the most rugged terrain. Suddenly, GoPro was back on the map. When ordinary GoPro was gaining popularity again, their 360-degree GoPro Fusion was not in anyone’s mind. This year, we have the GoPro Max, a new 360-degree camera that brings the best of GoPro and much more to the 360-camera. We’ve had our review unit for some time and here’s how it worked in our review process.
Shooting 360-degree video
The HERO feature of the GoPro Max is its 360-degree video capture. The Max lets you capture a 5.5K 360-degree video stream using its dual 180-degree camera, but for the first time the footage brings hypersmooth stability. The biggest problem with shooting 360-degree video on older GoPros is the shaking that comes with holding the GoPro in your hand when you’re on the go. We walked around the CES show floor for a few days using the new GoPro Hero Max and came up with incredibly smooth footage. You can watch countless 360-degree videos shot on GoPro Max on our YouTube page, some of which are embedded below.
In addition to the stabilization, another notable area where the GoPro Max surprised us was its low light performance. Traditionally, we have come to expect low light performance from action cameras. Honestly, you don’t have to be in a bad light situation for these cameras to make a lot of noise, forgetting to be in low light. With the GoPro Max, we shot in very bad light and noticed some noise, but nothing that would make the footage look unusable. If you look at the walkthrough of our Lenovo booth, you will notice that the video only contains sound in deep shadows, leaving the rest of the frame clean. The lights in the Lenovo booth were incredibly dim, with most of the area illuminated only by the monitors on display.
Overall, the quality of the 360-degree footage is surprisingly good, but the story doesn’t end with just capturing the video, which brings us to the next section.
Okay, so you shot the 360-degree video, how do you get it to the world? There are easy ways, determined by GoPro and then there are hard ways. GoPro’s approach to getting your videos “online-ready” is amazingly simple. You can transfer videos from your GoPro to your smartphone using the GoPro Quick app, which lets you quickly edit perspective and then render the final video as an MP4 file. There’s also a desktop version of the app called GoPro Max Explorer, but it only allows you to hide the .360 video file in an mp4. You can also choose to re-encode files in a different resolution
If you’re going to exercise full control over the output, you’ll need to use the desktop application to convert .360 files to mp4, and then drag them to Adobe Premiere or FCP for a more accurate view. Files are easy to work with in all editing environments and we have no problem editing and color grading them. However, keep in mind that if you are editing original 5.5K resolution files, you will need a robust system.
Construction and design
The GoPro Max is not only a new camera on the inside, but also on the outside. GoPro has integrated the mounting mechanism into GoPro’s body, eliminating the need for an external frame. The mounting pads fold out of the body and fit into the clamp you want to mount with the GoPro Max. While this is great, we fear for the strength of these two pads. Be very careful with any type of over-tightening, especially if you are trying to keep an unused thumb screw. We’ve seen our GoPro’s mounting pads get extra curved due to over-tightening, but fortunately, they didn’t snap.
Accessory mounting pads are now assembled into the body
The best way to tell which way to go is to look for the display, which is placed on the back Above the display, you’ll find one of the 180-degree fused lenses, mounted next to a microphone. Easy to access and use with the shutter button on the top and the power button on the left. What’s changed with this year’s GoPros is the battery door assembly, which seems to be using a powerful mechanism to lock unwanted materials, such as water or salt deposits.
Although the GoPro Max is clearly designed for action and designed to be misused, we’re not sure how strong the lenses are. They extend significantly from the body and if the camera ever falls the lens must be in contact with the ground. You get protective lenses for the GoPro Max in the box, which is great, and we strongly recommend using them because the GoPro Max does not have an isolated lens replacement.
The GoPro Max solves a huge concern that is not a very effective alternative to the 360-degree camera; Image stable. Hypersmooth stabilization makes the GoPro Max extremely usable when held in the hand, even when mounted on a handlebar or helmet. Battery life is also decent on the GoPro Max, which allows you to shoot 5.5K 360-degree video continuously for about 30-45 minutes. In photo time-lapse mode, you can expect the camera to be fixed anywhere in 4-6 hours. Carrying extra batteries can do no harm, especially if you get impressive results. Priced at Rs 44,990 on Amazon, the camera offers good quality, especially if you want to start shooting 360-degree video on a budget.