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Tourist
Posts: 3

Hero 6 image fall apart in low light, my thoughts on the matter

As a long time GoPro user ever since the Hero 1 I've had and used almost every 'black' iteration except the 3+ and the 4. I currently own one original Hero 1, four Hero 2s, two 3s, a 5 and a 6 since yesterday. I'm deeply invested in the GoPro ecosystem and use them in a professional workflow alongside bigger professional cameras in the Canon DSLR and Cinema range.
I know what I'm using and I know what to expect form a tiny sensor as used the the Hero's, especially in challenging circumstances. The Hero 5 was a vast improvement over my Hero 3's, especially for the odd indoor shot, so when the 6 was announced I couldn't wait for an excuse to pick it up. 

I had read the comments here, but as I needed a tiny camera that could handle abuse and shoots at 240FPS I decided to try my luck anyway after consulting with my dealer about the issues and their experiences with that. So my thoughts:

- During daytime and with sufficient light, the differences in dynamic range are obvious. Especially when combined with a graduated ND filter to help just a bit more with keeping the cloud highlights  under control the image is lovely, although the whitebalance had a tendency to lean to the blue side. Which brings me to the next thing:

- The white balance settings between the 5 and 6 don't match.. For an upcoming project I'm very dependent on having a working modern GoPro, so just one 5 was too risky. Hence the upgrade to get another 6. Turns out that the image is more blue and even manually it's impossible to match the white balance settings. Any future multicam setup will be more troublesome than I wanted. More time editing means less time shooting and making money. No bueno. Surely this can be fixed with a firmware update, right?

- I get it. The Hero 6 stands on it's own. The outside is the same old, same old, but with the new GP1 GoPro wanted to take control in their own hands to protect themselves from the copycat competitors. However the algorithms which control the image quality aren't balanced quite well for all uses. I think it's marvellous that it's got in built capabilities to know when there's an underwater scene and to correct for it automatically and as I've said before, Daytime use is much improved and I think the catch lies right there. Because:

- During low light the image falls apart, especially when transitioning from a warm light environment to cold light. This is when things like this happen:
Screen Shot 2018-02-03 at 09.08.38.png

There's a blown out highlight in the window, no problem at all and understandable, but the blues just explode. This was taken at 1600 ISO, medium sharpness. The Hero 5 also couldn't really handle this with grace, noise wise, but the smart algorithms in the 6 seem to make it look so much worse. Up until 400 ISO it's useable though when the situation is getting darker. The problem above is most prominent from ISO 1600 and up.

The lowest ISO setting on the 5 starts at 400, and the 6 starts at 100. I suspect that they lowered the base ISO to create cleaner daylight images, with the compromise being darker scenes. This leaves me with a daytime specialist camera which is pretty awesome in it's own right, but with unpredictable low light results and therefore unuseable for me in those circumstances.

I really think the white balance differences with the previous model should be solved and I still have hope that they may make the algorith more intelligent/reliable for low light use.
Then again, I'm not really quite sure what to think of this.. The older cams had more crushed blacks in low light, but the image was at least useable.

If only a GoPro representative could provide more information on the matter.

Screen Shot 2018-02-03 at 09.08.38.png
Nomad
Posts: 580

Re: Hero 6 image fall apart in low light, my thoughts on the matter

There is a lot of extra digital enhancement stuff going on in the Hero6.

 

https://gopro.com/help/articles/block/hero6-black-and-hero5-black-differences

 

It's known that the digital stabilizer don't work in dark scenes so it's important to to turn it off to avoid a severely degraded image.

 

What you can't turn off is the image denoiser etc. To much denoising is well known to degrade image quality.

 

Then there is the bluish hue. Perhaps a bad tuned Global Tone Mapping issue?

 

What is clear is that there is a need for further firmware refinements, but with the excess time since the 1.60 update in late november there dosen't seem to be a high priority at GoPro to deliver on the issue.

 

It takes 10 per cent of the developement time to make 90 per cent of the firmware functionable, but the remaining 90 per cent of the time to adress the last buggy 10 percent. This is where GoPro fails. They only allocate 1/10 of the time needed to make a error free firmware and thus makes the paying customers beta testers. It's clearly a management problem.

 

And with GoPro now rushing out for the 2018 model introductions things are unlikely to change.

Highlighted
Tourist
Posts: 3

Re: Hero 6 image fall apart in low light, my thoughts on the matter

QC was never GoPro's most solid point, but when you had a decent sample it just did what It had to do. Now the hardware seems to be okay, but now the software lets us down. **bleep** shame, as this seems to be the future where GoPro will lose it against innovative competitors who do have their focus and customer service in order.

 

The Karma pipe dream is likely to echo on for quite some time before this is solved, **bleep** shame.

Explorer
Posts: 12,213

Re: Hero 6 image fall apart in low light, my thoughts on the matter

GoPro Customer Service has been excellent as of late and I'm really enjoying the Hero6 Black and getting great results with it. When in normal daylight settings I mostly use Auto WB but when I'm going to be in lower light situations I set it manually. I've never used an ISO greater than 800 (usually no greater than 400) except perhaps as a max on my old Hero3. Using an ISO of 1600 and expecting a good clean low light shot from an action camera with a 1/2.3-inch sensor is overreaching in expectations.

Obviously we disagree, but I feel that the firmware on the Hero6 far exceeds all other action cameras both past and present. It's the "software" that reduces rolling shutter, banding and white blow outs in the sky. It is also the firmware that:
Provides excellent EIS
ISO 100 with Auto Shutter (BTW, Hero4 & Hero5 can be set to ISO100 Min/Max but they require the shutter to be manually set.)
Auto Burst mode which calculates the correct shutter and burst rate
4K/60, 4K 4:3/30, 2.7K/120, and 1080/240 in HEVC (This is a plus, not a minus)
Voice activation
A more responsive LCD touch screen
Quik Story intergration
Better dynamic range
RAW photo
HDR Photo
Wind Reduction Audio
Protune Audio
And a GoPro Color Profile that has received a lot of praise, especially since this is a camera designed for people to be able to capture moments in their lives and quickly be able to edit and post to social media sites.

While some people either enjoy spending hours in front of their computer editing videos (I happen to be one of those people) or do so out of necessity for their profession, that is not who or what this camera is designed or marketed for/to.

Perhaps I'm happier with my Hero6 Black action camera because I use it primarily as an action camera. However, I also use it for capturing moments with my family and occasionally for jobs filming special events. I have just about every Hero Black model and both Sessions and the Hero6 Black outperforms them in every setting.

As far as innovative competitors, they are all riding on the coat tails of GoPro development and design. Perhaps the only company at least trying to not look like a copy of a GoPro is Sony with the FDR line, but other than the optical stabilization, it is lacking in many of the Hero6 features including some of the resolutions/frame rates, White Balance, Selective light metering, wind resistance audio, waterproofing without a case to 33', voice activation, or even an easy to access touch screen LCD with live preview of your settings as you change them.

I'm not saying the Hero6 is perfect and yes, in Auto it is possible to get those blue blow outs. Low light in general, for me, has been very good. I do manually adjust my settings and film in 24fps, so maybe that's part of the reason. For a small, rugged, action camera that is packed with features, it does an excellent job.
Tourist
Posts: 3

Re: Hero 6 image fall apart in low light, my thoughts on the matter

The reason I posted my findings was to help others to manage their expectations. I never expected the cam to reasonably work well at 1600 ISO, however it is jarring that it performs less well in this regard than any other recent model.

I know my settings and how to work these things. The above shot was filmed at 1080/25. I'll test some more this evening to see if filming in 4K25 and rescale to 1080 to see if this will help to mask the noise levels.

Nomad
Posts: 90

Re: Hero 6 image fall apart in low light, my thoughts on the matter

This is the SOLUTION for your NOISY low light.

kit-for-gopro-_hero5.jpg

Here is the link yo BUY

Explorer
Posts: 12,213

Re: Hero 6 image fall apart in low light, my thoughts on the matter

I might just not be picky enough, but I'm pretty happy with the footage I get with the Hero6. I find it to preform much better than my other cameras, even indoors with low to moderate light. This is an unedited video shot just the other day with my son in a bounce gym. 2.7/24&60, WB 4500 everything else auto. Video was created with the GoPro Quik app on my phone.

https://youtu.be/ysJQ0LtJ-Lo

Explorer
Posts: 12,213

Re: Hero 6 image fall apart in low light, my thoughts on the matter

I forgot to mention the ISO was set to max 400