An all-new camera for GoPro FPV drones is about to hit the market. Call it the Hero10 Black “Bones,” and I was lucky enough to get an early production GoPro unit to review. In short, you get the same GoPro 10 video quality for a third of the weight – and for the same price! You don’t get dual LCDs or water resistance, but the weight more than makes up for it.
When it comes to a drone, weight is a huge issue. The less weight carried on the drone, the more agile and responsive it is. And most importantly, the longer your flight times. For a cinema drone, that’s a huge deal.
The camera came in a simple box with a small connecting cable. The camera is light and feels crisper at first glance than a standard GoPro camera. Don’t let this fool you – this camera is tough! I crashed it a few times while testing it, and after dusting it off, it had no scratch on the lens. The lens is interchangeable just in case you can destroy it, which is really convenient for an FPV action camera. It has open vents for cooling around the case, and it’s not as waterproof as its sister. So you can’t immerse it in water, but it’s built solidly.
You can operate and control the bones in six different ways: via the three-wire cable that comes with it; The two buttons on the back. External remote control your phone through regular wifi, GoPro Quick App or your voice; Finally, with QR codes generated by QRControl on your phone and in GoPro Labs’ QR Code Generator, which allows you to instantly change every imaginable setting on your camera and more.
Wiring and mounting options for Hero10 bones
The camera connector’s three wires are easy enough to connect directly to a power and ground module provided on the flight controller. The camera comes with its own BEC on board, and you can power it with 2s-6s (5-27V) battery. If you have a control panel available on your FC, you can connect the yellow wire (5v) and once set up in the betaflight you can operate the shutter from the remote control.
After setting up three drones for this review, with camera power and control wires soldered directly to the flight controller, I also soldered two separate fuses to power the camera directly through the battery rather than the FC.
I can’t control the camera with the transmitter, but now I can move the camera more easily from drone to drone; Test it on the bench without overheating other drone components; And use it just like a regular GoPro with a huge battery.
As for mounting the camera on top of the frames, I found that with some light trimming and cleaning all surfaces with rubbing alcohol, the standard GoPro mounts and sticky pads worked great on the 5-inch frames.
On 4″ and smaller drones, I used a GoPro mount clip, cut the clip sections, cut GoPro 3M adhesive to size, and taped them directly to the frame with great success.
Try this method at your own risk – you might want to add some zip links for added security, but due to the flood of 3D printing mounts I’m sure coming for this camera, this solution works in question.
control the camera
First you need to connect the camera to the app by pointing the camera at the QR code. Once you’re done, you can preview and control the camera on your phone with the GoPro Quik app’s video editor.
This is the only way you can preview the video from the camera. You can control almost all camera settings through this app, but to unleash its true power, you’ll need to use a QRControler from GoPro Labs.
Once you install the app, you will have complete control over all camera settings and more. This creates a QR code at the bottom of the phone screen that the camera points to while it’s on. The camera flashes twice, then the settings are immediately changed. You can save multiple QR codes to your phone’s photo library or instantly create new ones on the app.
Keep in mind the limitations of your camera when generating a QR code. If you create a code for 5K at 120 fps, the camera will default to the last used settings.
To make sure I was in the right place, I’d generate a QRcode with Wi-Fi turned on, check the camera in the Quik app to make sure it matches the QRControl settings, and then create a new one with Wi-Fi turned off just making sure I didn’t mess anything with my thumb.
Once I got the hang of it, I found it much easier and faster to set everything up on the QRControl app and point it straight at the camera rather than getting caught up in the Quik app and having to wait for the camera to join Wi-Fi etc.
It’s also the only way you can create custom commands like a command to start recording with a change in camera movement or audio compression, or commands to add text overlays or logos. With Protune controls enabled, you can access all the common features you might find in a DSLR: spot metering, bitrate, white balance control, minimum and maximum ISO, and much more. GoPro Labs has all kinds of good stuff online where new codes are created and shared. Finally, you can also control the camera via voice and the remote control, which I haven’t tried as of this writing.
Experience flying on GoPro Hero10 bones
The first frame I tried the camera on was a 6-inch Lumenier Qav-R 2 Deadcat tire with 5-inch mounts on a 6S battery. It’s more of a free-wheeling tire, set up for long-range cruising. The camera plugged directly into the flight controller, but I kept holding the power button and recording manually — old habits die hard.
The top of the frame has plenty of room – mounting the GoPro Hero10 Bones was a breeze. I controlled the camera using the GoPro Quik app and tested 4K at 30fps with EIS on average – and the shots looked great. Once I got it out of the box, I got super crisp, clear video. These aren’t the recommended settings for flying FPV, but I was just curious to see what kind of picture quality I was getting without the fuss, and I was impressed.
Then I used the QR code in my QRControler app on my phone to switch to 4K 4:3 at 60fps with Protune set to a fixed and high bitrate. I moved a few 6S batteries, and once the files were on the computer, I downloaded the files and played them through the GoPro player. You can apply ReelSteady and preview the effects in real time.
The results were so smooth and complete, I bought the $99 full license version right away. You have the option to only pay for the clips you want to process instead of getting the full license, but in my case, this is a tool that I’m going to use quite a bit. It won’t make you fly like a pro, but it’s close to making you look like a pro.
Next, I switched to a more responsive and precisely tuned XILO Phreakstyle 6S with 5-inch struts. Just like the DeadCat frame, with plenty of room on top of the frame, I was able to mount the camera to a full GoPro mount and glue-up plate. I had to cut the corner of the base plate a bit to allow access to the top screws, but since a custom mount is not printed, it works great.
This setting has the most hits. The bones of the GoPro Hero10 don’t even feel like they’re there. I can easily get seven minute flight times using 1550 Lumineer batteries. The frame is super fast and responsive, even though I set the camera up front away from the fans.
I was able to test it in winds of over 20 mph, and although the ground was moving below me faster in one direction, the camera had little to no effect on its overall stability and response. The camera worked flawlessly with QR codes, and I could record two different settings from back to back pretty quickly – one at 5K 4/3 at 30fps, and the second at 4K 4/3 at 60fps.
Next, I moved the camera along with the battery to my smaller but responsive XILO Phreakstyle 4S with 5-inch mounts, and again, I couldn’t tell I was hanging a 5.3K action cam in front of it.
Flight times were a little shorter than the 6S’s five-minute setup, but I was pushing the little guy around my backyard bushes hard.
Being a third of the weight of the GoPro Hero10, I expected nothing less, but was impressed by how little it affects the 5-inch 4S and 5S setups.
Switching to smaller 4-inch drones, I put the camera on the Flywoo Explorer LR4 and got similar satisfactory results. Flight times were shorter, but the drone didn’t struggle to fly the camera. Upon landing, all components remained cold with over five minutes of flight time on the 4S. When flying 3-inch or smaller drones, flight times get noticeably shorter and things start to get warm.
I placed the camera on a 3-inch iFlight BumbleBee v3 Cinewhoop 4S and took it out low among the backyard trees. The camera’s performance was flawless, with the resulting shots being extremely smooth. Flight times were in the three-minute range, and upon landing, all engines were noticeably hot to the touch.
In the smallest frame I’ve ever dared mount the camera, the 95x v3 from BetaFpv, I got a flight time of between one and a half to two minutes on a 4S 75OmAh battery. When landing from two consecutive flights, the engines overheated, which is to be expected. The resulting shots looked amazing! There isn’t a lot of time to be in the air, but you can shoot a lot in just two minutes.
GoPro Player and ReelSteady desktop app
Once you’ve imported your footage from the SD card to your computer, you can import your footage into your favorite video editor, but I recommend GoPro Player’s ReelSteady. If you’re not familiar with ReelSteady, it’s very easy to use, and the results are just great. You can download the application here.
Anytime you click on one of your camera video apps, it opens and you are presented with a simple interface. You can also import screenshots directly from the app in the usual “Open and Import” menu options. ReelSteady is a small icon at the bottom right of the screen with another settings button right above it. If you install your rig correctly, prepare to see amazingly smooth results.
One of my least-tuned drones, and prone to a lot of vibration, was a great ReelPlayer test bed. I was surprised by how successful it was. Although I was able to see quite a bit of shake in the original 5K 4:3 30fps and 4:3 60fps footage, ReelSteady did a great job of getting most of it out. With a 4K 4:3 60fps resolution, it’s almost flawless. The video output with ReelSteady outside the settings is very good.
And the shots you get in a properly prepared frame are absolutely amazing.
Is sacrificing the power and ease of use of a traditional GoPro Hero10 worth it for a third of the weight?
definitely! If you’ve been trying to get those incredibly wild and tight indoors/outdoors shots that we’ve seen start popping up all over social media and movies, it’s a resounding yes!
I hope people don’t get bored of seeing so many amazing aerial shots. These shots require an absurd amount of skill. With this camera, I can’t wait to see the limits of drone cinematography pushed even further.
You’d be hard pressed to get better image quality on such a small and light package. Yes, there are smaller cameras and lighter cameras, but they won’t have the image quality and camera control that the new GoPro Hero10 Bones does. With custom QR codes, 3D printing mounts and cases, this camera has endless uses.
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