GoPro’s cameras have always enjoyed a close association with drones, though that relationship has had its ups and downs. However, after the sagas of the Phantom and the Karma have faded into history, the use of GoPros to capture aerial footage has only accelerated. The hobby of building and flying first-person view (FPV) drones is a passionate pastime and profession for a growing number of people, and GoPros are by far the most popular camera for capturing FPV footage. Now, GoPro has created a camera specifically designed to take to the skies.
The GoPro Hero10 Black Bones is a stripped-down, heavily modified version of the Hero10 Black, GoPro’s flagship action camera, which I praised highly in my review of it last fall. FPV drones are stripped to the bare minimum, as every milligram of weight can mean the difference between a maneuverable and acrobatic racing machine, and one that wallows through the skies.
The Black Bones meets these demanding requirements by shaving off every spare shred of weight for a camera that weighs just 54 grams, which GoPro says is perfect for 3-inch class and larger drones. For comparison, a standard Hero10 Black weighs 153 grams, almost three times as much as the Black Bones.
The Black Bones features other FPV-focused modifications as well. It is described by GoPro as being “well ventilated and semi-durable,” meaning that it won’t overheat during long, continuous shooting periods, and that it has a decent chance of surviving a tumble. If the camera is involved in a serious crash, which is so very common with FPV flying, the replaceable lens cover can help prevent damage to the most delicate components, and can be swapped for an ND filter if needed. The Black Bones can be controlled via the physical on-camera controls, the Quik App, GoPro Labs QR codes, GoPro’s The Remote, or a drone’s transmitter.
In terms of video specs, Black Bones is a bit of a step down from what the standard Hero10 Black is capable of. Black Bones can shoot 4:3 video at up to 5K 30 frames per second (fps), 4k 60fps, and 2.7k 120fps. While the slow-motion capabilities are indeed lower than rthose of the Hero10 Black, I personally rarely find myself shooting FPV drone footage at higher frame rates. Part of the appeal of FPV is the immense feeling of speed, which can be lost if you slow everything down. Ans 4k 60fps and 2.7k 120fps should give you enough slow-motion potential if you need it. GoPro’s excellent Hypersmooth 4.0 image stabilization is available to provide smooth shots straight out of camera.
Black Bones can also be connected to the drone’s battery rather than using its own, thus saving the considerable weight of an extra battery. It can be mounted on a drone using a single screw boss, or with an included optional adapter to attach it via a standard GoPro mount.
The GoPro Hero10 Black Bones is available now for $399 if you have a GoPro subscription, and $499 without a subscription. The camera includes a ReelSteady software license (available separately for $99). That software will allow you to add an extra level of stabilization to your footage, and its inclusion adds a lot of value to Black Bones.