GoPro has built its lightest action camera ever for FPV (first person view) drones in the form of the Hero 10 Black Bones – a streamlined version of its flagship hero that weighs just 56g. (Want to skip to our first verdict? Check out our hands-on labs GoPro Hero 10 Black Bones review).
The Hero 10 Black Bones is the camera FPV pilots have been asking for (although it’s currently only available in the US), thanks to its combination of Hero 10 Black image quality and ultra -light.
This means it can be mounted on small, nimble 3-inch class FPV drones (or larger, this measurement referring to propeller size), which are usually too small for traditional GoPros.
Naturally, GoPro had to cut corners to achieve this weight, with the result that the Hero 10 Black Bones is lighter than a pair of Airpods Pros in their cases. Unlike the standard Hero 10 Black, it doesn’t have a screen, battery, speaker, GPS, or metal casing, with the camera coming with a well-ventilated plastic shell instead.
The idea is that FPV pilots can plug one of the best action cameras into their existing drone setups without the unnecessary weight of those extra parts, while enjoying the 5.3K/60p video quality and stabilization that have made GoPros so popular among FPV pilots.
Many FPV pilots actually disable GoPro’s excellent HyperSmooth stabilization and eliminate all wobble in post-production using ReelSteady, which GoPro acquired in March 2020. With this in mind, GoPro has now integrated ReelSteady into its software revamped GoPro Player desktop (now called GoPro Player + ReelSteady), and includes a license with the Hero 10 Black Bones.
Another good news for FPV pilots is that the Hero 10 Black Bones retains its sibling’s replaceable lens covers, which means you swap out ND (neutral density) filters when needed. These are often used by FPV drone pilots in bright conditions to help maintain ideal shutter speeds for video.
The new action camera can be mounted on drones with a single screw or by using the included adapter for GoPro mounts. There are two buttons on the camera itself, and it can also be controlled using the Quik app, the GoPro The Remote accessory, a drone’s transmitter, or QR codes generated by GoPro Labs (software that allows you to test the experimental features of GoPro).
The only downsides to the GoPro Hero 10 Black Bones are that it’s currently US-only and also quite expensive. GoPro told us it “doesn’t have an international availability date yet,” suggesting that a global launch is at least possible. If you’re in the US, you can buy it now for $399.99 (if you get it with a one-year GoPro subscription), or $499.99 without a subscription.
Considering the Bones version of the Hero 10 Black lacks so much of its sibling’s hardware (including a screen and battery), that price seems pretty high. But right now, that’s the price you’ll have to pay for what is probably the best FPV drone camera on the market.
Analysis: GoPro returns to the sky
Four years ago, GoPro had to abandon its ill-fated Karma drone – so why did it return to aerial videography? The Hero 10 Black Bones is certainly more specialized than the Karma, but it’s a more sensible launch that should prove popular with the growing FPV drone community.
Until now, FPV drone pilots have actually reverse-engineered recent GoPro models to create what are called “naked GoPros” for their fast little drones. Indeed, FPV drones need to be as small and light as possible to achieve the dynamic shots that are becoming increasingly viral on social media.
Recently we saw FPV drone videos of Tesla’s new Gigafactory and a bowling alley (opens in a new tab) shared widely on Twitter and Facebook, and these types of videos fit perfectly with GoPro’s action-oriented brand and video style.
GoPro previously released a compact version of its flagship action camera in the form of the cube-shaped Session in 2016. This has proven popular with fans of FPV drones, so the Hero 10 Black Bones can be considered its natural successor – albeit with a more appealing niche and, for now, US-only availability.
Given its lack of a screen, battery, GPS, or GoPro’s rugged build quality, it’s a shame the Hero 10 Black Bones isn’t a bit more affordable. But given how long FPV drone pilots have been asking for a stripped-down Hero camera, it’ll likely still be flying off the shelves in the US.