GoPro has made a name for themselves by dominating the action camera market. From the form factor and durability to its photo and video capture abilities; GoPro has recently released the GoPro Karma Grip for the GoPro Hero 5 cameras enabling you to take the GoPro experience to the next level with an easy to achieve stabilized video accessory.
What does the GoPro Karma Grip Include?
Included with the GoPro Karma grip is a short USB C cable for charging & syncing footage and a wrist lanyard. Additionally, a hard water-resistant carry case, Hero 4 Silver & Black harness, and a GoPro mounting ring can also be purchased separately. The hard carry case is something I can particularly recommend as it offers protection for the GoPro along with the Karma grip while providing additional slots and space for the charging cable and mounting ring.
Usability/Modes and buttons:
To begin, the GoPro Karma grip is very easy to use. Camera Gimbals have a general reputation of being notoriously complicated when it comes to setup and calibration. The GoPro Karma grip, on the other hand is plug and play, with no setup whatsoever and just a few important buttons to control the gimbal and camera attached. It has a built in USB C and Mini HDMI port that connects directly to the ports of the GoPro Hero 5 (and GoPro Hero 4 Black & Silver with an adapter) allowing you to control, charge, and sync footage recorded on the GoPro using the single USB C port found at the bottom of the Karma grip. I found this to be a very convenient feature despite the camera being fast and easy to remove and re-attach to the grip.
The four main buttons located near the natural thumb area of the grip include the stop/start record, power/mode, rotation lock and HiLight. To turn on the Karma grip and GoPro attached, hold on the power button for a few seconds, the same button allows you to switch between in-camera modes including a photo, video, burst, time-lapse etc. with the press of a button. The rotation lock hence it’s name, locks the rotation of the gimbal in a situation where you might want to focus on an individual subject while navigating the camera. Lastly, the HiLight tag button gives you an option to mark specific moments in your video as they happen, making it fast and easy to find the best clips when it comes time to view, sort, and edit your footage. The buttons are comfortably placed and easy to access while holding the grip.
With GoPro’s being known for their durability and versatility, the Karma grip, for the most part, follows the same characteristics. The upper portion of the grip is constructed out of metal, while the grip itself uses a combination of plastic and rubber. Out of the box, the grip felt well weighted and durable enough to use in rougher terrains while its splashproof abilities allow you to use it in rain and snow for example.
The Karma grip felt comfortable to hold in the hand for an extended period of time which is definitely helpful for a product intended to stabilize video. An attached wrist strap prevents you from dropping the grip altogether and reminds me of the same strap found on the Wii remote.
Talk about stabilization:
Through the footage I recorded (see the video review shown above), I was quite impressed not only by the abilities of the Karma grip but how quickly you can begin recording great stabilized footage right away, no setup required. The comfortable grip and versatile gimbal helps you get the best footage possible, and for general uses, no practice is required to perfect the capabilities of the Karma grip. But for those who plan to use the gimbal for cinematic and object tracking footage, getting used to the behaviours and angles took little time to get used to. It simply did a tremendous job in what it was set out to do, and in conjunction with GoPro’s wide angle cameras, a stabilizer like this instantly elevates the production value of captured footage.
GoPro claims a battery life of 1 hour and 45 minutes on a single charge. From my testing, I was able to get quite close to that claim, but a removable battery would’ve been much more helpful for long days. With a standard charge time of 6 hours, chances are you will only be able to use the GoPro Karma for one full charge cycle during the day unless you purchase the fast charger which cuts the time down to 1 hour and 50 minutes. Still, a removable battery would’ve dampened this gripe altogether. A four level LED battery indicator is found below the buttons and integrated within the handgrip to quickly check your charge during use.
At the end of the day, the GoPro Karma grip is a great accessory for Hero 4 and Hero 5 users due to its solid construction, comfort, and usability. But being a first party accessory, the price is a premium when compared to third party offerings with similar functionalities. With that being said, the advantage with a first party accessory is that it was made specifically for the product it was intended for, and achieves the objective of stabilized GoPro footage the best. Additionally, the integrated support for direct controls and syncing straight from the mount is exclusive, and what you will not find with third party gimbals. Aside from the extended out of the box charge time and lack of removable battery, the GoPro Karma achieves great stabilized footage in conjunction with GoPro’s very own cameras.