GoPro Hero 12 Black vs DJI Osmo Action 4

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RCHobby Lab’s Author: Kristen Ward
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Reviewed by Marshall Abrams
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Reviewed by Marshall Abrams

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Action cameras allow you to capture immersive footage of your adventures from unique perspectives. The annual refresh of GoPro’s flagship action camera has arrived with the introduction of the Hero 12 Black.

To be frank, GoPro cameras tend to follow a pattern similar to Apple watches, offering incremental updates from one model to the next. That might not seem all that surprising. They keep getting better at delivering smooth, stabilized videos and crisp, detailed photographs even in challenging conditions.

On the other hand, last month, DJI introduced its latest action camera, the Action 4, which offers a wide range of features rivaling GoPro’s.

Today, we’ll be looking at all the key features and capabilities of these cameras to help you determine which one is the right choice for your needs.

1. Comparison: Design and Build

Let’s kick things off by examining the physical design and construction of the Hero 12 Black and Action 4.

At first glance, the two cameras look quite similar – both feature a compact, rectangular shape to make them mountable in multiple positions. However, upon closer inspection, you’ll notice a few subtle differences:

Shape: The Osmo Action 4 has slightly smoother, rounded edges and corners. The Hero 12 retains GoPro’s signature ruggedized boxy shape.

Size: The Action 4 is marginally smaller and lighter than the Hero 12. It measures 39mm x 29mm x 56mm and weighs 116g. The Hero 12 comes in at 40mm x 33mm x 62.3mm and weighs 152g.

Color: Hero 12 is available in black only. Action 4 comes in black, white or vibrant orange.

Textured Finish: The matte coating and dotted texture on the Hero 12 provide a nice grip. Action 4 has a smooth hard plastic feel.

Durability: Both feature durable, impact-resistant designs and replaceable protective lenses. They can withstand rain, splashes and dust without any casing required.

So in terms of core design, there are no major advantages for either model. The Action 4 is slightly more compact while the Hero 12 offers a nicer tactile grip.

Mounting Systems

But where these cameras really differ is in their mounting mechanisms.

The Osmo Action 4 uses magnetic locking mounts. A small mount plate attaches securely to the bottom of the camera via built-in magnets. You can then swiftly snap the camera on and off a variety of accessories and mounts that have the magnetic plate built in.

The Hero 12, on the other hand, has the traditional GoPro fold-out fingers mount. Two foldable tabs extend out from the base to provide a universal connection point for all types of GoPro mounts and supports. No plates required.

Both systems work very well, but DJI’s magnetic mounts are more convenient, especially when frequently moving the camera between locations and accessories. You don’t have to fiddle with any tabs each time.

However, GoPro’s mount is advantageous in terms of compatibility. It immediately works with every existing GoPro mount and accessory. The Action 4 is limited to accessories specifically designed for its magnetic system unless you add an adapter.

Lens Mods

A major upgrade for the Hero 12 is support for the new Max Lens Mod 2.0 accessory. This auxiliary lens expands the field of view to an ultra-wide 185-190 degrees. It allows:

  • 48% more vertical field of view when shooting vertical video
  • 36% more horizontal field of view for wide landscape shots

With the mod attached, you can capture footage that looks almost wrapped around the edges. It creates a deeply immersive look perfect for POV footage.

The caveat is that the Max Lens Mod must be purchased separately. It doesn’t come included with the Hero 12. But it provides innovative flexibility if you want to expand the framing and viewpoint capabilities.

The Action 4, unfortunately, doesn’t currently offer any comparable lens modification accessories. The only lenses it supports are the standard ultra-wide lens built into the camera and macro/telephoto lenses attachable via filter mount adapters.

So GoPro pulls ahead in lens flexibility thanks to the Max Lens Mod support.

2. Comparison: Image Quality

Now on to the real meat of any camera comparison – how do the image and video quality stack up? Let’s look at the key specs that determine performance in this area:

Sensor Size: The Action 4 has a significantly larger 1/1.3” sensor compared to the 1/1.9” sensor in the Hero 12. The bigger size allows it to capture more light and data.

Resolution: Both offer up to 5.3K video resolution. The Hero 12 can go up to 27MP for photos, while Action 4 maxes out at 21MP.

Frame Rates: At full 5.3K resolution, Hero 12 can shoot at up to 60fps. Action 4 manages 30fps. At 4K, both reach 120fps. For slo-mo, Hero 12 hits 8x (240fps) at 2.7K. Action 4 achieves 8x slo-mo at 1080p.

Dynamic Range: Hero 12 supports RAW photos and higher bit-rate HDR video for greater dynamic range. It also introduces GoPro Log video capturing to retain maximum detail in shadows and highlights.

Low Light: The larger sensor gives Action 4 superior low light capabilities. Less image noise in dim shooting conditions.

Color Depth: Action 4 captures 10-bit color for over 1 billion shades and tonally richer footage.

Lens Quality: Both feature ultra-wide angle lenses with similar 145-155 degree fields of view. But Hero 12 has a faster f/2.8 aperture compared to f/3.4 for Action 4.

So while specs don’t tell the whole story, on paper, the Hero 12 looks to deliver noticeably sharper, more detailed images and videos – especially in well-lit situations. But the Action 4 shines in low light thanks to the larger sensor, plus it provides more color data.

In real world testing, footage from both cameras looks fantastic with excellent dynamic range and color reproduction. You’d be hard pressed to notice major visual differences in most shooting environments.

However, results from the Hero 12 are a tad crisper and clearer when lighting is optimal. And the extra resolution headroom will appeal to professionals. The Action 4 produces outstanding stabilized, vivid footage across the board – even in low light when the Hero 12 can start to struggle.

Shooting Modes

Both models provide a similar suite of shooting options beyond standard video and photos:

  • TimeWarp: Capture stabilized time lapse footage while moving with the camera
  • HyperSmooth: GoPro’s advanced video stabilization
  • Live Streaming: Share video live to social media
  • Scheduled Capture: Set the camera to start recording at specific times
  • Night Lapse: Create captivating time lapses of the night sky
  • Time Lapse: Classic stationary time lapse

But the Hero 12 adds a few bonus modes not found on the Action 4:

  • Light Painting: Capture light painting patterns drawn in the air through long exposure time lapses.
  • HindSight: Constantly records and saves video from 30 seconds before you hit the shutter.
  • SuperView: Dynamically stretches 4:3 footage into immersive widescreen.
  • PowerPano: Takes sweeping 270 degree panoramic photos.

The Action 4 has fewer shooting modes overall, but it counters with its own unique option called Hyperlapse+. This allows adding keyframe animations to hyperlapses for extra production value.

Both manufacturers also offer companion mobile apps – GoPro Quik and DJI Mimo – for remote control and live view monitoring.

3. Comparison: Video Stabilization

Cutting edge video stabilization is crucial for filming smooth, shake-free footage during outdoor adventures and high-speed activities. Both GoPro and DJI have honed this technology in their respective action cameras.

GoPro HyperSmooth

GoPro’s proprietary HyperSmooth stabilization is considered the industry gold standard. In the Hero 12, it has reached version 4.0 delivering even more steady and stable video footage. Camera shake is almost imperceptible, even over rough terrain. The algorithms accurately smooth out bobble and vibration while retaining natural motion and detail.

HyperSmooth 4.0 works consistently well across all resolutions, including 5.3K/60fps. And it functions equally effectively whether you are recording handheld, mounted to gear or using stabilization add-ons like gimbals. The latest HyperSmooth also excels at stabilizing bumpy chest mount videos thanks to advanced horizon leveling capabilities.

DJI RockSteady

DJI created its own RockSteady stabilization system to rival GoPro’s technology – and it succeeds admirably. It produces impressively smooth footage across a wide range of shooting situations. Fast panning and transitions are handled cleanly without the jitteriness often seen with digital stabilization.

RockSteady appears on par with HyperSmooth in normal daylight conditions. It keeps videos steady and easy to watch when moving at speed over rough ground. The larger sensor may also give it a slight edge for low light stabilization. However, RockSteady can’t quite match GoPro’s more advanced horizon leveling capabilities for chest mounts.

Both stabilization systems are amazing and allow capturing fluid videos in virtually any environment. HyperSmooth may have the edge for versatility, but there is no clear winner here. Stabilization performance is pretty much dead even between the Hero 12 and Action 4.

4. Comparison: Audio Quality

Good audio is just as crucial as great video when it comes to capturing immersive action camera content. Here’s how the Hero 12 and Action 4 compare in this area:

Microphones: Each camera has three built-in mics – two front facing and one rear facing. The Hero 12’s mics are slightly more sensitive, but both pick up very good audio in normal conditions when close to the source. As expected, wind noise becomes an issue at speed.

External Mics: This is an area where GoPro pulls ahead. The Hero 12 supports connecting wireless microphones and Bluetooth audio accessories to massively improve audio recording quality in challenging environments. For example, you can pair Apple AirPods to wirelessly record crystal clear voiceover narration while recording.

The Action 4 currently does not have any options for external mic connectivity. You’re limited to its internal mics. A firmware update could potentially add this feature, but right now the Hero 12 offers superior external audio capabilities.

Audio Control: Users of both cameras can monitor levels and make adjustments via the mobile app during recording. But the Hero 12 introduces an Auto Boost feature that automatically optimizes volume levels when voice narration is detected. This helps maintain consistent volume over changing environmental noises.

For basic audio captured via built-in mics, the Hero 12 and Action 4 are nearly matched. But the Hero 12 pulls ahead thanks to wireless mic support and advanced auto audio controls.

5. Comparison: Battery Life

Battery life is a big real world consideration for action cameras. Longer battery life means you can record more of your adventures without pausing to recharge.

Here are the battery specs for each model:

GoPro Hero 12

  • 1720mAh battery
  • Powers up to 3 hours of 5.3K30 video
  • Over 2 hours of 5.3K60 video
  • Up to 160 minutes at 1080p30

DJI Osmo Action 4

  • 1365 mAh battery
  • 84 minutes of 4K120 video
  • 160 minutes at 1080p 24fps

So the Hero 12 enjoys a solid advantage in maximum recording time thanks to its larger battery capacity. You get nearly an extra hour of high resolution footage compared to the Action 4 on a single charge.

For all day recording, you’ll still want spare batteries with either camera. But the Hero 12 gives you more shooting time before needing to hot swap batteries.

Charging is quick for both – around 2 hours from empty to full charge. And they can be charged directly via USB or using their respective proprietary dual battery chargers for ultimate convenience.

6. Comparison: Ruggedness and Waterproofing

Action cameras demand ruggedness to withstand the elements during outdoor adventures. Both the Hero 12 Black and Osmo Action 4 deliver:

  • Waterproof construction down to 10 meters without any housing required
  • Tough, impact-resistant designs able to survive drops and crashes
  • Heat/cold resistance certified down to -10oC
  • Water-repellent coatings on lens/display

For deep water diving and extreme environments, the optional protective housings will allow both cameras to safely operate at depths of up to 60 meters.

When it comes to ruggedness and water protection, the Hero 12 and Action 4 are evenly matched. You can confidently use either camera in wet conditions like ocean surfing or alpine skiing without worrying about damage. They can take plenty of bumps and knocks during risky shoots and extreme sports.

7. Comparison: Connectivity and Accessories

You’ll want to use your action camera with a variety of mounts, mods and accessories for capturing unique perspectives. Here’s how the connectivity options compare:

Wireless Connectivity

  • Both cameras offer wireless control, monitoring and sharing via 5GHz WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity
  • They can wirelessly pair with phones, tablets and smart watches through companion mobile apps
  • WiFi range up to 180 feet to RC controllers
  • Live streaming to social media services

Wired Connections

  • USB-C port for charging, data transfer and cabled connections
  • HDMI video out port on both cameras
  • Hero 12 adds 3.5mm microphone jack for pro mics

Cloud Services

  • Access and share footage through subscription cloud services
  • Hero 12 uses GoPro Plus – Action 4 works with DJI Mimo+

Mobile Apps

  • GoPro Quik and DJI Mimo provide remote control plus auto editing and sharing


  • Thousands of GoPro mounts and accessories compatible with Hero 12
  • Magnetic locking mounts designed for Action 4 limit accessory options
  • Voice control available on both cameras

The Hero 12 enjoys a slight edge for accessories thanks to GoPro’s huge existing ecosystem. But both manufacturers offer a wide range of first and third party mounting options and addons to level up your recording capabilities.

8. Comparison: Price and Value

With very similar core features and performance, the price can often be the deciding factor when choosing between the Hero 12 Black and Osmo Action 4.

At launch, the Hero 12 commanded a premium $399 retail price for the base camera package.

The Action 4 entered the market at only $329 – making it $70 cheaper upfront.

However, that lower initial cost comes with some compromises we’ve covered above – fewer shooting modes, no external mic support, limited accessory compatibility. Also, GoPro cameras tend to hold their resale value very well if you ever wanted to upgrade and sell your old device.

Both cameras represent excellent value driven by the latest cutting edge action camera technology. But if budget is your primary concern, the $329 Action 4 gives you stellar performance and features at a more affordable price point. GoPro offers additional pro-level capabilities for $70 more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which has better video quality overall?

The GoPro Hero 12 Black records higher resolution, more detailed video – especially in bright, daytime conditions. But the DJI Osmo Action 4 holds up nearly as well in most shooting environments while offering superior low light video.

Can the Osmo Action 4 use GoPro mounts?

Not natively, but you can purchase adapter brackets to allow compatibility with certain GoPro mounts like the chest harness.

Does GoPro Hero 12 have zoom?

There is no optical zoom lens. But you can achieve a digital zoom effect in post production by cropping and enlarging footage.

Which has the best mobile app?

Both the GoPro Quik and DJI Mimo apps work very well. Quik makes it easier to access existing GoPro Plus cloud storage. But M

The Verdict: Hero 12 vs Action 4

We’ve covered a ton of ground comparing GoPro’s flagship Hero 12 Black versus DJI’s Osmo Action 4. Here’s the high level verdict:

For Optimal Image QualityGoPro Hero 12 Black

The higher resolution, sharper lenses, improved dynamic range and RAW support allow the Hero 12 to capture the absolute best looking action camera footage when lighting is ideal. It offers more creative flexibility in post thanks to features like GoPro Log.

For Low Light ShootingDJI Osmo Action 4

The significantly larger sensor gives the Action 4 a clear low light advantage. Shots retain better clarity and color in dim lighting. Less noise is introduced at high ISO settings needed in dark shooting environments.

For Max Accessories and EcosystemGoPro Hero 12 Black

GoPro’s huge existing collection of mounts and mods – plus continued support from third party accessory makers – gives it a major ecosystem advantage. The Action 4 is limited to proprietary magnetic locking accessories.

For Battery LifeGoPro Hero 12 Black

You can record for almost an hour longer on a full charge with the Hero 12 versus the Action 4. Less time fiddling with batteries means more time capturing footage.

For Audio RecordingGoPro Hero 12 Black

Wireless mic support provides a big leap in advanced audio capabilities for vlogging, interviews and travel filming. Auto volume enhancement technology also boosts voice audio intelligibility.

For StabilizationTie

Both HyperSmooth and RockSteady deliver gimbal-smooth footage across a wide variety of shooting situations. There is no significant advantage for either system.

For RuggednessTie

The Hero 12 and Action 4 offer equally impressive waterproof, shockproof and weatherproof designs ready for any adventure.

For Best ValueDJI Osmo Action 4

Priced $70 lower than the Hero 12, the Action 4 still produces stellar image quality while offering advanced features like magnetic mounting. The lower cost makes it very appealing.

So in summary, the Hero 12 Black stands on top as the outright best action camera you can buy today – but it comes at a higher price. The DJI Osmo Action 4 gets close to GoPro-quality performance at a more budget-friendly price point.

If you want the absolute cutting edge capabilities, premium build and extensive accessory support, go for the Hero 12. But you’ll be very well served by the Action 4 if spending less is a priority while still getting fantastic 4K video. Ultimately it comes down to your specific needs.

Hopefully this detailed comparison has helped break down the key pros and cons of each flagship action camera model. Let us know if you have any other questions!

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Written By Kristen Ward

My name is Kristen R. Ward. I’m an adventure Filmmaker and I run a production company based out of New York. FPV drones are integral to my business. I'll be teaching you everything I've learned over the years creating videos for clients.

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