This is an unsponsored GoPro Bones review, sample video with ReelSteady 2.0, beginners guide and tutorial.
What is GoPro Bones and Do You Need It?
In the past couple of years, there have been several viral videos of drones flying through restaurants or other locations, through gaps that seem impossibly small, like the bowling alley flythrough by JayByrdFilms above, which has over 2 million views to date.
If you want to create videos like that, you need two things: a cinewhoop, which is an FPV drone with ducts or prop guards to enable it to fly close to people, and you’ll need a stabilized camera. To fly through the smallest gaps, you’ll need cinewhoops with around 2.5 inch props and a stabilized camera that is light enough to be carried by a small quad, which is exactly what “naked GoPros” are for.
Naked GoPros are GoPros that have been stripped down to become as light as possible. Generally, this means removing the case, battery, rear LCD screen, and other components to turn it into a credit-card size camera that can be carried even by small drones with 2-inch or 2.5-inch props.
Until recently, naked GoPros had to be assembled by yourself. This was not only time-consuming but could also sometimes result in a bricked camera. I have also found them to be less reliable and less durable. I had a naked GoPro Hero 6 whose gyro stopped working after a few months, for no apparent reason, rendering it useless. I also had an Insta360 SMO whose power cable was ripped off in a crash.
Enter the GoPro Hero 10 Bones ($399 with included 1-year GoPro subscription), a naked Hero 10 made by GoPro itself. Besides being much lighter (around 60.0 grams, plus 1 gram for the power cable) than a conventional Hero 10, Bones appears to have a thicker, more durable case than typical naked action cams and has the standard Hero 10 lens protector, which means it can also use Hero 10 ND filters or the Max Lens Mod. Bones also includes a license for Reelsteady 2.0 (regularly $99), a stability software that makes GoPro footage as smooth as possible.
GoPro Bones sample video
Here is a sample video from GoPro Bones on a GepRC Cinelog30, showing the video before stabilization and with Reelsteady 2.0 stabilization.
As you can see, my flying is nothing to write home about, but with Reelsteady 2.0, it looks smooth and stable. Reelsteady can also apply horizon leveling, which can make a video appear to be even more stable, while still having an FPV’s graceful flight as opposed to the robotic camera movements from a photography drone like the Mavic.
Like other naked action cams, Bones doesn’t have a battery and instead has a JST-GH1.25 3-pin connector for external power. The Bones package includes one cable, which you can solder to the battery pads on your flight controller (GoPro says that the Bones can take anywhere from 5V to 27V, ie, 6S).
Some BNF quads have such a cable already pre-installed. The problem is that the pre-installed power cable on my quads has a slightly different GH1.25 connector with a lock connector clip. It physically fits the Bones but doesn’t supply power to it. This includes: GepRC Cinelog 25, GepRC Cinelog 30, and Holybro Kopis. Other BNF quads such as the Beta95X V3 have a pre-installed cable for Insta360 SMO and has 4 pins, which won’t fit the Bones. There are adapters for SMO to GH1.25, but once more, they use the slightly different GH1.25 lock connector.
I didn’t want to have to re-solder all my quads, so instead I made a plug to connect the Bones to the balance lead of a LiPo battery. You’ll need:
- A JST-XH connector for 4S or 6S (depending on what battery you typically use).
- a GH1.25 3-pin cable without lock. You can use the Bones’ included cable.
- heat shrink tube
First, remove the yellow cable from the GH1.25 cable. You won’t be needing it. Next, compare the XH connector to your LiPo balance lead and note which side of the XH connector will connect to the LiPo balance lead’s black (negative) cable. Solder the GH1.25 3-pin cable’s black cable to the XH connector’s side for the black cable. Solder the GH1.25 3-pin cable’s red cable to the opposite pin of the XH connector. Insulate the connection with a heat shrink tube.
After making your power cable, you can connect it to a LiPo’s balance lead. You should see the Bones LED blink a couple of seconds after connecting the power cable. You can then turn on the Bones by holding down the power button.
GoPro Bones Settings
Bones doesn’t have a front or rear LCD screen but you can control it either with a QR code or via Wi-Fi with your phone app.
To use the QR code, turn on the Bones then hold the QR code in the instruction manual in front of the Bones to activate Wi-Fi. You should see the red LED light on the back blink, which means that the QR code worked.
Use your GoPro Quik app to connect to the Bones. Just add a camera and search for Hero 10. It should detect the Bones. Once your phone is paired with Bones, you can adjust the settings by tapping on the cog icon on the upper right. In the Bones’ settings, change the following parameters.
- change the aspect ratio to 4:3
- for resolution and frame rate you can use either 5K 30fps 4:3, 4K 60fps 4:3, or 2.7K 120fps or 1080p 120fps
- change the zoom to Wide
- turn off the stability. Don’t worry — the gyro metadata will still be recorded, which will enable you to use Reelsteady in postprocessing.
- use High bitrate for best quality.
Alternatively, you can show this QR code to your GoPro, which will set these settings simultaneously (this one is for 4K 60fps). You should see the LED blink a few times to acknowledge that it was able to read the QR code:
You can create other QR codes using this code generator, or with the mobile app (iOS or Android)
Mounting GoPro Bones
On smaller quads up to 3 inches
You’ll notice that GoPro Bones doesn’t have the typical GoPro connector. Instead, it has a much smaller mount that uses an M3 screw. That’s because Bones, like naked GoPros generally, are designed primarily for smaller quads, which don’t usually carry full size GoPros, therefore their camera mounts tend to be much smaller. Unfortunately, there is no universal camera mount for smaller quads. However, GepRC and BetaFPV use similar mounts that have two forks and an M2 (1.5mm hole) bolt and nut. Although the Bones mount is M3, it can be used with the GepRC and BetaFPV mounts.
On 3-inch quads and larger
For larger quads, there is an included adapter for M3 to M5 (standard GoPro-size), which is available for many quads with 3-inch or larger props.
Is the total weight (AUW) under 250 grams?
In the US, a drone that weighs up to 250 grams does not need to be registered with the FAA and a pilot with a Part 107 license may fly it over a crowd as long as it contains no exposed parts that could cause lacerations. In some countries in the EU, a drone that does not exceed 250 grams can be flown with fewer restrictions.
By itself, Bones weighs 60.0 grams. When the Bones is mounted on a 2.5-inch quad, is the total all up weight (AUW) under 250 grams? I tested with my GepRC Cinelog 25 with Crossfire and Caddx Vista, power cable, and a GNB 520mah 4S battery, and the total weight was 263 grams.
However, I believe it is possible to get it just under 250 grams, even with a Caddx Vista:
- I removed the Bones’ lens protector. This saved about 6 grams.
- I removed two screws per motor (so that each screw was attached with only 2 screws). This saved about 2 grams
- I removed the Cinelog25’s foam protectors. This saved 2 grams.
- If you will use a DIY cable and you don’t need the Cinelog’s GH1.25 cable, you can remove it, which will save 1 or 2 grams.
- You can convert your Caddx Vista to a naked Caddx Vista, which should save at least 10 grams. Alternatively, you can purchase and install a naked Caddx Vista.
- You can switch from Crossfire to ExpressLRS with Ceramic antenna, which should save around 3.7 grams from the weight of the Immortal T antenna. You can also remove the Cinelog25’s TPU mount for the Immortal T antenna.
- You can switch to a 450mah 4S battery, which could save around 4 grams but this will reduce your flight time.
With the Bones on a GepRC Cinelog25 digital with Crossfire, and an 850mah battery (294.4 grams), the total flight time was around 3 minutes (just cruising).
GoPro Bones is probably the best quality naked action cam at the moment, in video quality and possibly also in durability. At 5.3k, Bones is currently the highest resolution naked action camera. It can also benefit from amazing stability from Reelsteady, which is available only for GoPro cameras.
However, it has some tradeoffs. Like almost all naked GoPros, Bones doesn’t have an LCD screen. Fortunately, its QR Code system works reliably.
Another issue is that the Bones’ thicker case and lens protectors also means that it is heavier than most naked action cams, and indeed is about the same weight as the DJI Action 2.
Notwithstanding its flaws, I love the video quality from the Bones, so it will be my go-to camera when I’m shooting jobs with small cinewhoops. With Reelsteady, the stability is better than that other lightweight action cams I’ve tried, including DJI Action 2, Insta360 SMO and Insta360 Go 2. Although it’s heavier than other naked action cams, it’s still light enough for a 2.5-inch quad to carry. I had no problems flying it on Cinelog25 with 850mah battery. Hopefully, Insta360 will update the SMO with the 4K Boost Mod from the Insta360 One RS. I’d love to see that matchup.
High resolution: up to 5k 30fps (4:3 aspect ratio).
High frame rate: up to 2.7K 120fps (4:3 aspect ratio)
Excellent stability when used with ReelSteady 2.0 (license included with Bones).
Durable. Thick case and has a lens protector
Can use GoPro Hero 10 ND filters
Has Wi-Fi and can be controlled by the smartphone app or a GoPro remote
Mounted on lens axis
Case is well ventilated to reduce the chance of overheating
Cheaper than most third-party hand-assembled naked Hero 10s
A bit heavy for a naked action cam
Post-processing needed for Reelsteady. If you turn off Hypersmooth, you won’t see the stability until you apply Reelsteady in postprocessing.
Power connector is not standard (not compatible with the preinstalled naked GoPro cable used by GepRC, BetaFPV, Holybro, or Flywoo).
Like most naked GoPros, it has no front LCD or rear LCD.
No sounds. My other naked action cams do have sounds. I would have liked to have beeps.
More expensive than standard Hero 10