My GoPro Karma Grip Is Dead PLUS Hero5 Firmware 1.55 Disables 3rd Party Batteries

December 19, 20162 Comments

This post is a GoPro twofer! Lets start with my Karma Grip.

I like these small handheld gimbals. They produce amazing steady shots with smaller cameras. When GoPro announced that the Karma Grip was now available I checked out the site and bought one. Early Christmas present for Erik! I added a HERO4 mounting hardware too. Well…I screwed that up because I have a HERO3+ not the required HERO4 or HERO5. Crap! So that means I either have to return it or buy another camera. Well I bet you know what I did…..

I drove to my local electronics hub and picked up a GoPro HERO5. Ugh. Now i’m in deeper than I wanted to be. The Karma Grip is $299 and the HERO5 $399 plus $20 for a spare battery. I usually don’t buy batteries from the camera makers because they are expensive but $20 isn’t so bad so I went for it because I wanted to play and not wait a few days to get one in the mail.

Okay so i’m in for over $700 now from my previous thought of only spending $300 bucks. I need counseling…. 😀

I finally have all I need. Lets play! Not so fast…. After a few minutes of testing it out I noticed some strange vibrating like the motor on the pan was to high or wasn’t balanced right. This was when the grip was going left and right. Over time it got worse to the point that it just vibrated all the time and then the camera would go limp. The motor on the base got really hot as well.

I called GoPro and exchanged info with them. Then radio silence for 3 days. I called them back and they told me that I could get a refund or exchange but since the Karma Grip is backordered now and getting a replacement would take a while. “How long is a while”? I asked. Didn’t get a answer. I decided to get a refund and move on. Bummer actually because I liked the design and it was really easy to use. Maybe i’ll take a look at other gimbals that use the HERO5 as well.


So now I have a GoPro HERO5. What to do…. I keep thinking. Erik. Just take it back and be done with this. Yeah I probably should and to be honest I’m not sure I won’t, however I sold my HERO3+ after I found out I had the wrong camera so at least I’m a little better off. Yeah keep telling yourself that one Erik…

Now for the second part of this story.


The first thing I did when I got the HEREO5 was update the firmware. Then I found out that the HERO5 firmware ver 1.55 stops the ability to use cheaper 3rd party batteries! What? This is a first for the GoPro and I think it’s pretty lame. The thing is companies will figure out how to beat this. They always do, however if you bought several from a good brand like Wasabi Power that comes with 2 batteries and a dual charger for the same price as a 1 GoPro battery then you are out of luck. I understand companies wanting to protect their products but it’s a tough pill to swallow when you are forced to pay more for less and you just lost $20 on a batteries that now won’t work. Not cool GoPro!

With all that I think i’ll keep it. Why? I like that touch screen a lot. I never liked the menu system on the former models. It was a PITA to set up and if you don’t use it a lot then you have to relearn it and that’s never fun. As for image quality I don’t think it’s much better than my HERO3+ actually. Subtle differences but not a WOW you have to get one! kind of thing. I need to play with the audio on it because it sounds a little hollow. I think it needs to be taken out of auto mode. Need to test this. Speaking of audio. The 3.5mm USB-C audio adapter that only GoPro sells is HUGE! I mean how on earth did they come up with this design? Plus it cost a whopping $50


At the end of the day the HERO5 is a GoPro. It wasn’t something I wanted, but now I have, so I better take up surfing or cliff diving so I can get my moneys worth from it. 😀

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I'm a broadcast DP In San Diego. I enjoy sharing what I'm working on and testing new equipment. This blog is also part of giving back. I've learned so much from so many people.

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  1. David says:

    I feel a bit sorry for GoPro as they have been loosing market share and their bad luck of late with the Karma ‘copter. GoPro introduced an amazing product that was a game changer, so I will always respect them for that. However, they can not afford to let quality control slip (Karma ‘copters falling from the sky, defective Karma camera grips) or putting the squeeze on 3rd party companies (incompatibility with batteries and suing 3rd party companies that make GoPro accessories). Consumer markets move fast and it doesn’t take much to be pushed aside after a few missteps. I hope they can turn things around.

  2. VanWeddings says:

    This doesn’t look good for Gopro at all. I sold my 3+ a while ago and haven’t felt the need to get the 5. If I needed an action cam right now I’d probably just get the Yi instead. Without a good leap in quality and definitely solving their QC issues I don’t see how they’d stay in business for long.

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