Choosing the best GoPro camera is harder than you might think.
In one (obvious) sense, the best GoPro camera is the latest one — in this case the GoPro Hero10 Black. But every model has at some point been one of the best action cameras, and with older models now greatly reduced in price, you might find that one of them is a better choice for you.
We've tested every GoPro still available to buy and are well placed to help you make the right purchasing decision. Here, we look at the five most recent models of GoPro, from the four-year-old Hero7 Black to the Hero10 Black, and including the 360-degree-capable GoPro Max, breaking down what's different about them and what their various advantages and disadvantages are.
So read on and we'll help you decide which is the best GoPro camera for your needs.
Best GoPro camera: Specs compared
|GoPro Max||Hero10 Black||Hero9 Black||Hero8 Black|
|Video Resolution||5.6K, 60 fps (spherical), 1080p/60fps (rectilinear)||5K/60 fps||5K/30 fps||4K, 60 fps|
|Photo Resolution||16.6MP (spherical), 5.5MP (rectilinear)||23MP||20MP||12MP|
|Display||Rear only||Front and rear||Front and rear||Front and rear|
|Slo-Mo||2X||240 fps (2.7k)||240 fps (1080p)||240 fps (1080p)|
|Livestreaming||Yes (1080p)||Yes (1080p)||Yes (1080p)||Yes (1080p)|
|Motion Stabilization||Max Hypersmooth||HyperSmooth 4.0||Hypersmooth 3.0+ Boost||Hypersmooth 2.0+ Boost|
|Water Resistance||16 feet||33 feet||33 feet||33 feet|
|Battery||1600 mAh||1720 mAh||1720 mAh||1220 mAh|
|Size||2.7 x 2.5 x 0.98 inches||2.75 x 1.9 x 1.6 inches||2.75 x 1.9 x 1.6 inches||2.5 x 1. x 1.1 inches|
|Weight||154 grams||150 grams||158 grams||126 grams|
The best GoPro cameras you can buy today
While the outside hasn't changed from the Hero9 Black, the GoPro Hero10 Black sports a new and improved processor on the inside, which translates to video recording as high as 5.3K/60 fps, as well as 2K video at 240 fps, and 4K video at 120 fps. On top of that, it has a larger 23MP image sensor, and manages to shave off a tiny bit of weight.
What's most impressive is the Hero10's upgraded image stabilization; in our testing, we found that the camera can be tilted by as much as 45 degrees while still smoothing things out. However, this puts a serious dent on battery life, which is unchanged from the Hero9. But, you can use the same battery, as well as the same accessories, as before.
Plus, GoPro released a firmware update last year that will allow the Hero10 Black to record longer clips in situations where there's limited airflow to cool the camera. The company says that users will be able to record up to 63-minute clips at 4K/60 fps. Price-wise, GoPro has heavily discounted the Hero10 since launch and it's now available for $349 direct from GoPro, if you sign up for a GoPro subscription. That means it costs the same as the Hero9 Black, making it a no-brainer choice between the two.
Read our full GoPro Hero10 Black review.
With the GoPro Hero9 Black, GoPro not only took the criticism of the Hero8, but also added a much-needed feature: a front-facing display. This small screen now shows a live preview, making it much easier for selfie artists and bloggers to frame themselves in videos and photos.
In addition, the Hero9 has a removable lens, so you can once again add filters, such as GoPro's new Max Lens Mod, which enables you to take really wide and stabilized video. It can also shoot at resolutions up to 5K, and its larger battery performs better in colder temperatures. Having tested it extensively, Our sole criticism is that it's pretty heavy, so you'll certainly notice it if you attach it to a helmet. Overall, we'd still consider this to be one of the best GoPro cameras — but given that the Hero10 is available for the same price, there's no reason to choose it over the newer model.
Read our full GoPro Hero9 Black review.
The Hero8 Black was the first GoPro to have its mounting "fingers" built directly into the camera, which makes it a bit easier to attach accessories. You no longer need to use a case if you want to attach it to accessories, such as a tripod or helmet mount. Unfortunately, it also means that cases and lens adapters you had for older GoPros won't work with this model.
The redesign also allows for new add-on "Mods," which increase the functionality of the camera through external mics, lights, and more.
GoPro improved the motion stabilization to make the footage from the Hero8 Black the smoothest we've seen from an action camera (until the Hero9 and then Hero10, at least), and the overall quality remains as great as ever. The Hero8 Black has also been updated to work as a webcam, and its HyperSmooth 2.0 video stabilization works with more video settings — though not as well as HyperSmooth 3.0 and HyperSmooth 4.0 on the Hero9 and Hero10, respectively. But for $279, it's the best GoPro under $300.
Read our full GoPro Hero 8 Black review.
While not the best GoPro camera overall, the GoPro Max does have a major point of difference from the others — namely its ability to shoot 360-degree video. Unlike most 360 cameras, the GoPro Hero Max has a small display on its back that lets you view what its cameras are looking at. We didn't find it quite as handy as we'd expected, but the large display does make it easy to navigate and change the Max's settings without having to use your smartphone.
The GoPro Hero Max also has a HyperSmooth stabilization feature, so your bumpy video will look nice and smooth, and image quality from the camera — up to a max resolution of 5.6K/30 fps — lives up to GoPro's typical high standards. Plus, GoPro's app is loaded with features, including the ability to livestream video from the Max.
However, the GoPro Hero Max's design requires the use of a selfie stick, and lacks a tripod mount, so you have to use it with one of GoPro's accessories. GoPro's subscription offer is available here too, and brings the price down to $399 from its RRP of $549.
Read our GoPro Max review.
The GoPro Hero7 Black would be higher up this list if it wasn't for the fact that it's now very hard to find. GoPro itself no longer sells it directly, but you can find it occasionally for around $200 — don't buy it if it's more than that, unless it comes with a ton of bundled accessories.
Still, there's a lot to like about the Hero7 Black. This was the first of GoPro's action cameras to include the ability to record 4K video at 60 fps. Like earlier models, it's waterproof to 33 feet, has a rear 2-inch color touch-screen LCD, and voice control. While not as effective as newer models, the Hero 7's image stabilization is still very good, in our experience. Plus, it can livestream to Facebook using the GoPro app. Because of its older design, the Hero7 Black needs to be inserted into a case of some kind if you want to mount it to anything, and it won't work with some of the newer Mods.
See our full GoPro Hero 7 Black review.
What to look for when buying a GoPro camera
While all of the best GoPro cameras (with the exception of the Max) share a similar design, there are a few differences, especially between the Hero10 / Hero9 Black and older models.
With the Hero8 Black, GoPro redesigned the camera so that the mounting "fingers" — used to connect the camera to GoPro accessories — are built directly into the bottom of the camera. This way, you don't need to attach a case if you want to mount the camera to a selfie stick or some other device.
However, unlike earlier models, the Hero8's lens cover cannot be removed; other GoPro models let you take this piece off so you can attach other lens covers, such as filters and the like. The Hero9 rectifies this issue and the Hero10 keeps the same layout.
All GoPro models have a rear display which you can use to frame your shot and adjust settings, as well as a front-facing LCD that shows your recording time, battery life, and more. However, the Hero9 and Hero10 have color displays on the front, which can also be used to frame yourself in a shot.
Video and image resolution
The GoPro Hero9 Black was the first GoPro that can shoot video at 5K resolution, albeit at a max framerate of 30 fps. The Hero10 ups that to 60 fps. Both the GoPro Hero8 Black and Hero7 Black can shoot 4K video at 60 frames per second, as well as slo-mo video at 1080p/240 fps.
On the stills front, the Hero10 takes 23MP stills; the Hero9 takes 20MP photos, while the Hero8 Black and Hero7 Black are both limited to 12MP.
The GoPro Max is in a class of its own, as it shoots 5.6K spherical videos, but only 1080p/60fps rectilinear video.
One of the defining features of the best GoPro cameras has been electronic image stabilization, which goes a long way towards smoothing out shaky action cam footage. GoPro calls its technology HyperSmooth; hyperbole aside, it's very effective. Newer (and pricier) GoPro models have more advanced versions of HyperSmooth.
If you're taking really shaky video, though, we recommend the GoPro Max; because it's a 360 camera, and recording everything around you, it's the best at maintaining a level horizon no matter how much the camera bounces around.
Which GoPro accessories should you buy?
We've got a separate guide to the best GoPro accessories, but if you're still deciding which is the best GoPro camera to buy and just want an idea of how much extra you might need to budget for add-ons, here's a brief overview:
- GoPro Volta: GoPro has just released this combined handle, remote, battery and tripod and we'll be giving it a try very soon. The company claims it can triple battery life, while the remote functionality works whether it's attached to a camera or wirelessly via Bluetooth. For $130, it looks like a great addition to a GoPro.
- Mounts: You're almost certainly going to want to attach your GoPro to something, whether it's a helmet, a bike or a snowboard. Neewer makes an inexpensive (about $30) 50-piece kit that includes dozens of options.
- Audio upgrades: Sound isn't the GoPro's strongest suit, but you can improve it by adding GoPro's own Media Mod, or an external microphone for as little as $40.
- Batteries: You can never have too much juice — after all, you don't want to be stuck halfway up a mountain with a dead GoPro. For $10 you can buy an extra battery plus a charging case that you can take on the go.
- Carrying case: The more kit you have, the more useful this will be. Amazon sells a good option for just $11.
Of course there are dozens of other GoPro accessories, including waterproof cases and floatation devices, screen protectors, extra lighting, extra displays and more. Check out our full list of the best GoPro accessories for more.
Can you use a GoPro as a webcam?
Simply put: yes. Aside from being great action cameras, there are actually a few other things that GoPros can do. For a start, GoPro released software that lets you use the GoPro Hero9 and Hero8 Black as a webcam. Follow our guide to how to use your GoPro as a webcam for more details.
GoPro also launched livestreaming for its Hero10, Hero9, Hero8 Black, Hero7 Black and GoPro Max cameras. However, in order to use this feature, you must be a GoPro Plus subscriber, which costs $49.99 annually. The subscription also provides unlimited cloud storage of GoPro footage, no-questions-asked camera replacement, and up to 50% off GoPro accessories.
How we test the best GoPro cameras
The only way to test a GoPro camera properly is to put it through its paces in the outdoors, so that's what we do. We take it to a ski slope, or out on a bike, or to a beach, and we use it in the kind of situation anyone buying it would do. We also make sure to test it in a variety of lighting conditions, and to specifically evaluate features such as motion stabilization so we know how well it performs.
We then look closely at the footage, and any stills we've taken, to compare the quality to that of rival devices or previous models. Finally, we consider the camera's controls, design and build, including aspects such as how easy it is to operate with gloves, and also evaluate the manufacturer's battery claims against what we found in our testing.
Be sure to check out all of our camera picks:
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