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Best GoPro camera in 2020

Best GoPro camera

GoPro makes the best action cameras around, but with four models ranging in price from $249 to $399, choosing the best GoPro camera isn't as simple as picking the least expensive option. 

All of GoPro's cameras are water resistant and can shoot 4K video, but there are some significant differences between them. From the $249 GoPro Hero7 Black to the $499 GoPro Max, we'll compare each model, to help you decide which is the best for your needs.

Best GoPro cameras: Specs compared

GoPro MaxHero9 BlackHero8 BlackHero7 Black
Price
$499$449$349$249
Video Resolution
5.6K, 60 fps (spherical), 1080p/60fps (rectilinear)5K, 30 fps4K, 60 fps4K, 60 fps
Photo Resolution
16.6MP (spherical), 5.5MP (rectilinear)20MP12MP
12MP
DisplayRear onlyFront and rearFront and rearFront and rear
Slo-Mo2X240 fps (1080p)240 fps (1080p)240 fps (1080p)
LivestreamingYes (1080p)Yes (1080p)Yes (1080p)Yes
HDRNoYesYesNo
Motion StabilizationMax HypersmoothHypersmooth 3.0+ BoostHypersmooth 2.0+ BoostHypersmooth
Microphones
6322
Water Resistance
16 feet33 feet33 feet33 feet
Battery1600 mAh1720 mAh1220 mAh1220 mAh
Size
2.7 x 2.5 x 0.98 inches2.75 x 1.9 x 1.6 inches2.5 x 1. x 1.1 inches2.5 x 1.9 x 1.3 inches

GoPro's new Hero9 Black ($449) is available, and boasts such features as 5K video, better motion stabilization, longer battery life, and a front-facing display that lets you frame yourself when recording video or taking photos. Check out our GoPro Hero9 Black hands on, and stay tuned for our full review.

Aside from being great action cameras, there's a few other things that GoPros can do. 

GoPro released software that lets you use the GoPro Hero9 and Hero8 Black as a webcam. Here's how to use your GoPro as a webcam

GoPro also launched livestreaming for its 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 $4.99 a month or $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. 

The best GoPro cameras you can buy today

Best GoPro camera: GoPro Hero 8 Black

GoPro Hero 8 Black (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

1. GoPro Hero8 Black

The best GoPro camera overall

Max Video Resolution: 4K/60 fps | Max Photo Resolution: 12 MP | Touch Screen: Yes | Battery Life: 158 minutes | Water Resistance: 33 feet | Size: 2.6 x 1.9 x 1.1 inches | Weight: 4.2 ounces

Much-improved audio quality
Sleeker accessory mounting system
Media “Mods” add functionality
Battery door is awkward to close
Lens is no longer removable

Not surprisingly, the Hero 8 Black, is the best GoPro camera overall, and also at the top of our list of the best action cameras list. Unlike previous models, the GoPro Hero8 has 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 has improved the motion stabilization to make the footage from the Hero 8 Black the smoothest we've seen from an action camera, 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.

Read our full GoPro Hero 8 Black review.

best GoPro cameras: GoPro Hero7 Black

GoPro Hero7 Black

2. GoPro Hero7 Black

The best midrange GoPro camera

Max Video Resolution: 4K/60 fps | Max Photo Resolution: 12 MP | Touch Screen: Yes | Battery Life: 158 minutes | Water Resistance: 33 feet | Weight: 4.2 ounces

Shoots impressively smooth video
Improved touch controls on viewfinder
Sharp 4K videos
Livestreaming could use some tweaks
Still images can be hit-or-miss

GoPro's Hero7 Black 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 the Hero 8, the Hero 7's image stabilization is still excellent. Plus, it can livestream to Facebook using the GoPro app. 

Because of its older design, the Hero 7 Black needs to be inserted into a case of some kind if you want to mount it to anything. Now that the Hero 8 is on the market, GoPro has discounted the Hero7 Black, and you may be able to find even better deals on the camera through online retailers. 

See our full GoPro Hero 7 Black review.

Best GoPro cameras: GoPro Hero Max

GoPro Hero Max (Image credit: Future)

3. GoPro Hero Max

The best GoPro camera for 360 video

Video Resolution: 5.6K/60 fps | Phone Support: Android/iOS | Water Resistance: Splashproof | Battery Life: 1 hour | Storage: MicroSD/256GB | Size: 2.9 x 2.6 x 1.6 inches | Weight: 4.6 ounces

Excellent video quality
Motion-smoothing
Intuitive menus
Needs tripod
Expensive

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. While it's not as handy as it seems, 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. 

Read our GoPro Max hands-on review.

Best GoPro cameras: GoPro Hero7 Silver

GoPro Hero7 Silver (Image credit: GoPro)

4. GoPro Hero7 Silver

The best GoPro camera under $200

Video Resolution: 4K/30 fps | Phone Support: Android/iOS | Water Resistance: 33 feet | Battery Life: 1 hour | Storage: MicroSD/256GB | Size: 2.5 x 1.9 x 1.3 inches | Weight: 2.9 ounces

Inexpensive (for GoPro)
Takes 4K video
Not as good motion stabilization
No front display

The GoPro Hero7 Silver is the best GoPro camera if you're looking to spend less than $200 on an action cam, but still want good quality video. Like the pricier GoPros, the Hero7 Silver has video stabilization, but it's not as effective. There's also no front-facing display, so you'll have to rely on the rear display to know how much recording time you have left, and how much juice is left in the battery.

The Hero7 Silver can take 4K video, but you're limited to 30 fps, which truthfully won't be a big deal for most users. But, the camera is waterproof to 33 feet, can take time-lapse videos, and be controlled by voice. 

GoPro is no longer selling this model directly, but you should be able to find it at retailers such as Best Buy and Amazon.

What to look for when buying a GoPro camera

Design

While all current GoPros (with the exception of the Max) share a similar design, there are a few differences, especially between the Hero8 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 and let you attach other lens covers, such as filters and the like. 

All GoPro models have a rear display which you can use to frame your shot and adjust settings. However, the GoPro Hero7 Silver (and the Max) lack a front-facing LCD, which on the Hero7 Black and Hero8 Black show your recording time, battery life, and more. 

Video and image resolution

While 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. That's better than the Hero7 Silver, which tops out at 4K/30 fps, and can only shoot slo-mo at 120fps.

The Hero8 Black and Hero7 Black both take 12MP stills, while the Hero7 Silver takes 10MP stills.

The GoPro Max is in a class of its own, as it shoots 5.6K spherical videos, but only 1080p/60fps rectilinear video. 

Image stabilization

One of the defining features of the later model GoPros 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.