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Best GoPro camera in 2021

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Best GoPro camera

Choosing the best GoPro camera for you is a complicated business, because almost every model has at some point been one of the best action cameras, and several are still available to buy.

What's more, there's sometimes a considerable price difference between them, meaning that an older model can represent much better value than a newer one — but equally, that's not always the case.

What you need is a guide to help you through the process of finding the best GoPro camera for your needs, and that's where we come in. 

Here, we look at the five most recent models of GoPro, from the four-year-old Hero7 Black to the most recent Hero10 Black, and including the 360-degree-capable GoPro Max. All have something to offer the budding action shooter: for instance, all are water resistant and can shoot 4K video (or above). But there are also some major differences between them, even outside of the price range. 

So read on and we'll help you decide which is the best GoPro camera for your needs.

Black Friday deals on GoPro cameras

Black Friday deals are in full swing, and that means you can save on many different items, including GoPro cameras. The best deal we've seen so far comes from GoPro itself, where you can buy the GoPro Hero10 Black at a $200 discount that also includes a year’s GoPro subscription.

Best GoPro camera: Specs compared

GoPro MaxHero10 BlackHero9 BlackHero8 Black
Price
$399$399$349$279
Video Resolution
5.6K, 60 fps (spherical), 1080p/60fps (rectilinear)5K/60 fps5K/30 fps4K, 60 fps
Photo Resolution
16.6MP (spherical), 5.5MP (rectilinear)23MP20MP12MP
DisplayRear onlyFront and rearFront and rearFront and rear
Slo-Mo2X240 fps (2.7k)240 fps (1080p)240 fps (1080p)
LivestreamingYes (1080p)Yes (1080p)Yes (1080p)Yes (1080p)
HDRNoYesYesYes
Motion StabilizationMax HypersmoothHyperSmooth 4.0Hypersmooth 3.0+ BoostHypersmooth 2.0+ Boost
Microphones
6332
Water Resistance
16 feet33 feet33 feet33 feet
Battery1600 mAh1720 mAh1720 mAh1220 mAh
Size2.7 x 2.5 x 0.98 inches2.75 x 1.9 x 1.6 inches2.75 x 1.9 x 1.6 inches2.5 x 1. x 1.1 inches
Weight154 grams150 grams158 grams126 grams

There's no question that the Hero10 Black is the best GoPro camera around. It boasts such features as 5.3K video at 60 fps, better motion stabilization, longer battery life, and a front-facing display that lets you frame yourself when recording video or taking photos. Its only drawback — if there is one — is that it's quite hefty. At 150 grams (5.3 ounces), it's lighter than the Hero9, but you'll still notice it on your head. 

Aside from being great action cameras, there are 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 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. 

You also get a discount on the camera itself, if purchased directly from GoPro: the Hero10 Black, for instance, costs $399 rather than $499 if you have a subscription.

In November, GoPro is releasing a new Enduro battery for the Hero10 and Hero9 Black, designed to improve performance in cold weather. The new battery ($24.99) will operate even if it drops to 14 degrees F.

The best GoPro cameras you can buy today

GoPro Hero10 Black review

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

1. GoPro Hero10 Black

The best GoPro camera overall

Specifications
Max Video Resolution: 5K/60 fps
Max Photo Resolution: 23 MP
Touch Screen: Yes (2)
Battery Life: 1:41
Water Resistance: 33 feet
Size: 2.75 x 1.9 x 1.6 inches
Weight: 5.3 ounces
Reasons to buy
+Excellent image stabilization+Removable lens+Media “Mods” add functionality
Reasons to avoid
-Heavy

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; you can now tilt the camera as much as 45 degrees and it will still smooth things out for you. 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.

Update (10/25): GoPro has released a firmware update 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.

Read our full GoPro Hero10 Black review.

best GoPro cameras: GoPro Hero9

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

2. GoPro Hero9 Black

The next best GoPro camera

Specifications
Max Video Resolution: 5K/30 fps
Max Photo Resolution: 20 MP
Touch Screen: Yes (2)
Battery Life: 1:41
Water Resistance: 33 feet
Size: 2.75 x 1.9 x 1.6 inches
Weight: 5.6 ounces
Reasons to buy
+Front-facing screen+Removable lens+Media “Mods” add functionality
Reasons to avoid
-Heavy

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 will perform better in colder temperatures. Our sole criticism is that it's pretty heavy, so you'll certainly notice it if you attach it to a helmet. But overall we'd still consider this to be one of the best GoPro cameras.

Read our full GoPro Hero9 Black review.

Best GoPro camera: GoPro Hero 8 Black

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

3. GoPro Hero8 Black

The best GoPro camera under $300

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

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 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 good 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.

Best GoPro cameras: GoPro Hero Max

GoPro Hero Max (Image credit: Future)

4. GoPro Hero Max

The best GoPro camera for 360 video

Specifications
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
Reasons to buy
+Excellent video quality+Motion-smoothing+Intuitive menus
Reasons to avoid
-Needs tripod-Expensive

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. 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. GoPro's subscription offer is available here too, and brings the price down to $400 from its RRP of $550.

Read our GoPro Max review.

best GoPro cameras: GoPro Hero7 Black

GoPro Hero7 Black

5. GoPro Hero7 Black

Still a good camera if you can find it discounted

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

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. 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

Design

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. 

Image stabilization

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: 

  • 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. 

Be sure to check out all of our camera picks:

Best cameras | Best DSLR cameras | Best action cameras | Best waterproof cameras | Best point-and-shoot cameras | Best instant cameras | Best mirrorless cameras | Best cheap cameras | Best GoPro accessories | Best drones | Best 360 cameras | Best iPhone lenses | Best iPhone tripods |DSLR vs. mirrorless | Best Nikon accessories | Best Sony a6000 accessories


The best apps and software for editing, managing, and sharing your photos:
Best photo organizer apps | Best photo storage sites | Best photo editing software | Best photo editing apps | Best photo collage apps

Mike Prospero

Michael A. Prospero is the deputy editor at Tom’s Guide overseeing the home, smart home, drones, and fitness/wearables categories, as well as all buying guides and other evergreen content. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine or some other cooking gadget.