You might think that choosing the best GoPro camera would be a simple matter — you just get the most recent model, right? But really it's more complex than that.
GoPro undoubtedly makes the best action cameras around, and has done so for years. As a result, all four of its current models have something to offer the budding action shooter — and when you take into account the fact that they range in price from $249 to $449, that decision suddenly looks a little more complicated.
Each of GoPro's quartet of cameras are water resistant and can shoot 4K video, but there are some major differences between them elsewhere. From the $249 GoPro Hero7 Black to the $449 GoPro Max, we'll compare each model, to help you decide which is the best for your needs.
|GoPro Max||Hero9 Black||Hero8 Black||Hero7 Black|
|Video Resolution||5.6K, 60 fps (spherical), 1080p/60fps (rectilinear)||5K, 30 fps||4K, 60 fps||4K, 60 fps|
|Photo Resolution||16.6MP (spherical), 5.5MP (rectilinear)||20MP||12MP||12MP|
|Display||Rear only||Front and rear||Front and rear||Front and rear|
|Slo-Mo||2X||240 fps (1080p)||240 fps (1080p)||240 fps (1080p)|
|Livestreaming||Yes (1080p)||Yes (1080p)||Yes (1080p)||Yes|
|Motion Stabilization||Max Hypersmooth||Hypersmooth 3.0+ Boost||Hypersmooth 2.0+ Boost||Hypersmooth|
|Water Resistance||16 feet||33 feet||33 feet||33 feet|
|Battery||1600 mAh||1720 mAh||1220 mAh||1220 mAh|
|Size||2.7 x 2.5 x 0.98 inches||2.75 x 1.9 x 1.6 inches||2.5 x 1. x 1.1 inches||2.5 x 1.9 x 1.3 inches|
|Weight||154 grams||158 grams||126 grams||142 grams|
There's no question that the Hero9 Black is the best GoPro camera around. It 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. Its only drawback — if there is one — is that it's quite hefty. At 158 grams (5.6 ounces), it's even heavier than the GoPro Hero Max, the company's 360 camera.
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 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.
The best GoPro cameras you can buy today
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.
Read our full GoPro Hero9 Black review.
Until the arrival of the Hero9 Black, the Hero8 Black was the best GoPro camera overall. It remains a great bit of kit today, and one that's available for $100 less than the newer model. Unlike previous GoPro cameras, 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 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.
Read our full GoPro Hero 8 Black review.
Surprise surprise — next on our list is the GoPro 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 the Hero8 or Hero9, 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 Hero7 Black needs to be inserted into a case of some kind if you want to mount it to anything. Now that the Hero8 and Hero9 are 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.
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 review.
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 find out how much recording time you have left, and how much juice is left in the battery.
The Hero7 Silver can shoot 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 for around $199.
What to look for when buying a GoPro camera
While all current GoPros (with the exception of the Max) share a similar design, there are a few differences, especially between the 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.
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. Unlike the others, the Hero9's front display also acts as a viewfinder, which makes it easier to compose shots with you in it.
Video and image resolution
The GoPro Hero9 Black is the first GoPro that can shoot video at 5K resolution, albeit at a max framerate of 30 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. That's better than the Hero7 Silver, which tops out at 4K/30 fps, and can only shoot slo-mo at 120fps.
On the stills front, the Hero9 takes 20MP photos, while the Hero8 Black and Hero7 Black are both limited to 12MP and the Hero7 Silver has to make do with 10MP.
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 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.
Be sure to check out all of our camera picks:
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