When it comes to action cameras, GoPro’s HERO line have been some of the best out there. And with the new Hero9 Black has been no exception and actually improves upon previous models.
Design & Hardware
One of the biggest changes with the Hero9 Black is its overall size, which’s partially due to the bigger 2.27-inch screen on the back and 1.4-inch colour display on the front. One of the complaints I had with the Hero8 Black was that the main touchscreen was getting on the small side compared to its competitors.
The bigger overall size helps GoPro include a bigger battery which is 30% larger in capacity than before. That’s because the Hero9 Black now can shoot up to 5K30fps for even better video quality. The Hero9 Black battery is 1720 mAh vs the HERO8’s 1220 mAh. Battery life is around 1-2 hours depending on what video mode and resolution you’re shooting in. If you plan to shoot exclusively in 5K, then the battery life will definitely take a big hit.
Just like the Hero8, the camera is waterproof up to 33ft (10m) without any extra housing. And the battery door on the Hero9 Black is still on the right side of the camera along with the USB-C port and microSD card slot, like on the Hero8. On the bottom is the fold-out mounts to connect to accessories.
And it seems GoPro is going all-in on mods, the Hero9 Black has a couple of mods available for it including an updated Media Mod that has a built-in directional shotgun-mic with two cold shoe mounts and USB-C, HDMI and 3.5mm external mic adapter ports.
The Display Mod and Light Mod introduced with the Hero8, now works with the Hero9 Black’s Media Mod. The Display Mod adds a 1.9-inch screen but that doesn’t seem as useful since the Hero9 Black has a new front screen.
Meanwhile, the Light Mod is just an external light for the camera.
The newest mod is the Max Lens Mod, which “maxes” out the stabilization and field of view of your Hero9 Black. You’ll get a 155-degree ultra-wide-angle and the Horizon lock keeps your videos on the horizontal or vertical axis.
The Hero9 Black can shoot up to 5K video at 30/24 fps as well as 4K HDR video at 60 fps, 2.7K video at 120 fps, 1440p at 120 fps and 1080p Full HD at up to 240 fps. The photo resolution of the Hero9 Black has been bumped up to 20MP compared to 12MP stills.
In terms of video stabilization, GoPro has introduced HyperSmooth 3.0 with the Hero9 Black. Videos shot on the Hero9 Black are even smoother than before.
In addition to HyperSmooth 3.0, the Hero9 Black brings TimeWarp 3.0 featuring Real Speed and Half Speed.
The GoPro Hero9 Black is available now for $599 CAD ($499 USD) from GoPro’s website and the following retailer below but can be found on sale for $529 CAD.
The Media Mod and Display Mod cost $109 CAD ($79 USD) each and the Light Mod costs $69 CAD ($49 USD). The new Max Lens Mods costs $99 USD. If you subscribe to GoPro Plus, you can get 30% off some of the mods.
Camera Image & Video Quality
Since the Hero7 Black, the video quality of each GoPro release has gotten better and the Hero9 Black is no different. Video stabilization is even better thanks to HyperSmooth 3.0.
All the videos I recorded using the Hero9 Black were super smooth and stabilized. While the Hero8 would only let you turn HyperSmooth on/off on certain resolutions (like 4K 60fps), that has changed. Most video resolutions now let you switch between HyperSmooth 3.0 Boost, High, On and Off levels, even on 5K.
Just like on previous models, GoPro’s interface lets you set different presets, so you can have one for POVs or another for slow-motion etc. There’s now the option to do a scheduled capture and duration limit, perfect for when you’re capturing sunsets or time-lapses in general. Within each preset, you can also choose to turn on ProTune for even further customization of presets for things like Bit Rate, White Balance, Shutter Speed, ISO etc.
The preset customization also works in the Photo and Time Lapse modes. Low-light was a low point for the Hero8 but it’s been slightly improved on the Hero9 Black.
TimeWarp is a lot of fun to use and basically lets you take super-stabilized time-lapse videos up to 30x speed.
For photos, even with the higher 32MP resolution, images taken on the Hero9 Black don’t look all that great. Most of the time, you’ll get some washed-out photos unless you have really good lighting conditions like outdoors. And in terms of low-light photography, you’re better off using your phone’s camera.
The interface of the Hero9 Black hasn’t changed compared to past GoPro mode. You can still swipe left or right to switch between modes and swiping up shows you your footage. One thing I have noticed is that there is sometimes a delay when tapping something on-screen (like a different video resolution) and it actually registering the selection, or I’ll have to tap the screen 2-3 times to select something.
The top of the main screen shows the space on your microSD card, which mode you’re in and battery life percentage. The bottom of the screen has quick access to things like digital zoom, Presets and Digital Lens.
Just like the Hero8 Black, the latest model can still be controlled using your voice in multiple languages as well as paired with your smartphone and the GoPro app. From the app, you’ll be able to use your phone as a viewfinder.
When using the GoPro app, your camera will create a Wi-Fi network and your phone connects to that in order to control the camera remotely. While the app does work, I found it to be slightly delayed, especially when using the viewfinder.
The GoPro Hero9 Black is a great improvement from the Hero8 with it’s bigger battery and screen and 5K video support. If you already have a Hero8, then you won’t see that much of an upgrade but if you’re coming from an older GoPro, then the Hero9 Black will seem like an excellent upgrade.
If you’re looking for one of the best all-around action cameras, you can’t go wrong with the Hero9 Black.
- Great 4K and 5K video and still image quality w/ image stabilization
- HyperSmooth 3.0 works great
- Longer battery life
- A bigger rear screen and colour front display are great additions
- Easy to use interface
- Built-in mount for better versatility
- Mods system adds some cool functionality
- Waterproof without any extra housing
- Solid and durable build
- 5K video is limited to 30fps
- The touchscreen is sometimes unresponsive
- Low-light video is better but could use improvements
- The larger size means it won’t work with all existing GoPro accessories