Action photography used to be limited to professional photographers only, but with the rise of streaming and online broadcasting, getting a professional-style video or photo is within everyone else's reach, too.
A lot of bloggers, photographers and sportspeople prefer the GoPro Hero series as their default pick. If you're in the market for a camera, the GoPro brand gives you reliability and brand trust – and for most people who have never owned a GoPro before, it's a revelation.
The GoPro Hero 7 Black is the latest introduction to the series. Is it worthwhile – or should you save your money and opt for a cheaper, earlier model like the Hero 5 or 6?
• TL;DR: The GoPro Hero 7 Black leaves some features unchanged from previous models, but introduces new features (like better software stability for shakes and shudders while recording) that can make it worth your money.
Here's more information about the most essential features of the GoPro Hero 7 Black and how it performs when put to the test.
Summary: Need a Video Upgrade?
The GoPro Hero 7 is an ideal choice for a video recording upgrade for various different recording or streaming needs.
It's great for professional use and regular recording - but it's just as great (and perfectly priced) if you're a beginner at streaming and recording instead. User-friendliness is part of what GoPro does well, and the GoPro Hero 7 doesn't disappoint on any level.
If you currently own a previous model GoPro Hero (like 4 or 5), you'll find this a revolutionary upgrade. If you're still at 6, you might find a lot of the features similar – but there are still new features that make it better (with more stable video recording capability than 6).
Video Resolution: 4K@60, 2.7K@120, 1440p@120, 1080p@240 ; looping video ; 15 and 30 second clips ; 8x slow motion
In short, if you're still used to recording video with your iPhone or an earlier GoPro Hero mode, this is a definite worthy upgrade.
So What's New?
What's new with the GoPro Hero? You'll be glad to know that they added some new features and upgraded a few others. Where previous models falls short, the Hero 7 has caught up.
Added features of the Hero 7 includes the addition of the ability to set a timer for when your video starts to record – and you can set how long your video recording should be ahead of time. A lot of action footage means that you can't fumble with controls when you're part of the action you're trying to shoot: This feature is great for this.
Recording mode can be activated with the touch of a button: Useful for when you're in the middle of the action and you have more important things to focus on.
This upgraded camera also boasts with better EIS (Electronic Image Stability). This is what keeps your image from moving around too much even when the camera itself isn't static. It's great for recording along rocky roads or during fast action.
Another added upgrade is the addition of superior zooming capability. Instead of being reliant on a lens, it makes use of digital zoom functions instead, which can give you a much better and clearer picture.
The resolution is still set at 4K like previous models, but this model offers a far more stable image, whether you're recording video or still.
Image stabilization is an important part of the end quality of the video you record. Action footage recorded on rocky roads and during actual scenes can have a lot of rapid, small ups-and-downs that don't look great on camera (and can render most videos unusable when it's something that you only had the opportunity to record properly once!).
The GoPro 7 (and some of the earlier models from the range) attempts to eliminate this by using special software video stabilization technology. This removes the instances of “shakiness” that comes with the video – even if there was a huge amount of shaking when the video was recorded.
How does it work? Smart software powered by AI uses algorithms and prediction to bring your video more into focus. Software – especially the software designed by GoPro – is generally far better (and more reliable) than analog forms of stabilization that relies on the lens.
If you've ever uploaded a shaky, unstable video to YouTube, you might have seen the basics of this technology in action. YouTube has its own built-in version of a similar technology.
Photo Resolution: 12MP ; 30 fps burst mode ; single photo and night photo options
The GoPro7 uses stabilization technology far better than most of its competitors on the market. It's made for action footage: And picture stability is one of the things that the GoPro Hero 7 does fantastically well even for professional action recordings.
One of the most important things a portable camera like the GoPro needs to be able to do is the ability to act fast. You don't want to miss the perfect shot because you were fumbling with buttons or settings – and the Hero 7 offers one-touch recording capability that ensures you'll always get the perfect shot.
Not sure if you'll have the time to press the recording button at all? The Hero 7 allows you to set a time limit for when the recording starts, and it even lets you decide how long you want the recording to run for before it stops.
It also offers a lot of other setting shortcuts that you don't have to fumble around for anything while you're recording at all.
Different Modes for Different Shots
The Hero 7 offers different different modes for different types of shots together with a variety of settings, and automatic adjustment if you aren't sure which mode you should choose.
Sometimes you're recording in bad lighting, other times the light is perfect for the shot you're going to take – set the mode, or set it to automatic and the GoPro Hero 7 will find the right settings for what you're looking at.
Linear mode is aimed at taking video of “stiller” things: If you're streaming a video blog or a shot where the camera doesn't move around much, this is the mode that you're looking for. There's also HyperSmooth mode that's aimed at taking what most people own a GoPro for: Action shots.
HyperSmooth mode increases the frame-rate, and kicks in the stabilization technology that ensures you get better video in the end.
The great thing? Settings aren't a nightmare to figure out. Even for beginners, you'll get great footage – and that's the most important thing a camera is meant to do.
Wondering about some of the essential features you'll find with the GoPro Hero 7? Here are the most important specifications if you need to make a quick choice.
- High Quality 4k Resolution
- Different Shooting Modes
- Online Streaming Capability
- Smart Software Stablization
- Added TimeWarp Feature
- Performs Great at Speed
- Quality Still Image Capability
What helps to make the GoPro 7 superior to anything else you could buy (or already have)? Here are some of the pros that make it great.
• Professional Use (or Not):
The GoPro 7 is great if you need something for professional streaming, but it's also just as great if you're a beginner who just needs to get a good video out of it.
• HyperSmooth Software Stabilization:
Stability is one of the most important factors for shooting good footage. The GoPro Hero 7 has been appropriately upgraded to offer better stabilization and better overall video quality.
• One-Touch Recording and Settings:
All of the functions you need to record can be found right at your fingertips. There's no need to wonder about how to get recording when you're in the middle of the action.
• High Quality Recording:
Okay, so maybe the 4K resolution video quality is the same as the Hero 6 model. But this still counts as a pro. When you buy a GoPro, you're buying consistent quality that comes with the name, and if you want quality recording, it's a great option all-round.
• Internal Lossless Zoom
You'd be surprised at how often you need the zoom function to get the perfect shot. The Hero 7 offers an internal zoom function (that also relies on software instead of analog lens zooming) and with no loss to picture quality.
Nothing is perfect, and there are a few factors where the GoPro Hero 7 could have potentially performed better. Here are some of the cons, or features of the Hero 7 that just aren't that great.
• Limited Battery:
The battery capability associated with most GoPro models are enough for the needs of most video streamers. But it's still not great: If you're a nature-videographer who needs to go for 12 hours or more without access to a charging point, learn to prepare – or carry a power-bank by default.
• Limited Streaming Capacity:
Streaming capacity doesn't let you hook up live to any site: That's fine for most, and this is still a setting that can be fixed with a little adjustment (Setting your recording source, for one.)
• No Resolution Improvement:
A lot of professionals would have loved to see an improvement in the resolution, but they somehow decided that they'll stick to 4K capabilities and a 60fps frame-rate for the Hero 7. This is fine, but it's not perfect if your needs are particularly intense.
• No Storage Improvement:
If you want more storage capability, you have to buy added storage and add it to the mix. This is the same as it's been with previous models of the GoPro, and it feels like they could have upgraded the on-board storage.
Cameras aren't just for recording action shots. Sometimes you have a once in a lifetime opportunity to get the perfect still shot too – and obviously any camera that you have on you should be able to keep up.
The GoPro Hero 7 uses what they call SuperPhoto to achieve still shots: Quality is about as good as the moving footage it produces: High-definition and stable.
How great a still image looks is a great measure of the overall quality of the video camera you have. Overall, the GoPro Hero 7 produces a still that's better than most entry-level professional photo cameras.
The feature they call “Time Warp” is one of the first and newest ones that they've added to the mix. It gives you the ability to shoot unique time-lapse videos, especially useful if you're a video blogger or a student trying to achieve a specific effect.
It's easy to use and easy to access (part of the one-touch settings) and creates a great end-product that looks as great as a video taken with the same camera.
The TimeWarp feature isn't standard with earlier versions of the Hero unit: If you aren't used to it, playaround with the settings first to see what works best before moving on.
The streaming capabilities of previous GoPro models were limited, and the Hero 7 makes this process easier. You can hook up and stream live, but only through a select few platforms.
The great thing about its streaming capabilities is the ease-of-use. Even if you've never done it before, it takes a few seconds to figure out what you're doing and get broadcasting.
Streaming is improved with the latest version of the GoPro app that offers you easy, lag-less live streaming to several platforms including YouTube.
Set the Length
The GoPro 7 allows you to set the length of a recording beforehand. Only want the essential parts of what you're about to film, or know that your video has to last exactly 63 seconds to capture anything good? Move to the GoPro's settings and choose your ideal video length.
Conclusion: Yes or No for the GoPro Hero 7?
What makes the GoPro Hero 7 worth it?
Features you expect to be standard are right there, and features that you'd like added have been seamlessly integrated. The Hero 7 meets your streaming and recording needs no matter what they are: Beginner, professional or sports-related. If you need high-quality, high-definition and no loss to video quality, the GoPro Hero 7 is one of the best camera models on the market.