Another year coming, another GoPro with a lot of promise on the inside and little change on the outside. This would be a recurring start of review for this camera, but the GoPro Hero 9 Black changes that rule a little. On second thought, it changes a lot.
The exterior is just the biggest change since Digital Hero 5 of 2008, since the front screen can finally be used as a real screen, going beyond just a display that informs the selected mode and other data. Hero 9 Black also delivers video in 5K, improvements in digital stabilization, is bigger and fatter, promising to solve one of the biggest problems of all GoPro: autonomy.
Are all the promises fulfilled in the world that exists outside the company’s laboratories? The small screen in front changes everything, really? I will tell you my experience, in times of pandemic, in the next paragraphs.
Video review of GoPro Hero 9 Black
O Tecnoblog is a technology-independent journalistic vehicle that has helped people make their next decision since 2005. Our product reviews are opinionated and have no advertising intent. For this reason, we always transparently highlight the positive and negative points of each product.
No company, manufacturer or store has paid the Tecnoblog to produce this content. Our reviews are not reviewed or approved by external agents. GoPro Hero 9 Black was provided by GoPro on an indefinite loan. The product will be used in future content before being returned to the company.
Starting right away: GoPro finally put a real screen on the front. This feature has been around since Digital Hero 2006, when GoPro stopped using 35mm film. Yes, the first GoPro was analog, it only took photos and used film. One of those to reveal, you know?
Returning to the small screen, it was there at the front, but it was always used only as a shortcut to show data such as the image capture function, how much time you still have to shoot, how many photos you can take and even the battery level. This time the company looked at what DJI did with Osmo Action and followed the same idea. Now everyone can do everything I have already said in the lines above, with the addition of seeing if the framing is correct.
The size of the front screen is quite small, at 1.4 inches, it has no touch control and the aspect ratio is square. You can very well adjust the aspect ratio to 16: 9, but the one used by default due to the physical size of the display makes me feel more secure if I want my face in the middle of the video.
It is also possible to save battery power by turning off this screen, or by turning its function back to exactly the same thing as previous generations did: show information to the user, without a selfie. Another detail to save energy is the frame rate per second, which is lower in the second display.
Besides the screen, little changes on this GoPro if you follow the models since Hero 5. It remains waterproof without the need for an external case, the body is still super resistant to life’s hardships and it remains with support for all accessories already launched for GoPros, those that use the locks and they are still embedded in the camera itself, as happened in Hero 8. On the other hand, the rear screen is bigger and the lens is removable again, as it was in Hero 7 Black .
Another detail that draws attention on Hero 9 is the presence of a kind of handle next to the on / off button. I automatically tried to open it in every way, until I discovered, on the GoPro support page, that this area is used to drain the water that enters the microphone when the camera dives. The idea is to let the water out more quickly and it kind of works well.
Closing the outside, the GoPro Hero 9 Black is heavier and has a larger body. All of this is a result of the battery which is also bigger. This means that autonomy has increased, but it also means that the new camera does not fit in cases made for previous generations.
Ah, there is one more thing: in this generation GoPro exchanged the box that comes with the camera for a case with a zipper, which holds all the accessories that are shipped with it. With the change, the packaging is no longer just an extra garbage for the truck to take and becomes really useful, protecting the camera and freeing the world from more plastic. Nice idea and that should be followed by other companies.
Videos and photos
Beginning in a very brief way, you can rate this model as the best action camera GoPro has ever made. There is a new 23.6 megapixel sensor here that makes films up to 5K, with 30 frames per second.
In addition to this huge number, you can shoot in 4K at up to 60 frames per second, 2.7K at 120 fps or Full HD at 240 frames to make slow motion very fluid. The result of the images is kind of expected for a GoPro. Saturation is high, but it is possible to decrease the internal adjustments. The dynamic range is very good and it all works that way if you’re in a well-lit environment.
At night the granules appear strongly in videos and photos, which is not a novelty in GoPros. In these situations, image captures also happen less quickly, becoming even slower than the time required for HDR work to happen during the day – it takes more than a second, it’s boring when on smartphones this happens in the background.
If in the final quality of the video GoPro does not try to reinvent the wheel with Hero 9, in stabilization it does even more than in the previous model. Over here, in the third generation, HyperSmooth still doesn’t let you abandon a real mechanical gimbal, but it does considerably slow down your movements. This happens even when I ran down a ladder, without thinking about smoothing the steps.
Trained eyes still perceive the image wobbling a bit as I walk, but I noticed that riding a bicycle, which is not the firmest thing in the world, the feeling was one of total stability. You can see the basket trembling, the handlebars too and the recording goes on as if it were a gimbal. That day I just held the camera in my hand, with no accessories or anything like that.
There is a horizon leveling tool that is also impressive for what it does. Of course, it’s not infinite, but it helps a lot when you hold the camera in your hand and don’t want the horizon to be crooked. This type of work was already done in editing by the company’s app, but on GoPro Hero 9 it happens in real time, on the camera.
Time Warp was also reinforced in this model and it combines a time lapse of life with the stabilization of HyperSmooth 3.0, creating moments where the image can have normal speed or else in slow motion. The end result is very nice and, like the horizon leveler, all the work is done directly at GoPro.
All of this consumes battery. Add a bigger screen and a secondary display with more functions, and the energy should go down the drain with more speed, right? So, GoPro promises 30% more autonomy on Hero 9 when compared to Hero 8. I didn’t get to notice that much extra time, but I realized that my use during the review, which involves turning on the camera, recording or photographing, stop recording and turn it off again, all without Wi-Fi connection enabled, but with this feature turned on when you see the result on the iPhone. at the end of the day, it gave me four days away from the plug.
It is little more than what I already achieved with Hero 8, which has a smaller screen and the secondary display consumes much less energy. So, it’s good! Autonomy is still too low and it makes sense to happen on such a small battery, but the GoPro Hero 9 Black has finally improved at this point.
Even with the shooting time gain, it is still smart to have a secondary battery if you shoot too much, as it is removable. Another detail that caught my attention is that the GoPro Hero 9 heated up less than the previous models. This is also great.
Well, always having a new GoPro is nice because of the features that come with it. The 5K resolution is very interesting to give extra breath in the cut of the edition, the stabilization is fantastic, the Hero 9 remains waterproof even without an external case, the body is still that resistant enough to survive the falls of life and the lens interchangeable again allows the use of filters, or even the Max Mod, which is sold separately and further increases the stabilization of the footage.
But seriously, the icing on the cake is the front screen to help in framing whoever is filming. Not only that, but also to help when you stick the GoPro Hero 9 in one location and want to know what the recording will be like, without the need to do this by connecting to the smartphone, or squeezing to see the rear screen.
If you have an old GoPro, like the Hero 5 or 6, it’s a generous leap in many ways. Going from image quality, generous stabilization and the front screen. If you still have 7 or 8, the quality does not increase so much that you justify the exchange. The closest generations are still very competent today.
The problem is the price. I know that Brazil is going through a terrible financial moment and the dollar skyrocketed in 2020, rising more than 20% from January to the beginning of December, but GoPro abroad also did not help. Hero 9 Black became more expensive in the United States, raising the cost by almost 13%. In Brazil, the rate was much higher.
Hero 8 Black arrived here in the second half of 2019 for R $ 2,999, while Hero 9 Black contributed for R $ 4,899. The increase is almost 64%. It’s expensive, it’s complicated and the market doesn’t help either. There is practically no competition for GoPro in Brazil. Sony no longer sells its action camera here and DJI disappeared with Osmo Action. The gray and import market remains, with fluctuating prices.
Even considering these two purchase options, GoPro Hero 8 Black is already superior to competitors and Hero 9 is even more so.
The GoPro Hero 8, even without the front screen, is a sensational camera and costs R $ 1,000 less. So, the decision is up to your pocket. If you really need the best action camera on the market, the GoPro Hero 9 Black is the best choice. If you want to spend less and still want a very good experience, Hero 8 Black is a more sensible choice.