GoPro Hero 9 Review
GoPro Hero 9 Review GoPro has spent years establishing itself as the go-to action camera, with its HyperSmooth stabilization far outperforming the competition.
But, as smartphone cameras have improved over time, justifying the purchase of a dedicated action camera has become harder.
What is GoPro’s solution? The Hero 9; adds 5K video capture, a larger battery, and a front-facing color display, along with a slew of much-needed functionality improvements.
The Hero 8 from 2019 introduced a redesigned cageless design with built-in attachment rings and a smaller front lens.
In 2020 GoPro took things a notch higher with the Hero 9, which is larger in all dimensions albeit not considerably heavier.
It also addresses one of Hero 8’s key design flaws: the lens cover is now changeable should you scratch it.
That said, let’s look at what this action camera has to offer in more detail.
- Sensor Type: CMOS Sensor
- Sensor Size: 1/2.3″
- Sensor Resolution: 23.6 Megapixels
- Max Shooting Resolution: 5K (2880p)
- Display: Front: Live-view Monitor and Rear: 2.27″ Fixed-Type Touchscreen
- Image Capture Speed: 30 fps
- Image Stabilization: Yes
- Lens Mount: Max Lens Mod
- Optical Zoom: 2x
- Video Format: AVC (H.264) and HEVC (H.265)
- Video Output: USB Type-C 3.0
- Native ISO: 100-6400
- Shutter Speed: 1/30 – 1/4,000 sec
- Audio Input: None
- Audio Output: None
- Storage: 1x SD, SDHC or SDXC
- Microphone: Built-in directional microphone
- Battery: 1720mAh Li-ion
- Dimensions: 2.8 x 2.2 x 1.3 inches
- Weight: 5.6 ounces
Other Key Features
The battery inside the GoPro Hero 9 is different from previous models. Not only is it significantly larger, but it also has a capacity of 1,720mAh, which is a third higher compared to previous models.
Unfortunately, it’s not backward compatible with existing GoPros. GoPro also says that the larger battery improves performance in cold climates.
The Hero 9 is GoPro’s most significant overhaul since the Hero 5, and the results are pretty good with a couple of caveats.
There are three massive changes from the Hero 8; a new 1.4″ front display, a rear 2.27″ rear touchscreen display and a bigger body.
These new capabilities appear to be a response to the Osmo Action from DJI, which has made GoPro action cameras feel a bit antiquated in certain aspects.
The Hero 9 feels the same way in certain aspects, which is largely due to the new features’ minor drawbacks.
Image and Video Quality
The GoPro Hero9 Black delivers some of the best stills and videos of any action camera on the market, but it isn’t a significant upgrade over the Hero 8.
The new [email protected] mode captures more information than any previous GoPro flagship, especially when using the high 100Mbps bit rate option.
Due to the utilization of the efficient HEVC (H.265) codec in some settings, file sizes aren’t substantially larger, albeit they can be very strenuous on your machine.
However, if you’re mostly taking videos for smartphones or social media, the higher quality won’t make a significant difference.
When trimming or pixel peeping, even on a 4K display, you’ll only see a substantial improvement in detail.
While the Hero 9 has plenty of new features, it doesn’t offer many significant speed improvements over the Hero 8, at least not ones that you’ll notice in your films.
This isn’t to say that the Hero 9 isn’t a good action camera; it just means that the improvements aren’t enough to justify the price difference between it and its two predecessors.
For instance, if you don’t mind the ‘floaty’ appearance, HyperSmooth 3.0 stabilization is still superb and perfect for filming first-person sports.
However, most consumers are unlikely to notice the addition of HyperSmooth Boost to the [email protected] and [email protected] modes since, in most cases, setting HyperSmooth to ‘high’ is sufficient to smooth out any motion blur.
The GoPro Hero9 Black went on sale in September 2020 for $450, or $350 with a one-year membership to GoPro Plus ($5/month), which includes unlimited cloud storage for all of your GoPro stills and video, free replacement if your camera is ruined, and 50% off all accessories.
A combo for the GoPro Hero 9 is also available for $500 (or $400 with a GoPro Plus membership).
The combo includes the camera, an additional battery, a magnetic swivel clip, a micro SD card and a new floating handle.
There are many action cameras out there, but none has come close to knocking GoPro off its perch as the best, which continues with the Hero 9.
Thanks to the Hero 9’s image quality and comprehensive features, it’s one of the best action cameras you can get.