GoPro Hero 9 Black Review

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GoPro Hero 9 Black Review

As usual, GoPro has released a new camera this fall. Those who thought the pandemic might delay the launch of the new product were pleasantly surprised by the new Hero 9.

The Hero 9 is largely an expected iteration over the Hero 8, released in 2019. They have kept the cageless (or caseless) camera design with bult in mounting rings, instead. The new hearo 9 is slightly larger over its predecessor but of similar weight. 

One thing I am VERY happy to see fixed is the replaceable lens. You may be aware that GoPro went away from replaceable lenses with the Hero 8. Meaning if you scratched the lens, you were pretty much out of luck. The Hero 9 has re-introduced this feature, and then some. 

Now not only can you replace a broken stock lens, you can swap for alternative lenses. At the present time, you can attach a Max Lens. I am looking forward to finding out what lenses they offer in the future.

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Resolution & Tech

GoPro Hero 9 Review FrontOne thing that really intrigued me when I first found out about the Hero 9, was the 23.6-megapixel sensor. That is quite a serious jump from its predecessor! This move gives photographers a little bit more flexibility and I see this as a move toward taking better stills. 

The camera can produce 20-megapixel raw images! A very impressive step forward. The Hero 7 was not able to shoot raw images in burst mode, however the Hero 8/9 solves this issue. 

This also means you can now shoot 5k video. Now honestly, I don’t know anyone that actually needs to shoot 5k video. Most services, or devices, don’t even accept that many pixels. However, it does give you the ability to digitally crop your videos and keep very high resolutions. If you choose to shoot in 5k you’ll be limited to 30 fps, which may not be an issue for you. If you intend to use the video for slow-mo though, you’ll want to shoot in 4k or lower to get the 60fps. 

This camera will also export up to 14.7-megapixel jpg’s from videos. Which can be quite useful when you don’t want to shoot in still mode.

Battery

GoPro is touting better battery life, due to its larger battery. In a side by side test, the hero 9 lasted 23 minutes longer than the go Pro 8 with a total record time of 2 hours and 11 minutes. It’s a modest increase but given the energy density of today’s batteries we shouldn’t hope for much more anytime soon.  

GoPro Hero 9 Black ReviewGoPro is claiming better battery life in cold conditions, which is useful for the sky, however it is really difficult to set up a real-world test for this. So, we’ll just have to take their word for it. 

Having said all that, you’ll still want multiple batteries for a day of shooting tandems.  

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HyperSmooth

GoPro has made a major update to HyperSmooth, which is now on 3.0. HyperSmooth is the company’s proprietary software designed to cut down on camera shake. It makes even the bumpiest scenarios seem like you shot them with a steady cam. I was already impressed with the HyperSmooth 2.0, version 3.0 is really pretty jaw dropping in its capability.

Front Facing Screen

The most noticeable upgrade when you look at the Hero 9 is the new front facing screen. It is a 1.4-inch display (identical to the DJI Osmo Action), that can be used to frame up selfies or switched to “status only” to show battery, resolution, and mode.  

Hero

Should I Upgrade?

I think if you are coming from a GoPro Hero 6 or older, YES definitely. This camera is a major upgrade on what was previously offered. The colors are richer, and the video is smoother. The difference is significant, and you’ll notice immediately. I don’t think there is really anything to debate here. If you are a tandem videographer, its only a matter of time until your DZ requires you to upgrade if you’re operating on a camera older than Hero 6.

If you are coming from a Hero 7 or 8, it’s debatable. While the upgrades are definitely noteworthy, I am personally not sure its worth it. I think the case can be made if you really want to capture better photos, but the average user won’t notice a major difference in video with these cameras unless you are pushing HyperSmooth to the limit.

The last thing to consider is the cost. At the time of this writing, the camera is $350 with a $50 subscription to GoPro’s online subscription service, or $449.99 without. That is a pretty hefty price to pay when you have a working camera already.  

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