The camera announcements are keeping the blistering pace. DJI’s Mavic 2. Canon EOS R. Nikon Z6 & Z7. And now the GoPro Hero 7 series. The company could stand a win after the Karma failed to launch, and early impressions are GoPro is listening to its customers.
While there are three versions of the GoPro Hero 7, it’s the Hero 7 Black with the splashy features. The Silver and White editions are watered down and are unnecessary. The features left off the Silver and White are glaring and feels like another misstep from GoPro. Sure, GoPro wants ‘starting at $199,’ but the true cost is $399.
And it’s not a bad price for the features. We are paying up to $1500 for iPhones now. $399 isn’t sticker shock. The spec sheet reads like the company went and surveyed what would make the GoPro ‘perfect’ for you? It’s not perfect. Nothing ever is, but it’s a hopeful righting of the ship after the Karma debacle.
Let’s dive into what you need to know, but first, it wouldn’t be GoPro without a slick announcement video:
GoPro Hero 7 Black Features
HyperSmooth Stabilization. Right off it’s the vastly improved stabilization. Is it gimbal quality? No, but the fact the question is even raised shows how far GoPro has come just from the Hero 6. The company is right to say it’s the death of shaky video. What you get straight from the camera is good enough for most users.
The HyperSmooth is the combination of electronic image stabilization with image/video processing from the GoPro GP1. The Hero 7 also earns an additional 1GB of RAM for the new features.
4K/60fps with HyperSmooth. If you follow any camera site, you see a constant want for 4K/60fps video. GoPro has it with its HyperSmooth stabilization. If you don’t shoot in 4K, this doesn’t matter for you. HyperSmooth will make 1080p videos look great.
TimeWarp. The rest of the world calls this hyperlapse, but GoPro’s implementation is a bit different. Most hyperlapses you see are photos taken at intervals you set within the camera, app or whatever you are using. The Hero7 Black creates the edit from a video over stitching images together. You can choose between 4K or 1080 for a 16:9 aspect ration or 2.7k for a 4:3. Interval speed is selectable at 2x, 5x, 10x, 15x, or 30x. It can vary if it ‘thinks’ you are stopping to focus on a particular object. The interval slows, giving off a clean stop-motion animation effect.
A quick note on TimeWarp videos is they will be in 30fps and not 60-frames. Combined with HyperSmooth, it opens up plenty of creative options.
SuperPhoto. If you haven’t noticed yet, GoPro is a humble company. The SuperPhoto feature aims to fix the HDR issues of the Hero 6 but relying on the GP1 processor. If the sensors detect you’re doing something where a photo-enhancing technology you had enabled would look like crap, it’ll deselect it and apply another.
We can use the HDR example. The Hero7 Black will detect the scene, and if it can handle HDR, it’ll apply it. If not, it will use local tone mapping. The result should be better photos and less digging through the interface to correct the settings.
It’s the same 12MP sensor from the Hero6, so don’t expect much in the way of low-light performance or noise reduction. You’ll get some based off the processor, but it’s not a game changer.
Menu System. GoPro went ahead with a complete overhaul of the touchscreen menu system. Different modes are easier to get to, and the new system offers up information on what you can expect. Take for example the TimeWarp mode. Choosing an interval time will also display how long your hyperlapse will be with say five minutes of recording. If only Nikon, Canon, Sony, etc. would realize their cameras also have a touchscreen.
Other features include the addition of Livestreaming to its social component. Fixes to mic distortion should lessen the audio issues. Additional resolutions added include 1440p/120fps, 960p/240fps, 960p/120fps, 720p/240fps. Auto White Balance has been improved to detect scenes like underwater, beach, urban, and other situations.
GoPro’s mobile apps also get in on the features. You can now add overlays such as speed via the app versus needing a desktop. iOS users can let out a cheer for Apple MFI integration. Pairing the Hero7 is faster and less of a headache.
Should You Upgrade?
At $399, it’s a valid question. For Hero 6 Black owners, it’s a tough one. Do you record in 4K? If so, the answer is yes to take advantage of the 4K/60fps and HyperSmooth. Owners of the Hero5 Black and below? I’d lean towards a more definitive yes. The features packed are enough to justify the upgrade. Plus, GoPro mounts never change so most of the accessories you’ve accumulated will work.
Overall, the GoPro Hero 7 Black is a substantial upgrade to the company’s flagship product. I’d flat out ignore the Silver and White editions. Pulling that amount of features off just for slight price cuts is absurd. If you can look past it, the Hero7 Black offers up plenty of pros in a small package.