The rumor mill can finally come to an end. The folks at GoPro officially unveiled their next action camera yesterday, and the consensus is the great action camera gets even better. But is it worth the upgrade? Let’s see what everyone thinks.
HyperSmooth 2.0 really does give you gimbal-like footage without the gimbal. And it works at all resolutions and frame rates, unlike the GoPro Hero 7 Black.
The electronic image stabilization on the Hero 8 Black is unfathomably good. I mean, the company’s HyperSmooth stabilization on the Hero 7 Black basically eliminated the need for using a motorized gimbal-like GoPro’s own Karma Grip. But with HyperSmooth 2.0, you can do just about anything that creates vibration or jarring camera movements and have it barely visible in your video, if at all. At one point while testing, I was running alongside my kids skateboarding and you can’t really tell, except for an occasional bounce.
GoPro introduced image stabilization years ago, but it gave the feature a huge boost with last year’s introduction of HyperSmooth in the Hero7 Black, which the company described at the time as “gimbal-like.” The new version might truly deserve that description. It’s not a drastic upgrade from the first iteration, but the footage produced using HyperSmooth 2.0 looks damn impressive.
Whatever I threw at the Hero8, from a mountain roller-coaster to a trail run, standard HyperSmooth 2.0 handled it with ease. Never before has it been this easy to get professional-quality results with so little effort. In short, your videos will finally look more like GoPro’s official promo videos.
TimeWarp 2.0 gets even better. It now speeds up and slows down based on how what you’re doing.
In practice, it makes those speedy-fast-forward clips feel a lot more natural. Now, if you stop mid-hike at a nice viewpoint, the TimeWarp will slow down too, giving that moment more prominence. You can even force it, with the aforementioned button. Tap it, and the camera drops back into regular video until you tap it again — perfect for catching that high five, mid-skate. The effect is extra cool, as the video ramps down to real-time, making it feel like a slo-mo section, before ramping up to fast-forward mode again.
But the easy tap of the touchscreen for better control of TimeWarp 2.0 isn’t so easy.
The only real problem is the size of the on-screen button. GoPro increased the size during my testing. (It was initially teeny tiny; now it’s wider, but it could still be taller.) And if your GoPro’s display has gone to sleep, you’ll need to tap it once to wake it, then peck the button (and then peck it again to switch it off). If something cool happens spontaneously, and you want to catch it in real time, you’re probably going to miss it.
The Hero8 Black takes everything we liked about last year’s Hero7 Black and either maintains or betters it. The video quality remains excellent, with stabilized 4K footage at 60fps, and it’s built tough, with a waterproof design that lets you take it anywhere.
Overall, the Hero 8 Black is a worthy successor to the throne. It’s easily going to be my go-to action camera starting now (at least until I get my hands on the GoPro Max in a month or so), and I’m more likely than ever to use it as a B-camera on upcoming productions.
Like most pieces of new tech, whether or not it’s a must buy depends on which older version you already own. Is there enough here to tease a GoPro Hero 7 owner to upgrading? Maybe not. But if you’re a first-time action camera buyer or looking to upgrade an aging GoPro, it doesn’t get any better than the Hero 8 Black. GoPro is the action camera king. And the Hero 8 Black only solidifies its hold on the throne.