Gopro is the standard for action cams, without a doubt. There are a few companies that are attempting to put a dent into the action cam market with their own versions - but we can all confidently say that Gopro isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Hence the reason you are looking for a gopro comparison.
With that being said, Gopro has quite a few versions of their action cam. A common question that many people in the camera industry is, which Gopro should I buy? Well you have come to the right place to get that question answered!
This article is a Gopro comparison, plain and simple. You will learn which one has the best resolution, frame rate, battery life, waterproof depth, and of course price. Most importantly, once you have finished reading this article, you will have a definitive answer on which Gopro is best for you. There will also be a comparison chart sprinkled somewhere within, so keep your eye out for that.
Without further ado, let's get to it!
Gopro’s real strengths and purpose.
When people call Gopro an “action cam”, that’s exactly it’s purpose. It’s meant to film everything from mountain biking, surfing, snowboarding, etc. The list goes on and on. It is designed to tag along with you while you’re wake boarding behind your Mastercraft. It’s meant to be mounted to your handlebars or helmet while you’re mountain or dirt-biking. It’s designed for the rugged, adventurous type. But is that all?
Technically, no. You can make anything you want to with this camera. Once purchased, of course, you can do whatever you want with it. Is making feature films or music videos with it ok? Of course it is! But is it designed for that? Well, no…
I say all of this because I have watched people purchase a Hero 7 Black and attempt to make high quality, cinematic, video with it. I will tell you right now, for the most part, you will not get super cinematic videos with a gopro.
Things you need to keep in mind...
For starters, there is zero depth of field with this camera. Also, the wide angle (you can turn the camera to linear mode) makes it difficult to focus only on your subject. To kind of second that, the closer you get to your subject, does not mean the image will get sharper. The opposite can happen, actually. A gopro is also atrocious in low light, considering how small the sensor is. The video codec is also very weak, and does not allow you to push colors very far at all…..
What most people in the industry would recommend to you is to stick with what makes a Gopro great. Bright environments, wide angle shots, and ACTION! You get a TON if features packed in such a small package. Utilize all of them appropriately and you will get amazing results! (like the photo above)
With that being said, lets talk a little about why frame rates are important.
Frame rates and it’s importance..
In this gopro comparison, a strong emphasis is placed upon frame rates. Why? Because you can slow down that action to allow your viewers to absorb what’s going on in that particular scene.
True buttery smooth slow motion corresponds directly with the frame rate that you are shooting at.
I will not get too in depth with slow motion ( I will have an article dedicated to this topic in the near future), but, for example, lets say you recorded a scene at 60 frames per second and are going to export that scene in 24 frames per second. You are able to slow it down to 40% of it’s original speed - and most importantly, maintain accurate frame rates so that the video is still smooth and not choppy. This is a very simple math of output/rendered frame rate divided by your actual frame rate. Which, in this instance equates to - 24/60=0.4=40% .
Here is an example that I created myself back in April of this year. I shot this entire sequence with a Gopro hero 7 black at 120 fps and exported it at 24 fps. That equates to 5x slow motion or 20% of it’s original speed (video below).
The point of all of this is the fact that slow motion can add to your story using emphasis with the slow motion to put focus on a certain area of your video. Examples would be when you land a ski jump, wake boarding jump or dirt bike jump. There are so many ways to utilize slow motion to enhance your storytelling. Not only that, most of the time it just looks cool.
Not that you understand the importance of slow motion, let's move onto the comparison chart that we mentioned earlier.
The Gopro comparison chart
I made this comparison chart for you for easy reference. I chose four categories that I believe are the most important - those categories, specifically, are max resolution, maximum frame rate (at various resolutions), battery life, and price.
The reason you should be focused on these categories specifically is because they are the areas that are going to impact you the most. Resolution will affect the overall quality of the image, frame rates determine the amount of slow motion within your shot (talked about that earlier), battery life, of course, determines how long you can actually record - and the price determines whether you can afford it. Instead of flooding you with meaningless information like dimensions and codec types - these 4 categories will not only benefit you but keep it less confusing for those who wouldn’t actually know what the other aspects mean.
Below is the Gopro comparison chart. Keep everything about the chart in mind while I do an overview of each Gopro.
The Gopro Hero 8 Black is Gopro's new flagship product. There are quite a few upgrades to the action cam that are worth mentioning.
Keep in mind - this is an update section - everything else that isn't covered in this review/overview of this product will be seen in the Hero 7 Black.
Here are the improvements over the Hero 7:
- Improved HDR in Photo
- LiveBurst (records 1.5 seconds before and after a photo)
- 100MB/s Data rates when recording in 2,7k and 4k
- Hypersmooth 2.0 (even smoother than the Hero 7 Black - matches the smoothness of the DJI Osmo)
- TimeWarp 2.0
- RAW photo capture in all photo modes
- Night Lapse (night-time time lapse)
- Live Streaming in 1080p
Here are a few things that they cut from the camera that is still present in the Hero 7 Black
- 960p and 720p video recording resolutions
- Micro HDMI port
There are many aspects of the Hero 8 Black that remained the same as the Hero 7 - those include:
- Max resolution at 4k
- Same internal chip
- Same internal battery
- 3 Microphones
- Same from rates (aside from the 960p and 720p)
Personally, i don't see much that has changed from the Hero 7 Black. If you already own the 7 (like I do) I wouldn't be the person that would recommend this to you. If you are jumping on the Gopro action-cam band-wagon... I would highly recommend picking this up.
If you reference back to the gopro comparison chart, you will notice that it is the most expensive (it has since been replaced by the Hero 8 Black - refer above for reference). For that price tag this is what you get…
- 12MP stills with superphoto
- 4k/60fps (slow motion 4k video)
- Removable battery
- Waterproof up to 33ft
- Hypersmooth image stabilization(much smoother than standard image stabilization)
- Voice Commands
- Time Lapse Video
- 8x slow motion (240 fps at 1080p)
- Live streaming
- Superphoto (auto HDR and noise reduction)
- Time warp video (super stabilized time lapse video)
- GPS tracking
- Protune (manually adjust white balance, color profile, etc.)
- Super Suit compatible
That is a lot packed into such a small package. The advantages of this model versus other models (and even other brands) are:
- Removable battery - this is a HUGE plus for this model. It might be the selling point for you. You get roughly 45 minutes of recording at a time and then you’ll have to change the battery. Batteries at inexpensive as well at roughly $20. There is also a battery power bank where you can charge two batteries at the same time. It has quick charging as well (much like you cell phones technology). Two batteries from dead to fully charged takes roughly 45 minutes. Enough time to drain another battery and have two more ready!
- Protune - The ability to set all of your own settings, than allow the Gopro itself to do it automatically, gives you a lot more freedom to do what you want. You can expose for whatever you want and set white balance at a static value so it is not constantly changing to what it thinks it needs to be.
- Time warp video- If you have not seen a time warped time lapse, then you are really missing out. The natural motion blur of the time lapse is much more pleasing than a traditional timelapse captured with images. Awesome feature.
- Hypersmooth image stabilization - One of the best in-body stabilization's of any camera on the market.
The silver model is their mid-tier model in the current Gopro lineup. As I’m sure you have noticed, there is quite a big difference in price. Here is what you get for that price tag:
- 10MP photo (with WDR)
- 4k/30 frames per second
- Built in battery
- Waterproof up to 33 feet
- Standard video stabilization
- Time Lapse video
- GPS tracking
You’ll easily notice that the silver model has fewer features than the black version. That is expected, seeing as it is quite a bit of a price difference.
What you do get that is still great is 4k shooting. 4k even at 30 fps is great. You also have the 80/20 ability of slow motion (assuming you are outputting at 24 fps). While the difference between 30 fps and 24 fps isn’t much - if you take a closer look while you are editing or exporting to that frame rate - you notice how smooth your 24 fps footage now looks.
A couple of noteworthy features that it does not have would be interchangeable batteries, hypersmooth stabilization, time warp video, and protune.
Now, lets move on to discuss the even more affordable hero 7 White.
Now before we go any further into this Gopro comparison and deciding which one is best for you - the gopro white is the most affordable. Just keep it in mind that it's $150 cheaper than the hero 7 black.
Here is what you can expect from the white version.
- 10MP photo (standard)
- 1080p/60 frames per second
- Built in Battery
- Waterproof up to 33 feet
- Standard video stabilization
- Time Lapse Video
As expected, the white version has the least amount of features compared to the three. It lacks in resolution quite a bit with a maximum resolution of 1440p. Also, it only has the 10MP standard photos. Regardless, it still sports image stabilization, even though it may be the standard version of that as well.
Just keep this in mind… the hardware doesn’t matter nearly as much as the meaning of your video…
We are going to step a bit into the past for the next one, the Hero 6 black.
As stated previously, we are stepping into the past a bit to compare the previous generation flagship model to the current generation. You can save quite a bit of money from time to time by purchasing last year’s model - and sometimes there really isn’t that much of a difference in the two. Lets see if that stands true with the Hero 6 black.
- 12 MP photos
- 4k/60 frames per second
- Waterproof to 33 feet
- Digital video stabilization for 4k/30 and 1808p up to 120fps
- Time lapse photography
- Interchangeable batteries
As you can see, it doesn’t have a few features such as time warp video. There is something that is very significant to some (including myself), and that is the Hypersmooth image stabilization. I will speak about how significant this version of stabilization is, later in the article.
Beside that, the Hero 6 black is nearly identical to the Hero 7 black. This could be a determining factor for you because it could save you close to $100. It’s definitely something you need to keep in mind!
Next up is the Hero 5 Session.
Many of you I'm sure have seen the Gopro session at some point while looking online or at the store. It’s a much smaller one in comparison to the others and has the form factor of a small cube. With that smaller form factor it was thought to be able to go anywhere - and while this is true, does the session even compare to the other Gopros? Let's dive into the specs.
- 8MP photos
- Waterproof to 33 feet
- Built in battery
- Wide angle glass and superview
Honestly, these specs are not that bad considering the size. Folks, the Session comes in at 2.6 ounces. If you look back at the Gopro comparison chart, you will notice that the battery life at these settings are pretty impressive as well.
A couple key features worth mentioning that it does not have is image stabilization, time lapse mode, and protune (which is expected seeing as the flagship models are known for protune)
Moving onto the final gopro - and this one is a bit different, but in a good way. Or is it? That is for you to decide….
The Gopro Fusion is a completely different beast. While it is still and action camera, it takes the word “camera” to a whole new level. How do they achieve a whole new level? That answer is quite simple, 360 degree video.
It achieves this by having two seperate 180 degree cameras. One on the front and the other on the back. What is even more interesting is that fact that once you start recording, you can go back and play the footage in real time and choose the angles that you want to keep after the fact.
The Hero Fusion is in a league of it's own...
Here is an example - if you are on a ski trip and you hit a nice jump and you’re holding onto the Gopro with their proprietary stick (keep that in mind too) - you land the jump and take a look at it. From from that point you can go into their software, watch the footage at any angle you want and choose the angle you want in as your final shot. Not only that, if you use their proprietary stick, the software will edit the stick out of the video for you. It really is quite awesome to say that least.
Before I go on and on about his camera - I will go ahead and lay out what you get with this version of Gopro:
- 18MP still photos
- 5.2k/30 fps
- Removable battery
- Waterproof to 16ft
- Spherical stabilization
- Time lapse video
With those specs you can see this thing is a flippin’ doozy. While it lacks in the fps department (will do 60 fps at 3k) It really does make up for it in resolution and the fact that it is 360 degrees. A couple of other great aspects are the removable batteries and protune - but of which are very important in my opinion.
Flagship comparison chart
The last thing that I thought would be of help would be to compare all of the Gopros against the flagship model, the Hero 7 black. That comparison chart is below.
As you can see - the lower tier models in the Hero 7 line offer much less than the hero black itself. But when you look at the hero 6 what do you notice? It is essentially the same camera with both of them having a major difference than one another.
The hero 6 black has longer battery life - about 15 minutes more per battery (they both can interchange batteries) - while the Hero 7 black has much better image stabilization (now called hypersmooth).
The Gopro fusion is in its own category in my opinion - but I had to include it in this gopro comparison, seeing as it is a gopro product.
Image stabilization solution
If you decide to go with a gopro that does not have hypersmooth image stabilization - I would highly recommend checking out the article that I recently completed on the best gopro gimbals.
Gimbals are the industry standard for devices that do not have in body image stabilization. Instead of getting shaky and unwatchable footage - gimbals smooth all of that out for you.
It's a deep dive article about which gimbal is the best for you, and which one would suit your needs the best.
Now it’s up to you to decide…
Not that it is all out on the table, the choice is yours.
Do you choose the flagship model and get all of the bells and whistles that Gopro currently has to offer? Or do you take a step back in image stabilization but better battery life and save nearly $100 and go with the hero 6 black? Or maybe you find that 1440p recording is enough for you and you go with the Hero 7 white…
I personally went with the Hero 7 black earlier this year, and have absolutely loved it. I wanted to know what everyone was talking about when they said the image stabilization was out of this world - and they were right… It really is next level. I will say, I wish that Gopro would focus a bit more on their low light capabilities - but that really is about it.
Now that you know everything there is to know, you should be confident enough with the information to make an educated decision in knowing which one would work best for your needs. I am happy to have made this gopro comparison and help you find the best gopro.
As always, thank you for reading - and until the next one, keep shooting!