GoPro has practically made itself synonymous with shooting video while on the move. Now, the adventure camera company is releasing its latest model—the Hero 9 Black. The new camera goes big in a literal sense. It is slightly taller, wider, and heavier than the Hero 8 Black, but brings plenty of upgrades that make the extra bulk worth it.
Namely, the Hero 9 features a 1,720-mAh battery back that lasts 30 percent longer than the previous model. It is arguably the biggest GoPro upgrade since the Hero 4 Black arrived several years ago.
While the Hero 9 Black’s release was spoiled by a ton of leaks it’s always nice to dive into the official specs and features.
More Resolution, Arrival of 5K
GoPro cameras have always been good at capturing clear, crisp footage. That’s true of both their video and portrait modes. The Hero 9 Black is no different. In fact, GoPro’s latest model takes things to a whole new level.
It features a 23.6-megapixel sensor that is a big jump from the 12-megapixel sensor found in the Hero 8. While cramming in more megapixels isn’t always a good thing, it works in this instance. The Hero 9 is powered by GoPro’s in-house GP1 processor. It uses the extra resolution to improve features like HyperSmooth image stabilization and introduce new ones like in-camera horizon leveling.
The Hero 9 also shoots video in 5K. Potential buyers may assume that this is an extravagant feature given that many people don’t even utilize 4K resolutions yet. However, it is a nice capability to have for those who crave the best-looking pictures and videos out there.
Some other brands got a step up on GoPro recently by launching cameras featuring a front display for framing shots in selfie mode. DJI’s Osmo Action and Akaso’s Brave 7 LE are a few examples.
However, GoPro has leveled the playing field with the Hero 9 Black. The new camera features a 1.4-inch front-facing display that makes it easy to frame the perfect shot. It also has a larger touchscreen on the back for handling most of the controls.
That being said, the front display has other uses besides previewing selfies. It can show the status of the camera or whatever is in the center of a shot. That’s a helpful feature considering it is pretty small. The Hero 9 also works out of the box as a webcam for both Mac and Windows computers. That makes the front-display even more attractive.
Consumers can turn on both displays at the same time or choose just one to avoid draining the battery. GoPro fans should be pleased with the addition of a front-facing camera since it keeps the company up to speed with other brands in the niche.
New Capture Tools
The GoPro Hero 9 Black is obviously a high-end gadget from a hardware standpoint. However, it also packs a punch on the software side. For instance, the camera comes with tons of modes and a trio of new tools to help you get the best shot possible.
Scheduled Capture lets you set up automatic recordings. It’s a perfect feature for capturing things like sunrises and sunsets because you don’t have to be there to start recording. Using Scheduled Capture is as easy as picking a time. The Hero 9 will then automatically turn on and start recording.
Meanwhile, Duration Capture lets you create recordings from 15 seconds to 3 hours at the push of a button. This could be helpful for things like time lapses.
The final tool is the most interesting. Dubbed HindSight, it is similar to the LiveBurst feature found in the Hero 8 (and also the Hero 9) for photos. HindSight works for videos and allows you to capture what happened just before you pressed record.
It creates a buffer of 15 to 30 seconds for each video. Once you press record, the capture starts with the video stored in the buffer. For instance, if you started recording and just missed something you wanted to see, HindSight pulls it from the buffer and it would show up at the start of the final video.
The many features and modes packed into the tiny GoPro Hero 9 can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there are some very helpful presets that make capturing stunning shots easy.
Pay Less for GoPro Service
If there’s one confusing part about the Hero 9, it’s the pricing. GoPro is offering the new camera for a starting price of $449. However, consumers have the option of purchasing it for $349 by bundling it with a one-year subscription to GoPro’s service. Yes, the price of the subscription is baked into the already-cheaper price of the Hero 9 Black. So, what’s the catch?
At least immediately, there isn’t one. You’ll get GoPro’s latest camera, as well as a year of its subscription service for $100 less than buying the camera separately. The service offers free camera replacement if it is destroyed, unlimited cloud storage for full-resolution photos and videos, access to GoPro’s live-streaming platform, and a 50 percent discount on other gear and accessories. With all of those features, the service usually costs $50 a year.
For those interested in buying the Hero 9, bundling it with GoPro’s service is a no brainer. It does make sense for the company as it is a way to attract consumers to its service who might not otherwise try it. GoPro hopes to retain people after the initial one-year period and turn them into paying subscribers. Of course, there is no obligation to continue your subscription after the first year is up.
There are also several other bundle options that include the Hero 9 Black. For $499, consumers can snag the camera, a second battery, a Handler floating grip, a magnetic swivel clip, and a microSD card. Just like buying the camera individually, you can get a $100 discount by bundling this package with a year of GoPro’s service.