It’s Here.. the GoPro Hero 9

Every year for us adventurers September is a time when you’re considering selling your old GoPro to upgrade to the newest model, this year was no different..

New Case, New Packaging, New GoPro

Enter the GoPro Hero 9

I’ve had the Hero 9 since it was released and it is evident that this camera is the most powerful offering GoPro have ever done. The biggest sensor yet and new front display are huge upgrades. However, overall the camera isn’t a massive upgrade from the Hero 8 Black and I do think a lot of people will stick with their Hero 8 as GoPro really did iron out a lot of the kinks with that camera and to be honest, I had got my Hero 8 working in a way that suited me to a perfectly!

I’ve opted for the upgrade to the new Hero 9 for a couple of reasons:
5K video (which looks unbelievable by the way)
Hugely improved battery (I’d say you’re probably getting about 20-25% more battery)
The front display: I’m a massive fan of this one as I’ve got more into recording content for brands and manufacturers
New modes and software upgrades (improved Hypersmooth stability and Hindsight mode make sure you aren’t missing shots)

Not much bigger than the Hero 8, but feels better in the hand with the additional weight

A quick few things I’m not so pleased about before the praise starts:
The camera gets quite hot during heavy use and data transfer
The touchscreen does seem to be a little bit unresponsive at times (but the Hero 8 was the same when it first came out, after a couple of updates it was seamless)
4K/120p doesn’t exist oddly – why GoPro?
SuperPhoto mode really needs improving (again.. the Hero 8 had the same issue, images appeared overly contrasted but a couple of updates later super photo was actually a great feature on the Hero 8)

SuperPhoto shot along Striding Edge, Helvellyn – it feels overly contrasted..

As I said, this is the most powerful offering from GoPro yet. It’s so bloody versatile it is unreal – but all GoPro cameras are. The sensor upgrade to a 23.6 megapixel shoots immense 5K video and is definitely improved upon when compared to its predecessor. In the right conditions the footage on the Hero 9 rivals that of a DSLR camera, no not a joke.

GoPro is perfect for a good hike, especially when the backdrop is this good

The Hero 9’s electronic stabilisation with its new Hypersmooth 3.0 boost is something close to incredible – I recently climbed Helvellyn Mountain and ran up and down several peaks, the footage was seamless and Smooth AF.

GoPro as ever retains all the modes from the 8, while adding more. Video, Photo (inc Night Mode), Timelapse (inc Timewarp, Nightlapse) – mainstays of the GoPro camera range. SuperPhoto is back again, as I’ve already said – a few kinks to fix it yet. Timewarp has been improved with a x30 mode, which is great. Feels much smoother when you watch back also. Hindsight mode is a cool feature when in Burst mode – to quote GoPro “it is a bit of a combo between looping recording and a video version of Live Burst. You have the option to select 15 or 30 seconds of HindSight. When you have this enabled, the camera continuously records audio and video, but only saves 15 or 30 seconds to the SD card when you hit the shutter button. This feature ensures you won’t miss a moment of action that you want to capture, while also saving valuable SD card space”. I won’t go too in-depth with the Video modes as they are pretty much similar to the 8 barring the 5k video. As I said, HyperSmooth 3.0 is improved on last year, aka the Gimbal killer.

Hindsight mode.. Could be a game changer, but a battery drainer..

The little front display is good but the quality of it is actually quite low. I’ve only really used it as a viewfinder for setting up my shoots.

As I said previously the camera can get bloody hot. It seems to be more when the camera tries to process large amounts of data i.e. recording 5K and oddly when transferring data on the app to my phone, it’s definitely overheating more than the Hero 8 was, but again that was a fix they provided on the Hero 8.

In comparison to the Hero 8, I believe it is a step up in certain areas but those looking to get a bargain camera will now be able to pick up a Hero 8 quite cheaply on eBay (probably around £200 for just the camera) which really is a great price for such a good camera. If the Hero 9 is out of your budget then I would be opting for this.

The Testing

I tested the Hero 9 pretty hard during a trip away to the Lake District, Paddleboarding and Hiking – here are a few shots, with the settings I used;

Taken with SuperPhoto @ Ullswater Lake
Shot in Timelapse mode – 1sec – No Protune settings altered and Cropped in App
SuperPhoto, Shot Portrait – you can see the difference between Timelapse and the higher Contrast of SuperPhoto
Shot in Timelapse mode, Portrait – 1 sec, no settings altered
Grabbed in App from TimeWarp footage – No settings altered, straight from the camera

Things to be Excited About…

Things I am quite excited about with the Hero 9 would be the detachable lens. Having the ability to remove the lens to install the New Max Mod looks quite exciting and it also means the ability to have Lens Filters is back ie Polar Pro.

How cool does that look? Reintroducing the removable Lens Cap was welcomed by the GoPro community

The New Max Lens Mod will be released in October/November at a cost of £89.99. This ultrawide lens accessory will bring Max Hypersmooth (seen on the GoPro Max) and have the ability to lock horizon even if it’s rotated, this is pretty cool. I’ve got a GoPro Max and can safely say that is the smoothest and best stabilised video I’ve ever seen – so this to gain that feat is immense.

This camera is the biggest redesign ever done, the camera is bigger than the Hero 8 and has a larger 2.27 inch rear touchscreen. It’s definitely better in feel – I think it will take more of a beating on the mountain with its increased size and weight. I can’t wait to get it out snowboarding, COVID dependent!

5k Video – need I say more on the subject? Crispy, clean and rivalling cameras double the price.

The 1.4 inch colour front display is very handy like I said if you are a blogger/vlogger – As you can frame up really easily but the quality of that front screen isn’t amazing but it isn’t there for quality I suppose.

GoPro has retained the handy and simplified menu for those who need the assistance of settings

The battery has had to improve with all of these new improvements of the main camera, the overall battery size is 40% larger (1720MAH battery). This does mean the older GoPro batteries will no longer work in the camera as the overall size has increased of its body. On testing, I would say my batteries are lasting 20-25% longer.

Gripes…

  • The Touchscreen – it currently isn’t good enough for responsiveness. As with a lot of outlets reviewing this camera I too am disappointed with the touchscreen display out the box. It’s quite unresponsive and sometimes it feels like you have to press very hard on the camera for it to respond to touch as I said previously it feels like an update is needed to get this right. I am told by GoPro that there is a firmware fix coming in November, which is great but you’ve also spent several hundred pounds on a camera which needs an update immediately, not ideal.
  • The camera gets quite hot in data transfer and when shooting non stop / 5k ie big file creation
  • No 4K/120p
  • SuperPhoto mode really needs improving
  • Again having to do firmware fixes on a camera so new, not great
Gripes aside, my package came with the Handler, Magnetic Clip and the Case

Pricing

Hero 9 is RRP £429.99 in most outlets outside of GoPro.com.
Buying via GoPro and their GoPro Subscription (was GoPro Plus) you’ll get a large discount (the GoPro Sub is great – It auto uploads content to the GoPro server, has protection of your camera which means you get a replacement if your camera is damaged – 2 per year. The cost £5 per month) opting for this you’ll get a Hero 9 for £329.99 – a bargain for the tech you are getting, and protection.

Overview

  • Avid GoPro users will be upgrading no doubt. Rumour is they’ve increased their GoPro Sub service to +500,000, with that extending to over 700,000 by Christmas.. The dropped price with the Sub service is a clear driver for this.
  • It’s the best GoPro yet by far
  • Simplified Hero 8 settings and Menu is retained – a good shout for those newer users
  • Better battery by about 20-25% compared to the Hero 8
  • New Sensor is a huge step up from the Hero 8, 23.6MP from a camera this size is excellent
  • 5k Video is dreamy and HyperSmooth 3.0 is brilliant
  • Webcam mode is actually quite useful – this no longer ‘just an action camera’
  • Those happy using the current Hero 8 settings do not need to upgrade
  • Fixes needed to several ‘Gripes’ with the camera
  • Hero 9 comes in a nice packaged case, a cool change from the old plastic box – kudos on that one
Overall, I’m quite happy with the Upgrade

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