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GoPro HERO 9 Review: Should You Upgrade From GoPro HERO 8?

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If you’re an avid traveler or an adrenaline junkie, you’d know that GoPro is the industry-standard of action cameras. Despite many competitors having emerged in the market, GoPro action cameras still remain the top choice. In 2020, the company launched its newest GoPro model: the GoPro HERO 9.

You probably opened this article wondering whether you should get your hands on GoPro’s latest offering. That’s why we’re here to help you make a decision with our comprehensive review of the GoPro HERO 9.

GoPro HERO 9 VS GoPro HERO 8

GoPro HERO 9 vs. GoPro HERO 8
© Photo by Go Pro

Here’s a quick comparison between the GoPro HERO 8 and 9:

 

20 MP Image Sensor

 

The GoPro HERO 9 features a 20-MP image sensor, a step up from the GoPro HERO 8’s 12-MP sensor.

 

Detachable Lens Port

 

GoPro HERO 9 comes with a detachable lens port, which is different from GoPro HERO 8 Black’s non-removable one.

 

Lens Mod

 

Go Pro 9 vs Go Pro 8 Lense Port
© Photo by Have Camera Will Travel LLC

Although GoPro HERO 9’s lens mod isn’t integrated yet, the action camera already features improved video stabilization, horizon leveling, and a wider field of view. This makes it better than the HERO 8, whose fixed lens port prevents it from enjoying the same features.

 

5K Video

 

5K Video
© Photo by Alessandro Chiarini Adobe Stock

Thanks to GoPro HERO 9’s more advanced features, you can record videos in 5K resolution. By contrast, the GoPro HERO 8 Black only supports 4K video recordings. 

 

Bigger Battery

 

The GoPro HERO 9 features a bigger battery, both in terms of size and capacity. Although it provides you with longer video recording or photo shooting, its extra capacity is easily depleted due to its upgraded and more advanced features.

 

Front Screen

 

Front screen GP 9 VS 8
© Photo by Tech Radar

With the GoPro HERO 9, you can access a full-color front screen for live viewing. HERO 8’s smaller front screen is only used for status displays.

Now that you’ve gotten an idea of what to expect from the new GoPro HERO 9, here’s its only drawback:

GoPro’s HERO 9 action camera isn’t compatible with remote controls, including the ones manufactured by GoPro. Although you can still use the GoPro mobile application to wirelessly control the camera, the Wi-Fi Remote, REMO voice remote, and Smart Remote will no longer work with the GoPro HERO 9.

 

Gopro hero 9

                           GoPro HERO 9

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GoPro HER0 8

                          GoPro HERO 8

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Design

 

Larger Size

 

As mentioned, the GoPro HERO 9 is larger than the HERO 8. Here’s a size chart for a more detailed reference:

 

HERO 8 Black HERO 9 Black
Width 2.6 in 2.8 in
Height 1.9 in 2.2 in
Depth 1.1 in 1.3 in
Weight (SD Card and Battery Included) 4.4 oz 5.6 oz

 

Compartments

 

Go Pro 9 vs Go Pro Compartments
© Photo by Have Camera Will Travel LLC

Both GoPro HERO 8 and 9 are fitted with single compartments for USB-C, SD card, and battery. Unlike older GoPro action cameras, the HERO 8 and 9’s single compartment is on the side section of the camera’s body. Both devices have a flip-out mounting system that takes up most of the space in the bottom panel.

GoPro HERO 9 also features an all-new compartment door design. Unlike HERO 8’s design, the latest GoPro stays in place unless you want to completely remove it. The downside of this design is that the battery is prone to falling out and being exposed when you’re recording.

 

Front Screen

 

Front screen display
© Photo by Have Camera Will Travel LLC

With a full-color front screen, the GoPro HERO 9 makes for an excellent vlogging camera for its live-view previews. This means that you can see exactly what is happening in the frame instead of shooting, guessing, and anticipating every time you’re capturing videos.

HERO 9’s front screen is also smaller compared to the one on its rear. It’s an extremely convenient feature if you want to ensure that the recording is framed and captured the way you expect it to be. Although a similar method is possible with HERO 8, you will need separate accessories to add a flip-up screen to the camera’s rear section. The newer feature is more convenient since you don’t need to spend extra on accessories.

Through the front screen, you can see the status of essential components, such as shooting duration, storage capacity on the SD card, battery power, and shooting mode. Its higher resolution and bigger battery make it more useful and crisp compared to the HERO 8.

HDMI Port

 

Like the GoPro HERO 8, the HERO 9 doesn’t have its own HDMI port. As an alternative, you can purchase a Media Mod accessory. Each action camera has a dedicated Media Mod that exclusively fits into that specific camera; hence, you should ensure that you’re getting the right model.

 

Mod Accessory

 

With a GoPro HERO 8, you can already have a Media Mod, Light Mod, and Display Mod in one comprehensive action camera. On top of the Display and Light Mods, the HERO 9 can also be outfitted with new, innovative accessories. One such accessory is the Max Lens Mod, which replaces the action camera’s lens port and is integrated with a wider FOV, providing better horizon leveling and more aggressive video stabilization.

Waterproof Component

 

The HERO 8 and 9 are both waterproof action cameras that don’t require a separate underwater casing for diving up to ten meters or 33 feet.

However, if you want to go deep diving more than ten meters, you can purchase a separate dive housing for optimum protection against water pressure. Take note, if you’re planning to purchase a Protective Housing for the HERO 9, make sure it’s the appropriate product since HERO 8 and 9’s Protective Housing aren’t interchangeable.

 

 

 Controls

 

Touchscreen & Buttons

 

Touchscreen & Buttons gopro hero 9
© Photo by Have Camera Will Travel LLC

Whether you’re getting a HERO 8 or 9, both action cameras feature the same back touchscreen section that serves as a preview and primary method for accessing the preferences and settings menu.

 

Voice Control

 

GoPro HERO 8 and 9 come with voice control. With this feature, you can capture photos, switch modes, and start and stop video recording with your voice. You can even turn on your camera with your voice by activating the Wake on Voice command.

 

Remote Control

 

The GoPro mobile app can be used to wirelessly control HERO 8 and 9 via a combination of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Unlike the HERO 8, HERO 9 doesn’t work with the REMO Remote and Smart Remote.

 

Menu Tweaks & Shooting Presets

 

HERO 8 was the first GoPro action camera to use the shooting presets approach. Later on, this approach is also integrated into the GoPro HERO 9. Both cameras have instant access to the Protune settings instead of the walled-off technique on older models of GoPros.

 

 

Battery and Charging

Baterry Life gopro hero 9
© Photo by Have Camera Will Travel LLC

As mentioned, the GoPro HERO 9 has a bigger battery. Although it looks similar to its predecessor, you can definitely notice the size difference. The HERO 8 and 9’s dual-dock chargers and batteries are hence not interchangeable. 

Despite its bigger battery capacity and size, the GoPro HERO 9 does not necessarily prolong shooting times. This is because the extra battery power is significantly consumed by the more advanced and power-hungry features of the GoPro HERO 9. Some of these features include the processor-heavy HyperSmooth 3.0 stabilization, larger back screen, and full-color front screen. Its battery performance also depends on numerous factors, such as ambient temperatures and frequency of use.

To recharge the GoPro HERO 8 and 9, you use similar methods. You can charge the camera directly to a power source, such as a USB-C cable. The camera is also compatible with fast-charging features via an appropriate high-output USB-C power source like GoPro’s SuperCharger.

Since GoPro cameras have removable batteries, charging with an external charger provides you with more convenience. Both cameras require a USB-C charging cable that is already included in the package.

 

 

Time Lapse

Both action cameras have powerful features for recording different types of time-lapse footage and images. Regardless of which action camera you’re using, hyper-lapse, night lapse, time-lapse video, and time-lapse photos are possible with GoPro HERO 8 and 9.

For time-lapse intervals, both are capable of shooting at 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30, and 60-second intervals. With longer intervals, these action cameras can shoot at 2, 5, 30, and 60 minutes intervals.

 

 

Taking Photos

Image Sensor gopro hero 9
© Screenshot from AuthenTech – Ben Schmanke YT Channel

 

12 MP vs. 20 MP Image Sensor

 

With a GoPro HERO 8, you can capture photos at 4000 x 3000 px through its 12-MP sensor. The HERO 9 features a 20-MP sensor for producing images with a 5568 x 4192 px resolution. As such, the HERO 9 offers higher resolution, making it the best action camera for capturing sharper images and enhancing performance in low-light settings.

 

Burst Mode

 

Both cameras have Burst Mode, letting them capture a predefined number of photos over a specific length of time. With the HERO 8, users can get a maximum of 30 frames in one second or 60 frames in 10 seconds. For the HERO 9, the fastest is 25 images per second and 30 images in 3, 6, or 10 seconds.

Continuous Shooting

 

Another feature of the GoPro HERO 8 and 9 is Continuous Photo. Instead of capturing a predetermined number of images, the Continuous capture keeps taking pictures while pressing the shutter button. For instance, if you hold down the shutter button and immediately release it, GoPro takes a single image. Depending on the lighting conditions, both action cameras can shoot at either 3 or 30 images per second.

 

Night Photography

 

night photo gopro hero 9
© Screenshot from AuthenTech – Ben Schmanke YT Channel

Like traditional cameras, GoPro action cameras have a regular Photo mode and a Night Photo mode. The Night Photo mode’s unique feature is that users can choose longer shutter speeds. Both cameras provide you with the option to adjust the shutter speeds, such as Auto, 2, 5, 10, 15, 20, and 30 seconds.

 

Timer

 

Almost all cameras have a self-timer feature; however, this feature is only available in older versions of GoPro, including the HERO 8 and 9. Both action cameras have three options for setting the timer, including Off, 3 Seconds, and 10 Seconds.

 

 

Recording Videos

Recording Videos gopro hero 9
© Screenshot from Alessandro Chiarini YT Channel

 

Live Streaming

 

Like the GoPro HERO 8, the HERO 9 can live stream videos through the GoPro mobile app. Thanks to this feature, users can stream their videos through Vimeo, Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook Live. GoPro also has its own streaming service for you to upload your streams.

Also read: Best Vlogging Cameras for Social Media Success

 

Looping

 

The looping feature is similar to the functionalities of a security cam or dashcam. However, it’s not the best purpose of the GoPro HERO 8 and 9. With a GoPro action camera, you have a default loop length of five minutes, which can be adjusted to 20, 60, or 120 minutes.

Slow Motion

 

Slow Motion gopro hero 9
© Screenshot from AuthenTech – Ben Schmanke YT Channel

GoPro HERO 8 and 9 feature similar slow-motion capabilities. As such, they’re capable of shooting up to 8x slow motion or a maximum of 240fps. The 8x slow-motion feature is compatible with 1080p resolution only. For 4K recording, 2x is the highest slow-motion rate. With a GoPro HERO 9, the slow-motion recording isn’t compatible with 5K video. Here’s a list detailing the compatibility of GoPro’s slow-motion feature with its resolution:

 

Resolution Max Slow Motion Capacity
4K 2x
2.7K 4x
1440p 4x
1080p 8x

 

Voice Control

 

Like other GoPros, the HERO 9 is integrated with a voice control feature so you can start and stop recording through voice controls. During recording, you can tag a highlight via voice commands. Some voice commands you can try with the HERO 9 include:

  • GoPro, HiLight
  • Stop Recording
  • Start Recording

 

Verdict: Should You Upgrade to GoPro HERO 9 From GoPro HERO 8?

Without a built-in 3.5mm mic jack and support for 4K at 120fps, the GoPro HERO 9 would’ve been a perfect action camera. Although HERO 9 comes with minor restrictions, it’s still the best GoPro released to date. With an all-new MAX Lens Media Mod, Horizon Levelling, detachable lens, and 5K sensor, the HERO 9 is a powerful action camera for travel vloggers, adrenaline junkies, photographers, and videographers.

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