GoPro Hero9 Action Camera | Review - Outdoors Magic

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GoPro Hero9 Action Camera | Review

The Hero9 is GoPro's new and improved action camera for the outdoor world

Why We Chose It: Max Lens Mod, 5k imagery, sturdy build

Capturing content when out in the hills can be tricky business. Yes, you may be able to use your phone to grab that summit selfie, but what if it runs out of battery? You can also look down the mirrorless camera route, but what if it’s chucking it down and you don’t want to get your £1,000 purchase out in the wet?

This is exactly where action cameras come in, and GoPro are the kings of the action camera world.

Photo: Chris Johnson

Who Is The GoPro Hero9 For?

GoPro releases a new camera like clockwork every September and for September 2020 it was this, the GoPro Hero9. This serves up a range of updates, many of which are extremely handy for us outdoor lovers.

Features

 GoPro has built in the ability to remove and swap out lenses and this not only makes for easy repairs on the fly (we’ve smashed our fair share of GoPro lenses in the past), but it also gives you the new option to change your field of view via the all new ‘Max Lens Mod’.

Related: GoPro Hero8 Black Review

The Max Lens Mod is an ultra-wide angle 155˚ FOV (that’s really wide) lens for enhanced perspective and improved depth of field. This is ideal for landscape photography and videography as it lets you capture as much of that epic mountain scenery as possible.

“GoPro are the kings of the action camera world.”

The regular lens that comes with the Hero9 is a pretty wide lens as it is but the Max Lens Mod (purchased separately) really turns the Hero9 into a landscape shooting machine.

Design

If you’re someone who’s partial to a bit of ‘vlogging’ then the Hero9 is going to be right up your street, thanks to a few vlog-friendly updates. Most noticeable of these updates is, of course, that front-facing screen that’ll help you frame up your shot and get that all important summit selfie.

Then you’ve got the voice commands that let you control the GoPro by simply telling it what to do. Gone are the days of running back and forth to make sure the GoPro is actually recording.

Photo: Chris Johnson

All of these design changes and additional features result in a GoPro that’s heavier (158g) and larger (33.6x71x55 mm) than pretty much every other GoPro that came before it. We don’t see this being too much of an issue for hikers as you’re getting a far superior video quality compared to many other lightweight action cams. Speaking of the video quality… 

Specs

Not only has the Hero9 had a facelift, compared to older models, it’s also packing some serious video specs. The Hero9 gives you the option to shoot in 5K – yes, 5K – at up to 30 frames per second for when you want to capture as much detail as possible.

Aside from the whopping 5K image this thing is able to kick out, the Hero9 is also able to shoot in the following settings: 4K 60, 30, 25 & 24 fps; 2,7K 120, 60, 30, 25 & 24 fps; and 1080p 240, 120, 60, 30, 25 & 24 fps. That option to shoot 240 fps is amazing, giving you an 8x slow motion option for when you really want to marvel at the action.

“You’ll be gifted with some of the best imagery you can get from the palm of your hand.”

Thanks to improved processing power, and a slightly larger and heavier battery, the Hero9 is able to claim a 30% improvement in battery life.

A final note on specs is the introduction of Hypersmooth 3.0. Although we were already big fans of the extremely capable Hypersmooth 2.0, it seems as though GoPro has gone and improved things further. Hypersmooth 3.0 essentially uses a complex algorithm to subtly adjust the framing as you move, smoothing out any unwanted wobbles or shakes as you move with the camera.

Tester’s Verdict

Jordan Tiernan, deputy editor of Outdoors Magic

“I’ve been using the Hero9 since its launch and have, quite simply, been left blown away by the boost in stabilisation and video quality this camera brings. To be honest, I was unsure the Hypersmooth 2.0 found in the Hero8 could be beat but, after giving this cam a go, it’s clear to see that GoPro have worked their magic again.

“I was using the Hero9 while shooting all the aerial videography for the Outdoor 100 video series. I had it strapped to a FPV drone that could easily cruise around the mountains at about 70 mph and, even with the vibrations from the drone and my shaky hands, the GoPro consistently kicked out a buttery smooth video.

The GoPro mounted on Jordan’s home-built FPV drone. Photo: Chris Johnson

“On top of the incredible smoothness of the video (I’m talking gimbal-like smoothness when the camera is handheld), the video quality was exceptional. Spend time tuning the settings before you head out (lock ISO, shutter speed and use ND filters to match the lighting on the day) and you’ll be gifted with some of the best imagery you can get from the palm of your hand.

“With all that being said, I’m still optimistic that GoPro will release a camera with the same capabilities of the Hero9 (that 5K image and unbeatable stabilisation ), in a smaller form factor. I’m a purist at heart and don’t feel like there’s any need for two screens when you’re out on the hill (you can use your phone to check exposure if required) and if GoPro removed these screens then it would save on heaps of weight and build size. A camera with the form factor of the old Hero5 Session and the video capabilities of the Hero9? That would be a dream…”

Photo: Chris Johnson

GoPro Hero9 Action Camera

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