The new GoPro Hero 9 Black camera comes with some massive changes. It features a new 23.6-megapixel sensor, which is the latest sensor upgrade since the Hero3 in 2012. Its unique battery provides about 30% additional power than the previous model. While the form-factor is well-known, it has a color LCD on the front that offers you a preview.
The new improvements in Hero 9 enabled it to move out of the action cam relegation to become a useful, independent camera for daily use. It won’t exceed the higher quality of a DSLR with a bigger sensor and quality lens or a smartphone’s simplicity. Still, several traits are particular to the Hero 9 stunning exterior, small size, and interesting, unique shooting modes.
GoPro Hero 9 Black Features
Longer battery life
The GoPro Hero 9 features a 30% expanded battery life than its predecessor. GoPro stated that the battery could survive in severe cold. You can get additional 20-30 minutes of shooting time depending on your usage; besides, you don’t even have to activate eco-mode.
It possesses a bigger battery that adds a little more weight. Although it’s not heavy, the difference in weight can be felt when compared with the Hero8.
You can charge the Hero 9 with a portable battery pack just like the other Hero cameras. Well, this ability is suitable for long, continuous shoots such as time lapses. But, how long your battery lasts depends on your video settings.
Removable lens cover, Mods
GoPro introduced Mods alongside the Hero 8. Mods are accessories that assist in improving your shooting experience. It comprises a built-in directional mic with mic and HDMI ports (Media Mod), LED light (Light Mod), and a flip-up LCD (Display Mod). In comparison, the Hero 9 provides similar accessories but excluding the Light Mod. The Hero 8 Mods are not compatible with the Hero 9.
GoPro Hero 9 features a removable lens cover. And it enables you to attach the new Max Lens Mod, which offers a 155-degree ultra-wide view with reduced distortion and increased stabilization (Max HyperSmooth). Well, the name “Max” is derived from the GoPro’s Max 360-degree camera, where the technology starts from.
Also, the Max Lens Mod allows you to rotate the Hero 9 360 degrees while maintaining the subject leveled (horizon lock) in playback rather than spin around without achieving anything. This frame spins around you automatically while you stay still.
Accessories and Connectivity
The Hero 9 Black Bundle is priced at $50, which is more than the standard GoPro. It includes a second battery, a 32GB memory card, a handhold grip, and other small items. In case you need extra batteries, then the Hero 9 Black Bundle is a good purchase, plus a carrying case which is also included with the camera.
The camera also includes Bluetooth, GPS, Wi-Fi, a MicroSD slot, and a USB-C port for charging and transferring video to a PC. Sending video clips to a tablet or phone for editing must be done over the Wi-Fi connection.
The GoPro smartphone app both for Android and iOS is definitely functional, with automatic edits if you have to share a quick clip and more improved timeline and trimming support for professional editors that aren’t well grounded in the Adobe or Final Cut ecosystem.
Some features were developed in the camera to hasten wireless transfers for mobile editors. It can record short clips of preset length (from 15 seconds to three hours) and the latest Hindsight mode, which buffers 30 seconds continuously and saves the video only when you tell the camera.
While, the GoPro subscription provides you with the ability to use the Hero9 as a webcam for live streaming, with support for services such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitch. Besides, you can still use the Hero 9 as a USB webcam for macOS and Windows systems without a subscription. However, GoPro still bills Windows support as a beta.
Immediately you purchase the Hero9 Black, and then you possess a one-year bundling subscription. After that, subsequently, you’ll pay $50 per year for a subscription. The subscription comes with an unlimited cloud storage bucket for video footage, about two replacements if you break the Hero9, and a 50% discount on mounts and accessories from GoPro’s online storefront. By bundling the service, GoPro believes that the users will find it beneficial enough to always ask for more.
The Premium GoPro Option
The Hero 9 Black GoPro’s video toolkit is extensive, even with all 4K and lower options in the Hero 8, and 5K recording if you need extra pixels. The quality is also enhanced, up to 20MP. There are Raw and HDR options available in addition to the usual JPG capture.
For the video, the slow-motion and time-lapse footage is accurately stabled. GoPro’s digital HyperSmooth 3.0 is superb and has been expanded to assist level horizons. To enjoy a similar result (i.e., smooth and stable videos), you’d get from a gimbal system, and you can attach the Hero 9 to a pistol grip without the addition of a setup or bulk.
More Pixels for 5K
The Hero 9’s image sensor had a massive increase in resolution from 12MP to 20MP and video from 4K to 5K. But, at 5K, you’re restricted to 24p or 30p capture, which is suitable for vlogs or combining few action cam footages into a cinema project. While at 4K and lower resolution, it is just similar to the features of the Hero8, about 60fps at 4K, 120fps at 2.7K, and 240fps at 1080p.
You can select ready-to-edit GoPro Color or use a Flat profile with more access to fine-tune color personally. The angle of view can be adjusted. You can also select the ultra-wide view, with some curved distortion, for projects in tight spaces and extensive views or change to a Linear look that straightens lines while still offering lots of wide coverage.
The stills are available at 20MP if you record 5K footage. You also can extract a 14.8MP photo from any frame. The HDR Photo mode is particularly fantastic; it prevails over some of the disadvantages of using a small sensor camera to net images that keep detail in both highlights and shadows without requiring editing.
Also, the lens is sharp, and if you so desire, you can set the camera to work in Raw format. It’s beautiful if you need ultra-wide shots and don’t want to spend your money on an interchangeable lens camera or upgrade your smartphone to a better model that features an ultra-wide lens. Without a doubt, the in-camera mic is incredible, particularly if it is facing your direction. But its 360-degree design restricts resolution and slow-motion options.
GoPro Hero 9 Black Design
The Hero 9 Black is the most significant redesign of GoPro’s flagship action camera since the release of Hero 5 Black, and the outcomes are mostly positive with a little exemption.
Although, there are three massive physical changes in the Hero 9 Blank; a 1.4-inch color display on the front, a more significant body (to contain its bigger battery), and also a larger rear 2.27-inch rear touchscreen. It is so exciting that the 1.4-inch color display on the front is undoubtedly a useful new addition for vlogging.
Since it is a square display, it is indeed not on the same level as the side-hinged screens present on cameras such as Sony ZV-1 or your smartphone’s screen when mounted on gimbals like DJI OM 4. While the latter provides you with a live preview of your entire shot, the Hero 9 Black is more of a rough guide. It’s accurate enough to ensure your face is going to be in the frame.
Usually, the new color display comes with a more significant battery demand, which is one of the reasons why GoPro has increased the Hero 9 Black’s body size to include the new 1,720mAh battery.
However, one of the significant disadvantages of Hero 9 Black is the responsiveness of its rear touchscreen. Its display is slightly bigger than the Hero 8 Blacks, but it still possesses large, outdated bezels and slower when responding to touches and swipes. This may be due to a processor delay, provided that the GP1 chip now has to drive a bigger rear screen and color front display at the same time while also recording. Regardless, GoPro has verified that a fix is coming in a November firmware update, but it’s not perfect for a flagship model at that price.
Generally, the Hero 9 Black is still a pocketable and handy action camera that’s waterproof, down to about ten meters, and is currently more suitable for vlogging.
GoPro Hero 9 Black Performance
The GoPro Hero 9 Black produces some of the best videos and stills, but it isn’t a massive upgrade over the Hero 8 Black.
Without a doubt, the new 5K/30p mode captures great detail than any other GoPro models, significantly when you change to the high 100Mbps bit-rate mode. File sizes aren’t substantial due to the efficient HEVC codec’s use in some modes; however, they can be very demanding on your computer.
In case you want to shoot videos that can be accessed by smartphones or social media, then the additional resolution probably won’t be apparent. You’ll only have the ability to see a significant increase in detail when cropping or pixel peeping on a 4K monitor. Actually, having the option to crop can be beneficial, but you must consider if you need this.
All three cameras have a similar size sensor. As excellent as GoPro’s Hypersmooth stabilization is, even a little amount of judder is sufficient to negate that resolution boost.
The Hero 9 Black’s footage looks more processed and excessively sharp, perhaps down to a little more aggressive noise reduction. Having lots of photosites filled into the same size sensor can help enhance detail, but it can also boost the amount of noise required to be managed. Compared to Hero 8 Black, Hero 9 Black possesses an extraordinary tendency to expose bright scenes, especially in the sky. Although it may be fixed in a firmware update, another example of other factors is more significant to image quality than resolution.
Indeed, you won’t be disappointed with any footage you shoot on the Hero 9 Black, especially when it’s in 5K/30p mode. Nevertheless, HyperSmooth stabilization is the best you can obtain from an action camera, and the in-camera horizon leveling is a beneficial and fabulous addition.
The new sensor gives you the ability to shoot 20MP still photos and get 14.7MP frames from your videos. At the same time, this does give a little increase in detail over its previous models. Well, you have all the same options as it was formerly, such as the option to shoot in Linear mode to correct wide-angle distortions, and besides with SuperPhoto for regaining some highlight detail. The outcomes are outstanding under excellent light, with sharpness across the frame and fine detail.
Besides, you can shoot raw to lift the shadows slightly, but on a sensor of this size, the amount of freedom you have is little. The deficiency of zoom can also be discouraging, hence, making the Hero 9 Black an emergency, waterproof backup to your smartphone for taking good stills.
Regardless of the new hardware upgrades, the GoPro Hero 9 Black isn’t new. Instead, it’s a camera that keeps undergoing refining by improving what is presently available. While adding a few new things will help GoPro move out of its “action” category and into an independent camera for daily use. Nevertheless, the GoPro Hero 9 camera still possesses a similar spirit as the former models. The Hero 9 remains a camera that is incredible, interesting, and simple to use while providing you with excellent and new features to do even more.