GOPRO HERO9 BLACK ACTION CAM OVERVIEW
There is no better way to reroute towards the end of such an odd year than with a tiny pack of everything improved! That's what GoPro promises us with the brand-new HERO9 Black. A true masterpiece of both optics and engineering. More power. More clarity. More stability, More everything, and better than ever!
Today, we'll take a broad overview at the groundbreaking HERO9 Black, featuring a huge 23.6MP sensor with the power of delivering 5K video and generous 20MP still-shots. The most notorious change is the front display, but trust us, there's a lot more happening inside this tiny beast!
Overall weight and dimensions are 71x55x33.6mm (2.8x2.2x1.3") and 158 grams or 5.6 ounces respectively. It has a shutter speed range that spans from 1/25 to 1/2000, and a variable ISO range of 100 to 6400 for both video and stills.
If shooting in burst mode is needed, you'll find it able to happen at 10 fps, and it comes with a nice pair of 16:9 and 4:3 ratio settings. And last but not least, the display sizes are 2.27" and 1.4" (front and back). And when compared to the previous HERO8 Black, the new HERO9 Black delivers 30% more performance thanks to the 1720mAh capacity. Another nice touch, is that inside the box they include two batteries rather than one.
Something which doesn't come to surprise us regular GoPro camera users, is that these bad boys are built tough, but some protection was always needed. We are not saying that the new HERO9 Black is a mighty rugged camera that will withstand any sorts of mistreatment by itself, but it does feel sturdier than previous versions of the HERO system, and it is cold and waterproof (33 ft) too.
On that 5K Video
That extra K makes the difference for the serious content creators who need sharper detail and smoother visuals achieved. The 5K resolution happens to be just perfect for retaining detail in a serious way, even after zooming or cropping on post. It is true though that to this day, very few screens and devices have the needed power for showing us all the juices from 5K, since they rarely support anything above 4K. But that's not stopping the folks over at GoPro from delivering us those nice extra pixels for our delight.
Great thing though, the extra information allows content creators to crop videos and stills while still retaining the 4K vibe, and with the richly wide field of view we all are familiar with when it comes to GoPro action cameras, the ability of cropping while still retaining information is a great advantage to have.
Also, the folks over at GoPro promise that for some reason the video quality on this little miracle is "7X Better than Regular HD". And even though we don't understand too much about how they've pulled out something like this, we do know that 20MP photos translate into crisp shots. And we know that 10 fps isn't something usable for some epic shots, but when 8x slo-mo is enabled, it cranks it up to 240 fps in regular 1080p HD. GoPro states that they use SuperPhoto to automatically pick all the best image processing to easily get the right shot.
The brand-new design on the new HERO9 Black allows the camera to operate as a Full Studio, at least a compact one which you can carry around anywhere. Honestly, the phrase took us but surprise and seemed like just a catchy marketing thing. But after digging deeper into the new HERO9 Black's design, our mouths were close shut. So, let's recap some of the main features that make this camera the content solution GoPro slips under the "Full Studio" promising title.
First, one of the key features that allows this camera to be as practical and useful as it is. The Built- In Mounting clips. Long gone are the days of carrying a separate GoPro frame; simply flip out the folding fingers beneath the camera's body and attach the camera to several mounting accessories. But the true Full Studio power does not limit to the bottom latch, it spans the entire camera's body thanks to Mods.
Lens Mod: Increase stabilization and field of view with the new super easy to install Max Lens Mod. It seamlessly upgrades the regular HERO9 Black with Max HyperSmooth for unbreakable video stabilization up to 2.7K60 and an ultra wide 155° field of view digital lens; which happens to be the widest ever to become available on a HERO camera. Powerful horizon lock keeps both horizontal and vertical shots level and steady even if your camera is mounted off-center or rotates a full 360° while recording, delivering epic cinematic results no other action camera could cope with today. Just take into account that despite the Max Lens Mod is waterproof, it is not recommended for underwater use due to image distortions. Price tag on the HERO9 Black Max Lens Mod: $99.99.
Media Mod: At $79.99, this vlogging designed mode transforms the regular HERO9 Black into a production powerhouse. It features a built-in directional mic for enhanced voice recording, a standard 3.5mm mic port, HDMI-out for playback on external monitors, and two cold-shoe mounts for lights, LCD screens or additional mics. You name it. Built tough and weather resistant, even the wind is no match for this mod. The removable foam mic cover suppresses annoying wind gust at up to 20 mph (32 kph), translating into crisp and clear sounds.
Light Mod: Last but not least, a compact yet powerful LED lighting for illuminating all your upcoming adventures. With this particular Mod, you can be certain that your subject will be lit with a wide, smooth, even light and capture ultra crisp footage. The light specs on this Mod are: Overdrive mode 200 lumens, 200 lux @1m, Level 3: 125 lumens, 120 lux @1m, Level 2: 60 lumens, and level 1: 20 lumens. The runtime is 1 hour at Level 3, 2 hours at Level 2, 6 hours at Level 1, and color temperature is 5700K. And the price tag on this beautiful light setting, $49.99.
- Display Mod: In case the built-in 1.4 inches front screen isnt enough for your creative needs, this mod will give you a wider front facing camera screen for just $79.99. This 2- inch flip-up screen makes vlogging and livestreaming easier, it comes with a built-in rechargeable battery and micro-HDMI connector, features a convenient folding design for easy storage and transport, and it has a compact and sturdy low-profile appearance.
Some Nice Settings
Another great feature that allows some wicked cinematic effects is the Built-in Horizon Leveling, which delivers up to 45% tiltness when shooting. This is made possible thanks to the new Linear + Horizon Leveling digital lens, helping your footage stay stable and straight, even at 8X Slo-Mo. And for the folks who aren't that familiarized with the HERO ecosystem, let us expand. The 8x Slo-Mo in GoPro cameras delivers Ultra high frame rate 1080p240 videos, which get even more epic due to HyperSmooth 3.0. The almighty popular effect just escalated!
Also record stunning time-lapse scenes as you move on the road, on foot, or anywhere else thanks to TimeWarp 3.0. This setting literally condenses time, capturing moments with features like Speed Ramp, which lets you select Real Speed mode (now with audio) or Half Speed mode while recording. And last but not least, the new 3600 Lock, which delivers a smooth swing-like effect when recording, perfect for adding a new layer of creativeness to all your amazing content creations.
The camera also comes with PowerTools for even more creative freedom. Duration allows you to control the length of time you want the camera to record. Scheduled Capture allows us to, as its name suggests, select the time you want to begin your recording. And LiveBurst records 1.5 seconds before and after the shot, allowing us to find the best pic or share it as a short video from the entire moment.
Even though GoPro states that this camera has more screens, it is not that many. It comes with an extra frontal screen, which we have already mentioned above, but we wanted to state clearly that more is equivalent to two, therefore more than one. Bad joke, sorry about that.
The camera comes with the classic, and very well-known user interface, with the Power mode button on the left, and the shutter release button on the top. On the right side of the camera, we find a very secure and well constructed latch for battery and memory bays; as well as the USB-C connection port (for charging and file transferring). At the bottom of the camera, the clipping devices that we mentioned before.
Some Things to Mind about the HERO9 Black
Battery life is expected to be 90 minutes in 5K/30 mode and 74 minutes in 4K/30, hence the 30% increase in autonomy when compared to the previous battery found in the HERO8 Black, which is slightly smaller than the new one on the HERO9 Black.
We weren't able to find official information on the cold weather performance on this camera, but thanks to DC Rainmaker, we were able to see that inside a freezer (at 18°C or 0°F), the HERO9 Black would last more or less 11 seconds on, which perhaps was just too harsh on the camera. After taking out and letting it warm for a bit, the camera was able to perform for 92 minutes, which is a huge difference when compared to the 59 minutes performed by the HERO8 Black.
2020 made us all big aware of the needs of a webcam, and several camera manufacturers have taken some action into account. The HERO9 Black can be used as a webcam for both MAC and PC, and it does make a difference from the regular built-in webcams (unless you take into account the newest Mac models of course). And as you have already guessed by now, having a GoPro as a seamless webcam results in a nice wider framing than the regular frontal webcams built-in most laptops.
A very interesting finding in the HERO9 Black is the Hindsight Mode, which is a mode that keeps recording for a determined amount of time, but without creating an actual file, hence there is no recording. This is useful for situations in which one is uncertain about action happening or not, but which will keep you covered. This, however, consumes battery energy like in a typical recording situation, so be careful when using it.
Who Should Buy This Camera?
Now we are certainly sure that this camera is a broad creative solution for any content creator out there. Therefore, we don't feel comfortable fixing it to a single or even a multiple array of categories. With such a friendly starting-price of $399.00, we have to say that this camera is perfect for anyone looking for spicing up a bit their current content style, as well as some newcomers to the scene. Also, it will appeal interesting for current GoPro users, even those who invested in a HERO8 Black system.
Controversial sidenote: Some people have argued that the next system (expected as HERO10 Black) is just around the corner right now. But with so many features, improvements and innovations, it is hard for us to believe that this will happen in the near future. Maybe in early 2022, but hardly before it. Although, this foreseeing could be completely wrong and mistaken of course.