Fri. Jan 21st, 2022

With Hero 9 Black, GoPro tries to keep the action camera more versatile and suitable for vloggers. While the number of features has increased, so has the price.

GoPro cameras are one of the most versatile in the industry. There’s almost no chance of mentioning “action cameras” without “GoPro” being part of the chat and the fact that these cameras get better and more powerful every year just proves their worth. With Hero 9 Black, the company is trying to do the same. There are more features than before and so is the price.

The highlight this time around is the inclusion of two color screens. While this all sounds nice and is something all travel vloggers should have, they might think twice about the price, which also goes up every year. The Hero 9 Black is available at: 49,500 in India and since price is an important factor for a product here, things get interesting for the Hero 9 Black.

We have been able to use this action camera in various situations while traveling lately. If you are a traveler and like to take pictures while on the go, here’s what we have to tell you.

Design and display

GoPro goes for the ‘bigger is better’ theory when it comes to Hero 9 Black. The action camera has a larger main screen, a completely new color screen on the front and an overall larger body, all resulting in a heavier product. If you are from Hero 7 or older, you will definitely feel the difference. However, it is not something that will bother you much. The good part is that GoPro sticks to the familiar design and doesn’t alienate its fans.


GoPro Hero 9 Black.

GoPro Hero 9 Black. (HT technology)

Nevertheless, it remains your old rugged camera that can handle any situation and can be taken anywhere, rather than being more delicate as it has more screens and more internal parts than before. The IP rating remains with the ability to stay 10 meters under water. The button layout is also inherited from Hero 7 and Hero 8, so their controls should be easier for longtime GoPro users.

One of the major drawbacks to this is that you can’t use the same battery you used in older GoPro cameras. That means that although you get two batteries in the box, you may need to buy more of these new ones if you’re always on the go and shooting everything you come across. But there is a reason for this change.

Coming to the screens this time, the Hero 9 Black has an additional 1.4in color screen on the front which is better in every way than what was in Hero 7 or 8 and more useful than ever as it has more ‘vlogging’ with it entails relying on the whole package. Although it is not touch sensitive, we like it so much because it prevents accidental touches. However, you do get some useful shooting info on it and a live preview. What is not so good is that it is a square screen. This means it shows less than what it captures, but does the basic work. And that’s not all, the primary screen has grown from 2 inches to 2.27 inches, which is always good news.

So a new colored screen on the front and a bigger main screen means you get a bigger battery. But with bigger screens and body, it’s not just batteries that aren’t backwards compatible with older GoPros, but the housing and old cases as well.


GoPro Hero 9 Black.

GoPro Hero 9 Black. (HT technology)

One of the minor drawbacks of the main display is that it is unresponsive. In our use, it sometimes took us a few taps to get something done. But it shouldn’t be a deal breaker. Yes, there are still large bezels, which we hope will be trimmed in future models.

Performance and Features

The pocket camera is a definite upgrade in terms of features as it builds on most seen in Hero 7 Black. From Time Wrap to HyperSmooth stabilization, the device works like a charm. One of the biggest upgrades is the 23.6-megapixel sensor, which is almost double what was in older GoPros for years. This also gives you the flexibility to record 5K resolution videos at 30 frames per second.

It comes with support for HyperSmooth Boost stabilization mode and 20 megapixel shooting. Shooting in daylight gave us the best result we’ve seen in a GoPro so far. And with a bit rate of 100 Mbps, you’ll get more detail than ever.

That said, the HyperSmooth 3.0 and TimeWrap 3.0 remain the same as usual and work really well with the extra pixels you get in 5K resolution videos. But remember that 5K videos are capacity hungry and you can’t appreciate it until you see it on a big screen like a TV. Even on 4K TVs, it can be difficult to distinguish between 4K and 5K footage. That’s why we mostly shot in 4K. Also, 4K gets 60 fps and 5K doesn’t. One of the interesting features here is the auto-correct horizon leveling which works quite well but isn’t perfect yet. We expect this to improve over time.


GoPro Hero 9 Black.

GoPro Hero 9 Black. (HT technology)

Don’t expect really good video in low light situations, even when using ‘Night mode’. The quality is as good as good to see on a small screen. But shooting time-lapse footage with HDR at night can yield decent results. What’s new here is the ‘scheduled shooting’ mode in case you’re too busy capturing time-lapses. What’s rather fascinating is the ‘Speed ​​Ramp’ feature that slows down a fast-playing video for a short time before the speed returns to normal and fast.

And yes, you can use GoPro Hero 9 Black as a live streaming camera. This means you can stream 1080p videos with HyperSmooth 3.0 to YouTube, Twitch, Facebook.

As far as photography from this action camera goes, you get decent options ranging from wide 16-34mm to linear 19-39mm and narrow 27mm modes. There are also Live Burst and Night Photo modes, both of which perform well. We were particularly impressed with the Night Photo Mode output. In addition, there’s the RAW shooting option, along with HDR and SuperPhoto, giving you plenty of options and flexibility to shoot.

Battery

As we mentioned above, a larger primary screen and a color display on the front, along with a ton of features, require more power, which is why GoPro has given a bigger battery to Hero 9 Black. The 1,720 mAh battery is definitely more than what you got in the previous models. We could only wish the battery was backwards compatible. While Hero 9 Black claims to be able to shoot 101 minutes of 1080p shooting on a single charge, we could often touch that number and were left with a dead battery after about 80-90 minutes of shooting at 1080p.

But as always, the battery also depends on how you use this action camera. If you use it to record images, videos and live streaming at different intervals, it may take longer. What was even more impressive, though, was its ability to run even when connected to an external battery.


GoPro Hero 9 Black.

GoPro Hero 9 Black. (HT technology)

verdict

So with Hero 9 Black, GoPro has made it the best. It clicks on some good HDR images, detailed shots and shoots really well using some features, a sensor with more megapixels in it, and lasts longer as it has a bigger battery than before. Although the action camera has gotten bigger, it still sticks in your pocket at the end of the day and never disappoints. The two main drawbacks here are that you can’t use most of the mods you had for older GoPro models because it’s bigger and the battery isn’t compatible with previous GoPros either. Some may also have complaints about the not-so-responsive touchscreen, but for most it should be just fine.

However, you can think of it this time as a trade for two major additions. First, there’s the colored screen on the front that now shows a Live Preview of the video – which is very useful for travel bloggers. Second, it is possible to record 5K resolution videos at 30 fps while using HyperSmooth technology. The app and desktop connectivity work well and installing the battery and microSD card is easy.

All in all, the Hero 9 Black is a good mix of features. It has no hardware or software elements that are limited to very few users and sticks to the purpose it was built for – clicking and recording videos with settings right in front of you, without worrying about battery life. While we can see what could potentially be improved in the next release, the Hero 9 Black is your action cam on steroids for now.

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