The Hero 7 Black is now the entry-level model in GoPro’s new lineup, which means it now offers excellent value. The GoPro Hero 7 Black is a pocketable, waterproof 4K camera with class-leading electronic image stabilization and a huge range of mounting accessories. The following GoPro Hero7 Black review will help you realize the outstanding features of this device.
GoPro Hero7 Black Review
The Hero 7 Black will look very familiar to anyone who’s used the previous two flagship Hero models – perhaps too familiar if you were hoping for a redesign.
Still, at least GoPro has changed the colour this time, from the traditional grey to black for this flagship model. The only other major hardware change is a redesigned microphone membrane, which GoPro’s tweaked to improve overall sound quality and reduce vibration sounds from bone-shaking moments like mountain biking.
Otherwise, it’s business as usual, with a rubberised finish and waterproofing down to ten metres. There’s a two-inch touchscreen on the back, which has a slightly yellowy cast compared to the Hero 6’s display but is otherwise bright and sharp enough for quick previews of your shots. And on the sides, you’ll find the usual, occasionally frustrating buttons for starting recordings and turning it on or off.
If the hardware is reassuringly familiar, there have at least been some tweaks to the Hero 7 Black’s software menus.
There are definite improvements: the new ‘short clips’ button, which lets you limit recordings to 15 or 30 seconds, is handy if you want to hand your GoPro to someone else without worrying that it’ll come back with a memory card full of accidental rucksack shots. And the move to combine all video options, including ‘field of view’ and Protune manual controls, in one menu means it’s now much easier to quickly fine-tune your settings and get creative.
The big new feature on the Hero 7 Black is what GoPro calls Hypersmooth. This is a boosted version of the already excellent electronic image stabilisation (EIS) we saw on the Hero 6 Black and, unlike its predecessor, it now works during the top whack 4K/60fps recording. GoPro says it’s now effectively a virtual equivalent of its Karma Grip. Big claims indeed.
Before we delve into Hypersmooth, there are four other improvements compared to the Hero 6 Black. ‘TimeWarp’ is a fancy new timelapse mode that uses the Hero 7’s boosted stabilisation to shoot what GoPro calls a first-person “magic carpet ride”. A new stills feature called SuperPhoto acts as a kind of ‘super auto mode, changing your settings based on the scene. The camera’s microphone has been redesigned to improve the audio. And, lastly, the Hero 7 Black can livestream via your smartphone, initially to Facebook but soon to other sites like YouTube.
Unlike Sony’s FDR-X3000, there’s no optical stabilisation behind Hypersmooth – it’s all done electronically. It works by cropping your image by five per cent, which means you lose the edges of your shot, with the benefit being that the camera then has the wiggle room to counter any shakes or vibrations that are sensed by its giro.
GoPro was a little coy on exactly how Hypersmooth differs from the Hero 6 Black’s stabilisation, beyond saying that it’s added a little more memory to the Hero 7 Black and has now fully harnessed the power of its GP1 processor.
3. Video and photo quality
On top of its various fancy video tricks, the Hero 7 Black is capable of outputting 12MP images, both in raw or JPEG flavours. And while the GoPro Hero 7 Black may have a tiny 1/2.3in sensor, the image quality itself is very good.
In good light, details are nice and crisp, and sharpness extends very well to the peripheries and corners of the frame. Close scrutiny shows images to have the same kind of character as those from smartphones than compact cameras – there’s clearly a fair bit of processing going on to eek out the best from the Hero 7 Black – but results are perfectly respectable for such a camera.
To be able to get such a wide-angle of view on the GoPro Hero 7 Black, the lens is uncorrected for its distortion in its default Wide setting, so anything with linear details – particularly close-up subjects – will appear with the kind of distortion that many associates with GoPro cameras.
The SuperPhoto option on the Hero 7 Black, which captures images with an additional 1.5-2 seconds per photo, has a noticeable effect on images, effectively regaining a little highlight detail that’s otherwise lost and lifting shadows a touch. The resulting images show less contrast because of it, but for any more critical captures this can always be tweaked later on.
While it’s possible to regain a little highlight detail from raw files taken on the Hero 7 Black and polish these images up, raw files from a camera with such a small sensor only ever achieve so much.
From this GoPro Hero7 Black review, we hope that you can decide whether it is worth buying this camera.