If there’s one thing I appreciate about GoPro, in opposition to every other big tech company, it’s that GoPro understands how to work with scale. Usually if a piece of tech is released and the “portability” is one of the main selling points, you can tell that means some features have been trimmed. Yet GoPro manages to consistently push out new models while actively adding new features, flying in the face of all those who would tell them that it couldn’t be done. Such is the case with the GoPro Hero 9 Black, the newest device from the company that packs in way more than you’d ever think was possible in a body barely bigger than last year’s Hero 8 Black. With a bigger battery, upgraded sensor and 5K video capture, the Hero 9 Black has no right being as compact as it is.
Design and Screen
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of the Hero 9 Black, let’s take a second to admire and analyse it’s outward appearance. Actually, before we do even that, let’s talk about the package for the Hero 9 Black. Gone is the hard plastic container that made transporting the previous GoPros a little to clunky and instead we’re given a fabric zip pouch, a solid change that makes the camera even more portable. Better yet, it even has place for accessories and mounts. What more could you ask for?
Okay but now let’s talk about the actual camera. The Hero 9 Black has a front screen, presumably for vloggers, and around the back you’ll find a touchscreen that measures in at 1.95″, the biggest of any GoPro to date. It’s a beefy screen that’s easy to read even in direct sunlight…even if it’s a tad unresponsive at times.
The whole device is only slightly larger than last year’s Hero 8 Black at 71mm wide, 33.6 deep and only weighing 158g. Problem with that is that old accessories won’t work or fit with the Hero 9 Black, a fact that feels very… Apple.
Photo and Video
Yeah look, the Hero 9 Black is wildly impressive. Frankly, we’re shocked at the kind of quality this little block of a camera is able to push out. The 23.6MP resolution sensor allows the Hero 9 Black to shoot in 5K quality, easily surpassing what you’d see in most top-of-the-range smartphones and DSLRs. The video quality supports an improved dynamic range in most shots, creating images that looke sharper than you’d expect. Of course, capturing that kind of content causes the device to become very warm to the point where “overheated” just feels generous. That’s what mounts are for, right?
What about new features? Well, the Hero 9 Black comes with Linear Horizon Leveling which takes those janky panorama shots and smooths them out so it looks like a human hand wasn’t constantly shaking as it turned. Oh, and HyperSmooth makes an expected (yet always welcome) return, ensuring your footage’s stability resembles that of a gimble-assisted camera.
Oh, and my personal favourite feature: Hindsight. Selecting this option dials the Hero 9 Black back in time for five seconds to begin capturing before you even hit the record button. Of course, this depends entirely on the camera being on in the first place but come on, that’s so cool.
If you’re looking at snapping some stills, the Hero 9 Black is able to deliver photos captured at 20MP in a variety of different modes, including HDR, RAW and so-called Super Photos. Just make sure you’re lighting is good enough because despite the Night Mode, middling lighting just doesn’t turn out well.
Like everything else about the Hero 9 Black, the battery has been substantially improved. Upgraded from a 1220mAh to 1720mAh battery, the Hero 9 Black is able to film in 1080p for upwards of two hours and ten minutes and capture in 5K for 30 minutes. Come on, it’s 5K. You can’t expect a feature length movie out of that.
What would a GoPro be without an assortment of accessories to choose from? Swappable lenses are an option now but you’ll need to fork out a little extra cash to make use of them. While the GoPro Hero 9 Black does come stocked with a surprisingly wide-angle lense, you’ll need to pay extra for the Max Lens Mod which shoots a 155˚ FOV at up to 2.7K resolution (60fps).
You can also connect the Hero 9 Black up to your PC or laptop via the USB-C connection, you’ll be able to live stream in 1080p, a feature that’s very handy if you’re running a video game streaming channel (Shameless StuffPlays plug).
What can we say, you already knew that the GoPro Hero 9 Black was going to be one of best action cameras on the market. With it’s bulkier battery, dual screens and suite of impressive software features, the Hero 9 Black is a camera that we could recommend to anyone from biking enthusiasts looking to capture footage of their latest trail or nerds walking around a convention wanting to capture footage of the weirdos cosplaying as Deadpool. It’s a tremendous camera, proving that GoPro still knows exactly what it’s doing.