GoPro Hero full review
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GoPro knows that not everyone needs the ability to shoot in 4K, or has at least figured that out after launching the Hero 6 and discovering that people weren't willing to pay £499 for an action camera.
That, along with the fact that there are literally hundreds of cheap action cameras out there, is why we now have a 'cheap' GoPro Hero.
No numbers, no colours, just Hero.
This kind of simplicity is the common thread that runs throughout GoPro's latest camera, and it's one of the main reasons why it succeeds in being great value and a great choice for anyone who just wants to record at 1080p.
GoPro Hero: Price and Availability
At £181 from Amazon the Hero is still a considerable amount of money when supposed '4K' alternatives sell for as little as £35.
But as we've discovered from reviewing many of the clones, you get neither the quality nor reliability - the sheer ruggedness you get with a GoPro.
The Hero is not without some direct competitors, though. GoPro's own Hero 5 Session is a prime example. Officially it is discontinued, but you can still buy it for around £170. It records 4K, is waterproof and is even smaller than the Hero.
The non-removable battery is a deal-breaker for some, but if that doesn't put you off, it is a fine choice.
There are other 'true' 4K options, such as the Yi 4K Action Camera which can be found for just over £200. But this isn't waterproof without an additional housing, doesn't have any voice control and lacks that GoPro 'polish'. The SJCAM SJ7 Star is cheaper, but has similar drawbacks.
GoPro Hero: Design and Build
The Hero is essentially identical to the Hero 5 and 6. You can't tell them apart unless you look at the lettering on the side.
That's good news for several reasons. First, it'll fit into any frames or housings for the Hero 5 or 6, and it's also waterproof to 10m / 33ft.
It has the same 2in touchscreen on the rear, and useful mono LCD on the front. It charges via USB-C and takes the same 1220mAh batteries.
There's Bluetooth and Wi-Fi (only 2.4GHz) so you can control it remotely from the GoPro app, and it works with Quik Stories, GoPro's handy app for automatically editing your clips into a shareable video.
Last, the Hero has the same voice control found on its siblings. This is very handy if you've mounted the camera on your bike helmet, as you can shout "GoPro, start recording" without taking your hands off the handlebars.
The loud beeps let you know that your commands have been heard and obeyed, too. It's one of the major bugbears of the GoPro clones: their beeps are usually too weedy to be heard out in the real world.
Aside from not supporting 4K video recording as we've already said, the only other missing feature is GPS, but few people will care about that.
It isn't compatible with external microphones but the Hero still has three on-board mics with automatic processing to choose the best two to give stereo audio.
Photo and video
We're fans of the latest touchscreen interface, and it's even simpler on the Hero because there just aren't many options or settings.
You still get to choose resolution, frame rate and field of view, but in terms of resolution it's just 1080p really. Yes, you can go higher to 1440p, but this is a 4:3 aspect ratio - 1920x1440 - so assuming you want the usual TV-style 16:9, you'll be leaving resolution set to 1080p.
Stabilisation is the same level you get with a Hero 5, and it's available at both 30 and 60fps (25 and 50 if you shoot PAL). There's also the great auto-low-light mode that switches to the lower frame rate in dim conditions - something we wish iPhones would do.
Other shooting modes are similarly limited in their settings. When you choose burst photo, there's nothing to set: the Hero takes 10 images per second at 10Mp. That's because the sensor is different to the 12Mp part in the Hero 5 and 6.
There's time-lapse too, but although there's an Interval menu option, it's redundant as you can't change the default setting from 0.5 seconds.
None of this is a problem. It means the Hero is hassle-free: you just point and shoot.
Irrelevant for casual users, but important for anyone looking to buy a Hero to supplement existing GoPro cameras there's no Protune mode and option to record in RAW mode or adjust the exposure. The latter is a tiny bit annoying, as it would be nice to have the option to underexpose when required and avoid those white skies in high-contrast scenes.
The Hero is not the last word in video quality. But it doesn't have to be, nor should you expect it. When you get is dependable 1080p footage with decent detail levels and great colours.
As mentioned, you've no option to adjust exposure compensation which can lead to blown out highlights on occasion.
Stabilisation isn't amazing: unlike the latest flagship phones (or even the Hero 6) you still get a fair amount of movement in the frame when you're walking, running or flying down some single-track. But it is still markedly smoother than GoPros of old which has no stabilisation at all.
Here are a couple of photos:
Audio is also good, which is a relief since there's no alternative to using the in-built mics.
GoPro Hero: Specs
- 10Mp action camera
- Max video resolution: 1920x1440 at 60/30fps
- Electronic stabilisation
- Shooting modes: Time-lapse photo, time-lapse video, burst photo (10fps)
- Built-in Wi-Fi (2.4GHz) and Bluetooth
- microSD up to 64GB
- Micro HDMI output, USB-C charging
- Removable 1220mAh battery
- 62.3 x 33mm x 44.9mm (WDH)
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