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Hands-on review: GoPro HERO9 Bundle

19 Oct 2020

Every year, around the same time, GoPro releases a new flagship action camera that is better than the one before it. Despite 2020 being a bit of a tricky year, GoPro fans were really happy when the HERO9 was announced on time. 

Design

The HERO9 is arguably the biggest redesign in GoPro history. The company finally listened to its fans and changed the design to include a 1.4-inch coloured front display. This redesign changes the way you can interact with this camera. 

The GoPro is no longer just an action camera - the HERO9 is also a great vlogging camera because we can finally see what the camera is capturing from both sides. 

This front display is not touch-sensitive but I think that is a good thing because touch sensitivity could cause a lot of accidental clicks. 

It is also important to note that this is a square display. This means that it will not accurately show you everything the camera is doing, instead, it will just a general guide to help you make sure you are at least in the shot.

While the main screen being bigger sounds great on paper, I encountered a few frustrating responsiveness problems. I had to click things a few times to get it to register, which is really frustrating if your shot is tike sensitive. I ended up opting to just control it from the phone application as that is much smoother. 

While the new screen is the most significant change, it was not the only design change. The HERO9 is also bigger than the HERO8. This beefing up of the body allowed for a bigger battery as well as a bigger rear screen. The addition of the coloured front screen and the bigger back screen was the reason GoPro needed bigger batteries resulting in a bigger form factor. This comes with a slight disadvantage for anyone upgrading from an older model as all the batteries they own will be useless for the HERO9, but in my opinion, this was really worth it. 

GoPro also made another design change in bringing back the removable lens cover that they removed in Hero8. GoPro clearly realised their mistake and fixed it in the HERO9. While it would be nice to think they fixed it for the fans, It was a necessary fix as they released a new Max Lens Mod that screws in its place. 

Features and performance

The GoPro HERO9 is a very powerful little device. It has a lot of smart and innovative features that make capturing the moment easy for anyone, even a beginner. The HERO9 houses a brand new 23.6MP sensor. This new sensor is a game-changer as it is what makes the HERO9 capable of shooting 5K videos and allows for more powerful Hypersmooth. Shooting in 5K essentially means that the camera can capture more pixels than any GoPro before it. These additional captured pixels means that the camera has more data to use when “Hypersmoothing” bumpy videos. The results are extremely impressive.

Here is a sample video with the Hypersmooth 3.0 on:

Another one of my favourite features is the TimeWarp 3.0. Essentially it is a timelapse than then slows down to the normal speed at some point in the middle which makes for a great edit and an impressive video, especially when you add music. 

The GoPro has a lot more tricks and tools that can be turned on from settings. One of the most impressive is “hindsight”. Turning this on allows the camera to capture 15 to 30 seconds of footage before you press “record”. This guarantees you never miss a moment and you can manipulate the footage to get the best shot. 

Another neat feature is the scheduled capture. This allows you to set up the camera, set a time and leave it there. It will then turn on at that set time, record for the set number of minutes you asked it to record, and then turn off! This basically means you can film the sunrise while you sleep in. 

Verdict

I would call the GoPro HERO9 a great “two in one”. Not only is it a great action camera that is waterproof and is rugged enough to take hits, but it is also a great vlogging camera that shoots high quality and is really compact. If you are in the market for either of those things, the GoPro HERO9 would be great.