GoPro Hero 9 review

GoPro is undoubtedly a market leader in high-intensity video capture, but does the Hero 9 still hold up years after its original release?

GoPro Hero 9 Review

Our Verdict

73%

The GoPro Hero 9 Black's top-notch performance and design innovation make it a compelling choice for every action camera enthusiast. Despite some minor hiccups, it's a powerful tool that takes your creative expressions to the next level.

In the evolving world of action cameras, the GoPro Hero 9 Black stands out. The robust offering meets the demanding needs of enthusiasts and professionals alike. 

While the camera is a commendable upgrade from its predecessor, the Hero 8 Black, it has a few drawbacks. In this post, I review all the aspects of the GoPro Hero 9 Black in detail. Read on to learn everything from its specs and features to its performance in various creative scenarios.

Pros

  • High-quality 5K video capability for excellent details.
  • Improved image stabilization at 4K video mode.
  • Enhanced audio quality for capturing great footage.
  • Larger rear touch screen and front LCD screen, improving usability.
  • Bigger battery for longer shooting sessions.

Cons

  • The rear touch screen responsiveness needs improvement.
  • Incompatibility with previous GoPro filters due to a replaceable front lens glass.
  • Mixed results for image stabilization in the 5K mode, showing a step backward.
  • The 4K mode quality may appear worse compared to previous models.

GoPro Hero 9 review - removing the front lens protector

GoPro Hero 9: Specs and Design

The GoPro Hero 9 Black packs a powerful punch in terms of its specifications. The camera employs a 23.6-megapixel sensor. That’s a notable upgrade from its predecessor, the Hero 8 Black. 

The resulting improvement in resolution is instrumental in enabling the camera to capture 5K videos at 30fps. Whether you are shooting a serene landscape or recording high-octane action, this feature allows you to obtain footage that is rich in detail and presents accurate colors.

The design of the Hero 9 Black has also undergone significant changes to enhance user experience. The most striking feature is the addition of a front LCD screen. Not only does that enable easy framing, but it also improves the device’s overall usability. That’s particularly useful for vloggers and selfie enthusiasts. 

Moreover, the rear touch screen is larger, adding to the user-friendly design. The camera also boasts a replaceable front lens glass, which enhances the durability of the camera. Unfortunately, that also means that the GoPro Hero 9 lacks compatibility with previous GoPro filters.

GoPro Hero 9: Features

The Hero 9 Black is not just a step up in specifications, but also in the feature set it offers. The color science employed by the action camera is impeccable. The feature is especially noticeable when shooting in the 5K mode. 

The automatic white balance performs impressively across varying lighting conditions, contributing to the overall quality of the footage.

The camera retains its predecessor’s high frame rate modes, offering 1080p240 and 2.7K120 for capturing super slow-motion footage. But the crowning jewel in its feature set is the Hypersmooth 3.0 technology for image stabilization. The technology ensures buttery smooth footage, particularly when shooting in the 4K mode. 

Coupled with improved audio quality, the Hero 9 Black captures the sights and sounds of your adventures with remarkable fidelity.

GoPro Hero 9 case - the case and content included with the hero 9 at time of purchase

GoPro Hero 9: Performance

In terms of creative performance, the GoPro Hero 9 Black is a mixed bag. The good news is that the improved color science and automatic white balance deliver superior results, particularly in the 5K mode. The footage is detailed and presents colors accurately, making it a valuable tool for creative tasks.

However, regarding image stabilization in the 5K mode, the camera stumbles a bit. There is a noticeable decline in performance compared to the previous model. Given the general trend of improvements across the board, I found that surprising. 

That being said, the 4K mode makes up for its shortcoming with superior stabilization, even though the overall video quality might not be as impressive as it could be in the 5K mode.

YouTube Thumbnail

Should you buy the GoPro Hero 9 Black?

When it comes to buying the GoPro Hero 9 Black, the decision largely depends on what you are looking for in an action camera. If high-quality footage, improved audio, and user-friendly design are high on your priority list, the Hero 9 Black is a worthwhile consideration. 

I found it to be an overall capable tool that manages to deliver on multiple fronts, making it a worthy investment for both enthusiasts and professionals. However, if you are already a user of the Hero 8 Black, the decision to upgrade might not be as straightforward. 

Against its predecessor, the Hero 8 Black, the Hero 9 Black isn’t a noticeable upgrade. Despite the dip in image stabilization in the 5K mode, the Hero 9 Black does offer a 5K shooting mode, improved audio, a front LCD screen, and a larger rear touchscreen, which makes it a compelling purchase.

While the Hero 9 Black does bring several improvements to the table, the underwhelming performance of image stabilization in the 5K mode can be a deterrent. Therefore, an upgrade is best considered by weighing these factors in light of your specific needs.

Verdict

Despite some minor shortcomings, the GoPro Hero 9 Black has made substantial strides over its predecessor and is undoubtedly a versatile action camera. 

Combining a high-resolution sensor, user-friendly design changes, improved audio quality, and introducing a 5K video mode ensures that it holds its own in the crowded action camera market.

That being said, The GoPro Hero 9 Black competes with various other strong offerings in the market in my opinion. The DJI Osmo Action and the Insta360 One R and both solid competitors. The DJI Osmo Action offers a robust build, front and back screens, and impressive image stabilization but falls short in sensor resolution and lacks a 5K shooting mode.

On the other hand, the Insta360 One R offers modularity. It’s an action camera, 360 camera, and a 1-inch sensor camera; all rolled into one. However, the image quality and stabilization do not match up to the Hero 9 Black, especially in challenging conditions.

While it may not be perfect, the GoPro Hero 9 Black offers a unique blend of advanced features and enhanced usability, making it a strong contender in the action camera market. 

Whether you are an adventure enthusiast looking to capture your exploits, a professional seeking a sturdy and reliable tool, or a vlogger seeking high-quality footage, the Hero 9 Black is still worth considering.