We’re very impressed with the new GoPro Hero8 Black, but last year’s Hero7 Black is no slouch and is still available, now at a lower price — especially for Black Friday. The for a limited time, while the through Cyber Monday.
Here’s what you need to know about the differences between these two top action cameras before deciding if the premium is worth it for GoPro’s latest and greatest. The price difference isn’t huge, but the older Hero7 should meet the needs of many customers who want to save a few bucks.
The Hero8 Black is the first new physical design in four generations of GoPro. It incorporates a mount into the camera body itself, which means you no longer need a mounting frame or case. This makes the camera smaller overall compared to the Hero7 Black, and also allows you to swap the battery and memory card without removing the camera from whatever it’s mounted to. The lens also protrudes less from the body and its cover glass is now twice as strong.
So does the Hero7 Black maintain any advantages here? Possibly. Part of making the lens more compact, the Hero8’s cover glass can no longer be removed and replaced with a filter. The Hero8 will require an adapter to use filters, and filter company PolarPro already has a pretty elegant solution.
Both the Hero7 Black and Hero8 Black are built around the same sensor and GoPro’s custom GP1 processor (which actually dates back to the Hero6 Black). But GoPro has found ways to push the tech further in the Hero8, leading to better stabilization and additional features not available in the Hero7.
Overall image quality should be largely the same — both cameras can shoot 4K/60 video — but the Hero8’s improved stabilization, better HDR processing for still photos, and automatic horizon leveling mean it will be able to give you better results in more situations.
HyperSmooth and TimeWarp
The Hero7 Black introduced both of these features when it launched. HyperSmooth set a new bar for electronic image stabilization, and TimeWarp was a fun Hyperlapse mode for creating super-smooth motion time-lapses.
The Hero8 Black turns these features up a notch with HyperSmooth 2.0 and TimeWarp 2.0. Stabilization is better than before without changing the 10% crop and it’s available in all framerates and resolutions, while a new boost mode provides even stronger stabilization with an additional crop. TimeWarp 2.0 can now automatically set the time-lapse speed based on the amount of camera movement, and also lets you slow the Hyperlapse down to real-time at any point.
These are pretty solid improvements that make the Hero8 Black both more capable and more fun. However, HyperSmooth was already very good on the Hero7 Black, and many people — especially if those who aren’t extreme athletes — may find it is plenty for what they need.
The Hero8 Black features a new front-facing microphone right below the lens and new audio processing algorithms. GoPro states its sound quality is now better in both loud and quiet environments.
For its part, the Hero7 Black’s audio was already pretty good. The Hero8 will have an edge, and we did notice it did a particularly good job at picking up voices even in the presence of loud background noise, but if audio isn’t critical to you, the Hero7 should be just fine.
Still photography may be a secondary focus of GoPro cameras, but they actually do a pretty good job of it. New to the Hero8 Black is Live Burst mode, which continually buffers 1.5 seconds of frames before you press the shutter button. It then saves that 1.5 seconds plus an additional 1.5 seconds after the shutter is pressed. From here, you can select the best frame to save as a still photo, or simply save the entire clip as a 3-second video.
GoPro’s Super Photo mode has also seen an upgrade with better HDR processing. When photographing moving subjects, the Hero8 Black is much less prone to “ghosting” in this mode compared to the Hero7 Black.
Alongside the Hero8 Black, GoPro is rolling out a new series of accessories called Mods. The Display Mod will add a selfie screen; the Media Mod adds a shotgun microphone, 3.5mm mic jack, HDMI out port, and two cold shoes; and the Light Mod is a small LED light that can be attached to the Media Mod or any GoPro mount.
These Mods are designed for vloggers and other video storytellers and make the Hero8 Black a more flexible camera. Due to the different physical design, they will not be compatible with the Hero7 series or earlier.
Both cameras come with built-in live-streaming, but the Hero8 Black can now stream in 1080p. The Hero7 Black tops out at 720p.
The Hero7 Black may be a steal at $ 330, but it’s also priced close enough to the Hero8 Black at $ 400 that it probably won’t take a very big nudge to get you to go for the newer model. In our opinion, the Hero8 Black is worth it for the new design alone, especially if you think you think you may want to use one of the Mods in the future.
But if you just need a great action camera and want to save some money, the Hero7 Black is a solid choice.