Commencement of the Battle of the GoPros
When traveling, a camera that can hang with the rough 'n' tumble of the action is a must! Nothing is worse than relying on the wrong electronic to capture your trip and you find that your images are blurry once you get home. We have owned many of adventure photographic equipment but one thing we always have is something from the GoPro line. GoPro is going to promise a waterproof, drop -proof camera best for any adventure. However, are the newer GoPros that much different than the older ones? Which one is best for your needs for the right price? Well, we hope to help you solve the battle of the Hero 8 or the Black 9.
The GoPro 8 technically has a small front display that shows you remaining battery, recording time, and what resolution you are shooting in. However, it is not a framing video, which makes it more challenging to capture the perfect selfie because you can't see what you are doing. A front facing Display Mod is available for the Hero 8 for the price of $84.99. GoPro played catch up with the GoPro Hero9 and built in a 1.4-inch live preview screen into the front of the camera. While not everyone may want or need this, I have found it helpful on solely trips when I am wanting to snap a pic of myself. The front screen can serve as a full screen, actual screen, or live preview, which makes it a great reason to upgrade and was the primary thing that drew me to the Hero9.
Both cameras offer a 16:9 widescreen LCS touchscreen display, however, the differ in size. The Hero8 is a modest 1.95-inch display while the 9 grew to a 2.27-inch display. For me personally, this wasn't a huge factor in purchasing because I rarely review footage on the actual GoPro as I utilize my Mac Desktop.
Lights, camera action! It's why we are purchasing an adventure camera in the first place right? When it comes to lenses, there is a big difference between the two. The older lens is like the 7, meaning it is a fixed lens. However, the Hero9 has a removable lens cover and can host a Max Lens Mod for $99.99 as an add-on accessary. This will allow the Hero9 to perform some of the GoPro Max features such as 360 horizon lock, which means the camera can be rotated through 360 degrees. I have not personally utilized the Max Lens Mod, however, the ability to do so if I wanted is a plus.
Size and Build
With the upgrades to the Hero9, we must assume that it is bigger and heavier, which it is. I personally don't think the size is significant, but I will let others be the judge of that. The Hero9 measures at 71x55x33.6mm and weight 158g. To compare, the Hero8 measured at 66.3x48.6x28.4mm and 126g weight. Even though the sizes are different, there are similarities between the two cameras. Both are waterproof down to 33 ft, have same styling, a left-hand battery compartment with micro-SD slot and USB-C charging slot, the same microphone placed below the lens, and the same "folding fingers" on the undercarriage. Other the size, the buttons on the Hero9 are bigger and protrude more, making it easier to operate while wearing gloves. For the price difference, I would have liked to see some upgrades to the camera.
It is not surprising that the Hero9 comes with a significantly larger battery, rated at 1,720mAh compared to the 1,220mAh and offers 30% more battery life. If you are like us, charging batteries in the wilderness can prove challenging if solar chargers fail so the longer battery life was a plus for us. The battery life of the Hero9 is rated by GoPro at 101 minutes when filming in 1080p, while the Hero8 manages 75 minutes. While I don't mind buying new batteries as over time they generally just die, it was annoying having to buy an entirely new charging system when I purchased the 9.
Since I use my GoPro for video more than photography, the filming capabilities were very important to me. The Hero9's larger 23.6 MP sensor means higher resolution video. It maxes out at 5K 30 fps at a bitrate of 100 Mbps, which is 7 times more detailed than regular HD. The Hero8 on the other hand is 4K 60fps at 100 Mbps. Both shot in multiple resolutions before their maximum, however, the lowest the Hero9 offers is 1080p. The Hero8 offers Hypersmooth 2.0 for image stabilization and a TimewWarp 2.0 time-lapse mode while the Hero9 offers a Hypersmooth 3.0 for image stabilization and a TimewWarp 3.0 time-lapse mode, which works up to 5K. If you are not using the TimeWarp setting on your GoPro, you are missing out on great footage!
TimeWarp 3.0 is the latest version of GoPro's time-lapse mode best used for endurance activities, such as hiking. Although it only works up to 4K, it's now got a 'speed ramp' feature that can slow down the action at a specific point back to real-time speed, and capture the audio, too. As an example, you could have a fast-motion time-lapse of you ascending the mountain, a few seconds of real-time, regular speed video and audio of a conversation at the peak, then back to a time-lapse for the descent. There's also a half-speed mode for an epic slo-mo.
The Hero 9 Black also adds HindSight (a 30-second buffer for video to avoid missing unexpected moments), Scheduled Capture (for waking-up and videoing a sunrise while you sleep-in) and Duration Capture (set to record for between 15 seconds and three hours).
All of these features made the decision-making process really easy for me when it came down to keeping my 8 or splurging for the 9.
Webcam and Live Streaming
To be honest, I do not utilize the webcam or live streaming options. While there was a firmware update earlier this year to allow the Hero 8 Black to be used as a webcam, the Hero 9 Black includes it right out of the box. It integrates into all video conferencing platforms and works up to 1080p. The Hero 9 Black can also be used to live stream 1080p video to YouTube, Twitch, Facebook Profiles and Facebook Pages, and with HyperSmooth 3.0 engaged, too.
Again, I didn't purchase my GoPro for its photography capabilities, but it is helpful when my Sony isn't around. Both models take RAW and HDR - the latter upgraded on the Hero 9 Black - with the Hero 9 Black offering 20 MP resolution to the Hero 8 Black's 12 MP. That's quite a step-up. The Hero 9 Black can also grab 14.7 MP grabs from video, which is one of its amazing features; it means you can extract decent quality photos of jumps, turns and other 'moments of movement".
In the Hero 9 Black's case are one battery, a USB to USB-C cable, two thumbscrews, a redesigned floating grip, a micro-SD card, an adhesive mount, a standard buckle mount and a magnetic swivel clip.
For the Hero 8 Black, the standard package is less generous: one battery, a USB to USB-C cable, one thumbscrew, a selfie stick, an adhesive mount and a standard buckle mount.
A major difference is that selfie stick; the newer model is larger, padded, easier to hold and has a wrist strap, while the older 'shorty grip' version is slippery to hold, but has an extendable design and a built-in tripod. I wish there was a way to build in the tripod model with the padded grip, but GoPro hasn't gotten there yet.
So, which one do you choose?!
I own both the Hero8 and the Hero9 (two Hero9s actually). What put me over the Hero9 edge was the dual screens, longer battery life, changes in TimeWarp, and higher resolution capabilities. However, both remain excellent quality action cameras.