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GoPro HERO7 Black Hands-on Review

GoPro is back, doing what they do best; even better!

The HERO7 Black

MSRP US$399

While it’s no secret that GoPro has hit a few speed bumps in the market the past few years, it’s obvious that they’re currently laser-focused on what they do best: make a great POV sports cam that produces a super-high quality videos and images to share your experiences with the world. The HERO7 *Black (US$399 MSRP) is fully updated with features and capabilities in a familiar package that fits your existing HERO 5 & HERO6 housings and accessories. And what I think is the most revolutionary and user-friendly GoPro to date!
*Also announced is the HERO7 Silver and HERO7 White – see more below.

The key features that GoPro is announcing for this release of the HERO7 Black are HyperSmooth Stabilization, Live Streaming, TimeWarp Video, SuperPhoto, Improved Audio and Face, Smile and Scene Detection.

Also a serious drop in the price for the HERO7 Black at just $399 (HERO7 Silver $299, HERO7 White $199) makes the best GoPros yet even made more affordable for those who many have skipped the last round of updates.

I’ve yet to play with some of the other video features such as Live Streaming (for obvious reasons due to the embargo) and the face/scene detection for SuperPhoto – to which I will do a follow-up review next month. The TimeWarp Video feature uses a time lapse capture but incorporates the HyperSmooth stabilization technology that really gives your video a smooth “floating” effect instead of just sped up video or image stacks. That allows you to record live action such as walking, biking, skiing, etc. and produce a TimeWarp video that looks smooth and professional.

The Live Streaming looks awesome and I can’t wait to try it. If you’ve ever live streamed your drone footage from a DJI Phantom or Mavic Pro or just used your live Facebook video feature, then this will come second nature to you. The advantage is you can stick the GoPro anywhere or on anything that is within WiFi range of your smartphone and live stream the signal and record to the SD card at the same time. This will enable users to automatically share in real time to Facebook, Twitch, YouTube, Vimeo and other platforms internationally.

Also – the UI and menus are so much more intuitive and easier to navigate on the touch screen. You can get to your camera settings much easier now and review your footage quicker too.

But let’s talk about the new HyperSmooth technology behind the HERO7’s stabilization. It produces gimbal-like performance digitally inside the camera – no mechanical or optical stabilization required. This is way beyond shake reduction or other in-body stabilization that many DLSRs and mirrorless cameras are offering. This truly does look like you’re using a gimbal in many cases – whether it’s handheld, worn or attached to a vehicle or other moving object.

The HERO7 Black will provide gimbal-like video stabilization in situations where you couldn’t possibly use a gimbal, such as underwater or in high wind/shock environments like attached to a plane, boat or car (see my examples below).

“HERO7 Black is the GoPro we’ve all been waiting for,” said GoPro founder, Nick Woodman. “With HyperSmooth video stabilization, HERO7 Black is a camera anyone can use to capture amazingly smooth, professional looking shots of their favorite activities. And they can do it live.”

Visually, GoPro has finally made it easier for their users to identify multiple HEROs by actually making the HERO7 Black, BLACK! The HERO7 Silver is Silver (gray) and the HERO7 White is… you guessed it… White.

They’ve even put a big Identifier on the side so it’s easy to spot along with your older GoPros (which you’ll notice down below in my testing shots, I’ve had to ID each cam with a freakin’ labeler!)

Fortunately all our previous HERO5 & 6 mounts and accessories will work with the HERO7 and as of this article, I know that GoPro engineers are working on updates for the Karma Grip as well.

HERO6 BLACK FEATURES:

HyperSmooth Video Stabilization
Get gimbal-like stabilization—without the gimbal. HERO7 Black predicts your movements and corrects for camera shake to deliver insanely smooth footage.
Rugged + Waterproof
Share experiences you can’t capture with your phone. HERO7 Black is rugged, waterproof without a housing to 33ft (10m) and up for any adventure.
Voice Control
Stay in the moment. Control your HERO7 Black hands-free with voice commands like “GoPro, take a photo” and “GoPro, start recording.”
SuperPhoto
Get the best photos automatically. With SuperPhoto, HERO7 Black intelligently applies HDR, local tone mapping or noise reduction to optimize your shots.
Live Streaming
Share your story as you live it with video streaming to Facebook Live. You can save your streamed videos to your SD card in high resolution.
TimeWarp Video
Capture super stabilized time lapse videos while you move about a scene. Increase the speed up to 30x to turn longer activities into shareable moments.
4K60 Video + 12MP Photos
HERO7 Black shoots stunning 4K60 video and 12MP photos that are as awesome as the moments themselves.
8x Slo-Mo Video
With ultra high frame rate 1080p240 video, you can slow things down by up to 8x to relive funny, interesting or epic moments in all their glory.
Intuitive Touch Screen
If you have a smartphone, using HERO7 Black will feel familiar. Three main capture modes with streamlined settings make navigating easy.
Touch Zoom
Frame your photos and videos with just a touch.
GPS Performance Stickers
Track speed, distance and elevation, then highlight them by adding stickers to videos in the GoPro app.
Face, Smile + Scene Detection
HERO7 Black knows when you face the camera, smile and more. The GoPro app uses those details to handpick your best shots and create amazing videos.
Shoot Vertically in Portrait Mode
Capture photos and videos in portrait orientation—perfect for your Snapchat and Instagram Stories.
Enhanced Audio
Re-engineered audio captures increased dynamic range, new microphone membrane reduces unwanted vibrations during mounted situations.

HERO7 Silver

MSRP US$299

(From GoPro HERO7 Silver Press sheet)

Meet HERO7 Silver, the perfect camera for adventures big and small. It’s built tough and totally waterproof—just grab it and go for it. Smooth 4K video and vibrant WDR photos make every moment look amazing. GPS lets you track how fast, high and far you went. With an intuitive touch screen, it’s simple to jump right in and get great shots. Plus, your photos and videos move right to the GoPro app for easy sharing. From beach days to vacays to good times with the family—capture your life in a fresh new way with HERO7 Silver.

HERO7 SILVER FEATURES

4K30 Video
Get stunning 4K video that’s as amazing as the moment itself. You can also shoot time lapse videos to turn longer events into short, shareable moments.
Rugged + Waterproof
Share experiences you can’t capture with your phone. HERO7 Silver is tough, tiny, totally waterproof—and up for any adventure.
Intuitive Touch Screen
With a touch screen and simple, streamlined capture modes, it’s easy to jump right in and get great shots. Just swipe and tap.
Voice Control
Stay in the moment. Control your HERO7 Silver hands-free with voice commands like “GoPro, take a photo” and “GoPro, start recording.”
10MP Photos With WDR
HERO7 Silver takes beautiful, vibrant 10MP photos—even in challenging shots that mix bright light and shadows. And with Burst mode, you can get 15 photos in one second.
Video Stabilization
Adios shaky footage. HERO7 Silver records smooth, steady video whether you’re skiing, snorkeling or chasing your dog around the yard.
Shoot Vertically
Capture photos and videos in portrait orientation—perfect for your Snapchat and Instagram Stories.
Photo Timer
Jump in there. A photo timer makes it easy to grab a GoPro selfi e or group shot with your whole crew in the frame.
GPS Performance Stickers
Track your speed, distance and more. Add stickers to your videos in the GoPro app to show off how fast, far and high you went as the action unfolds.
Touch Zoom
Get closer to the action. Perfectly frame your photos and videos just by touching the screen.
Short Clips
Capture 15 or 30 second video clips that are just the right length for sharing.

HERO7 White

MSRP US$199

(From GoPro HERO7 White Press sheet)

Say hello to HERO7 White, the perfect partner on any adventure.
It’s tough, tiny and totally waterproof so it can go wherever you do. An intuitive touch screen makes it simple to get great shots. Just
swipe and tap. Use the photo timer to grab a sweet selfie. You can
even shoot vertically then add your photos and videos right to your
Instagram Story. Your shots move to the GoPro app automatically to
share on the spot. From awesome moments to everyday experiences,
capture the fun in creative new ways with HERO7 White.

HERO7 WHITE FEATURES

Rugged + Waterproof
Share experiences you can’t capture with your phone. HERO7 White is tough, tiny, totally waterproof—and up for any adventure.
Intuitive Touch Screen
With a touch screen and simple, streamlined capture modes, it’s easy to jump right in and get great shots. Just swipe and tap.
Full HD Video
HERO7 White records beautiful Full HD video. You can also shoot unique time lapse videos to turn longer events into short, shareable moments.
10MP Photos
HERO7 White takes high-quality 10MP photos. And with Burst mode, you can get 15 photos in one second so you never miss a moment.
Video Stabilization
Adios shaky footage. HERO7 White records smooth, steady video whether you’re skiing, snorkeling or chasing your dog around the yard. Shoot Vertically
Capture photos and videos in portrait orientation—perfect for your Snapchat and Instagram Stories.
Photo Timer
Jump in there. A photo timer makes it easy to grab a GoPro selfie or group shot with your whole crew in the frame.
Voice Control
Stay in the moment. Control your HERO7 White hands-free with voice commands like “GoPro, take a photo” and “GoPro, start recording.”
Touch Zoom
Get closer to the action. Perfectly frame your photos and videos just by touching the screen.
Short Clips
Capture 15 or 30 second video clips that are just the right length for sharing.
2x Slo-Mo Video
Everything looks awesome in slo-mo. Slow things down to relive funny, interesting or epic moments in all their glory.

NOTE: I will be doing some comparison testing on both the HERO7 Silver & White as soon as they are available. Stay tuned…

Hands-on Testing with the HERO7 Black:

I was invited to a private pre-release event with a handful of other media folks so we could get some time with the camera and do some thorough testing before the official launch. First, spending the day with Founder/CEO Nick Woodman and a handful of product engineers and marketing folks, we set out to give this new little PV cam a rigorous test at the Sonoma Raceway Kart track. They suited us up and stuck a HERO7 Black on our helmets and stuck us in a little kart to zip around the track to capture some footage. (Nick isn’t the least bit competitive on the track BTW! *cough *wink)

When we returned to the pits to check out the footage we captured I was really blown away at the stabilization of the HERO7 Black. Both the helmet mount and the chassis mounts on the karts (they’ll do over 30mph and have no suspension at all) is free from shake and rolling shutter issues that other cameras have in this scenario. I also left the raw audio intact so you can hear the reduction in wind noise and catch more of the other ambient sounds.

Pre-WWII Vintage Biplane

We were surprised after a quick lunch at the racetrack that we were going to be taken out to a Vintage Aircraft field in Sonoma for a ride in an open-cockpit pre-WWII Biplane… and they were going to do aerobatics with us!

Ok, the 12 yr old boy in me just peed a little on this news! Major bucket list item achieved as my love of flying (but never able to be a pilot) has always wanted to ride in one of these and experience loops and barrel rolls!

Not much else I can add to this that you can’t tell from the video below, but I’m still grinning today! Notice the placement of the various HERO7 Black cams attached to the plane – and no vibration issues, no rolling shutter and I purposely left all the raw audio from each camera angle intact so you could share this thrilling adventure with me again and again!

Further Hands-on Testing:

Stabilization Comparison HERO7, HERO6, HERO5

Since the very first GoPro HD HERO cam that I reviewed many years ago, I always do a side-by-side comparison with previous version cameras – usually attached to my truck as I run around both off & on road. This time I lined up 3 cams on the roof of my Toyota FJ to get a real sense of what a huge jump in technology from the HERO5 Black all the way up to the HERO7 Black.

You’ll also notice the afore-mentioned Labels I’ve put on my other GoPros since they’re almost indistinguishable without totally removing them from their mounts.

As you may recall, when GoPro announced the HERO6 Black they had moved to the GP1 sensor which enables their engineers to do “magic” such as removing rolling shutter and stabilization. This new version of HyperSmooth stabilization still blows me away.

In the video below, copay attention the front hood of the FJ – framed intentionally to see the motion of the vehicle and the stability of the horizon and surroundings.

Saddle-mounted Horse Ride Test

For those of you familiar with my product reviews, you know that I ALWAYS have to include our dog or horse in some manner. Well, this time is no exception and I used a clamp grip mount to attach the HERO7 Black to the front of the saddle. (In hind-sight, I should have clamped it to the center of the back of the saddle for a smoother “ride”).

I’ll eventually try a test with the HERO7 mounted to the rider’s helmet as well, but there’s already plenty of video examples of helmet cams out there so I wanted to just share this experience around our “Neigh”-borhood and around our small farm in the Sierra foothills in California Gold Country.

So hop on “Mysty the Wonder Horse” and enjoy the ride. Giddy-up!

Eclipse Rover Extreme Abuse Test

I’ve shared reviews and articles on these great little RC cam rovers from Eclipse Rover here on ProVideo – but only the tests with a gimbal have really provided desired results. That is until now!

I stuck on a mount to my RPR rover on the oversized anti-vibration plate – which in all reality is useless with the tiny weight/size of the HERO7 Black. If anything, it probably made it worse as far as motion and bouncing is concerned!

But after my crazy on/off road test “drive” (and a couple “incidents”) I reviewed the footage and couldn’t believe what I had just recorded.

You can count on me doing more serious testing with this rover in upcoming articles as well!

For more information on Eclipse Rovers, please visit their website: http://eclipserover.com

POV with Headgear Test

Not much I need to say about this test – other than just a warning for those viewers a bit squeamish seeing some horse manure.

I used a head strap mount under my hat and went about doing my evening chores on our small farm. Subjects include our horse Mysty, our Belgian Tervuren Halona and a beat-up garden tractor. Our little piece of heaven. *smile

Summary

In my opinion, the HERO7 Black defines what the GoPro is all about.

Talking with Nick at length about the updates, features and improved usability, he said that he hasn’t been this excited about a product release since the original HD HERO.

I’m not sure I’d go that far, personally – but in his vision of what the GoPro could be – what it’s purpose is from his initial concepts and where it is today, I get it.

From pros who need a rugged yet potent 4K POV cam that can also live-stream to broadcast wirelessly, to prosumers who need to get super-smooth and steady captures in motion in virtually ANY environment and condition, to consumers who just want to capture their lives and share it with others… THIS camera can do that.

My only criticism is that it eats batteries like a fat kid eats cake. (voice of experience here *grin)

Stay tuned for more tests and adventures – and feel free to comment and ask questions and requests for further test ideas!

GoPro Founder/CEO Nick Woodman and Jeff Foster

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Jeff Foster has written and contributed to several books and magazines, and has been producing motion graphics, photography and creative design for major corporations, television and film for more than 25 years. See his full…

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Levi

Awesome review! Can you turn the stabilization feature on and off? Is there a linear mode (no fish eye) in 4K on this version? Thanks!

Liam
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Hi, Jeff! Very interesting to read this. I would like to thank you for the efforts you had made for writing this awesome review.