GoPro Hero8 Black Review | We Tested The Camera Over The Course Of Several Months

Just how well did the GoPro 8 cope on our various mountain missions this winter?

As with a lot of techy bits of kit these days, each new device update may look and feel like the same of technology as last year’s update. Take the iPhone 8, 9, X, 10 or whatever they’re now calling it; each year comes with such tiny upgrades to make you want it but also leaves out enough features to keep you wishing for more juicy stuff next year.

“Is it time for an upgrade?”

GoPro have sometimes fallen victim to the Groundhog Day effect with previous releases. But 2019 was a good year for GoPro, as when they announced the all-new Hero 8 there really were some changes to get excited about. We’d imagine that you’ve got yourself a previous generation of these plucky action cams already, but is it time for an upgrade?

So what’s so good about the Hero 8? It’s square, got a camera on the front, screen on the back and the classic record button on the top – sounds just the same as any other GoPro, right? Well, yes, that’s true if you look at it in that respect. However, dig a little deeper and take a look under the hood of the Hero 8 and you’ll soon realise that there’s more here than meets the eye.

Pictured: Photo taken from the all new GoPro Hero8 black. Zermatt, Switzerland.

I’ve spent the winter out in the Alps with the new Hero 8 and with that, have got some actual first hand experiences on how this action cam is able to live up to a beating in the mountains and how these new features can give your (obviously) already epic footage that special edge over the rest. So, let’s pop that metaphorical hood and break these features down.

Design Changes

At fist glance, the new Hero 8 might look like a normal old GoPro. As stated though, that’s an illusion; one which doesn’t do justice to the evolution this punchy little number has gone through.

Firstly, GoPro have done away with the entire skeleton mount – meaning that the external housing is what provides all the cameras protection. GoPro have been moving towards this level of exposure when they ditched that old school clear plastic waterproof case.

The mounting on the Hero 8 has now been replaced with GoPro’s all new ‘fingers’, which remove the need for this pesky housing unit.

Pictured: GoPro Hero8 Black ‘fingers’

We’re a big fan of the removal of the outer housing, it was just another thing to break / lose when you’re out in the field – not to mention that added faff of having to remove the GoPro from the housing each time you wanted to change the battery – I know, first world problems, right?

For those of you worried about GoPro’s ‘fingers’ breaking in use, we’re happy to report that they’ve got the Mpora seal of approval when it comes to durability. Our filming team are pretty tough on their gear – particularly with GoPros that get chucked in the top of backpacks when not in use – and we’ve not yet had an issue with these arms breaking. They actually fold out of the way nicely when they’re not needed, which is probably why it hasn’t been an issue for us.

Hypersmooth 2.0

Beyond the external changes to the Hero 8, Hypersmooth 2.0 is by far the most exciting change to this iteration of GoPro. What’s so great about an updated Hypersmooth? Especially as GoPro have already brought out a product with the seemingly perfect Hypersmooth 1.0, it feels like a question worth asking.

Hypersmooth 2.0 builds on the already successful Hypersmooth 1.0, by improving the sensor management and the algorithm that predicts when and where a sudden impact is coming from ( adjusting the frame in relation to this). In layman’s terms, it’s able to smooth out footage really well.

The below clip is a great example of this stabilisation. It was blowing a steady 50 mph during the ascent, then a sudden gust blows, almost knocking us off our feet. This is a completely raw clip – no post production stabilisation has been added.

Back in November 2019, I took the Hero 8 out to Zermatt, to chase down local mountain guide and big mountain skier Sam Anthamatten around his home resort. It’s got to be said that the stabilisation found on the Hero 8 is really solid – gimbal-like, in fact. This was the same thing said of the 7, of course, but seriously run your Hero 7 footage side by side with the Hero 8 and you’ll really begin to notice the phenomenal, and improved, stabilisation found on the 8.

This isn’t really a beat-down on the stabilisation of the 7, it’s just that there’s been another massive leap in stabilisation on the GoPro. Gimbals really are redundant as long as the nerds at GoPro keep tinkering with their algorithm. Rest in peace, gimbals.

Timewarp 2.0

It’s the year of ‘2.0’s’ for GoPro, with their trusty Timewarp feature also getting an update. This is essentially GoPro’s own hyperlapse feature and can be a great way to easily grab some b-roll while you’re having your lunch out on the hill, or generally want to shoot a long sequence, but not film the full length of it. So what’s changed with Timewarp?

The main changes are through the ability to speed up / down the Timewarp feature as and when you please, giving you the chance to ‘slow down’ the footage at certain points, such as when you’d like to focus on a specific point of interest.

Media Mod

Pictured: GoPro’s ‘Media Mod’ allows you to change your GoPro into a selfie machine

No really a feature that action sports fans are frothing over, but the all new ‘Media Mod’ found on the Hero 8 gives the option for you to convert your Hero 8 into a pretty sweet vlogging style rig  ideal for all of you that are into chatting to your camera hours on end (seems like everyone is doing it these days).

With the media mod, you’re able to add a shotgun-mic, 3.5mm audio port, HDMI out, front facing display screen and also a light, meaning you’ll be able to keep up with that hectic vlogging schedule no matter where in the world you find yourself.

New Capture Presets

The Hero 8 comes with some handy ‘capture presets’, that feature pre-programmed presets that allow you to change the cameras settings on the fly while out on the hill. It’s been pretty frustrating with previous models that you’d have to swipe through endless menu settings to adjust frame rates, resolution, and lens angle. These new presets allow you to programme in specific settings tailored to what you most frequently shoot in.

Video Quality

There’s not been too much focus from GoPro on the video quality of the Hero 8. This is because it remains relatively unchanged, so we’ll just copy the video settings below. It’s got to be said that the video quality on the Hero 7 was already pretty astonishing, so very little actually needed changing in that department.

4K – 60 fps
1080 – 240 fps
8x Slo-Mo

All in, this is a solid offering from the action cam heavyweights. It’s become a staple in our camera arsenal for when we’re out filming on locations (it’s been a very busy winter here at Mpora headquarters), and the new Hypersmooth 2.0 isn’t just marketing chat – it works.

If you’ve already got yourself a Hero 7, then the upgrade might not be worthwhile just yet. If you’re still packing anything less than the Hero 7 though, we’d definitely advise you to upgrade to this little puppy – the difference in stability and picture quality is night and day.

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