There’s no denying that GoPro pretty much own the monopoly over the action cam industry. It’s a direct successor to the excellent Hero 6, which definitely won action cam of the year when it was released but this time round, there are a number of added features that improves performance over the GoPro Hero 7.
What you will notice between the two cameras however is similarity. They look pretty much identical, with the Hero 7 having a slightly new paint job. It’s coated in a rubber housing which protects the action cam from water up to 10 meters. There are the usual two button interface, one for power and one to start/stop recording, with the majority of menus being accessed using the two-inch touch screen. There’s a small screen on the front next to the lens which gives you prompts on the settings when using it as a selfie camera.
Menus are easily accessible within a few clicks, which is a great improvement over last year’s Hero 6. Swipes of the screen switch between video, photo and timelapse mode, while the info button at the bottom of the screen enters the settings for image quality. There’s a dedicated zoom in and out slider on the bottom right which is useful for framing as well as the ability to shoot 15 or 30 second videos so you don’t fill up your memory card too quickly.
What I like is the fact that all the image settings have been put under one menu. At default, the custom image profile settings are turned off. You have to enable the ‘Protune’ feature to find them, which is a press of a button. Once activated though you’re given the choice to change things like your shutter speed, white balance, EV compensation, colour profiles and ISO sensitivity. If you’re a video editor, the choice of filming in a flat colour profile for colour correction later is a great feature.
But one of the biggest additions to this year’s GoPro Hero 7 is its ‘HyperSmooth’ functionality. GoPro has described it as having a virtual Karma gimbal built into the camera itself. It a noticeable change coming from a Hero 6, and I must say, makes footage look really smooth. What more, it can now be used on its top 4K video setting too. So expect some great video to come out of the Hero 7.
The other big new feature is its new live streaming service, which allows users to connect their GoPro to their mobile phone and livestream directly to Facebook. Facebook is the only one so far, but more live streaming services will follow from the likes of YouTube and Twitch I’m sure. Set up is relatively easy, by connecting your GoPro to the mobile app, and choosing where your video will end up. You can only broadcast at at a maximum of 720p. It relies on mobile data and signal to go live of course, so make sure you’re in a decent catchment area otherwise you’re going to have some drop offs.
But what’s the video quality like? Pretty decent to tell you the truth. I found the dynamic range to be good enough to pick up shadow and highlight detail well, especially when you’re going between outdoors and indoors within the same recording. The virtual stabilisation works really well, and even though I’m not too into my extreme sports, even running down the road and chasing the cat around the garden gave decent results. Autofocus is incredibly fast too, especially if you’re recording different subjects and flicking between them.
In terms of resolution there are several options to choose from. The first and best is certainly 4K, but this can only run at 60fps. It’s also worth noting that you can only use 4K in wide-angle mode, which looks as if you’ve stuck a fisheye lens on the front of the GoPro Hero 7. Drop the quality down to 2.7K and can shoot up to 120fps. You do also get your linear mode back as well as a super-wide, which is even more of a fisheye look. To shoot at 240fps for that smooth slowmo, the max resolution you can shoot in is 1080p. This slomo isn’t much better than flagship phones, but because of the added protection the GoPro Hero 7 has, means you can get right into the action, especially if water is involved.
Photos again are very much what you would expect from a mid-range mobile phone, but then again the GoPro Hero 7 isn’t really designed for stills. I wouldn’t have expected it to be great either. The auto mode is passable for sharing on social media, and there’s a light photo editing mode inside of the GoPro app if you want to add some flare to your images.
Battery life isn’t hugely great which is a big downfall with the GoPro Hero 7. I managed to get around two hours of recording out of the camera before I was reaching for a charger. I used a powerbank when I was out, charging the GoPro Hero 7 on the go. It’s great I can do that rather than having to buy a number of spare batteries to get me through a day of filming. GoPro also offer accessories to help combat their battery issue.
So what can I say? GoPro are killing it with their new Hero 7 action camera. Everything you need to grab those excellent extreme sports shots are at your finger tips, and the inclusion of the image stabilisation feature ensures it keeps your videos super smooth. I would have liked to have seen more from the camera, but it’s not GoPro’s main focus which is fine. The number of accessories and attachments on the market for this is again, crazy. They seem to have an accessory to be able to attach it to anything. Okay, it’s a little pricey coming in at just under £400, but it’s definitely worth every penny.