Action cameras have a niche audience but a loyal one. Once you start using an action camera — even if not on a daily basis — then it’s tough to separate yourself from the gadget. In the world of action cameras, GoPro is a force to reckon with. Year after year, the company keeps refreshing the lineup with new models. The 2020 GoPro action camera is the Hero 9 Black. Available at Rs 49,990, the Hero9 Black is the latest camera from GoPro for those who like to have an action camera in tow for capturing moments a regular camera won’t. We used the GoPro Hero9 Black for a while and here’s our review of it:
GoPro Hero9 Black review: Design
In terms of design, GoPro has taken a big leap with the Hero9 Black. Compared to the Hero8 Black, the biggest change is a secondary display. GoPro has added 1.4-inch colour display at the front. The body of the action camera has also been beefed up and the rear touchscreen — now at 2.27-inch — is also larger in size. The new design gives the Hero9 Black a modern look and feel to it as perhaps the old design had started to feel a bit dated.
The 1.4-inch front display is certainly a nifty addition, especially for those who are into vlogging. The screen isn’t touch sensitive and is a good tool to get a sort of live preview of what you are shooting.
The Hero 9 Black is beefier than previous-generation GoPro cameras and weighs around 158 grams. The frame of the camera is made of metal and has rubber around the edges. It’s a sturdy build and is also waterproof up to 33 feet. The mounting clips continue to be there and can be folded securely with the help of a magnet.
In terms of buttons, the record button is on the top of the camera whereas the power button is on the left side. There’s side button which toggles between the shooting modes. The microSD slot, battery and the Type-C charging port are also on the left side of the camera.
The addition of a front screen gives the Hero9 Black a much needed design upgrade. Otherwise it remains a solidly built action camera.
GoPro Hero 9 Black review: Performance, user interface and more
The GoPro might look like a complicated device if you’ve never used one. The Hero9 Black comes in a nice carrying pouch and at first glance all the clips and accessories might look overwhelming. However, it remains easy to set up and use. What works in its favour is the user interface, which is really easy. You’ll hardly take any time to find your way around the action camera.
In terms of using the camera, you will need to download the GoPro companion app. The app has a built-in editor and you can see all that you’ve captured — images and videos — on it.
GoPro has gone big in terms of shooting capabilities. For starters, the sensor on the Hero9 Black allows to shoot in 5K. The sensor can also click 20MP images, which is the highest ever in a GoPro camera.
Speaking of 5K, while it’s nice to have the feature the practicality remains a bit uncertain. For an average user — who doesn’t know where to view 5K content on — it’s a feature that will be hardly used. But for professional videographers, it is a big deal to record videos in 5K.
As for us, we ended up shooting most of the videos in 4K and the quality is really good. The Hero9 Black offers you various frame rates to choose from and then shoot. Stabilisation works smoothly, thanks to HyperSmooth 3.0. The videos shot don’t have those shakes that you often come across. Even with not-so-steady hands, the Hero9 Black does a fairly impressive jobs in shooting the footage.
TimeWarp on the action camera gets a new feature called half time, that will be appreciated by many who like to get creative with their action videos.
Some of the other new features that you will find in the Hero 9 areHindsight, Duration and Scheduled Capture. As the name suggests scheduled capture can be used to set a time and date and the GoPro turns itself on and starts recording. It’s ideal for those who want late-night shots and videos. The Duration feature will record only for a set time that you decide. What’s neat here is that both these features can be used together as well.
HindSight is one feature that really impressed us and we found it quite cool. With this feature, you can record for 30 seconds on a loop before actually pressing the Sutter button. It’s not something that you will end up using on a regular basis but for moments like capturing the lightning in the sky, it is a handy feature to have on board.
The slow-motion videos as always remain a highlight of the GoPro. The frame rate can drop to 240 frames per second to shoot a neat looking slow-motion video. Do note that 240 frames per second is something you will get shooting at 1080p. At 2.7k, the fps tops out at 120 whereas in 4K it is about 60fps. If shooting in 5K, then the frame per second rate is 30.
The Go Pro Hero 9 Black can shoot stills — both in RAW and JPEG — with its 20MP sensor. Much to our surprise, the images clicked with the action camera turned out to be quite detailed, when viewed on a smartphone.
GoPro Hero 9 Black review: Battery
GoPro has packed in a bigger battery in the Hero 9, compared to the Hero 8. The Hero 8 had a 1220mAh battery whereas the Hero 9 comes with a 1720mAh one. The bigger battery certainly boosts the performance and lasts for a longer time. Having said that, it is really hard to say how long does it last because it totally depends on the modes and features that you might be recording in. For instance, if you shoot in 5K then the battery will drain out comparatively faster than in any other mode.
GoPro Hero 9 Black review: Verdict
At Rs 49,500, the GoPro Hero 9 Black has all the tools that one will look in an action camera. This is the action camera that most people will end up buying as it packs in an impressive blend of features. The addition of a secondary screen will appeal to the YouTubers and vloggers out there as well. The footage quality in almost every mode on the GoPro Hero 9 Black remains really impressive. The stabilisation works perfectly and even though these are times when people might not use an action camera as before, the GoPro Hero 9 Black could very well be the gadget to buy. It is an impressive action camera that can do it all.