GoPro this year refreshed its action camera lineup with significant changes to its seventh generation Hero camera. Although the flagship GoPro Hero 7 Black has minimal cosmetic changes as compared to its predecessor, it is a solid improvement from the GoPro Hero 6 if one considers the features this standalone camera packs.
The Hero Black 7 comes with the new HyperSmooth stabilisation feature, which is the USP of the new GoPro camera. This feature is said to deliver gimbal-like stabilisation while capturing handheld footage.
Other notable features on the new Hero 7 Black include live-streaming, Super Photo and a time-lapse feature called Time Warp. The GoPro Hero 7 Black has a rubberized finish and it is waterproof up to 10m. Similar to the Hero 6 Black, it is powered by the custom GP1 processor.
The Hero 7 Black sports a 12MP wide-angle sensor, supports H.265/HEVC video codec and is capable of recording 4K videos at up to 60 frames per second. While HyperSmooth is a remarkable upgrade on the new GoPro Hero 7 Black, we will delve into this feature and a few other key aspects to see if it is worth considering.
While the Hero 7 Black features identical design and near similar specifications to that of the Hero 6 Black, GoPro seems to have focused more on enhancing the video stabilization on its new 4K action camera. Its highlight feature HyperSmooth takes digital image stabilization that works based on the sensor information from the gyroscope.
GoPro has put an additional 1GB RAM on the camera to enable predictive scene analysis. The image processing hardware crops the edges by nearly five per cent to avoid jitters and jerks. But although it slightly crops the frame it is barely noticeable.
Hypersmooth feature is automatic in certain shooting modes and at resolutions at up to 60fps. The feature renders effective result while recording videos in Linear mode, since the image is cropped it makes it more stable and less warped.
The camera delivers excellent quality footage with vivid colours and plenty of details under bright light. Be it running on a bumpy road or taking an ATV ride, the stabilization handles the jitters and jerks very well and the end result comes out nice and smooth.
The HyperSmooth stabilization yields the best result when you record videos at 4K. However, the feature does not work if you take 4K footage at 24 or 30fps. To use HyperSmooth stabilization just simply select video mode and tap on the bar like icon you will see below at the LCD screen, where you will find the video settings. Tap on it and select ‘Res|FPS,’ and then the choose resolution (either 4K, 2.7K or 1080p) and frames at 60fps.
GoPro Hero 7 Black includes a new time-lapse mode called Time Warp that enables shooting fast time-lapse shots handheld. While the previous iteration of GoPro had support for time-lapse recording it required the device to be kept in a static position for smooth output.
However, the new Time Warp now removes this hurdle and you can easily capture time-lapse footage on the move. The feature leverages HyperSmooth stabilization and renders smooth time-lapse video. While it is somewhat similar to Instagram’s Hyperlapse feature, you can adjust the photo interval with Time Warp.
You can select how much speed you want in the time-lapse by choosing the photo interval from 2/5/10/15 and 30s. Ideally, it is recommended to select the interval above 5s otherwise the footage might come out shaky.
While GoPro has primarily focused on video stabilization, it has added a new mode called Super Photo on the Hero 7 Black as well for the camera enthusiasts. The mode works quite similar to the smartphone camera’s native Smart HDR feature and tweaks the settings based on the scene.
With image processing and tone mapping, the mode produces images with plenty of details, nice colour reproduction and enhanced dynamic range. The Hero 7 Black now has support for shooting in Portrait orientation as well.
While holding the camera vertically the viewfinder automatically rotates to Portrait orientation. You can shoot vertical photos, videos and even share it to your Instagram Stories by connecting the camera with your smartphone via the GoPro app.
GoPro has incorporated a new Live-streaming feature on its latest action camera. The feature works via the GoPro app and it currently supports Facebook Live. To access the feature you have to tether your smartphone to the camera. Open the GoPro app on your smartphone and tap on the Camera option you will find in the hamburger button at top left side.
Once it is set up, it will let you choose with whom you want to share the live stream (public, friends, only me) and the resolution (720p/480p). Give your live stream a name and then tap on the Live Stream button you will see at the bottom.
GoPro has refreshed the user interface as well on the new Hero 7 Black. While it was slightly difficult to navigate the modes on the previous GoPros, the action camera maker has now simplified the interface. A simple swipe left and right will switch between time-lapse, main video mode and photo mode.
The core settings are in bar like icon at the bottom. Tapping on it pulls up the advanced settings, for instance, resolution, frames per second, Pro-tune mode (enables to tweak ISO range, sharpness, exposure compensation) etc.
A swipe up down from the top allows accessing ‘Preferences.’ While swipe up from the bottom opens the media and shows the photos and videos that you have shot. As with the previous iteration, the GoPro Hero 7 Black includes voice command to offer hands-free control on the device. During our usage, we found the voice command to work well for the most part. We felt the interface to be slightly slow in response, however, the simple swipe gestures is a welcoming change.
In a nutshell, GoPro has barely made any changes on the Hero 7 Black’s aesthetic details. The core aspects of this camera like the processor; camera sensor remains the same as the Hero 6 Black. But what differentiates the Hero 7 Black from the previous iterations is the bunch of new features that it packs within.
The HyperSmooth feature offers incredible smooth footage be it riding your bike off-road, riding a horse in a muddy lane or trekking on the mountain. The SuperPhoto mode renders bright stills with rich colours and details under right lighting condition.
Additionally, the new livestreaming feature and portrait video is sure to seize the attention of those YouTubers, Instagrammers and Vloggers who prefer sharing action feed and experience in real time on the social media. The voice control mode now has support for Indian English language.
The battery remains the same as the previous GoPro Hero 5 and Hero 6. While shooting 4K/60fps video we got about 45 minutes of continuous recording. The camera does heat up after continuous shooting for about 30 minutes.
GoPro has made some minor changes in terms of storage and audio. The Hero 7 Black’s SD RAM is upgraded to 2GB. The microphones have been redesigned as well to offer better dynamic range. The new Hero 7 Black comes for a price of Rs 37,000 in India.
For a similar price, you can get a good camera smartphone that can record 4K videos, post feeds on the social platform. But a handful of these smartphones are not waterproof and neither can they render such enhanced stabilization. This new GoPro camera is still quite expensive, but with excellent video quality, incredible stabilization, crisp audio, improved HDR shots and usability, it makes the Hero 7 Black the best action camera we have seen so far.