GoPro Hero 9: Is It Worth The Upgrade?
GoPro has certainly cemented itself as a household name as the go-to camera for any adventurer, hiker, and outdoor enthusiast. With almost two decades of tech development and innovation under its belt, we’ve now got the latest version of the company’s flagship camera, the GoPro Hero 9. We find out if it’s worth the upgrade and what you can expect.
Pros and Cons
- Upgraded 5K video and a 20-megapixel camera
- A large front display makes it good for vloggers and home movie enthusiasts
- 30% longer battery life than the previous model
- New shooting modes are available
- WiFi connectivity for easy live streaming
- A rugged build and waterproof down to 33 feet
- Improved stabilization
- Bulkier than the Hero 8
- Not a major step up in video quality
- Incompatible with some accessories for previous models
- 30FPS 5K and 60FPS 4K Video - As you’d expect, GoPro has stuffed a huge number of pixels into such a compact piece of kit, and the image is vivid, bright, and clear
- Underwater filming - Able to go to depths of up to 33 feet, the camera is able to get some crystal clear images. However, stabilization is a little shaky underwater and the 5K option doesn’t work so well here
- 1.4-inch front-facing screen - GoPro has realized that not just adventurous types love its cameras, the market for vloggers and amateur filmmakers has also exploded in recent years. This front-facing camera caters to them, letting them set up the perfect angle for a video
- New shooting settings - While you’ll find fairly self-explanatory features like schedule mode, allowing you to set a time for the GoPro to turn on and automatically record, there are some more interesting features too, like hindsight mode. This records on a 30-second loop before you press the shutter button, and is designed to ensure you never miss out on events happening quickly around you
Video and Image quality
If you’re considering upgrading to the Hero 9, you’ll no doubt be asking yourself how much better the images will be. Well, the good news is, there’s been a significant step up from a 12-megapixel camera to a 20-megapixel version, and the difference in quality is clearly noticeable when compared to the previous GoPro 8.
In terms of video, the addition of 5K is definitely an improvement, but it doesn’t excel in every area. In some respects, the 4K video actually performs better, with better contrast and sharpening features. However, the 5K is definitely the winner when it comes to recording the finer details of objects that are further away.
Overall, there isn’t a massive difference in video quality when compared to the previous generation model and if you primarily use your device for video, or already own a version 8, you might want to stick with it a little longer. Those looking for crystal clear still images might want to make the switch, though.
Build and Design
The GoPro Hero 9 is certainly more rugged than its predecessors, and this comes with the trade-off of being bigger and bulkier. This is partly due to the beefed-up battery, and also because of the added protection needed to film underwater at depths of 33 feet. This makes it about 10% heavier and larger than the Hero 8, leading to an unfortunate side effect that renders some existing accessories like housings, cases, and spare batteries obsolete. This is certainly a little annoying but isn’t a real deal-breaker. It might be an issue to anyone upgrading from the 8, though.
It’s still one of the best pieces of kit by far for the outdoor enthusiast, and this tough little camera should be able to take a few knocks and bumps when you’re out and about. Plus, it’s still compact enough to attach comfortably to clothing and backpacks. However, this does mean that the 2.7-inch rear screen and 1.4-inch front screen are a little smaller than its rivals that use side-hinged screens.
The battery has been given a significant upgrade, and the device now houses a 1,720mAH battery, 40% larger than the Hero 8. This gives an impressive 180 minutes of continuous recording time at 4K, but expect this to drop once you switch to 5K.
One of the features we liked about older GoPros was the ability to swap out the same battery into different versions, giving you the chance to keep some spares. However, the sheer size of this new beast means all your old batteries will be obsolete and you’ll need to buy extras if you want spares for long filming sessions.
So Is It Worth the Upgrade?
GoPro has certainly delivered on new features and specifications in the Hero 9, and it represents a significant upgrade over the previous version. If you mostly use your camera for taking still images or need something for underwater photography, or even budding videographers too, we highly recommend making the purchase and getting the upgrade.
However, those users that use their GoPro 8 primarily for videos might want to keep a hold of it for a little while longer as the Hero 9 doesn’t quite offer the image quality upgrades we were expecting. Either way, other than a couple of minor gripes, this really is an excellent bit of tech.