GoPro HERO7 Black Edition Action Camera Review

Published August 7, 2019 by .

1,175 words, estimated reading time 4 minutes.

GoPro HERO7 Black Edition Action Camera Review

GoPro HERO7 Black action camera review, waterproof and features touchscreen controls, 4K HD video recording, 12MP and image stabilisation.

I took my GoPro HERO7 Black on a recent trip to Spain and Morocco to see how the latest generation of GoPro action cameras performs.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the GoPro line of products, a GoPro is primarily a small, handheld, waterproof camera that is capable of being mounted or placed just about anywhere in order to get a unique angle or shot.

I primarily wanted a small, compact camera to capture photos fast. My DSLR is too bulky to take everywhere, and the smartphone is a bit of a hassle with the wallet style case, having to unlock, find the camera app and struggle to see the screen in the bright sun. I was also intending to head to the beach, and there was no way I was letting my DSLR near the sand, or even my brand new Samsung Galaxy S10.

Overall I found the GoPro HERO7 Black a decent enough compact camera for my use, however, there are several limitations and pitfalls you should be aware of if you are considering buying one.

First of which is the lens, or fingerprint magnet as I have been calling it. The lens needs constant cleaning as it attracts fingerprints and grease like nothing else, except maybe brushed aluminium surfaces. Really, it can get fingerprints on it even if its cleaned and sealed in a box. Remember to keep wiping the lens clean before taking photos otherwise they will get smudged.

Wide and Linear Lens

There are two modes for the lens - the standard 150° wide-angle lens, and a cropped 4:3 "linear" mode. In both video and still photo modes the wide setting produces a very distinctive fish-eye effect which requires them to be post-processed in order to remove. The wide-angle is equivalent to around a 6mm lens on a DSLR, and the linear is equivalent to about 24mm lens.

GoPro offers software for editing videos - but you need a beefy computer to process 4K videos. Photos can be corrected easily in Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop using lens correction filters.

GoPro Hero 7 Black Wide Angle Example (Full)
GoPro Hero 7 Black Wide Angle Example (Full)
GoPro Hero 7 Black Linear Example (Full)
GoPro Hero 7 Black Linear Example (Full)

GoPro HyperSmooth

HyperSmooth is GoPro's image stabilisation technology. It is supposed to provide gimbal-like smooth videos, and the videos really are very smooth, even handheld whilst performing activity. You should note however that the HyperSmooth technology is a software, not optical, image stabilisation, which means that it will crop some of the video areas in order to maintain stability. This can be as much as 10% of the video area, reducing the field of view. I was also unable to get HyperSmooth working with 4k 60fps video in either wide or 4:3 ratios, contrary to the advertised claims. Seems like this was a firmware issue as after updating to the latest firmware I was able to record 4k 60fps with HyperSmooth.

GoPro SuperPhoto

SuperPhoto is the GoPro HDR mode and it works to create a really rich and vibrant HDR photograph without looking like an overprocessed Instagram shot. It works by combining multiple exposures, but I found it to be quite slow. A tripod is a must unless you are in very bright direct sunlight and have a steady hand. It also takes a few seconds to save the photo so it's not so good in places where you need to snap away quickly to capture candid moments.

TouchScreen UI

I found the touchscreen responsive most of the time, although it can lag and freeze occasionally. This is normally resolved by turning the screen off and back on, and once I had to pull the battery as it was totally unresponsive.

The UI is, in general, simple and easy to use and familiar controls to those found on smartphones, however, I found that it was far too easy to inadvertently swipe to change the camera mode and end up taking a video when I wanted a photo or vice versa. A screen lock would be a nice feature to add.

GoPro Smartphone App

The smartphone app for Android initially worked really well for me. It discovered the camera quickly and allowed me to not only browse and download the photos and videos from the camera, but I could also change the settings, more options than are in the camera menus, and even use it as a remote control.

Unfortunately, after a few days the connections became unreliable, the app would freeze and then it was unable to detect the camera at all. I had to reset them and set up the connection from scratch to get it working again. After a few times doing this I gave up using the app.

GoPro Voice Commands

I tried using the voice commands to take a photo - "GoPro Take a Photo" - several times for selfies, but I found it not very reliable. It works if you are holding the camera at arm's length and its quiet, but further away or if there is any background noise - e.g. a cafe, then it was really reluctant to take a photo. In the end, I asked someone to take a photo for us.

Low Light Performance

Although not a primary feature for me, I did find that low light performance quite good. I spend an afternoon caving and took only the GoPro to record the afternoon. I wasn't expecting to take any photos, but the GoPro did quite well in near darkness. The HyperSmooth stabilisation doesn't seem to work in low light, so bear that in mind. Shooting in RAW helps, although it is slower to save, meaning you have to wait around 5 seconds to be able to take another photo.

The photos below were all shot on the GoPro handheld.

GoPro Battery Life

This was a big disappointment for me. The claimed battery life is in the region of 1 hour 10 minutes for videos, I was expecting to get much longer than this only shooting photos. I was only able to get 2 and a half hours between charges using the photo camera only, and shooting a timelapse video I was only able to get 2 hours. In both cases, I had the screen brightness at around 30% and auto screen off after 10 seconds. If you are going out for extended sessions I would highly recommend additional batteries or a portable charging pack.

GoPro Sample Photos

Here are a few sample photos taken with the GoPro HERO7 Black edition in wide and linear modes.

Overall the GoPro HERO7 Black Action Camera is a really neat piece of kit and I do recommend you get one if you're thinking of getting an action camera. Just be aware of the points above and work around them to get the most from the tiny camera.

I hope you enjoyed my GoPro Hero 7 Black review. If you did leave a comment below and let me know if you have any questions!

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