GoPro Hero 9 Black First Impressions

GoPro has just launched the Hero 9 Black, its latest action camera for 2020. This new model features brand new features such as a high resolution 23.6-megapixel sensor, a colorful display on the front, a large battery and lots of software changes.

GoPro is launching only Hero 9 Black this year, which tops its portfolio. It will launch in India at the end of October at Rs. 49,500. The Hero8 Black will continue to sell, followed by the entry-level model of the Hero7 Black. GoPro is not updating the Max this year, and will only continue to offer 360-degree cameras.

I was able to get my hands on a unit and this is my first impression of the new GoPro Hero 9 Black.

GoPro Hero 9 Black: Compared to Hero 8 Black

Physically, the GoPro Hero 9 Black is larger and heavier at 158g than the Hero8 Black, which weighs 126g. However, the original design elements are still very similar to the previous models The bottom of the Hero 9 Black has the same built-in mounting fingers, which can be flush with the body when not in use. There’s a power button on the right and a record button on the top, both slightly larger and easier to use. A total of three microphones and two status LEDs are scattered throughout the body.

gopro hero9 black firstlook compare hero8 black gopro

Larger and heavier than GoPro Hero 9 Black (left) Hero 8 Black (right)

A flap next to the camera hides the battery compartment, microSD card slot, and USB Type-C charging port. The GoPro Hero 9 Black is waterproof up to 10m and has the same familiar sick body as its predecessors. It is compatible with all existing GoPro mounts, but not media mode, which was introduced for Hero 8 Black. GoPro will launch a new Media Mod, designed to be compatible with the Hero 9 Black, which is said to offer an improved microphone design and a weather resistant body.

GoPro has even changed the retail packaging of the Hero 9 Black. Instead of sending it in a plastic box, it will come in a reusable hard shell case.

GoPro Hero 9 Black: New hardware features

One of the biggest upgrades to the GoPro Hero 9 Black is the new sensor. It has a higher resolution 23.6-megapixel sensor than the 12-megapixel used in previous models. It can now capture up to 5K video at 30fps and 20-megapixel still images.

The rear touchscreen is a bit larger, measuring diagonally at 2.27 inches, and the front also has a new color display. This 1.4-inch LCD camera can be used to get a live preview, it is very effective if you point it at yourself. The front display can be used as a monitor to frame your shot or status display, or it can be turned off.

gopro hero9 black firstlook front screen gopro

The GoPro Hero 9 Black features a new front-facing, colorful LCD display

The lens cover on the Hero 9 Black is again removable, a feature of the Hero 8 Black that was omitted. You now have the ability to replace it if your current one is damaged or you can replace it with a new Max Lens mode. This accessory offers a wide range of views and lets you use Max Hyper Smooth Stabilization and Horizon Lock software settings.

Finally, the Hero 9 Black has a larger 1,720mAh battery than the previous model’s 1,220mAh battery. GoPro says it will offer up to 30 percent better battery life across shooting modes than the Hero 8 Black. While good battery life is great news, it also contributes to the size and weight gain of the device and means you have to buy new extra batteries because you can’t reuse existing batteries.

GoPro Hero 9 Black: New Software Features

The main new software feature of GoPro Hero 9 Black is HyperSmooth 3.0. It is said to offer enhanced stability and now allows you to use Boost mode for any resolution including 4K 60fps and above, which was not possible on Hero 8 Black.

The latest version of TimeWarp (3.0) now lets you change the Hyperlapse video speed to real-time (including audio) or half-speed, for slow-motion effects, simply by tapping the display. The GoPro Hero 9 Black can now flatten the horizon within the camera without relying on the GoPro app, and it works across resolutions.

gopro hero9 black firstlook feature goprio

GoPro Hero 9 has a bunch of new software features

The new Hindsight function continuously buffers the last 15 or 30 seconds of footage and saves what was captured just before you press the record button. This sounds like a very useful feature but it can adversely affect the battery life, which I will keep an eye on in the full review.

Scheduled Capture is another new feature, and as the name suggests, it allows you to set a time for when GoPro Hero 9 Black will wake up and start recording. This sounds very useful especially if you plan to shoot a scene at odd times during the day or night. You can also specify a duration for the clip, from 15 seconds to three hours, after which the camera will automatically shut off.

The GoPro Hero 9 Black has some really interesting features, which I’ll check out in the next few weeks, so stay tuned for a full review coming soon.

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