GoPro Hero In-depth
GoPro’s latest entry-level action camera is the GoPro Hero, and although it lacks a few features, having dropped 4K video capture, there’s plenty to love about this budget cam.
Firstly, it borrows the form factor & design of the premium Hero5 & Hero6 Black, in stark contrast to GoPro’s last budget action camera, the Hero5 session. Here, the 2.0-inch touchscreen allows you to forego faffing about with an app. Despite size, the screen is easy to use, although due to using the same interface as other feature-rich models, you’ll find menus looking a bit odd with many options unavailable. It comes equipped with voice control, and built-in image stabilization to help keep footage steady.
Due to having the same design as premium models, the Hero is waterproof down to 33ft/10m without an additional case. The decent plastic frame allows you to attach a plethora of accessories as required.
If you can forego the 4K (which Hero5 Session supported), you’ll be satisfied with the smooth 1080p footage of the Hero. After selecting 60 or 30fps, the GoPro Hero takes care of exposure & balance – you just frame your shot, and hit record. It also captures 10MP stills, although these feel a tad over-processed. The QuikStories app allows for easy transfers, also offering editing features & camera control.
The lack of video features may seem like a negative, but they really aren’t. If you’re looking for 4K at various frame rates, advanced exposure control and more, opt for the Hero6 Black; looking for a dependable easy-to-use action camera that’s fun to use? The Hero will do just fine.
Who is it for, and should I buy it?
The Hero is your answer if you’ve been eyeing off a GoPro for a while, but couldn’t justify the price. Great for novice & casual users alike who want to capture action without worrying too much about frame rates or resolutions. You’ll find similar priced better cameras out there (with 4K) but they don’t have the polished control & refined design of the Hero.
GoPro Hero price
- Current price: £199/ $199 / AU$299
Paired back, but very capable
- Built-in image stabilization
- Voice control
- Recharges via USB-C
The GoPro Hero’s budget-focus means no 4K, but instead either 1080p, or 1440p at a non-video-friendly 4:3 aspect ratio.
Pricier GoPro models & rival cameras offer a wider range of frames rates & resolutions, but the Hero keeps it simple at only 60 and 30 fps, and is unable to shoot higher frames at lower resolutions.
The Hero has on-board image stabilization, but lacks the Hero6 Black’s GP1 processor. It can capture 10MP JPEG images, but unlike premium models, has no raw file support. It can shoot a burst of 10 files in succession, but won’t match the Hero6 Black’s 30fps. It also comes with a time-lapse mode, although restricted to 0.5 second intervals.
Just like the Hero5 and Hero6 Black, there’s a 2.0-inch touchscreen & the handy voice control feature. Twelve voice commands will cover most you’re like to want to do, but the Wake On Voice function is missing. The Hero also uses the same 1220mAh battery seen before, with USB-C charging.
Cheaper, but maintains pricier siblings’ same design
- Same design as Hero6 Black
- Waterproof to 33ft/10m
- Excellent accessory range
GoPro opted to stick with the same design, which is great to see as the Hero5 & Hero6 Black are some of the best designed action cameras available. With an understated smooth dark gray finish, the Hero feels extremely well made. It’s also waterproof (33ft/10m) without a housing, meaning nothing interferes with the built-in microphone, making audio quality that bit better. Looking to go deeper? The optional Super Suit housing allows up to 196ft/60m.
The Hero’s bundled sturdy plastic frame is a world away from cheap Chinese rivals in quality terms; a snug, nice fit, and compatible with many GoPro-compatible mounts.
The 2-inch touchscreen is responsive, requiring only light taps and swipes, and has a reasonably straightforward interface. Some settings are limited to one setting, as opposed to higher spec’d models that have more options available to them.
To transfervideos/images, you can place the microSD into your computer, or use GoPro’s QuikStories app while on the move. You can also use the app to adjust all of Hero’s settings, as well as hosting an almost-instant live feed allowing remote positioning & recording. You can share shots without editing, or QuikStories can turn footage into a collage with added music for you.
At 1080p, you should see 2 hours of battery life at 60fps, or 2.5 hours at 30fps – good for an action camera.
- Full HD looks clean & smooth
- No ProTune
- Still images could be better
The lack of 4K seems like a disadvantage compared to rivals, but the Full HD 1080p is very good. Unless you regularly intend to replay footage on a larger monitor or TV, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between its 1080p footage and 4K on a phone or tablet.
The exposure seems dependable, colors look good, and image stabilization works well (within reason). There is no ProTune however, meaning no advanced control over exposure, white balance, sharpness & color.
The Hero takes 10MP JPEG stills, but probably won’t challenge your smartphone. The ultra-wide angled lens doesn’t lend itself to everything, but is perfect for selfies. The noise-reduction processing is too much, meaning detail is compromised.