For anyone who has had a passing interest in action video, then the GoPro range of action cameras should be very familiar. The company always seems to strive to build on its prior success with evermore robust units and better quality features. The GoPro HERO7 is in this vein, providing more real-world functionality, better quality video, and an easier to use format.
Some of the standout features of this new unit add in 60 frames per second 4K recording, and electronic stabilization (EIS), which they call ‘HyperSmooth.’ This is a big draw in itself, as it hopefully may alleviate the need for buying an expensive gimble on top of the price of the unit.
GoPro has built on the features of the HERO6 and it seems the company has listened to the user base for built-in features. The GoPro HERO7 is the same basic unit as before in design and dimensions. This means that all the accessories available for previous models can fit the latest unit.
The same, familiar square shape is employed, with a small rear screen to access all the functionality. The GoPro has never been a flamboyant design, but it doesn’t need to be. The idea is that it’s functional and that’s the primary goal. Waterproofing has also been added down to 10m. For deeper depths, a separate waterproof housing will be needed.
The diminutive camera has two openings: one for fitting the 1,220mAh battery and microSD card, while the other accesses the micro-HDMI 2.0 and USB- Type C ‘supercharger’ port. External buttons are minimal with power and shutter buttons, a rear two-inch touchscreen, and a front-facing monochrome LCD screen for displaying basic information. Battery life is around 70 minutes, shooting at full 4K/60fps, which will drop if you’re using the built-in image stabilization.
As for connectivity, the GoPro app is available to access all functionality, along with things like firmware updates. 5GHz and 2.4GHz WiFi are available with WiFi working the best. All smartphones are compatible, but it may take you a few tries to get everything properly synced up.
Once everything is locked in, the app is a great way to access all the features. Changing settings, live feeds, transferring footage to your phone and editing, makes for a good workflow. There’s also support for live video streaming up to 720p.
The rear 2in touchscreen has been improved with a better interface. A 2-inch screen is a lot to cram everything into, but at least the majority of functionality can be easily accessed. Changing things like resolution, modes, and exposure is easy to change via the touchscreen along with the multitude of preferences. There are also options for voice controls, a handy feature if you are wanting to hands-free start and stop recording.
As for video and image quality, the HERO7 has 4K/60 fps (3,840 x 2,160) using the HEVC codec. There are also other formats such as 2.7K at 120fps, 1440p at 120fps, and 1080p at 240fps if you want some super-smooth slow-mo video. Still images are shot at 12MP.
GoPro HERO7 in Use
Once the GoPro HERO7 is powered up and basic shooting preferences are in place, footage is very easy to capture. Color contrast, sharpness, and general quality are immediately obvious with good exposure all around. You’ll have to be in very strong sunlight or lowlight to get above exposure, but generally, all footage is great quality. Lowlight performance has also been improved over the last version, with less noise and better exposure of your subject.
The HyperSmooth stabilization does a very good job, producing almost gimbal like stability even at 4K. This will not completely replace a dedicated gimbal for the best quality footage, but it is a welcome addition for those who don’t already own the accessories but still want the smoothest footage available. The audio side of things has also been upgraded with better quality audio and built-in GPS which allows for tagging of all your videos.
Not so commonly used, but it’s there if you need it, still images are captured at 12-megapixels with an aperture of f/2.8. There is also HDR facility to get the most dynamic range possible. There’s a burst mode of 15 photos per second, with built-in stabilization helping loads to capture sharp images. As the lens on the unit is super wide-angle, things at the edge of the frame will look warped, so post-editing will be needed if you want to get things like buildings straight up and down.
In total, the GoPro HERO7 has enough tasty upgrades to buy into the new unit. Video footage is fantastic, with a high degree of detail and plenty of shooting time per battery charge.
How Does It Compare?
Since the release of the GoPro, other manufacturers have had the same idea for an action cam. One such unit is the YI 4K Plus Sports Action Camera. On the surface, it has similar specs like 4K/60FPS, voice control, and the rear touchscreen, but where the GoPro HERO7 romps ahead is with built-in stabilization and waterproofing. The YI 4K Plus can go underwater, but needs a separate waterproof case. It’s also got plenty of pro-features, but also comes in at a similar price.
|GoPro HERO7||YI 4K Plus|
The HERO7 is definitely worth the upgrade from the HERO6 and past GoPros. The now built-in HyperSmooth technology does a great job of stabilizing footage and the waterproofing now makes the camera more usable than ever before. Image quality is also very good and usable, but you have to be aware that your images will look quite fisheye-like.
The interface still needs work and although the battery life is reasonable, more is always welcome. As a complete unit, the GoPro HERO7 ticks all the boxes for a go-anywhere action cam and is still one of the best players on the market if you don’t mind the price.