GoPro has certainly made their mark on the action cam market since the company’s inception, producing higher quality units with more refined features. Other action cam brands have since got in on the act, such as DJI with the Osmo Action and more budget conscious models, but GoPro still represents a well-rounded solution with pro-level features.
The GoPro HERO8 extends the functionality of past models, with some useful features, but most importantly, it has an updated stabilization system which is smoother than ever. With an ever-growing amount of action cams coming to the market, let’s have a closer look at what the GoPro HERO8 has to offer and how it measures up against the competition.
From an initial glance, the GoPro HERO8 looks very similar to past models, but now with a few key differences. The front of the camera has the familiar LCD display, with the now front fixed lens having scratch-resistant glass. This is far tougher than previous models, with twice the impact resistance. The fixed lens design has also allowed for a better location of the internal microphone.
Although the lens is fixed, there are artificial lenses accessible through the menu system, which include Wide and Linear, plus SuperView and Narrow options, with the latter being locked to 1080p.
The general size of the unit is slightly thinner than before, while still being diminutive in size and fully waterproofed. The extremely simple layout follows to the rear of the camera, with a two-inch touchscreen color LCD with a 320 x 480 resolution. The screen is rather small for accessing menu items, but at least the screen icons are simple to use and navigate. The very simple overall layout of the exterior almost hides the wealth of facilities hidden under the hood.
When it comes to video facilities, the GoPro HERO8 has plenty of options, starting with 4K video available at 60fps, to 1080p at 240fps. The aspect ratios on the camera come in the form of 4:3 or 16:9, with the HyperSmooth 2.0 Video Stabilization system providing the smoothest footage currently available, and also a Boost feature when stability counts over overall video quality.
Battery life is respectable at 50 minutes per charge, but if you want more shooting time, you will need to use additional batteries or remove the detachable battery door to plug into a power bank. For footage storage and transfer, there are a range of options which include a microSD card slot or transfer to a smartphone or tablet via the included app with WiFi. The included app also allows basic edits to video footage, with basic themes and background music if you so desire.
The GoPro HERO8 In Use
For overall video quality, you can’t fault the GoPro HERO8 for fine detail and also the most dynamic range. There’s plenty of detail in the darkest and lightest areas, with capture profiles available for different lighting situations. Noise is compressed to a large extent in low light, which provides bright footage with low amounts of color noise, but it doesn’t always produce the best footage at night. But the results are still better than comparable cameras on the market.
One handy feature that’s come to the HERO8 is TimeWarp 2.0, which is essentially an easy way to shoot time-lapse footage, where you only need to tap the screen to speed up or slow down footage, with the results rendered at a high-quality 4K 30fps. This footage can also be outputted at 100Mbps, which is a step up from 78Mbps as featured in the GoPro HERO7.
While the photo side of things isn’t the biggest selling point, the one-chip CMOS sensor and 12-megapixel photos are at least respectable. The SuperPhoto facility produces good dynamic range, which improves low-light shots and can also apply HDR imaging where necessary. RAW files are also supported which give more scope for post-processing, while manual settings can allow the shutter to stay open for 30 seconds. ISO up to 3200 extends low-light capabilities, producing smoother than expected results.
Overall, you can’t fault the video quality, especially from such a tiny unit. What really differentiates this camera from the rest is the gimbal-like steadiness, which makes you feel like you’ve shot all your footage on a tripod. This in itself makes the HERO8 a worthwhile purchase. Not to mention other facilities such as LiveBurst, which will record 1.5 seconds of footage before and after recording, so you don’t miss a moment.
How Does It Compare?
GoPro has always been considered to be the top of the tree when it comes to action cameras, but now DJI has its own high-quality offering in the form of the DJI Osmo Action 4K camera. Similarly priced to the GoPro HERO8, the Osmo Action brings high-quality functionality with a 12-megapixel sensor resolution, 4K video slow-motion mode, 12mp stills, rear touchscreen, digital stabilization, and is fully waterproofed.
This unit has lots of similarities to the GoPro which may look similar on paper, but where the HERO8 stands out is with the stabilization system, which really separates the unit from the rest of the pack.
|GoPro HERO8||DJI Osmo Action|
The GoPro HERO8 brings worthwhile upgrades to the line, with some smart little inclusions like the folding feet, to name but one. It’s not completely smooth sailing with this latest edition, like the rear screen could be a touch larger, but in general terms with reasonable light levels, the video quality is excellent and it has the most stable footage around.
Still images are also better than the rest, but still needs reasonable levels of light. However, as a rounded action cam solution, the HERO8 keeps GoPro at the top of the pile.
As a side note, if you need the facilities of a 360-degree camera, then the GoPro Max has redefined an all-encompassing view of the world, which is not as fully featured an action camera as the HERO8, but is an excellent choice for 360 stills and video.