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Best Overall: GoPro HERO7 Black at Amazon
"You can make that immersive 4K mountain biking video you’ve always dreamed of."
Best 4K: GoPro Hero5 Session at Amazon
"Advanced video stabilization is on board, which helps maintain stability."
Best 1440P: GoPro Hero Session at Amazon
"Good things can come in small packages."
The big dog of the GoPro lineup is now the $400 GoPro HERO7 Black, a GoPro camera that does more than ever before and looks good doing it. The HERO7 Black looks similar to other GoPros, but offers up new features and staggering versatility. First of all, what sets the HERO7 Black apart from all GoPros released before is that it has finally nailed 4K video stabilization, meaning you can make that immersive 4K mountain biking video you’ve always dreamed of and it will turn out well. Second, this model is built for sharing on social media and for live streaming on Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, and Vimeo, and it even supports vertical video if you want to create a stream for viewing on phones. Third, the HERO7 Black is waterproof and can be submerged up to 33 feet (10 meters), making it an ideal partner for vacations and adventures. Finally, if you’d rather shoot photos instead of videos, the HERO7 Black has you covered with new HDR photography that reduces noise and improves contrast. No matter how you slice it, the HERO7 Black is the best GoPro ever and an easy buy if you need a camera that seemingly does it all.
Like its sibling, the Hero5 Black, the Hero5 Session captures and records video at 4K/30fps, allows for underwater adventures up to 33 feet and has both video stabilization and voice control. Where it breaks from its larger sibling is that it does all of this in a smaller package. The separation from the Hero5 Black begins with a difference in photo capturing at 10 megapixels with single, burst and time-lapse modes. Regardless of the size of the megapixels, advanced video stabilization is on board, which helps maintain stability regardless of whether the Hero5 Session is locked onto a mount or in your hand. The ability to connect to an Android or iOS smartphone over Wi-Fi helps open the door to a vast interface of manual controls, as well as previewing, editing, trimming and sharing captured footage all without removing the GoPro from a mount.
Unfortunately, there’s no touchscreen display on the Hero5 Session, but that's OK since it weighs only .28 pounds and measures at 1.5 x 1.5 x 1.43 inches. Packed into this condensed size is a battery that can last up to one hour and 20 minutes on 4K/30fps video capture jumping all the way up to one hour and 55 minutes at 1080p 30fps. Switching between modes on the Hero5 Session is simple and easy just by pressing the menu button on the back (though you can find much more control connecting the GoPro to an Android or iOS smartphone for manually controlling video quality, frames-per-second, recording settings and more). Once connected to the smartphone, you can also use your phone’s display as a remote viewfinder and remote control.
The capturing of video (without a smartphone) is handled through a single press of the shutter button. Once recording, like the rest of the GoPro lineup, there’s a slew of mounts and accessories for handily capturing memories of any type of action. GoPro even offers its Plus optional subscription providing for easy access to all captured footage directly on their cloud server for easy sharing. Additionally, there are dual microphones, front and back, allowing the camera to switch between the two based on external conditions such as wind noise to help provide the best possible sound recording.
Formally known as the Hero4, the newly retitled Hero Session drops its price tag to reflect its “budget” status in the GoPro lineup, but don’t confuse budget with a disappointing performance. While it lacks 4K video, the device weighs 2.6 ounces, measures 1.43 x 1.49 x 1.49 inches and proves good things can come in small packages. The one-button interface allows for quickly beginning video capture with just a single press. Beyond ease-of-control, the Hero Session matches its larger siblings in ruggedness and waterproofing with a design that can withstand up to 33 feet (10 meters) of water. And the lack of 4K recording hardly means poor quality since the Hero Session includes 1440p capture at 30fps, 1080p at 60fps and 720p at 100fps. Additionally, the action camera can capture eight-megapixel photos, 10fps burst photography and .5- to 60-second time-lapse photos.
The boxy cube remains pocketable with a multi-function shutter button on the top and the power/pairing button on the back. A monochrome LCD can display battery life, shooting mode and a small handful of menu options. Additionally, there’s room for a microUSB port and microSD card slot (up to 64GB) for extra recording space. Capturing at 1440p with Wi-Fi off will grab around one hour and 55 minutes of footage, while recording 1080p at 3fps gives you around two hours and five minutes of footage. With Wi-Fi on, you’ll see a nominal reduction in battery life, but the ability to connect to an Android or iOS device opens the door to a larger feature set and more manual control over video and photo capture.
Our reviewers spent 10 hours testing a top-rated GoPro. They assessed its capabilities by taking photos and videos in a variety of settings. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using this GoPro, from resolution to ease of use. We've outlined the key takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.
Resolution - The best GoPro action cameras are capable of capturing beautiful 4K video. If you’re working on a budget, go for a less expensive model that shoots in full HD at 60 frames per second. The image quality isn’t as good on these models, but you won’t notice the difference if you don’t have a 4K television or computer monitor.
Control and input - GoPro cameras come with a variety of different control schemes, so it’s easy to find one that fits what you’re comfortable with. If you prefer the added control of a touchscreen, look for a GoPro that includes that feature. If you’re after simplicity and ease of use, some GoPro action cameras even support voice commands.
360-degree video - For the most flexibility possible, look for a GoPro that has two cameras and the ability to create 360-degree images and videos. As an added bonus, this type of GoPro lets you generate a full HD video or image taken from any perspective within that initial 360-degree view.
Incredible video stabilization
Handy waterproof feature
Easy to use
Short battery life
“This is my third GoPro, and I loved the product,” one of our testers raved. “It's really easy to use and the video quality is great.” Our reviewers particularly liked the HyperSmooth video stabilization feature and the fact that the camera was waterproof. According to one of our testers, the battery lasted less than two hours, which he felt was short but “similar to other models.” After using it to shoot running videos, water activities, and scenery photos, one reviewer concluded, “The pictures and videos always come out great.”