Tech review: GoPro Hero8 Black offers superb video stabilisation

In terms of design, the Hero8 Black does not seem to differ much from its predecessor, the Hero7 Black.
In terms of design, the Hero8 Black does not seem to differ much from its predecessor, the Hero7 Black.PHOTO: GOPRO

The brand GoPro is synonymous with action cameras in the way Google is with search engines. And the action camera market leader has launched a new flagship with the Hero8 Black.

In terms of design, it does not seem to differ much from its predecessor, the Hero7 Black.

However, among its few differences is one that you'll notice immediately. At the bottom of the Hero8 are built-in lugs that you pry open to form the GoPro mount which has become the universal mount for all action cameras. With the Hero7, you need to attach an included external frame that has the GoPro mount.

Without the frame, the Hero8 is 10g lighter than its predecessor. It is also slightly thinner (around 5mm thick) but a tad taller and wider.

The power button has been moved from the right to the left side of the camera, while the battery compartment has moved from the bottom to the right side. Inside the battery compartment are the microSD card slot and USB-C port for charging.

It is now easier to access the battery and the microSD card. With the Hero7, they are located at the bottom of the camera, which means you have to unmount the camera to access them.

Another design tweak is moving the microphone from the top to the front. And the camera now allows the installation of optional modules to enable, for instance, the use of external microphones or a HDMI port.

But the front-facing display continues to be a monochrome LCD display that does not act as a viewfinder like the one on the DJI Osmo Action. Not ideal for selfie videos or video bloggers.

The Hero8 also uses the same GP1 chipset, 15mm f/2.8 lens and image sensor for shooting 4K videos and 12-megapixel still images as its predecessor. It also has the same 10m water-resistance, voice controls and integrated GPS.

The Hero8 has an upgraded HyperSmooth 2.0 video stabilisation feature that is adjustable in three levels - Enabled, High and Boost. The field of view is narrower though with Boost.

A new feature called LiveBurst records 1.5 seconds before and after your shot. So you can choose the best frame later.

 
 

The image stabilisation of Hero8's videos is top-notch. Frames were silky smooth even when I was running while shooting. I have not seen better image stabilisation performance in the action cameras I have reviewed.

In addition, videos are very crisp with accurate colours and high dynamic range.

But the still image quality leaves much to be desired. While the colours are spot-on, there are visible noise artefacts in images shot at ISO 400 and in good lighting conditions.

And in low lighting conditions, I saw chromatic noise artefacts with visible detail loss in both stills and videos.

Battery life of the Hero8 is pretty average for an action camera - at around an hour when shooting 4K videos at 30 frames per second (fps). It can last 20 minutes more if you are shooting at full high-definition at 60fps.

But the bigger irritant is how hot the Hero8 gets when it is recording continuously for only 15 minutes. You probably want to let the camera take a break every now and then.

FOR

- Integrated mount

- Superb video stabilisation

- User-friendly touchscreen interface

AGAINST

- Still image quality can be better

- Camera gets hot fast

- Poor low-light performance

 
 

TECH SPECS

PRICE: $599

IMAGE SENSOR: 12-megapixel 1/2.3-inch CMOS

LENS: 16mm f/2.8

DISPLAY: Built-in 2-inch touchscreen LCD

WATER RESISTANCE: 10m

CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi

WEIGHT: 116g (with battery)

RATING

FEATURES: 4/5

DESIGN: 4/5

PERFORMANCE: 4.5/5

BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

OVERALL: 4/5