The GoPro Hero 9 Black Hands-On Review

A small-sized pocket-friendly camera that can shoot images and videos with ease — even at rough locations.

Go Pro Hero 9 Black Hero Shot
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8.5

GoPro has been making action cameras for years. However, they continue to make these tiny cameras better with every generational upgrade. With the GoPro Hero 9 Black, we saw a significant leap from the previous 12-MP sensor to a newer 23.6-MP sensor. And while a higher megapixel count isn’t everything that would make for better image quality, this higher megapixel count allows you to shoot a 5K resolution video. So when you get an action camera, you no longer need to risk your primary camera or even your smartphone - especially while shooting underwater.

To Know

GoPro Hero 9 Black is a 23.6-MP video-first action camera that can also shoot stunning 20-MP photos. This tiny camera has excellent hardware paired with great software, which provides the user a rich and powerful feature set and a fantastic experience. You can further expand the hardware features by using different GoPro Hero 9 Black Mods, but they’re sold separately. These Mods can help convert this camera from an Action Camera to one of your main cameras. Additionally, the mounting fingers are now built-in to the camera body, a much-welcomed addition.

What We Love

Front Display

Having an always-on front display on the GoPro Hero 9 Black helps you frame yourself easily while shooting a video or an image. This front display acts just like the Flip-LCD Screen on your regular DSLR/Mirrorless cameras — except you don’t need to flip any screen here.

23.6-MP Sensor

We can shoot higher resolution videos and ultra-crisp images with the newer 23.6-MP sensor on the GoPro Hero 9. Not only that, but having this sensor has also allowed us to grab a 14.7-MP frame from the videos so that you never miss out on images, even while shooting videos.

Removable Lens Cover

As GoPro is an action camera, it is expected that one will use the camera in rough conditions, which could potentially scratch the lens cover. However, you don’t need to worry much about that now, as GoPro Hero 9 sports a removable lens cover, making it extremely easy to replace - if and when scratched.

The Details

Brand

GoPro

Price

$399

Product Type

Action Camera

Best For

It’s an excellent camera for anyone into Action Sports and wants to record their point of view while performing that sport. Also, one can use it to shoot at rough locations where you might not want to risk your regular camera - or even your smartphone - like shooting underwater, on a dirt road, etc.

Moment Go Pro CHDHX 901 XX HERO9 Black thumbnail

GoPro

HERO9 Black Action Camera

Want the best action camera out there? Get more power, clarity, stability, with GoPro HERO9 Black and its 23.6MP sensor for ridiculous 5K video and 20MP photos!

Buy for $399.99

What We Rate

Skill Level

Just getting started Understands manual settings Shoots regularly Professional

Photo Quality

Passable Pretty Good Really good Best Out There

Video Quality

Passable Pretty Good Really good Best Out There

Auto Focus

Always hunting It Works It Works Quickly Quick and Locked In

Low Light

Very noisy. Average Clean Crisp and Clean

Battery Life

Sucks Not bad Good Really Good

Rugged Ability

Leave it in the studio Daily Carry Traveler Mountain Goat

Build Quality

Cheap What You’d Expect Solid Top Of The Line
Moment Go Pro Hero9 Lifestyle 01

Action cameras have been in the creative industry for a long time...

However, until recent times, they just served a specific purpose: to record some first-person POV shots of performance sports. As a result, we didn’t see it take over the primary camera that we are used to carrying in our backpacks. However, with the latest tech being put into these action cameras, things have started to change.

GoPro Hero 9 Black is a feature-packed action camera. It sports a new 23.6-MP camera sensor that allows you to shoot up to 5K30 videos under normal conditions. In addition, you can also shoot slow-mo videos up to 240fps. Even though the resolution for slow-mo videos will be capped at 1080p, that’s still an excellent capability to have by our side. The Hero 9 Black also can shoot 2.7K videos at 120fps - if that’s something you need.

The improvements in the resolution aren’t just limited to the video format - but we also have improvements to the Photo Mode. You can now shoot 20MP images on the GoPro using the Photo Mode. Also, you can select to shoot these images in RAW format to have better control while post-processing them. And in case you were shooting videos while you needed to capture a great still shot, you can still extract a 14.7-MP image from the video using the GoPro App on your device.

GoPro Hero 9 Black comes with a 2.27-inch rear touchscreen. You can use this display to control all the settings on the GoPro itself. However, there are a few hidden settings like the LiveStream Mode, which you can only use by using the GoPro App on your smartphone. Not only that, but the touchscreen - to this date - is still not that great. It does miss out on touches and doesn’t have the best touch-response time. Going back to the shooting mode after previewing the images/videos you have shot has been the most challenging part of my experience with this camera until now - as it barely registers that touch action.

As we are already discussing the displays here, let’s talk about the smaller 1.4-inch front-side display. This display is not a touchscreen - and you cannot control the settings from this. However, the primary purpose of this display is to allow you to frame things in a better way - especially when you are the only lone ranger in the woods and trying to record a video. Also, as it is an always-on display, you don’t need to worry about turning it on every time you turn your camera. And if you want to turn it off, you can do so from the settings.

As there are two always-on displays on the Hero 9, it is okay to worry about battery life. However, you don’t need to. GoPro Hero 9 Black has a slightly larger 1720 mAh battery, making the camera last around 2 hours under typical shooting scenarios that can be easily charged via USB Type-C. Of course, if you are shooting everything on the GoPro, 2 hours might sound a bit less to you. And in that case, having an additional battery alongside you would be a great option. We can never have enough camera batteries, right?

GoPro has also started allowing you to use the Hero 9 Black as a webcam. However, to use it as a Webcam, you must download the GoPro Webcam Utility software available for macOS and Windows. Also, please note that while using it as a webcam, if you need it to have excellent image quality, you will need some good lights around you as it would still struggle under low-light conditions. But sure, the quality from the Hero 9 Black is still going to be better than most webcams on a laptop.

The Hero 9 also has a Livestream feature through which you can stream directly from the camera to major streaming platforms, including YouTube and Twitch. While this feature is limited to 1080p resolution, it is still more than enough for most streamers. Just make sure to have a great Wi-Fi connection if you want to use the highest resolution in the Livestream mode.

GoPro has packed in everything they could with the Hero 9 so that you can use it in every condition. If you are willing to use it outside of your studio, and in rough conditions, this camera has a waterproof rating of up to 33ft/10m. Iit has HyperSmooth 3.0 which would give you ultra-steady videos under most circumstances. If you want to shoot a Timelapse or Hyperlapse, Hero 9 has got you covered with that, as well. TimeWarp 3.0 is present on the Hero 9, which allows you to shoot great Hyperlapses. TimeWarp 3.0 also enables you to create a speed ramp - right while shooting the video - by just hitting a touch control - so that you can save time while editing.

While the Hero 9 Black comes with a decent microphone, it is usually something I would avoid using unless completely necessary. It does have respectable wind-noise reduction and can store audio in RAW format. However, the audio quality will still not be as excellent as an external mic, especially if you plan to use it in the Livestream/Webcam mode.

We also have a removable lens cover on the Hero 9 which you can easily replace if you end up scratching it. Not only that, but you can also add a Lens Mod, like the Max Lens Mod if you want to get a wider field of view while also adding Max HyperSmooth Stabilization with Horizon Lock. The Horizon Lock feature will lock your horizon, no matter how your camera turns.

GoPro also has other Mods like the Light Mod and the Media Mod that can be added to the camera to upgrade its usability. Having such external Mods is an excellent step as you can buy different Mods, depending on your usability.

One of the most important things that used to hold users from using these action cameras under normal circumstances was the ultra-wide field of view they offer. It looked way too stretched out when used under normal circumstances, and the quality was just barely good enough to be used in place of other cameras. However, these are no longer the cons of the action cameras due to the hardware and software developments in recent years.

With these advancements seen on the Hero 9 Black, it is a great all-rounder package that you can currently purchase — especially if you are now in the market looking for your first action camera.

Moment Go Pro Hero9 Lifestyle 02

In Detail

When you look at the GoPro Hero 9, or any action camera, the first thought of any buyer would be that a smartphone can do similar things today — especially after the introduction of the Ultra-wide camera. And it isn’t wholly wrong to think like this. However, let’s look at what the GoPro holds over a smartphone and how it can be a better solution when compared to the smartphone.

First, let’s take a look at the cost of these two devices. Of course, any good flagship smartphone with great cameras and water resistance ratings would cost you around $1,000 today. But, on the other hand, GoPro Hero 9 Black costs $399. Now, sure, we do hear the argument that the smartphone does a lot more than just being a camera - and it is also true. However, GoPro specializes in what it does — being an action camera by offering so many different video modes and unparalleled camera stabilization.

Also, would you risk your $1,000 smartphone by sticking it out on the car while mobbing through a dirt road? I won’t. However, I wouldn’t mind doing that with the GoPro Hero 9 for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, it is built to take these beatings in a much better way than our smartphones. Smartphones are overall much more fragile when compared to the rugged GoPro. The second reason is the cost of replacement. Replacing a $399 Action Camera is cheaper than replacing a $1,000 smartphone.

When your smartphone is ruined in a shoot, you are going to miss out on much more things — including calls and messages from your business clients and your loved ones. But when your GoPro is ruined, you just won’t be able to shoot with the same in your next shot, which is a much more manageable thing than losing out on our primary communication device.

What It Has

  • A new 23.6-MP CMOS Sensor

  • Advanced Digital Stabilization through HyperSmooth 3.0

  • Built-in Folding Fingers

  • Front LCD Display for Preview

  • Built-in WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth

  • Support for attaching different GoPro Mods

  • Removable Lens Cover

  • Scheduled Capture Mode to shoot sunrise without waking up early

  • Webcam Mode via the GoPro Webcam Utility Tool to have a better quality webcam

  • 1080p Livestream Mode via the GoPro App so that you can directly Livestream

What It Does

  • It can do video recordings up to 5K30 - Also supports Flat Color Profile

  • Also, it can shoot slow-mo videos up to 240fps

  • It is capable of shooting 20-MP Magnificient Still Images

  • HyperSmooth 3.0 Video Stabilization

  • TimeWarp 3.0 for Smooth Hyper-lapses

  • RAW Audio Capture in .WAV Format

  • Can record up to 30 seconds of video before you start recording with Hindsight - Never miss a shot

Specs

  • 23.6-MP CMOS Sensor

  • 2.27-inch Rear Touchscreen

  • 1.4-inch Front Preview Display

  • Rechargeable Battery Pack of 1720 mAh

  • USB-C Charging

  • Waterproof up to 33ft/10m

  • Dimensions: 2.8 x 2.2 x 1.3" / 71.0 x 55.0 x 33.6 mm

  • Weight: 5.6 oz / 158 g

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