Technophile

GoPro Hero 7 Black is for social media lovers

Varun Aggarwal | Updated on November 28, 2018

Smartphone cameras are rapidly getting closer to the professional ones, being able to shoot 4K videos, 24 MP sensors, and the works. Many high-enders are even waterproof. Then where does this leave action cameras with their 12 MP sensors and a single lens as opposed to three, four or even five you’ll spot on a smartphone?

Are action cameras still good as standalone devices? These questions are what action camera-maker GoPro has faced for a while. The company has seen competition from Chinese products as much as it has from smartphones. So we got our hands on the company’s latest Hero 7 Black to see if it’s worth the moolah.

Looks stay the same

When it comes to looks, there’s nothing significantly different between the Hero 5 Black, Hero 6 Black and Hero 7 Black. The only real difference is that Hero 7 Black is finally actually black as opposed to its predecessors, which were only called ‘Black’ when they were actually grey. Other than that, they are all the same.

That means you get the same waterproof rubberised body, with a two-inch touchscreen. That’s greatly useful since you don’t need to buy any new accessories if you already own a GoPro.

Under the hood

The core specifications of the Hero 7 Black don’t differ too much from those of the Hero 6 Black. It’s still powered by GoPro’s GP1 chip and features a 12 MP, wide-angle sensor. There’s built-in GPS, Bluetooth and dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n. It supports 4K video recording at 60 fps and 1080 p at 240 fps. For advance users, it continues to offer Protune options to get better control over camera settings.

Output

Numbers aside, what matters the most is how the hardware translates into a good final product — images and videos. Even though the Hero 7 Black uses the same old processor and image sensor, it is able to squeeze out better-quality images as well as videos, thanks to the 2 GB RAM.

The screen is overall brighter than the Hero 6 Black, making it easier to shoot under bright sunlight.

The company’s promise to replace the gimble completely with the Hero 7 Black may seem a bit far-fetched, but for any casual user, it is a quantum leap in smooth video recording. GoPro’s HyperSmooth technology is so good at eliminating shakes and stutter in the video that allows it to works even in intense winds and under water, where most gimbals can’t. What’s even better is that you don’t have to bother understanding how to operate a gimbal as your tiny camera alone can handle the shakes with in-built stabilisation.

But when it comes to shooting at night, images are still grainy and leave a lot to be desired. When it comes to video, you’ll still find them usable for social media, perhaps not for professional quality work. That said, there is a definite improvement from its predecessors when it comes to the quality of low-light shooting.

Finally, audio may be the most under-rated feature of sports cameras but it plays an essential role in adding life to the videos. Hero 7 Black comes with improved audio using the microphones to capture more dramatic bass and clearer mids.

The new Hero 7 Black is no more targeted only at sports enthusiasts but also the social media-obsessing folk who want everything that they record to be instantly available for sharing. And it begins with how the new interface is designed.

You can now stream your videos live on Facebook so you don’t have to wait to transfer them to your phone, edit and then share. It’s all seamless now. What’s more, you can record vertical videos natively by just turning the camera by 90 degrees. So no more chopped videos or weird angles for your Instagram stories.

GoPro has also updated its user interface to match up to the familiar smartphone interfaces. Swiping left and right will now help you switch between time-lapse, video, and photo capture. You can tap on-screen buttons to adjust settings like field of view, resolution, and frame-rates or swipe down from the top of the screen to bring up the camera’s quick toggles and settings.

The physical buttons continue to be there to help you record and change settings even while you’re underwater or in snow, where the touchscreen stops responding.

There’s another sweet new feature called “TimeWarp”, which combines HyperSmooth stabilisation with time-lapses, so you can get footage like this without a gimbal or a bulky Steady Cam.

Worth the buy?

If you’re new to the GoPro ecosystem, then you’ll find the new GoPro Hero 7 Black a must have in your travel bag to capture those adrenaline-filled trips. It is by far the best portable camera when it comes to shooting smooth gimbal-like videos. But if you already own a Hero 5 or Hero 6 Black, then you’re probably better off with what you have unless super smooth time-lapse videos are what you really desire. Since most of the updates in the Hero 7 Black are software-led, there are chances that the older devices will also get the same upgrades over time. The battery life of the camera is still a bit of an issue but cheap batteries help fill up that gap. Overall, GoPro does live up to its expectations, making the Hero 7 Black the biggest challenger to the super expensive gimbals.

Price: ₹36,500

Pros: Very smooth video stabilisation, simple interface, vertical video capture, share live feature on social media

Cons: Low-light footage still has noise, no improvement in battery life

Published on November 28, 2018

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