The GoPro HERO 9 boasts some substantial upfront performance improvements over the older flagship, as well as a wide range of enhanced tools and some new functionality, most noticeably a full colour front-facing screen.
The Hero 8 Black was an important product for GoPro, freeing the company from the constraints of needing to fit its tech into a specific size body, just so it would fit in the mounting accessories. Instead, its built-in mounting arms to the bottom of the camera, allowing you to mount it to all the accessories, without a clip-on shell, and that has returned in the Hero 9.
That’s seen GoPro increase the size of its flagship action camera by a noticeable, but not huge amount. It’s a few millimeters taller, wider and thicker than the 8 Black, but the trade-off should prove worth it for the bigger battery and more powerful internals. Plus, the bigger screen and colour screen on the front.
However, the mode/power button on the 9th gen protrudes more from the surface and is much easier to press and to feel without looking. The Hero 8’s button is flush with the surface, and so virtually impossible to find by touch.
GoPro Hero 9 also has a speaker designed to pump out water, similar the feature Apple has used in its watches for a while. So, if you do take it underwater to test its 10m depth resistance, it will expel any water that seeps into the speaker channels.
There are two big performance upgrades with the Hero 9: Photo resolution and battery life. It has a 20-megapixel sensor vs the 12-megapixel sensor on the Hero 9.Similarly, Hero 9 has a higher capacity battery, with an additional 500mAh on top of the 8th gen’s 1220mAh battery to give a total of 1720mAh.
GoPro says you’ll get an extra 30% video capture time from that battery, and that is definitely useful when it comes to action cameras. There’s nothing worse than running the battery flat during a downhill biking session.
GoPro HERO 8 is still an impressive camera, as these stills taken with each of the siblings – on a normal resolution screen it’s hard to tell the difference. Only when you really blow them up do you realize that the HERO 9 is creating a JPG file that’s a third larger, nearly a thousand pixels larger on each axis – this is serious resolution for when you need it most.
GoPro Hero 9 features –
More Resolution – Shoot stunning 5K video that maintains serious detail even when zooming in and capturing 14.7MP frame grabs. Also records in 4K, 2.7K, 1440p and 1080p. The Hero 9 has a video resolution of 5K at 30fps, or 4K at 60fps.
More Pixels – Capture crisp, pro-quality 20MP photos and use Super Photo to make sure you get the shot. 20MP photos with Raw and HDR mode.
More Screens – A new front display serves up a live preview for easy selfie framing while the large rear touch screen delivers intuitive control. In addition to a rear LCD touchscreen, the Hero 9 now has a full color front-facing LCD, which is helpful for vlogging.
More stability – HyperSmooth 3.0 now featuring in-camera horizon leveling is most advanced stabilization ever.
8x Slo-Mo – GoPrp Hero 9 Black captures up to 240 frames per second for astonishing 8x slo-mo. 8X slow motion (1080p at 240fps) & Live stream in 1080p.
More acceleration- Record mesmerizing time-lapse videos with TimeWarp 3.0. Go all out or tap Speed Ramp to slow the action while recording.
In terms of stabilization performance compared to Hero 8, the primary advantage of the Hero 9 is the horizon leveling. It becomes even more of an advantage with the Max lens mod, which has 360 horizon leveling, similar to the Insta360 Go.
GoPro put a colour screen on the front of a camera, bringing it more in line with the DJI Osmo Action, and while it was at it decided we needed a bigger battery too. That means you can finally see yourself when you’re filming, and you can shoot for longer.
So, should you stump up the extra for the 9 or will the Hero 8 do everything you need it too?
So now to the key part of our GoPro HERO 8 Black vs GoPro HERO 9 Black faceoff: which one should you rent or buy? When it comes to the crunch, the HERO 9 is a much better camera than the HERO 8 – unless pure size and weight are the most important factors to you.
The price difference, the Hero 8 Black is actually very good value for money. It’s cheaper than the Hero 9 but does a lot of the same stuff.
With that said, with its new colour screen, higher resolution sensor and longer battery life the additional outlay is definitely worth it for the Hero 9.
If you want the best action camera going, grab the Hero 9. If you’d rather save the cash, or if you’re coming from an older model like the Hero 5 or Hero 6, the Hero 8 will do you just fine and is still a major upgrade on those two.
Both models are available for rent with Paxton Equipments.