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Verdict: 
Best-in-class image stabilisation and great image quality from GoPro's top dollar unit
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162g
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GoPro's Hero7 Black sets a new standard for in-camera stabilisation, and the quality of the footage is excellent too. I didn't really have the camera long enough to get to the bottom of everything it can do, but the headline features – great quality footage and best-in-class stabilisation – are easily enough on their own to recommend it, provided you can stomach the top-end price tag.

  • Pros: Great footage, excellent stabilisation, easy to use, good connectivity
  • Cons: Audio is average; attaching an external mic requires a £50 accessory

Great quality footage with excellent stabilisation

Mostly what you want to know from an action camera review is: is the footage any good? To which the answer here is, yes. It's probably the best I've seen from an action camera. Given that the Hero7 Black is at the top of the market, and GoPro has long been offering really good quality from its cameras, that's perhaps no surprise.

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HyperSmooth is the big draw for the Hero7 Black. It's not available on the other two, cheaper, Hero7 builds and it claims to take in-camera stabilisation to a new level. And it pretty much delivers on that promise. Here's a quick compilation of footage from a day-long ride down to Ilfracombe and a dip in the freezing sea the next day. All the footage was taken with the camera in hand, on the end of a £1 selfie stick from Poundland, or attached to a floating handle for the shots in the sea. In total I shot about half an hour of footage across the course of a day, and that was more or less a battery's worth.

The first thing you notice is that the footage really is exceptionally smooth. Using a selfie stick usually smooths out the footage a bit anyway, but in terms of smoothness it's hard to see how most of the opening riding sequence could really be improved in that regard. The quality of the footage (shot in 1080/60 for this video) is excellent too: lots of sharpness and detail, and the camera copes well with shooting into the sun. The Hero7 will shoot in 4K up to 60fps.

If you take the camera in hand – which I did for the café section and some of the riding footage after that – then the footage isn't quite as smooth, but it's still pretty good, and miles better than most action cameras I've used.

GoPro_HERO7_3.jpg

The beach and bodyboarding footage is also excellent. What it doesn't show is how much less of a faff it is to have a camera that's fully waterproof without using an enclosure. You get better footage, because you're not adding another lens element, and it's much easier to use the camera, and to see the display. You can use the touchscreen in the water too, although it doesn't work quite so well when it's wet.

GoPro_HERO7_Black_Video_Mode.jpg

Controlling the camera through the buttons and the touchscreen is fairly straightforward, although sometimes I got a bit lost in the menus. Still images, timelapse and burst photos are available as well as various resolutions of video at various shutter speeds. You can have 1080p footage up to 240fps in wide view – although the camera can't do that and HyperSmooth at the same time – and 120fps at 2.7k resolution.

A lot of the modes are accessible from voice commands too: you can tell the camera to shoot in video, timelapse, burst and photo mode. You can turn the camera on and off too. I found that the voice controls mostly worked well, although wind noise when you're riding at speed interferes a bit.

Sound quality is okay from the internal microphone, but audio is never the highlight of an action camera. If you want to connect an external microphone you need both the microphone and GoPro's own adapter, which is another £50. If you're using the Hero7 as your primary camera for anything and being able to hear what's going on is important, you'll need to factor that in. And some kind of frame to hold the adapter and the microphone, too.

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The Hero7 is Bluetooth and WiFi enabled, and you can get at your footage in a number of ways. If you have a GoPro Plus subscription ($4.99/mo) then you can auto-upload it to the cloud when you're on WiFi. The subscription has other benefits too: it acts as an insurance policy so you can get a replacement camera if you break yours, and you get 50% off accessories if you buy them from GoPro. No: the Karma drone doesn't count as an accessory, since you're asking.

GoPro-connect-1.jpg

You can also cut together videos using the QuikStories app on your phone. Pick a bunch of shots, tell the app where the highlights are, pick a theme and it'll bung them all together. I found it a bit hit and miss: on longer shots it was okay, but on shorter bits of footage it too often included bits where I was fiddling with the camera or it was pointing at the sky. I intended to uses QuikStories to put the video above together, but in the end I found it a bit fiddly and reverted to a desktop video app.

GoPro-Quik-Stories-1.jpg

For short, quick edits – the clue's in the name, I guess – it's certainly something you could learn to use and get decent results from. The Hero7 Black also allows you to stream live to Youtube and Facebook, which wasn't something I managed to try during testing.

Overall: Expensive but worth it if high-quality footage is a priority

I was pretty sad when I had to give the Hero7 back, and I didn't really have it long enough to get to grips with all of its features. I did have it long enough to recognise that it's a quality bit of kit, though. Not everyone needs their footage to be this good, but I'm sure everyone would like it to be. Whether that's worth £380 of your hard-earned (£330 on gopro.com at the moment) is for you to decide: you can get some pretty good cameras for a lot less than this, but this is the best action camera I've used thus far, and it might well be the best one there currently is.

Verdict

Best-in-class image stabilisation and great image quality from GoPro's top dollar unit

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road.cc test report

Make and model: GoPro Hero7 Black

Size tested: 62.3 x 44.9mm

Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

GoPro says:

HyperSmooth Video

Insanely smooth video.

Gimbal-like stabilization–without the gimbal.

Rugged + Waterproof

Dunk it. Drop it.

Crash it.

Tough as nails and waterproof

down to 33ft (10m)

Hands busy?

Just speak.

Say one of 16 commands, including 'GoPro, take a photo' or 'That was sick' to tag an epic video

SuperPhoto.

Makes shots look amazing automatically with HDR, local tone mapping and noise reduction''in any light.

Send it. Live

Stream to Facebook Live, YouTube™ and more to share must–see moments as they happen

Time lapse on the move.

Capture super smooth, stabilized time lapse video''even as you move through a scene

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Full specs at https://shop.gopro.com/EMEA/hero7-black/tech-specs?pid=CHDHX-701-master

Rate the product for quality of construction:
 
9/10

Feels like a quality unit.

Rate the product for performance:
 
10/10

Image quality and stabilisation are unbeatable right now.

Rate the product for durability:
 
8/10

No issues during testing.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)
 
8/10

Weighs about the same as similar cameras; it's heavier than some but that's down to the build quality.

Rate the product for value:
 
6/10

£380 isn't small change but it's a quality bit of kit.

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

As an action camera it gives the best footage I've seen.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Audio is average; attaching an external mic requires a £50 accessory.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Great footage, excellent stabilisation, easy to use, good connectivity, good build quality, lots of features.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?

It's top of the market, but that's balanced by both the quality of the footage and the feature set.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

The Hero7 Black offers a noticeable jump in performance over previous cameras from GoPro, and they were pretty good. The quality of the footage is exceptional, and that's what most people will be looking for.

Overall rating: 9/10

About the tester

Age: 45  Height: 189cm  Weight: 92kg

I usually ride: whatever I'm testing...  My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Merida Scultura

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, touring, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track

Dave is a founding father of road.cc, having previously worked on Cycling Plus and What Mountain Bike magazines back in the day. He also writes about e-bikes for our sister publication ebiketips. He's won three mountain bike bog snorkelling World Championships, and races at the back of the third cats.

11 comments

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Plasterer's Radio [551 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

Battery life?

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AlsoSomniloquism [190 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

About 90 minutes as he mentions he shot hour and half and pretty much used the battery. The waterproof camera is great but since the redesign from the Four to the Five (And the Six and Seven), there is no options to add extended batteries. With the four, you always needed a waterproof case but could buy some that contained extra power cells.

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lball91 [2 posts] 5 months ago
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Just mine for the first time for Tour de Yorkshire. Excellent images and stabilisation is brilliant. Glad I waited for this one before investing!

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The_Vermonter [114 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

It is frustrating that they have not significantly improved the battery-life or the speed at which the battery recharges. It has not improved for multiple generations of GoPros.

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Griff500 [443 posts] 5 months ago
2 likes

Yet another "brick" design. When is somebody going to come up with an "action camera" suitably packaged for action sports? I see these things stuck up on top of ski helmets where they will be the first thing to get knocked in an incident, or even when putting the helmet down in a restaurant, and I see them bolted onto bikes, again sticking out where they will easily get knocked, apart from interfering with aero. Surey it can't be that difficult to come up with something more easily integrated into bike/clothing/helmet instead of looking like half a brick on a stalk.

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imajez [121 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

When is somebody going to come up with an "action camera" suitably packaged for action sports?

So unlike this shape which has been used very successfuly for action sports for quite some time now. Go on then, suggest a better shape. Not that easy is it?
Other shapes in fact have been tried, but this form factor is probably the best overall. Unless you want a differently shaped camera for helmet to one that say goes on say your chest. Or a camera built into helmet with probably even greater safety issues and having to choose helmet and camera as a single item. Which is a bad thing in many ways.

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imajez [121 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

Re battery life, I've been using one for last coule of weeks and am rather underwhelmed. Not done a run down test specifically yet, but have used 60-70% on a couple of short 10-15min commute tyre journeys, recording HD in Protune and stabilisation on and everything else off. Had a similar depletion on an hour's local ride in woods. So inconsistent and this is with official GoPro batteries.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

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ktache [2129 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes

I kind of liked to Sony action cameras (HDR ones), less boxy, side mounted on the helmet could be good.  Still a bit big.  I'd want a tube design, if I could get a *quality* camera that looked a lot like my Exposure Axis, then I would seriously consider it.

The GoPro Session, looks better than the Hero, if it could be stretched back and given the same stuff as the Hero I would also think about that too.

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Griff500 [443 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes
imajez wrote:

When is somebody going to come up with an "action camera" suitably packaged for action sports?

So unlike this shape which has been used very successfuly for action sports for quite some time now. Go on then, suggest a better shape. Not that easy is it?

So we've always done it that way so why change now? You sound like we an innovative sort!

Are you seriously suggesting that these big non-aerodynamic mounts with a half brick on the end that people wear on their helmets is the best 21st century technology can do? Seriously? Do you?

Let's start with what I don't need. If I'm out on a ride I want to record video, I don't generally want to play back. Is the display not pretty much what determines the frontal area of the gopro? If I do need to play back on the go for some reason streaming to my phone would not be a problem.

The actual camera function does not need to take up much space -  I can buy a pair of 1080p sunglasses for £60, but battery life is limited. But do I need batteries on the end of a helmet mount sitting in the airstream? 

So one possibility might be something like one of the freely available 1080p spy cameras which are typically 15mm diameter and the same length, sitting on the bars, or the front of my helmet, connected to a backup battery somewhere else - possibly combined with batteries for other purposes such as Di. 

Now you will no doubt come back and tell me why this configuration, which I spend all of 3 minutes thinking about, won't work, and revert to "we've always doen it this way so..."  But as somebody once said "Nobody told us it was impossible so we did it"

 

 

 

 

 

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hawkinspeter [4095 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes
Griff500 wrote:
imajez wrote:

When is somebody going to come up with an "action camera" suitably packaged for action sports?

So unlike this shape which has been used very successfuly for action sports for quite some time now. Go on then, suggest a better shape. Not that easy is it?

So we've always done it that way so why change now? You sound like we an innovative sort!

Are you seriously suggesting that these big non-aerodynamic mounts with a half brick on the end that people wear on their helmets is the best 21st century technology can do? Seriously? Do you?

Let's start with what I don't need. If I'm out on a ride I want to record video, I don't generally want to play back. Is the display not pretty much what determines the frontal area of the gopro? If I do need to play back on the go for some reason streaming to my phone would not be a problem.

The actual camera function does not need to take up much space -  I can buy a pair of 1080p sunglasses for £60, but battery life is limited. But do I need batteries on the end of a helmet mount sitting in the airstream? 

So one possibility might be something like one of the freely available 1080p spy cameras which are typically 15mm diameter and the same length, sitting on the bars, or the front of my helmet, connected to a backup battery somewhere else - possibly combined with batteries for other purposes such as Di. 

Now you will no doubt come back and tell me why this configuration, which I spend all of 3 minutes thinking about, won't work, and revert to "we've always doen it this way so..."  But as somebody once said "Nobody told us it was impossible so we did it"

How about a MagicShine Eagle DV: https://www.magicshine.de/eagle-dv-kamera/

Pretty cheap from Lordgun £117.83: https://www.lordgunbicycles.co.uk/magicshine-eagle-dv-4k-camera-front-light

 

Avatar
KoenM [136 posts] 5 months ago
0 likes
Griff500 wrote:

Yet another "brick" design. When is somebody going to come up with an "action camera" suitably packaged for action sports? I see these things stuck up on top of ski helmets where they will be the first thing to get knocked in an incident, or even when putting the helmet down in a restaurant, and I see them bolted onto bikes, again sticking out where they will easily get knocked, apart from interfering with aero. Surey it can't be that difficult to come up with something more easily integrated into bike/clothing/helmet instead of looking like half a brick on a stalk.

There has been one the GoPro Session, but GoPro decided to not develop it anymore! To bad alot of people I know use them (including me)!