GoPro HERO 9 Black Mini Review – An Impressive Upgrade Over Its Predecessor
With more screens, better resolution, higher quality, and more battery, the new flagship GoPro HERO9 Black is hard to beat.
If you like to take selfies, you are a vlogger, or an adventure filmmaker, GoPro’s new flagship camera is made for you. There was a time when action cameras were primarily for capturing sports, but the new GoPro HERO9 Black pushes in a new direction, and let´s face it, that´s the most of us! We want to tell you in a nutshell what are the improvements compared to last year´s HERO8.
- Sensor 1-Chip CMOS
- Sensor Resolution 23.6 MP
- Recording Media 1 x microSD
- Burst Photo 30 Photos / 10 Seconds
- Image Stabilization Digital
- Waterproof Depth Rating 33.0′ / 10.0 m (Camera)
- Built-In Mic Yes
- Built-In Speaker Yes
- Wi-Fi Yes
- Input/Output Connectors
- Outputs 1 x USB 3.0 Type-C
- Battery Rechargeable Battery Pack, 1720 mAh
- Dimensions (W x H x D) 2.8 x 2.2 x 1.3″ / 71.0 x 55.0 x 33.6 mm
- Weight 5.6 oz / 158 g
- Regular Price $449.99 Currently On Sale for $399 – Adorama | B&H | Amazon
The first standout feature in the HERO9 is the 23.6-megapixel sensor. That’s quite a jump from the predecessor’s 12-megapixel sensor. More megapixels means the HERO9 Black can shoot 5K video and snap 20-megapixel still images. The new sensor also brings the ability to grab a 14.7-MP still image from videos. That´s a lot of powerful capabilities.
[Related Reading: GoPro Announces the Hero 9 Black Action Camera]
Better Battery Life
The GoPro HERO9 Black’s battery is different from those that have come before. Not only is it physically bigger, but it’s rated at 1,720mAh, which is a third more powerful than previous models. Pretty impressive, considering that it’s now driving two displays and a larger sensor.
The lens cover is now replaceable (should you scratch it). GoPro now has a suite of modular accessories – the Media Mod, GoPro Light Mod, and Display Mode. However, the most important new accessory only for the Hero9 Black is the Max Lens Mod accessory. It will bring into play a few features hitherto only found on the GoPro Max, including 360º horizon lock (so the camera can be rotated through 360º) and an ultra-wide 155º Max SuperView mode, which will work up to 2.7K 60 fps.
GoPro´s universe of gadgets that strengthen the camera outcome is quite vast, however, we will always recommend PolarPro´s filters. This set of ND8, ND16 & ND32 filters allows action-enthusiasts to reduce shutter speeds to cinematic levels. They are ideal for mid-day or bright filming environments.
There are already a bunch of cool accessories that will upgrade the GoPro HERO9 to higher levels, such as the Zeus mini. This powerful magnetic clip light provides versatile, waterproof, hands-free LED illumination for projects, camping, and other outdoor adventures. If you are a GoPro fan, don´t miss their lifestyle gear.
If you are looking for third-party products to upgrade your GoPro gear, a good option lies on Smallrig. This brand offers modular solutions in an ecosystem that is compatible with the most important cameras, from small gimbals and action-cameras, to mirrorless and DSLR cameras.
For GoPro, you can find two alternatives, a regular cage that protects the camera and also offers multiple accessory mounts, while being compatible with different adapters. The cool thing is that the cage allows lens replacement, so you won’t have any problems mounting the Max Lens Mod or other filters such as PolarPro´s. The same goes for replacing the battery. The other alternative is more complete and highly recommendable as this cage offers the same solutions, but also offers the possibility to mount the microphone adapter to complete the vlog kit.
[Related Reading: GoPro Hero 8 Review Compilation]
There are too many software upgrades to cover them all in detail, but two deserve special mention. The first is Scheduled Capture. If you’ve ever wanted to do a sunrise time-lapse but hate waking up early, this one’s for you. You can set up your shot, leave the camera outside your tent, and sleep in while the HERO9 does all the work.
The second major update is to HyperSmooth, which is now at version 3.0. Designed to cut down on camera shake even in incredibly jolting and bumpy filming scenarios, the latest version is nothing short of astounding.
Not Everything is Perfect
As we mentioned before, battery-life lasts longer but it comes with a price, as batteries from previous models are not backward-compatible. Also, it is fair to mention that the size of the camera itself is bulkier, although there is not too much difference in terms of weight. As an aside note, the Max Lens Mod costs extra.
What do people think about the new GoPro HERO9?
Instead of giving you our verdict, we rather ask common users what they think about the new device:
“I think that actually one of the things I like most about this latest version is the larger battery. Seems like a basic thing, but it means that I now no longer have to try and so a battery swap while trying to run down a mountain, or during a rainstorm, or when the camera is covered in mud.
As well as that I just love the simplicity of a GoPro, it’s grab, press one button, and go. Simple, fast, easy to use and the video quality is fantastic during the day. The audio is great, stabilization is amazing, good slow motion. Does just about everything I want for my running videos.
In the future, I would like to see GoPro bring out some kind of wireless mic system built-in. I’d also love to see a version with improved low light. Maybe with a 1-inch sensor with some focusing options so you could get close-ups with background blur.”
“About the GoPro Hero 9, I’m a huge fan of the inbuilt stabilization capabilities, especially the horizon lock. It makes filming so much easier. Furthermore, I really like filming in 5k, which is a whole step up for professional filming with a GoPro. Plus, I quite like the idea of the GoPro mods to customize the camera to your needs.
In my opinion, the GoPro Hero 9 is missing buttons. When out in the field the touchscreen is a real hassle when you want to make full use of GoPro´s capabilities. Then the 9 is heavy, it’s a honker, which is especially problematic for aerial filming. And please, GoPro, don’t make me have to set the time every time I’m not using the battery, I don’t care!”
“GoPro 9 is great for use in a high-speed air-sport environment due to its amazing stabilization and wide-angle lens options. It is also very easy to use in high-risk activities as it is possible to use the automatic settings to get beautiful, sharp, and bright colors in the images. I am not a professional photographer/filmmaker, I am a professional air-sport athlete who needs a camera that is small and easy to use, therefore the GoPro 9 is the perfect camera for me.
The setting that I use the most is wide-angle 4k/30, I like this setting because it allows me to zoom and add keyframes in post-production. This setting also allows me to take good enough quality photos (screengrabs) for social media, which is the platform I am sharing my content. Sometimes I use the super wide-angle, also with 4k/30 if I know that it will be a challenge to keep the object I am filming in the frame, or I wish to include lots of the surrounding scenery into the shot.”