The GoPro HERO (2018) and the HERO7 White are both considered entry-level models in GoPro’s lineups. The newest of them is the HERO7 White–it was released in late-September 2018, along with the other HERO7 models. The HERO (2018) is technically an older model, but not by much–it was released only about 6 months earlier. And at the time of writing, at least, you can still find it pretty easily in stock at major retailers.
There are several ways that the way in which these models compare isn’t necessarily cut and dried, because it’s not a linear upgrade path for these ones. So it’s not just a matter of looking at what’s new and improved, because there are some fundamental differences between them that are worth laying out in detail.
And there’s one other complication when it comes to the HERO (2018). It’s actually a HERO5 Black that has been hobbled in its firmware. Some enterprising users have posted firmware hacks that restore the camera’s capabilities, which turns the HERO (2018) into a HERO5 Black. (I’m not going to link to the hacked firmware here for two reasons: because GoPro has apparently been quite aggressively sending Take Down notices and because messing with firmware can brick your camera and I don’t want to help you do that. But if you want to try the hacked firmware, you can find it easily with a quick Google search.) In this comparison, I’m treating the HERO (2018) as a HERO (2018), with the GoPro-sanctioned firmware. Comparing the HERO5 Black with a HERO7 White really isn’t a fair fight–the HERO5 Black is in most respects a much better camera in terms of its features and capabilities. But not everyone wants to or should try hacking their camera.
Long Story Short
Before I get into the nitty-gritty, here’s the quick breakdown of key similarities and differences between the HERO (2018) and the HERO7 White:
Key areas where the HERO (2018) beats the HERO7 White:
- removable battery
- higher video rates
- removable lens port cover
- compatibility with more accessories, including Karma grip, extended batteries, and SuperSuit dive housing
- higher video bitrates
- more field of view options
- can shoot 1080p 16:9 aspect ratio natively
Areas where the HERO7 White beats the HERO (2018):
- better battery life
- simpler to use (fewer options and better menu system)
- higher bitrate used for time-lapse video
- vertical (portrait) orientation video
Design, Dimensions, & Build: HERO (2018) vs HERO7 White
In broad strokes, they’re very similar on the outside. They both have a very similar body that’s’ rugged and waterproof (both rated down to 33 feet (10 meters). They’re different shades of gray, but they’re basically the same size and share a very similar outline, at least from the front or the back. They have the same sized screen on the back (2-inch). And the same basic layout of controls, with the shutter button on top and power button on the side.
When you look at them from the side, you’ll notice that while the bodies are the same depth, the lens port on the HERO7 White doesn’t protrude anywhere near as far out as the one on the HERO (2018). That’s because on the HERO (2018), the lens port cover is removable. There are two main reasons you might want to be able to take that off. Firstly, if you scratch the glass on the front you can replace it with a new one (you can buy them as spare parts here). Secondly, you’ll need to remove that cover to put the camera into the SuperSuit dive housing. Since the HERO7 White’s lens port is fused to the body, you can’t switch out the lens port cover if it gets scratched, and the HERO7 White is not compatible with the SuperSuit dive housing.1
In terms of size and weight, the HERO7 White is a little lighter. I measure the HERO7 White as being 3.2 ounces (92 grams), while the HERO (2018) with a battery and memory card installed is 4.2 ounces (118 grams).
The bodies are mostly the same size, with the exception of the depth where the lens port is.
HERO (2018) vs HERO7 White: Shooting Video
Both of these cameras have aggressively simplified options when it comes to shooting video. Neither has anything like the huge range offered by the Black editions. That’s by design, and it does have an upside: it makes things much simpler to use, with little chance of getting bogged down with too many choices and wondering which settings to use.
On the HERO7 White, there is only one resolution offered: 1440p.2 That’s not a resolution that’s as common as 1080p, but it’s similar. Both of these have the same width–1080. The difference is in the height. With its 4:3 aspect ratio, the 1440p mode gives some extra space vertically. That can come in handy if you’re trying to prevent the subject from jumping out of the frame. And if you want to go back to the more common 1080p to make it better fit on a television screen or computer display, you can crop it using a video editor. Here’s a visualization of what the two aspect ratios look like:
On the HERO7 White, there are only four combinations of resolution and framerate available. In NTSC, they’re 1440p30 and 1440p60. In PAL, they’re 1440p50 and 1440p25.
The HERO (2018) has more video resolution/framerate options, but only barely. It can shoot in both 1080p and 1440p. For each of those, there are four possible framerate options (60fps and 30fps in NTSC mode and 50fps and 25fps in PAL mode).
|HERO7 White||HERO (2018)|
I find the way in which you switch framerates in the HERO7 White to be a bit odd. There’s no option in the menu system for you to select the framerate. Instead, you have to hit the snail icon on the main screen. That denotes the slow-motion mode (or Slo-Mo, as GoPro puts it) and does the faster framerate options (60fps in NTSC and 50fps in PAL). Calling that slow motion is a bit of a stretch, but that’s how you switch the framerates.
Stabilization. The in-camera video stabilization that GoPro’s have incorporated in recent models makes big improvements to the footage that you get out of the camera. It’s an electronic stabilization, which isn’t as effective as a good external gimbal, but it’s still a very convenient and effective option to have built in.
Both of these models have stabilization built in. It’s basically the same generation of stabilization in each–neither has the much more aggressive and effective new generation called HyperSmooth that’s used in the HERO7 Black.
There’s one notable difference with how it’s implemented in these two cameras, though. On the HERO (2018), you can turn the stabilization on or off. On the HERO7 White, it’s on all the time with no way to turn it off. For most users, that’s not an issue, and having always-on stabilization is the best way to go. But there are some situations you might want to turn it off. As an example, if you’re using an external gimbal like the GoPro Karma Grip, you’ll probably get better and more consistent results if you turn off the internal electronic stabilization. So it’s good to have that option on the HERO (2018), but the HERO7 White isn’t compatible with the Karma stabilizer for a different reason–the USB-C port is in a different place so the camera won’t connect.
File Formats, Bitrates, and Codecs. Both cameras use the standard H.264 codec that saves as .mp4 files. That’s by far the most widely compatible way to do it at the moment and can produce excellent results. If you’re sharing the footage on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, or any other video service or social media, it’s going to work well.
There is only a minor difference in their bitrates, which is the measure of the amount of data being used by the video stream. A higher number means less compression, which in turn means the potential for higher quality. A lower number means that more compression is being applied. The bitrate used on the HERO (2018) is 45Mb/s. On the HERO7 White, it’s 40Mb/s when shooting 1440p60 and 1440p50 and 30Mb/s at 1440p30 and 1440p25. Those aren’t big differences, and most users won’t notice any difference in most circumstances, especially for videos posted to the web. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the various bitrates used for encoding video:3
|HERO7 White||HERO (2018)|
Fields of View. On the HERO7 White, there’s only one video field of view, or FOV, available: Wide. That’s the ultra-wide-angle distorted fisheye look we’re used to seeing from GoPros.
On the HERO (2018), you have a choice of Wide, Medium, or Narrow if you’re shooting with the 1080 setting (with the 1440 setting, it’s locked in Wide). These are all applied digitally–they’re not the same as an optical zoom.
Neither of these cameras have the Linear FOV which corrects for the fisheye distortion and is particularly useful when shooting aerial footage from a drone.
Protune. Neither of these cameras have Protune. Protune is GoPro’s name for their collections of advanced, expert options that give you more control over the shooting settings and can open up higher-quality modes. I have more detailed information in it here.
Digital Zoom. The HERO7 White has a digital zoom feature that makes the subject larger in the frame. It’s not an optical zoom, which is what we’d consider a true zoom; it’s basically glorified cropping. Having the feature available doesn’t do any harm, and it can be convenient to have it if you’re looking to share the video with minimal editing, but it’s not something I use often or find to be a compelling reason to choose one camera over another. You can find more details on GoPro Zoom, with examples, here.
Vertical Filming. Something new in all the HERO7 cameras is the ability to shoot vertically. It’s also known as portrait orientation. If you’re not familiar with what that means, think of a smartphone filming held upright rather than laid on its side. It’s rotated 90 degrees from what we’d consider normal video. YouTube and some other services have begun fully supported vertical filming, and it’s particularly well suited to uses like Instagram stories (or the various other stories format on other social media and news services).
When you rotate the camera, it should automatically detect where “up” is and switch accordingly. But I’ve found the switching to be slow, to the point that I find it to be a minor irritation.
Shooting Slow Motion. Both cameras are technically capable of shooting slow motion, but with a maximum framerate of 60fps, it’s really only just slow motion. You can slow it down to about half speed, but that’s not going to be enough for particularly dramatic slow-motion effects, which really need at least 120fps or 240fps or faster. So if you’re planning to do a lot of slow motion, neither of these cameras are particularly well suited to it (the HERO7 Black is the best option for that).
HDMI Output. The HDMI port is used to send a video signal directly out of the camera. The HERO (2018) has one (micro-HDMI), but the HERO7 White doesn’t.
Live Streaming. Neither of these cameras can be used for live streaming. So far, the only GoPro that can do that is the HERO7 Black.
Looping. Again, neither of these can be used for looping, which records a chunk of video and then goes back to recording over that. It’s a mode that’s useful for something like a dashcam, where you want the camera to be rolling but the action you want to capture is only sporadic.
HERO (2018) vs HERO7 White: Taking Photos
In terms of taking photos, there are far more similarities than differences. Nevertheless, there are still a few small differences to note.
Resolution. Both shoot 10MP photos that measure 3648 by 2736 pixels with an aspect ratio of 4:3. Both
File Format. Both save the photos are standard JPGs. Neither has the option to shoot in RAW that some of the other cameras have.
Burst Mode. Burst mode shoots a fast sequence of shots. It’s especially useful when taking photos of fast action. Here, the newer HERO7 White has a slight edge. It can take 15 photos in one second. The HERO (2018) can only take 10 photos in a second. Some other GoPros have other options as well that let you choose from amongst different rates, but these cameras only have a single preset rate.
Continuous Shooting. Both cameras have a variation on burst mode that’s called continuous shooting. Rather than shooting a preset number of photos in the sequence and then stopping, continuous mode keeps shooting rapidly while you hold the shutter down. It can capture up to 4 frames per second for a maximum of 30 shots.
Fields of View. As with the video FOVs, the HERO (2018) has a couple more options. Both use the standard Wide FOV. On the HERO (2018), you can also choose Medium or Narrow. Again, these are digital alterations rather than the result of an optical change in focal length.
WDR. WDR is a GoPro’s acronym that stands for Wide Dynamic Range. It’s similar to the better-known HDR method to restore detail in highlights and shadows, although less effective. It often results in better-looking photos out of the camera (but not always). The HERO7 Black edition has a much more powerful set of enhancements called SuperPhoto. Neither of these photos has SuperPhoto, but the HERO (2018) does have WDR.
Night Photo. Neither of these cameras have the night photo feature which keeps the shutter open longer to allow in more light.
Photo Timer. It took until the HERO7 range for GoPro to add a self-timer. The H7 White has it; the HERO doesn’t.
HERO (2018) vs HERO7 White: Shooting Time-lapse
Both cameras can shoot time-lapse, but the HERO (2018) has a useful extra feature.
Intervals. The time interval between shots is a crucial aspect of time-lapse shoots. Some GoPros have a long list of intervals to choose from. These don’t. They have a single preset: 0.5 seconds. Played back at the standard 30 frames per second, that will speed things up 15 times.
Time-lapse Video. The Time-lapse Video mode shoots the sequence of images and then compiles them in the camera into a video. So what you end up with is a single video file that’s ready for sharing. Both cameras can do this. The HERO (2018) outputs 1080p30 video at a bitrate of 30Mb/s, and you have the option of choosing between Wide, Medium, and Narrow FOVs. The HERO7 White outputs 1440p30 with a bitrate of 45Mb/s, and you only have the Wide FOV available.4
Time-lapse Photo. The Time-lapse Photo mode shoots the sequence of photos and then saves the individual photos. To turn it into a video, you then have to download the photos, process them, and use software to compile the video. So it’s far less convenient, but it also gives you much more control over the end result. The HERO (2018) can do this; the HERO7 White can’t.
Nightlapse. Some GoPros have a time-lapse variant that keeps the shutter open for longer so as to work better in low-light conditions. Neither of these cameras has that.
TimeWarp. The GoPro HERO7 Black introduced yet another time-lapse variation: TimeWarp. It’s a stabilized time-lapse for use when the camera is on the move. So far, the H7 Black is the only camera to have it.
HERO (2018) vs HERO7 White: Controls & Connections
Touchscreen. Both have a touchscreen that’s used both for through-the-lens live viewing and a touchscreen for accessing the menu settings and various shooting and playback functions. It’s the same size screen on both, and there’s only minor differences between them. One area that is notable, though, is that the HERO7 range have a tweaked menu system. I find it better and more logically organized, even if it’s not perfect. But that really isn’t reason to choose one camera over the other.
Front Screen. As you can see from the photo at the very top of this page, the HERO (2018) has a small, monochrome screen on the front. That provides various bits of status information like a battery charge indicator, how many shots left on the memory card, the active capture mode, and recording status. The HERO7 White doesn’t have that front screen.
Voice Control. Both of these cameras have voice control, so you can start and stop recording with voice alone.
Buttons. Both have the same shutter/record button on top. Both have the power button on the side.
WiFi/Bluetooth. Both of these cameras have wireless features, so you can use them remotely with the GoPro mobile app. But it’s important to note that it’s a stripped down wireless system: you can use the mobile app, but neither of them will let you connect a GoPro remote.
USB. Both have a USB-C port.
Batteries, Charging, and Battery Life
Battery Life. On paper, they should have similar battery life. Both use a 1220 mAh battery. But in practice, I’ve found that the HERO7 White has a clear advantage. To compare them, I ran them side by side for an uninterrupted stretch of recording. That’s admittedly not how most users are probably shooting most of the time, but it’s much harder to meaningfully quantify stop-start recording in short stretches. So I put them on the same settings to make it an apples-to-apples comparison: 1440p60 with stabilization turned on and in the wide FOV. Both were charged to 100%, and they were sitting alongside each other in the same temperature (around 70°F). With the HERO (2018), it ran for 2 hours and 7 minutes, which is about what I’d expected. But I was surprised that the HERO7 White kept going–it went for 3 hours and 3 minutes. That’s a real difference and a big tick in the newer camera’s columns.
Battery. One of the most important functional differences between the cameras is that the HERO (2018) uses a removable battery. The battery itself is the same one that’s used in the HERO7 Black, HERO6 Black, and HERO5 Black. Having a removable battery is useful in several ways. It means you can keep charged spares on hand and simply swap them out when one dies, a much quicker process than hooking the camera up to an external power source and waiting for it to charge.
The HERO7 White has an internal, built-in battery that can’t be removed. So the only way to charge the battery is to connect the camera to an external power source.
Charging. Both cameras use a USB-C charging cable.
The USB-C ports are in the same corner of the camera, but they’re not in precisely the same spot. And that has an important consequence: the HERO (2018) is compatible with the same extended batteries that work with the HERO5 Black, HERO6 Black, and HERO7 Black. The HERO (2018) is much more limited, in that it doesn’t work with any of the batteries that clip on to the USB-C port.
GPS. Neither of these cameras can save the GPS geolocation information or other sensor information in the metadata. Technically, the HERO (2018) has the hardware inside to do it, but it’s not an options that’s available using the GoPro-sanctioned firmware.
Compatibility with Accessories
In general, both cameras can work with the same standard GoPro mounting connections. So for things like standard grips, bobbers, chest harnesses, suction cups, or bike mounts, they’ll both use the same ones.
There’s overlap with the types of frame housings they can use, but there are some things to watch. The HERO7 White, for instance, isn’t compatible with the SuperSuit dive housing because of the different lens port.
There’s again overlap when it comes to power accessories, but there are some crucial differences. The most important is that the HERO7 White has a built-in, non-removable battery. So you can switch it out for a charged spare. Both charged using a USB-C cable, and you can connect them to the usual array of USB power sources, from AC wall adapters to powerbricks. But some extended batteries that use a fixed USB-C connection won’t work on the HERO7 White because the port is in a different place.
Both can use the same kinds of memory card: a microSD card. They have basically the same speed requirements of the card, so the card you use in one will work in the other. If you’re after some specific recommendations, I’ve put together some of the HERO7 cameras here and for the HERO (2018) here.
Where to Buy
The HERO (2018) is now discontinued, but at the time of writing this, you can still find it at some retailers.
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HERO (2018) vs HERO7 White Comparison Table
Here’s a comparison table for a quick side-by-side reference.
|HERO7 White||HERO (2018)|
|MSRP @ Launch||$199.99||$199.99|
|Resolution / Max fps||1440p / 60||1440p / 60
1080p / 60
|Max Bitrate||40 Mb/s||45 Mb/s|
|File Format (Codec)||MP4 (AVC / H.264)||MP4 (AVC / H.264)|
|External Mic Compatibility||No||No|
|HDMI Video Out||No||Yes|
|Max Photo Size||10MP||10MP|
|In-Camera Image Enhancement||WDR||No.|
|Top Burst Mode||15 / 1||10 / 1|
CONTROLS & CONNECTIONS
|WiFi / Bluetooth||Yes||Yes|
|USB Port Type||USB-C||USB-C|
DESIGN & BUILD
|Separate Waterproof Housing||-||-|
|Dimensions||62.3 x 44.9 x 28.3 mm||2.6 x 1.8 x 1.4" / 6.5 x 4.5 x 3.5 cm|
|Weight||3.26 oz / 92.4 g||4.2 oz / 118 g|
|Battery Type||1220 mAh (non-removable)||1220 mAh|
- It’s not quite the same, but you can get lens protector films as well as lens caps that can help keep your lens scratch-free. Here’s an example. ↩
- The comparison chart on GoPro’s website says that the HERO7 White shoots 1080p resolution. But that’s only sort of true. It actually only shoots in 1440p. You can change the footage to 1080p if you crop it in post-processing. There’s a footnote on the chart that says as much, but it’s not as clear as it could be. ↩
- When encoding Time-lapse Video, the HERO (2018) uses 30Mb/s. The HERO7 White uses 45Mb/s. ↩
- The 1440p30 output is when the camera is set to NTSC. In PAL, it outputs 1440p25. ↩
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