The GoPro HERO10 Black has two different codecs available for recording video: HEVC and H.264.
The difference is in how the video is compressed and encoded. One is newer, more efficient, potentially higher quality.
You can’t tell them apart by just looking at the filenames. Both types use an MP4 extension. And both will often show as “MPEG-4 movie” in the filetype column on your computer’s file manager.
The image quality of HEVC is potentially better. The files sizes are much smaller, which means less data being saved and transferred. And minute-for-minute, it uses less space on your SD card.
So it would make sense to use HEVC for everything, right?
If your computer and workflow all work well with HEVC video files, that’s the ideal setting.
But there’s a big catch with HEVC: it isn’t as widely compatible as H.264. It works well on the newest generations of computers and mobile devices, but it doesn’t work well on ones that are a bit older.
And that’s the main reason for choosing H.264 on the HERO10 Black: those video files are much more widely compatible, and that can lead to a simpler workflow if you’re editing or sharing the video. After all, there’s not much point in sending a video file to someone who can’t play it.
If your computer or device isn’t compatible with HEVC, there are still ways to convert HEVC files to H.264. But that’s a hassle.
So, what if you just want to avoid HEVC altogether? The good news is that it’s possible. The HERO10 Black still supports recording with the older (but more compatible) H.264 codec. The bad news is that there are relatively few options of resolution/framerate combinations.
That’s related to the somewhat quirky way that GoPro cameras handle the option to recording with HEVC or H.264. On the menu, you’ll see the options for choosing
H.264 + HEVC.
The first is obvious enough: it’ll record everything in HEVC.
The second isn’t quite so obvious. Many cameras have a setting like RAW + JPEG when shooting photos. In those cases, it saves a copy in RAW as well as a JPEG–so two copies of the same image, simultaneously. But the
H.264 + HEVC setting on a GoPro works differently. It means that it will use H.264 when that option is available and record everything else with HEVC. 1
But it also doesn’t make clear when H.264 is available. 2 And that’s where this post comes in.
GoPro has been ramping up its reliance on HEVC with the past few models (since the HERO6 Black), and there aren’t a lot of shooting modes on the HERO10 Black where you can avoid HEVC altogether. But it is possible if you choose one of the resolution/framerate options identified as “H.264 + HEVC” in the table below.
Which Video Modes Use H.264 on the HERO10 Black?
Here’s a master list of which HERO10 Black video modes only use HEVC and which can also be saved as H.264. For this to work, you’ll have to choose the
H.264 + HEVC video compression option on your camera (more on that below).
Not all of these video modes are available at the time of the HERO10’s launch. A firmware update released after the camera’s launch added some extra video modes (as well as compatibility with the Lens Mod).
|30||H.264 + HEVC|
|25||H.264 + HEVC|
|4K 4:3||60||HEVC Only|
|60||H.264 + HEVC|
|50||H.264 + HEVC|
|2.7K 4:3||120||HEVC Only|
|120||H.264 + HEVC|
|100||H.264 + HEVC|
|60||H.264 + HEVC|
|50||H.264 + HEVC|
How to Enable H.264 Recording on the GoPro HERO10 Black
The way to enable H.264 recording on the HERO10 Black isn’t as intuitive as it could be.
There are two options: HEVC or H.264 + HEVC. On the camera’s menu system, you find these under:
Preferences > General > Video Compression
You can also change this using the GoPro Quik app; it’s under:
Camera Preferences > Setup > Video Compression
Things Worth Knowing
Getting your computer compatible with HEVC is a whole other topic. Recent Macs are compatible, as are some combinations of newer Windows machines (it depends on both the operating system and what processor chip it uses). If you’re using Windows 10, you can find the codec here.
In terms of compatibility, this is what GoPro says:
Playing Media on Unsupported Operating Systems. If your computer isn’t running Windows 10 / macOS High Sierra or newer, you will not be able to play HEVC files. Quik for desktop will still copy HEVC files to your computer, but they won’t appear in the Quik for desktop Media gallery. Also, third-party apps won’t be able to play HEVC files.
Playing Media on Supported Operating Systems, but Older Computers. While Windows 10 / macOS High Sierra supports HEVC, your computer must use a newer processor to play those files smoothly. Quik for desktop will still copy HEVC files to your computer, but those files may struggle to play back. In general, computers manufactured before 2016 may not handle HEVC files well. See the partial list of supported computers/processors above.
- Even more confusingly, when you shoot photos on a GoPro, you have a choice of JPG or RAW. If you choose JPG, it will save a single JPG. If you choose RAW, it will save both a RAW and a JPG.
- GoPro does provide a list of which modes use HEVC on their website, but hopefully, this post explains things a bit more fully and clearly.