Which Video Modes on the GoPro HERO8 Black Use HEVC or H.264?

The GoPro HERO8 Black has two video codecs available for recording video: HEVC and H.264. If you're running into compatibility issues with HEVC, here are the modes you can use H.264.
GoPro HERO8 Black from the side
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The GoPro HERO8 Black has two different codecs available for recording video: HEVC and H.264.

GoPro HERO10 Deals

GoPro has released the HERO10 Black. The MSRP is $499, but GoPro is currently running some great deals:

And with the new model out, it's a great time to pick up a deal on the HERO9 Black. You can get it for $349 with a free spare battery, a 32GB SD card, and a 1-year GoPro subscription. More details here.

The difference is in how the video is compressed and encoded. One is newer and more efficient. HEVC files create files that are smaller while still maintaining at least as good–and maybe better–video quality than H.264 files.

You can’t tell the files 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. You have to dig a bit deeper with software that shows you the codec used to encode the video stream.

But if HEVC is newer and better, it would make sense to use HEVC, right? After all, the image quality is potentially better, and the file sizes are smaller. And minute-for-minute, it uses less space on your SD card.

But there’s a big catch: HEVC 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 HERO8 Black: it’s more widely compatible, and that can lead to a simpler workflow if you’re editing or sharing the video. If you’re using a newer computer or device that works with HEVC, great–you’re all set, and you can use HEVC for everything if you want.

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 HERO8 Black still supports recording with the older (but more compatible) H.264 codec. The bad news is that with each new GoPro model, there are fewer combinations of resolution and framerate where you can stick to just H.264.

That’s because of the somewhat quirky way that GoPro uses the option. Since HEVC was first introduced on the HERO6 Black, GoPro has had a somewhat unusual method of choosing between HEVC and H.264. On the menu, you’ll see the options for choosing HEVC or 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. In those cases, it records a copy in RAW as well as a JPEG. But the H.264 + HEVC setting on a GoPro works differently. It means that it will record with H.264 when that option is available and record everything else with HEVC.

But it’s also less clear than it could be about when H.264 is available.1 An easy fix would presumably be to add a little icon for each of the shooting modes.

GoPro has been easing in more reliance on HEVC with the past few models, and there aren’t a lot of shooting modes on the HERO8 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 HERO8 Black

Here’s a master list of which HERO8 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).

ResolutionFramerate (NTSC / PAL)Codec Options
4K60HEVC Only
50HEVC Only
30H.264 + HEVC
25H.264 + HEVC
24H.264 + HEVC
4K 4:330HEVC Only
25HEVC Only
24HEVC Only
2.7K120HEVC Only
100HEVC Only
60H.264 + HEVC
50H.264 + HEVC
30H.264 + HEVC
25H.264 + HEVC
24H.264 + HEVC
2.7K 4:360HEVC Only
50HEVC Only
30H.264 + HEVC
25H.264 + HEVC
24H.264 + HEVC
1440p120HEVC Only
100HEVC Only
60H.264 + HEVC
50H.264 + HEVC
30H.264 + HEVC
25H.264 + HEVC
24H.264 + HEVC
1080p240HEVC Only
200HEVC Only
120H.264 + HEVC
100H.264 + HEVC
60H.264 + HEVC
50H.264 + HEVC
30H.264 + HEVC
25H.264 + HEVC
24H.264 + HEVC

How to Enable H.264 Recording on the GoPro HERO8 Black

The way to enable H.264 recording on the HERO8 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. But for reasons I don’t fully understand, the wording on the app sometimes varies slightly from what you’ll find on the camera.2 In the app, you’ll find this setting under:

Camera Preferences > Setup > Video Compression

GoPro HERO8 Black HEVC H264 App

Things Worth Knowing

It’s worth noting that this is the kind of setting that GoPro can easily change with a firmware update. At the time of testing these, I had firmware version v.2.50. But now that the HERO9 Black is out and firmly established, there probably won’t be too many more firmware updates for the HERO8 Black on the horizon—at least, not ones that add more features.3

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 computer compatibility with the HEVC video format, 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.


  1. 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. 
  2. This used to be even more pronounced when the options were listed as “High Efficiency” and “Most Compatible.” 
  3. GoPro did release a fairly major firmware update for the HERO8 Black that added an important feature upgrade: compatibility with The Remote. 
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