The GoPro HERO8 Black has two video codecs available for recording video. Both of these produce files with an .mp4 extension. The difference is in how the video is compressed and encoded.
Save $170 on GoPro HERO9 Bundle
GoPro is currently running a deal on their latest flagship camera, the HERO9 Black. The deal includes a 1-year subscription to GoPro, an extra battery (in addition to the one that's usually included), and a 64GB SD card. The HERO9 also comes with a case. It's all for $349.98 and you can find more details here.
H.264 is an older but extremely widely compatible compression algorithm. These have been the standard for several years everywhere from YouTube to DailyMotion to Vimeo.
There’s also a newer codec that’s gaining in usage and popularity. It’s most commonly known as HEVC (for High-Efficiency Video Coding). Less commonly, it’s also known as H.265. It’s a newer, better codec, but it’s still not yet as widely compatible in the same way the older H.264 codec is. (If you’re having trouble with the HEVC files, I’ve posted a workaround here.)
On the HERO8 Black, there’s an option in the preferences for choosing HEVC or H.264 + HEVC. You can find this setting under:
Preferences > General > Video Compression
The options are:
- H.264 + HEVC
(Note that if you’re using the GoPro mobile app, these show up in the Video Compression option as “High Efficiency” and “Most Compatible”.)
Things Worth Knowing
The way this option works isn’t quite as intuitive as it could be. The first option is obvious enough: it will use HEVC for all video recordings.
The second option isn’t quite as obvious. On most cameras, if you choose an option like RAW + JPG, the camera will record both simultaneously. That is, it’ll save two versions of the image, one in each format. But on the GoPro HERO8 Black, choosing H.264 + HEVC won’t record two versions. What it will do is use H.264 for most of the video options. But with some of the high-end video modes you can still only record them with the HEVC codec. If you’re recording 4K60, for instance, it will only record using the HEVC codec regardless of whether you’ve chosen the H.264 + HEVC option. So “H.264 + HEVC” doesn’t mean “H.264 and HEVC”; it means H.264 when available and HEVC when it’s not.