How to Change the Video Compression Codec on the GoPro HERO8 Black

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.
GoPro HERO8 Black HEVC H264
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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.

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.

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:

  • HEVC
  • H.264 + HEVC

In older versions of the GoPro mobile app, these were listed as “High Efficiency” and “Most Compatible.” But that has been changed in newer versions of the app (now called GoPro Quik) so that it now matches the wording on the camera.

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.

Which Video Modes Use Which Codecs?

Here’s a master list of which HERO8 Black video modes use which codec. I have a more detailed post on this separately.

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
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