GoPro HERO8 Black vs HERO7 Black

Here's my detailed breakdown of how the GoPro HERO 7 Black compares with the newer GoPro HERO8 Black.

In fall 2019, GoPro released the new HERO8 camera, the GoPro HERO8 Black. For now, it’s the only camera in the HERO8 lineup.1 There are three cameras in the HERO7 lineup, Black, Silver, and White. Of those, the HERO7 Black is the direct predecessor of the HERO8 Black. They’re GoPro’s flagship models with all the bells and whistles.

So those are the two cameras I’m focusing on here in this detailed comparison of the HERO8 Black vs the HERO7 Black.

Overall, the cameras are far more similar than they are different. But there are a few key changes that could potentially tip the decision on whether to upgrade. So my aim here is to provide a clear breakdown of their similarities and differences to make it easier to decide which model to get or whether to upgrade if you’re already using the HERO7 Black or if you’ve found a good deal on one of the models.

You can find much more detailed information below, but here’s the quick version of changes with the new model, the HERO8 Black:

New:

  • Built-in mounting point
  • LiveBurst mode (burst photo pre-roll)
  • New dedicated Mod accessories
  • Horizon leveling
  • Shooting presets
  • Nightlapse video

Improved:

  • Improved HyperSmooth in-camera video stabilization
  • Up to 100Mb/s video bitrate
  • Improved TimeWarp in-camera hyperlapse processing
  • RAW image format (.gpr) now available in Burst Mode photos
  • Longer time-lapse intervals available
  • Livestreaming at 1080p

Going Backwards:

  • New side door design
  • No built-in HDMI port (can be added with Media Mod accessory (sold separately)).

GoPro HERO7 Black vs HERO8 Black: Design & Build

On the outside, they look very similar. They’re both that standard small rectangular box (as opposed to, for example, the cube-shape of the Session models). They’re both waterproof without the need for a separate waterproof housing. They have similar—but not the same—dimensions and weight. And they both have a large touchscreen on the back, a small status screen on the front, and the shutter/record button on top.

But there are some differences in their design and layout that lead to practical differences.

Built-in Mounting Point

The biggest one is that the HERO8 Black has a new built-in mounting point on the bottom of the camera. So you no longer need to put the camera into a frame housing or protective housing in order to mount it on a selfie-stick or other mounting point. That’s a major convenience.

The HERO8 Black, at left, has the flip-down mount point built into the base of the camera body.

New Mod Accessories

The new layout for the ports and battery has opened up the opportunity for a new range of dedicated accessories that attach to the HERO8 Black camera body (they won’t work with the HERO7 Black). The ones that GoPro has prioritized so far are especially well suited to vlogging. The first ones in this range are:

  • Media Mod that includes better microphones, 3.5mm mic port, HDMI-out port, and attachment points. It acts as the hub for the other accessories.
  • Light Mod, a waterproof LED light (requires Media Mod).
  • Display Mod, a flip-up display that lets you see what you’re filming while the camera is pointed at you (requires teh Media Mod).

Compartments

That design decision means that there’s no place to put a battery or port compartment on the bottom of the camera. So while the HERO7 Black has two compartments—one on the bottom and another on the side—the HERO8 Black has only one, on the side. That compartment takes has the battery slot, the microSD memory card slot, and the USB-C port.

The HERO8 Black is at left, with the HERO7 Black at right.

HDMI Port

What the HERO8 Black does not have in that compartment is an HDMI port (the HERO7 Black has one built-in). You can add and HDMI-out port to the HERO8 Black with the Media Mod accessory, which is sold separately.

Compartment Door

The door on that compartment on the HERO8 Black is something I’m underwhelmed with. On the one hand, it’s solid (aluminum rather than plastic), and there’s a virtue to have only one door to seal up to keep it waterproof (fewer potential points of failure). But when you undo it, it has a tendency to fly off and is easily lost. A second issue with it is that you need to remove it to be able to access the USB-C port, to power it with external power, for example, but that doing that exposes the battery to potentially fall out. A workaround is to buy a replacement side door that allows access to the USB port.

Lens Port

Finally, another key difference is with the lens port. The lens port on the HERO7 Black uses the same style that the previous couple of models used. It comes off completely, can be replaced if it gets damaged or if you need to put the camera in a Super Suit dive housing, and sticks out.

The HERO8 Black lens port is a design that was used on the HERO7 Silver and White. It doesn’t stick out as far and doesn’t come off. So you can’t replace it if it gets cracked or scratched. There are accessories you can buy separately to add protection to the lens, including the Rollcage and lens and screen protectors.

Waterproof Body

They’re both waterproof without the need for a separate underwater housing, both rated down to 33 feet (10 meters).

If you need to go deeper than that, you can get a separate dive housing that’s stronger and offers more protection against water pressure.

But because of that different lens port design, along with the slightly different body dimensions, the HERO8 Black and HERO7 Black are not compatible with the same dive housings.

So you’ll need to get the right dive housing for the right camera—they’re not interchangeable. For the HERO7 Black, it’s the Super Suit. For the HERO8 Black, it’s the Protective Housing.

On the Inside

They’re also much the same on the inside. Both use GoPro’s own chip developed in-house, known as the GP1.

They seemed to have bumped up the clock speed of the GP1 in the new model to help with the data-crunching demands of things like the more aggressive HyperSmooth 2.0 stabilization.

The lenses are very similar, if not identical, and based on the photos and videos coming out of the cameras, it appears to be the same sensor as well.

GoPro HERO7 Black vs HERO8 Black: Controls & Interface

The ways in which you control and interact with the camera are basically the same on both the HERO8 Black and HERO7 Black. There are some tweaks to the menu system and the naming conventions, but nothing that will particularly trip you up if you’re moving between them.

Both use the touchscreen on the back as the primary way of accessing the menu system. Both can be controlled wirelessly via the GoPro mobile app. Both have voice control. And both use the same kind of shutter button on top for starting and stopping recording or taking a photo.

Shooting Presets & Menu Tweaks

To help speed up access to your commonly used shooting settings, you now set shooting presets on the HERO8 Black. It’s quicker if you’re using the presets (which is probably most people), but it’s a bit slower if you’re constantly changing the presets between individual clips.

There are various menu tweaks to flatten the system. The new version isn’t perfect, but I like that access to the Protune settings has been flattened. On the HERO7 Black, you have to enable the Protune option before you can access any of the Protune settings. On the HERO8 Black, they’ve done away with that intermediate switch, and you can now access them directly. There’s more on this in the Protune sections below.

Buttons & Touchscreen

Both have the same touchscreen system on the back that acts both as a live view display as well as the primary means for accessing the settings and preferences in the menu system.

Both screens are pretty much identical regarding brightness and crispness.

The HERO8 Black is at left, with the HERO7 Black at right.

Remote Control

Both cameras can be controlled wirelessly with GoPro’s mobile app using a combination of wifi and Bluetooth.

When it comes to remotes, both models are compatible with the Smart Remote. It’s possible that there might be some compatibility issues with aftermarket remotes—I haven’t tested the compatibility of those with the HERO8 Black extensively.

Voice Control

Both models can use voice control. So you can do some of the basics like start and stop video recording, switch modes, or take photos with voice commands. You can’t change settings by voice command.

Both also have Wake on Voice so that you can turn it on with a voice command.

GoPro HERO7 Black vs HERO8 Black: Batteries & Charging

The batteries for the HERO8 Black and the HERO7 Black look very similar on the outside. They’re the same size, shape, and layout. They even have the same power spec ratings. And in many cases, you can get away with using them interchangeably.

There is one obvious difference, and that’s the bright blue band around the base of the new battery. That’s more than a cosmetic change—it signifies the new battery designed for the new model.

There is, at least in theory, a performance difference with the new battery. It’s not something you might run into in standard shooting. But if you really stress the camera and battery by using the processor-intensive shooting modes such as HyperSmooth boost in very warm conditions, for example, you might find that battery life degrades more quickly, the battery overheats, or the camera shuts down (or all of those).

So using the new battery version in the new camera is the best option to reduce the risk of performance issues. You can also use the new battery version in the HERO7 Black—it’s fully backward compatible. And much of the time, you can use the older battery model for the HERO7 Black in the HERO8 Black as well.

I have a more detailed post on GoPro HERO8 Black batteries here.

Battery Life

Like the GoPros that have gone before, neither of them has what you’d call stellar battery life—an hour or two of filming in ideal conditions and substantially less than that in less-than-ideal conditions. Precisely how much use you get out of the battery depends on what recording modes you’re using and even the environment conditions (lithium batteries don’t perform efficiently in very cold or very warm conditions). Using the mobile app will drain the power more quickly. And if you use some of the extra bells and whistles, like GPS and Protune, they will also reduce the battery life further.

I’m aiming to run some side-by-side battery life tests shortly and will update here when I have the results.

Charging Options

For charging the batteries, both have the same options. You can connect the camera directly to a power source via a USB-C cable and charge the battery in the camera. If you’re using the right kind of high-output USB-C power source, like GoPro’s own SuperCharger, you can take advantage of fast charging.

Because the batteries are removable, you can also use an external charger for the convenience of having spares on hand to swap out. GoPro’s Dual Battery Charger will work on the batteries for both models.

Both use a USB-C charging cable.

Extended Batteries

The USB-C port is not in the same place on each camera, so you can’t use any extended battery options that click onto the camera’s body (you can use ones that remain separate and just plug into the USB-C port with a cable).

GoPro HERO7 Black vs HERO8 Black: Shooting Video

Overall, there’s a lot of overlap between the video resolution/framerate options offered on the HERO8 Black with those on the HERO7 Black. The largest resolution on both models is 4K 4:3, which results in dimensions of 4000 by 3000. The fastest frame rate available on both is 240 fps (frames per second). The slowest frame rate on both is 24 fps. Both offer in-camera video stabilization and Protune options for some manual control. Both share basically the same fields of view, although they’re called something different on the new camera. Both offer video aspect ratios of 16:9 and 4:3.

There are also some differences. The HERO7 Black has smaller resolutions of 960p and 760p; those have both been dropped for the HERO8 Black. And some of the features have been improved with the new model, most notably, the HyperSmooth in-camera video stabilization.

Video Bitrates

Another area where the HERO8 Black has been improved over the HERO7 Black is with its maximum video bitrate. The maximum video bitrate on the HERO7 Black is 78 Mb/s. On the HERO8 Black, that’s been bumped up to 100 Mb/s (which also makes it more competitive in this regard with the DJI Osmo Action).

Larger bitrates mean that more data is used to record the video. That means less compression and, potentially, higher quality. In practice, the difference isn’t always going to be visible. The most likely places to see a difference is with highly detailed scenes viewed a full resolution and with post-processing and editing.

High video bitrates mean that a lot of data gets written to the memory card quickly. To avoid problems, you need a memory card to keep up. I’ve put together some SD card recommendations for the HERO8 Black.

But those highest bitrates aren’t available in all resolution/framerate combinations. And the way they’re enabled varies slightly between the cameras. On the HERO7 Black, you enable the high-bitrate versions simply by enabling Protune. On the HERO8 Black, there’s a separate option switch that you can toggle independently of other settings. I have a more detailed breakdown of which bitrates are available in which video settings for the HERO8 Black here and for the HERO7 Black here.

Whether the file is compressed with the HEVC or H.264 codecs, it uses variable compression, so in practice, you can end up with bitrates just slightly above or below these target bitrates.

Fields of View / Digital Lenses

There are three fields of view available across all of the video modes on the HERO7 Black, but they’re not all available in all shooting modes. The standard one is the basic Wide FOV, which is the default one that we’re used to with GoPro footage. There’s also one that squeezes even more into the frame, called SuperView. And there’s a Linear FOV that electronically compensates for the fisheye distortion and is especially useful when shooting from drones.

The HERO8 Black has all of those as well as a Narrow FOV, which is available in a small number of resolution/framerate options. You can find a more detailed breakdown of which FOV is available with which settings here: HERO8 Black | HERO7 Black.

The HERO8 Black also introduces a new name for the FOVs: digital lenses. Here’s what used to be known as fields of view on earlier models correspond to the digital lens focal lengths on the HERO8 Black:

Field of View Digital Lens
SuperView 16mm
Wide 16-34mm
Linear 19-39mm
Narrow 27mm

The ranges in the Wide and Linear options are factoring in the digital zoom feature.

The standard one is the basic Wide / 16mm-34mm, which is the default one that we’re used to with GoPro footage. SuperView crams even more scene into the frame. Linear digitally corrects for lens distortion.

Filetypes and Codecs: H.264 (AVC) / HEVC (H.265)

All of the video files produced on both the HERO8 Black and the HERO7 Black have a file extension of .mp4. So they’re all using the mp4 video container, but they’re not all the same inside. That’s because there are two different codecs used: HEVC (H.265) and H.264 (AVC).

GoPro introduced the HEVC (H.265) codec to the HERO6 Black, where it was available as the only option for some of the high-end video modes. It’s a newer, more efficient codec than the older H.264 one and offers better compression that results in a better combination of video quality and filesize. The catch is that files encoded with HEVC are not yet anywhere nearly as widely compatible as ones using the older H.264/AVC codec. (If you’re having trouble with the HEVC files, I’ve posted a workaround here.)

On the H6 Black, encoding with the HEVC codec was the only option for some of the very high-end video modes. On all the other video modes, H.264/AVC was the only option.

On the H8 Black, there’s an option in the preferences for choosing HEVC or 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”.)

But the way this is implemented is a bit confusing. The first option is obvious enough: it will use HEVC for all video recordings. The second option isn’t quite as obvious. It doesn’t mean the same as a RAW + JPG option you often find on cameras, for example, where it records both formats simultaneously. If you choose the H.264 + HEVC, it 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.

In-Camera Video Stabilization

One of the notable new features of the HERO8 Black is the new and improved in-camera electronic stabilization, now called HyperSmooth 2.0. It’s more aggressive and better than the version in the HERO7 Black.

I’m in the process of putting together some side-by-side examples and hope to post those soon.

Protune for Video

Protune is GoPro’s name for an expert mode, or a collection of settings that allow you to override the standard automatic defaults. Used properly, these can potentially lead to better-quality video footage.

With older models, including the HERO7 Black, you first enable Protune, which then makes available the extra settings. That is, they’re hidden until you enable Protune.

With the HERO8 Black, the Protune options are still there, but they’re handled a bit differently than in previous models. With the new model, they’re more readily accessible in normal shooting because of the way that you define shooting presets.

Beyond that, the Protune options on both cameras when shooting video are very, very similar, with only minor tweaks that aren’t going to make much difference for most people. Here’s a rundown of the various Protune options available when shooting video with the HERO8 Black and HERO7 Black.

Protune OptionHERO8 BlackHERO7 BlackHERO6 BlackHERO5 Black
BitrateLow
High
---
ColorGoPro Color
Flat
GoPro Color
Flat
GoPro Color
Flat
GoPro Color
Flat
White BalanceAuto
2300K
2800K
3200K
4000K
4500K
5500K
6000K
6500K
Native
Auto
2300K
2800K
3200K
4000K
4500K
5500K
6000K
6500K
Native
Auto
2300K
2800K
3200K
4000K
4500K
5500K
6000K
6500K
Native
Auto
3000K
4000K
4800K
5500K
6000K
6500K
Native
Manual Exposure / Shutter*Auto
1/24
1/30
1/48
1/50
1/60
1/96
1/100
1/120
1/192
1/200
1/240
1/384
1/400
1/480
1/800
1/960
1/1600
1/1920
1/3200
1/3840
Auto
1/24
1/25
1/30
1/48
1/50
1/60
1/96
1/100
1/120
1/192
1/200
1/240
1/384
1/400
1/480
1/960
1/1920
1/3840
Auto
1/24
1/25
1/30
1/48
1/50
1/60
1/96
1/100
1/120
1/192
1/200
1/240
1/400
1/480
1/960
1/1920
Auto
1/24
1/25
1/30
1/48
1/50
1/60
1/80
1/96
1/100
1/120
1/160
1/192
1/200
1/240
1/320
1/400
1/480
1/960
ISO Limit6400
3200
1600
800
400
200
100
6400
3200
1600
800
400
200
100
6400
3200
1600
800
400
200
100
6400
3200
1600
1200
800
400
SharpnessHigh
Medium
Low
High
Medium
Low
High
Medium
Low
High
Medium
Low
Exposure Compensation-2 to +2-2 to +2-2 to +2-2 to +2
Raw Audio TrackOff
Low
Mid
High
Off
Low
Mid
High
Off
Low
Mid
High
Off
Low
Mid
High
Auto Audio Mode GroupAuto
On
Off
Auto
Wind Only
Stereo Only
--
* Note on manual shutter: The specific options available in the manual exposure / shutter section vary by the framerate you've chosen. The available shutter speeds you'll see available will be limited to multiples of the framerate you're using. As an example, if you set it to record at 1080p60, you won't see the option for a manual shutter speed of 1/96 but you will see 1/120 and 1/240. In general, the scale goes 1/fps, 1/(2xfps), 1/(4xfps), 1(8xfps), and 1(16xfps).

Other Features for Shooting Video

Here’s a rundown of other key features for shooting video with the HERO8 Black.

Slow Motion (Slo-Mo)

The HERO8 Black has the same slow-motion capabilities as the HERO7 Black. In one way of describing it, it’s capable of up to 8x slow motion. Put another way: it can shoot at up to 240fps (which you can then play back at 30fps, giving the 8x slow option). It’s important to note, though, that the 8x slow motion is only available at 1080p. At 4K, the highest slow-motion rate is 2x. Here are the maximum slow-motion rates at the various resolutions:

Resolution Max Slow Motion Rate
4K 2x
2.7K 4x
1440p 4x
1080p 8x

There’s also a slo-mo icon on the back screen (the snail) that lets you toggle the playback and recording speeds. Again, it depends on the resolution and framerate you’re on. At 4K, for example, the maximum framerate available is 60fps, so if you play that back at 30fps, you’re getting 2x slow motion.

Clips

The Clips feature shoots, well, clips, of a preset duration. (It was called Short Clips on the HERO7 Black.) You can choose a duration of either 15 seconds or 30 seconds.

Obviously, you could end up with the same result with regular shooting and then edit in post, but this saves you some steps to get there. It’s perfect for quick-hit social media posts.

Livestreaming / Live Video Feed

Like its predecessor, the HERO8 Black has the ability to stream live video from the camera through the GoPro app. This is something that GoPro is starting to lean heavily into with the introduction of the new HERO8 mods that are especially suited for vlogging. You can then share that stream through services like Facebook Live, YouTube, Twitch, and Vimeo.

An improvement with the HERO8 Black is that you can now livestream at 1080p; the HERO7 Black is limited to 720p.

Horizon Leveling

This is a new feature for the HERO8 Black. It’s not handled in the camera itself—you have to use the GoPro mobile app to access it. But it does pretty much what it sounds—levels out the horizon to give the footage a more gliding, cinematic look.

Portrait Orientation

The Portrait Orientation feature allows you to film vertically rather than the usual horizontal (or landscape) orientation. This is something YouTube and some other web video services have embraced, mainly because so many people film with their phones held upright. The camera has a built-in sensor that tells it which way is up and should switch accordingly.

But one thing to watch is that once you start recording a video clip, it won’t switch the orientation. So if you start filming in vertical, it will stay in vertical mode. For that reason, there’s an option in the settings where you can lock it into landscape-only recording (it’s called Landscape Lock). Both screens, front and back, also rotate to reflect the vertical orientation.

Voice Control

Like several of the previous models, the HERO8 Black has voice control, so you can start or stop recording with your voice. You can also tag a highlight by voice command while filming. Some examples of commands you can issue related to shooting video are:

  • GoPro, start recording
  • GoPro, stop recording
  • GoPro, HiLight

Highlights / HiLight Tags

You can make notable moments in your video using the HiLight Tags feature. These can be added in real-time as you’re recording or during playback. These can make it easier and quicker to find specific spots in your footage later on.

QuikCapture

This isn’t specifically a video feature, but it can certainly be used for that. It’s the feature that lets you define the shooting mode the camera powers up and automatically starts shooting in when you push the shutter button when the camera is powered off. If you want a quick way to start capturing video (or photos, or time-lapse), it’s a good option.

Looping

The looping feature records for a preset time and then goes back over to re-record over it. So it’s similar functionality as something like a dashcam or security cam, but that’s not really the best use of it on a GoPro.

It’s particularly useful when you know something’s going to happen that you want to capture, but you don’t know exactly when it’s going to happen. With a constant cycle of short clips, you can just stop it when the action has happened. That way, you end up with one short clip rather than hours of dead footage, making post-processing much more manageable and saving storage space on your SD card (and cloud storage of hard drive, if you’re uploading/downloading to either of those destinations).

The default loop length is 5 minutes, but you have the option of setting it to 20, 60, or 120 minutes.

Auto Low Light

This setting will dial down the framerate if the automatic exposure algorithm calculates that it would lead to better exposure. It’s only available when there’s room to dial it down (i.e., if shooting at 60fps, it would have room to fall back to 30fps).

Things Worth Knowing

  • NTSC / PAL. As usual, you can switch between NTSC and PAL on the HERO8 Black, but the way to do it is less obvious than usual. Rather than an NTSC/PAL switch, you go to Preferences > Anti-Flicker and switch between 50Hz (PAL) and 60Hz (NTSC). If you want to access the related manual shutter speed settings for video, you’ll first need to make this switch before the shutter speeds become available (e.g., a shutter speed of 1/100 isn’t available in NTSC/60Hz mode).
  • HDMI Output. Unlike previous Black editions, the HERO8 Black doesn’t have an HDMI output on the camera itself. You can, however, add one with the separate (ie. it’s an optional extra) Media Mod.

GoPro HERO7 Black vs HERO8 Black: Shooting Photos

Overall, the photo modes of the HERO8 Black are very similar to those on the HERO7 Black. There have been some tweaks here and there, as well as some handy new features, but there’s a lot of overlap between the two models in terms of the general approach and feature set.

They both have a 12MP sensor, both shoot RAW, share the same fields of view, have the same enhanced photo features, and produce similar results.

So here’s a detailed rundown of the photo modes available on the HERO8 Black compare with those on the HERO7 Black.

12MP Image Sensor

Both models have a 12-megapixel sensor. It produces photos that measure 4000 by 3000 pixels. That’s an aspect ratio of 4:3.

Some earlier models of GoPro had the option to save smaller images. Some had options for 7MP or 5MP. Neither of these cameras has that option—the images are all saved at full size in nearly all cases.

There is, however, an exception. The HERO8 Black has a new feature called LiveBurst that isn’t available on the HERO7 Black. There’s more on that below. But if you’re shooting in the new LiveBurst mode, you can choose between 8MP and 12MP sizes.

Photo Output Formats: JPG & RAW

In most of the ways you can shoot in the Photo mode, you’ll have a choice of output formats: JPG or RAW+JPG.

With the overhaul of the HERO8 Black’s user interface, there’s a change in how it’s referred to. On the newer model, the JPG-only option is now called Standard rather than JPG, but they’re referring to the same thing.

The other is RAW. Both of these cameras can also save RAW files when using many of the still photo modes. It’s based on Adobe’s DNG format and uses the file extension .gpr. I say “many,” because there are exceptions when you’re shooting in some of the processed modes such as Superphoto and HDR; I cover them separately, below.

There are two main disadvantages to using the RAW output format on either of these cameras. The first is that you really need to process RAW files and export them in another format, such as JPG, before you can do much with them. That’s partly to make them look better—unprocessed RAW data doesn’t look very good and isn’t very usable for many users—and partly to put them in a file format that other people, labs, and online services can actually use. That part is true of RAW files from any camera, but where it becomes more of an issue with GoPros is that there are very few apps that can read the GoPros’ RAW image format. Even though the .gpr format is based on Adobe’s .dng format, there aren’t many imaging apps that can work with them.2 The most notable exception is Adobe Lightroom Classic. If you don’t use Lightroom, I’ve posted a workaround that uses a free app to convert GPR files to DNG.

In part because of that, GoPro has also built in a safety net. And that is that when you choose the RAW format for your photos, it actually saves both a GPR and a JPG version at the same time. So it’s really what other cameras would call RAW+JPG. That has a few advantages. One is the safety-net aspect—if you can’t open the RAW files, you can use the JPG as a fallback. Another is that the flexibility that you can use the smaller and ready-to-go JPG versions for quick sharing or using in the mobile app while also having the master RAW version available when you get around to downloading the files to your desktop.

It also has a couple of disadvantages. One is that saving both files at once uses up more space on your memory card.

The other is that it slows things down when shooting. After all, it’s crunching the RAW and saving a JPG version. That delay means you have to wait for a few seconds before you can take the next shot, which can get annoying. A workaround is to shoot in continuous mode, but that’s not always convenient or desirable and doesn’t so much solve the lag than delay it.

I generally use the RAW option when it’s available.

On both cameras, RAW (.gpr) is available in Photo, Night, Time Lapse Photo, and Night Lapse Photo modes. One of the notable upgrades with the HERO8 Black is that RAW is now available Burst Mode as well. But there are exceptions and qualifications; here’s a detailed breakdown.

HERO7 Black RAW HERO8 Black RAW
Available in Photo, Night, Time Lapse Photo, and Night Lapse Photo modes Available in Photo, Burst, Night, Time Lapse Photo, and Night Lapse Photo modes
Not available with SuperPhoto/HDR Not available with SuperPhoto/HDR
Only available with Wide FOV Only available with Wide digital lens
Not compatible with digital zoom Not compatible with digital zoom
Not available for continuous photos Not available for continuous photos
For Time Lapse Photo, the Interval must be at least 5 seconds For Time Lapse Photo, the Interval must be at least 5 seconds
For Night Lapse Photo, the Shutter setting must be at least 5 seconds For Night Lapse Photo, the Shutter setting must be at least 5 seconds

As you can see, it’s not available with the Continuous Photo mode, but the way it’s handled in that case is particularly confusing; more on that in the Burst Photos / Continuous Photos section below.

Fields of View: Wide, Linear, & Narrow

The fields of view, or FOVs, determine how much of the scene is captured. And when it comes to FOVs, the difference between the HERO8 Black and HERO7 Black is less than meets the eye.

That’s because GoPro has introduced some new marketing buzz with the new model. The HERO8 Black now has “digital lenses.” In reality, it’s just a new name for the old FOVs.

HERO7 Black FOV HERO8 Black Lens
Wide 16-34mm
Linear 19-39mm
Narrow 27mm

Both cameras have the typical ultra-wide-angle view that we’re used to from GoPros and most other action cameras.

There are some other perspectives available. To make it sound more impressive, with the new model, they’ve matched it roughly to 35mm equivalent focal lengths. With the two FOVs where a focal length range is given, that’s accounting for using it in combination with the digital zoom (there’s no range with the Narrow FOV, because the zoom isn’t available with that).

The default is called Wide, or W. GoPro says that it’s the equivalent of a 16-34mm zoom.

There’s also a Linear FOV, or L. This uses the camera’s built-in software to try to correct for the optical distortion of the fisheye lens by straightening lines that would otherwise be bent. The scene also gets cropped from the sides. Linear FOV is especially useful when shooting from drones and trying to avoid massively curved horizons, but it can be useful whenever you want a more natural-looking perspective. GoPro says that the Linear FOV is the equivalent of a 19-39mm zoom.

Finally, there’s a Narrow FOV, or N. GoPro says that this is the equivalent of a 27mm lens on a full-frame camera (there’s no range with this one because the digital zoom isn’t available with the Narrow FOV.

Things Worth Knowing

The Linear and Narrow FOVs are the results of software manipulation, not optics. That is, they’re processed by the camera’s onboard software. That means that they only work with the Standard (JPG) output format. If you’re shooting in RAW, only the Wide FOV (without the digital zoom) will be available. But you can get a similar effect in post-production using shots taken in the Wide FOV if you’re using Lightroom Classic.

The Linear FOV cannibalizes parts of the image to work, so you’ll notice some cropping from the edges of the scene and potentially some stretching as well.

Custom Shooting Presets

One nice improvement that GoPro has made with the HERO8 Black is adding the ability to use custom shooting presets. So you can create your own shortcuts for specific setting combinations you use often. These can really help speed up switching between groups of settings.

Manual Exposure Controls / Exposure Control

GoPros are designed to work well on automatic everything right out of the box. If you want more control over the exposure when shooting photos, you can control two of the three sides of the exposure triangle.

Using the Protune options (more on those below), you can manually set the ISO and shutter speed. The one you can’t control is the aperture; GoPros have a fixed-aperture lens that’s rated at ƒ/2.8.

There’s also another option that gives you some control over the exposure that’s kind of semi-manual. That’s a feature called Exposure Control. The standard automatic exposure calculation is taken across the whole scene in the frame. Exposure Control lets you choose a more specific point in the scene to base the automatic exposure calculation on. An example might be if you’re photographing a person on the snow, but it’s exposing for the whole scene, and therefore their face is dark. You can select the face as the area to expose for so that it brightens that up (and will probably overexpose the background at the same time).

ISO Range

The HERO8 Black doesn’t break any new ground over its predecessor regarding ISO. The range is still 100 to 3200.

Worth noting is that if you switch to Night Photo mode, the available ISO range is more limited, from 100 to 800.

It’s still working within the confines of a small sensor, though, so the image quality at high ISOs is decent but not great. In practice, the higher ISOs start to show degraded image quality relatively quickly. For photos taken indoors or in lower lighting, you’ll notice increasingly noisy/grainy photos with reduced color accuracy and reduced dynamic range (i.e., the images will look harsher).

The way to change the ISO is to go into the shooting options. You can set an ISO Minimum and an ISO Maximum. The automatic exposure will stay within those confines, preferring the lowest ISO it can get away with within that range.

If you’re trying to match another sequence of images and want to assign a specific ISO, you can just set both the ISO Min and ISO Max to the same number.

Manual Shutter Speed

On both cameras, you can override the automatic exposure controls to assign a shutter speed. But you can’t just set anything—there’s a specific set of selections. They are:

  • Auto
  • 1/125
  • 1/250
  • 1/500
  • 1/1000
  • 1/2000

If you need slower shutter speeds, there’s a workaround. That’s to shift out of the regular Photo mode into the Night Photo mode. There you’ll find different shutter speed presets of:

  • Auto
  • 2 seconds
  • 5 seconds
  • 10 seconds
  • 15 seconds
  • 20 seconds
  • 30 seconds

ISO Range

Both cameras have an ISO range from 100 to 3200 in Photo mode.

Exposure Compensation

Both the HERO8 Black and the HERO7 Black offer exposure compensation up to two stops above and below the automatic exposure value.

Focus

Like every other GoPro, both of these models have a fixed-focus lens. So you can’t adjust the focus.

But the upside is that it has an extraordinarily deep focus. It’s very hard to take a photo with a GoPro that’s out of focus (motion blur is a different issue), even if the subject is right up close to the camera.

SuperPhoto & HDR

The sensors used in GoPro cameras are not especially impressive in low-light conditions.

Both of these cameras offer some enhanced image modes that take advantage of the camera’s built-in processing power before the image is saved to the memory card. N

Both cameras have SuperPhoto and HDR, but the algorithms have been tweaked and improved in the HERO8 Black.

Protune

GoPro has revamped the way you access Protune options on the HERO8 Black. With earlier models, you had to turn on the kind of expert mode before you could access these enhanced settings. That’s true on the HERO7 Black as well.

With the HERO8 Black, the Protune name is still there, but the settings aren’t segregated out anymore but are more directly accessible. To me, it’s an improvement and complements the new custom shooting presets feature nicely.

Here’s a master list of the Protune options available in Photo mode:

Protune OptionHERO8 BlackHERO7 BlackHERO6 BlackHERO5 Black
ColorGoPro Color
Flat
GoPro Color
Flat
GoPro Color
Flat
GoPro Color
Flat
White BalanceAuto
2300K
2800K
3200K
4000K
4500K
5000K
5500K
6000K
6500K
Native
Auto
2300K
2800K
3200K
4000K
4500K
5000K
5500K
6000K
6500K
Native
Auto
2300K
2800K
3200K
4000K
4500K
5500K
6000K
6500K
Native
Auto
3000K
4000K
4800K
5500K
6000K
6500K
Native
ShutterAuto
1/125
1/250
1/500
1/1000
1/2000
Auto
1/125
1/250
1/500
1/1000
1/2000
Auto
1/125
1/250
1/500
1/1000
1/2000
Auto
1/125
1/250
1/500
1/1000
1/2000
ISO Min3200
1600
800
400
200
100
3200
1600
800
400
200
100
3200
1600
800
400
200
100
1600
800
400
200
100
ISO Max3200
1600
800
400
200
100
3200
1600
800
400
200
100
3200
1600
800
400
200
100
1600
800
400
200
100
SharpnessHigh
Medium
Low
High
Medium
Low
High
Medium
Low
High
Medium
Low
Exposure Compensation-2 to +2-2 to +2-2 to +2-2 to +2
* The shutter settings were added to the HERO5 Black with a firmware update in April 2017 (v.02.00).

Burst Mode, Continuous Shooting, & LiveBurst

Both cameras have ways to capture rapid sequences of images. Both have Burst and Continuous modes. The HERO8 Black also adds LiveBurst mode.

Burst Mode

The first is the Burst mode. It captures a predefined number of images over a predefined length of time. The fastest is 30 images in 1 second. The slowest is three images in 1 second. But the HERO8 Black adds more options; here’s the master list:

| | HERO8 Black Burst | HERO7 Black Burst |
| ——- | ————————- | ————————- |
| 60/10 | ✓ | |
| 60/6 | ✓ | |
| 30/10 | ✓ | |
| 30/6 | ✓ | ✓ |
| 30/3 | ✓ | ✓ |
| 30/2 | | ✓ |
| 30/1 | ✓ | ✓ |
| 10/3 | ✓ | ✓ |
| 10/2 | | ✓ |
| 10/1 | ✓ | ✓ |
| 5/1 | ✓ | ✓ |
| 3/1 | ✓ | ✓ |

There’s also an Auto option, which works slightly differently in that it will capture as many images as it can while still prioritizing exposure. I have a more detailed explanation and examples here.

Continuous Photo

A similar feature is Continuous photo. Rather than capturing a predetermined number of photos, the Continuous capture feature will keep shooting while you hold down the shutter button. That is, if you press the shutter and release it right away, it will take a single photo.

Both cameras work the same way with Continuous Photo. If you press the shutter and hold it down, it will take a sequence of continuous photos. It can shoot at either 3 or 30 photos per second, depending on the lighting conditions.

One somewhat confusing thing about using Continuous photo on the HERO8 Black is the way it reacts to different output settings. Continuous photo only saves JPG files, not RAW. If you’re pressing and holding the shutter and it’s only taking a single photo, it’s most likely because you’ve got the output set to RAW, Superphoto, or HDR. If you change the output setting to Standard, it should fix the issue.

LiveBurst

LiveBurst is new for the HERO8 Black. It pre-rolls the shutter to capture 1.5 seconds before and after you hit the shutter. When you press the shutter, it saves a rapid sequence of 90 still images (or a 3-second 4K video clip).

It’s very similar to the regular burst mode, but it’s especially useful for fast action when you’re not exactly sure when it’s going to start.

Digital Zoom

The lens on GoPros is fixed. While it’s technically possible to attach an external lens, I’ve yet to come across one that actually works well. So, for the most part, you have to work with a fixed ultra-wide focal length.

Both cameras have a digital zoom. But it’s not an optical zoom. That is, zoomed in, the camera will still create images that 4000 by 3000 pixels, but they don’t have any more detail than you’d get by cropping a non-zoomed image. You can find more details on GoPro zoom and examples here.

Night Photo

GoPros have a regular Photo mode and also a Night Photo mode.

The most important distinction with the Night Photo mode is that you can select longer shutter speeds. The available options on both cameras are:

  • Auto
  • 2 seconds
  • 5 seconds
  • 10 seconds
  • 15 seconds
  • 20 seconds
  • 30 seconds

There are some other minor differences once you switch to Night Photo. There’s a more limited ISO range available, from 100 to 800 (compared to 100 to 3200 in the regular Photo mode). And you can’t choose HDR or Superphoto as output options (you can only choose between Standard and RAW).

Timer

A self-timer doesn’t sound like much of a feature. Cameras have had them for decades. But surprisingly, it’s something that has only been available on the past couple of GoPro models.

The self-timer on both cameras has three options:

  • Off
  • 3 seconds
  • 10 seconds

GoPro HERO7 Black vs HERO8 Black: Shooting Time Lapse

Both of these cameras have quite powerful features for shooting various kinds of time-lapse photos and footage. There’s a lot of overlap, but the HERO8 Black has some key improvements that some users will find useful.

Both shoot time-lapse photos, time-lapse video, night lapse, and hyperlapse.

One new addition with the HERO8 Black is Nightlapse video; both cameras also shoot Nightlapse photo, but the HERO7 Black doesn’t have Nightlapse video that compiles the video file in-camera.

Time Lapse Intervals

There is a key difference in the intervals that are available. These are available in both time-lapse photo and time-lapse video modes.

Both can shoot at these intervals: 0.5 (default), 1, 2, 5, 10, 30, and 60 seconds. The HERO8 Black also has these longer intervals available: 1, 2, 5, 30 minutes, and 60 minutes. With those longer intervals, you’ll almost certainly want to be running the camera with external power of some kind.

TimeWarp / TimeWarp 2.0

Both of these cameras shoot hyperlapse. That is, time-lapse when the camera is in motion. The key innovation here is that the footage is stabilized and smoothed, creating and much better viewing experience.

On the HERO7 Black, this is called TimeWarp.

On the HERO8 Black, it has taken advantage of the more aggressive stabilization and processor clock speed to upgrade to TimeWarp 2.0.

So they both do fundamentally the same thing, but the footage out of the HERO8 Black will be smoother in some cases.

Where to Buy

You can find the HERO8 Black and HERO7 Black at:

Another option is to trade up an old camera to the HERO8 Black to get $100 off.

With GoPro’s trade-up deal, you can get $100 off the HERO8 Black, bringing it down to $299.99.

It works like this: You send in an old digital camera, any brand, in any condition, whether it still works or not. They cover the shipping of your old camera and will send you the new one with 2-day UPS shipping when they receive the old one. The deal is only available at GoPro.com.


  1. Another camera was released around the same time, the 360-degree MAX, but it doesn’t fall in the HERO8 line.
  2. And no, you can’t just rename the file extension, unfortunately.

Images and product information from Amazon PA-API were last updated on 2020-05-27 at 01:48. Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon Site at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

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This post was last modified on April 19, 2020 9:22 am

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