GoPro HERO9 Black Video Modes

GoPro has released their latest and greatest flagship action cam, the HERO9 Black. Here's a rundown of the features and modes available when shooting video with it.
GoPro HERO9 Black
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GoPros are great for taking photos. And time lapse. But their bread and butter shooting mode has always been video. It’s really the format that defines them.

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.

GoPros have been able to shoot 4K video for a while now. As can a bunch of their competitors. So many, in fact, that 4K video has become somewhat old hat now, even though, in reality, it’s probably more than many shooters need.

With the HERO9 Black, GoPro has also added a high-resolution sensor. That’s allowed them to bump up the maximum video resolution to 5K30. While it gives higher resolution, I’d argue that the biggest benefit is that it also gives makes more sensor real estate available for more aggressive in-camera video stabilization to make your footage even smoother. So another of the headline features of the HERO9 Black is that it has even better in-camera video stabilization (now HyperSmooth 3.0). They’ve also added a larger battery to keep you shooting longer and to help power the processor through its power-hungry stabilization processing, added scheduled and predefined duration shooting, and are releasing a new lens port that gives you an even wider field of view and aggressive horizon leveling so that your footage is always level. That’s in addition to many video features that overlap with the HERO8 Black.

The most obvious difference with the HERO9 Black when you look at the camera is the new color front screen. On previous Black edition cameras, the front screen was just for text to show status feedback. On the new camera, following the lead of the DJI Osmo Action, it’s now a full-color live preview screen. It’s much smaller than the back screen and doesn’t show the full-frame, but it’s especially useful to vloggers or anytime you want to shoot selfies with yourself in the frame. You can check whether you’re actually in the frame rather than the camera pointing over your shoulder.

Less obviously, the lens port is once again removable (it wasn’t on the HERO8 Black). While that’s useful for replacing damaged or scratched lens ports and to increase the number of filter options, probably the most interesting aspect is that it’s being done to make way for a new Lens Mod accessory that will add some interesting new features such as an even wider field of view and better horizon leveling. The Lens Mod accessory isn’t available at time of writing, but once it’s out I’ll put it through its paces.

So here’s a rundown of the various options available when shooting video with the HERO9 Black.

Resolutions, Framerates, & Aspect Ratios

One of the headline features of the new HERO9 Black is that it can shoot 5K video at up to 30 frames per second (i.e., 5K30). The 5K video measures 5120 by 2880.

A neat feature of the 5K30 setting is that you can extra 14.75 megapixel still images from the video. (You can also grab still images from the lower resolution videos as well—they’re just going to result in lower resolution stills, obviously.)

Video Resolution

The 5K resolution is made possible by the larger sensor that GoPro has included. And while 5K is, frankly, more than many users need, it also gives the very useful side-effect of providing more room for even more aggressive digital stabilization because the extra resolutions give the software algorithm even more data around the edges of the frame that is available to cannibalize.

Aside from the new 5K30 mode, there’s a lot of overlap between the resolution/framerate options offered on the HERO9 Black with those that were offered on the HERO8 Black, although they’ve simplified the offerings to more commonly used combinations. There are still two aspect ratios: 16:9 and 4:3. The lowest resolution for video on the HERO9 Black is 1080p.

Here’s an illustration showing how the video resolutions available on the GoPro HERO9 Black compare with each other in terms of size. Worth noting is that while 5K is the highest resolution and is the widest frame, it’s not the tallest. That’s why there’s that gap in the top right. You can click on the image to open a full-size resolution if you want to see just how big these sizes are.

GoPro HERO9 Black Video Resolutions Compared

Video Framerates

Like several previous models, the fastest video frame rate available on the HERO9 Black is 240 fps. That’s useful for shooting slow-motion footage.

The slowest is 24 fps, most often used for a classic cinematic look.

As usual, switching between PAL and NTSC will change the available framerates.1 Not all framerates are available at all resolutions. The table below has the combinations available.

Video Bitrates

The maximum bitrate available on the HERO9 Black is 100Mbps. That’s only available with 4K and 2.7K resolutions. Bitrates at other combinations of resolution and framerates drop down below that, ranging from 100Mbps at the top end down to 45Mpbs at the low end.

On older models, switching between high and low bitrate modes wasn’t as direct as it could be. Starting with the HERO8 Black, GoPro moved to a simpler and more intuitive high and standard bitrate switch. You don’t need to activate Protune first anymore. You can just toggle the video bitrates directly.

The reason that you might want to choose one or the other relates to the balance between file size and picture quality. A higher bitrate has a potentially higher image/video quality, but it also has a significantly larger file size. (By file size, I’m referring to space on the memory card or disk. It doesn’t refer to the resolution size, which is different.) So higher bitrate files are larger, which uses up space on your memory card more quickly and makes the files more cumbersome to transfer over wifi connections or process on computers.

Here’s a master list of which bitrates are used which resolution/framerate combinations, with both the High and Standard bitrate settings (with HEVC codec).

ResolutionFramerate (NTSC / PAL)High BitrateStandard BitratePixelsAspect RatioDigital Lenses
5K30100605120x288016:9Wide, Linear, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow
2510060Wide, Linear, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow
2410060Wide, Linear, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow
4K60100603840x216016:9Wide, Linear, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow
5010060Wide, Linear, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow
3010060SuperView, Wide, Linear, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow
2510060SuperView, Wide, Linear, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow
2410060SuperView, Wide, Linear, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow
4K 4:330100604096x30724:3Wide, Linear, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow
2510060Wide, Linear, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow
2410060Wide, Linear, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow
2.7K120100602704x152016:9SuperView, Wide, Linear, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow
10010060SuperView, Wide, Linear, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow
6010060SuperView, Wide, Linear, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow
5010060SuperView, Wide, Linear, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow
2.7K 4:360100602704x20284:3Wide, Linear, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow
5010060Wide, Linear, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow
1440p12078601920x14404:3Wide, Linear, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow
1007860Wide, Linear, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow
606045Wide, Linear, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow
506045Wide, Linear, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow
306045Wide, Linear, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow
256045Wide, Linear, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow
246045Wide, Linear, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow
1080p24078601920x108016:9Wide, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow
2007860Wide, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow
1207845SuperView, Wide, Linear, Narrow, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow
1007845SuperView, Wide, Linear, Narrow, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow
606045SuperView, Wide, Linear, Narrow, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow
506045SuperView, Wide, Linear, Narrow, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow
306045SuperView, Wide, Linear, Narrow, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow
256045SuperView, Wide, Linear, Narrow, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow
246045SuperView, Wide, Linear, Narrow, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow

Whether the file is compressed with the HEVC or H.264 codecs (more on this below), the HERO9 Black uses variable compression, just like its predecessors. So, in practice, you can end up with bitrates just slightly above or below these target bitrates.

Digital Lenses / Fields of View

The HERO9 Black uses the FOV terminology introduced with the HERO8 Black of having “lenses” rather than FOVs. They’re the same thing and work the same way. The new terminology is trying to correspond more closely to a traditional camera lens. So if you’re used to working in those focal lengths, they’re probably more intuitive (although they’re approximations of a true optical focal length).

There’s a total of four FOVs available, although they’re not all available at every resolution. There’s actually five, but the widest of them is when using the dedicated Max Lens accessory, which hasn’t been released yet as of the time of writing. There’s also a Linear + Horizon Leveling option, which isn’t a truly distinct FOV but rather a combination of a FOV and a feature.

This chart shows which fields of view (or digital lenses) are available at which combinations of resolution and framerate.

ResolutionFramerate (NTSC / PAL)Digital LensesPixelsAspect Ratio
5K30/25
24
Wide, Linear, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow5120x288016:9
4K60/50Wide, Linear, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow3840x216016:9
30/25
24
SuperView, Wide, Linear, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow
4K 4:330/25
24
Wide, Linear, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow4096, 30724:3
2.7K120/100
60/50
SuperView, Wide, Linear, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow2704x152016:9
2.7K 4:360/50Wide, Linear, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow2704x20284:3
1440p120/100
60/50
30/25
24
Wide, Linear, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow1920x14404:3
1080p240/200Wide, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow1920x108016:9
120/100
60/50
30/25
24
SuperView, Wide, Linear, Narrow, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Narrow

And here’s what used to be known as fields of view on earlier models correspond to the digital lens focal lengths on the HERO9 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, but it’s also more distorted. And it’s not available in every resolution/fps combination. Linear digitally corrects for lens distortion. Linear + Horizon Leveling adds digital horizon leveling in-camera2 (the Lens Mod will add a different method that will presumably make it available with other FOVs). And Narrow is essentially a combination of Linear and zoomed in.

Here are some practical examples. With these, I have basic HyperSmooth turned on, which trims a little from around the edges of the frame. They were all shot in 1080p (not all FOVs are available in the larger resolutions).

GoPro HERO9 Black Video FOV - SuperView
GoPro HERO9 Black Video FOV – SuperView
GoPro HERO9 Black Video FOV - Wide
GoPro HERO9 Black Video FOV – Wide
GoPro HERO9 Black Video FOV - Linear
GoPro HERO9 Black Video FOV – Linear
GoPro HERO9 Black Video FOV - Narrow
GoPro HERO9 Black Video FOV – Narrow

Filetypes & Codecs: H.264 / HEVC (H.265)

The HERO9 Black has two video codecs available: HEVC (H.265) and standard H.264 (AVC). All of the video files have the same file extension of .mp4—the difference is in the codecs that are used to encode the video data within that mp4 container.

GoPro introduced the HEVC (H.265) codec back with the HERO6 Black. 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 file size. 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, first try downloading the new GoPro Player desktop app. There are versions for Mac and Windows; you can find them here. I’d previously posted another workaround here.)

On the H9 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.

Something to be aware of when using the HEVC option is that the GoPro mobile app can’t preview HEVC files directly in playback. You’ll have to download the entire file to your phone or tablet and then try to play it back locally.

In-Camera Video Stabilization

One of the headline upgrades of the HERO9 Black is the improved in-camera stabilization. It’s a digital stabilization, meaning that it is accomplished using software algorithms rather than optically with the lens. And traditionally, digital stabilization hasn’t been as effective as optical or mechanical stabilization, but GoPro has been investing heavily in improving their technology, and the latest versions are really impressive. And it is infinitely easier to use—there are no extra accessories or post-processing to be done.

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

Protune

With the HERO9 Black, you don’t need to enable the Protune mode to access the Protune settings. They’re now simply treated as extended settings, and you can find them if you scroll down in the preset settings screen when you’re choosing what settings to use for each preset.

Here’s a rundown of the various Protune options available when shooting video with the HERO9 Black.

Protune OptionHERO10 BlackHERO9 BlackHERO8 BlackHERO7 BlackHERO6 BlackHERO5 Black
BitrateLow (default)
High
Low (default)
High
Low (default)
High
---
ColorVibrant (default)
Natural
Flat
GoPro Color
Flat
GoPro 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
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/fps
1/(2xfps)
1/(4xfps)
1/(8xfps)
1/(16xfps)
Auto
1/fps
1/(2xfps)
1/(4xfps)
1/(8xfps)
1/(16xfps)
Auto
1/fps
1/(2xfps)
1/(4xfps)
1/(8xfps)
1/(16xfps)
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
800
400
200
100
6400
3200
1600
800
400
200
100
6400
3200
1600
1200
800
400
SharpnessHigh
Medium (default)
Low
High
Medium (default)
Low
High
Medium (default)
Low
High
Medium (default)
Low
High
Medium (default)
Low
High
Medium (default)
Low
Exposure Compensation-2 to +2-2 to +2-2 to +2-2 to +2-2 to +2-2 to +2
Raw Audio TrackOff (default)
Low
Mid
High
Off
Low
Mid
High
Off
Low
Mid
High
Off
Low
Mid
High
Off
Low
Mid
High
Off
Low
Mid
High
WindAuto (default)
On
Off
Auto
On
Off
Auto
On
Off
Auto Audio Mode GroupAuto
On
Off
Auto
On
Off
Auto
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 are some of the other key features for shooting video with the HERO9 Black.

New Duration Shooting

The HERO9 Black introduces a new Duration setting that will end the recording a preset time after it’s started.

The options are:

  • No Limit (aka Duration Setting is Off)
  • 30 seconds
  • 1, 5, 15, 30 minutes
  • 1, 2, 3 hours

It will be especially useful when capturing events of known duration or when you’re mounting the camera out of reach and other remote control options are practical or convenient.

The longest durations, of course, will almost certainly require that you’re running the camera on external power—you’d have to be very lucky to get three hours of video recording on a single charge.

Scheduled Capture

A brand-new feature with the HERO9 Black is the Schedule Capture mode. It lets you schedule a shot up to 24 hours in advance. The camera stays in a low-battery standby mode to preserve battery power and then turns on and makes the capture at the designated time. The camera stays on for as long as you’ve got set in the separate Auto Power Off setting.

Remote Control

You can control the HERO9 Black with the GoPro mobile app and some basic voice commands, but it is not compatible with the Smart Remote. At the time of writing, there is no dedicated remote available for this model.

Slow Motion (Slo-Mo)

The HERO9 Black has the same slow-motion capabilities as the HERO8 Black (and the HERO7 Black before that). 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. 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.

Live Video Feed

Like its predecessor, the HERO9 Black has the ability to stream live video from the camera through the GoPro app. You can then share that stream through services like Facebook Live, YouTube, Twitch, and Vimeo. You can find more details here.

A separate feature is that you can also output a live video signal via HDMI. You can use this as one method—and potentially a better, though more complicated one—if you’re using your HERO9 as a webcam or for sending the video signal directly to your computer. But for that you’ll need to add the Media Mod, because the HERO8 Black doesn’t include a built-in HDMI cable (the Media Mod adds it). You’ll also need an HDMI video capture device and a micro-HDMI to HDMI cable.

NB: There is another, simpler way to use the HERO9 Black as a webcam that’s baked into the camera’s firmware. It uses the USB method, which connects directly without the need for an HDMI output put. It can also be more susceptible to video lag and other issues.

Horizon Leveling

This feature was first introduced with the HERO8 Black and has been improved with the HERO9 Black. It does pretty much what it sounds—levels out the horizon to give the footage a more gliding, cinematic look. There is now an in-camera method when using the Linear + Horizon Leveling FOV option.

There’ll be another–and presumably better, with more compatibility with other FOVs–way soon that this can be done in-camera on the HERO9 Black, but it requires the Max Lens accessory that isn’t yet released at the time of writing.

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 HERO9 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

  • The HERO9 Black does not work with the Smart Remote. There is no option in the camera’s connection menu to connect to the remote.
  • NTSC / PAL. As usual, you can switch between NTSC and PAL, 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. Like the HERO8 Black, the HERO9 Black doesn’t have an HDMI output on the camera itself (earlier Black edition cameras did have one built into the camera). You can, however, add one with the separate (ie. it’s an optional extra) Media Mod.
  • GoPro HERO9 Black Manual. You can download a PDF version of the website directly from the GoPro website here [PDF].

  1. Switching between NTSC and PAL isn’t quite as intuitive as it once was. On the HERO8 Black and HERO9 Black, you’re looking for the “deflicker” settings. 
  2. If you’re not seeing the Linear + Horizon Leveling option, be sure that your camera’s firmware to at least v.1.21. It was a feature added with that firmware version. 
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2 Responses

  1. Hai i purchased hero 9 block camera recently but while recording it is strucking not working the any of the switch or options unless i remove the battary and keep the battery only it is working shy this problumm it is a new camera only

    1. If it is doing this repeatedly, first thing to check is that the memory card is fast enough. That would be an unusual problem to be caused by a memory card, but it’s something to troubleshoot. I have some recommendations on memory cards for this camera here. It’s also worth checking that the firmware is up to date with the latest version. If you have a spare battery available, it’s worth trying that. If none of that fixes it, it’s time to be in touch directly with GoPro customer support.

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