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Written by: Jim Davis — Last updated: 

gopro icon hero8You can safely say HERO8 revolutionized the world of action cameras. Don't get me wrong, GoPro was very popular before HERO8's release, but this little powerhouse of an action cam made their sales skyrocket.

You see, prior to HERO8, the biggest advantage "normal" DSLR cameras had over their smaller counterparts was their ability to produce more stable high-quality recordings. Even the almighty (at the time) HERO7 Black was lacking in this department.

However, with HERO8 Black, everything changed. The built-in mounting, mods, and HyperSmooth 2.0 stabilization technology made it a perfect choice for recording high-speed activities such as motorbiking or surfing.

In this review, we'll cover HERO8's design choices, ability to take photos and record videos, as well as some of it's other features. Let's get to it!

HERO8 Black: Detailed Review

Key Features & Specs:
  • Photo: 12MP
  • Video: 4K60
  • Video stabilization: Hypersmooth 2.0
  • Digital Lenses/FOV: SuperView, Wide, Narrow, Linear
  • Codecs: H.264 and H.265
  • Live Burst, Live Stream in 1080p
PROS
  • Excellent video quality
  • Incredible stabilization features
  • Wide variety of mods
CONS
  • No HDMI ports
  • Can be expensive for some

GoPro HERO8 Black: Design

Many consider it to be the best GoPro cam design-wise, even superior to HERO9. So, let's take a look at how HERO8 is built.

GoPro HERO8 Black: Size and Weight

HERO8 Black is the heaviest camera in the HERO series, but this was a smart design change. HERO8 has integrated folding fingers, so you won’t need to spend extra money on a mounting frame. This also makes the whole camera more compact since you won’t need extra bulkiness of the mounting case when mounting it on gimbals or mounts.

HERO8 Black is 4.4 oz(126g) heavy, and it’s dimensions are 2.6 x 1.9 x 1.1( 66 x 48 x 28 in cm). It’s a little bigger than the HERO7, but that’s an insignificant difference.

GoPro HERO8 Black: Compartments

Up until now, GoPro cameras would usually have two compartments. HERO8 only has one compartment that has all the necessary ports and slots that you need. The compartment is located on the side, and it has one battery slot, microSD card slot, and USB-C port. If you are a long term GoPro appreciator, you may notice that there is no HDMI port.

People that need the HDMI port need to spend extra money on the Media mod. I predict that this will be GoPro cameras’ future and that this trade-off is overall worth it.

Preset Controls

A great feature that will be appreciated by any professional filmmaker is the HERO8 ProTune and presets. Presets are saved settings for your photos or videos, and this excellent feature allows you to toy around with many different setting HERO8 can offer.

You can play around with these settings before you start recording the footage you want, or you can do a few test runs and see for yourself the best options for your situation.

hero8 presets

HERO8 Presets by https://abekislevitz.com/

For example, suppose you are a skateboarder. In that case, you can adjust these presets to easily switch between them if you want a particular preset for Slo-Mo or if you often record in different environments and times of the day.

Presets are also available for taking photos, and you can carefully adjust your ISO, Shutter speed, Sharpness, etc. Overall this is a handy tool, no matter what hobby you are engaging in.

GoPro HERO8 Black: Taking Photos

Let's review HERO8 shooting capabilities separately. First, we'll talk about taking photos and then take a look at whether it's any good when it comes to recording videos.

GoPro HERO8 Black Fields of Vision

GoPro HERO8 has the usual three field of view settings that HERO Cameras had before, but it also has the Narrow FOV, which is available only for GoPro MAX and HERO8.

gopro8 fov superview wide linear narrow

Field of View settings that HERO8 provides you with are Narrow, Wide, Linear, and Superview. On HERO8, the Field of View is called Digital Lenses, so don’t get confused.

Linear FOV

Linear is the most suitable FOV when taking pictures using a drone. It straightens out the footage and makes the image look like it’s taken with a regular camera.

Wide FOV

The wide option is the default view for all GoPro cameras. The wide option is that recognizable GoPro Fish-Eye look that you will most often encounter in videos recorded with action cameras.

It works great when recording high-speed POV footage like Motorbiking and biking. It’s the overall best choice for the POV Shoots and selfies.

This FOV captures a much broader scene than the rest of the options.

Narrow FOV

Narrow is, as the name suggests, the smallest Field Of View you can choose. It’s most suitable for taking pictures of things that are in the distance.

GoPro HERO8 Black ISO Range

HERO8 didn’t bring much progress than the last few cameras when it comes to ISO Range. The ISO range you can choose from goes from 100 to 3200 for the normal mode.

gopro hero8 iso settings comparison

For the Night mode, the range only goes from 100 to 800. This setting is the same when both recording or taking photos.

GoPro HERO8 Black Shutter Speed

All GoPro cameras, including HERO8, allow you to choose from a specific set of shutter speeds. Mastering this setting will make a significant difference in your footage. The slower your shutter speed is, the more light will be allowed, making your picture more bright.

The default setting for Shutter speed is Auto on all GoPro cameras. To change this setting, you have to enable the Protune and access it. As we mentioned before, faster shutter speed is used for bright environments and scenes, while the slower shutter speeds are used while recording the dark.

The Shutter Speeds you can choose from are: Auto, 1/125, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000, 1/2000

Night Mode

GoPro also has a Night Mode, which expands your capabilities when recording in low light. One of the great things about it is that it allows you to use even slower shutter speeds.

These include Auto, 2 seconds, 5 seconds, 10 seconds, 15 seconds, 20 seconds, and finally 30 seconds.

Those interested in using Manual shutter speeds should know that they will get the best results when using twice as fast shutter speed as their framerate.

GoPro HERO8 Black: Recording Videos

GoPro HERO8 Black: Bitrate

Bitrate is a significant feature that indicates the quality of the video. The higher the bitrate is, the higher the video quality is. Bitrate is the speed at which the data is written to the memory card.

We suggest that you buy faster Memory cards as they will help the camera fulfill its potential. The maximum bitrate on HERO8 is 100 Mb/s while recording in 4K or 2.7K in all aspect ratios, and it can go down to 45 MB/s when recording in lower resolution.

The HERO8 Bitrate is much higher than the bitrate on HERO7. The HERO9 didn’t bring improvements, but I predict that the HERO models in the future will improve this attribute even further. Because of that, don’t save money when buying a GoPro SD card.

GoPro HERO8 Black: Digital Lenses

Digital Lenses is the new name for the Field of view. There is no difference in FOV when recording and taking photos.

What I’ve explained in the FOV section applies to both recording and taking pictures. The only difference is that the recording allows another field of view introduced with the HERO8. This FOV is called SuperView.

SuperView FOV

If you aren’t a fan of the Fish-Eye lens or have a specific situation in which you want your footage to look straight, SuperView is an excellent choice. Its job is to squeeze the Fish-Eye look and straighten out the footage to catch a broader scene.

GoPro HERO8 Black: Filetypes & Codecs

Everyone is familiar with the filetypes that are common in photography and video making. Even beginner filmmakers can list some of the most common filetypes. All of the footage recorded by the HERO8 will have the .mp4 file extension.

Even though this file format is released in the early 2000s, it supports streaming over the internet, and it’s the overall most common video format you may encounter.

Related: Setting up GoPro as Webcam for Streaming

Importance of Video Codecs

But, I want to mention the significance of codecs and explain them. Even though all of your footage recorded with HERO8 will be in the mp4 format, what’s inside it will differ depending on what codec you are going to use. There are two different codecs available on HERO8, AVC (H.264) and HEVC (H.265).

video codecs explained

H.265 is a newer codec, and it’s a vast improvement since it significantly improves the video quality. It offers you much better video compression, from 25% to 50% better at the same bitrate and video quality.

The problem is that it’s not compatible with older Operating systems, so you should have this in mind. Windows 10, for example, supports it. Those with older operating systems can download converters or upgrade their OS.

There are two options for HERO8, HEVC, or HEVC + AVC. If you choose the HEVC mode, all the footage will use the HEVC codec. HEVC + AVC may seem a little confusing. You won’t record using both codecs at the same time.

However, higher-quality videos with higher framerates such as 4K60 don’t support recording with AVC, so if you choose that option, the whole video will be recorded using the HEVC codec. When possible, GoPro will record using the AVC codec.

GoPro HERO8 Mods and Accessories

The most fantastic novelty in the HERO series is the new HERO8 Mods. These allow you to significantly expand your camera’s possibilities and help you make better footage.

HERO8 Mods are only compatible with the HERO8, and you can’t use them on newer or older models. HERO8 is uniquely designed since it has built-in mounting and only a single compartment. GoPro removed the HDMI port and the second compartment with the intention of Media Mod fulfilling its job.

gopro hero8 light mod

There are currently three mods you can buy: Media Mod, Light Mod, and Display Mod. To use the other two, you first have to buy the Media Mod. I explained these mods to a greater extent in my review of the best GoPro accessories.

The downsides of Media Mod is that it’s not waterproof, and it’s overpriced if you want it only because of the HDMI port.

GoPro HERO8 Black Protective Housing

The protective housing is a must-have addition for anyone that expects their camera to be exposed to impacts, dirt, or debris. The cameras before HERO8 had a similar accessory that was called the Super Suit. The Protective housing does pretty much the same thing but only for HERO8.

On top of being durable and protective, Protective housing makes the camera waterproof to up to 60m underwater. This attribute makes it a perfect choice for people that record underwater. The protective housing also allows the use of lenses. Unfortunately, you can’t use this in combination with the Media mod.

HERO8 Black: Final Verdict

Currently, HERO8 Black is one of the top choices when it comes to action cameras. It was released more than a year ago, but it still holds up to the expectations. There aren’t many downsides except that it can be pricy for amateurs, but, in the end, it’s worth it.

Finally, the mods make the camera very versatile for a variety of hobbies and sports. If money isn’t a problem for you, I can’t recommend this camera enough.

If you were to busy to read through our detailed review of HERO8 Black's features, we will break it down for you and give each important segment its individual rating:

Taking Photos

HERO8 Black is great at taking photos, but so is it's predecessor. We haven't seen much improvement there and that's why we won't rate it 5/5.

Recording Videos

When it comes to filming videos, HERO8 Black is incredibly good. It's miles better than any other action camera on the market (well, except HERO9). Whether you're traveling, watching birds, or biking at high-speeds, HERO8 will suit you perfectly.

Pricing

Some consider HERO8 Black to be a luxury camera. If that's you, we recommend checking out HERO7 Black.