Does the GoPro Hero 8 live up to the hype? What’s new and is it worth upgrading to the GoPro Hero 8? Find out in my full hands on review!
Well it’s finally here – the GoPro Hero 8! Whoop whoop!
I’ve been using a GoPro since the very first model launched waaaaay back in 2004 (a 35mm film version!) and have watched it evolve from a rather cumbersome camera into the sleek market leading action camera it is today.
Over the last week I’ve been putting the new GoPro Hero 8 through its paces to see if it lives up to excitement and if new features like Hypersmooth 2.0 and the media mod are worth the upgrade!
So here’s my full GoPro Hero 8 review…
REVIEW: GoPro Hero 8 – Is It Worth The Hype?
So What’s New?
First off lets start with what’s new about the GoPro Hero 8 and some of its key features;
…I’ve also highlighted some of the bits I’m most excited about!
- New slimed down design (14% lighter apparently!)
- Hypersmooth 2.0 (which most importnalty works on ALL resolutions AND frame rates)
- Timewarp 2.0
- 4K @ 60FPS
- Inbuilt video and photo presets
- Upgraded Superphoto
- Floating fingers (so no need for a case to attach to accessories)
- Compatibility with the new Media Mod
- Night lapse video
- Improved audio (inc front facing mic)
- 1080p live streaming
- New user interface
Surprisingly (and despite a LOT of rumours) GoPro actually didn’t up any of the video frame rates on the Hero 8, which is a slightly puzzling move, especially given the competition from Osmo Action. I for one was super excited about the prospect of 120FPS for 4K and 480FPS at 1080…but I guess we’ll have to wait for Hero 9 for that.
To be honest when it comes to what’s ACTUALLY new (and useful!) it’s more down to user interface, inbuilt settings and of course the fact Hypersmooth 2.0 works across all frames rates and resolutions – which admittedly is very welcomed!
First impressions of the Hero 8 are that its a familiar piece of tech with a sleeker design – the compact profile is certainly a higher end look and feel.
The low profile buttons (including the flush power on/mode selector) also add to this, as do the rounded off corners.
The floating fingers (which replace the need for the cage mount) are a nice little addition but to be honest I always have my GoPro mounted to something so they don’t make a huge difference to the way personally use the camera.
In actual fact having multiple mounts with a few cages actually makes it more convenient as there’s less unscrewing and rescrewing…more about that later though.
The on screen user interface has had a few tweaks too, which make switching between modes and tweaking settings a lot easier – as well as quicker access to the lens options available.
Other than that it’s the same GoPro we know – and for the most part love – with some punchy upgrades.
If you thought Hypersmooth on the Hero 7 was good then Hypersmooth 2.0 might not sound like a huge upgrade – but trust me it is!
The biggest advantage to Hypersmooth 2.0 is also (in my opinion) the biggest upgraded feature of Gopro Hero 8 – the ability to stabilise video in ALL resolutions and more importantly at ALL frame rates.
Yup – now you can shoot silky smooth footage at full 4K or even in super slow mo at 120FPS at 2.7K or 240FPS at 1080
…now for video nerds like myself this is pretty freaking exciting!
Along with the upgraded standard of Hypersmooth is the option to “boost” the Hypersmooth – which levels the horizon and offers an even better stabilisation.The one drawback is that it isnt available in all frame rates and resolutions – but it’s another tool in your arsenal to be aware of.
One of my favourite settings on the Hero 7 was Timewarp – so the new Timewarp 2.0 is something I was super excited to try out and it’s great for giving an overview of a long sequence or without having to speed ramp stuff in post production.
Timewarp 2.0 again comes with stabilisation in all resolutions (yaaaaay 4K!) but also has some other seemingly small, but impactful upgrades.
These include auto speed (so you don’t have to play around with how much you want things sped up) but you can also now pause the speed and go back to filming at a normal playback speed for a bit and then speed things up again with a simple tap of the touch screen.
Which if used correctly is going to produce some really creative results!
The addition of inbuilt GoPro video presets won’t be much of an enticement for those already familiar with playing around with GoPro settings, but for those not super clued into video production or new to GoPro the new presets will certainly help you quickly up your creative game.
Here’s a quick rundown of them;
- Standard = 1080, 60 FPS, Wide
- Activity = 2.7K, 60 FPS, Superview
- Cinematic = 4K, 30 FPS, Linear
- Slo-Mo = 1080, 240 FPS, Wide
Create Your Own
As part of these presets you can also create your own for quick selection – which is great if you flick between a few different options regularly and especially useful if you tweak the pro tune settings for specific situations like indoor studio shoots or snowboarding.
My go to would be the Activity style settings though as the 60FPS gives you the option for slowing down footage and the 2.7K creates a file size and resolution useable for most people…and most importantly easily editable!
Along with the creation of your own presets there are also some customisable widgets, where you can have quick access to settings you tweak heaps, like ISO and frame rates, which is a nice little touch.
For those shooting action sports the new live burst photo mode is going to be of particular interest. It effectively takes a short video of the subject and then breaks it down into 90 frames – so you can choose the best ones using the GoPro App.
Great for grabbing that EXACT moment that makes the shot and you can opt for either 8 megapixel or 12 mega pixels options.
A simple addition which will certainly produce some pretty epic results.
The Slow Mo/Snail Button
Also worth noting is something I haven’t really seen flagged up on any reviews yet and that the “snail button’. Basically when you’re selecting video modes if you hit that it’ll automatically adjust the FPS to the maximum option for your resolution.
So if you’re settings are usually 2.7K @ 60FPS and then you suddenly want to shoot something with a higher frame rate for slow mo it’ll bump it to 120FPS, or even 240FPS if you’re in 1080.
A small tweak which I think will be pretty handy in a lot of situations!
Turns out you can also add other custom shortcuts to the video and photo home screen too.
As much as I loved vlogging with the Hero 7 I’d easily admit that the audio quality definitely needed some work. the Hero 8 – while not perfect – has certainly improved the audio quality a lot, especially when it comes to reduces wind noise, which is much appreciated.
They’ve also added a front facing mic to the Hero 8 too, which hugely improves audio when talking to the camera.
Which then brings me nicely to the new Media Mod…
GoPro Media Mod
I loved my GoPro Hero 7 for vlogging but I’m also quick to admit that it did have some big drawbacks – including sound quality and being able to rig it up with accessories to create higher end content.
Now the GoPro Hero 8 does has pretty beefed up audio compared with the 7 (including reduced wind noise) but it also has the option of a new Media Mount and it seems directly aimed at the vlogging market and those wanting a single camera to shoot with.
The 3 key options for this that launched along side the GoPro Hero 8 are the external mic, LED light and secondary screens lets have a quick look at those…
GoPro External Mic
Sound quality has always been my biggest issue with the GoPro (especially for talking to the camera pieces) and although the Hero 7 addressed this it still wasn’t perfect.
Cue the GoPro external mic – which really bumps up the audio quality.The Mic Mod is also the base mod for attaching both the LED and Screen Mods too – so if you’re wanting to utilise them you’ll need this one to start with
Although the Hero 8 is a huge improvement (especially with that front facing mic) for those wanting more professional audio the external mic is a really solid fix and is going to be a must for most GoPro users!
Low light and fill lighting with GoPro has always been a niggle – especially for a good sunset surf or shooting an early morning adventure.
Although the LED light isn’t going to be a big feature for most users, it’s a great option to have and certainly makes the Hero 8 more versatile at all times of the day.
GoPro Hero 8 Screen Mod
Vloggers rejoice – the GoPro can finally have a useable second screen for framing your talking pieces!
Even though it’s not inbuilt (like the Osmo Action boasts) and is a flip up options, it’s certainly an accessory a lot of user will be happy to have access to on the Hero 8
…and best of all it’s setup so you can combine the above for a full GoPro vlogging rig!
If you’re wanting to rig out your GoPro for vlogging with the above expect a big dent in your wallet, with the Media Mod (inc mic) costing $138USD…PLUS another $138USD for the screen AND another $84USD for the light.
…ramping up your GoPro investment to nearly $1000USD!
AND none of the above are actually available to even pre order until December, which is a puzzling move by GoPro.
Do My Old Accessories Work?
GoPro have once again embraced the huge ecosystem of GoPro and third party accessories and made sure the GoPro Hero 8 is still compatible with all your old mounting systems – which is amazing news!
Due to slimmed down body design anything that involved a third party cage case might be affected – but on the whole 99.9% of mounts are good to go!
…oh but if you scuba dive you’ll need a new Supersuit (aka dive housing) to fit the newer design.
Hero 8 v Osmo Action
As well as comparing the Hero 8 to the old GoPro range the biggest decision I think most people will be debating is is the GoPro Hero 8 better than the Osmo Action?
Spec wise the Hero 8 and the Osmo action are almost on par with frames per second and range of resolutions – but the Hero 8 does offer the full 120FPS @ 2.7K or 240FPS at 1080, which for slow mo effects and editing is a big advantage.
When it comes to Hypersmooth 2.0 v the Osmo Rocksteady the Hero 8 does also have the edge in terms of quality, especially as it’s available on all resolutions and settings.
For those wanting full creative control the manual settings on the Osmo Action are certainly more user friendly and so is the DJI Mimo App overall, although admittedly I don’t edit using either.
And of course the Osmo Action boasts the inbuilt secondary screen (at no extra cost) which is pretty epic even if there are some limitations to it
The Osmo Action is also currently on sale at $316USD, bringing it in at $80USD cheaper too – so honestly it’s a tough call.
On one hand for a lot of people the Osmo Action gives you more money in your pocket for accessories and almost the same setup – however GoPro has a proven track record and is more established.
The Bad Bits
Ok so we’ve covered all the upgrades and good points, but what about the downsides and potential downsides of the Hero 8?
Well actually the redesign is the bit that raises the most issues for me. Firstly the fold in fingers are part of the actual camera body – so my first thoughts are “what happens if they break”.
Turns out you can buy replacements, but how easy they are to get hold of or fix yourself is a bit of a worry.
Whilst shooting I’ve also noticed the floating fingers design does result in some movement of the camera when mounted on grips, which Hypersmooth does compensate for but it’s something I should flag up.
Lack Of Cage Mount
The second redesign issue is the fact the lens is now a fixed part of the body – meaning if you scratch it you can’t just buy a cheap replacement part. Whats more worrying is I read a review where this happened…meaning they needed a full replacement from GoPro.
Cue the solution from GoPro which is to invest in GoPro+ which gives you a free replacement…but is this simply an upsell from the company?
Not needing a “cage” for the Hero 8 does have some advantages, but it does mean you lose some of the protection – and now any impact will be directly on the camera…which can never be good.
Also – I had a few mounts with multiple cages, which was actually a quicker solution for swapping things around. Now with the lack of cage I have to constantly un screw and re screw the GoPro onto each mount.
SD Card Slot
One really small, but very niggling thing I’ve found about the redesign also concerns the SD card slot – it’s now near on impossible to insert or remove the SD card without ALSO removing the battery.
Seems like an unnecessary oversight and fiddling around with a loose battery because you’ve forgotten to put in the SD card is going to annoy me, I can tell!
What Does The Hero 8 Cost?
So lets talk money!
The Hero 8 will set you back $399USD/£379GBP/$599.95AUD – again this is against the $329USD/£329GBP/$469AUD of the Osmo Action.
At the time of writing though you can grab the Osmo Action on Amazon as low as £279 new, which gives you a £100 price difference.
It’s also worth noting that the launch of the Hero 8 has also dropped the Hero 7 down to $319USD/£319GBP/$529.95AUD which is great news for those not wanting to burn a big hole in their pocket, or who aren’t too fussed about some of the Hero 8 upgrades.
Should I Upgrade?
So should you upgrade to the GoPro Hero 8? Well if you’re happy with your GoPro at the moment then happy days, but if you’re already in the mindset of upgrading here’s how I feel about upgrading to the GoPro Hero 8…
From GoPro Session – YES
If you’re feeling the need for a screen or looking specs then YES the Hero 8 is a HUGE upgrade! But to be honest Anything from the Hero 6 upwards is going to be a big upgrade!
From Hero 6 – YES
A huge bump in specs, 4K and the Hypersmooth 2.0 will feel like a big jump up from the Hero 6 so YES. Even the Hero 7 would be a good shout at this stage too though.
From Hero 7 Silver or White – YES
Again it’s worth it for Hypersmooth alone – so YES! Alternatively for those looking to save some cash the reduced price of the Hero 7 is also worth considering.
From Hero 7 Black – MAYBE
This is where it gets a bit more tough! For those vlogging and wanting even smoother footage at all frame rates then YES an upgrade to the GoPro Hero 8 is going to be worth it.
That being said though if you’re happy with the Hero 7 and the whole media mount thing doesn’t appeal then the 7 is still going to produce epic results so you’d probably be better off saving the cash and keeping it for the Hero 9!
My Final Thoughts
After playing around with the Hero 8 it’s very apparent that it’s definitely the best GoPro yet, even if it lacked the bumped up specs many people were hoping to see.
Targeting the vlogger market was a good move (and something I’m obviously thankful for!), even though the media mods are delayed until December and rather pricey.
Effectively the Hero 8 feels a bit more like a Hero 7+ model and I can’t help but think they could’ve gone a little bit further to raise the bar.
The extra push from the new Osmo Action line is certainly going to help innovation in the action camera market for sure and the next few years will certainly get very interesting – it’s a shame it didn’t really kick in as much as expected in 2019.
Yes for some people the Hero 8 wont bring the wow factor they were wanting (especially when rumours pointed towards vastly bumped frame rates) – but for those using one on a day to day basis it brings some great new creative tools to the table and improves on the already solid Hero 7 model.
Are you thinking about getting a GoPro Hero 8?
What features are you most stoked about?