The Best GoPro for 2022 – PCMag | Episode Movies

Unsurprisingly, GoPro’s action cameras are perennial award winners here at PCMag – after all, the company invented the concept, and with each generation it adds a few new features that continue to push performance. Action cams are small video cameras, typically built around a wide-angle lens and hardened to withstand water and rough handling. They are generally intended to document extreme sports and other activities that would compromise a smartphone or interchangeable lens camera.

All current GoPro cameras have some things in common: they support better than 4K video with slow motion and excellent digital stabilization, they have wide-angle lenses with built-in mounting clips so you can position them in interesting places, and they are protected without the need for an external housing is required. They also work with the same mounts and accessories, a plus for developers using multiple cameras.

The current Hero series shares many features, including lenses with multi-angle support (ranging from ultra-wide to moderately wide), standard and flat color profiles, Hypersmooth digital stabilization, and Hyperlapse for moving time-lapse. They also share the same major drawback – about an hour of recording time at the highest recording settings. Extra batteries or a Volta battery grip come in handy for longer recording sessions.

There are also differences. You’re missing out on some of the latest features if you go for a Hero9 (a few years old now), but you might not need to shell out for the Hero11 if its upgrades aren’t compelling.

There are also a couple of specialty models in the line, the screenless Mini and the dual-lens 360-degree Max. We haven’t reviewed the Mini yet, so it’s not included in this recommendation list, but its imaging engine is identical to the Hero11 Black. Design is the differentiator – the Hero11 Black Mini is smaller than the Hero11 Black and doesn’t include any display for monitoring. Instead, it includes two mounting points so you can mount it in even more unique locations.

With all these differences between each model to consider, here we list all of the current models and break down what makes each one unique. Read on to find the GoPro for you.

GoPro Hero11 Black

Best GoPro for professional use

GoPro’s newest (and most expensive) camera is the Hero11 Black, which retails for $499.99 ($399.98 with subscription). This makes the Hero11 the technically most powerful GoPro. It’s the first model to support 10-bit video, a boost for editing professionals who want to fine-tune color and exposure, and its 8:7 aspect sensor lets you shoot full-frame and crop footage for YouTube (16:9). or TikTok (9:16).

For videos, the camera can push 5.3K60, 4K120 and 2.7K240, giving plenty of options for slow-motion looks. The angle of view is expanded by the 8:7 sensor and the camera offers an immersive Hyperview angle not available on Hero9 or Hero10. Support for horizon-locked videos and preset time-lapse modes for Star Trails, Auto Light Trails, and Light Painting are also new to Hero11.

ADVANTAGES

  • Great looking 5.3K60 video
  • 4K120 and 2.7K240 slow motion
  • 10-bit color sampling
  • Numerous time-lapse modes
  • Water resistant to 33 feet
  • Solid touch interface and voice command support
  • Subscription service with useful functions

DISADVANTAGE

  • Not ideal for long-form photography or macro work
  • A battery will not get you through the day

Read our GoPro Hero11 Black review

GoPro Hero10 Black

Best Mid-Range GoPro

GoPro keeps its older models on sale when a new one comes out, but lowers the price. That means you can get the previous-gen Hero10 Black for $449.99 alone ($349.98 with subscription). The $50 discount comes at the cost of some of the Hero11’s new features (like Hyperview and 10-bit video), but the Hero10 is still pretty capable. It supports 8-bit 5.3K60, 4K120 and 2.7K240 video and works with the same Media Mod accessory as Hero9 and Hero11.

Vloggers looking to put together a camera kit might find it a good alternative to the Hero11, leaving a little more room in the budget for the Media Mod or Volta Grip. Likewise, action videographers who don’t spend time color-grading videos can get just as good-looking footage with the Hero10 as they can with the Hero11.

ADVANTAGES

  • 5.3K recording at up to 60 fps
  • 120fps 4K for slow motion
  • Best-in-class video stabilization
  • Front color screen
  • Waterproof with no add-on case
  • Media Mod support
  • Long-lasting enduro battery available as an add-on
  • Wi-Fi and USB transfer for phones and tablets

DISADVANTAGE

  • The supplied battery discharges quickly
  • Costs more if purchased without a subscription
  • Heat restricts long form recordings

Read our GoPro Hero10 Black review

GoPro Hero9 Black

Best Budget GoPro

The GoPro Hero9 Black has seen a price drop since its launch, it now costs $399.99 alone or $299.98 when purchased with a GoPro subscription. As such, it’s a budget alternative to the Hero10 and Hero11 Black, although it’s not quite as powerful as the newer iterations. The Hero9 Black doesn’t squeeze as many frames as newer models, so it’s not quite as impressive for slow motion. You get no slowdown effect at 5K30 and can only go at half speed at 4K60 and quarter speed at 2.7K120.

If you’re not a slow motion expert, the Hero9 Black is a solid choice, especially for vloggers. It supports Hyperlapse, works with the Max Lens mod and other GoPro accessories, and while its stabilization isn’t state-of-the-art, it’s still pretty good by today’s standards. If you’re looking for a GoPro and don’t want to spend a lot of money, the Hero9 is a safe bet.

ADVANTAGES

  • Up to 5K quality at 30 fps
  • Front color LCD
  • Exceptional video stabilization
  • Up to 240 fps HD slow motion
  • Time-lapse, buffering and HDR imaging
  • USB-C charging
  • Strong app support
  • Compact and waterproof

DISADVANTAGE

  • You will probably want to take extra batteries with you
  • The subscription service adds recurring costs
  • Reduced prices are not available from all retailers

Read our GoPro Hero9 Black review

GoPro Max

Best 360 degree GoPro

The GoPro Max is a dual-lens camera for 360-degree creators. It offers a completely different creative experience than other action cameras, giving you the option to split a surround view for broadcast to VR headsets or pull out 16:9 frames for broadcast to flat screens. The latter gives editing assistants the ability to highlight an important part of a scene and even pan from one part to another to guide the viewer’s eye. Creative effects such as the extruded Little Big Planet view and the 24 split screen are also possible.

The Max is certainly a specialty tool, but one that can reward creators with prowess in the field and in the editing room. It’s a particularly attractive choice for vloggers because of its microphone quality, which is the best you’ll find in any GoPro.

ADVANTAGES

  • 360 degree shot
  • Also works as a single lens camera
  • Intuitive software tools
  • Strong stabilization
  • Good audio in camera
  • Waterproof without case
  • Integrated mounting clips

DISADVANTAGE

  • The effective resolution is really 1080p
  • Recording with a lens reaches a maximum of 60 fps
  • Requires more processing time to get the best results from spherical footage

Read our GoPro Max review

Buyer’s Guide: The Best GoPro for 2022


Should I get a GoPro subscription?

GoPro’s pricing is worth talking about. The company offers an upfront discount when you buy a camera along with the company’s cloud subscription service, reducing the cost of the camera by $100 and eliminating the $50 fee for the first year of service. For example, the Hero11 Black costs $500 alone but comes bundled with a $400 subscription.

We’re understandably skeptical about subscription services, but we encourage GoPro buyers to take advantage of the discount and give the GoPro service a try (at least for the first year). It adds some useful features, including cloud storage and automatic uploads straight from the camera, that might be worth spending $50 a year on. If you end up not using it, you can easily cancel it.


The Best GoPro Alternatives

DJI OsmoAction 3

DJI Osmo Action 3 (Image credit: Jim Fisher)

Are you looking for an action cam, but don’t rely on GoPro? Check out other brands’ options in our picks for the best action camera. We also have recommendations for vloggers looking for cameras and accessories, and for developers looking for a gimbal.

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