Between GoPro Hero vs Hero 7, which one should you pick? Both are equipped with a front-facing vice screen, and both have a waterproof body which will allow you to dive without having to put the camera in a bulky housing. Read the discussion below to find out which one that will suit your needs best.
What we will discuss below include:
- The design and build quality of each GoPro camera here
- The comparison of their video recording and photography features
- The image stabilization performance of GoPro Hero vs Hero 7
- Which model that has a longer battery life
- Whether you should choose GoPro Hero or GoPro Hero 7 to get the most value out of your money
Design and Build
In general, GoPro Hero and GoPro Hero 7 Black look incredibly similar. They come with a box-shaped body that has a rubberized finish. The unnumbered GoPro Hero is sold at a lower price point, and is meant for the entry-level segment. It has a gray color that looks like that of GoPro Hero 5 (see also: GoPro Hero vs Session). On the other hand, GoPro Hero 7 Black comes with a darker color and a slight change around the lens.
GoPro Hero looks very similar to GoPro Hero 5. Some people have even found out that, if you tweak its firmware, you can unfold some features and capabilities like those found in GoPro Hero 5 – but we are not going to discuss that here. Just like GoPro Hero 7 Black, the unnumbered GoPro Hero already has a 2-inch rear display, a shutter button on the top, and a power button on the side.
Both models here are waterproof to 10 meters under water. However, while they both have a similar thickness, GoPro Hero has a protruding lens cover which is removable.
You want to remove the lens cover when you need to fit the camera into the additional housing which will increase the waterproof limit to 60 meters, and when you need to replace the lens cover due to getting scratched. GoPro Hero 7 Black can fit into the additional housing right away without requiring you to remove any lens cover, but the unremovable lens cover also means that you can’t replace it if it gets scratched.
There are glaring differences in the video recording capabilities of GoPro Hero vs Hero 7. The unnumbered GoPro Hero has much simpler options, which some people may find advantageous due to the ease of use. Meanwhile, GoPro Hero 7 Black supports a wide range of sophisticated options that can be very useful for professionals and enthusiasts.
GoPro Hero only supports recording in either 1080p or 1440p. In each of those settings, you can record in NTSC mode at 60fps or 30fps, or in PAL mode at 50fps or 25fps. It does not record 4K footage, so it is not a viable choice if you want to produce 4K content.
The overall image quality of GoPro Hero is good. When recording at 60fps, the footage looks really smooth. The colors, as expected from a GoPro camera, are solid and vivid with a good dynamic range. However, the 1440p setting indeed doesn’t provide as much detail as 4K.
GoPro Hero 7 Black is much more advanced. To begin with, it supports 4K recording at 60fps. The footage looks incredibly smooth and detailed, and the colors are really impressive. Then, it also supports 2.7K recording at up to 120fps and 1080p recording at up to 240fps. You can easily make slow-motion videos with incredibly detailed movements.
Furthermore, GoPro Hero 7 Black has the option to switch to a linear field of view when recording in 2.7K, 1080p, or 720p. The 4K setting only has the wide field of view that gives the fish-eye effect. Additionally, the SuperView FOV is available in 4K, 2.7K, and 1080p; this mode will give you an even wider and more distorted field of view than the standard wide.
The next notable difference between GoPro Hero vs GoPro Hero 7 is the image stabilization. People already know that GoPro cameras are among the very best in this regard. However, GoPro Hero is an older model, and thus still relies on an older image stabilization technology. GoPro Hero 7 Black comes with some amazing improvements.
GoPro Hero does allow you to turn the image stabilization on or off. Since the electronic image stabilization will crop a small portion of the footage, you may want to turn it off when it is not needed. The performance is pretty great; it can deliver stable footage when you are shooting while walking, and it can minimize the blur and shakiness when you are shooting from a running bike.
GoPro Hero 7 Black comes with HyperSmooth. This is an improved version of the image stabilization. Older GoPro models can’t enable image stabilization when recording in 4K; however, GoPro Hero 7 Black has managed to bring HyperSmooth to the 4K recording. As a result, you can now capture stunning fast-action footage in 4K with excellent smoothness and stability.
The company claims that HyperSmooth is almost as effective as using the Karma Grip gimbal in terms of image stabilization. When tested, the performance is indeed really good. The footage is indeed stable without nauseating shakiness, even when you are off-roading on a bike. If you want to capture fast-action sports in 4K, this camera should be your choice.
Both GoPro models here support voice commands. So, you will be able to control either camera remotely using your voice. They both respond well to voice commands, even when in a noisy environment, and they are able to understand seven different languages.
A new feature that is included in every GoPro Hero 7 model is vertical filming. With this feature, you can shoot videos in a portrait orientation, which is useful for making content for Instagram stories and other social media. YouTube has also begun supporting vertical filming. On the other hand, the unnumbered GoPro Hero doesn’t have vertical filming.
Technically, both cameras here are able to shoot slow-motion videos. With GoPro Hero, you can shoot at 60fps then slow the footage down to half speed. However, that won’t produce a dramatic slow-motion effect. GoPro Hero 7 Black is the best choice for making dramatic slow-motion videos, as it supports recording at 120fps and 240fps.
GoPro Hero 7 Black is GPS-enabled. Its mobile app will allow you to overlay GPS data on your videos. This is useful when you want to show-off your location, route, or speed. Another special feature of GoPro Hero 7 Black is live streaming. With this camera, you can live stream to Facebook, which is cool. The support for live streaming to YouTube is said to be added soon. So far, this is the only GoPro camera that can live stream.
From the resolution alone, GoPro Hero vs Hero 7 are already different. GoPro Hero is limited to 10MP, whereas GoPro Hero 7 Black is able to shoot 12MP photos. So, you can expect GoPro Hero 7 to deliver more detailed photos.
Furthermore, GoPro Hero can only save photos in JPG. The burst speed is ‘only’ 10 frames per second, which is actually already good enough for shooting fast-moving subjects. GoPro Hero also supports continuous shooting, in which it will continue taking shots as long as the shutter button is pressed down. GoPro Hero has the WDR (Wide Dynamic Range) mode, which will enhance the details in shadows and highlights.
On the other hand, GoPro Hero 7 Black can save photos in JPG or RAW. The RAW support is especially useful for photographers who want to fine-tune their pictures in post-production. GoPro Hero 7 Black is much more powerful, as it has a maximum burst speed of 30 frames per second. It also supports continuous shooting, and there is the new SuperPhoto mode which is an improved WDR mode with even more impressive details and enhancements.
Finally, there is a clear difference in the battery life. GoPro Hero does have a good battery life; it is able to record in 1080p at 60fps continuously for about 2 hours. In addition, it has a removable battery. So, if you are on a long trip and you run out of battery, you can just swap the dead battery with another one.
GoPro Hero 7 Black, on the other hand, struggles not with battery life but with heat. When shooting in 4K at 60fps with the HyperSmooth image stabilization enabled, you can only record continuously for about 30 minutes. More than that, the camera may shut off suddenly due to overheating. However, shooting in one of the lower resolutions won’t cause any overheating issue. When tested to record in 1080p, the camera can last for about 90 minutes.
GoPro Hero vs Hero 7
There is no question; GoPro Hero 7 Black is the best action camera in the market right now. It comes with a bunch of new features and improvements. The most impressive thing is that it can record 4K footage at 60fps with the HyperSmooth image stabilization enabled. It also has better photography features. On the other hand, the unnumbered GoPro Hero is a good entry-level model, but professionals will want to get more than what GoPro Hero can offer.