You’d have to have been living under a rock for the last ten years not to have heard of GoPro action cameras.
Any sports action footage you’ve seen in that time has most likely been filmed with some version of GoPro.
What you might not know, though, is how many different kinds of Go Pro there are and all the varied features they have.
In this article, I’ll walk you through five of the best GoPro cameras for different needs and budgets and answer some common questions.
Let’s dive in.
Unrivalled video stabilization, largest sensor for great image quality and 360-degree horizon lock to make any action footage look professional.
What is the Best GoPro Camera in 2023?
GoPro HERO11 Black (Best GoPro Overall)
- 27 megapixel stills
- HyperSmooth 5 (Best video stabilization of any GoPro)
- New larger 1/1.9″ sensor for better low light filming
- Automatic highlight videos
- 10-bit color
- 360-degree horizon lock
- 5.3K video quality
- Longer lasting Enduro battery
- Lower light performance is still not as good as it could be
- Hyperview can warp view into strange perspectives
This is GoPro’s flagship offering, and as such, there are none better. Built on top of all the features users would have loved about the GoPro Hero 10 Black, are a few new ones.
It has a 360-degree horizon lock, a new feature that improves on the previous horizon leveling. Now there’s no need to worry if you mount your camera wonkily, as fixing the footage is a breeze.
The GoPro Hero 11 Black’s full-frame recording capabilities mean that you shoot first and worry about how you want the footage to look later.
After recording the video, you can change its aspect ratio or resolution for different crops and formats (e.g. vertical for mobile phones, square for Instagram).
For stills photographers, there are brand new night photography time-lapse modes – Light Painting, Vehicle Lights, Star Trails – to give you added flexibility.
And, good news for every GoPro user. GoPro camera’s longer-lasting extreme weather Enduro battery is now included as standard.
Perhaps best of all, though, is the HyperSmooth 5.0 which provides the best video stabilization of virtually any other action camera on the market… except for perhaps 360 cameras.
- Who should buy GoPro HERO 11?
If you already own the GoPro HERO 10, I honestly don’t think you need to upgrade – the new features are undoubtedly great, but the Hero10 is still an excellent camera.
If you have the HERO 9 or previous, it’s worth upgrading to make full use of the larger sensor, 8:7 aspect ratio and Hypersmooth 5.0 – you’ll notice a big difference in video quality.
And if you’re buying your first GoPro, if you have the budget for it, it’s always wisest to get the latest model so you can take advantage of all the most up-to-date technology without wondering how much better your footage could have been!
(See also: What are the best action camera protective cases?)
GoPro HERO9 Black
- Introduced front-facing screen and 5K footage
- New 20-megapixel sensor
- TimeWarp 3.0
- 4k at 60 fps in wide and linear
- 1080p at 240 fps
- Reintroduced removable lens
- Increased rear screen size
- HyperSmooth 3.0 and horizon leveling
- Great value for money
- Other photography file formats (non-RAW) aren’t full-resolution
- Laggy front screen display compared to Hero 10 Black
This is the first GoPro camera with a front-facing screen, so whereas before, if you were filming yourself, you wouldn’t be able to see it, now you can.
This makes the GoPro Hero 9 a great upgrade for bloggers, or for anyone who commonly films themselves in immersive action scenes.
The back screen has also been increased in size, so it’s much easier to review footage and use the touchscreen to work the controls.
The GoPro Hero 9 Black’s camera almost doubles in resolution in comparison to its predecessor’s (the GoPro Hero 8 Black) – from 12 megapixels to 20 megapixels – and video recording capabilities are bumped up too, from 4K to 5.3K.
Also, the removable lens is back! This is something users of the GoPro Hero 8 Black had complained about, and GoPro listened. Now, once again you can use GoPro Max Lend Mods or third-party lenses.
- Who should buy GoPro HERO 9?
If you own any previous model of GoPro, the HERO 9 is an affordable way to get an amazing action camera with a front-facing screen, essential for vlogging.
If you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford the newer models of GoPro, the HERO 9 is a sweet spot in terms of value for money and quality.
While the HERO 8 is often touted as the best budget GoPro, the lack of front-facing screen is a dealbreaker for most people.
HyperSmooth 3.0 and in-camera horizon leveling are two more great reasons to opt for the HERO 9 above all older models.
(See also: What are the best ways to attach an action camera to your body or head?)
- Colour touch screen
- Smaller size and weight
- Max HyperSmooth
- 260-degree panoramic photo capabilities
- 6 microphones – choose best audio from each one
- No slow-motion in 360 mode
- No standard 4k video (single camera)
The GoPro Max is a fun device that gives you the potential to produce creative footage like no other.
Though it’s small and light, it packs a punch.
Its dual lenses allow you to shoot in traditional Hero style, but also capture 360 degrees of video. This allows you to shoot first, then frame your footage later.
It’s also equipped with GoPro’s Max HyperSmooth so regardless of how extreme or unstable your filming conditions are, you’ll get ultra-smooth footage.
360 degree cameras typically offer even better video stabilization than regular action cameras since there’s more video available to crop into to create the illusion of buttery smooth footage.
Not only are you able to capture images from everywhere, but you can do this with sound too.
The GoPro Max has 6 microphones in its tiny body and will sense which of these directions has received the best audio quality, so you won’t ever have to worry about consistency again.
- Who should buy GoPro HERO Max?
Any newbie or experienced vlogger who wants to invest in a fun tool that reduces your need to capture the perfect footage first time will love the HERO Max.
You can hit record then forget about framing, then edit your footage, choosing your preferred framing later in the app.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to capture 4k footage from either camera, so anyone who wants the best video quality from a GoPro should look elsewhere.
(See also: What is the best action camera flashlight?)
GoPro HERO10 Black
- GP2 chip
- 23 megapixels for all photo modes
- Hydrophobic lens
- HyperSmooth 4.0 horizon levelling
- Improved front and rear screens
- Low light performance is not great
The GoPro Hero 10 Black is, as you’d expect, an upgrade from the GoPro Hero 9 Black.
As such, it has all of the features of the 9, but better.
One significant upgrade is the GP2 chip, which allows higher frame rates and more responsiveness. 4K video can now be recorded at 120 fps, and 5.3K at 60 fps, double what was possible before.
The camera’s resolution rises from 20 megapixels to 23, and that full resolution is now available for all image file formats, not just RAW.
It has a more responsive rear touchscreen, and the quality of the front-facing screen is noticeably higher – no more lag!
The GoPro Hero 10’s detachable front lens comes with a hydrophobic covering. With this iteration, there’s no longer any need to lick your GoPro lens before using it underwater. In fact, licking your lens now risks damaging the hydrophobic layer, so put your tongue away.
Also new with this model is the ability for wired downloads. Previously, this was wireless, and you were at the mercy of wifi connections. Now you can move your footage directly from your GoPro to, for example, your phone at full speed.
- Who should buy GoPro HERO 10?
The difference between the cost of the flagship GoPro HERO 11 and the HERO 10 is still a decent chunk of change.
While it’s tempting to always go for the latest model, most filmmakers won’t miss the extra features of the HERO 11.
The HERO 10 is a great camera, and features like HyperSmooth 4.0 and 23mp stills are plenty good enough.
However, if you’ve got the budget, I’d recommend ponying up those extra dollars for the HERO 11 for the reasons above.
(See also: What is the best action camera microphone attachment?)
GoPro HERO8 Black
- Now very affordable
- HyperSmooth Boost
- New preset capture modes, and ability to create custom modes
- Strengthened lens
- Auto levelling
- Front lens is not detachable
- No front screen
- Lens can collect water droplets
This, the GoPro HERO 8, was the first model with a built-in mount, with no need for a frame.
In a way, it’s the model from which all the newest GoPros were born.
The HERO 8 tidied up a lot of the previous GoPro features, introducing new preset capture modes, and also the ability for users to create their own custom modes, providing a flexibility that had been lacking before.
GoPro’s HyperSmooth software received an upgrade in performance with HyperSmooth Boost, and anyone who has ever recorded wonky footage got some relief with Auto-Levelling, a feature to fix horizons.
The lens was strengthened too, although it was no longer detachable – a gripe that led to this feature being reintroduced in more recent models.
Above all, the GoPro HERO 8 can be bought for such attractive new prices these days that it’s hard to pass by.
You can also pick them up for next to nothing second-hand, but I’d recommend getting a new set of batteries.
- Who should buy GoPro HERO 8?
If you’re on a tight budget or need to buy several GoPros for filming from various angles, the HERO 8 is a great option.
For most YouTubers, the video quality of the HERO 8 is plenty good enough – it’s only when you start pixel peeping and comparing with some of the later models that you might notice the difference, especially in low light.
Overall, if you arm yourself with a few spare batteries and don’t mind the missing front-facing camera, the HERO 8 is still a steal.
See also our comparison between GoPro HERO 7 and HERO 8.
Frequently Asked Questions about GoPro Cameras
- How Many Types of GoPros Are There?
There are nineteen models of GoPro, starting from the GoPro Hero 3 White, released back in 2012, up to the latest release (2022), the GoPro Hero 11 Black.
- What Model of GoPro Is the Best?
If you ask the people at GoPro, I’m sure they’d tell you the best GoPro camera is the most recent model they’ve produced, the GoPro Hero 11 Black.
With its high-resolution camera, ability to record cinema-quality video, HyperSmooth image stabilization, and the fact that it’s waterproof, makes it the most versatile and powerful GoPro yet.
So, that’s the best one.
But they may also tell you that the best GoPro camera is the one that’s right for you. You might not need all the features of the top-of-the-range model.
Look for the one that does exactly what you need, and at a price you can afford. That’s also the best one.
- Which GoPro is best for beginners?
This depends if you are an absolute beginner who wants to try taking action videos and photos, or a beginner who has been trying to do this with the equipment they already have and need something more robust and specialized.
For the first kind, I’d recommend getting something second-hand to figure out if it’s something you’re going to use enough to justify buying.
For the second, the best choice would be the GoPro Hero 8 Black. For under $300, you get great features, such as HyperSmooth 2.0, a 14 megapixel camera, and the ability to record 4K video with a device that is waterproof down to 33ft.
- What is the best GoPro camera for underwater activities?
All of the later models, from the GoPro Hero 8 Black to the GoPro Hero 11 Black, are waterproof up to 33ft.
If you want to go deeper than that, protective housing and cases are available for the GoPro Hero 9, 10, and 11. Using those will make your GoPro waterproof to 196ft.
- Which GoPro is good for photography?
The latest GoPro, the Hero 11 Black, is the best GoPro camera for photography.
It has an upgraded sensor, and the camera resolution now comes in at 27 megapixels.
GoPro has also added a series of shooting modes to level up your still photography experience.
With the Night Effect mode, which makes use of the camera’s improved low-light performance, you can capture star trails or moving traffic lights. Light Painting mode gives you a chance to make your own light trails and get creative with a torch or any other light-emitting source you might have handy.
One thing to bear in mind, however much GoPro has improved the photography capabilities of its newest device, it’s still no match in terms of flexibility and control when compared to a DSLR or mirrorless camera.
- Which GoPro Accessories Should You Buy?
Let’s start with the essential – an SD memory card. You need to buy these separately from the GoPro, and without one, your GoPro is just a box.
I’d recommend using the brand GoPro offer themselves on their website, the SanDisk Extreme microSDXC, which comes in two memory capacities – the 128 GB and the 256 GB.
These are robust, waterproof, high-speed memory cards, capable of recording 4K video and capturing photo bursts.
Apart from this, the rest of the accessories are tailored to particular kinds of activity, and there’s a mind-boggling array of them.
I’ve already mentioned the protective casing that will allow anyone shooting underwater to increase their depth from a maximum of 33ft to 196ft, but there is also the ‘Floaty’.
This is a bright orange, padded case, that makes your GoPro highly visible and able to float. If you pair it with a Bite Mount, you can also hold your GoPro between your teeth and get great underwater POV shots.
For vloggers and travel documentary makers, there’s the Creator Kit, which includes light modifiers, a casing with a directional mic, and a Volta, which is a handheld remote with built-in tripod legs.
GoPro makes a variety of adhesive and attachment mounts for sticking your device to anything from a ventilated helmet or motorbike handlebar to a surfboard.
They make chest harnesses, flexible tripods, swivel mounts, lens filters, battery packs, a lens modifier (giving you a wide-angle view up to 155 degrees), and an array of hand-held options.
Whatever you’re doing – vlogging, hiking, surfing, mountain biking, scuba diving, skiing or snowboarding – GoPro have a tailored range of accessories to make sure you get the shots you want out of the environment and conditions you’re in.
- What’s the Best GoPro Alternative?
Given how synonymous the brand is with its particular style of videography it’s sometimes hard to believe that there are any alternatives to GoPro.
But…there are plenty of challengers, and many are more affordable.
DJI have a large range of devices, including the Action 2, the Osmo Action, and the Pocket 2.
There’s also Insta360, with its range of GoPro-like cameras, plus Sony, Akaso, Garmin, OCLU, Olympus, Wolfgang, and Dragon, which have a variety of offerings on the market.
- Are GoPro cameras better than iPhone?
Yes and no. The GoPro’s camera isn’t as powerful as an iPhone’s, nor does it have as many focal lengths, but it has way better image stabilization.
When comparing the GoPro with the iPhone, the thing you need to figure out is exactly what you need it for.
A GoPro is a better camera for someone who wants robust, specialist equipment for action videos and photos. An iPhone is a better camera for the casual, all-round travel photographer.
- Is it really worth buying GoPro?
Do you need a GoPro? Then the answer is yes!
Sure, the top-range models can get expensive, but if it’s vital for you to capture smooth, high-quality video in an action setting, then it’s definitely worth shelling out the money.
You get what you pay for. A sushi chef doesn’t cut fish with a butter knife.
- How much does a GoPro cost?
A brand new, top-of-the-range GoPro Hero 11 Black will set you back just under $500 (it’s on sale right now!). You can also pick up a second-hand Hero 3 White on eBay for as little as $25.
There are GoPro cameras out there for every budget.
- How long does a GoPro battery last?
It depends on the quality of the footage you’re shooting. Generally, the higher the quality, the more it’ll drain your battery.
For reference, using the latest model, the Hero 11 Black, at 5.3K and 60fps, will get you about an hour of shooting. If you shoot at 1080p and 30fps, the battery will last you close to 2.5 hours.
- How to Choose the Best GoPro for You
At the risk of repeating myself, think about what you need, and what you are willing to spend.
Once you’ve figured out exactly what you’ll use it for and which features you’ll need, it’s easy to work out the model which would suit you best.
If money is not an issue, it might be best to buy the latest, newest model, as that will have the longest life in terms of technology.
Otherwise, there are plenty of options at different price points, and it’s also possible to find good second-hand deals online.
Final Words on the Best GoPro Cameras
As you can see, there’s a GoPro camera for everyone.
Since its inception, GoPro has been regularly building on its reputation as the best manufacturer of robust, portable, action videography equipment on the market.
Each iteration brings new features that ramp up GoPro cameras’ uses and capabilities.
Users can now record cinema-quality footage, 360-degree video, time lapses, and full-resolution RAW photographs from a piece of equipment that fits in their pocket.
They’re also, considering what they enable you to do, very affordable. Even if you can’t stretch to the top-of-the-range model, the ones just below still contain a huge amount of features, but for a much lower price.
Get the right GoPro for you and get out there. What’s stopping you?
Unrivalled video stabilization, largest sensor for great image quality and 360-degree horizon lock to make any action footage look professional.
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