GoPro Hero 8 Black review

This former flagship is now the GoPro sweet spot

GoPro Hero 8 Black
(Image: © TechRadar)

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Mods are GoPro’s new range of accessories for anyone looking to bolster the professional-level audio and video capabilities of the Hero 8 Black. Accessory number one, the Media Mod, is a frame that adds a 3.5mm mic port, a shotgun microphone, a HDMI-out and two cold-shoe mounts for attaching other components, to the Hero 8 Black. 

GoPro has also announced a Display Mod, which adds a bigger rotatable display that has its own battery and can be folded away when not in use. The Light Mod can also be attached to the top of the Hero 8 Black to project 200 lumens of light onto anything within 3ft (1m). Like the Display Mode, the Light Mod has its own battery so, alternatively, it can be attached to any of GoPro’s existing mounts, letting you light your shots from an independent position.

We haven't had a chance to get our hands on the Mods yet, so we can't actually vouch for them just yet. We'll update the review once we've given them a thorough test.

 Video and picture quality 

GoPro seems to have done a lot to improve its photography chops, working specifically on improving HDR quality and night mode for the Hero 8 Black. However, even with these advancements, the photo quality is still some way off from what you’ll get from one of the latest flagship smartphones. 

As you can see in the zoomed image below, the GoPro Hero 8 Black’s image quality isn’t as good as what we took using Samsung’s 2018 flagship the Galaxy S9 Plus. And although GoPro specifically worked on its HDR and night mode processing, the difference in photo quality for dynamic or low-light scenes is even more pronounced. 

GoPro Hero 8 (left) SuperPhoto and Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus (right) auto photo.

GoPro Hero 8 (left) SuperPhoto and Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus (right) auto photo. (Image credit: Future - (Joel Burgess))

The same can be said about the video quality if you are trying to capture shots indoors or in low light at high resolutions, with the GoPro Hero 8 Black picking up on the flickering of incandescent lighting and showing more noise than the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus in candle-lit settings. 

As you can see in the split screen video below the Hero 8 Black's stabilization is significantly better than that on the Galaxy S9 Plus, but the 60fps sampling rate will interact with incandescent lights in some regions and HyperSmooth can make horizontal pans jumpy at times.

If we move outdoors, though, then it’s a different story. The Hero 8’s stabilization makes your rickety first-person view look stable enough to have been shot using a gimbal. This gives you the opportunity to shoot professional-looking video without carrying a ton of equipment and without much effort.

Also if you're willing to shoot in a lower resolution the evening outdoors shots look much better and you get the full benefits of HyperSmooth 2.0.

It’s also great at capturing slow motion footage in a wide angle that means you won’t miss any of the action taking place in the periphery of your frame.

Another area the Hero 8 Plus really shines is in the TimeWarp mode. The improved stabilization mixes perfectly with the accelerometer to make punchy videos out of events that would otherwise be far too drawn out to show in their entirety. TimeWarp 2.0 expands on an already great time-lapse photography option that really gives the Hero 8 Black an edge.

 Hero 8 Black interface

If you don’t have the right Capture Preset already, GoPro has made it easy to change the settings directly on the camera. The touchscreen allows you to swipe left and right to swap between photo, video and time-lapse shooting modes. Alternatively, swiping up or down will bring up saved media or the settings menu, respectively. 

(Image credit: Future - (Sharmishta Sarkar, Joel Burgess))

Displayed in the corners with color-coded icons is the battery percentage, storage space (in time), shooting mode, as well as things like toggles for slow-motion, HyperSmooth Boost, digital camera angle, zoom and a full shoot settings menu tab. This interface is simple enough for you to tweak anything you want in hard-to-see conditions, without losing any control.

Joel Burgess
Staff Writer

Joel has been the in-house benchmark monkey for the Australian TechRadar team and Australia’s two biggest tech magazines (APC and TechLife) since 2014.