GoPro Hero10 Black – 2021 Review
GoPro takes a 10th generation milestone with its annual action camera update this year. And while the Hero10 Black ($ 399 with a one-year GoPro subscription) is a decidedly more scalable update than the revolutionary Hero9, it’s a better camera for it. The form factor remains the same, so the Hero10 works with Hero9 accessories. More importantly, the video engine has been updated for 5.3K60 and 4K120 capture, aided by superlative stabilization. Its slim design and wide lens make it a favorite for POV action shots, and it works well for live streaming and as a webcam. While costing $ 50 more than the previous model, it’s the best GoPro yet, and our Editors’ Choice winner for action cameras.
Builds on the Hero9 design
Last year’s Hero9 delivered the first significant update to the line’s physical design since the Hero5. The slightly larger bezel, front color display, and Mod accessory support continue here, with a few welcome improvements.
On the outside, the front screen has a higher frame rate, for a more accurate preview of your images, and the touchscreen works like a charm. (GoPro fixed the Hero9’s initial touchscreen interface via a firmware update.)
And while you won’t be able to see the changes to the removable lens cover, it now has a fluoride coating to remove water and promises to be better protected against scratches. It is removable, so you can replace it if you drag it on the asphalt. Support for the ultra-wide Max Lens Mod is promised with a planned firmware update, slated for release on November 16.
Inside there’s a new image sensor and processor, which doubles the Hero9’s capabilities for slower slow-motion footage, up to 240 fps at 1080p, 120 fps at 4K, and 60 fps at 5. , 3K. The GP2 processor enables higher frame rates and is able to apply noise reduction smarter for better results in low light.
GoPro goes anywhere
The Hero10 is a very small camera, palm sized at 2.8 x 2.2 x 1.3 inches (HWD) and lightweight at just 5.4 ounces. Integrated mounting clips attach to a selfie stick (for vloggers), tripod, or mounting accessory. The small size, sturdy frame, and 33ft waterproof rating have made the series a favorite for mounting on people, pets, and all kinds of vehicles.
The objective comes into play here too. Its ultra-wide view is designed for close-up action shots, and GoPro has developed its video processing to a point where you can adjust the view to a wider, distortion-free setting without any real concern for quality loss.
The controls on the camera are pretty basic. The recording is clearly visible and right at the top, and there is a button on the side to toggle between modes. Voice commands are also available – you can tell the Hero20 to start a video, take a photo, or record a time lapse, and the camera emits a loud, affirming beep to let you know it’s being respected. (You can turn off the beep if you are using the camera in a quiet place.)
The touchscreen interface is also useful. It supports swipes and tapping to switch between modes and adjust settings. There is also a level of customization: you can define up to four shortcut buttons in each of your presets, and you can create as many as you want.
The camera has the same 1720 mAh battery as the Hero9. Here it powers the Hero10 for about 45 minutes of 5.3K60 or an hour of 4K60 video. Overheating can be a problem for long time recording. The camera turns off after approximately 25 minutes of 5.3K capture and 35 minutes of 4K60 in room temperature conditions. Replacement batteries are priced at $ 19.99.
Much of the heat comes from the battery, and you have the option of powering the camera through its USB-C port. If you plan to mount it on your car’s dashboard for a time lapse or a trip log, it is best to power it from the port.
The Hero10 also works as a webcam. It plugs into the USB port of a PC or Mac and works with GoPro Webcam Utility software. I plugged the camera into my MacBook and was able to use it for Zoom, Google Meet (with Chrome, Safari doesn’t work with external cameras), and OBS.
Streaming is at 1080p, with your choice of wide, medium, or narrow view. HyperSmooth stabilization now works for streaming, a feature not found in older GoPro’s. You also won’t have to worry about battery life when using the webcam function – my laptop’s USB port provides enough power to run and charge the Hero10.
Tight integration with a GoPro subscription
GoPro’s pricing strategy makes the Hero10 Black better value if you buy it with a year of service. You get the camera and a year of service for $ 399, otherwise the camera costs $ 499 on its own. This makes the bundle a no-brainer for everyone, except for the most reluctant to subscribe. The service automatically renews at $ 49.99 per year, so be sure to cancel if you don’t want to use it beyond the included year.
We think it’s a great addition for anyone who uses their GoPro a lot. It puts all your GoPro footage in the cloud with unlimited storage, opens premium edit templates in the Quik app, and lets you buy GoPro accessories at a discount. You’ll also get a discount on replacing your GoPro if you manage to destroy it, and a live streaming platform.
Automatic cloud upload is an important feature related to subscription. You can configure your Hero10 to automatically unload footage just by plugging it in to charge it, leveraging the speed of your home Wi-Fi network to do so. It takes a bit of work – you won’t have to worry about managing memory cards and shuffling files from one device to another for editing.
Some things work well without an account. You can still pair the GoPro with your smartphone or tablet and transfer footage to the Quik app for on-the-go edits. Wi-Fi transfer is now faster and, for the first time, the camera unloads images to a mobile device via its USB port. If you have filled a memory card, it is worth using the cable connection.
Hero10 video and imagery
The Hero10 has a new sensor with more pixels than the Hero9, but the shift from 5K capture to 5.3K isn’t the star here, it’s the jump in frame rates. It’s capable of pushing 60 fps at 5.3K and 120 fps at 4K, twice as fast as the Hero9.
High frame rate video is desirable for capturing action, as motion is captured more smoothly, for more realistic (but less film-like) visuals. You will also have the option to adjust the playback speed – it is possible to achieve a slow motion effect four or five times with sequences of 120 fps. Fast motion is also an option – you can use the Hero10 for time-lapse video, and stabilization works well, so time lapses with motion look great.
The camera supports an extensive list of resolutions and frame rates. Pretty much everything you’d expect is included; 5.3K at 24fps is missing at launch, but arrives in the November firmware update. Video is adjustable beyond frame rate and resolution: you can adjust color, sharpness, etc.
To help sort things out, it’s a good idea to save presets for your most used settings. You can create as many as you want, each with its own bank of video quality settings. I tried several different resolutions and frame rates, but left the other settings alone when using the camera. If you want more color control, a low contrast flat profile is an option.
The Hero10 can also take still photos. You can use it in photo mode and crisp 23MP photos in JPG or Raw DNG format. The built-in GPS in the camera automatically adds location metadata to still images. Extracting individual photos from video is also an option: each frame of 5.3K video generates 16MP photo with 16: 9 crop, and you can extract 8MP images from 4K video.
The combination of stabilization and high frame rates sets the Hero10 apart from cameras with larger sensors and interchangeable lenses. Whether mounted or portable, HyperSmooth lives up to its billing.
There are alternatives if you don’t need to record at higher frame rates or if you just don’t need to prioritize video quality higher. The Sony RX0 II ($ 700) is a small camera that can go where others can’t, but its 1-inch sensor is better suited to cinema. Likewise, the Insta360 One R is available with the same type of sensor, but is limited to 30fps video.
GoPro remains the best in its class
We’re happy to see GoPro continue to push its platform forward, even in the face of diminishing competition. The Hero10 Black increases maximum resolution, doubles frame rates, and offers other welcome upgrades. It’s a more polished version of last year’s Hero9, with support for all of the same add-on accessories, with a price increase of just $ 50. All of this makes the Hero10 Black our editor’s choice among action cameras.
If you want to spend less, the Hero8 Black is still on sale. It doesn’t have a front color display or Max Lens Mod support, but it does stream quality stabilized 4K footage, for around $ 279 (with subscription). We also like the DJI Osmo Action as a budget option; it’s on sale now for around $ 200 and a camera that’s almost as good as the Hero8.