GoPro is the undisputed king of the action cam world, but the best GoPro for you isn't always going to be the latest and greatest in the range. If you're thinking of investing, this guide is here to help you figure out where to put your cash.
While the current flagship GoPro HERO 9 Black is the best action camera in terms of tech and features, you might not need its hugely powerful specs or long-awaited front-facing screen. And if its 360 footage you're after, the GoPro Max will be the best GoPro for you (our GoPro HERO vs MAX will outline the differences if you're not sure).
The general rule of thumb is that sensor resolution decreases as you head down the range, as does the ability of baked-in software and battery capacity, but the fact is that GoPro set the bar so high that even if you jump back a couple of generations, you'll still be getting a camera that outstrips much of the current competition from other brands.
Older GoPros regularly pop up in our best budget action camera ranking, and you're more likely to snag a cheap GoPro deal on a previous model than one that's new out. Choosing the best GoPro cam for you is about deciding which features matter most to you, and which you can live without or will barely ever use.
Before the HERO 9 came the T3 Award-winning GoPro HERO 8 Black, which launched alongside the Max. The HERO 7 range is still in production and the two models available are both excellent cameras too. Read on for our full guide to the best GoPro models right now.
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The best GoPro you can buy right now
The GoPro HERO 9 Black takes up the baton from the HERO 8, extending many of the now-familiar tools, adding a big dollop of hardware improvement but in an immediately recognisable package. The result is an extremely easy-to-use camera for the beginner, as well as an astonishingly capable tool for the pro – an impressive combination. It scooped up the 2021 T3 Award in the action cam category.
In style terms the HERO 9 Black is visually identical to the HERO 8, just slightly larger on each axis, and with that all-important front facing screen for vlogging action. The slick ‘bunny-ears’ mount is carried across, as is the 10m caseless waterproofing, while a removable lens cover adds potential for upgrade.
Under the hood, the big news is a hefty boost in sensor (23.6MP), which in turn opens the door to 5K/30 video and 20MP stills, while a 30% beefier battery means there’s enough juice to actually use some of this power. GoPro have baked horizon levelling into the camera now (as opposed to the app in previous models), added Hindsight and Scheduled Capture tools, and bumped Hypersmooth and Timewarp up to v3 from v2.
Although the HERO 8 is still a powerful performer, the HERO 9 is substantially better (and slightly bigger/heavier) by almost every metric you can think of, as well as packing brand new tricks (webcam, anyone?) that place it firmly at the top of the pile. Head to our GoPro HERO 9 Black review for more on this model, or see exactly how it differs from the older model in our GoPro HERO 8 Black vs GoPro HERO 9 Black face-off.
With a dramatically improved body and a host of other innovations, the GoPro HERO 8 Black seized the throne previously belonging to the HERO 7 Black and at release was without a doubt the best GoPro around. Even with the HERO 9 taking the top slot, the HERO 8 Black remains an excellent camera, and arguably the best bang for buck.
Visually the HERO 8 Black looks pretty similar to the HERO 7 Black, but its body is sleeker, it has cleaner lines and a lens that’s not quite as proud. Unlike its predecessor, the HERO 8 Black does away with the need to seat it in a frame attachment in order to mount the camera to anything. Instead, two ‘fingers’ fold out from its base allowing you to directly fit it to a mount or any other compatible accessory.
While the HERO 8 Black has very similar shooting modes and features as the HERO 7 Black, the newer camera comes with improved software and additional extras. For example, the HERO 7 has GoPro’s highly impressive Hypersmooth stabilisation, but the HERO 8 comes with Hypersmooth 2.0 along with additional High and Boost settings to smooth out even the most rattly footage. Similarly, while both cameras can shoot in 4K at 60FPS, the Hero8 Black’s higher bit rate results in better quality footage and gives it the edge over its stablemate.
As you'll discover in our GoPro HERO 7 Black vs HERO 8 Black comparison, while the older H7 Black does pretty much everything the HERO 8 Black can, the newer camera is just slightly better at it all. For most, choosing between the two will come down to how deep your pockets are. Check out our GoPro HERO 8 Black review for more of we thought of that model.
The HERO 7 Black is getting on in years, but it is still a solid action camera. The HERO 7 Black can do pretty much everything that the newer (and pricier) HERO 8 Black can, but the newer model has a few tweaks that mean it does it slightly better.
So what is it missing compared to the newer HERO 8? The body is slightly less sleek, and you'll need to add a frame before you can mount it to anything. The software is also not quite as good – although it still knocks competitors' efforts out of the park. Just like the HERO 8, you can shoot up to 4K in stunning clarity, even in low light. Dial in 1080p/240fps to harness the camera's ultra high frame rate and add slick slo-mo cuts to your videos.
You may not have Hypersmooth 2.0 here, but the original Hypersmooth stabilisation technology is still absolutely excellent, and can be relied up to bring fluidity to your shots, whether you’re bouncing down a rock-strewn mountain on your bike or shredding slopes on your snowboard. In the photography department, you're getting 12MP HDR shots (again, the HERO 8 has improved HDR software, but the original is still extremely good), and the HyperSmooth-aided TimeWarp produces stunning time-lapse clips, even in the absence of the TimeWarp 2.0 upgrade.
Overall, if you're wanting absolutely the very best GoPro, it's the HERO 9. But the HERO 7 is still a capable action camera, and will be plenty good enough for most people's needs. Head to our GoPro HERO7 Black review to find out more. This point is also where DJI's efforts start to look like strong competitors – check out our GoPro HERO 7 Black vs DJI Osmo Action faceoff for more on that.
If your budget won’t stretch to the Black edition, or you don’t need that much tech, the cheaper GoPro HERO 7 Silver edition offers plenty of great features with only a handful of compromises. Stabilised 4K/30fps footage looks fantastic and gives you plenty of angles to work with in your edits. With a top frame rate of 60fps (at 1440p), slo-mo isn't the Silver’s strongest suit, so you’ll need to stump up for a Black model if that’s a deal-breaker.
10MP HDR stills with Wide Dynamic Range are great for documenting days (and nights) in the wild, and it’s easy to share shots directly to social media from the GoPro app. As with all the HERO 7 cameras in the current GoPro range, the HERO 7 Silver is waterproof to 10 metres, making it ideal for adventures above and below the water. It’s built to tough it out during even the most hardcore of pursuits, and voice control means you can start rolling even if the camera is out of reach on a helmet or handlebar mount. See how it compares to its pricier sibling in our GoPro HERO 7 Black vs GoPro HERO 7 Silver faceoff, or head to our should I buy the GoPro HERO 7 Silver? article for a closer look.
The HERO 7 White edition is an absolute game-changer at the budget end of the action camera spectrum. In 2019 and 2020 this nifty GoPro bagged the Best Budget Action Camera prize at the T3 Awards, and with good reason. Very little outlay bags you best GoPro pedigree, still-unrivalled waterproofing (10m, same as the latest flagship) and rugged build, plus voice control and a slick 2-inch touchscreen. Oh, and compatibility with GoPro's killer range of mounts.
There's no 4K video here, but the top 1440p/60fps resolution and 10MP stills should deliver all the quality, stabilised video and photos you need to load your channels with cool edits and galleries. And if the thought of detailed video editing turns your stomach, QuikStories within GoPro’s Quick app makes it a doddle to create fun edits from your clips.
You won’t be worrying the producers at Red Bull TV too much with footage captured on the HERO7 White, but at around half the price of the latest flagship model, this is the best GoPro for weekend warriors looking to document their adventures. The only down-side? GoPro's not selling them any more, so you'll need to head to a third party retailer to get your hands on one... and they might not be sticking around for too much longer.
Released not long after the HERO8 Black, the 360-degree GoPro Max shares the same intuitive operating system and many design cues with its more conventional stablemate. It also uses the same frameless mounting system, consisting of two metal fingers that fold out from the base, in order to attach the camera to mounts and other accessories.
The GoPro Max directly replaces its 360-degree forerunner, the GoPro Fusion, which is no longer in production. The new camera vastly improves on its predecessor in every respect and comes with many popular facilities found in the Hero range, such as Hypersmooth image stabilisation and TimeWarp moving time-lapsed video.
While the Max’s 360-degree capabilities give you the ability to create some truly amazing content, the stitching together of the images taken by the front and rear mounted lenses can be noticeable at times. Vloggers will appreciate the ability to flip between front and rear views on the Max’s touchscreen, but the only was to see what you are shooting in 360-degree mode is by via the feature-packed smartphone app – which handily also gives you access to the camera’s controls.
The Max is a hugely versatile piece of kit that makes it easy to create stunning content. A combination of GoPro’s unmatched functionality and an excellent smartphone app makes Max stand head and shoulders above its 360-degree rivals. Read our full GoPro Max review.
Best GoPro: the main uses explained
Whether it's Kai Lenny surfing house-sized waves at Jaws, or Felix Baumgartner's epic skydive from space, if you're watching an action sports video, the likelihood is that at least some of the footage will have been filmed using a GoPro. All of the action cams in the current GoPro range delivers top-level optics, image stabilisation, waterproofing and industry leading usability.
GoPros are the ultimate accessory for mountain biking, surfing, white water rafting, skateboarding, or just about any action sport you can think of. However, their bombproof nature, excellent image quality and small size makes them extremely versatile and useful devices for situations in which you wouldn’t want to risk using a regular camera. Their small size and the range of range of mounts available (helmet mounts, handlebar mounts, even dog mounts) also allows you to record from a huge range of POVs. For more detail, we have a guide to what exactly you can (and can't) do with a GoPro.
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How to choose the best GoPro for you
The main things to consider before purchasing a GoPro are: 1. What will you be mainly using your footage for? and 2. How big is your budget? The good news is that there is a GoPro camera for all kinds of different applications and for a wide range of budgets.
The T3 5-star rated GoPro HERO 9 Black sits at the very top of our best GoPro guide. The flagship model is followed by the HERO 8 Black, then the HERO 7 Black in third place. Each of these models is waterproof to 10 metres and features a 2-inch touchscreen and voice control for optimum control. Aside from price, the big differences between these three cameras are gradually improving video resolution and image stabilisation, aside from the HERO 9's new front preview screen and horizon levelling. When making buying decisions on GoPro cameras, it's worth considering whether a GoPro Plus subscription works for you, as you'll get a discount on newer models, as well as cloud storage and easy replacement if the camera is lost – all potentially handy for the pro and beginner alike.
If 360-degree video is your thing, the fourth camera in the GoPro line-up is the twin lensed Max, which can shoot mind-blowing 360-degree footage up to 5.6k (at 30fps) resolution and features many facilities found on the conventional cameras.