GoPro Hero 7 Black review: can this pocket powerhouse beat DJI's gutsy newcomer?

The action camera market has long been dominated by GoPro, but has it done enough with the Hero 7 Black to stay ahead of the pack? Time to find out...

T3 Platinum Award
GoPro Hero7 Black review
(Image credit: Future)

T3 Verdict

The GoPro Hero7 Black is undoubtedly the most powerful action camera the company has created. A series of nifty updates have made getting professional-looking shots easier, rather than bumping specs (for the same price as GoPro’s previous flagship £379). Yes it has serious competition in the form of the DJI Osmo Action, but we think GoPro has still done enough to retain its coveted action camera crown, fighting off stiff competition in an increasingly competitive market.

Reasons to buy

  • +

    World-class stabilisation

  • +

    Live streaming

  • +

    TimeWarp function

  • +

    Improved audio recording

  • +

    Good app support

Reasons to avoid

  • -

    No improvement to battery life

The GoPro Hero7 Black is the top performing model in the brand's world-class action camera range, bringing advanced digital image stabilisation to 4K resolution videos, along with handy features such as voice control and a small screen on the front that displays your current settings.

Instead of trying to deliver higher resolution or more frames per second, with the Hero7 Black GoPro has focused on making your videos less shaky. The result? A  technology called HyperSmooth: built-in electronic stabilisation that enables you to ditch the gimbal and capture smooth, professional-looking footage on the go. 

Among the powerful updates born into the Hero7 Black are improved audio, a TimeWarp (time lapse) video function, live-streaming and a fun gesture-based UI. Yep, the Hero7 Black is an incredible action camera, and with the release of the GoPro Hero 8 Black, it is now the intermediate action shooter in the GoPro range.

For perhaps the first time ever, GoPro's action camera crown has been properly challenged – drone royalty DJI recently released its debut action cam, the Osmo Action, and its aimed at the same market at the Hero7 Black.

The cameras have a very similar spec, but the DJI has a front display and a higher level of case-free waterproofing. As we noted in our review of the DJI Osmo Action, that front display is a true game changer and shows us just how important that kind of extra display can be. Still, the GoPro has the spec to out-gun the DJI in a few key areas, which we'll cover below.

Unsure how GoPro's action cameras compare to DJI's? Find out now in our GoPro Hero 8 Black vs DJI Osmo Action head-to-head, as well as the GoPro Hero 7 Black vs the DJI Osmo Action.

GoPro Hero7 Black review: features and design

Impressively, all of these new features have been crammed into a case the exact same size and shape as its predecessor, and that casing feels that little bit more premium than the plasticky Osmo Action.

The Hero7 Black is waterproof down to 10 metres on its own, or you can expand that to an impressive 30 metres with an optional GoPro waterproof housing. Plus, there’s a massive selection of compatible mounts (official GoPro branded and third-party mounts) and extras that work with the Hero7 from the get-go. So you're buying into a very extensive, action-ready universe of accessories here.

One of our favourite features is the ability to record TimeWarp videos. These use GoPro's highly impressive image stabilisation to create handheld, moving timelapses. They’re ideal for setting the scene, conveying a sense of time passing, or for adding creativity to an edited video.

Check out a quick TimeWarp test we filmed below...

GoPro Hero7 Black review: audio and video

The real star of the Hero7 Black show is HyperSmooth stabilisation, built-in electronic stabilisation that enables you to ditch the gimbal and capture smooth, professional-looking footage all the time. 

You do still get 4K video at a slick 60fps, as well as 8x slo-mo at Full HD. Crucially, the image quality is excellent, with vibrant colours and great dynamic range. The higher bit-rate and advanced colour profile option are welcome news for pros.

HyperSmooth works incredibly well, and doesn’t present any of the traditional warping or artefacts found on older GoPros. It is, just about, the best auto-smoothing on the market so far, but it’s not so far out in front of the DJI Osmo Action that it’s a clear winner – it’s just a tiny bit more natural.

To accompany your improved video, audio recording capabilities have also been boosted here. The built-in microphones are able to capture more dynamic range (deeper lows, higher highs), and there’s built-in processing that targets and eliminates vibration sounds.

Check out the HyperSmooth stabilisation below (we've also tested it in more extreme action scenarios):

Just like the Hero6, there’s a touchscreen on the rear of the GoPro Hero7 Black, but the user interface has been redesigned. The menus, modes and settings are much more simple to use now, with intuitive gestures that can be picked up by anyone. 

You’ve also got voice control, which is handy when you can’t physically reach the display or are wearing gloves – as you might be if you're surfing, climbing or  snowboarding.

When you connect to the GoPro smartphone app you’ll have another cool feature to play with: live-streaming. When the Hero7 Black first launched you were only able to send video directly to Facebook Live (via your smartphone’s internet connection). Now you can livestream to YouTube, too.

GoPro Hero7 Black review: specs

Video: 4K60, 2.7K120, 1440p120, 1080p240 and more
Photo: 12MP
Burst: 12MP @ 30 fps
Time Lapse Video: 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30, 60 second intervals
Timewarp Video: 2x, 5x, 10x, 15x, 30x video
Night Photo: Auto, 2, 5, 10, 15, 20, 30 second exposure times  
Waterproofing: 10 metres without the case, 30 with the case
Touchscreen: Intuitive 2" LCD
GPS: Yes
Voice Control: Yes
Stabilisation: HyperSmooth Video Stabilization up to 4K60
HDR: SuperPhoto Auto HDR Photo Enhancement
Live streaming: Yes
Other: Vertical Portrait Mode for Social Media

GoPro Hero7 Black review: verdict

The GoPro Hero7 Black is undoubtedly the most powerful action camera the company has created. We're impressed by its digital HyperSmooth stabilisation, and how easy it is to use. App support is far better than with its current main rival, the DJI Osmo Action, and it offers a slew of snazzy features including TimeWarp, live streaming and voice control.

The Hero7 Black also looks and feels nicer in the hand than the DJI Osmo Action. Ultimately, it's insanely easy to get pristine, sharp footage with the GoPro straight out of the box, and with its rugged build you can trust that it will survive pretty much anything you throw at it, both in and out of the water.

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