In our GoPro HERO 7 Black review, we're going to be sharing our thoughts on one of the action camera kings' older flagships. Released in September 2018, the HERO 7 brought with it 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.
The headline addition here, though, is that the HERO 7 was the cam with which HyperSmooth made its debut. Still impressive even in its earliest iteration, this built-in electronic stabilisation enables you to ditch the gimbal and capture smooth, professional-looking footage on the go. Other updates included improved audio, the addition of a TimeWarp (time lapse) video function, live-streaming and a fun gesture-based UI.
Of course, all of these features have been improved upon since – the HERO 7 is far from the best GoPro on the market. If you're interested in the newer flagships, you can find out all about them in our GoPro HERO 10 Black review (released September 2021), our GoPro HERO 9 Black review (September 2020) or HERO 8 Black review (October 2019). But that's not to say that the HERO 7 isn't worth considering.
GoPro set the bar high early on with its action cameras; plus, you're much more likely to find a GoPro deal on the HERO 7 Black than one of the newest versions. Read on for our full HERO 7 Black review, and to find out if it's still worth considering today.
GoPro HERO 7 Black review: features and design
The case is the exact same size and shape the H6, and that casing feels that little bit more premium than the plasticky DJI Osmo Action. The HERO 7 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 HERO 7 from the get-go. So you're buying into a very extensive, action-ready universe of GoPro accessories here. Note: this is the last GoPro HERO not to feature a frameless design, so you'll need to add a case if you want to mount it to anything.
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 HERO 7 Black review: audio and video
The real star of the HERO 7 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. It's been improved in later models, but this original version is still excellent.
You 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, and we found it just a tiny bit more natural than the auto-smoothing on the DJI Osmo Action (although it's a close call) and it outperforms the stabilisation on any recently released budget camera. Check out the HyperSmooth stabilisation below (we've also tested it in more extreme action scenarios):
The HERO 7 Black can capture detailed 12MP images in HDR or SuperPhoto mode. However, cheaper and more recently released cameras typically offer a higher photo resolution of 20MP, so if you value stills over video, you may wish to consider other options. To accompany your improved video, audio recording capabilities also got a boost, with built-in microphones that are able to capture more dynamic range (deeper lows, higher highs). There’s built-in processing that targets and eliminates vibration sounds, too. You won't be able upgrade your sound further by adding a GoPro Media Mod though – for that you'll need a HERO 8 or above.
There's a touchscreen on the rear of the HERO 7 Black, and with this release GoPro rethought the user interface to make the menus, modes and settings simpler to use, with intuitive gestures that can be picked up by anyone. Again, later versions have been streamlined and simplified, but this UI is still plenty user-friendly enough.
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. Temper your expectations though: the feature is buggy in the HERO 7 (and in fact, still has occasional blips even in the HERO 9).
When you connect to the GoPro smartphone app you’ll have another cool feature to play with: live-streaming. When the HERO 7 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 Hero 7 Black specs
Video: 4K60, 2.7K120, 1440p120, 1080p240 and more
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
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 HERO 7 Black review: alternatives to consider
When the GoPro HERO 7 Black first arrived on the market, GoPro was still offering multiple versions of each flagship launch. So it was accompanied by the GoPro HERO 7 Silver (more basic) and GoPro HERO 7 White (most basic). None of these are still in the current lineup, but you can still get your hands on them from third party retailers, if you're lucky. See how the top two options compare in our HERO 7 Silver vs HERO 7 Black face-off.
If you can push to the slightly higher price, definitely check out the HERO 8 Black – the bunny ears design, which means it can be mounted without adding a case, is especially useful. There are multiple other improvements to consider, too, all laid out in our GoPro HERO 7 Black vs HERO 8 Black comparison.
The HERO 7 Black launched around the same time as DJI's first action camera effort: the DJI Osmo Action. The two cams offered very similar specs, but the DJI held a trump card in the form of an integrated front-facing display and a higher level of case-free waterproofing. It was perhaps the first time GoPro had been properly challenged, although ultimately we judged the HERO the winner in our GoPro HERO 7 Black vs DJI Osmo Action face-off. This is slightly moot because the Osmo Action is no longer available, having been replaced, much later, by the DJI Action 2, which offers something quite different to GoPro's HEROs. The brand remains best known as the maker of most of today's best drones, though.
If price is of the essence, you'll find plenty of cheaper alternatives in our best budget action camera ranking, and if you want to see what other brands are doing, check out the best GoPro alternatives around.
GoPro HERO 7 Black review: verdict
At time of release, the GoPro HERO 7 Black was the most powerful action camera in the world. It's since been surpassed by the HERO 8 Black and then the HERO 9 Black, but the HERO 7 Black is still an excellent action camera. We're impressed by its digital HyperSmooth stabilisation, and how easy it is to use. App support is far better than with its main rival, the DJI Osmo Action, and it offers a slew of snazzy features including TimeWarp, live streaming and voice control. Despite a lower photo resolution, the HERO 7 Black still offers a better overall package than the best modern budget action cameras, such as the Akaso Brave 7 LE.
The HERO 7 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.