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 HERO 7 Black review
(Image credit: Future)
T3 Verdict

The GoPro HERO 7 Black is a seriously powerful action camera. A set of nifty updates have made getting professional-looking shots easier, rather than bumping specs (for the same price as GoPro’s previous flagship $399 at release). Yes, it has serious competition in 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 stabilization

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    Live streaming

  • +

    TimeWarp function

  • +

    Improved audio recording

  • +

    Good app support

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    No improvement to battery life

Update: For the latest model, check out our GoPro HERO 9 Black review (released September 2020) – or see how all the HEROs compare in our guide to the best GoPro

The GoPro HERO 7 Black is the top-performing model in the brand's world-class action camera range after the GoPro HERO 8 Black. It brings to the table advanced digital image stabilization and 4K resolution videos, along with useful features such as voice control and a small screen in front to display current settings.

Instead of trying to deliver higher resolution or more frames per second, the HERO 7 Black GoPro focuses on making your videos less shaky. The result? A technology called HyperSmooth, built-in electronic stabilization that allows you to capture smooth, professional-looking footage on-the-go without a gimbal. 

New, powerful updates that come with the HERO 7 Black include improved audio, a TimeWarp (time-lapse) video function, live-streaming, and a fun gesture-based UI. Yep, the HERO 7 Black is an incredible action camera, and with the release of the GoPro HERO 8 Black, it is now the mid-range action shooter in the GoPro range.

For perhaps the first time ever, GoPro's action camera crown has gotten tough competition – drone royalty DJI recently released its debut action cam, the Osmo Action, and its targeting the same market at the HERO 7 Black.

The cameras have very similar specs, but the DJI has a couple of advantages over the HERO 7 Black – namely, 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.

Want to know 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 HERO 7 Black review: release date and price

With the GoPro HERO 9 Black finally hitting the shelves, the GoPro HERO 7 Black is more affordable than ever. At the time of its release on September 20, 2018, it had the MSRP of $399.99. This older flagship is now available for purchase at $249.99, dropping $150 in price.

If you aren't ready to spend $449.99 (without subscription) for the latest model, but still want upgraded specs and features, the GoPro HERO 8 Black might be worth considering. It's only $50 more than the HERO 7 at $299.98 with the one-year $49.99 subscription to GoPro or $349.99 without subscription.

However, if you're not too concerned about having the latest tech, the HERO 7 Black is still an excellent value, even in the shadow of the HERO 9.

GoPro HERO 7 Black review: features and design

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

The HERO 7 Black is waterproof down to 10 meters (almost 33 feet) on its own, or you can extend that to an impressive 30 meters (98.4 feet) with the optional GoPro waterproof housing. There’s also 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 accessories here.

One of our favorite features is the ability to record TimeWarp videos. These use GoPro's highly impressive image stabilization to produce handheld, moving timelapses. They’re ideal for setting the scene, conveying the 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 stabilization, built-in electronic stabilization 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 colors and great dynamic range. The higher bit-rate and advanced color profile option are welcome additions for pros.

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

To complement your improved video, audio recording capabilities have also been boosted here. The built-in microphones manage to capture more dynamic range (deeper lows, higher highs), and come with built-in processing that targets and eliminates vibration sounds.

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

Just like the HERO 6, there’s a touchscreen on the rear of the GoPro HERO 7 Black, but the user interface has been redesigned. The menus, modes and settings are much simpler to use now, with intuitive gestures that can be picked up by anyone. 

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

Connecting 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 live stream to YouTube as well.

GoPro HERO 7 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 HERO 7 Black review: verdict

The GoPro HERO 7 Black was the most powerful action camera the company had created until the HERO 8 Black was released. The HERO 7 Black is still an excellent action camera, though. We're impressed by its digital HyperSmooth stabilization, and how easy it is to use. App support is far better than with its current biggest rival, the DJI Osmo Action and offers a slew of snazzy features including TimeWarp, live streaming and voice control.

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.

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