GoPro HERO 7 Black review: Still a top-notch action camera

The GoPro HERO 7 Black may have beaten in pretty much every aspect by more recently released stablemates, but it's still an excellent piece of kit that's well worthy of your attention

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

The GoPro HERO 7 Black may have been usurped by newer models, but it's still an excellent action camera. This was the first HERO to feature HyperSmooth image stabilization, and you can shoot up to 4K in stunning clarity. You'll need to pick up a H8 or later if you want a frameless design, and the software isn't quite as good as newer models, but the GoPro HERO 7 will be plenty capable enough for many people's needs.

Reasons to buy
  • +

    Original HyperSmooth stabilisation is still excellent

  • +

    Good app support

  • +

    Video outperforms the best modern budget cameras

Reasons to avoid
  • -

    Requires frame to add mounts

  • -

    Newer GoPros are slightly better in almost every area

  • -

    Photo resolution is lower than modern budget cameras

The GoPro HERO 7 Black brings advanced digital image stabilization to 4K resolution videos, along with handy features such as voice control and a small screen on the front that displays your current settings. It's no longer the best GoPro on the market – for that, head to our GoPro HERO 9 Black review (released September 2020, and currently the best action camera in the world) or our HERO 8 Black review (released October 2019). 

Instead of trying to deliver higher resolution or more frames per second compared to the H6, with the HERO 7 Black GoPro has focused on making your videos less shaky. The result? A technology called HyperSmooth: built-in electronic stabilization that enables you to ditch the gimbal and capture smooth, professional-looking footage on the go (it's since been improved upon, but the original HyperSmooth is still excellent). Among the powerful updates born into the HERO 7 Black are improved audio, a TimeWarp (time lapse) video function, live-streaming and a fun gesture-based UI. 

If you're looking for a cheaper alternative to the latest models, you're more likely to find a GoPro deal on the HERO 7 Black (for something even cheaper, you could also consider sister model, the GoPro HERO 7 Silver). Read on for our full HERO 7 Black review, and to find out if it's still worth buying today. 

For perhaps the first time ever, GoPro's action camera crown was properly challenged: drone royalty DJI released its debut action cam, the Osmo Action around the same time as the HERO 7 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 (the HERO 9 is the first HERO to add a front-facing screen). Still, the GoPro has the spec to out-gun the DJI in a few key areas, which we'll cover below.

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

The case is the exact same size and shape the H6, and that casing feels that little bit more premium than the plasticky Osmo Action. The HERO 7 Black is waterproof down to 10 meters on its own, or you can expand that to an impressive 30 meters 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 favorite features is the ability to record TimeWarp videos. These use GoPro's highly impressive image stabilization to create handheld, moving time-lapses. 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 stabilization, built-in electronic stabilization 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 colors and great dynamic range. The higher bit-rate and advanced color profile option are welcome news for pros.

HyperSmooth works incredibly well, and doesn’t present any of the traditional warping or artifacts 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). Check out the HyperSmooth stabilization below (we've also tested it in more extreme action scenarios):

The HERO 7 Black is capable of capturing some of the highest resolution video around and can take hugely 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 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.

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 more simple to use now, with intuitive gestures that can be picked up by anyone. Again, later versions have been streamlined and simplified, but this UI is still plenty intuitive 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.

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 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

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 stabilization, 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.

Ruth is T3's Outdoors editor, reviewing and writing about everything from camping gear and hiking boots to mountain bikes, drones and paddle boards. To counter all that effort, she also runs the site's Wellness channel, which includes sleep, relaxation, yoga and general wellbeing. She has tested more mattresses than her small flat can handle, and has had to implement a one-in-one-out pillow policy, for fear of getting smothered in the night.