The GoPro Hero 9 Black
The GoPro Hero 9 Black is my go-to camera. It is Agile, Adaptable and Capable. Essentially, it does everything I need and more. At the time of writing this the Hero 10 is available. Naturally I would love one and I will more than likely invest one day. However, it is hard to improve on perfection.
Although this post is all about the Hero 9 and why it is still a great choice. I’ll talk about how I use it from the perspective of a complete amateur. I am far from a pro when it comes to photos and videos but the Hero 9 gets results I am always more than happy with. If you’re anything like me and lack skill, you can make up for this with more cameras !
The Hero 9 as a Still Photo Camera
Firstly, photos on the Hero 9 never disappoint. As a typical non-manual reader I cast instructions aside and just get on with doing. I made a post on Instagram a while ago to show what happens when you take the same picture with an SLR and a GoPro. This was done with my Hero 9. The intention was not to call one out as better than the other. But if you grab a camera, leave everything in default settings and just point and shoot what do you end up with. You can narrow the lens and remove the fisheye effect on the GoPro if you want. Importantly, unlike an SLR, it does just fit in your pocket without making you look very happy to see other people.
I found the superphoto setting on the Hero 7 a little problematic. Although colours were great, it required holding the camera very still until the photo had finished being taken. Leading to a quick photo on the move being blurry and unusable. On the other hand the Hero 9 is more responsive and processes the image faster, leading to better photos more often.
To conclude, yes. The Hero 9 is a good camera. I find it better than my phone and it’s not an inconvenience to carry. I haven’t taken it on holiday yet but I see no reason that I wouldn’t take it in preference to my SLR.
These are the game changing features for me. As I love compressing time down into bite size chunks, these are features I use to extremes. I find a time lapse can make you aware of how much things move and the scene changes without your eyes noticing. Having an extra source of power comes in great here so you can keep the GoPro filming around the clock.
To give a really quick overview of the time lapse modes and sum up what they do:
- Time Lapse – This is for creating footage where the camera is stationary or moving very slowly. To film movement over time from a fixed point.
- Time Warp – Opposite of the time lapse, best used where the camera is moving. Setting the time warp speed to a higher value (slower capture) does seem to make the end result smoother.
- Night Lapse – Probably my favourite setting of all. There is nothing like the feeling of pulling off a good night lapse after many hours in an exposed place. Always seems to yield satisfying results although not always what you would expect !
Mods and Accessories
Although the GoPro is great as standard, straight out of the box, there are a few things you can do to adapt it to your own style/use. I will expand more upon these in their own sections as I get chance. The list will likely grow over time too. You don’t have to do this but these are the things I use from time to time to make the GoPro do what I want:
Extend Battery Life
Battery life is fine when simply used as an action camera. On the other hand when you want continuous footage over hours, an issue arises. You can not swap batteries mid time lapse. With a couple of cheap additions you can boost the battery life to over 24 hours. Both the GoPro Hero 9 & 10 use the same removable battery door. By removing the door you gain access to the charging port but your camera is no longer waterproof and the battery is free to drop out.
In the event you have a 3D printer you can make your own door with charging hole. Otherwise you can buy one from Amazon. This will hold the battery but beware your GoPro is no longer waterproof !
When it comes to portable chargers, I like Anker. They come up on offer on occasions and they do the job well. I have a couple 20,000mah which seem to last me fine, more than 24 hours, when I remember to charge them. Depending on what you’re doing you can go bigger for more battery life or smaller for more compact size. There is a huge range of options out there. Try and get something that will go longer than you need.
Having not yet tried the official Max Lens Mod I can’t comment on how good it is. I am dying to get my hands on one and see what I can achieve. On the other hand I went straight for the Skyreat Anamorphic Lens. I am currently a little obsessed with it and trying to use it for everything I can.
Anamorphic lenses squeeze more footage in horizontally without warping the image. They also create great lens flare but make sure the colour settings are Flat and not GoPro, otherwise you will end up with a lens smear. Using the anamorphic lens will restrict hypersmooth and so you need to switch the GoPro to Linear or Narrow. In addition the image will need to be “desqueezed”. This means footage will be squeezed in from the sides and you need some video editing software to return it to the correct aspect ratio. I found about 82% reduction of height is optimal but you will end up with the black bars at the top and bottom. This does give a wider, more cinematic feel over all.
To conclude lens mods, check out a few reviews and sample videos, get the ones you like and have a play with them. The worst thing you can do when it comes to lenses is stick them on, not adjust the GoPro settings and expect them to just work. Be patient, test lots, find out how they impact your footage. Make a new settings profile for each lens so you can tweak it.
So is a GoPro Hero 9 worth it ?
A very strong yes. I find I use mine for everything. I’m happy with it, I would like a Hero 10 and if I find I need 1 more camera this may be the choice. It is hard to be disappointed with the Hero 9. It does everything well, much better than its predecessors. If you have a Hero 7 or 8 and want to upgrade, think strongly about whether you will use the upgrades on the 9 & 10. For me the 7 is still great and I use it a lot. The Hero 9 definitely has the edge though.
Often branded as “Just a toy” by some but a very effective, reliable and capable tool in the hands of those who just get out and find amazing wherever they go. Easy to use, easy to adapt, plenty of accessories available. Great out of the box with no extras but a few add-ons can transform it.
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