The latest GoPro cameras are shipping now and available in stores.
The GoPro Hero8 Black ($399) and GoPro Max ($499) promise next-level electronic image stabilization, better sound and more features than the models they replace. These two new cameras significantly improve upon the Hypersmooth electronic image stabilization that debuted with the Hero7 Black and truly offer gimbal-like stability. The GoPro Max is ostensibly a 360 camera but is also capable of capturing “regular” HD footage (up to 1440p) using its Max Hypersmooth stabilization that can keep the horizon level no matter what.
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The more traditional GoPro action camera of the two is the Hero8 Black. This model’s Hypersmooth 2 stabilization allows you to dial in the strength, with a “Boost” function that makes even extreme shaky capture (like mountain biking) look buttery smooth. 4K capture, HDR photos, ultra-stable timewarps and that familiar GoPro form factor & toughness are all pluses. If you want the latest/greatest GoPro, here it is.
Also new with the Hero8 Black are “mods” which add features including a “media mod” with 3.5mm mic input, HDMI out and a pair of cold shoe mounts. The Display Mod adds a flip-up screen for vloggers and the Light Mod is… a small LED light that can be used on-camera or on its own. Oh, and the GoPro mount is built into this camera… super handy.
The Max is the more curious camera. It replaces the GoPro Fusion, which was pretty much a dedicated 360 camera with some fiddly ergonomics. With the Max you give up a number of functions that are present in the Hero 8 Black, including 4K capture and HDR photos. But, beyond easier 360 capture (versus the Fusion) you gain some very special capabilities when shooting in HERO mode, which produces conventional video up to 1440p. First of all, the Max has a screen, so you can compose with it. The HERO mode offers horizon leveling that is insanely effective. Moreover, engaging stabilization does not reduce the field of view of the captured image (unlike the Hero7/Hero8 Black models). It is also able to shoot a 270-degree photographic panorama in one shot, which lets you freeze action (unlike phone panoramas).
One key niche where the Max looks strong… vloggers can stream 1080p HD with stabilization engaged, using the screen-side lens and directional sound.
Another difference between the Hero8 Black and Max it’s ruggedness and “easy” handling. Simply put, the Max has exposed lenses on both sides (caps and clear covers are provided but you can’t just shove it in your pocket). On the other hand, the Max offer spatial audio captured with 7 microphones and you can choose which direction to focus on in post, creating a “virtual” shotgun mic effect. Vloggers can use the camera in HERO mode.
I have already purchased the GoPro Hero8 Black and a GoPro Max is on its way as I type this. Both of these new cameras are now shipping, with the Hero8 Black also available in stores. The Max is available from GoPro.com now and has an October 31 release date at other retailers.