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GoPro HERO9 Black Camera Review

Tested using Methodology v0.12
Reviewed Apr 01, 2021 at 07:51 am
GoPro HERO9 Black Picture
6.1
Travel Photography
8.5
Landscape Photography
7.1
Sport & Wildlife Photography
6.9
Vlogging
5.6
Studio Video
8.9
Action Video
This camera was replaced by the GoPro HERO10 Black

The GoPro HERO9 Black is a compact camera designed for action video. You can easily mount it on a chest or helmet rig, and it's even advertised to be waterproof, though we don't currently test for this. You can also control all of the camera's features using the GoPro app on your smartphone, which is handy. Thanks to its impressive video stabilization performance, it can help smooth out camera shake. It supports video recording in FHD up to 240 fps, 4k up to 60 fps, and 5k up to 30 fps, although we don't currently test 5k video capability. Unfortunately, its video quality in FHD and 4k isn't the most impressive, resulting in footage that isn't very sharp or detailed.

Our Verdict

6.1 Travel Photography

The GoPro HERO9 is middling for travel photography, though it isn't really intended for this use. Its portable design makes it easy to bring with you on-the-go, and its impressive image quality results in fairly clear and detailed photos. Unfortunately, there isn't an autofocus system to help you track moving subjects, and its high minimum shutter speed means it isn't very suitable for taking long-exposure photographs of a starry night sky. It also isn't meant to be used handheld, so it can be a bit uncomfortable to operate with your hands.

Pros
  • Great image quality.
Cons
  • No autofocus system.
  • Not meant to be used handheld.
8.5 Landscape Photography

The GoPro HERO9 is very good for landscape photography, though it isn't really intended for this use. This well-built, portable camera can take images that are impressively sharp and detailed, even at moderately high ISO levels. Its screen is also bright enough to be readable in direct sunlight, which is handy if you're shooting outdoors. Unfortunately, there's no autofocus system to help you track moving subjects, and it isn't very comfortable to use handheld since it's not really designed to be used that way.

Pros
  • Well-built, portable design.
  • Great image quality.
Cons
  • No autofocus system.
  • Not meant to be used handheld.
7.1 Sport & Wildlife Photography

The GoPro HERO9 is unremarkable for sport and wildlife photography. Though it isn't designed for this use, this well-built camera offers great image quality, and its high continuous shooting speed in burst mode can help capture clear images of fast-moving subjects. Unfortunately, it lacks an autofocus system to help you track moving subjects, and its low maximum shutter speed can make it difficult to freeze the action in your shots.

Pros
  • Well-built, portable design.
  • Great image quality.
Cons
  • No autofocus system.
  • Not meant to be used handheld.
6.9 Vlogging

The GoPro HERO9 is satisfactory for vlogging. Its portable design makes it easy to bring with you on-the-go, and it even has a second screen that lets you see yourself while you record. Also, it does an incredible job smoothing out camera shake if you record while walking. Unfortunately, video quality in 4k and FHD isn't very impressive, resulting in footage that lacks sharpness and detail.

Pros
  • Impressive video stabilization performance.
Cons
  • Unremarkable video quality in 4k and FHD.
5.6 Studio Video

The GoPro HERO9 is sub-par for studio video. It isn't really designed for this use, and it doesn't shoot very sharp or detailed footage when recording in 4k or FHD. It also lacks an autofocus system, so it can't help track moving subjects, and it doesn't have inputs for videography accessories like headphones or a microphone. On the upside, its menu system is easy-to-use, and you can even control the camera using the GoPro app on your phone, though we don't test for this.

Pros
  • Easy-to-use menu system.
Cons
  • Unremarkable video quality in 4k and FHD.
  • No autofocus system.
  • No inputs for headphones or a microphone.
8.9 Action Video

The GoPro HERO9 is amazing for action video. You can easily mount this portable camera on your helmet or chest rig, and it's advertised to be waterproof, though we don't test for this currently. It also has an impressive video stabilization performance that helps to smooth out camera shake. It also offers a lot of frame rate options in FHD, so you can use it to record slow-motion footage. Unfortunately, its video quality in 4k and FHD isn't the most impressive, so your footage isn't very sharp or detailed.

Pros
  • Well-built, portable design.
  • Impressive video stabilization performance.
  • Lots of frame rate options in FHD.
Cons
  • Unremarkable video quality in 4k and FHD.
  • 6.1 Travel Photography
  • 8.5 Landscape Photography
  • 7.1 Sport & Wildlife Photography
  • 6.9 Vlogging
  • 5.6 Studio Video
  • 8.9 Action Video
  1. Updated Dec 21, 2022: Converted to Test Bench 0.12.
  2. Updated Dec 20, 2022: Converted to Test Bench 0.11.
  3. Updated Oct 03, 2022: Converted to Test Bench 0.10.
  4. Updated Sep 02, 2022: Converted to Test Bench 0.9.
  5. Updated May 18, 2022: Converted to Test Bench 0.8.
  6. Updated Jan 04, 2022: Updated 'Max Aperture (Full Frame Equivalent)' and 'Max Focal Length (Full Frame Equivalent)' to 'N/A'.
  7. Updated Nov 09, 2021: Updated 'Sensor Size' to show 'Unspecified' since GoPro doesn't officially advertise sensor size.
  8. Updated Oct 25, 2021: Corrected error in previous update about Sample Gallery photos.
  9. Updated Oct 14, 2021: Added additional information to 'Screen' section about the second front-facing screen.
  10. Updated Oct 13, 2021: Updated score to show N/A for 'Image Stabilization' test due to limits in test methodology for this camera.
  11. Updated Oct 06, 2021: Updated 'Clean HDMI Output' and 'Advertised Max Chroma Sampling Over HDMI' fields to show 'No HDMI'.
  12. Updated May 06, 2021: Completed retests in 'Body', 'Sensor', 'Lens', 'Shooting Speed', 'Image Quality', 'Luminance Noise', 'Sample Gallery', '4k Video Quality', and FHD 'Video Quality' boxes.
  13. Updated Apr 01, 2021: Review published.
  14. Updated Mar 29, 2021: Early access published.

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Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The GoPro HERO9 is available in 'Black', and you can see the label for the model we tested here.

If you come across another version, please let us know in the discussions so we can update our review.

Compared To Other Cameras

DJI Osmo Action

The GoPro HERO9 Black is a bit better than the DJI Osmo Action. Though both are extremely portable and waterproof with front-facing screens, the GoPro offers more resolution and frame rate options, including 5k video up to 30 fps. The GoPro has a better stabilization feature, delivers better overall video quality, and has more field of view options.

Sony RX0 II

The GoPro HERO9 Black is a better value option for action video than the Sony RX0 II. While the Sony has a more rugged build quality and a unique tilting screen that helps with tricky angles, the GoPro has better video stabilization and offers more frame rate and resolution options.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
9.6
Design
Portability
Height
2.0" (5.0 cm)
Width
2.8" (7.1 cm)
Depth
1.3" (3.4 cm)
Volume
7.4 inยณ (120.7 cmยณ)
Weight
0.35 lbs (0.16 kg)
9.0
Design
Build Quality

  • Hard plastic body with soft, rubberized plastic finish for the grip
  • Materials feel robust and solid
  • Sturdy hinge with a rubber gasket for water resistance

Design
Body
Body Type
Action Cam
Water Resistance
Waterproof
Mirrorless
Yes
Rugged
No
Hot Shoe
No
Customizable Button
No
Command Dial
0
Tripod Mount
No
Lens Mount
No Lens Mount
Built-In Flash
No
Fastest Shutter Speed
1/2,000 s

Update 05/06/2021: The 'Rugged' field has been updated from 'Yes' to 'No'.

Design
In The Box

  • GoPro HERO9 Black camera body
  • User manual
  • Carrying case
  • GoPro SPBL1B battery
  • USB-A to USB-C cable
  • Adhesive mounting plate with accessories

6.0
Design
Ergonomics & Comfort
Hand Grip: Small Hand
No Hand Grip
Hand Grip: Medium Hand
No Hand Grip
Hand Grip: Large Hand
No Hand Grip
Hand Grip: Extra-Large Hand
No Hand Grip

  • It's intended to be used as an action camera, but can be used to take photos/videos handheld
  • Can change settings using the touchscreen or via the GoPro app on your smartphone
  • Since it's slightly larger than the GoPro HERO7 Black and the GoPro HERO8 Black, it's a bit easier to hold
  • Buttons are hard to press due to waterproofing layer

Design
Viewfinder
Viewfinder Type
No Viewfinder
Advertised Coverage
N/A
Advertised Resolution
N/A
Advertised Magnification
N/A
7.0
Design
Screen
Screen Articulation Type
Dual Screen
Screen Max Brightness
970 cd/mยฒ
Advertised Resolution
N/A
Size
2.4" (6.0 cm)
Touchscreen
Yes

Update 10/14/2021: Added additional information about the camera's second front-facing screen.

This camera has an additional screen on the front that can be used for Live View while recording and also displays information like shooting mode, battery life, and SD card info.

8.5
Design
Menu System
Guide Mode
Yes
App Name
GoPro

  • Menu is simple to use and easier to navigate than the GoPro HERO8 Black thanks to its larger-sized screen
  • You can access all the camera settings on the GoPro phone app
  • Guide Mode is available for additional information about settings and features

7.0
Design
Built-In Lens
Maximum Aperture
N/A
Max Aperture (Full-Frame Equivalent)
N/A
Minimum Focal Length
3 mm
Maximum Focal Length
3 mm
Max Focal Length (Full-Frame Equivalent)
N/A
Optical Image Stabilization
No
Luminance
96.5%
Light Falloff
34.7%

Update 01/04/2022: Since GoPro doesn't officially advertise the sensor size of its cameras, we've updated the 'Max Aperture (Full Frame Equivalent)' and 'Max Focal Length (Full Frame Equivalent)' to 'N/A'.

Update 05/06/2021: The camera was retested using the 'Wide FOV' setting and 'GoPro' color profile to maintain consistency with other action cameras. The score for this section has been updated.

Design
Sensor
Sensor Type
CMOS
Advertised Effective Pixels
20 MP
Sensor Size
Unspecified
Processor
GP1
Extended ISO Minimum
N/A
Native ISO Minimum (Base ISO)
100
Native ISO Maximum
6,400
Tested Firmware
1.7

Update 05/06/2021: Corrected input error in 'Advertised Effective Pixels' from '12MP' to '20MP' . The 'ISO Maximum' field has also been updated from '3200' to '6400'. The camera's maximum ISO in photo mode is ISO 3200, but using the camera in video mode increases its maximum ISO to ISO 6400.

7.8
Design
Battery
Battery Type
GoPro SPBL1B
USB Charging
Yes
Use When Charging
Yes
Advertised Battery Life In Photo
N/A
Tested Battery Life In Video
90 min
Photo General
9.1
Photo General
Photo Shooting Speed
Low Speed Continuous
3 fps
High Speed Continuous
25 fps
Silent Shooting Continuous
25 fps
Raw Buffer Size
25 Photos
JPEG Buffer Size
25 Photos
Buffer Empty Time
10 s

Update 05/06/2021: The 'Buffer Empty Time' field has been updated from '0 s' to '10 s' to reflect that the camera takes time to save and store image files following a 25 fps burst.

not tested
Photo General
Photo AF-C Tracking
Autofocus Tracking Shots N/A
Perfect Focus Hit Rate
N/A
Usable Focus Hit Rate
N/A
not tested
Photo General
Photo AF-C Center Point
Autofocus Center Point Shots N/A
Perfect Focus Hit Rate
N/A
Usable Focus Hit Rate
N/A
not tested
Photo General
Photo Image Stabilization
Minimum Shutter Speed Achieved
N/A
In-Body Image Stabilization
No

Update 10/13/2021: We've updated the score to show N/A because our current methodology can't adequately score the image stabilization features of cameras with limited slower shutter speed settings. Note, though, that this camera still has stabilization features and the score is not representative of how these features perform in actual use.

Photo Image Quality
not tested
Photo Image Quality
Photo RAW Dynamic Range
Dynamic Range At Base ISO
N/A
Dynamic Range At 1/500s Exposure Time
N/A
Dynamic Range At 1/2000s Exposure Time
N/A
Dynamic Range At 1/4000s Exposure Time
N/A
not tested
Photo Image Quality
Photo RAW Sharpness
Vertical Edge MTF50 At Base ISO
N/A
Horizontal Edge MTF50 At Base ISO
N/A
not tested
Photo Image Quality
Photo RAW Noise
SNR 18% At 1/8 Exposure Time (125 ms)
N/A
SNR 18% At 1/125 Exposure Time (8 ms)
N/A
SNR 18% At 1/1000 Exposure Time (1 ms)
N/A
SNR 18% At 1/4000 Exposure Time (0.25 ms)
N/A

Update 05/06/2021: The camera was retested using the 'Wide FOV' mode and 'GoPro' color profile to maintain consistency with other action cameras. The sample gallery and score for this section have been updated.

Pictures Sample Gallery
Pictures Sample Gallery
The Skate Park Picture
JPEG Skate Park Picture Download
RAW Skate Park Picture Download

Update 10/25/2021: In a previous update, we mistakenly stated that the sample photos were reshot using 'Wide FOV'. The review has been corrected to show 'Linear FOV'.

Update 05/06/2021: The camera was retested using the 'Linear FOV' mode and 'GoPro' color profile to maintain consistency with other action cameras. The sample images for this section have been updated.

Pictures Sample Gallery
The Polish Church Picture
JPEG Polish Church Picture Download
RAW Polish Church Picture Download

Update 10/25/2021: In a previous update, we mistakenly stated that the sample photos were reshot using 'Wide FOV'. The review has been corrected to show 'Linear FOV'.

Update 05/06/2021: The camera was retested using the 'Linear FOV' mode and 'GoPro' color profile to maintain consistency with other action cameras. The sample images for this section have been updated.

Pictures Sample Gallery
The Studio Picture
JPEG Studio Picture Download
RAW Studio Picture Download

Update 10/25/2021: In a previous update, we mistakenly stated that the sample photos were reshot using 'Wide FOV'. The review has been corrected to show 'Linear FOV'.

Update 05/06/2021: The camera was retested using the 'Linear FOV' mode and 'GoPro' color profile to maintain consistency with other action cameras. The sample images for this section have been updated.

Pictures Sample Gallery
The Stairway Picture
JPEG Stairway Picture Download
RAW Stairway Picture Download

Update 10/25/2021: In a previous update, we mistakenly stated that the sample photos were reshot using 'Wide FOV'. The review has been corrected to show 'Linear FOV'.

Update 05/06/2021: The camera was retested using the 'Linear FOV' mode and 'GoPro' color profile to maintain consistency with other action cameras. The sample images for this section have been updated.

Video General
Video General
Video Features
Full HD Video
Yes
4k Video
Yes
6k Video
No
Clean HDMI Output
No HDMI
Advertised Max Chroma Sampling Over HDMI
No HDMI
Advertised Max Bit Depth Over HDMI
N/A
Log Picture Profile
No
Recording Light
Yes

Update 10/06/2021: Corrected 'Clean HDMI Output' and 'Advertised Max Chroma Sampling Over HDMI' fields to show 'No HDMI'.

Video General
Audio
Audio Test Sample
Audio Recording
Stereo
Microphone Level Display
No
Video General
Video File Format And Compression
MP4 H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC
Yes
MP4 H.265 / HEVC
Yes
MOV H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC
No
MOV H.265 / HEVC
No
AVCHD H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC
No
All-I Compression
No
4k Video
9.5
4k Video
4k Video Frame Rate
240 fps In 4k
No
120 fps In 4k
No
60 fps In 4k
Yes
30 fps In 4k
Yes
24 fps In 4k
Yes
4k Crop At Max Available fps
1 x
7.9
4k Video
4k Video Internal Recording
Bitrate Maximum In 4k
60 Mbps
Bitrate Minimum In 4k
60 Mbps
Chroma Sampling In 4k
4:2:0
Bit Depth In 4k
8 Bit
Record Time Limit In 4k
N/A
Overheat Recording Interruptions in 4k
0
0
4k Video
4k Video Autofocus Performance
Object Tracking In 4k
N/A
Face Tracking In 4k
N/A
Face Detection In 4k
No
Eye Detection In 4k
No
6.0
4k Video
4k Video Quality
Low Light Capability In 4k
5.5
Test Scene Extract In 4k
6.5

Update 05/06/2021: The camera was retested using the 'Wide FOV' mode to maintain consistency with other action cameras. The '4k Sample Low Light Video' and '4k Test Scene Extract' image have been updated, but the score remains unchanged.

9.1
4k Video
4k Video Rolling Shutter Effect
4k Rolling Shutter
1.0ยฐ
Full HD Video
10
Full HD Video
FHD Video Frame Rate
240 fps In FHD
Yes
120 fps In FHD
Yes
60 fps In FHD
Yes
30 fps In FHD
Yes
24 fps In FHD
Yes
FHD Crop At Max Available fps
1 x
8.2
Full HD Video
FHD Video Internal Recording
Bitrate Maximum In FHD
60 Mbps
Bitrate Minimum In FHD
45 Mbps
Chroma Sampling In FHD
4:2:0
Bit Depth In FHD
8 Bit
Record Time Limit in FHD
N/A
0
Full HD Video
FHD Video Autofocus Performance
Object Tracking In FHD
N/A
Face Tracking In FHD
N/A
Face Detection In FHD
No
Eye Detection In FHD
No
5.0
Full HD Video
FHD Video Quality
Low Light Capability In FHD
5.0
Test Scene Extract In FHD
5.0

Update 05/06/2021: The camera was retested using the 'Wide FOV' mode to maintain consistency with other action cameras. The '4k Sample Low Light Video' and '4k Test Scene Extract' image have been updated, but the score remains unchanged.

10
Full HD Video
FHD Video Rolling Shutter Effect
FHD Rolling Shutter
0.0ยฐ
Storage And Connectivity
Storage And Connectivity
Storage
Card 1 Slot
microSD Card UHS-I
Card 2 Slot
No 2nd Card Slot
4.5
Storage And Connectivity
Inputs / Outputs
USB
USB-C
HDMI
No
Headphones
No
Microphone
No Microphone input
Wi-Fi
Yes
Bluetooth
Yes

If you prefer a portable camera with a built-in microphone input and HDMI port, check out the Sony RX0 II.

Discussions