Just a few hours after a last-minute leak, GoPro has officially announced the new Hero 7 line of cameras, split into White, Silver, and Black variants. They go on sale next week (September 27th) and are available for $199, $299, and $399, respectively. The specs increase as the cameras climb in price. The Black version, which is powered by the custom processor GoPro debuted last year, offers 4K video capture at up to 60 frames per second, super slow motion, and a suite of new features like live-streaming, a Hyperlapse-style time-lapse mode, and dramatically improved digital image stabilization that you really have to see to believe.
The cameras are built to nearly the exact same dimensions as their predecessors, the Hero 5 and Hero 6 Black, which means the Hero 7 lineup is compatible with the company’s mounts and accessories. Also like their predecessors, they’re all waterproof out of the box, have touchscreen LCDs, feature voice control, and can all automatically back up footage to GoPro’s cloud subscription service (over Wi-Fi).
The flagship Hero 7 Black deviates the least from the design GoPro shifted to when it released the Hero 5 Black in 2016. The rubbery black exterior has received a few minor cosmetic tweaks, and it even has the name emblazoned on the side (which will make it easier for owners of multiple GoPros to pick it out of a bag or drawer). The user interface on the rear touchscreen has been tweaked, but it will feel familiar to anyone who’s used a Hero 5 or Hero 6 Black. It also uses the same batteries.
The camera is largely similar on the inside, too. It uses a lot of the same hardware as the Hero 6 Black, according to GoPro. One of the big differences is that the company’s now had a full year of working with its first custom processor. The GP1, as it’s called, debuted in the Hero 6 Black after the company split with longtime chipmaker Ambarella. GoPro says it’s getting even more performance out of GP1 now, especially because the Hero 7 Black has more RAM than the last camera (though it won’t say exactly how much more).
The most notable thing GoPro’s doing with this extra power comes in the form of “Hypersmooth,” which is a dramatic improvement of the digital image stabilization that GoPro’s been working into its cameras over the last few years. Hypersmooth takes that electronic stabilization — which, simply put, is performed by cropping in slightly on the image and warping the edges to compensate for shake — and builds on it by using GP1, the extra RAM, and the camera’s internal sensors to make real-time predictions about how the camera is about to move.
The result is stabilization that is really impressive. I’ve spent a few days shooting with the Hero 7 Black, and Hypersmooth makes handheld footage look like it came from a stabilized gimbal — even when running or bouncing around. It’s so good, it will make you want to shoot without any mounts.
Hypersmooth is a big part of the Hero 7 Black, but it’s not the only new feature. The Hero 7 Black can live stream to Facebook, Twitch, YouTube, or Vimeo over a phone’s cellular connection. There’s a time-lapse mode called “TimeWarp” that makes it easy to shoot smooth, fast time-lapse videos. The camera also has new “SuperPhoto” mode that works a lot like the smart HDR features on Google’s Pixel phones or Apple’s new iPhones.
The Hero 7 Black also has top-of-the-line specs. It shoots 4K video at up to 60 frames per second, 2.7K at up to 120 fps, and 1080p video at up to 240 fps. It captures 12-megapixel photos, with the option to shoot in RAW. It has Wi-Fi, GPS, face/smile and scene detection, and can filter out wind noise.
The two cheaper options, Silver and White, aren’t as capable, and they don’t use the GP1 chip. They also have integrated batteries, and they aren’t compatible with the Karma Grip stabilizer or the now-dead Karma Drone.
But they still look to be pretty solid cameras in their own right, considering their lower prices. The Hero 7 Silver is relatively similar to last year’s Hero 6 Black, with the ability to shoot 4K video at 30 fps and 10-megapixel photos. It has limited slow-motion abilities, though, topping out at 60 fps overall. The Hero 7 White is even more limited; it maxes out at 1440p.
All the new cameras can shoot and store vertical photos and videos, a clear attempt to encourage users to work GoPro into their Instagram routines. It’s the same with a new “short clips” feature, which lets users cap videos at 15 or 30 seconds. The interfaces have also been streamlined. The biggest change is the ability to swipe left and right to switch between shooting modes.
Hero 7 is GoPro’s deepest lineup of cameras in years. It’s also the result of a big push to simplify the company’s offerings. The Karma drone is gone, and the company restructured its staff as a result at the beginning of the year. If GoPro is ever going to rebound from the tumultuous last few years, the Hero 7 is where that comeback will start.