There are already a lot of reviews for the Hero 9, so I wanted to do something different. I decided to try the latest version of GoPro while hugging curves in my 1970 Chevelle.
I recently swapped out the automatic transmission in there for a Tremec Magnum 6-speed manual transmission to do something I’ve never done before: downshifting my downshifts. In other words, I wanted a smooth ride. And what better way to monitor my progress than to record it with the Hero 9?
The camera has a front-facing screen, a detachable lens cap, a webcam and streaming capabilities, Hypersmooth 3.0 and Hindsight with a pre-recording of up to 30 seconds. GoPro threw in the Zeus Mini and I’m glad they did.
The rechargeable LED light has a total runtime of six hours at level 1 brightness. There are four levels in total with a maximum of 200 lumens *. It’s waterproof up to 33 feet and has a 360-degree rotating clip that is also magnetic. There is also a strobe mode for distress signals or parties. As a video producer, I can always use different types of light sources.
The assembly of the Zeus Mini was quick and easy thanks to the clip. It lit my pedals well. I set the brightness to level four to try and adjust the light coming out of the windows. I have to say, I am very impressed with the usefulness of light. In addition to being mounted on the cold shoe of a media mod, it can be clipped onto your hat for camping or illuminate a section under the bonnet that is protected from light. It is practical.
I tried mounting the Hero 9 in multiple places to capture the road and moving around in the same frame – one with a head mount and the other on my chest. Neither of them caught both of them really well, but the chest mount was definitely better than on my head. I also installed DJI’s competitor, Osmo Action, as a B-Cam to cut in between for comparison.
I shot both cameras with default settings. Of the two, the Hero 9 generally had less noise in the shadows, more vivid colors, and high-contrast image quality compared to the Osmo. I like to shoot most of my work flat so I have the option to create the look I want instead of having it burned in, but in this case I really didn’t mind having that original GoPro look.
Seeing your ride speed down the road for 3 miles is fantastic and it may as well be hearing your exhaust. The sound quality on the Hero 9 is also much better than the Osmo, especially at lower frequencies. The DJI camera appeared to have a high-pass filter or additional wind filtering, even if the optional wind noise reduction was already switched off. The Hero 9 also has a noticeable filtering of wind noise, which, however, was not so intrusive.
One thing I didn’t like about the Hero 9 is how both screens are on at the same time. I know a lot of people love this feature, and I understand why it can be useful, but I think you should be able to toggle it on and off independently. Maybe a double tap of the mode button or something because, you know, battery life.
The battery has been improved over the Hero 8, but when recording alongside the Osmo for continuous recording, the Hero 9 is depleted when the Osmo was still around 50%.
Another criticism: The Hypersmooth actually worked too well. Side by side from the back shows the Hero 9 drifting left or right on the turns to keep things smooth, while the Osmo drifted some but managed to keep most of the dash in the frame.
A common nice feature on any action camera would be a front touchscreen. However, adding this functionality would likely mean adding even more to the overall size.
Anyway, watching me adapt in 5K is definitely helpful and it is only a matter of time before I get better. The Hero 9 is a significant improvement over previous generations. If you own a Hero 8 and don’t need a front-facing screen, 5K, or detachable lens, you probably don’t need to upgrade. For me, the Hero 9 is not the silver bullet of action cams, but a welcome addition to my collection.
You can buy the Hero 9 Black for $ 399.
* Correction: Updated to correct the maximum lumen level to 200.