Is the new Gopro Hero 8 Black worth it? I’m going to be brutally honest here. No. Don’t drink the cool-aid. GoPro is a tough brand, but their newest offering is not their best offering in my opinion. Sadly the Hero 8 suffers from several big flaws compared to its predecessor.
While many of the technical specs on the 8 are better, there are a number of glaring issues with the Hero 8 that few “reviewers” are talking about.
After a ton of research I decided to buy the GoPro Hero 7 Black instead of the Hero 8 Black. I very nearly snagged the DJI Osmo action from Amazon instead, but I’ll explain why I didn’t later.
I really feel GoPro is softening around the edges. They just aren’t as tough as they used to be. So, If you’re in the market for a new action camera and looking at the GoPro Hero 7 vs Hero 8, PLEASE read this review first and save yourself a pile of potential buyer’s regret.
The new GoPro 8 is mostly a step back from its predecessor. Basically, the new features on the Hero 8 are heavily outweighed by some major faults -deal breakers in my opinion.
Redesign Years Usually Have Issues
The GoPro Hero 8 is just that: it is the first complete redesign in a while. The camera sports a smaller form factor, upgraded internals, a few new (rarely used) features, and an integrated folding mount.
It’s clear to me(as you’ll soon see)that the GoPro Hero 8 has a lot of kinks yet to be worked out.
Frankly, I’m not interested in paying a lot of money just to be a product test-bed. I just want my gear to work. All I want is a reliable action camera that can take a beating and keep right ongoing.
Is GoPro Compromising?
GoPro really does seem to be compromising their original “raison d’etre” lately. They appear to be trying really hard to pull in the vlogging crowd.
This has been happening since at least the Gopro 7. With the release of the GoPro 8, they’ve really pulled out all the stops. The Hero 8 accessories are mostly geared toward youtube vloggers.
I also recall Nick, the CEO of GoPro chiding Cassie Niestat at a press event (see minute 4:18) for using an SLR instead of a GoPro for vlogging. While it’s laughable, it demonstrates GoPro’s new big push.
GoPro is trying to be something it isn’t…a vlogging camera. Sadly its tough DNA is being eroded. Besides, all you need is a smartphone and a cheap gimbal from Amazon for vlogging. Why would I need to kit myself out with an expensive GoPro plus accessories?
1. The Lens Is Not Replaceable: Unforgiveable!
Is the Hero 8 worth it? Not if the lens breaks! Then it just becomes a $350 paperweight!
Basically, if you scratch or crack the lens on a GoPro Hero 8 you are completely toasted.
You will have to replace the whole camera!!
The GoPro Hero 8 did away with the replaceable lens that was on the Hero 7.
Are you freaking kidding me? This is an action camera and you think the lens isn’t going to get scratched or cracked at some point? GoPro’s don’t even ship with a lens cap!
Can you say “DEAL BREAKER?” It was the single greatest reason I will never buy a Hero 8 or any other GoPro with a non-replaceable lens.
It is completely unacceptable for an action camera and totally unforgivable.
GoPro what were you thinking? It appears that they received a ton of complaints about this because they are now offering a “roll cage” with a replaceable lens protector…again for more money.
To be perfectly honest, this whole thing reaks of planned obsolescence. (That’s when companies purposefully engineer products to fail so that you’ll come back and buy again- nope, not me!)
2. New Folding Mount Is WEAK!
The new folding integrated mount may be slick and convenient, but it’s flimsy and has three major weaknesses:
- Too much play(see video above) This is elementary physics folks. Any mount with even slight play will fail miserably under sustained heavy vibration. Yes, even if its made of steel (just ask overland roof rack manufacturers).
- It adds two more moving parts (a hinge on each leg). Two more potential moving parts to hook, snag, two hinges to overextend or snap if dropped. In my research of durable products simplicity of design always wins..it may be convenient but it certainly is not durable.
- What happens when(and it will happen) the mount breaks? With the integrated mount, the likelihood of fracturing the actual camera body itself(bye bye waterproofness) is very high since the mounts are structurally anchored to the camera body. BAD!
3. Standard Features Are Now Being Upsold as “Mods”
Money, money money… GoPro Execs must be patting each other on the back over their new “Mods” upsell tactics.
However, the Hero 8 makes the 7 Black look like an amateur when it comes to upselling expensive “Mods.” For example, why do we need to pay for a bulky 80$ “Media mod” just to get an external mic? Why not just include a 3.5 in mic jack like every other camera on the planet? (Both the 7 & 8 have this issue)
Other “mods” for the 8 include a flip-up selfie display and a light.
4. Single Side-Door Exposes Too Many Components to the Elements
The Hero 7 has two small doors. One large door for the battery and one smaller door for the media card, power and HDMI out. The Hero 8 now has one large door for the battery, USB and Micro SD.
So basically, if you want to run power to the camera you have to open leave the whole side of the camera open and exposed it to the elements.
5. The Hero 8 Ditched HDMI Out
Never fear, you can still plug your GoPro 8 into a TV or Capture device. All you need is(you guessed it) the 80$ media mod which also adds. Give me a break!
Some folks have had mixed luck using USB-C to HDMI adapters. The point is you this is standard stuff, you shouldn’t have to pay for this functionality by adding dongles and accessories.
Not only is GoPro desperate for your cash they’re making their own product less convenient. No wonder so many folks are going with DJI action cameras these days!
6. Performance & Feature Upgrades Are Marginal
There is no doubt that GoPro did hit it out of the park with their Hypersmooth stabilization technology with the Hero 7 Black. Hero 8’s Hypersmooth 2.0 is better but not by much.
Both the Hero 7 Black and Hero 8 have remarkable gimbal-like footage.
Basically the Hero 8 Hypersmooth 2.0 adds stabilization across all framerates as well as an additional boost mode. However, this extra boost mode crops the frame even more to attain more stabilization.
If GoPro had really wanted to take it to the next level they should have added small LCD to the front (like the DJI Osmo Action), so you could frame yourself in the shot.
If you want a feature like that on the Gropro 8 (you guessed it), you have to pay for a big clunky flip-up LCD “mod.”
7. Requires A New Kind of Battery
For full functionality, the Hero 8 requires a new higher-drain battery. Its the same capacity as the old one but with a higher discharge rate to accommodate more energy demands. This is bummer for people who already have previous-gen GoPro batteries.
According to Gopro:
“Previous Batteries will work with the HERO8 Black with limitations. Users may see performance issues when shooting in high-performance modes”
This isn’t my biggest complaint but certainly worth mentioning especially for folks who are already deeply embedded into the GoPro ecosystem. ON the bright side, the new battery is reverse compatible with recent Hero Black cameras.
8. It Costs More…
This is also a minor quibble. Obviously, since its GoPros the latest model it costs more than the Hero 7. To be fair, it only costs around 50$ more.
Still, I wouldn’t buy the Hero 8 even if it cost less than the Hero 7.
Conclusion: Is the GoPro 8 Worth it?
I really wanted to like the GoPro Hero 8, but after doing my homework I realized that no, the Hero 8 Black is not worth it. There are just too many compromises.
The Hero 8’s new features just aren’t compelling enough when you consider how much less durable it is then the Hero7.
I shouldn’t have to pay extra for a “roll cage” with a lens protector. That should be standard. And I certainly don’t want the flimsy new fold-away mount.
Best Alternatives to the GoPro Hero 8?
There are really only two serious alternatives to the GoPro Hero 8 Black:
- GoPro Hero 7 Black
- DJI Osmo Action(on Amazon)
Ultimately I chose the Hero 7 Black because the Hypersmooth stabilization is pretty unbelievable and better than DJI’s.
So, is the GoPro Hero 8 Black worth it? No, and unless GoPro makes major improvements in the next edition I think the GoPro 7 Black will the last GoPro I ever buy. I’ve also got a sneaky suspicion that DJI will eclipse GoPro soon.
If you’re into seriously tough gear then browse around. You might just find this site helpful in your quest for durable and practical gear