The GoPro Hero 9 is the latest action camera from the company that was only dropped a few months ago. Is it any good for FPV like their previous models? Let’s take a look.
GoPro Hero 9 For FPV? No and Yes.
Let’s make it clear, the FPV market just isn’t big enough for GoPro to care. Why do I say that? Well, every new Hero gets heavier and bigger. As FPV’ers, we go through all the troubles to “decase” GoPro to get rid of unnecessary components to make it lighter. Not only that, in the GoPro Hero 9, they introduced a fragile color front screen and bigger/heavier battery, both of which are not friendly for FPV.
Okay, the Hero 9 is not really designed to be put on a drone, is it still okay to use for FPV? Well, kind of, there are actually some new features that the FPV community would appreciate. Let’s discuss why you might or might not want to get it.
Where to Buy?
Amazon (affiliate link): https://amzn.to/2LRcDQ4
ND Filters for Hero 9: https://oscarliang.com/product-gm8h
Weight and Dimensions
The Hero 9 doesn’t support Hero 8’s battery because the new battery is slightly bigger. But I’ve heard the contacts on the battery are actually the same as the old ones, so with a 3D printed adapter, you might be able to use batteries from the Hero 8 in the 9. I have not tested this personally.
Another bummer is the physical size of the Hero 9. It’s slightly bigger than the Hero 8, so TPU mounts for the 8 wouldn’t fit the 9. The Hero 9 Black measures 71x55x33.6mm and weighs 158g, which doesn’t sound good at all to the GoPro Hero 8’s more compact 66.3×48.6×28.4mm and 126g weight, from a drone pilot stand point anyway.
Removable Lens Protector
The Hero 9 finally brings back the removable lens protector! Many people didn’t get the Hero 8 because the lens protector is glued to the camera. Now it’s removable in the Hero 9, means we can easily change a broken glass by ourselves.
HyperSmooth is a image stabilization tool that built into the GoPro. It makes your FPV video look silky smooth out of the box without any post processing. If you don’t use Reelsteady (a third-part video stabilization), then Hypersmooth is a great alternative.
HyperSmooth 1.0 was pretty good already (Hero 7), 2.0 was fantastic (Hero 8), and now with the latest HyperSmooth 3.0 technology from Hero 9, it’s probably the best ever digital image stabilization in a GoPro.
But don’t over do it (there are different levels you can apply), as it introduces cropping and it doesn’t look good for FPV videos.
New Front Display
GoPro swapped out the front mono color LCD display in the GoPro Hero 8 for a full color display in the Hero 9.
This is great for selfies and vloggers, but bad for FPV because it’s easy to break and adds extra weight.
But looking at the bright side, now you can check your image exposure level when using ND filters. Yes, you can also check with the back screen in the Hero 8, but often the camera sits in a TPU mount which covers the back screen. With a front screen it’s easier to check without the need to remove the camera from the drone.
Based on all the footage I have seen, the GoPro Hero 9 looks just as good as the Hero 8, if not better. Also there is no cropping when you do 4K Superview with the Hero 9, previously it’s only possible in 2.7K.
GoPro also dropped a microphone hole on the side which help produce a more “muffled” tone like on the HERO5 Session instead of the more high-pitched motor sound that the HERO7 and 8 deliver.
I think if you are doing professional and commercial shooting, you should definitely consider the GoPro Hero 9. Image quality wise it’s better, and the higher resolution and improved Hypersmooth just made it overall better than the Hero 8.
However, it’s heavy! To be exact, the Hero 9 is 30g heavier than the 8. That’s a lot of weight for a small FPV drone. For everyday flying, I’d probably stick with a lighter HD camera. Not to mention the older generation GoPro’s are probably much cheaper now since the new one has been released.
The Hero 8 is great if you don’t mind the unremovable lens protector, and it also supports Reelsteady. The Hero 7 is great if you want removable lens protector, however it’s doesn’t work well with Reelsteady (but it has Hypersmooth V1).