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Updated Dec 8, 2022 5:00 PM
GoPro cameras have been capturing gnarly footage for roughly two decades. In that time, these burly little boxes have advanced massively, bumping their photo and video chops to impressive levels. While the company tends to upgrade its flagship camera every year, it can be difficult to figure out which one is right for you. So, we have curated the best GoPros to meet your specific needs as a photographer, videographer, content creator, and gnar shredder.
While the differences can be subtle between generations, knowing what features you need and which ones you don’t could save you some money and make operating your new action camera a lot simpler. Here’s a breakdown of the best models for you.
The best GoPros
Once you’ve considered the specs you need out of a GoPro camera, it’s time to dig into the specific models. Here are our picks for the Best GoPros.
Best overall: GoPro Hero11 Black
Why it made the cut: The 1/1.9-inch sensor is the largest in any GoPro yet, which makes it possible to create vertical videos for social media without any quality loss. And it can now shoot 10-bit color videos for more natural color.
- Max video resolution: 5.3K at 60 fps
- Max framerate: 240 fps at 2.7K
- Photo resolution: 27 megapixels
- Tops in terms of video resolution
- Upgraded photo resolution
- GoPro’s most advanced stabilization
- Better battery life than previous models
- Low light performance isn’t greatly improved
If you’re looking for the greatest GoPro, you can typically also just look to its latest. The GoPro Hero11 Black offers upgrades nearly across the board compared to its predecessor. The most notable upgrade is the sensor, which is the largest yet. The 1/1.9-inch sensor provides a new, nearly-square 8:7 aspect ratio which offers the largest vertical field of view so far. This makes creating vertical videos for social media much easier and of higher quality.
The video resolution hasn’t increased from the Hero10 Black and remains at 5.3K. But it can now shoot 10-bit color videos. GoPro claims that will result in recordings with 64 times more color than previous models. Photo resolution has bumped to 27 megapixels, or you can grab 24.7-megapixel stills from videos as well. The stabilization has also been upgraded to HyperSmooth 5.0, resulting in even smoother video even during activities with jarring movement.
GoPro has also loaded its newest action camera with new modes for easier shooting in a variety of scenarios. Night Effect mode makes it easy to capture jaw-dropping star trails or vehicle lights, while Light Painting mode gives you the opportunity to play around with creating unique images with flashlights. And should you not want to worry about settings as much, Easy mode gives you simplified options. It’s also available as the Hero11 Mini, which has all the same tech in a smaller, more minimal body for better mounting possibilities.
Best for the money: GoPro Hero10 Black
Why it made the cut: The Hero10 Black offers a lot of exceptional quality, the same 5.3K video as the newest model, at a lower price.
- Max video resolution: 5.3K at 60 fps, 4K at 120 fps
- Max framerate: 240 fps at 1080p
- Photo resolution: 23 megapixels
- Tops in terms of video resolution
- Good photo resolution
- Impressive stabilization
- Early users complained of overheating issues
Though a year old, the GoPro Hero10 Black still provides a lot of quality that makes it a worthwhile purchase. It offers upgrades across the board compared to its predecessor, though some updates are more minor than others. From a video standpoint, the Hero10 shoots 5.3K footage at up to 60 fps. It can also shoot up to 120 fps at 4K or 240 fps at 1080p.
Like every other GoPro in recent memory, the camera itself can go down to 33 feet underwater and resist bumps and bashes without the need for a protective case. It also uses the same mounting system GoPro has been using for generations, so it’s compatible with any old accessories you may have around from previous cameras.
GoPro built the Hero10 around a 23-megapixel sensor, which isn’t much of a dip from the Hero11. The Hero10 also offers GoPro’s extremely impressive HyperSmooth technology, which takes the shake out of videos without the need for a mechanical stabilizer. HyperSmooth has been great since it debuted back in the GoPro 7, and the HyperSmooth 4 is extremely effective and flexible.
The Hero10’s big advantage comes in the form of its new processor. It’s a seriously powerful chip, and it has a noticeable effect on overall image quality, especially in challenging situations with low light.
Best older model: GoPro Hero9 Black
Why it made the cut: It may be two generations old, but the Hero9 can still hold its own and doesn’t ask for much in the way of compromise.
- Max video resolution: 5K at 30 fps or 4K at 60 fps
- Max framerate: 240 fps at 1080p
- Photo resolution: 20 megapixels
- Greater than 4K recording
- 4K video at 60 fps for smooth footage
- Great image stabilization
Even though it’s just two generations old, the GoPro Hero9 Black doesn’t stray much from the flagship Hero11’s stats. The Hero9 shoots 4K video at 60 fps, which is likely the most useful mode for most people right now. If you want to push the pixels, you can turn it up to 5K footage. But then you’ll only get 30 fps, which isn’t always ideal for fast action.
The Hero9 does offer HyperSmooth 3 for image stabilization, which seems nearly identical to HyperSmooth 4, at least in my personal experience with it. The Hero9 is every bit as tough as the Hero10, withstanding depths down to 33 feet and taking impacts without the need for an external case.
Pricing on these can vary, so be sure to check the price of the Hero9 and the Hero10 before you make your purchase. GoPro will sometimes offer its newest model for nearly the same price as its predecessor. Unless you need to absolutely max out your resolution, though, either the Hero9 or Hero10 should treat you just fine.
Best for kids: GoPro Hero8 Black
Why it made the cut: The oldest camera in GoPro’s current stable still has lots of life left in it.
- Max video resolution: 4K at 60 fps
- Max framerate: 240 fps at 1080p
- Photo resolution: 12 megapixels
- 4K at 60 fps
- Cheaper than newer models
- Great image stabilization
- Low photo resolution
- Nothing above 5K video
It’s a little long in the tooth, but the oldest camera in GoPro’s current lineup still has lots of life left in it and is a great choice for kids. It can shoot 4K video at up to 60 fps, which is the most useful setup for most people looking to capture action footage. It can even go to 240 fps at 1080p for 8x slow motion.
You will have to make a few concessions for stepping down, however. The photo resolution maxes out at a relatively paltry 12 megapixels. And you can’t go over 4K for video, so cropping will result in quality loss.
Still, the Hero8’s specs include plenty for kids. It can live stream with HyperSmooth, just like the newer models, and it has a robust set of time lapse features baked right into it. And it’s just as rugged as newer versions, so you don’t have to worry about your kid breaking it. They are starting to become a bit hard to find, but if you can find a killer deal on one of these, it will be a great adventure companion for a long time.
Best 360 camera: GoPro Max
Why it made the cut: It looks a little odd, but this model can act as three cameras in one.
- Max video resolution: Spherical 5K
- Max framerate: 30 fps
- Max photo resolution: 5760 x 2880
- 360 VR capture
- Waterproof to 16 feet (which is great for 360 cameras)
- Impressive time laps functions
- Bigger than a normal GoPro
- Reduced resolution per lens
If you want to truly immerse your viewers in footage of your adventures, this camera can create full-on VR shots they can view through interactive players and dedicated headsets.
The GoPro Max has a pair of lenses–one on the front and one on the back. Together, they can capture 5K 360-degree content that looks great through a headset. To go with the cameras, it has a total of 6 microphones positioned around the camera in order to capture 360-degree audio to match the visuals.
Despite its odd size and setup, the camera is still waterproof down to 16 feet without a case, and it’s compatible with more than 30 mounting accessories to make it easy to wear or carry.
Even if you’re not shooting VR content, it’s a capable traditional action camera. That will be handy if you want to capture your trip down the mountain but not the terrified look on your face as you descend.
Things to consider when buying a GoPro
Peruse the GoPro lineup, and you won’t find a ton of models. GoPro typically updates its flagship model every year with improved image quality and new software-driven features in order to justify an upgrade from the previous year’s model. Here are some key things to consider when you’re trying to determine the best GoPro for you.
It’s unlikely you have a screen with a resolution above 4K. The same goes for the people watching your content. Cameras all the way back to the Hero8 can record at least 4K, but the newer models go beyond that benchmark. While that extra resolution may seem like overkill, it can come in handy for things like cropping footage without losing out on image quality in the finished product. The most recent GoPro tops out at 5.3K, which provides a nice cropping cushion in case your frames aren’t super precise.
This spec is inexorably tied to resolution. The current flagship GoPro can capture 4K footage at 120 fps. That means it can shoot the most epic slow motion out of any camera in the GoPro lineup. At that resolution and framerate, though, you’re going to eat up a lot of battery and storage very quickly. So, it might be overkill if you’re not planning to max out your frames and pixels.
Still image features
For a long time, the GoPro was stuck at around 12 megapixels for still capture. The Hero9 bumped that number up to 20 megapixels, and the current flagship goes all the way to 27 megapixels. While resolution isn’t everything, obviously, nearly doubling the number of pixels on the sensor does give you considerably more image data to work with for your photos.
Only the GoPro Max can shoot 360-degree video in the GoPro lineup, so if you want to slap on a VR headset and truly relive your hijinx, that’s the way to go for you. There are some solutions for linking several GoPro cameras together in order to capture 360-degree content, but that can get pricey and annoying quickly.
Q: How much does a GoPro cost?
The newest GoPro will cost around $500 without a subscription or $400 with a subscription. Or you can find older models for a few hundred dollars cheaper, depending on how old you are willing to go.
Q: Does GoPro take better pictures than iPhone?
Generally speaking, no, the GoPro’s overall image quality won’t exceed what you’ll get from a typical iPhone. You may get some extra resolution out of a GoPro, but the iPhone’s HDR functionality is above and beyond. That said, the GoPro can go many places your iPhone can’t, which means it can take photos you wouldn’t be able to capture with your phone.
Q: How long does a GoPro battery last?
It depends on what you’re doing with it. Battery life changes based on a number of factors, including the resolution that you’re recording at and the conditions in which you’re shooting. You could get a half hour of shooting at maximum resolution and high framerate in cold temperatures, or you could get more than an hour. GoPro does say that the new battery in the Hero11 Black offers 38% better battery life than previous models, giving you more time to record. Regardless, we always recommend buying more batteries pretty much right away when you get your camera.
Final thoughts about the best GoPros
Your phone camera is pretty great right now, but a GoPro can go places you wouldn’t want to bring your pricy smart device. Any GoPro from recent generations will capture excellent video and photo quality while providing almost impossibly smooth footage regardless of your activity.
Whatever you do, we absolutely recommend that you buy at least one extra battery to go with your GoPro because they don’t always last that long, and you don’t want to be stuck doing epic stuff without any proof of it for the internet. That’s the only way it counts, after all.
Methodology: How we picked the best GoPros
I have been shooting photos and video for roughly two decades, during which I’ve tested–or at least shot with–most major camera releases. I was a competitive mountain biker for a decade, during which time I’ve used a GoPro to document my triumphs and my much-more-frequent catastrophes.
To curate this list, I relied on extensive hands-on testing with most of the models, as well as editorial reviews and spec comparisons. While the spec sheets can be difficult to navigate, we have focused on singling out useful features rather than questionably practical bells and whistles that you’ll never end up turning on.