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The best GoPro cameras in 2021: from the new Hero9 Black to thrifty older models

best GoPro camera
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What’s the best GoPro camera for you? Yes, the latest is the GoPro Hero 9 Black, but there are lots of reasons why you an older model might suit you better.  

It all depends on how much you want to spend, whether you really need the latest tech, and whether you're ready for the next big things – 5K video and 360º imaging!

• Check out the latest Black Friday GoPro deals

Canny video camera buyers have realized GoPro are not just for wild adventures, but are also among the best travel cameras around, not to mention the best waterproof and underwater cameras. But they can also be some of the best YouTube cameras too!

There are plenty of different GoPro models around, and choosing the right one can get quite confusing – which is why we're here! Like other camera makers, GoPro keeps older models on sale at steadily falling prices, so that while the latest GoPro Hero9 Black and GoPro Max have all the latest features, they are also the most expensive. At the same time, some of the older cameras can represent a fantastic bargain, with prices significantly slashed since launch.

So which is the best GoPro? It mostly depends on what you're looking for and what your budget is. We reckon that the Hero9 Black is now the best that's currently available, with its 5K video, front-facing screen and sophisticated HyperSmooth 3.0 image stabilization system. However, previous models – such as those from the Hero7 and Hero8 range – are still available, and many can be picked up for a great price. 

The other big story right now is the 360-degree GoPro Max, which is a huge step forward from its predecessor, the GoPro Fusion, in both ease of use and the results. You might also want to check out our guide to the best 360 cameras.

While there is a lot of competition out there in the best action camera arena, it's still the case that if you want the best, it's worth picking something with that GoPro trademark on it.

The best GoPro camera in 2021

(Image credit: GoPro)

1. GoPro Hero9 Black

The ultimate action camera has got even better!

Weight: 158g | Waterproof: 10m | 5K video: up to 30fps | 4K video: up to 60fps | 1080P: up to 240fps | Stills resolution: : 12MP | Battery life: 1-3hrs estimate

Superb image stabilization system
Excellent 5K video
Built-in accessory mounts
Bigger than the Hero8 and Hero7
Not compatible with older batteries

The latest of the GoPro range is the best GoPro yet, but it’s also the most expensive. The key addition to this newer model is the front-facing color LCD screen, which allows you to frame yourself while vlogging, when used as a webcam, or just for selfies. The resolution gets a boost too, with a 20 megapixel stills capability and a 5K video shooting. The latter will be overkill for many, but it also allows 14.7 megapixel grabs from video, which could be hard to resist. 

At 2.27-inch, its rear display is larger than that found on the GoPro Hero8 Black, and its Hypersmooth 3.0 video stabilization system – unique to this model – is unbeatably smooth. Thanks to its removable lens cover there’s also an option to add a Max Lens Mod accessory to the Hero9 Black, which will bring a few GoPro Max-style features including 360º horizon lock and an ultra-wide 155º Max SuperView mode. Either way, even the ‘basic’ Hero9 Black is a thoroughly advanced piece of kit.

• Read more GoPro Hero 9 reviewGoPro Hero 8 vs 9 Black

(Image credit: GoPro)

2. GoPro Hero8 Black

Last year's flagship is now better value

Weight: 126g | Waterproof: 10m | 4K video: up to 60fps | 1080: up to 240fps | 720: up to 240fps | Stills resolution: : 12MP | Battery life: 1-3hrs estimate

Great image stabilization system
Excellent 4K video
Great range of frame rate options
Built-in acccessory mounts
Screen is smaller than some rivals

Despite now being surpassed, 2019’s GoPro model remains one of our favorite action cameras available. Sure, it doesn’t do 5K and it has an older image stabilization system, but like the Hero 9 Black it has the mount built-in. Like the Hero9 Black, you can accessorize the Hero8 Black with a series of bespoke optional extras called Mods; Media Mod improves the production value of your videos, Display Mod adds a second monitor that’s perfect for vloggers, and a Light Mod LED light adds illumination. These add-ons cost you more, but if you’re looking for a good value action camera and you don’t need 5K or a front-facing screen, then the Hero8 Black is a great option. 

• Read more GoPro Hero8 reviewGoPro Hero 7 vs 8 Black

(Image credit: GoPro)

3. GoPro Max

The latest 360-degree GoPro model and perhaps the best 360 cam of all

Megapixels: 16.6MP | Screen: Touchscreen | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth | Max continuous shooting speed: 30fps | Max video resolution: 5.6K (30fps) | Waterproofing: 5m | Voice control: Yes | GPS: Yes

Super-stabilised 360 footage
Video quality is customisable
No 4K video capture
A little pricey

A genre-bending, category-redefining one-man-band of a camera, the GoPro Max is a significant improvement on the previous 360-degree GoPro camera, the Fusion, and brings 360-degree video into the realm of being a potential professional tool, rather than a gimmick. The Max shoots 5.6K video in all directions, offering a little less raw resolution than the Hero 8 but making up for it with plenty of other tricks: including four digital focal lengths, horizon levelling, HyperSmooth stabilisation and ProTune video editing software, to name a few. We've been really impressed with the Max in our initial tests, and we don't think it's an exaggeration to say that it could really change the look and feel of YouTube and vlogging in the near future.

Read more: GoPro MAX review •  GoPro Max vs Hero 8

(Image credit: GoPro)

4. GoPro Hero7 Black

2018's top model is now really great value

Megapixels: 12MP | Screen: 2in touchscreen | Connectivity: Wi-Fi (5GHz), Bluetooth | Max continuous shooting speed: 30fps | Max video resolution: 4K (60fps) | Frame rates: 60fps (4K), 240fps (1080p), 240fps (720p) | Waterproofing: 10m | Voice control: Yes | GPS: Yes | Battery life: 1-3hrs estimated

Gorgeous 4K video
HyperSmooth feature impresses
Voice commands need refining
Occasional unresponsive screen

While the GoPro Hero9 Black is out grabbing headlines, the now ageing Hero7 Black is still worthy of attention for its debut of HyperSmooth, the basic version of GoPro’s image stabilization technology that brings a smooth, stable, flowing look to even handheld video. It remains impressive as does the original TimeWarp feature. A refinement of HyperSmooth, TimeWarp enables you to create a TimeLapse while walking around a scene, but also increase the speed by 30x for short, shareable and silky-smooth TimeLapse videos. It's enabled by a massive increase in the memory inside the GoPro Hero7 Black, which also gets a fresh new user interface. Add gorgeous video footage and the Hero7 Black remains an excellent action camera.

Read more: GoPro Hero 7 vs 8 Black

(Image credit: GoPro)

5. GoPro Hero7 Silver

With a new low price, this action cam is now great value

Megapixels: 10MP | Screen: 2in touchscreen | Connectivity: Wi-Fi (5GHz), Bluetooth | Max continuous shooting speed: 15fps | Max video resolution: 4K (30fps) | Frame rates: 30fps (4K), 60fps (1080p) | Waterproofing: 10m | Voice control: Yes | GPS: Yes | Battery life: 1-3hrs estimated

Great value
4K video quality
Lacks high frame rates of more expensive models
No HyperSmooth option

The younger brother to the Hero7 Black, the Hero7 Silver may not be a current model, but it has been reduced in price which can make it a tempting deal for budget buyers. Key difference between this and the Hero7 Black are that it lacks HyperSmooth recording, only offers 60fps in 4K shooting mode, and has a non-removable battery (so you can't carry a spare around with you). If you can afford the more expensive Black version then it's definitely worth doing so, as that HyperSmooth stabilization is a real game-changer, but if not then this makes for a solid budget alternative.

Read more: The best GoPro accessories

(Image credit: GoPro)

6. GoPro Hero7 White

The cheapest Hero7, missing a fair few bells and whistles

Megapixels: 10MP | Screen: 2in touchscreen | Connectivity: Wi-Fi (5GHz), Bluetooth | Max continuous shooting speed: 15fps | Max video resolution: Full HD | Frame rates: 60fps (1080p) | Waterproofing: 10m | Voice control: Yes | GPS: No | Battery life: 1-3hrs estimated

Highly affordable
Still has some stabilization
No 4K
Generally basic functionality

The main thing the Hero7 White has going for it is the price. We have seen some great sale prices on this recently-discontinued model - and this means you can get a thoroughly decent GoPro camera at an budget price. There's no 4K and only the most basic stabilization (the Black edition's HyperSmooth stabilization gets nowhere near this model) but for learning the basics, it's a decent tool. Do some price comparison before you buy though; the Hero6 Black (see below) may be available for a similar outlay, and it does edge the Hero7 White in terms of video quality and a few other factors.

Cheap GoPro deals

7. GoPro Fusion

The first 360° marvel from GoPro now looks clunky

Megapixels: 18MP | Screen: No | Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth | Max continuous shooting speed: 30fps | Max video resolution: 5.2K (30fps) | Waterproofing: 5m | Voice control: Yes | GPS: Yes

Twin-lens setup for 360° videos/images
'Overcapture' function expands filmmaking possibilties
Reduced waterproofing
Complex prospect for average user

Though now eclipsed by the GoPro Max, the Fusion represents the first real departure for GoPro cameras. While Hero cameras have a single lens facing forwards to capture the action, the GoPro Fusion carries two wide-angle lenses facing in opposite directions, and with these it captures 360° images and videos of everything that surrounds it. What’s more, though, is the Overcapture functionality, which allows you to ‘pull’ 1080p Full HD videos from anywhere in the 360° frame, meaning you can effectively create complex camera moves and perspective changes from the same static shot, without once moving the camera. You can choose to shoot your 360° video in 5.2K 30fps or 3K 60fps, and you can capture 18MP 360° stills. It’s honestly bursting with features across the board, more than we have space for here, though it’s worth noting that it’s only waterproof to 5m, and isn’t compatible with the Super Suit housing to extend this. Otherwise, the Fusion is pretty over-specced for the average user, but it's still one of the best 360 camera options, even if it's not at the top of the list any more.

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