GoPro Hero10 Black hands-on: A true jack of all trades

GoPro’s Hero10 Black just launched. It’s available starting today, Sept. 16, for $499. Or, if you agree to sign up for GoPro’s yearly subscription, you’ll get both for a grand total of $399. 

The Here10 Black may look identical to last year’s Hero9 Black, but thanks to a new processor inside the camera, it can now capture 5.3K video at 60 frames per second and gains the ability to transfer photos or videos directly to your phone via a wired connection. 

I’ve been testing a Hero10 Black and have enjoyed having a dedicated video camera that’s small and rugged. 

Here’s what’s new and some early testing thoughts about the Hero10 Black. 

Same design, new software tricks

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Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

The housing of the Hero10 Black looks nearly identical to the Hero9, with the exception of the GoPro and Hero10 logos in a bright blue instead of light gray. The front display acts as a viewfinder to help frame shots, while the large back display is where you can tap and swipe to adjust settings. 

The lens cover now has a hydrophobic coating that helps it shed water —  something I appreciated as I captured a timelapse overnight using the schedule feature. My sprinklers ran before the camera turned itself on and captured the night sky. In the resulting video, there aren’t any water spots or drops on the lens. You can view the clip here.

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The bottom of the camera has a built-in mounting bracket that fits all GoPro mount accessories. The left side of the housing is home to the menu button, the top of the camera has a power button, and the right side of the camera lifts up to reveal the removable battery, microSD card slot and a USB-C port for charging or transferring pictures and videos to your computer or your smartphone. 

That’s right; you can connect the Hero10 to your smartphone and directly transfer photos and videos over a wired connection. If you have an iPhone, you’ll need a USB to Lightning adapter. On Android, you can connect the camera directly to your phone using a USB-C to USB-C cable. (A future software update will enable wired transfers for the Hero9 as well.)

In addition to wired transfers, the Hero10 will use your Wi-Fi network to automatically upload any new clips to your GoPro account when it’s plugged in and charging. You’ll need an active GoPro subscription that gives you unlimited cloud backups for your footage and pictures, along with access to editing features in the Quick app and discounts on accessories. A one-year subscription is included with the purchase of the Hero10. 

Both transfer methods are welcome. I’ve tested many GoPro cameras, and ultimately I end up taking videos or capturing photos and doing nothing with the footage. Part of the reason has always been because I was too lazy to transfer the clips to my phone. But now, whenever the camera is charging, the work is done for me, and any footage shows up in the GoPro Quik app almost instantly. I can then edit and share the clip without a ton of effort. 

It’s what’s on the inside that counts

The Hero10 is the first camera to use GoPro’s new GP2 processor. The processor enables faster frame rates, including 5.3K at 60 frames per second, 4K up to 120fps, or 2.7K at up to 24fps. 

Still, pictures are captured at 23.6MP, and there’s a new stabilization feature that increases the tilt limit from 27-degrees to 45-degrees on the Hero10 Black. I was impressed with HyperSmooth 3.0 on the Hero9 last year, and it’s even better on the Hero10. I used the Hero10 Black to record a timelapse of a road trip to visit some family, and the horizon leveling was instantly noticeable. I could see the front of my car shift and tilt at the bottom of the video while the video itself remained entirely level as I drove. It was even more apparent once I turned onto a dirt road. 

You can use HyperSmooth 4.0 with the Hero10 when you’re live-streaming, which is ideal for someone who walks around or is moving a lot while streaming. 

I captured a lot of 5.3K footage with my kids during my time testing the Hero10. I don’t have a display capable of playing at the full resolution, but viewing them hit baseballs in the batting cage looked great on a 4K display. Colors were bright and vivid, and everything looked crisp. 

The Hero10 Black is a solid upgrade over the Hero9 Black, but for someone like me who uses the GoPro to capture random video clips of my dogs and kids, it’s not something I would rush to upgrade. 

That said, if you’ve been looking for a dedicated camera that is a master of all the things a video camera should be able to do in 2021, at $399, the Hero10 Black is a solid choice.

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