The GoPro 8 camera is easier to set up for VLOGing than the GoPro 7 but is it worth the effort and expense?
In an earlier post (Ulanzi V2 Vlogging Case for GoPro - see below) I showed my VLOG setup for my helmet mounted GoPro HERO 7 Black. The GoPro 7 is a pretty good all around camera and gives decent image quality for full screen viewing. Still, the GoPro 8 brings upgrades that eventually coaxed me into making the change. While the GoPro 7 can shoot in 4K resolution it cannot do image stabilization above 2.7K so you are resigned to shoot at the smaller size. The GoPro HERO 8 Black has improved image stabilization and it works at 4K. This was the main drive for me to switch.
How many times have you suffered through a GoPro video online that's overwhelmed with loud and distracting wind noise? They are really hard to watch.
You can turn off the audio on your GoPro when recording or mute the audio from the captured video, but you really lose the feel for the experience, the sounds of the bike engine, the sense of movement, the atmosphere that makes for a good video. You've probably also enjoyed videos narrated from the bike while riding. Again, you can dub in narr ...Read More
Do you really need to shoot at 4K? Probably not. In a YouTube video you're not going to notice a difference between 2.7K and 4K. However, the better quality comes into play when editing and you want to crop and zoom in on a video clip. This often comes into play when your camera is not perfectly aligned and the horizon in the image is not level. When you rotate the image to level the horizon you need to zoom in a bit to crop out the edges which now are slanted with black spaces at the margins. It's surprising how much just a few degrees of rotation affect the screen image and it takes a significant amount of zoom to make those edges go off screen, about 10% zoom for every degree of rotation. With 4K you can really zoom into an image without significant degradation. I simply find editing easier when I have more options to manipulate the videos.
There are also improvements in color management that give better results with the GoPro 8, and the GoPro 8 uses an upgraded battery that provides enough power for the additional features and gives noticeably longer life. Unfortunately you will want to use these new batteries as the older HERO 7 batteries can't handle the draw needed for the advanced features in the HERO 8. They will work in a pinch but things like the advanced image stabilization won't work. The new HERO 8 batteries will work fine in the GoPro 6, GoPro 7, and you'll get the increased life, so if you're buying additional batteries for your GoPro 7 buy the newer GoPro 8 batteries instead. (Do not buy GoPro 9 batteries, they are larger and will not fit the other cameras).
GoPro 8 Vlogging Components
The other advantage of moving to the GoPro 8 is the option to use the accessory Media Mod Case (purchased separately). You will need a case to mount your GoPro 7 as the older cameras do not have mounting "feet" to mate with other GoPro mounts, but the case comes bundled with the camera when you buy it. As I showed in that previous blog post the GoPro 7 requires you remove the side door and use a bulky microphone adapter in order to accept a remote microphone (these microphone adapters are getting hard to locate). The best way I found to address that was the Ulanzi camera case which has a slot to hold the adapter. I liked the setup. It was a little bulky but pretty easy to use and I could pop the camera in and out of it quickly to change batteries. The Ulanzi case was fairly inexpensive with cutouts to access the camera buttons. (Get the plastic case. Ulanzi makes a metal case for about 3 times the cost and my cameras would not fit in them).
The GoPro 8 Media Mod case wraps around the camera, you slide it in and it it locks with a side door. There is a built in microphone which I've never really used. It also has a jack for an external mic with no adapter required, you just plug your microphone right into the available jack. The GoPro 8 camera does have mounting "feet" which fold out from the bottom of the camera and these extend through the bottom of the media mod case for easy mounting of the whole setup. While the Media Mod case is a bit bulky, it still smaller than the Ulanzi setup with the GoPro 7.
GoPro Media Mod Case - Rear
Now for the bad news - The Ulanzi setup with the GoPro 7 is easier to use. You can feel the camera buttons better with a gloved hand, and it's pretty quick and easy to pop the back door off the Ulanzi case and pull out the camera for battery changes.
While the GoPro 8 with the media mod case is a much cleaner setup it falls short in several areas. The most annoying thing is I find the camera buttons which are now on the Media Mod Case hard to feel with a gloved hand. They are not raised enough to detect easily. Another weakness is the Media Mod Case is not waterproof. While I've had no issues so far in a few light rains, I've not used it in a downpour or on a long wet day. The other annoyance is you can't just slide the camera in and out to change the batteries as the camera mounting feet extend through the case. You have to unscrew the camera and case from the mount to fold the camera feet in so you can slide the camera out of the Media Mod Case to change a battery. It takes twice as long.
In review -
GoPro HERO 7 Black with Ulanzi Case
- easier to use camera control buttons
- no electronics / waterproof
- faster, easier battery changes
- requires bulky adapter and new case to hold it
- Forced to shoot at 2.7K to have image stabilization
- shorter battery life unless you upgrade
- Bulkier overall
GoPro HERO 8 Black with Media Mod Case
- Cleaner less bulky setup
- Able to shoot at 4K with better image stabilization and image quality
- Longer battery life
- More expensive
- Camera control buttons are hard to feel and use
- Not waterproof
- Has to be dismounted to change batteries
If video quality is your goal it's a worthwhile upgrade. There are drawbacks but so far I'm satisfied with the results and willing to work through the issues.
Article by Wayne Busch, America Rides Maps
See examples of use at the Mountain Rider MotoVLOG at http://Youtube.com/americaridesmaps
We produce detailed maps of the best roads to enjoy on your motorcycle travels in the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains. Get the maps at America Rides Maps.com