The GoPro Hero 10 Black is the action cam king’s new flagship model – and with its new double-figure name, you might expect it to be a momentous upgrade.
As our GoPro Hero 10 Black review found, though, that’s not necessarily the case. This generation doesn’t have big design changes like those introduced in the GoPro Hero 9 Black, which may come as a relief to most users, since accessories and Media Mod add-ons won’t suddenly become obsolete.
Instead, the GoPro Hero 10 Black is more of a quality of experience upgrade, and it’s one we’ve been waiting for. Its GP2 processor, for instance, makes this action camera much more responsive and fun to use.
This new brain also allows for higher frame-rates in one specific area, more advanced image processing, tweaked stabilization and better live streaming features. However, GoPro Hero 9 Black owners should consider the upgrade only if they’re particularly keen for a more slick and immediate feel.
Don’t come expecting a dramatic shift in image quality, although upgrades to the outer lens cover coating and processing algorithms do offer at least marginally improved footage most of the time. Here are all of the other key ways the Hero 10 Black differs from the Hero 9.
1. A new processor, the first in five years
The GoPro Hero 10 Black has the first new processor since the Hero 6 Black from 2017. It’s called the GP2.
This SoC – or system on chip – enables most of the changes we’ll talk about in this article. However, it also provides a more direct improvement, one we’ve wanted for years.
The GoPro Hero 10 Black will feel faster than its predecessors. GoPro promises “faster boot ups, a more responsive touch interface and quicker captures”. This may not sound all that exciting, but we think it’s one of the most glaring shortcomings GoPro needed to address.
These cameras are some of the most expensive consumer action cams around, but zipping around their interfaces always felt a little labored. GoPro’s GP2 has changed that for the better, and also introduced a new wired transfer mode.
2. Improved low-light video
Most action cameras have poor low-light video. The same is true of GoPros, and we don’t think the GoPro Hero 10 Black has changed that radically.
Low-light shooting is improved in the new camera, but it’s thanks to better processing rather than a larger sensor or a dramatically improved lens.
The GoPro Hero 10 Black’s GP2 processor introduces what GoPro calls “3D noise reduction”. This is not a 3D camera, though, so perhaps the additional dimension here is time rather than depth, using greater cross-referencing of frames to improve the final footage.
GoPro says it is most effective in lower, rather than ultra-low, lighting – scenes like sunset, dusk, or when shooting under a dense canopy of trees. That last one is probably the most important, given how often hikers, trail runners and cyclists will use a GoPro in forests.
GoPro cameras already do much better than almost all the competition in wooded areas, judging by our testing, so this could prove an important image quality boost over the cameras from Insta360 and DJI.
3. Hypersmooth 4.0
Long-term GoPro fans will have guessed this was coming. There’s always some form of improvement to GoPro’s fantastic motion smoothing stabilization with each leading Hero camera.
The GoPro Hero 10 Black introduces Hypersmooth 4.0. This increases the effectiveness of horizon levelling from 27 degrees to 45 degrees.
Horizon levelling keeps your footage upright even if the actual angle of the camera is tilting all over the place. An extra 18 degrees means you can move more aggressively without breaking the illusion of a fully-stabilized upright camera. We can imagine this being useful for off-road biking and snowboarders.
It’s a feature of software stabilization, so will only apply to cropped views, not the ‘digital lens’ that offers the widest field of view. GoPro achieves this without a change in the lens’ view of the world, which is quite impressive. The GoPro Hero 9 Black and 10 Black both appear to have 132-degree lenses.
4. Improved lens
The GoPro Hero 10 Black gets some lens improvements, but these all relate to the outer lens covering rather than the inner lens itself. There are three aspects here.
GoPro has improved the kind of glass used, for greater scratch resistance. It’s still a removable outer lens housing, but you’re less likely to need to replace it. There’s a hydrophobic coating, which does genuinely make water bead off more efficiently – a big improvement for the water sports fans.
“Reduced ghosting” is perhaps the most interesting change, mostly because there’s a lot of scope for this to be misinterpreted. The first form of ghosting that comes to mind relates to HDR photography, where there are changes in scene between the multiple exposures used to make a HDR photo (or video frame). GoPro isn’t talking about this, as the outer lens has no part to play here.
It can’t relate to a similar effect seen when higher frame rate content is downsampled to, say, 30fps. Again, this part of the lens has nothing to do with it. GoPro is really talking about a lens coating that improves image contrast when dealing with high levels of light contrast in a scene, which can cause a sort of ghostly bleed into the shadow areas.
5. 60fps capture at 5.3k resolution, higher-res photos
The GoPro Hero 10 Black’s GP2 processor unlocks a higher quality shooting mode. There’s no 8K capture here, but the 5.3k resolution mode seen in the GoPro Hero 9 Black is now capped at 60 frames per second rather than 30.
That’s neat, as you no longer need to choose between a smoother frame rate or above-4K resolution.
There’s a ‘but’ coming. For the best Hypersmooth 4.0 stabilization results you’ll want to stick to 5.3k at 30 frames per second or 4K at 60 frames per second. In practice, it’s not quite as dramatic an upgrade, then, but certainly useful if you won’t need the extreme sports-ready maxed-out stabilization mode all the time.
The GoPro Hero 10 Black’s stills are slightly different, too. They can now be recorded at the sensor’s native resolution, 23MP, rather than the 20MP of the Hero 9 Black. Both cameras share the same image sensor, so this is a small upgrade.
6. Better preview quality for displays
GoPro has changed both the front and rear displays of the GoPro Hero 10 Black. But there’s some unpacking to do here.
The front screen has a 1.4-inch LCD, like last time, but now has “smoother live preview”. This likely does not mean the screen itself is better, but that the GoPro Hero 10 Black is able to comfortably drive a secondary display at a higher frame rate more comfortably when using high-quality modes like 5K capture. That is a result of the new GP2 processor.
However, the rear screen, still a 2.27-inch LCD like last time, also has improved touch sensitivity. So what does that mean?
If the actual touch sampling rate, which determines how often the capacitive layer can sense changes in touchscreen operation, has increased, we may be looking at a rear screen with a higher display refresh rate.
Our best guess is that there’s actually no major hardware change here, though. In June 2021, GoPro released an update for the Hero 9 Black that significantly improved touchscreen performance. The GoPro Hero 10 Black likely takes these changes, which may boil down to a rewritten touchscreen driver, and then simply makes the experience a bit better thanks to the improved performance of the GP2 CPU.
7. It’s 5g lighter and is a better webcam
The GoPro Hero 10 Black looks very similar to the Hero 9 Black. However, it weighs 5g less, at 153g instead of 158g.
We’d probably never have noticed if we hadn’t spent some time poring over GoPro’s spec sheets.
There is a fairly major change to using your GoPro for live streaming or as a webcam over USB-C, a feature that was available in GoPro’s Labs beta library before being released fully alongside the Hero 9 Black. You can use the Hero 10 Black as a webcam/streamer with Hypersmooth 4.0 stabilization.
However, the resolution ceiling remains 1080p, not 4K.