The GoPro Hero 5 and the GoPro Hero 7 are two of the most popular action cameras on the market. They are both great for capturing footage while you are engaged in activities like skiing, snowboarding, and mountain biking. But which one is the best? In this article, we will compare the GoPro Hero 5 and the GoPro Hero 7 and help you decide which one is right for you.
GoPro Hero 5 Vs 7
Design and Build
They look almost identical from the outside. Although there are minor differences between the two, they don’t really offer much in the way of functional benefits or compelling reasons to upgrade.
These models are a slightly darker shade of dark grey, with the model number displayed prominently to the side, and like the HERO6 Black and the HERO5 Black had a slightly ribbed or corrugated texture all around the body. The GoPro Hero7 Black does not.
The cameras could be functionally identical, at the very least, on the outside. They are almost identical in weight, dimensions, buttons, screen sizes, and compartment doors. It means that most accessories with exterior dimensions, such as frames and housings, can be used in both models.
Their rugged design is one of the most important areas that they share. The HERO5Black was the first GoPro camera to be made with a waterproof camera body. You might dive deeper than this if you are Scuba diving. In that case, you can purchase a separate SuperSuit housing to provide more protection from water pressure. Both of these cameras work well with the super suit and the underwater filters that go with it.
Both have the same lens port. The cover can be removed to put into the SuperSuit and is easily replaced if the glass becomes scratched or cracked.
The camera’s brain is the key design feature that you cannot see from the outside. The HERO5Black used a chip developed by a third party. This limited GoPro’s customization options and their ability to invent to stay ahead of the increasing number of competitors.
GoPro developed a chip internally and launched the HERO6Black. The same chip that GoPro developed is used in the HERO7 Black, also known as the GP1. The GP1 has been a foundation for GoPro’s future models, but that role is less about the actual enabling of many new features (HyperSmooth being an exception).
The GoPro Hero 5 Black and the GoPro Hero 7 Black are both great action cameras, but there are some differences between them. The Hero 5 Black has a status display on the front, while the Hero 7 Black does not. The Hero 5 Black can also shoot in 4K at 30 fps, while the Hero 7 Black can shoot in 4K at 60 fps.
Nearly all of the ways that you can interact and control the camera are the same. Both use the touchscreen at the back to access the menu system. Both can be controlled wirelessly using the GoPro mobile application. Both can be controlled by voice. Both have the same shutter button at the top to start and stop recording or take a photograph.
There are some key differences in advanced ways of interfacing with the camera.
Buttons and Touchscreen
The touchscreen system that is on both the front and back of the device acts as both a live view display and the primary way to access the settings or preferences in the menu system.
In Hero 7 Black, the design and appearance of the menu system have been updated. The icons have been updated with some color variations, including a green icon to indicate a fully charged battery and one that is about to die. The main change I like about the new section is the ability to switch shooting modes with a swipe left or a swipe right, rather than using a popup menu. Although it isn’t a game-changer, I like the ease of the new method.
The screens cover the majority of the camera’s back and are identical in size (2 inches). They also have similar brightness and sharpness. The Hero7 has a slight edge, however, as the screen is less contrasty. This means that you can see more detail in live view.
The GoPro mobile app can control both cameras wirelessly using Bluetooth and wi-fi.
Both models can be used with the Remo voice remote and Smart Remote.
Both models are capable of voice control. Voice control is available on both models. You can use voice commands to do basic tasks like switch modes, start/stop video recording, and take photos. Voice commands can’t be used to change settings.
You can also turn them on using voice control by using Wake on Voice.
Charging and Batteries
Both devices use the same removable lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. It is rated at 1220mAh, which is about the average range for GoPro batteries.
Mixing and matching batteries from the HERO7 Black or HERO6 Black is possible without any problems (the batteries for HERO8 Black or HERO9 Black can be used in different ways). You can also expect similar recording times if they are used in the same recording modes.
Both have a battery life that isn’t going to blow your mind–at least not in a good manner. It can last for an hour or so in ideal conditions and much less in less-than-ideal situations. If you use some features like Protune or mobile apps, or if it’s used in extremely hot or very cold temperatures, you can expect a similar recording time.
Both offer the same options to charge the rechargeable battery. The camera can be connected directly to a USB-C power source using a USB cable. This will allow you to charge the battery. You can use fast charging to accelerate things if you have the right type of USB-C power source (like GoPro’s SuperCharger).
You can use an external charger to charge the batteries.
The exterior design of each camera is the same, and the USB-C port can be found in the same spot on each camera. This allows you to use the same extended batteries.
GoPros’ bread and butter feature is videography. While there is a lot of overlap in what these models can do each other, the new model has some useful and important improvements.
Besides technical specifications and features, the video from the HERO7Black just looks better. Even when you compare apples-to-apples with the same settings. Below is a quick example of stabilization.
Video Resolutions, Framerates & Video Bitrates
Both can shoot at 4K (3840×2160) with the 16:9 aspect ratio. The H5 can only shoot 30 frames per second at 4K, while the GoPro Hero7 is capable of shooting at 60 frames per second.
The 4K resolution of the GoPro Hero7 is even higher (4:3), measuring 4000×3000 with a 4:3 aspect ratio. The following resolutions are most common: 2.7K (4.5:3), 1440p and 1080p respectively. The H5 has a smaller 480p than the GoPro Hero7.
This area has seen a major upgrade, which could prove to be crucial for many users, particularly those who want to do slow-mo. The Hero 7 Black has a faster framerate at higher resolutions than the Hero7 Black, and this is in addition to the 4K framerate.
Both have a maximum framerate of 240 frames per second, with the Hero7 Black available at 1090p and 960p, respectively; the Hero5 Black is only available at 720p or 480p.
Bitrates are more important than resolution and framerate. They determine what we would call video quality. It is the amount of data used by the video stream. A lower bitrate indicates that the video stream has been compressed less aggressively or more effectively with different codecs.
This affects video quality. A higher bitrate can lead to better video quality. This is especially true if you edit your footage in a video editor, then compress it for sharing.
The bitrates for different recording modes will vary depending on what settings you use. However, the maximum bitrate on the HERO7 Black (megabits/second) is 78 Mb/s.2 On the HERO5 Black, the maximum video bitrate can be 60 Mb/s. Both of these recording modes require fast memory cards to avoid problems such as unexpected stopping or camera shutting off.
Both cameras save the majority of their video files to MP4 containers that have an a.mp4 extension.
All videos on the HERO5 BLACK are compressed with the older, more compatible H.264 codec. This codec has been used for many years and is a standard in sharing services like YouTube or Facebook.
The HERO7Black can record almost all (but not all) its video with the same codec. This is a great option to ensure maximum compatibility. It can also use the more modern and efficient codec HEVC (or H.265), which can compress video streams more efficiently while resulting in smaller files.
The result is that HERO7 Black can possibly deliver better video quality by using HEVC encoding and a higher bitrate. There are many other factors that can also affect video quality.
HEVC works better, but it isn’t as universally compatible. It is being adopted by newer operating systems. You can upload HEVC files directly to YouTube and Vimeo. However, you may encounter situations in which your computer or device does not recognize them.
You can choose between NTSC or PAL formats with both. These are the default options for most video cameras that can record video.
Stabilization: Standard vs HyperSmooth
The HERO5Black was the first GoPro camera to offer in-camera electronic picture stabilization. It works great. The HERO7 BLACK version works even better. HyperSmooth is the current model’s name and is one of its most prominent features. It is prominently featured in GoPro’s marketing campaign. It works better than any hype.
Here’s an example that speaks louder than words. This is not a perfect example because the HERO5 Black handles this very well, but it does demonstrate some differences. This clip can also be used to show other visual differences, such as the sharper footage from the HERO7 Black. You can see this most clearly in both the texture of roads and details in trees. This was shot at 2.7K60. The HERO5Black can stabilize in the highest setting, while the HERO7Black can do it up to 4K60.
GoPro’s Protune suite of expert features is a collection of extended and custom-designed features. These features give you greater control over your shooting and can produce better quality output if used correctly. Although Protune is sometimes included in other models, it is reserved for Black editions.
These cameras have very similar Protune options. The HERO7Black has more options to manually adjust the shutter speed, and a few additional settings. They are very similar overall.
Both cameras feature a digital zoom. It’s not an optical zoom. Zooming is performed by software within the camera, not by moving glass lenses. It’s almost like an advanced crop.
Digital zoom is not something I like. Digital zoom is not a good idea for photos. It works better with video than still photos, as it maintains the same output resolution. The downside is that the zoom transition is not smooth and graceful in practice. This limits its utility while recording. This is not going to affect everyone, and it won’t be an issue in every situation.
Both cameras offer looping mode, which allows the camera to record continuously and then write back at predetermined intervals. This is useful when you need the camera to record something unexpectedly, and then want to only keep the relevant clip. It’s like a dashcam for a truck or car.
Additional Video Features
The HERO7 Black also has a few other features.
The GoPro Hero7 Black now offers a Short Clips option. GoPro has made it easier and more enjoyable to share the images you have taken with their GoPro in recent years. This feature is a part of that effort. These short clips can be saved in standard video format but at predetermined lengths of between 15 and 30 seconds. These clips are easier to share via GoPro’s app on social media.
Portrait orientation is a new feature on HERO7 Black. It’s not on the HERO5 Black. This means that you can film vertically instead of the traditional horizontal (or landscape) orientation. YouTube has recently made this easier to use because many people are filming with their phones upright.
This works well with the “stories” feature on social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. Landscape Lock is a setting that allows you to lock in landscape-only recordings (so you won’t have to worry about accidentally filming vertically). The vertical orientation can be reflected on both the front and rear screens.
To further differentiate it from its predecessors, the Hero7 Black includes a few extra sweeteners. TimeWarp video allows you to capture stabilized hyperlapse-style footage without the need for a tripod. Another feature is the Short Clips, which limits footage to 15- or 30-second segments, thereby requiring you to be disciplined into capturing the best moments of your adventures.
When it comes to still photography, there are more similarities than differences.
RAW and JPG
GoPro’s RAW format for images, with the file extension.GPR was first introduced on the HERO5 Black. It’s still available on the HERO7 Black. It is based on Adobe DNG RAW format.
RAW allows for better image quality as it provides more data to the sensor and does not apply lossy compression, which can affect image quality. However, you will need to process your images before sharing them. This is not supported by all imaging apps except Lightroom. If you don’t have Lightroom, here’s an alternative.
Both models can shoot RAW images. Both cameras automatically save a JPG version, even if it’s set to shoot RAW. This allows you to have a backup in case of an emergency.
The April 2017 firmware update (v.02.00) gave the HERO5 BLACK the ability to use RAW for Nightlapse Photo and Time-lapse Photo modes. It was available on the HERO7 Black from its launch.
Image Quality and Size
Both models take photos with 12MP resolution that are 4000 by 3000 pixels.
Options & Protune
Both cameras offer Protune options for photo mode, as well as video Protune options. These options allow you to fine-tune the exposure of your photos. This includes shutter speed, ISO, and white balance. You can also adjust the sharpness and GoPro colors as the image are rendered. These options are only available for JPGs, not RAW files.
You can use the touchscreen on the back to select the part of the screen you want to calculate the exposure. This feature is available on both cameras.
Continuous Capture and Burst Mode
It can be very useful to have quick shots when you are shooting fast-moving scenes. There are two ways to accomplish this with both cameras. These burst moderates are shared by both cameras: 30/1 to 30/2, 30/3 to 30, 30/6, 10/1 to 10/2, 10/3, 5/1, and 3/1.
There is also an Auto option on the HERO7 Black. It can be difficult to explain, so I have provided a detailed explanation and examples.
Continuous capture is a similar feature. Continuous capture is a feature that allows you to keep taking photos even if the shutter button is pressed. Each camera has a different rate. Depending on lighting conditions, the H7 can take 3 to 30 photos per second. The H5 can capture four photos per second, up to a maximum of 30 photos.
SuperPhoto vs WDR
SuperPhoto is a new enhanced photo mode on the HERO7 Black. This is actually a combination of a number of automated enhancement methods in an effort to produce a better-looking image.
The program analyzes the image to determine if it can use HDR, local tone mapping, or multi-frame noise reduction to improve the capture. This will produce a processed image that looks better than a simple capture. SuperPhoto can be set to auto, on/off, or both. It is important to note that HDR processing doesn’t support RAW files. It only supports JPGs.
WDR (for a wide dynamic range) is a simpler, more effective, but less aggressive option for the H5 Black. It can be described as a lightweight HDR. Although it can enhance the quality of your photos, I have found that WDR is not as effective as HDR. Here are some examples.
SuperPhoto works better than WDR. SuperPhoto tends to have better contrast and richer colors. JPGs directly from the camera look much better.
Although I do not currently have side-by-side comparisons of SuperPhoto vs WDR, I have posted previous comparisons of SuperPhoto vs HDR for the HERO5 Black and the HERO6 Black. Here are a few photos taken with a HERO7 Black and SuperPhoto turned on, as well as with a HERO5 Black without enhancement.
Shooting Time Lapse Photos & Video
Both cameras have quite extensive time-lapse capabilities. Both cameras have Time-lapse Video modes. This captures frames and compiles them into video files in the camera. You can set the interval between shots to be 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30, and 60 seconds. There are some differences in the resolution options available.
You can use the Time Lapse Photo Mode to capture frames and save them as individual images so you can download them and then compile them on your computer. The resulting images can be saved as JPGs or as RAW (.gpr) if you are using a longer interval than 5 seconds. A JPG version of the RAW version is also available. You have the same options as for Time-lapse Video.
Both have what is called Night Lapse mode. This mode is a modified version of the Timelapse Photo mode. It allows for longer intervals and slower shutter speeds. The shutter should be kept open longer to allow more light to reach the sensor. The H7 Black has a wider range of intervals, while the H7 Black offers longer intervals. These are the Night Lapse Photo intervals for each camera.
You will need to have an external power source for time-lapse captures. This will allow you to extend the battery life of your internal battery. This is especially important if you intend to use the HERO7Black’s longer intervals.
The HERO7 Black now has a new time-lapse variation. It’s called Timewarp. It is basically the same as Hyperlapse. It is different from standard time-lapse in that the camera is usually fixed at one spot or maybe on a slider robot. Hyperlapse or, in this instance, Timewarp is for situations when the camera is moving. Timewarp’s innovation is that it uses the same stabilization method as HyperSmooth to produce smooth motion footage instead of extremely jerky footage. Timewarp saves the results as a compiled file with the same resolution options that Time-lapse Video.
The cameras come with three microphones onboard and can record stereo using those mics. The onboard microphones are going to produce a somewhat poor sound quality.
An external microphone will give you better audio quality if you are aiming for specific audio. Both models can be used with external microphones.
You can also record a separate audio file with both these models using Protune. It saves it in a separate WAV file with the same filename and video file.
Other Bells and Whistles
These cameras offer many more features.
GPS. The camera can use a GPS chip to embed the GPS coordinates in the metadata. Both the H7 Black as well as H5 Black are GPS-equipped.
Karma Drone Compatible. GoPro has abandoned their drone/external stabilizer effort, called Karma. However, both these models can be used with Karma drones or grip.
Live video. The HERO7 Black has a new feature for live streaming. It’s not available on the HERO5 Black.
Compatibility with GoPro Plus. GoPro Plus is a subscription-based service. It allows you to automatically upload your photos and videos to the cloud. Again, this is done through the mobile app. If you have an active GoPro Plus subscription, both cameras will work together. You can also have your photos and videos automatically downloaded to your smartphone if you don’t have an active GoPro Plus subscription. However, the photos and videos will not be stored in the cloud.
Photo timer. Until the HERO7 range of GoPros, there wasn’t one. It’s now much easier to take selfies using one.
The GoPro Hero 5 black and the GoPro Hero 7 black are both great action cameras. However, the Hero 7 Black is the newer and better model. The Hero 7 black has better image quality, a more user-friendly interface, and more features than the Hero 5 black. If you’re looking for an action camera, the Hero 7 Black is the best option.