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GoPro has been the industry standard for action cameras for over 15 years. It wasn’t until a few years ago that brands such as DJI and Insta360 began making action cameras with more features that challenged GoPro’s lead. This year, though, GoPro has created by far its most powerful action camera to date.

The GoPro Hero 9 is more robust in almost every way: bigger battery, bigger body, bigger video and photo resolutions. Plus, for the first time, it comes in a reusable case with no plastic packaging, which is big for the Earth, dirt, and air this GoPro inspired me to explore.

Yes, this camera inspired me and never stopped me, so much so that I wished I had more exciting things to do in front of it. Building upon years of action camera knowledge, GoPro has finally mastered a hardware experience that never frustrated me, while sticking to software that, although takes a bit of getting used to, holds endless resolution and frame rate capabilities.

News Brig Score

8.5 out of 10

Good Stuff

  • Crisp 5K footage
  • A useful front-facing screen
  • Still rugged build quality
Bad Stuff
  • More expensive than before
  • Slow HDR processing
  • Still needs a second battery for heavy use

The Hero 9 is more expensive, though, at $449.99 or $349.98 when you sign up for a one-year subscription to GoPro Plus, which is included in the discounted price for the first year and is $50 per year after that. That’s $50 more than the Hero 8 started at, $200 more than DJI’s Osmo Action, and $20 more than the twin edition of the Insta360 One R.

The GoPro Hero 9 is bigger in every way.

First bigger thing: its actual size. The Hero 9 is noticeably larger than last year’s Hero 8. A bit thicker, a bit wider, and a bit taller. This never got in the way of where I wanted to mount it or how it felt to carry around, though, and it still has the same sized dual prongs for mounting that are magnetically stowed on the bottom of the camera. That means that you don’t need a separate case or housing to attach accessories, like you did with the Hero 7 and older models.

With the larger size comes a larger back touchscreen, 2.27 inches diagonally. It has the same USB-C port, microSD card slot, and battery compartment on one side, along with the start / stop button on the top and the power and mode button on the side. There is also this weird latch-looking piece on one side that I thought was removable, but it is not. GoPro calls this the “Drain Mic” and explained that it is designed to drain itself after the camera is submerged, which should make for clearer audio when you’re coming up out of water.

There are storable prongs for use with all previous action cam mounts you might have.

The Hero 9 has a 1,720mAh battery.

The “Drain Mic” is located under the Mode button on the side of the camera.

Tech is a tool and therefore I treat it as such. In the two weeks I’ve been testing the Hero 9, I’ve been going as hard on it as any of my own gear and it’s held up with no scratches or dings.

If the lens were to get scratched, though, GoPro brought back a feature from the Hero 7 that I truly missed on the Hero 8: a removable front lens cover. On the Hero 9, you can remove the cover that sits over the lens with a hard twist and pull. This creates a much better way of mounting ND filters and lens accessories, such as the Max Lens mod GoPro is releasing in October of this year. Unfortunately, there is no backwards compatibility, so your Hero 7’s ND filters won’t fit on the Hero 9.

The front lens cover is removable with a twist and a pull.

The last big hardware change, and my favorite addition this year, is the front-facing screen. I would say 80 percent of the time I’m using a GoPro, I am facing the front of the camera when framing the shot. I am always way too impatient to pull up GoPro’s app on my phone to see my framing, so an instant view on the front of the camera is very useful. You can change the screen ratio of the front screen, what information it displays, or toggle it on and off in the Hero 9’s menu. There is a bit of a lag on that front screen when recording or using Hindsight mode, which saves the previous 15 or 30 seconds of footage that the camera recorded before you hit the record button, but otherwise the colors are vivid and the information is clear.

You can chose what information is displayed on the front screen within the camera’s menu.

More screens mean more power usage, so GoPro bumped up the battery from 1,220mAh in the Hero 8 to a 1,720mAh in the Hero 9. The Hero 8 was known for heating up during normal use, but despite a bigger battery, I did not experience the Hero 9 getting hot to the touch. For heavy use, two batteries will still be needed to get through a full day. However, during my very chill vacation days of testing, where I was turning the camera off while not using it and only watching playback at the end of the night, I was able to get through a full day on one battery, which is right on par with the Hero 8.

Next bigger thing: resolutions. There is just about every resolution and frame rate combo you could possibly need on the Hero 9. The 20-megapixel sensor can record 5K 30fps, 4K 60fps, and all the way up to 1080p 240fps. I spent most of my time filming in 5K with the default “GoPro” color setting on.

There are endless frame rate and resolution settings to chose.

The 5K footage is remarkably crisp. I dig the default color option that punches up the saturation and keeps a high level of contrast. Pair the vibrant colors with the amazing in-camera stabilization and, bingo-bango, you have really nice-looking footage straight out the cam. Also, when editing our review video in 4K, I really enjoyed having the bit of extra space for reframing.

In terms of stabilization, there is also a more robust HyperSmooth 3.0 this year. I’m constantly amazed with this in-camera stabilization, and new this year is an in-camera horizontal leveling option when shooting in the linear frame, which is a bit cropped in from the wide frame. This makes it really easy to keep the horizon level on the screen.

There is also a new duration capture, a schedule capture mode for time lapses, and the new Hindsight mode. The battery runs down a bit faster with Hindsight mode enabled because the camera is consistently recording.

The photos from the 20-megapixel sensor are good. HDR photos do take a long time to process, and I was not overly impressed with how the shadows are brought up to extreme levels in HDR mode. But with HDR turned off, the photos are punchy, bright, and crisp. At night, the camera operates a bit slowly, though, leaving blur and grain in the photos. A great next step for GoPro would be an astrophotography feature. Am I asking too much?

Grid View

And last but not least, there are a few new mods coming out for this camera. Last spring, GoPro released the Media Mod for the Hero 8, with a built-in directional mic, HDMI outputs, and a cold-shoe mount. This October, they are releasing a Max Lens mod for $99, which is the company’s first lens mod.

The Max Lens mod brings an even wider frame to the Hero 9 and allows for horizontal leveling no matter the orientation of the camera because of the spherical image it captures onto the sensor. You can only shoot up to 2.7K with it, though. I didn’t find it to be that much wider than the widest setting on the Hero 9, but I did enjoy putting it on and not telling the Hero 9 to switch to Max Lens mod mode so that I could capture video with a weird sick circle frame around it. Check out the video above for samples of what that looks like.

The Max Lens mod will be available this October for $99.

So, the Hero 9. GoPro brought back the removable lens, is rolling out mods, put in a bigger battery, a larger sensor, 5K video, and most importantly, it finally has a useful front screen. But for all of these big improvements, there is that larger price tag.

Considering the upgrades, though, $449 is still a reasonable price for what you’re getting. Sure, you can grab the Hero 8 Black for around $350 now or DJI’s Osmo Action for $250, but neither of those cameras can shoot at 5K. And then there is Insta360’s One R with a 1-inch sensor mod for $500, but I much prefer the color the GoPro puts out more, and well, the Hero 9 is $50 less.

Add all that up and the Hero 9 is the biggest, baddest action camera out there — a camera that makes me want to keep up with it.

Correction: An earlier version of this article said that to get the discounted price on the Hero 9, you have to purchase a year subscription to GoPro’s service. That is incorrect — the first year is included with the purchase price, and it is $50 per year after that. We regret the error.

Photography by Becca Farsace / The News Brig

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Tags: action camera the hero 9 is of the camera on the hero 9 the hero 9 i front screen

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Review: Millie Bobby Brown has fun with ‘Enola Holmes’

There is a long, questionable and occasionally successful tradition of spinning off iconic literary and film characters through relatives distant and not from James Bond Jr. to John Shaft II and III. In other words, it’s not out of bounds that someone would come along and invent a little sister for Sherlock Holmes and eventually make a movie out of it.

Enola Holmes is the creation of American author Nancy Springer who wrote a series of six young adult novels about Sherlock and Mycroft’s teenage sister who becomes a detective in her own right. The lighthearted and enjoyable film adaptation stars “Stranger Things’” Millie Bobby Brown as the titular character in an origin story that is clearly an attempt to start a franchise. Thankfully it isn’t merely a “set-up” film.

We’re introduced to Enola by Enola herself, who breaks the fourth wall and directly addresses the camera and audience to tell us about how her mother raised her after her much older brothers left early. It’s no surprise that the director, Harry Bradbeer, directed almost every episode of “Fleabag,” which relied heavily on this technique as well.

Enola, who tries not to think too much about the significance of the fact that her name backwards spells “Alone,” is clever and spirited and wholly isolated from the world and the social mores of Victorian-era England. She and her mother (a lovely Helena Bonham-Carter) who are fiercely independent except from each other, use their stately mansion as a playground. They practice archery and tennis indoors, blow things up in the name of science, read books and generally don’t seem all that concerned with the upkeep of anything but their minds.

So it comes as a shock when Enola wakes up one morning to find her mother gone. Even more disconcerting is when her brothers Sherlock (a probably too buff Henry Cavill) and Mycroft (Sam Claflin) return to take care of her and the estate, they don’t recognize her. The grown men are also horrified that their little sister is so rough around the edges — no hat, no gloves, no worries about manners or decorum — and decide that she must be sent to finishing school.

Naturally, Enola is not excited about the prospect of finding a husband or fitting into society and instead sneaks off to try to track down her mother instead. On her journey she becomes entangled in the life of a fellow runaway, The Viscount Tewskbury, Marquess of Basilwether (Louis Partridge), who becomes her first client.

Brown is a natural star and seems to be having a lot of fun with Enola and getting to do something a little more carefree than portraying the trauma stricken Eleven. And besides a gnarly head injury late in the film, “Enola Holmes” is an all-ages endeavor.

The biggest knock against “Enola Holmes” is it feels like it should or could have been a series. It’s very long and even this first story feels naturally episodic as she goes back and forth between searching for her mother and helping Tewskbury. The second is that the screenplay is only credited to Jack Thorne and this script could have benefitted from a woman’s involvement. Its feminist touchstones veer on cliché.

Brown did have a hand in producing the film, however, which is itself a neat message. Whether or not it becomes a franchise will remain to be seen. “Enola Holmes” was supposed to be a theatrical release and Netflix jumped in to take it early in the pandemic. But regardless of whether or not there are more, “Enola Homes” is the kind of movie that the preteen set will surely delight in and watch over and over. I know I would have.

“Enola Holmes,” a Netflix release, is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for “some violence.” Running time: 123 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.

MPAA Definition of PG-13: Parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter:

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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