Personal Tech | September 16, 2021 10:56 am

Review: What I Learned About the New GoPro Hero10 Black After Strapping It to My Dog

The latest version of their flagship action camera is here. To test it, I put it on the back of my mini dachshund.

On the left, a screenshot from a video taken from the back of a miniature dachshund on a GoPro looking at an American bulldog. On the right, the new GoPro Hero10 Black action camera.
Go ahead, put the new GoPro Hero10 Black on the back of your mini dachshund.
Alex Lauer/GoPro

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Today GoPro released the newest version of their flagship digital action camera, the Hero10 Black. It’s an exciting moment for people who’ve been following GoPro’s evolution throughout the years, as there are a number of features users have been clamoring for: a top video resolution of 5.3K at 60 frames per second, 23 megapixel photos and significantly better stabilization, all thanks to a new GP2 processor, which replaces the GP1 that debuted in the Hero6 back in 2017.

If you’ve been a GoPro user in the past and have been waiting for the time to upgrade, either from an older model or from a different setup after ditching GoPro for any number of gripes, the Hero10 Black is certainly enticing. But the better question is, will people who don’t know the intricacies of megapixels, frame rates and processing chips be interested in picking it up? Is a $400 action camera ($550 if you don’t get an annual subscription to extra GoPro services) really worth it in the age of cinematic smartphones? 

That question led me to my testing process: strapping the camera to my dog. You see, I’ve owned a number of GoPro models over the years, and have, like many others, stuck them to everything I could: bikes, cars, wakesurf boards, the usual. The greatest idea I ever had, and also the biggest fail, was when I attempted to mount a camera on one of my wife’s parents’ goats (GoatPro, get it?). The footage from that attempt was so shaky it could make an astronaut ralph. 

GoPro provided me and other members of the press with some video previews showcasing the new camera’s features. One shot had a camera strapped to the back of a dog, with the final footage being crystal clear, perfectly level and super smooth, despite being shot from the back of a dog. Now, if you know anything about GoPro, it’s that they sell themselves through extraordinary footage: people leaning out of helicopters to touch airplanes, kayakers lighting themselves on fire, that sort of thing. But most people will never film those sorts of stunts, we just want our regular lives to look a little more interesting, and we want that process to be easy (ergo, smartphones).

So I tried the dog shot, because it’s one of the most unstable situations imaginable, and it’s a good test case to see how far GoPro’s tech has come and how easy it is to replicate the professionals. The main new features that are supposed to help in this instance are the aforementioned GP2 processor (offering much better video resolution and clarity), upgraded HyperSmooth 4.0 (compared to last year’s 3.0, and which I used in the highest Boost setting) and better horizon leveling (you can tilt the camera up to 45 degrees in as high as 4K60 video resolution and the horizon will still stay flat).

Here’s a quick clip of the result, from the back of Penny the mini dachshund: 

To be crystal clear, the camera during this shot is hooked to a fabric harness and, from my point of view, was wobbling violently back and forth.

And yet, when I looked at the footage on my phone afterwards through GoPro’s Quik smartphone app, there it was, smooth as peanut butter. Then through the app I was able to quickly offload the videos from the camera, trim them, grab high-quality photos from the video (in a media briefing, CEO and founder Nicholas Woodman said he doesn’t even take still images anymore, only grabs images from video), and export that all to my camera roll to share. There’s even an “Edits” section of the app that allows you to compile short movies, with effects and music, right there; I suspect people would rather use other apps on their phones or computers, but it’s nice to have the option. 

That’s a long way of saying that, while GoPro always touts their upgrades as revolutionary, the GoPro Hero10 Black offers enough captivating functionality that it’s worth buying even if you have the latest and greatest smartphone. It’s powerful, intuitive and tough, and makes even the most mundane home videos look compelling. As a quick comparison, this camera offers 23 megapixel photos, a top video resolution of 5.3K60 and a top slow-motion rate of 2.7K at 240 frames per second. The new iPhone 13, on the other hand, tops out at a 12 megapixel camera, top video res of 4K60 and top slo-mo of 1080p at 240fps.

Plus, I don’t think you’ll want to strap your $1,000 phone to a dog.