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While the front-facing screen is a notable feature, that’s not the only reason to check out the GoPro snorkeling camera. Read this in-depth GoPro HERO9 underwater camera review to know why it can be the best underwater camera for snorkeling!
While GoPro is known as the world’s best brand for providing the best underwater camera for snorkeling, it has managed to design another stellar product as an upgrade to the top-rated 8 series.
Since GoPro always presents their newest product as the game changer, the reality is that the term gets thrown a bit too often. Additionally, while minor changes and upgrades are worth noting, they don’t justify the praise of being a game changer.
However, GoPro HERO9 Black is a real deal and perfectly justifies this term. I’ve been using the GoPro snorkeling cameras consistently since their first release, so I’m pretty familiar with them. From snorkeling to scuba diving, to hiking to biking, and everything in between, I’ve tested my GoPros in most torturous conditions.
Moreover, HERO9 Black was also the most powerful camera of GoPro until the HERO10 Black succeeded it. However, GoPro still manufactures the HERO9 Black as an entry-level camera at a considerably lower price than the HERO10 Black.
That said, even though it has a cheap price tag, HERO9 Black still boasts a top-level performance. Here’s an in-depth GoPro HERO9 underwater camera review, covering all the new features and an honest opinion on whether to buy it.
GoPro HERO9 Underwater Camera Review
Before starting my GoPro HERO9 Black underwater camera review, remember that still photography and video quality won’t match your flagship smartphone. However, the GoPro HERO9 Black can still offer incredible footage even on bumpy road trips, shakiest bike rides, and underwater photography.
Since it features HyperSmooth 3.0, GoPro HERO9 Black is the best waterproof camera snorkeling enthusiasts can have at an affordable price. The ability to automatically pan within the footage, in particular, is exceptional. Moreover, built-in algorithms and processors also help you film fast-paced activities.
Furthermore, GoPro HERO9 Black also lets you shoot up to 5K resolution for sharp images or up to 240fps in HD resolution for aesthetic 8x slow-motion. All in all, GoPro HERO9 Black is an all-action camera for producing stellar photos and videos. Apart from the fact that we now have HERO10, the HERO9 is the best underwater camera for snorkeling lovers due to its features, waterproofing, and affordability.
Specifications: GoPro HERO9 Underwater Camera Review
|Camcorder||Video Camera||Zoom Type||Optical|
|Video Resolution||5K||Dimensions||2.83” x 1.32” x 2”|
|Image Stabilization||Available||Weight||1.02 Pounds|
|Batteries||1 x Lithium Ion||Amazon Rating||4.5|
GoPro HERO9 Black Performance
Before we talk about features and what HERO9 Black offers, let’s look at how it performs in the real world.
So, does this GoPro snorkeling camera live up to the hype?
Well, I have been using GoPro HERO9 Black since its release. I took this camera on various excursions, including snorkeling with turtles, scuba diving, mountain biking, and travel vlogging. Moreover, I also took the camera through sunset shoots to test its dynamic range and astrophotography to determine its capabilities in low-light conditions.
That said, can HERO9 Black be an excellent alternative to your professional camera gear or a dedicated video vlogging setup? Not really, because that’s not what this camera is made for, especially if you are a professional content creator. You have plenty of other professional camera gear that you can use to create amazing content or cover different scenarios.
However, if you are planning a trip with your friends, having this tiny GoPro HERO9 Black camera in your backpack is a great idea rather than those big cameras you have at home. In addition to that, if you are a vlogger, snorkeler, or scuba diver and want to film on the go, using HERO9 Black is an incredible experience due to its stunning built-in HyperSmooth 3.0 stabilization.
I personally use this camera for general vlogging and on all of my multi-day hikes because it is light, easy to use, and so damn versatile, making it the best underwater camera for snorkeling. For professional purposes, the only feature of the HERO9 Black camera I use is its time-lapse feature.
Now, let’s start our GoPro HERO9 underwater camera review by discovering its features:
GoPro HERO9 Black at a Glance
|5K 30FPS||Front Facing LCD Screen||Live Streaming||4K at 60FPS|
|Horizon Lock||HyperSmooth 3.0||SuperPhoto with HDR||1080p at 240FPS|
|Time Warp 3.0||Max Lens Mod||Night Lapse Video||Folding Fingers|
|30% More Battery Life||Detachable Lens||Quick Video and Capture Presets||RAW Capture in All Mods|
|HindSight Mod||20Megapixel||Waterproof up to 10m||Voice Activation|
|Live Burst Mod||Schedule Capture||GPS||USB C Charging|
|Duration Capture||Webcam Mod||Display Mod||Optional Modular Accessories|
Features: GoPro HERO9 underwater camera review
Upon launching the HERO9 Black, GoPro introduced the product with the #MoreEverything tagline. And after looking at its specifications and added features, it’s clear what they mean. Some of the newest and most notable features of the GoPro Hero9 underwater camera include:
Nail that Perfect Selfie with Front Screen
The most significant upgrade straight out of the box of this GoPro snorkeling camera is the front LCD screen. In fact, it is a must-have upgrade for any camera, so I cannot afford to exclude it from this comprehensive GoPro Hero9 underwater camera review.
The feature is particularly great for vloggers, scuba divers, or snorkelers who want to nail that perfect selfie while ensuring they are within the frame. In addition to that, there shouldn’t be a problem when you want to change the view on the front screen with center crop and camera settings.
Wondering what you can see with the GoPro underwater as you kayak? Check out this video
20MP Photo with Super Photo
Perhaps the most significant feature of HERO9 Black is its 20 megapixels sensor. The feature, in particular, is an especially great addition for video content creators, vloggers, snorkelers, scuba divers, etc., who are looking for an affordable yet good still photography camera.
With its monster 20 Megapixels camera, still, photography is drastically improved, allowing individuals to film fast-paced activities on the go. In addition to that, the extension in the dynamic range also means you can push all the details out of the shadows when editing your potshots.
I personally tested this upgrade alongside other expensive and high-end cameras. The results were decent, especially for people looking to own an affordable GoPro snorkeling camera for capturing the underwater world.
That said, while it can be the best waterproof camera snorkeling enthusiast would love to have, you should not expect the results of a mirror-less professional-level camera.
5K 30FPS Video
In addition to that to HERO9 Black’s 20 megapixels sensor, it also allows you to film videos at 5k in 30fps and 100Mbps. While that’s impressive for a GoPro snorkeling camera, it also means that the camera also needs more capacity. In particular, I love this feature because it allows me to perform interesting zooms, pans, and rotation while also having the freedom to export video in 4K.
In case you are after both smoothness and efficiency, I recommend shooting videos with 4K at 60fps. Despite boasting a 5K feature, the GoPro HERO9 black also incorporates HyperSmooth 3.0, allowing you to stabilize your shots smartly across all resolutions. The feature is especially an excellent addition if you want the best underwater camera for snorkeling at a lower price.
Furthermore, another exciting feature is its linear view with a 360-degree camera that can automatically correct the horizontal leveling. This feature is particularly useful for video content creators and vloggers. However, since this GoPro HERO9 Black underwater camera review contains vital facts, not that I find the 360-degree camera a bit imprecise and leggy while filming.
All other modes I have tried can capture peerless video with plenty of color options, contrast, and shadow detail. Additionally, you can also use its “boost” option to smooth things out if the action gets choppy.
Easy Editing with HyperSmooth 3.0
Upon launching the HERO9 Black, GoPro introduced the HyperSmooth feature, calling it the “Gimbal Killer.” The feature isn’t new for GoPro as it is also available in older GoPro models like Hero8, taking it up to the HyperSmooth 2.0. However, in 2020 with the launch of HERO9 Black, GoPro upgraded it yet again with HyperSmooth 3.0.
The most significant difference is that the GoPro HERO9 Black is armed with in-built horizon leveling. It is beneficial for automatically adjusting crops, ensuring your horizon is as close to level as possible. On the other hand, with older GoPro models, you’d have to perform this through in-post production or the GoPro App.
Moreover, with the addition of HyperSmooth 3.0, GoPro snorkeling camera offers impressive image stabilization. For instance, I filmed myself while enjoying mountain biking, and the shots were buttery smooth. That’s also one of the reasons why I rate it as one of the best waterproof cameras snorkeling lovers can use for capturing sea life.
Remember that the GoPro snorkeling camera’s horizon leveling only works when you film in linear mode.
Time Warp 3.0
One of the reasons why I rate GoPro as the best underwater camera for snorkeling is its time warp feature. The time warp is a version of hyper-lapse, and GoPro has done an excellent job by incorporating it. If you are familiar with GoPros, you might know that the feature is not new.
For the first time, GoPro introduced it in their HERO7 and then upgraded the GoPro HERO8, allowing users to toggle between real-time and quick time by tapping on the screen.
However, to incorporate it in their latest HERO9 Black, GoPro has improved the feature with time warp 3.0. Now, you just need a single tap on the larger rear screen to set the hyper-lapse to real-time and then drop it to 8x slo-mo. In addition to that, HERO9 also lets you record audio to go along with the video, which makes it a friendly GoPro snorkeling camera.
It is also pertinent to highlight that before the introduction of time warp, the only way to obtain a similar outcome was through intensive hyper-lapse editing that needed hours of shooting or hundreds of still images.
Schedule Your Shots
When planning our shots, sometimes we just can’t get to the correct location at the right time to hit the shutter, which is frustrating. However, that’s not an issue anymore because GoPro HERO9 Black is armed with schedule capture mode.
It essentially means you could now go to bed in Iceland and set your camera to shoot northern lights for you. Similarly, you can let your HERO9 film for an hour or so before it switches off. In addition to that, another notable feature that makes the HERO9 Black the best GoPro snorkeling camera is the HindSight feature.
While using this feature, you can record up to 30 seconds of footage before hitting the shutter. However, if you find it a bit creepy, you have the option to disable it from the settings. That said, I personally found it a nifty addition, especially when you want to capture fast-paced activities.
Incredible Modular Accessories
One of the best things about GoPro action cameras isn’t the action cameras but all the accompanying accessories. The list of great modular accessories is endless from clamps to suction cups, dive housing, and selfie sticks.
If you are planning to get into vlogging, you will need two particular items to start creating video content. For instance, there is the GoPro Media Mod Housing for sliding that HERO9 slides into, cold shoe mounts, a bi-directional microphone, USB-C output/input, and a 3.5mm microphone jack. This module was first incorporated in HERO8, and as an upgrade, there’s a new one is coming for HERO9 Black.
One thing that makes HERO9 Black the best underwater camera for snorkeling is its latest and greatest Max Lens Mod. The mod leans on the ultra-wide capabilities and has a bigger 360-degree sibling. That means you can replace the original lens cover on your HERO9 Black to allow a super-wide perspective with an outstanding field of view.
That said, the max lens mod is an incredible addition whether you are into travel vlogging, snorkeling, or other action sports.
The Good and the Bad:
GoPro HERO9 Underwater Camera Review
Besides the fact that I love the GoPro Hero 9 Black camera and what it offers, it still needs improvement. In fact, there are a few components that I wish I would improve. So, here are the pros and cons to level things up.
- Front-facing screen
- Detachable lens
- Up to 30% more battery life
- HyperSmooth and Time warp 3.0
- 5K video resolution
- Compatibility with Max lens media mod
- Carrying case
- Durable design
- More extensive and heavier than predecessors
- Limited still photography capabilities
- Laggy touchscreen
- No external microphone input
GoPro HERO8 vs. GoPro HERO 9 Underwater Camera Review
Since we have already discussed all the new upgrades in this GoPro HERO9 underwater camera review, it’s time to know what sets it apart from its predecessors.
While some of the noticeable upgrades, such as a 5K video, 20MP photo sensor, and improved battery life, clearly put HERO9 above all, there are a few more nifty differences.
|Features||HERO9 Black||HERO8 Black|
|Photo||20 Megapixels SuperPhoto with HDR||12 Megapixels SuperPhoto with HDR|
|Video||5K 30FPS||4K 60FPS|
|100 Mbps Rate||2.7/ 4K/ 5K||2.7/ 4K|
|Video Stabilization||HyperSmooth 3.0||HyperSmooth 2.0|
|Horizon Leveling||In-Camera||GoPro App|
|Front Screen||1.4-inch LCD with Live Preview||Status-Only Screen|
|Digital Lenses||Wide, Super-View, Linear, Liner Horizon Leveling, Narrow||Super-View, Linear, Narrow|
|Mods||Media Mod, Max Lens Mod||Media Mod|
|Time Warp||Time Warp 3.0||Time Warp 2.0|
|Duration Capture||Available||Not Available|
|Schedule Capture||Available||Not Available|
|RAW Photos||All Photo Mods||All Photo Mods|
About the Brand: GoPro
GoPro is one of the best and most popular brands for designing action cameras and the best waterproof camera snorkeling, scuba diving, and general travel vlogging. The brand helps video content creators and vloggers to capture and share their content in immersive and exciting ways.
Founded by a photo and video enthusiast, GoPro also helps individuals to film themselves in a better way while surfing, snorkeling, or mountain biking. Today, the brand has grown into an uncompromisingly innovative brand, loved by both professionals and inexperienced photographers and videographers alike.
If you are scuba diving, snorkeling with turtles, or kayaking, you need a reliable and the best underwater camera for snorkeling. That’s where GoPro HD action cameras come in handy, providing you with sharp 4K resolution while also enabling you to film crystal-clear water footage of your excursions.
In addition to that, it’s not just about the high-intensity events where the best underwater camera for snorkeling shines. If you are filming your zip lining, wine tour, snowboarding, or just want to capture memories with your family and friends after your latest adventure; you can be your own photographer with GoPro.
So, is the GoPro HERO9 Black the best underwater camera for snorkeling?
Well, in my humble opinion, GoPro HERO 9 Black is a perfect camera for travel vloggers, content creators, and snorkelers. The 5K 3FPS sensor, detachable lens, and the Max lens mod, in particular, make the HERO9 Black the best waterproof camera snorkeling enthusiasts and travel vloggers could have.
In addition to that, other solid upgrades like horizon leveling and a front-face screen are also nifty additions, making the product even more appealing for snorkelers and videographers.
That said, I still think the HERO9 Black is not perfect and still needs some improvement. The need for the high-priced Media Mod rather than a dedicated 3.5mm jack, in particular, is a bit annoyance. Moreover, it also lacks the ability of 4K with 120FPS.
All in all, while HERO9 Black is not a perfect GoPro, it is the most excellent and the best waterproof camera snorkeling currently available on the market.
Read our review of the AKASO Brave 7 Underwater Camera