Review: GoPro Hero10 cements its place as the only action camera you need

As someone who until relatively recently weighed in at around 150kg, my definition of extreme sports has changed somewhat.

Before I lost the excess weight, walking around the block in Sandringham to pick up something from the local takeaway place seemed pretty bloody extreme.

Roll on a couple of years and running a half-marathon through the Riverhead Forest, up and down slippery clay slopes, is now a relatively normal Sunday morning for me.

So when offered the opportunity to test out the brand new GoPro Hero10 Black, my mind was racing.

Was it time for that bungee jump I'd always promised myself? Or maybe even facing my fear of heights by throwing myself out of a plane? With a parachute, that is, I'm not Keanu Reeves in Point Break.

My joy at the chance to find new ways to test myself and the GoPro, however, disappeared with the sobering truth of living in Auckland during the latest COVID-19 Delta outbreak.

With lives at risk it became much more important to stick to the rules and be as un-extreme as possible.

So, with that in mind, I've been using the GoPro Hero 10 Black for over a week now and here are my thoughts.

The good

While I've briefly used a previous generation of GoPro camera my hands-on experience has been limited, so direct comparisons with previous hardware are simply not possible.

That said, I can't imagine being unimpressed with the speed and specifications of the latest GoPro, and in such a tiny package.

The new GP2 processor promises an increase in performance right across the board, from a more responsive interface, quicker starting and stopping of recording and faster offloads.

Everything about those aspects felt instantaneous to me as I tested out the GoPro in a variety of situations.

I particularly enjoyed the single click record functionality that turned the camera on and started recording video straight away - no need to boot up and select anything to be ready to go.

The GP2 is the first chip update since the Hero6 in 2017 and, paired with the 23.6MP sensor introduced last year, increases the video resolution recording up to 5.3K at 60fps, or 4K at 120fps.

And it looks stunning. I tried watching the results in maximum resolution on my 2020 iMac, my Windows PC attached to an extra-wide curved monitor and on my 4K television and I couldn't have been more impressed.

GoPro Hero10
Photo credit: Newshub

Think what it would have looked like if I HAD jumped out of a plane and not just been recording me piloting (badly) a remote-controlled speedboat around a lake and driving around Helensville.

Once you've had a quick play with the GoPro and got used to sweeping to switch between functions, holding to change the settings etc it all becomes pretty intuitive and easy to use.

The same holds true of the GoPro Quik software for my smartphone. It paired with the camera and quickly created a network to allow it to download the videos and photos to my phone and I was able to cut the video easily.

I was even able to add in some quick slow-mo effects in the middle just by dragging my fingers, and I appreciated the prompting to save it as another video, meaning if I wanted to go back and re-edit afterwards the integrity of the original recording was maintained.

One thing very noticeable on the recording in the lake was the horizon levelling.

It means when I opened up the motor on the speedboat and turned the corners the horizon stayed in the same place, offering an incredibly smooth recording. It almost made my sailing look professional.

At this point I can only imagine how much more impressive it would be speeding down a hill on a mountain bike or on a surfboard. 

Yes, you can definitely think about those kinds of activities because you're not worrying about damaging the GoPro Hero10. It's clearly built to last.

The lens cover has been upgraded so it sheds water better than previous versions as well as being more scratch resistant.

I was reduced to throwing the camera around the backyard to simulate being extra clumsy and it handled it with ease. A quick wipe with a damp cloth and the mud and grass was long gone.

The final thing I loved about the GoPro Hero10 came from a much calmer place. 

GoPro Hero10
Photo credit: Newshub

I'm fortunate enough to have a house with a deck that looks west and I've seen some of the most amazing sunsets since we moved here last year. The time lapse mode allowed me to put the camera out on the balustrade, set the time interval, press record and walk away.

A few hours later I collected it and the timelapse video was downloaded onto my phone and displayed on my television in no time at all.

It was effortless, beautiful and the antithesis of everything the GoPro screams.

The bad

There are only a couple of things about the GoPro that are less than ideal - battery life and the heating of the camera.

Battery life has long been an issue and it's definitely something GoPro is aware of. I know this because they make it clear that the vast majority of videos shot on the device are less than 70 seconds in duration.

They say that means it's designed to maximise quality and deliver the best performance for how people actually use the camera and not necessarily how it's tested.

And it's true - using it in short bursts will make the battery life longer, like it will on any device. Recording at 5.3K for any length of time and you will be able to start seeing the battery tick down though.

If you are never too far away from a charging station then that might not cause a problem.

GoPro Hero10
Photo credit: Newshub

However if you're out on the water catching waves, or in the forest on a bike track you are going to need to consider how and when you're going to use it to avoid running out of battery - or have additional batteries ready to go.

I also found it heated up very quickly. After around five minutes of usage at the highest resolution, it was very warm to touch. Not 'ouch, I'm going to burn myself' hot, but noticeably warmer than I had expected.

I didn't have the time to push to extremes, but I'll note there are plenty of instances on the internet where people have seen their GoPros shut down because of thermal issues.

At the end of the day, only you can be the judge as to whether these are a major issue for you - I don't see myself trying to record a couple of hours of 5.3K video at one time, so it's not a deal breaker for me.

I'll also add that I wasn't able to test out the functionality of using the GoPro as a webcam. It seems simple enough - you can download the software to your Mac or your PC and select it as you would any other in your video conferencing tool of choice.

However during the testing period I was running preview versions of MacOS and Windows 11 so couldn't quite get it all to work.

I suspect when both move from beta to release, I'll be able to do so without issue.

GoPro Hero10
Photo credit: Newshub

The verdict

If you're already a fan of the GoPro and are considering an update from a previous version, then everything I've tested - and read - indicates the 10 is a very good step forward in both tech and performance.

If, like me, you like the idea of the GoPro then you have a couple of things to think about - do you fork out NZ$849.99 for the newest and greatest hardware, or do you try and take advantage of the lowering costs of older models first?

It should be noted that paying for a $79.99 GoPro yearly subscription for cloud storage saves you $150 on the cost of the device, so you can get it all for a bit cheaper if you are going for the top spec - but the question still remains, next generation or older?

Me? Given everything that's gone on in the world over the last 18 months or so, I'm trying to be more aspirational, to live for the moment and to have things that will remind me of places, people and experiences rather than just things.

GoPro Hero10
Photo credit: Newshub

I've got more books than I can ever hope to read in my time left on this spinning globe and I really should be spending less time staring at screens. So if and when the world opens up again I can see the GoPro Hero10 being the kick in the bum I need to actually get back out there.

Yep, bring on that bungee jump and death-defying leap out of the plane over Auckland - and here's to filming it all in its 5.3K 60fps glory.

Because what better way is there to document it? It's high quality, easy to use, compact, the software allows you to edit on the go - and even I can't break it.

There's literally nothing else like it.

Newshub was supplied a GoPro Hero 10 Black and assorted accessories for this review.