Top critical review
It could've been great if not for several major issues. I bought 2.
February 17, 2019
Yes, the hero 7 black sounds AMAZING! No, that is not likely to be your end experience with it. Read my story to learn all of the issues I dealt with. No, not just a random defective Hero 7 Black I got. How do I know? I bought two of them, 4 months apart from each other. Same exact camera. I took a fair amount of time to write this just so that you can learn of the facts of this camera before you go and buy it.
Go ahead- take a glimpse into your future if you do decide to buy the Hero 7 Black edition.
I owned a gopro 3+ black edition. That was a great video camera. Unfortunately, it was left in our hotel room when we checked out. Someone is now enjoying it, and our memories. So, I needed to buy another gopro. My old setup had a great gimbal, the LCD backpack, and external mic. It was time to find a replacement.
I searched the new gopro hero lineup and felt lucky that the Gopro Hero 7 Black edition had just hit the market (beginning of October, 2018). It had the new 'hypersmooth' technology along with gps and all of the other bells and whistles. It seemed that I no longer needed a gimbal if I bought it. So, I did.
Upon arrival of my first hero 7 black in October, I excitedly opened the box as though it were Christmas morning. I pulled out the gopro and, as usual these days, there were no instructions. Only a quick start guide (that tells you to update the firmware right away) and the liability legal jargon booklet about handling batteries and to not attempt to swallow the gopro, etc.
I had already received a separate shipment the day prior and that was for an official gopro charger and extra battery, which was fully charged by the time I was holding the gopro.
I first noticed that my gopro 7 black had a nice rubbery feel to it. Then I noticed that the square lens cover was tilted slightly. I was surprised that quality control let it get through like that. Oh well. I inserted the fully charged gopro battery, inserted the gopro approved Sandisk memory card (not just any memory card will do- you can only use memory cards that are compatible with the hero 7 and you can find that list on their website).
I turned it on. I then opened up my gopro app on my smart phone. I was prompted to update the firmware right away, so I did. After about 30 minutes of patiently waiting, I got a failed attempt at the update. I tried the process again and again, until I had tried it literally 8 times. By then, the battery was nearly dead. I couldn't believe that a brand new gopro, with all of the seemingly most amazing technology, failed to do it's first task- a firmware update.
Since I was one of the first to get the 7 black, I couldn't find anyone online talking about the same issue I was having. I was disappointed, to the point that I sent the whole thing back. I figured that after a few months, they'll have a few new firmware releases and get the bugs worked out. That, and the next one wouldn't have a lens that is out of alignment.
Fast forward 4 months- I decided to buy the same exact gopro hero 7 black because gopro had just released another firmware update a week or so prior. Upon delivery, I opened it up and guess what- the lens is still tilted sideways. I guess all 7's are out of square. Nuts. Moving past the cosmetics, I again inserted the memory card and fully charged battery (I hadn't returned the extra battery and charger from my last purchase because I knew I wanted to get it again).
This time, I didn't want to sink to the deep low I was put in from 8 attempts at the paired firmware update. So, I did some research and found that many folks online had the same issues I had when I first bought it (firmware update issues) and that the solution was to do a 'manual firmware update'. I downloaded the update onto my formatted sd card and followed the instructions, which I thought were nice and clear. I then had the new firmware installed on my new gopro. I was excited to say the least! I went through the settings, made some adjustments and did a test video for about a minute. All seemed to be functioning as normal. I powered it off.
The next day, I went to use it to shoot a video tour of a house. Guess what- the battery was 100% dead. I thought that was odd. Luckily, I had two extra batteries pre-charged and ready to go. So, no big deal.
I start recording and after about 30 seconds, while recording, the entire LCD screen on the back turns off. What the heck!, I thought. I stopped recording and went to the settings. Maybe it was some battery saver setting, but I didn't want it. I set it so that the lcd screen would never turn off while the gopro is on. That should do it!
I began recording again. This time, after about 30 seconds, the LCD screen went from the 100% brightness I had set it to, to about 60%. I thought "what the heck!" again but figured I'd just have to deal with it until I can figure it out some other time.
I also took "HDR" pictures throughout the house. Let me tell you- they are not HDR (High Dynamic Range) pictures. Very clever marketing, but it's a gimmick. Instead, they are regular pictures of sub-par quality. Nothing HDR about them. Not even close to looking like pro photos (yes, the lighting was great and the lens was spotless).
I went back to my office to check out the video I took. I figured I needed to use gopro software to be sure to get the 'hypersmooth' video to work. So, I then see that their software is supposed to be amazing and I go to download it. Oops! Won't work on my Windows 7 desktop. Why? I look online and it will only work on Windows 10 desktops. That would have been nice to know earlier. Okay- I then download Quik onto my laptop running Windows 10. Failed to install properly the first time. Second time worked.
I'm not a video editing expert. Far from it. So, I go to gopro to find tutorials on how to use their Quik for desktop video editor and can't find it. That's odd. I searched some forums and find that lots of people absolutely seem to hate Quik. They say that it won't even splice video's together (and my video of the house was automatically turned into two video files (chapters- per gopro). Suddenly, I find myself nervous that this software won't even handle the basics of what I need it for.
The next day, I call gopro customer support. Got through pretty quickly to someone who was overseas, but friendly. I asked for the specific way to get to the gopro tutorials by gopro. She seemed to know what I was after right away and then asked to place me on hold. 5 minutes later, she comes back and says to find the tutorials, I must go to youtube and type in "gopro Quik for desktop tutorials". Huh? I did what she asked and just as I saw previously, there were some Quik tutorial videos randomly jumbled together by other Quik users, no tutorials specifically by gopro.
I explained that I want the tutorials that were actually made by gopro for getting started, on through to some advanced features of Quik. After 30 minutes of back and forth and waiting, she said that gopro's own Quik software does not have any video tutorials for how to use Quik. Unbelievable! She did point me to a Quik Q&A gopro page and said that's the tutorials. Uh, no.
I proceed to tell her about the issue with the LCD screen dimming while recording. She hadn't heard of this. Another 30 minutes of back and forth and waiting. She couldn't figure out why it was doing that. She wanted me to send her pictures. So I fired up the gopro again, or so I tried. It was 100% dead, again! Argh! So, I put another battery in it as I told her that the battery dies for no reason. Basically, to not have the battery die (even when the gopro is powered off, wifi is off, gps is off and bluetooth is off), it seems like you must actually physically remove the battery from the gopro every single time you are done with it. What the!
Okay, I put another fully charged battery in and fire up the gopro. I start recording, snap a pic with my phone (to show the bright screen) and wait until it dims down, and snap another pic. Then, the camera freezes up. I see pixelated dots on the screen and it will not turn off. I literally had to pull the battery out to turn it off. I tell the gopro lady and she said I can send it back to them and they'll send me another. I didn't think that would be wise, because I bought it from Amazon. If the next one I get were to also be a dud (like the first two), I wouldn't be able to return it to Amazon because I wouldn't be returning the same camera that they had sold me.
As we're talking, I fired up the camera again. After about a minute, it literally froze up again! Keep in mind that I have exercised nothing but the finest care and handling of this gopro and had only shot a 1 minute video the night I got it and a 18 minute video at a house. It hadn't been dropped in the slightest. After that second freeze up, I decided that my 90 minute ongoing call with someone overseas wasn't getting me anywhere and that both my first gopro hero 7 black and my second one, were ridden with all sorts of issues that strongly demonstrate that the camera should never have been available for sale until all of the bugs were worked out.
Summary of problems:
- Lens was tilted out of alignment on both of my hero 7 black cameras. This may just be a cosmetic issue or it could mean that it's not actually waterproof, so beware. I did not get either of mine wet.
- Not sure if the wireless firmware issue has been resolved. 1st one did not work when I tried to update the firmware wirelessly, despite 8 attempts. The second one I did 'manually', which worked.
- The gopro will freeze up for no reason. This happened to me twice within 10 minutes (and with the latest firmware update). The second time it happened, the lcd screen was pixelated (see attached image). This was the last straw. I pulled the battery and memory card out and it went right back to Amazon, again.
- Both hero 7 black gopros got really hot within 10 minutes of being on (not even in record mode).
- The HDR pictures are definitely far from being HDR pictures. Marketing ploy.
- Quik for desktop does not (and will not ever) work with Windows 7- only Windows 10. Seems that Quik for desktop isn't even capable of connecting 'chapters' together, which is the most basic of all things editing.
- The battery must be removed after each use or the battery will drain completely overnight. Even if your gopro is powered off, if the battery is still in, the battery will be dead the next time you go to use it.
- Gopro doesn't provide any video tutorials for using their Quik video editing software. They tell you to go online and try and find tutorials from others using Quik. I did that, and found nothing that explained the details of how to use Quik from the very first use. There are random videos of people using Quik though.
- LCD screen will either turn off in the middle of recording or will dim down considerably.
- The battery drains quickly- even with many of the advanced features turned off.
If only Gopro would have released what they are advertising. It's unfortunate that the Gopro 7 black is seemingly so advanced, yet it's not even usable because of all of the bugs and glitches. I truly wish this would have worked. That's why I had bought it twice.
Think I just got unlike twice? Nope. Go take a look online for any one of the issues I ran into above and you will find a small city of other people that have had the exact same issues. Gopro ought to be doing a recall.
I am now left with 2 choices:
1) Go buy another Hero 3+ Black (like I used to have) or 4 Black and risk the refurbished ones that Gopro is selling (many bad reviews on Amazon about them not working) on Amazon not working properly.
Even if I get lucky and get one that works like my old one, I still need to buy several batteries, another LCD backpack, an external mic and adapter and a nice gimbal. Costs that will exceed $400.
2) Find a gopro alternative that doesn't create a fish-eye video, that has an external mic port, has an LCD screen and get a gimbal along with several batteries.
If you have suggestions on a great camera that fits the description of #2 above, please do leave a comment with your suggestion. I'd be very appreciative.
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