If you like to go skiing regularly, or biking, you might have heard of GoPro, the line of action cameras popular with people who like to film their adventures and stunts, or just capture a record of traffic offences. The cameras are so small and light that you can mount them on your body, or even your head, and use them to produce close-up action videos from your point of view. Social-media sites such as Vimeo and YouTube are filled with thousands of action videos taken using the devices. The GoPro Hero 7 Black is the successor to the Hero 6, which was launched two years ago to great acclaim, and brings a host of improvements, including new technology intended to produce smoother footage.
To test the device under real-world conditions, I shot some video of myself running around the local park in the evening, as well as taking some high-quality footage during a drop-in improvised comedy session held by Sedos, an amateur theatre group. I'm pleased to say that the camera passed both tests with flying colours. Although the improv was held late in the evening in a disused library, the resulting video was well lit, clear and free of excessive shaking, and the device was unobtrusive enough to wear for an hour's worth of continuous recording without getting too uncomfortable. The ability to operate the device by voice command, rather than solely though buttons, also came in very useful.
There are a few tiny niggles. The internal microphone is excellent at picking up nearby sounds, but there is a noticeable fall-off the further away you get from what you're recording. The close focus also means people in the very far distance appear out of focus (although you can zoom in at the expense of image quality). So the camera can't completely substitute for a dedicated camcorder or the video features of a digital camera.
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Like most modern consumer electronics devices, the GoPro is designed to be used with smartphones, so you can upload footage from the device to your phone, or to an account in the cloud. However, this can take quite a long time, so you'd be better off using a USB lead or SD card.
Still, despite its faults, the Hero Black is a lot of fun. And at only £380, it's good value and still ahead of its competitors in the action-cam market.
Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.
He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.
Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.
As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.
Follow Matthew on Twitter: @DrMatthewPartri
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