Go Pro Hero 8: This new action camera is a boater’s best friend

Whether you love watersports or cruising, there are many reasons why the new GoPro Hero 8 could quickly become your most treasured piece of onboard kit

Action cameras are tailor-made for boat use. Small, tough and waterproof, they’ll take the knocks and dousing of life aboard anything from a kayak to a superyacht in a way that no other camera can. And modern ones are as adept at taking still photos as video, giving all the on board visual capture you’ll ever need.

Traditionally, GoPro ruled the roost. Its first action camera, the Hero, launched in 2004 and was immediately the darling of the sports and action community, offering the ability to capture footage in the most extreme conditions.

Since then it’s been the subject of regular and rigorous updates through seven iterations to successfully keep it ahead of the competition right up until this year, when DJI launched its Osmo Action in direct competition. We reviewed the Osmo last year, concluding that it finally wrested the action cam crown from GoPro. The last line of the review read ‘your move, GoPro’.

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Latest Hero 8 is totally waterproof even without its optional casing

Well, they’ve taken it, welcome to the GoPro 8. Stills photography has been improved, it still takes 12mb images, a similar size to a good SLR, but the HDR has improved (the ability to include a wider range of light conditions without over or under exposure).

There’s also a LiveBurst mode that allows you to take 90 photos in very quick succession and choose your favourite. But what’s clever is that the photos are captured for 1.5 seconds after hitting the button, and 1.5 seconds before!

But of course it is video where the big gains are to be found. The front mounted microphone (one of three) is repositioned to reduce wind noise and there are four rather than the previous three perspectives from super wide to close up. There are customisable on-screen shortcuts to regularly used features rather than having to delve into the menus each time.

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And stabilisation (the ability to reduce ‘shake’ in your videos caused by a rough sea or potholed road for example) is also improved via HyperSmooth 2.0. Timewarp 2.0 has the ability to take super-smooth time-lapse footage, but unlike before, you can now speed it up or slow it down whilst it’s recording.

Finally, it’s changed shape slightly. The last three models were all built into identical housings. The biggest difference is that you no longer need to install it in a case to mount it; the mount is built in, two lugs hinge from the bottom of the unit when needed.

Now the (optional) case allows you to add accessories not previously available, such as an external built-in mic, a forward-facing screen allowing you to frame yourself in shot (ideal for vlogging), plug in an external remote mic via a 3.5mm jack and even add a light. The new lens is said to be twice as tough as before (good news as, unlike the previous version, you can’t easily replace it).

Prices start from £379.99.