When talking about cameras, the first brands that come to mind are the traditional big shots like Nikon, Canon, or Sony.
However, lately, GoPro has established their name in the market with a widespread customer-base, mostly among vloggers. They brought to light a novel camera category, focussing on shooting action, which didn’t exist before. They have recently declared the release of their new camera range- the Hero7 series. It consists of 3 powerful cameras, namely GoPro Hero7 Black, Silver, and White. In this article, we will compare two of the siblings- GoPro Hero7 Black vs. Silver, in detail. ,
The Black, Silver, and White are not just the case-color options for the Hero7 line (all three are slight shade variations of grey) but are the model names belonging to the camera series. Hero7 Black is the most expensive and comes with the most number of features, securing the flagship model’s position. Following it is the Silver edition and then White, the simplest and cheapest.
This system of naming was used by GoPro back with the Hero3 line. Although it sounds fun, it isn’t the best nomenclature to understand the advanced technology used in the devices. Therefore, this article aims to deconstruct their features with a detailed comparison of GoPro Hero7 Silver vs. Black. If you are confused between which of the two to choose, you’ve come to the right place.
The short version is that the Hero7 Black is capable of doing everything the Silver can, along with a lot more. It is better and more efficient but also comes along more expensive. The extra features also come with additional complexity. The Hero7 Silver is still quite competent; it is cheaper with fewer features making it easier to use. Here’s an analysis of the key differences and similarities to decide whether you need to shell out for the Black or just the Silver will suffice.
GoPro Hero7 Black vs. Silver – Build And Design
Starting with the physical build of GoPro Hero7 Black vs. Silver, they look pretty much the same from the outside. They are mostly the same in shape with very similar dimensions, and while the Black is a bit heavier, the minor weight difference probably won’t make much of a functional difference to the users. On the top right corner, if you look face-on, both have the lens port and a touchscreen covering most of the camera’s back panel.
Both the cameras are waterproof and do not need a separate underwater housing. They are rated down to 10 meters (33 feet), which is more than the depth required for use during water activities such as snorkeling, swimming, surfing, or kayaking. It is also deep enough for recreational Scuba Diving; however, a separate dive housing would be a safer bet if you plan on using it when diving. In such cases, an important thing to take into consideration is the different dive housings required. The Black needs the GoPro’s Super Suit dive housing, but the newer Protective Housing is compatible with the Silver as it is built specifically for that.
There are some variations in their basic build and design, despite these similarities. To begin with, the Silver says “7 Silver” rather than “7 Black” on the side and is a lighter shade of grey than the Black. It has two microphone ports as compared to the Black, which has three.
The exterior holds more critical differences. The most noticeable is that the Silver doesn’t have the small black and white LCD screen in the camera front, which is present in the Hero7 Black. The screen on the Hero7 Black is useful for simple displays like indicating the battery level, the storage space left on the memory card, and the shooting mode and status. Previous models of GoPro allowed you to interact using the screen and the buttons to alter the settings, which isn’t the case with Hero7 Black. In this version, the screen is purely for status information display purposes.
Another difference worth mentioning is the lens port, which protrudes out on the Black but not as far out on the Silver. This implies that you can’t remove or replace the lens port’s cover on the Silver, but you can on the Black. Another implication of the same is a lot of snap-on lens accessories will not work on the Silver. That is also why a separate dive housing is needed for each- the Protective Housing for the Silver and the Super Suit for the Black.
The differences in the doors of the cameras also have practical implications. The Black has two doors, whereas the Silver has only one. This is because the Silver doesn’t have a separate battery compartment because of which the USB-C port and the SD card slot are next to each other.
There is another notable difference which the eyes might miss out on. The brain of the Black is an in-house developed chip by GoPro itself called the GP1, similar to the one in the Hero6 Black. But, they have improved the clock speed in the new Hero7 Black to help with things like TimeWarp, HyperSmooth video stabilization, and other extra computational demands.
The control systems in GoPro Hero7 Black vs. Silver can be defined as broadly similar. The primary way of accessing the menu system is the touchscreen on the back. Both of the cameras can be controlled through the GoPro mobile app wirelessly and also have voice control. Both use similar shutter buttons on the top to take a photo or start and stop a video or record time-lapse.
But when it comes to more advanced methods of interacting with the camera, they also have key differences.
1) Buttons And Touchscreen
Both cameras in consideration have the same touchscreen system at the back that serves the purpose of the primary way to access the preferences and settings in the menu system and the live view display.
The general look and design of the menu systems are similar in the two models with some tweaks since the Hero6. The changes are an overall improvement- it proves to be easier and clearer to use yet not still perfect. This is because the methods of doing some things differ; for example, some toggle with one-touch while the others require a second step. Another reason is the challenge of fitting a touch menu system into such a small screen. Undoubtedly, the menu system in the Silver is somewhat simplified as a result of fewer features available; still, they remain the same conceptually.
2) Remote Control
As mentioned earlier, both devices can be operated wirelessly using Bluetooth on GoPro’s mobile app.
Talking about dedicated remotes, the Hero7 Black is compatible with Smart Remote, whereas the Silver is not.
3) Voice Control
Both camera models are capable of using voice control for basic commands. Therefore, requirements like switching modes, starting or stopping a video recording, or taking pictures can be achieved through voice commands. But you still can’t change settings using voice commands.
The Black has a feature called Wake on Voice, which means a voice command can be used to turn it on. This isn’t the case with the Silver.
Charging And Battery
Comparing the GoPro Hero7 Black vs. Silver in terms of battery, both use rechargeable lithium-ion batteries rated at 1200 mAh. So similar recording times can be expected if used in the same recording modes. Like the previous GoPros, neither of the two cameras has a stellar battery life- they run for an hour or two of shooting in ideal conditions and considerably less than that is not-so-perfect filming conditions. For example, operating with the mobile app drains power more quickly than manual operation. Even the extra features that come with Black like GPS and Protune, reduce the battery life further.
When it comes to powering up the cameras, there are some key differences. Most significantly, the Black has a removable battery. It is the same one used in the Hero5 and Hero6 Black models. Although the battery can be charged while it is in the camera, you also have the option to keep spares to swap out while shooting outdoors to minimize downtime.
Drawing a contrast, the Silver uses a non-removable internal battery that is built-in. Therefore, the only charging method is directly connecting the camera using a USB-C cable to the power source. Something worth mentioning is that the camera can even record while being connected to a power source via USB-C cable, which helps keep the camera up working for a longer time. This can help scenarios like a time-lapse shoot even so the battery won’t be charging while the recording is going on. The battery charging starts only when the recording stops, yet the camera will still power on. The same is the case with the Hero7 Black as well.
Additionally, both cameras use a USB-C port to charge, but it’s only the Black that can use fast charge and make full use of it ( if the correct type of high-output USB-C charger is used like GoPro’s own SuperCharger).
Another thing to note is that the USB-C port is located slightly different for both models. This means the Silver can’t use any extended batteries for the Hero5/ Hero6/ Hero7 Black models with a rigid connector.
GoPro is a well-established name for video cameras, which means both the cameras can video-shoot with up to 4K quality. But the Silver has video features that are much simpler and have fewer available combinations of resolutions and framerates than those in Black.
1) Video Resolutions, Bitrates, And Framerates
Both the camera models can shoot video at up to 4K resolution. The Silver can max out at 4K30, which is 4K resolution at 30 frames per second. The Black can max out at 4K60, which is 4K resolution at 60 frames per second. It also comes with a larger 4K resolution in a 4:3 aspect ratio (4096 X 3072), which is larger than the standard 4K in the 16:9 aspect ratio (3840 X 3072)in the Silver. Still, the Hero7 Silver giver 4:3 aspect ratio at a lower resolution that is 1440p.
In addition to having more frame rate/resolution combinations for use, the Black can also shoot at very high frame rates, which is particularly useful while shooting for slow motion. The Silver offers the highest framerate of 60 frames per second at 1440p resolution, whereas the Black can take you up to 240 frames per second in 720p, 960p, and 1080p. Therefore Black is a way better option if you are expecting to shoot slow-motion footage.
The measure of the amount of data that the video data is using up is called the bitrate. A higher bitrate means a lesser compression is being applied, which correlates to a higher potential quality (“potential” because it isn’t the only factor affecting the video quality).
Various recording modes use varying bitrates, yet the maximum bitrate available on the Silver is 60 Mb/s (megabits per second), whereas the maximum bitrate on the Black is 78 Mb/s.
2) Video Codecs
Comparing the codecs used in GoPro Hero7 Black vs. Silver, there are some differences in the ones used in compressing the video data. Although, both devices save their files with /mp4 file extension in MP4 containers. The Hero7 Silver uses a very widely compatible codec known as H.264, which has been around for quite some time and works pretty well. The Black can use the same H.264 on most of its video modes; however, it can also use the H.265 codec, the newer and improved version known as HEVC (for high-efficiency video codec). Though it gives better quality with smaller file sizes (therefore less data), still, it isn’t as widely compatible as the H.264 version yet.
There are some benefits of the way the HEVC is applied to the Black. The video modes can be set for HEVC usage always or only when needed (there are a few high-end modes where HEVC is necessary)
Both the cameras allow you to choose between the PAL AND NTSC format. In case of doubt, NTSC can be a safe bet to help you share footage on the web or through social media or even broadcast in North America. PAL would be the right choice for those who have specific requirements for a PAL frame rate or want to play the footage in the UK or Australia on TV. To sum it up, when doubtful, switch to the default NTSC.
There are more frame rates available in the video settings on switching between these modes. For instance, you can choose 60 fps with NTSC, whereas PAL mode will offer the equivalent of 50 fps.
Both cameras in consideration offer in-built electronic stabilization but also have a significant difference. GoPro is shifting towards the in-camera electronic stabilization in the new generation, which is used in the Black called HyperSmooth. On comparing HyperSmooth with standard stabilization that is used in the Silver, the former is much better. The stabilization used in the Silver is called standard stabilization, also used in Hero6 Black, which is pretty good too. Though not perfect or as good as HyperSmooth, it gives smooth and less jerky footage in most shooting scenarios.
5) Protune In Video
GoPro has named the collection of the extended expert features as Protune. It gives the user more control over the shooting and can result in better quality output if appropriately used. The Black offers Protune options for both photo and video shooting, whereas the Silver doesn’t.
As far as taking pictures is concerned, both GoPro Hero7 Black vs. Silver cameras can shoot pictures. The significant differences being, the Silver produces smaller images than the Black (10MP vs. 12MP); the Black has an improved HDR mode, the option to shoot in JPG as well as RAW format, faster burst modes, and produces better-looking photos all in all.
1) RAW And JPG Photo Image Format
With the Hero5 Black, GoPro first introduced the RAW format for still images, which has been carried over to some newer versions. This is based on Adobe’s DNG RAW format that has the file extension .gpr. Shooting in RAW gives you much more of the data seen on the sensor without applying lossy compression, which offers a much better image quality. The catch is that the images need to be processed first before sharing (also, a very few imaging apps apart from Lightroom support it.)
The shooting in the RAW option is available in the Black. It also saves a JPG version simultaneously, so you have a backup if necessary. The Silver can only get you JPG formats for still images but doesn’t offer the option to use RAW.
2) Image Size And Quality
The Silver fabricates slightly smaller 10 MP (10 megapixels) pictures measuring 3648 by 2736 pixels, whereas the Black takes pictures resulting in 12 MP pictures measuring 4000 by 3000 pixels.
In many practical cases, this is not exactly a meaningful difference as both are large enough to make crisp, for example, 8X10 prints and way more significant than what you need for online websites or social media.
3) Protune In Images
The Hero7 Black gives Protune options even while taking pictures, unlike the Silver. These Protune options allow you to have more adequate control over aspects like exposure, ISO, white balance, and shutter speed. You also have options to control the image’s rendering in the camera like sharpness or GoPro color. However, these options do not apply to underlying RAW files but only to JPGs. The options available for Protune in photo mode are almost identical to the ones in Hero6 Black.
Some of the Protune options available in Hero7 Black are GoPro Color Flat mode, Auto and Native modes in White Balance apart from the range of 2300K to 6500K, a shutter speed variation of 1/125 to 1/2000 seconds, ISO range of ISO 100 to ISO 3200, high, medium and low sharpness modes and exposure compensation from -2 to 2.
4) Exposure Control
In both the cameras, the back touchscreen can be used to select the part of the frame on the screen, which will determine the automatic exposure.
5) Burst Mode And Continuous Capture
Burst mode allows you to take a quick series of images of fast-moving objects, which can be very helpful. Both Black and Silver have burst modes. While the Silver is constricted to a single option- 15/1 or 15 frames per second, the Black has many more to offer- Auto, 3/1, 5/1, 10/3, 10/2, 10/1, 30/6, 30/3, 30/2, and 30/1.
Continuous photo or continuous capture is a similar feature that keeps shooting as long as you hold down the shutter button rather than predetermining the number of pictures to be captured. Depending on the conditions of lighting, it can shoot from 3 to 30 photos per second.
6) SuperPhoto Vs. WDR
SuperPhoto is a new, enhanced photo mode included in the Hero7 Black. It tries to create better-looking pictures by using a combination of methods stated further. It analyzes the picture and attempts to use local tone mapping, multi-frame noise reduction, or HDR to improve the capturing process and produce an image that looks better than a direct capture.
The successful working of the SuperPhoto also depends on the details of the scene and is noticed best in shots having a combination of dark shadows and bright highlights. The hero7 Black enables you to set SuperPhoto on either ON, OFF, or AUTO mode.
WDR or Wide Dynamic Range is a feature that helps improve the overall exposure of the image in situations where the background and action are great, but the lighting is less than ideal. It enables the camera to make a natural-looking shot by picking up greater detail in shadows, not blowing out the highlight -all the while- without risking oddities if the scene has some motion (something which can happen in HDR photos).
The Silver automatically uses WDR without an option to turn it off.
However, these processing ways, such as HDR, only work with JPGs and not RAW files.
Comparing GoPro Hero7 Black vs. Silver for time-lapses, both can shoot in time-lapse mode, compiling the video in the camera itself, and then saves it as an MP4 file. The benefit that Black offers is saving individual pictures enabling you to download and process them later on your computer.
When it comes to intervals, the Black gives a broader range of options. It allows you to set the gap to 60, 30, 10, 5, 2, 1, or 0.5 seconds. But the Silver only has the option of 0.5 seconds.
You also have more options in saving the final video in the Black. The Silver saves video as a 4K MP4 file. The Black gives you options to save it as a 1080p, 1440p, 2.7K or a 4K file on top of the option to save the sequence of individual image files shot in Time-lapse Photo mode. It also has some more differences of features not available in the Silver. It has a Time Warp Video mode, which is helpful while the camera is in motion. It also has a NightLapse mode, which is basically timelapse but with longer shutter speeds to allow more light in a related slightly different method of approaching intervals.
Comparing the audio in GoPro Hero7 Silver vs. Black, the Silver has two onboard microphones and records in mono, but the Black contains three onboard microphones and can record in stereo. However, practically speaking, the on-board microphones will always give a mediocre audio quality. If you want the utmost sound quality, a much better option would be to connect an external microphone to the camera. Although, that can not be done in the Silver.
The black even provides a Protune option for audio. You can record separate high-quality audio alongside the video file, which saves as a WAV file with the same name as the corresponding video file.
Other Notable Features
Both the Black and Silver use built-in chips, which enable them to embed the GPS coordinates of the video or photo into the corresponding metadata.
2) GoPro Plus Compatibility
The subscription service that helps you upload videos and photos to the cloud automatically (through the mobile app) is called GoPro Plus. If you have an active subscription, both the cameras can work with it. If you don’t, the photos and videos can automatically be offloaded to the phone, but it won’t go to the cloud.
3) Live Video
A new live streaming feature is introduced in the Black that isn’t present in the Silver. Although it is somewhat restricted in its compatibility and functionality and it has to be used through the mobile app, it is there at your disposal in the Black if you want. Another related feature to note is the HDMI video available in the Black but not the Silver.
4) Karma Drone Compatibility
GoPro abandoned Karma, their external and drone stabilizer effort, but if you continue to use one, the Silver isn’t compatible with it, whereas the Black is.
5) Advanced Metadata
The Black is capable of analyzing the images and doing things like optimizing the face exposures etc. Though not as true a facial recognition as available on many other cameras, it is an additional advanced processing not present on the Silver.
Which One To Go For?
This question has no one-size-fits-all answer; it varies from person to person according to their photography needs and preferences.
By and large, the Black looks like a better camera in most aspects except for the higher price than Silver. For many users, finding the balance between price and a reasonable compromise of features is most important, whereas some like to go all in. There are some features in Black which might not be of use to you, so it is necessary to weigh the not-so-used features and the price you are paying for it.
Here is a situation-wise assessment of GoPro Hero7 Silver vs. Black.
1) If You Are Ready To Spend On The Best
Go for the Black. It is capable of doing everything the Silver can and a lot more. You get better control over settings with Protune options, RAW image processing, higher bitrate recording, and can produce higher-quality output.
2) If You Prefer Simplicity
Go for the Silver. It has fewer options to choose from, so you don’t get confused. However, the Black also offers the default auto settings, which aren’t any more difficult to operate; it just has the scope of messing up if you try to experiment with the settings without prior knowledge.
3) A Simple Old Travel Camera
Both the devices get behind most of the criteria list for a travel camera. However, the Black does have an edge over the Silver because of some features like higher-quality picture modes, the convenience of swapping out spare batteries, etc. Still, there isn’t an exact feature that makes it a slam dunk.
4) If Slo-Mo Is Your Go-To
Go for the Black. It has much better features required for the same as compared to the Silver
5) If Time-Lapse Is Your Go-To
Go for the Black. Again Black has better features to shoot in time-lapse as compared to the Silver.
6) If Your Priority Is The Sound Quality
Go for the Black. It has one extra onboard microphone over Silver and records in stereo as opposed to mono in Silver. However, as the onboard microphones aren’t the best option for excellent audio quality, Black also accepts external microphones, unlike the Silver.
7) If You’ll Shoot A Lot Of Still Images
Go for the Black. It allows to shoot in RAW, produces slightly larger pictures, and has the SuperPhoto feature to create better quality JPGs directly out of the camera. However, if your priority is shooting still photos over video-footage, you might consider a few best DSLR cameras because these have better features for taking pictures.