All good stories start a little recklessly. My most recent one, for example, started when a close friend had the "cool" idea to ride bikes from the western border of Vermont to the coast of Portland, Maine. I agreed, of course, without much cycling experience. And instead of training, I decided to focus on what cameras I was going to bring to capture the 270-mile experience. I figured it was going to suck physically anyways, so I might as well come back with some "cool" proof that it actually happened.
When packing, I was told to eliminate the nonessentials — the more gear you bring, the harder the ride becomes. For my cameras, I had one DSLR (Canon 5D Mark III) with two lenses (24-70mm, 100mm) securely packed in the front handlebar bag, and another (Fujifilm X100F) just behind it for easy access. Fifty plus megapixels between them and yet, but I knew something was missing. Those cameras were intended for the après bike riding experience for when I had both my hands and my feet free. I needed something for the ever-fleeting moments while I was on the bike.
Enter the GoPro Hero10 Black ($399). Rugged, capable and easily accessible (with the help of a bike mount), my hope for GoPro's newest action camera was that it would give me the opportunity to document our ride where I otherwise wouldn't feel comfortable doing so — and it lived up to it, mostly.
What's good about GoPro Hero10 Black?
It's GoPro's most capable action camera yet.
GoPro’s latest-and-greatest action camera has a couple marked improvements over its 2020-released predecessor, the Hero9 Black ($349). The new model has a hydrophobic lens cover to shed water and prevent scratches. It has a super-convenient feature that automatically uploads photos and videos while it's charging.
Most importantly, the Hero10 Black has super photo and video capturing abilities thanks to its larger sensor and faster GP2 processor. This enables it to capture higher resolution stills (23MP vs the Hero9 Black's 20MP) and frame grabs (19.6MP vs 14.7MP), as well as more detailed videos; theHero10 Black can record 4k (up to 120fps) and 5K (up to 60fps), while the Hero9 Black maxes out at 4K (up to 120fps) and 5K (30fps).
It makes shooting group selfies a breeze.
This four-day adventure had us traveling on all kinds of precarious terrain: loose gravel, sand and many single-track dirt roads. There was a safe distance run-in with a black bear in New Hampshire, a lot of bugs in the heart Maine and some unseasonably high temperatures, too. Through it all I found the Hero10 was a surprisingly advantageous co-pilot.
I found myself frequently handling the little action camera during some fairly steep descents, or handing it off to my fellow rider mid-climb so they could capture me while I was also struggling to clip in. And, maybe the most useful thing it was that it made short work of those normally awkward group selfies. Its dual LCD screens — one in the front and one in the back — was really helpful making sure that we were all in frame.
Its accessories open up a wide world of capturing capabilities.
As much as I enjoyed the freewheeling nature of my "filmmaking" on the trip, part of the beauty of GoPro is that it works with a lot different accessories. I only had the pole mount, which worked as intended but also just barely fit around my handlebar bag and kind of impeded the vantage point from which I wanted to shoot.
GoPro sells a larger mount which I would recommend for ease of use, but I wouldn’t stop there. There's a chest strap, which GoPro calls a "Chesty ($40)" and a vented helmet strap — both would have been welcome additions to the kit I brought. As much as I enjoyed knowing that it would be hard to break the camera, I knew that my luck with one-handed riding would only last so long.
Storage? You've got options.
The Hero10 Black does provide the ability to offload footage via the brand’s Quik App, but I opted to reserve phone use for emergencies only. Instead, I replaced the 32GB mini SD that comes with the camera with a 128GB SD. Shooting in 4K at 30fps, and with snippets lasting all of thirty seconds, I still had hours left of storage after four days of use.
What are the tradeoffs with the GoPro Hero10 Black?
Photo capture can be limited at times.
The Hero10 Black isn't without limitations, though. The camera's internal lens can only switch between three main settings — wide (16-34mm), linear (19-39mm), and narrow (27mm) — and allows you to shoot in RAW, but only in the wide-angle setting. This led me to do some considerable cropping to eliminate warping around the edges during post-processing. It was a deal-breaker by any means, and there was plenty of resolution to create high-quality images as a second shooter, but it did make me appreciate the larger cameras I also brought with me.
Be prepared to charge it at night.
Shooting in such high resolution and resting it in plain view of 90-degree heat, I was interested to see how that affected battery life while on the bike. Over an eight-hour ride, I used roughly forty percent of the battery. This seemed like a lot for how quickly I was turning the camera off after each use, but its USB-C port allows you to charge it with a power bank so there was never a real issue with running out of juice.
The Hero10 Black merges professional-quality imagery with a user-friendly interface that makes the learning curve for snagging footage almost nonexistent. That’s not to say that you'll master all its cool features (5K resolution, TimeWarp 3.0, Night Lapse, 8x Slo-Mo) right from the get-go, but that’s OK. Like a big bike ride, regardless of your experience level, the best way to get acclimated is to simply start — your GoPro and your legs will help you figure out the rest.