Review: GoPro Mods

What seems a lifetime ago, (has your sense of time got warped over the last 12 months? Mine seems to have.) GoPro announced a series of “mods” for the, then, GoPro 8 Hero Black.

But we (or anyone else it seems) never saw them.

Then of course the GoPro 9 Hero Black was released – but still, none of these elusive mods seemed to actually exist in the wild.

Well folks, I am happy to be able to tell you they are not a myth, as finally, on my desk in front off me are the Media, Light, Lens and Display mods as well as a new dual battery charger.

So, what are they?

In short, they are add-on / enhancement tools for the GoPro action camera, mostly aimed at the new-ish GoPro 9 Hero Black , and cover the areas of audio, power, light, streaming and display on the hardware side, and stabilisation, frame rates, resolution, wide shooting and horizon lock on the software / firmware side.

Let’s look at them one-by-one.

Media Mod

media modObviously, everyone will have different ideas, but I consider the Media Mod is probably the most important of the releases for the areas I get involved with when using my GoPro 9 Hero Black.

The Media Mod is the familiar external “shell enclosure” that has been around the GoPro ecosphere since year dot, but as against being a simple avenue to allow the camera to be mounted, the Media Mod shell also contains a built-in bi-directional mic complete with wind suppression. Additionally, there is an external 3.5mm mic port for additional mics, a much-needed HDMI out port, USB port and two – yes two – cold shoe mounts for external mic, light or LCD screen.

Whilst the Media Mod is weather-proof, it is NOT waterproof however. It is suitable for either the GoPro 8 or 9.

The cost of the Media Mod is AUD$129.95

Light Mod

light modRegular readers will remember me waxing lyrical over the GoPro Zeus Mini in June last year? I think I can safely say that it has become an important part of my regularly used camera gear since then and goes just about everywhere with me.

With the Light Mod, GoPro has separated the light part of the Zeus Mini from the mount section and added a cold shoe to it allowing it to be used on either the Media Mod with the GoPro or separately mounted.

You get 4 levels of brightness up to 200 lumens, waterproofing to 10 metres and a built-in rechargeable battery good for 6 hours according to GoPro. The “mount part” of the Zeus Mini is included (called a “2 finger adaptor), complete with magnetic base, and a light diffuser is also in the box along with a USB-C charging cable.

The Light Mod is AUD$84.95

Display Mod

display modThe Display Mod is an external 2 inch (~5cm) flip up screen sporting a cold shoe mount for mounting to the Media Mod enclosure. Connectivity to the Media Mod is via a mini-HDMI cable. Power is supplied via a rechargeable battery.

With the Display Mod, this turns the GoPro 8 or 9 into an ideal vlogging camera. It costs AUD$129.95.

Max Lens Mod

Lens modOnly available for the GoPro 9 Hero Black , the Max Lens Mod is a replacement lens, added to the Hero 9 by unscrewing the original lens, and replacing it with the Lens Mod unit. (This option to remove the lens was removed from earlier models of the GoPro but makes a welcome return in the HERO 9).

Once added to the camera body, the Max HyperSmooth functionality allows video stabilization at resolutions and frame rates up to 2.7K60, ultra-wide 155°.  Max SuperView—the widest perspective ever on a HERO camera—and an horizon lock keeps the horizon perfectly level even if your camera rotates a full 360° while recording. Max Lens Mod also enables ultra-smooth Max TimeWarp video and ultra-wide Max SuperView photos.

The Lens Mod is waterproof to 5 metres and costs AUD$159.95.

Dual Battery Charger

dualbattery chargerSupplied with a single spare battery, the Dual Battery Charger option is I think, an almost must have if you are a serious GoPro-er. You can charge two batteries at the same time and the charging is optimised to get a fresh battery with full charge as soon as possible. If you get the optional GoPro Supercharger (AUD$79.95) instead of using a standard USB port, charging is faster still.

The Dual Battery Charger with Spare Battery is AUD$89.95.

Comment

Of course, when looking at adding these mods if you also own a GoPro 9, then they greatly expand the capability of the camera. However, if you are starting from scratch and buy a new GoPro Hero 9 (AUD$599) and also each of the Mods mentioned above, then the total bill of around $1,100 has to be weighed up against something along the lines of the Panasonic LUMIX G7, Nikon D3500 or similar.

In other words, think carefully about just what the camera will be used for before shelling out. If “action” cam capabilities are intended, then it becomes a no-brainer.

But if you simply want an allrounder camera for landscape shooting, family shots, sport and so on, a mirrorless model similar to those mentioned might be a better bet in the long run.

For me, I think these are fantastic add-ons, especially as said, the Media Mod. In terms of Vlogging, streaming or meetings using Zoom or Teams, the ability to get a clean HMDI signal out via the Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro is a huge bonus, further enhancing the GoPro 9s potential and usage.

More info is available at www.gopro.com and we’ll be giving the Mods full field tests soon.

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