Action cameras have come a long way since GoPro brought its first model to market way back in 2004 – did you know the first GoPro used 35mm film? Fast forward to 2019 and the market is packed with endless options to suit all budgets, but GoPro are still leading the charge with the Hero7 Black, which is the current flagship model.
However, Sony have a brilliant camera to offer too – the RX0 II is the second incarnation of its tiny rugged action camera that brings serious video specifications to photographers. So which model should you spend your money on? Well, to help you make a decision, we’ve drilled down into the specification sheets to see which camera comes out on top for various features….
Design and build:
Both cameras are geared towards action photography so, as you’d expect, the dimensions are impressively compact. The GoPro Hero7 Black weighs just 116g and measures just 62.3mm wide and 44.9mm tall. To put that into perspective, a standard paperclip stands 33mm tall so it’s a given that the GoPro Hero7 Black won’t take up too much room in your gear bag. At the front is the lens, which features a replaceable lens cover, along with a LCD status screen, so that if you are Vlogging for example, users can see mode and battery life information. At the side are a microphone and covered ports for USB-C and HDMI, while at the rear there is a 2-inch touch-sensitive LCD. Inside the GoPro Hero7 Black is a 1-inch CMOS sensor that serves up 12-megapixels of resolution.
So how does the Sony RX0 II compare, well the Sony uses a 1-inch stacked Exmor RS CMOS sensor that serves up slightly more resolution – 15.3-megapixels to be exact. The waterproof body measures 59mm wide and 40mm tall, though it is a little deeper than the GoPro at 35mm and this is mainly due to a clever flip-out screen that folds up 180-degrees to be ‘selfie-friendly’ – this will be of major interest to Vloggers who want to make sure they are in frame when presenting to the camera. Another of the big selling points of the RX0 II is that multiple units can be linked up to make for some creating footage that will add high production values when edited together. The RX0 II weighs 132g (with battery and media) and, like the GoPro, stills and video are recorded to a Micro SD card.
The Sony uses a ZEISS Tessar T Lens, which has a 7.9mm focal length that translates to 24mm in 35mm equivalent. The GoPro Hero7 Black can shoot at 24mm or offer a wider 15mm angle of view. As mentioned, both the GoPro and the Sony are suitable to extreme sports and harsh conditions as they are water, dust and crushproof, so users should feel reassured that both cameras could be packed in your gear bag when travelling and they’re sure to come home in one piece.
Both cameras are known for producing amazing video, but let’s talk about stills features for a moment first. The Sony RX0 II can capture JPEG and RAW stills with a maximum image size of 4800×3200 pixels. Obviously this won’t match the resolution of a big-megapixel camera like the Sony a7RIII, but it should be decent enough for produce prints between A4 and A3 in size. Picture effects including Pop Color, Posterization, Retro Photo, Soft High-key, Partial Color, High Contrast Mono, Soft Focus, HDR Painting, Richtone Monochrome and Miniature and be added to help photographers get creative in-camera, while the RX0 II is also pretty damn speedy, offering a maximum burst mode of 16 Frames Per Second. The stills ISO range on the RX0 II is impressive, stretching from ISO 125 and topping out at the expanded ISO 25600.
The GoPro Hero7 Black, which features Face, Smile + Scene Detection, also boasts a 30 Frames Per Second burst mode and also offers JPEG and RAW file format stills images. Those wishing to capture some night time photography can take advantage of the Night and Night Lapse modes which will enable a shutter speed up to 30 seconds long, enabling users to capture motion and create star trails composites. The GoPro Hero7 Black also offers an HDR mode to make more of the shadows and highlights in the scene, which can come in handy when confronted with tricky, high-contrast lighting situations.
This is perhaps the most important area for both of these action cameras and videographers will find much to love from each model. The GoPro Hero7 Black can shoot ultra high-quality 4K video (3840×2160) up to 60p, which means this footage can also be used at half speed for a slow motion effect. Along with 2.7K at 60p, 1440p footage can be captured at 120p for epic slow motion sequences or you can use the Full HD 240p mode to give you 8x slow motion of you catching a wave, or hitting a ramp on your snowboard for example.
Also including on the Hero7 Black is a new HyperSmooth mode that aims to stabilise your footage and is made possible thanks to the GoPro’s 3-axis electronic stabilisation feature. The TimeWarp feature, which captures stabilised time lapse video will also help you increase the production value of your footage. While it can’t quite match the 60p frame rate, the Sony RX0 II can capture internal 4K video (3840×2160) up to 30p with full pixel readout and no pixel binning, and if the filming is part of a bigger production, you can use the Clean HDMI output to monitor and record uncompressed video to an external recorder. The RX0 II does strike back when it comes to high frame rates, offering a top frame rate of 1000FPS, which will give you an insane level of slow motion footage previously unavailable to Vloggers – plus, the Eye AF technology will make a big difference when filming people in your footage.
Additional features and verdict:
Both of these cameras represent the very best of what the action camera market has to offer at present and users will be able to get amazing stills and video footage from either model. The GoPro Hero7 Black is the more established camera, and many photographers will be swayed by the Voice Activation feature that will start recording on demand.
Meanwhile other photographers may be swayed by the extensive range of accessories that accompany the Sony RX0 II – for example, the unit is compatible with Sony VCTS-GR1 – a neat gadget with integrated controls that enables users to trip the shutter release, along with turning into a tabletop mini-tripod, too. The GoPro Hero7 Black features GPS and can be used for live streaming, while the RX0 II features Sony’s S-Log2 profile, giving you more tolerance when editing footage and also features MF Assist and Peaking features to help capture precise focus.
Both cameras are dripping with technology and features and would find a perfect home in the kit bag of any photographer who wants to capture stills and video on the move without being weighed down by the dimension of a bigger camera.