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Which GoPro should you buy?

All GoPro cameras are not created equal. Here's a breakdown of each of the company's models -- new and old -- to select the right one for your needs.

Sarah Tew/CNET

GoPro's current camera lineup stands at three: the Hero7 White, Hero7 Silver and Hero7 Black. The new models mark a return to the company offering "good, better, best" options to help clear up confusion going forward.  

When the new cameras launched in September 2018, GoPro stopped selling all of its other cameras to give potential buyers a not-so-gentle shove toward the Hero7 lineup. However, just because GoPro isn't selling the old cameras anymore doesn't mean you can't find them elsewhere. 

What that means is that along with the new models, you can still get the old ones at some really good prices (especially as we head full-tilt into holiday shopping sales). To that end, I've detailed the basic changes from model to model below so you can figure out just which one is right for your needs.

Disclaimer: CNET may get a share of revenue from the sale of the products featured here.

Hero7 Black

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The best GoPro you can buy right now is the Hero7 Black and it's worth its premium price of $399, £399 and AU$499. It has all the features of its predecessor, the Hero6 Black ($340 at Walmart), but adds things to make it better for social networks. Those include vertical shooting for photos and videos, livestreaming straight from the camera, clip length limits of 15 or 30 seconds and a self-timer for photos.   

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Its touchscreen controls were overhauled, too, so it's easier to use than past models. But the big new addition is stellar image stabilization that smoothes out camera shake and vibration without making it look unnatural. 

The Hero7 Black is the only one in the current line I'm giving a full recommendation to at the moment. While I haven't tested the midrange Hero7 Silver and entry-level Hero7 White, their feature sets pale in comparison to the Black (here's a full comparison chart) and the discontinued models (covered below) offer better features for the money. Read my hands-on first take on the Hero7 Black

Recommended for: If you need all the bells and whistles and don't mind paying for them. Also, as the flagship camera, it is the most future-proof option. 

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Disco'd GoPros

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Again, though GoPro isn't selling its older discontinued models on its site, you can still find them elsewhere. As I mentioned above, I would skip the Hero7 Silver and White cameras in favor of paying a bit more for the Hero5 Black ($219 at Amazon) or Hero6 Black models. Or if you prefer the cube design of the Session, both the entry-level and Hero5 versions are still around at good prices and if you have a Hot Wheels fan at home, you'll want to grab one before they're gone for good. 

Hero6 Black

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In terms of video and photo quality, the Hero6 Black is only a slight step down from the Hero7 Black. You can still record at 4K 2,160-pixel resolution clips at 60 frames per second, which can give fast action a smoother look. And if you're into slow-motion clips, you can record in 2.7K at 120fps and 1,080p at 240fps. The biggest difference in quality is the electronic image stabilization, which is good, but not as good as the Hero7's. 

The Hero6 is currently $50 to $60 less than the Hero7, which is a nice bit of savings. While you do get some potentially useful extras like livestreaming, vertical video and motion time-lapse video in addition to the improved stabilization, it might be better for you to put the savings toward extra batteries. 

Recommended for: When you want excellent photo and video quality, but maybe don't want the $400 price tag to get it. 

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Hero5 Session

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The Hero5 Session's design is essentially unchanged from the original (scroll down to read about that one). It's waterproof. It turns on and records with a single button press. And its battery is still built in. If it weren't for the branding and a USB-C port for faster charging and transferring content, you couldn't easily tell them apart. What's inside and its recording capabilities are completely different, though. 

Originally priced at $300, AU$460 and £300, it's now only $175, AU$299 and £199 and can record video at up to 4K resolution at 30fps and 1080p at 90fps and video and photo quality is much better as well. It has electronic image stabilization and lens distortion correction and GoPro added voice controls for starting and stopping recordings, snapping photos, changing modes and even tagging highlights in your clips. Read the full GoPro Hero5 review

Recommended for: For those who liked the small size of the original Session, but wished it could do more and don't mind paying a little extra for it. 

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Hero5 Black

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The Hero5 Black might be a couple of years old, but it still has features the new Hero7 White doesn't and sells for only $20 to $50 more at the moment. It even tops the Hero7 Silver by offering a front display and removable battery. 

Basically it has all the features of the Hero5 Session, including the waterproof body, but also gets you a removable/replaceable battery and a built-in touchscreen along with more shooting options including 4K at 30fps and 120fps at 1080p for slow motion as well as raw and wide-dynamic-range photos, a Micro-HDMI output and GPS for adding data overlays to your videos. Read the full GoPro Hero5 Black review

Recommended for: Anyone who appreciates a good deal and doesn't need the latest and greatest. 

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Hero (2018)

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GoPro

GoPro introduced the entry-level 2018 Hero in March for $199 (£199, AU$299). In hindsight, it seems it was a stopgap until the Hero7 White was announced at the same price. The thing is, the Hero is -- again -- a better deal than the White in both features and price now. The shooting options are essentially identical between the two models, however the Hero has a front display and a removable battery. Plus, it turns out that it might just be a crippled Hero5 Black and can potentially be "upgraded" to that camera's features. 

Recommended for: If you were considering the Hero7 White, get this instead as long as the price is below $200. 

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Hero Session

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When it launched in July 2015, the Session was the smallest, lightest GoPro to date. It was also the first GoPro to be entirely waterproof to 33 feet (10 meters), so there was no need for a polycarbonate housing. Originally $400, it costs just $150 (£150, AU$220) at the moment. 

Its video recording capabilities top out at 1,920x1,440 pixels at 30fps, though it's more likely you'll be using its 1080p at 60fps or 720p at 100fps settings. The battery is nonremovable and, with just a sliver of a screen and two buttons, changing its settings without connecting to a phone or GoPro's wireless remote requires a lot of patience.

Recommended for: The Session is the point-and-shoot, grab-and-go model. It's perfect for mounting somewhere other cameras just won't fit. I've even seen people skip using a mount all together and just put it between their teeth. Read the full review of the GoPro Hero Session.

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First published July 29, 2015.
Update June 3, 2017, 5 a.m. PT: Adds the Session and Hero5 cameras.
Update Nov. 12, 2018, 5 a.m. PT: Adds Hero7, Hero6 Black and Hero (2018) cameras.