GoPro MAX 2019 Review | How is GoPro MAX better than GoPro Fusion?

This is the GoPro MAX and this is the second consumer-level attempt by GoPro, in the 360 camera segment. Last year, Insta360 came out with the One X, and the concept of what a 360 camera could be used for was completely revolutionized. The footage shot was stitched in-camera with the One X, and then you were able to edit it right on your phone and upload it almost instantly to social platforms.

Second, they sell it not as a 360-degree camera, but as a camera capable of shooting 360-degree angles.
So quick a year forward and we've got the GoPro Max, the successor to the GoPro Fusion which came out in 2017, that was filled with all of the headaches of 360's past. Two memory cards were required. The video had to be stitched on a desktop However with the Max they overhauled all that, and in effect, they made a fully accessible 360 camera which makes me believe that I could actually continue to use this stuff.

The GoPro MAX has dual 180-degree lenses shooting 16.6-megapixel, 360-degree photos, 5.5-megapixel single lens, or GoPro is calling pictures from Max SuperView, and the super cool 6.2-megapixel panoramic pictures called PowerPanos.

Hero mode

Video-wise, like the Insta360, you've got 1440p60 with a single lens and 5.6K30 spherical video. On all but one hand, there are mics and it displays the same super satisfying rubber buttons as the Hero8. You have these new stabilizable mounting prongs on the bottom, which, alas, you don't need the housing anymore, which I always manage to forget anyway, and it also makes it compatible with all GoPro mounts

The Max touchscreen is slightly smaller than the Hero's back touchscreen, but its menu system is the same. If you're vlogging or taking a selfie, the big plus here is that you can see yourself as if you were on the DJI Osmo Action because there are lenses on both sides. The Max is up to 16 feet waterproof. But at this point, the proof is merely for security.GoPro admits that stitching underwater footage is really hard, but in the future, they expect some kind of waterproof housing.

Max HyperSmooth

The screen is super responsive, but you can't scroll around your frame in 360 mode since the screen has swiping gestures such as swiping down to reach the main menu. You can, however, switch between lenses
but only while not recording. Once you hit that record button, the screen has no functionality other than just being a viewfinder to the lens that you chose before rolling. The image on the screen will, however, stay level
with the horizon no matter which way you turn the camera. And it does so with almost no noticeable lag.

If you lean into that warped, super fisheye look that only a 360 camera could give you, the footage is sick.
Skin tones are true to life and it's not afraid to overexpose the highlights of it. I prefer this to the flatter color grade of the One X, especially for users who won't be color correcting. And how even if you are color correcting, I find that Max and the One X have very little latitude in the coloring process. Now, if you're only gonna be showing these photos on social platforms that you're gonna look at on a phone, who cares, but for a camera that costs $500, I hope it's going a little further than that Max's 360° video is stabilized in software. It bobs up and down as you'd expect from walking and it can be really jittery, especially at night. The stitching is most noticeable at the top and the bottom of the frame. And since most of GoPro's mounts typically have a wider base than the camera itself, there's almost always a bit of artifact from the mount
in the footage.

Max Time (and space) Warp

Over-all though, once you export the 360-degree footage, the stitch is pretty clean. The audio, however, is probably the best I've seen on a camera this size. The wind reduction can add a lot of compressions, and enough wind can sound like, well this. Guys, when I say it's windy out, it's like actually very windy out. I am about to blow over. This might make some really good footage as I fly away. But when you're not in 25-mile an hour wind, it actually reduces the sound of wind while prioritizing voices. So while hiking with Alex, I love that the GoPro picked up on the crickets and footsteps, while also keeping our voices at the forefront
no matter where the camera was in space. And then there are those PowerPano photos. I gotta be honest guys, I had a tough time not showing you these photos before this video dropped. I mean first and foremost,
they make taking a panoramic photo a lot easier. And you don't have to stand there and slowly and robotically move your phone across the landscape.

I was really surprised at how crisp these photos turned out to. Even on a desktop, they still look really cool. The time warp feature in 360 mode, which is when Max just records the time-lapse, It is really cool, but it's a total battery killer. I saw my battery drop 15% off a fresh charge while shooting this time warp. And I let it record for all of 10 minutes. I think it would help if the screen would go off a bit sooner while shooting these to save some battery. Otherwise, the battery performance is on par with the Hero8.

Power Pano

Even though it is a different battery. So yes, you will need to buy extra spares if you plan on heavy use.
I was able to get through a full day of heavy use using two of these batteries. 360 cameras are only accessible though if you can do something with the footage. So the software has to be sound, and GoPro's app makes it really easy to edit this footage. Max uses the same GoPro app as the Heroes. Now, I'm no stranger to keyframes, but I think even a casual non-video director from the could edit Max's 360 footage. And I actually enjoyed editing it on the app. GoPro also has a 360 desktop app called GoPro Player, which mirrors the mobile app experience with added codec options at export.

You have H.264, ProRes, HUVC, and as far as 360 editing goes, I was blown away by its ease. Okay, so there's this whole other mode on the Max called Hero mode. And it's basically just when the camera's using one lens as opposed to two. It has more mic controls and it even boasts GoPro's most stable video called Max HyperSmooth. And it also has the widest field of view called Max SuperView.

Max SuperView

 But I gotta be honest, while it does sound good and the footage is stable, the fact that it maxes out at 1440p60 is noticeable. Especially in how much smoothing is being done when the subject is close to the camera. I also noticed the camera struggled to keep the footage level with the horizon, choosing to instead focus on keeping the footage stable. So when climbing down this trail, which to be fair, is a slanted surface, the horizon kept tilting further and further from level to almost a dizzying point. GoPro has become a household name. I mean they're specced out, durable, tiny, portable beasts of cameras. And Max is no different. And while Max has great features such as PowerPano, it also has great hardware and a really good touch screen.

But for me, it came down to the ease of use of the app that made me wanna keep using this thing. 360 footage used to mean high-end equipment and tons of headaches and post, and that always pushed me away from using it. But when you put all of that into the form factor of a GoPro, a workflow I've been using for years, it's way more approachable. Now, is all of that enough to make this thing more than a novelty camera that will ultimately end up in my forgotten type bed in my basement? Time will truly tell. But it is the most fun and user-friendly 360 camera you may have used. And I'm excited to see this thing as specced out.
4K Hero mode?

All right, so for 499$, you can pre-order a Max today. They start shipping on October 24th and will be on  shelves October 27th.

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