GoPro MAX Big Test Results Snow, Bike, Ocean

snow action team 10.11.2020

Our GoPro MAX ‘Big Test’ results are in.

Three months hard charging on snow and MTBs from our top tester Steve ‘Crazy’ Leeder, plus some early winter snorkelling at our South Coast office, gave us a very thorough appreciation of the mighty MAX’s capabilities.

GoPro MAX Test 360 view shows how you can take out the need for a stills photographer
Who needs a separate stills photographer with MAX 360? Flipping above Blue Lake © Steve Leeder

Steve summed it up when he had to hand the test model back.

“Since I had to return this GoPro MAX and go back to my HERO 4 I have really noticed just how much the MAX could do. My videos pretty much suck now.. I can’t wait until I can figure out how to afford to get a new GoPro MAX for myself!”

Taking videos and photos of myself has been an ongoing evolution. And so has the evolution of the trusty GoPro. I have had the original Hero, the Hero 4 and I’ve even used  a few other action sports cameras. But I always go back to GoPro. They just do it right, and the new GoPro MAX 360 is definitely no difference there.

I have spent most of the season taking clips on the chest mount and with my new ‘3rd person’ frame mount that I made, and now probably one of my fave mounts, the Bite Mouth Mount.

The GoPro MAX is pretty much the most versatile camera on the planet. 

They call it 3 cameras in 1. The amount of playing around with the 360 footage just for a single photo is crazy and almost unfathomable how many options there are for a video. I’m still playing with some clips to get some angles right.

You can run in “normal” Hero mode or you can shoot in 360. 

I found shooting in Hero was great for if I had the camera set in a stationary position, so the footage wasn’t heaps warped when I got close to the camera.

But pretty much all the rest of the time I liked the 360 angles.

Even on the chest mount I got a lot of really cool shots. Just being able to change the angle to be a bit more focused on my skis or the sky, or looking sideways at the photographer.

I switched between HERO and 360 mode a bunch when using the mouth and chest mounts just to see what it was like.

In HERO mode there is a pretty epic feature of in-camera horizon levelling, which basically means that you really feel like you are there skiing with me down the slope. And you’re not getting motion sick while you watch it! The footage is SO smooth and you can focus on the horizon the whole time as if you were there yourself.

I think as a follow cam the MAX is so much better than a HERO. 

I have never been able to get a follow cam clip very good with the Hero, as I couldn’t keep the rider in the frame. 

Now I can tweak the clip as the rider speeds up or if the trails goes weird.

With MAX Super View you also have a wider view than previous cameras. So already you have way more chance of keeping people in the field of view.

The coolest thing is that if you have the camera on your head and you are in the middle of a train you can switch from filming the guy in front to the guy behind.  You can even angle the footage to be looking at you. 


Getting a 'drone view' on the GoPro MAX snow test
No need to own a drone for a drone view – extender arm shot © Steve Maxwell

Or what about adding a drone shot to your GoPro MAX clips?

Well we have been using a telescopic pole that goes up to 270cms and it honestly looks like a drone flying around our heads. 

The last chance I got to use a HERO 8 I kinda thought that the HYPERSMOOTH made things a bit too smooth. I mean the idea of riding down a trail or skiing a run with someone you kind of want to get a feel for how rad the trail or run is but in Hypersmooth it all seemed like a mellow flat trail, even on a steep rock garden.  The MAX has stabilization built into it as well, but not quite so extreme. I feel it gives you a bit more of a real idea of the trail or the slope.

When I get back to the editing bay I normally always wonder what the shot or clip would look like if it was just a bit over there, or up or down. But with the MAX I already have ALL those angles and a million more.

Shooting with a long arm you can literally put together a clip that looks like you had a bunch of different cameras set up to catch the action.

You can have fun playing with the stills © Steve Maxwell

I have always been hopeless about editing clips. Even with a normal Hero I seem to just let the app make a clip up for me and sometimes tweak it just a little bit. So the idea of editing a 360 clip really freaked me out. I had no idea where to start, but the GoPRO VR player app actually makes it pretty easy, with the help of a few YouTube videos as well. 

The more that you play with the app the more things that you figure out right away and you can get so creative with your clips.  

One thing I was disappointed with was how fast I chewed through the MAX battery. I definitely need to have a second battery even for day trips when I want to capture all the runs and a bunch of other stuff.

I do like the handy feature that the camera will always turn off automatically after a set amount of time. Make sure that you remember to set it to much shorter time than the 15mins from the factory, that’s way too long.

After talking to a few different photographers and filmers the concensus about the battery seems to be that charging in the camera is not ideal. A better option is to use a seperate external battery charger. This way you can charge your second battery at the same time as well.

How tough is the GoPro MAX?

I had a few teething problems with the homemade ‘3rd Person’ mount, first shaking the MAX off the mount on an icy traverse, then losing it after hitting the deck on a big slide on the main run down Mt Perisher. Mighty MAX just kept on filming as a lovely good samaritan lady rode by and picked it up, shooting an anonymous selfie before giving it back to us at the bottom of the run. Thankyou ma’am! And thanks GoPro for making them durable. Drilling some more screws into the mount fixed that problem. It has survived plenty of stacks since too, including this little front on one..

Steve’s GoPro MAX test verdict

Since I had to return this GoPro MAX and go back to my HERO 4 I have really noticed just how much the MAX could do. My videos pretty much suck now and I can’t wait until I can figure out how to afford to get a new GoPro MAX for myself!

Snorkelling is more fun with GoPro MAX, especially the 'submarine sonar' sound from the 6 microphones built in
Not bad for July 1st no wettie at the south coast.. © Owain Price

Submarine sounds: underwater with GoPro MAX

Before leaving the MAX with Steve at the snow for the season I got to take it out snorkelling a couple of times from our south coast NSW office base. The water was getting a tad fresh at the start of July, but the MAX makes amazing underwater videos and stills.

The MAX’s amazing 6 mic surround sound really comes into its own underwater too. Things ping like the sonar in Red October as the nuclear subs chase each other around. If I ever get close enough to our local dolphins (who often come in one wave out from the main beach break when you’re surfing it) I’ll be recording their chat sessions.

For the water, above or below the surface, The Handler floating mount is the very handy way to enjoy it all.

As soon as summer sets in we’ll knock over this shot too, meantime here’s GoPro’s version.. © GoPro

The only problem I had was not making sure the included bubble lens covers were 100% sealed before swimming out. Always check that first at home in a sink of water (or at the beach) and dry them and retry it till you know you have it set up perfect – so you don’t get water bubbles inside wrecking your best shots and clips.

The MAX is waterproof to 5m / 16′.

GoPro MAX specs

Key Features: Traditional GoPro HERO Capture + 360 Capture | Max HyperSmooth Video Stabilization | Horizon Leveling | PowerPano | Premium 360 + Stereo Audio | Directional Audio | Digital Lenses | Max TimeWarp | Intuitive Touch Screen | Touch Zoom | 1080p Live Streaming | Voice Control | In-Camera Stitching of 360 Footage | Reframe (with the GoPro App) | Compact Design with Built-In Folding Fingers | On-Screen Shortcuts | Portrait Orientation | Photo Timer | Short Clips | Rugged + Waterproof to 16ft (5m) | Protune (Photo, Video, and TimeWarp) | 2x Slo-Mo | Advanced Metadata (HERO Mode Only) | GP1 Chip | Removeable Battery (1600mAH Lithium-Ion)

Audio Features: advanced Wind-Noise Reduction with 6-Mic Processing | Premium Performance Stereo Audio

Connectivity: Wi-Fi + Bluetooth® | GPS Enabled | Connects to GoPro App | Auto Offload to Phone | Auto Upload to the Cloud with GoPro PLUS Subscription | USB-C Port

Camera modes/specs video: 360 Video: 6K Source / 5.6K Stitched, 3K Source / Stitched; HERO Video: 1440p, 1080p

Photo: Spherical Photos, HERO Photo, PowerPano, Additional Photo Settings

Time Lapse: 360 TimeWarp, HERO TimeWarp, 360 Time Lapse Video, 360 Time Lapse Photo, HERO Time Lapse Video, HERO Time Lapse Photo

Best buy

The package A$659.95 includes1-year subscription to GoPro or A$799.95 without subscription

Subscribing to GoPro gets you:

  •  Unlimited cloud storage
  •  Total camera replacement2
  •  Up to 50% off at GoPro.com3

64GB SD card + Camera Case included – details/purchase on the link

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Spending today trying to do some of my other jobs but I have decided to play with the @gopro editing software and the 360 footage. Now that I’ve started to figure it out it’s going way better. Now to play with putting more clips together. Can’t wait to get out to the crags again next week and see what the weather has done to it out there. Might be even more interesting than this but I’m not too keen to ski ice anymore. ???? @gopro MAX #snowymountainsnsw #noordinarylife #gopromax #360video #spreadtelemark #backcountryskiing #earnyourturns #kosciuszkonationalpark #jindabyne #telemark #homeiswhereyouparkit #vanlifestyle #vlau #anotherbestday #vanlife #gooutside #explore #travel #adventure #lovetheride #photography #outsideisfree

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