GoPro Max – 360, Regular GoPro, Vloging Camera

GoPro App

3-in-1 Action Camera

The first time I saw the GoPro Max promo video on Instagram, I was like "Wow! That's impressive!". But that's probably just GoPro's marketing working its magic on me. Here we are going to dig a little deeper on the Max.


The thing that impressed me at first is that the Max is 3 cameras in one:

  • it's a normal wide-angle action camera
  • a 360 camera
  • and a vlogging camera with a selfie screen

It's normal for a 360 camera to be both a normal action camera and a 360 camera though. Most people just take the 360 video, put it in its software, choose which angle to show, and export as a normal non-360 video. Nobody watches 360 videos anyway.


In Hero mode, the Max only uses on the of the lenses and hence used like a normal GoPro camera. In this mode, the Max can record 1440p or 1080p at 60fps. Unfortunately that's as high as it goes when it comes to frames per second (fps).

Better than GoPro Fusion?

On paper at least, it seems the GoPro Max is better than the GoPro Fusion:

GoPro Fusion

GoPro Max

5.2K resolution at 30fps

5.6K resolution at 30fps

130 MB/s bitrate

78 MB/s but H.265/HVEC Compression could bump up the bitrate up to 150 MB/s (theoretically)

2 SD cards required

Only one SD card required

Editing software hard to use and buggy

Much improved editing software and easy to use

No on-camera preview display

on-camera preview display available

GoPro 8 vs GoPro Max

As mentioned, you can use the Max like a normal GoPro using only one of the lenses. However, using it this way is not going to better than using a GoPro Hero 8.


When used as a normal Hero camera, the Max can only capture footage at a maximum of 60 fps.


The GoPro Max is lacking in features and performance when used in Hero mode compared to the Hero 8:

GoPro Max Hero mode

GoPro Hero 8

5.5MP Hero Photo

12MP + SuperPhoto with improved HDR

1440p/1080p video at 60fps

4K video at 60fps

2x Slo-Mo

8x Slo-Mo

No RAW Photo Capture

RAW Photo Capture at all photo modes

However, when you buy a GoPro Max, you're not in it just for Hero mode. Remember that the Max is also a 360 camera and a vlogging camera with a mic that GoPro says is as good as a shotgun and a front-facing screen.

GoPro Max

GoPro Hero 8

No need to point at your subject (captures everything and reframe in post)

Need to point at intended subject

16.6MP 360 photo

360 photo not available

270º 6.2MP Panoramic photo

Panoramic photo not available

No HDR photo

HDR photo available

Waterproof up to 16ft (5m)

Waterproof up to 33ft (10m)

Best stabilization on a GoPro

Very good stabilization

No settings presets

Can create custom presets and comes preloaded with recommended video presets

Time Lapse

Time Lapse and Night Lapse

6-mic processing with shotgun mic quality

3-mic processing

Can record 360 audio

360 audio not available

Cannot connect external mic

3.5mm audio mic in with Media Mod or adapter

Cannot extend features with Media Mod

Optional Media Mod has 2 cold-shoe mounts for lights, mics, or LCD screens and comes with built-in directional mic

No HDMI video out

HDMI video out with Media Mod

GoPro Max vs Insta360 OneX

In many ways, it can be argued that the footage that comes out of the Fusion is better than one from Insta360 OneX even though the Insta360 records at a higher resolution (5.7k compared to 5.2k on the GoPro Fusion.) 


This is due to the superior lens, processor, and sensor in the GoPro Fusion. GoPro Max records at 5.6k. Even though this resolution is still lower than the Insta360 OneX, it's likely the video quality from the Max will be better.


Despite the better quality in the Fusion, Insta360 OneX still wins because of the easy-to-use software. Editing software for the GoPro Fusion was a disaster.


However, editing software for the GoPro Max is a lot better compared to its predecessor, the Fusion. How good it is compared to Insta360's software is yet to be determined as of this writing.


Also, the Max has better audio compared to Insta360 with 6 microphones that can capture 360 directional audio with wind-noise reduction and the best stereo sound ever from a GoPro.


Unfortunately, the GoPro Max can only record 360 footage at a maximum 30fps whereas the Insta360 OneX can record 100fps at 3k resoltuion. The Max can only go up to 60fps on Hero mode at 1440p and 1080p.

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Pros

  • 3-in-1 camera
  • Not too bad in Hero mode
  • Shotgun-mic quality built-in mics
  • 6-mic processing
  • Touch-screen preview screen
  • Better editing software compared to the Fusion
  • Best stabilization in a GoPro
  • H.265/HVEC compression (higher quality video for smaller file size)
  • Shoot without aiming
  • Removes selfie stick in video
  • Waterproof without casing

Cons

  • Better video quality on the GoPro Hero 8
  • Cannot connect external mic
  • Only goes up to 60 fps (2x Slo-mo)
  • Goes up to only 30fps in 360 mode
  • 1440p maximum resolution in Hero mode
  • Unusable underwater due to lens distortion

Conclusion:

I own an Insta360 OneX and I plan on buying the GoPro Max because of the audio quality and the fact that it is waterproof without a case. The Max retails for $499 while the Insta360 OneX is $399.95 but if you want it to be waterproof you need to add $89 for the dive case, which will make the audio worse than it already is.


These two features alone (waterproof without casing and good mic) makes it a worthy upgrade to the Insta360 OneX. But the Max also has a touch-screen preview display and 6 microphones for recording 360 audio. Even though the Max is more expensive than the Insta360 OneX, it is of better value.


I just hope the editing software is as good as the one for Insta360 OneX.

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