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:
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
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 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 and Night Lapse
6-mic processing with shotgun mic quality
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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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.