By Claudio Chock (@claudio.chock) & Jacqueline Cai (@jiahwee) (Tech360.tv Community Creators)

Thanks to GoPro Singapore, JacqandthebeanChock had the privilege of taking the GoPro MAX out for a ride.

First things first – The GoPro MAX fixes a lot of the flaws of its predecessor, the GoPro Fusion. No longer do you need 2 separate memory cards for recording and a computer to do the stitching of footages. All you need now is one memory card and stitching can be done in the GoPro app on your smartphone.

Without a doubt, this is GoPro’s answer to the ever-popular and reliable Insta360 One X. We’ve played around with the Insta360 One X for the past year and it remains the most accessible and easy-to-use 360 camera out there.

So how does the GoPro MAX fare against its competitors out there? And what are our favourite features of the GoPro MAX, and what else can it improve on?

3 THINGS WE LOVED ABOUT THE GOPRO MAX

1. Overall Build & Design

Holding it in your hands, you can feel that it’s really solid and it’s built for rugged-style shooting and harsh environments.

It is currently the only waterproof 360 camera option out there, although GoPro says it is not an underwater camera.

The touchscreen on the MAX is something we love as well. It’s super responsive and easy to use. Having a touchscreen to easily see what settings we were changing, and more importantly, see exactly what we are shooting made us more inclined to using the GoPro MAX over its competitors.

However, there are 2 things to note:

1. The swiping gestures are only used for changing menu and not to change the 360 view.

2. Once you start recording, the touchscreen will only show the point of view of the lens you have chosen to see on it – you will not be able to change it midway during recording. Maybe a firmware update can add this in?

And who can forget about the ingenious flip-out prongs at the bottom? It’s just so easy to mount the MAX onto accessories, like the Grip + Tripod Mount we have here.

2. Stabilisation & Sound

Probably the most compelling reason to pick up one of these would be its amazing stabilisation. The MAX handles the stitching automatically and will aim to remove any awkward stitching lines when you are gripping the camera.

Shooting 180 videos with Max HyperSmooth switched on will make it seem as if you are using a gimbal for all your movement shots.

The audio capture by the MAX is pretty impressive too. While switching on wind reduction does add in audio compression if you are using it for vlogging, voices are still pretty audible and don’t fall apart. Check out the video to see how the audio sounds right out of camera.

3. Improved App Experience

Out of all the companion mobile apps out there for the various action cameras and 360 cameras, GoPro’s offering remains the one of the most user-friendly and approachable. A simple design that is largely keyframes-based, transferring and editing of the footages shot on the MAX is relatively easy and a no-brainer.

Editing on mobile not your thing? Not to worry as GoPro has a desktop app for the MAX called GoPro Player. It does everything the mobile app does with the added benefit of additional codec export options, such as H.264, ProRes and HEVC.

The ease of the editing experience on both mobile as well as desktop has really pulled previously reluctant video folks like us back into exploring 360 videos.

3 THINGS THAT CAN BE IMPROVED

1. Lack of Video Modes

Comparing this to the Insta360 One X, which has various recording modes for 360 videos (5.7k @ 30fps, 4K @ 50fps & 3K @ 100fps), the GoPro MAX unfortunately falls short. It can only shoot at 5.6k @ 24/ 25/ 30 fps. If you are into post-production slow-motion, the lack of higher frame-rate options is going to be a bummer.

That said, the MAX does have the ability to go into Hero mode and just record with one camera at 1080p, something that the One X does not have. It’s pretty useful to have and the Horizon Levelling feature is great. However, don’t expect the same level of video quality like its sibling, the GoPro Hero 8, as its resolution maxes out at 1080p in 16 by 9 aspect ratio or 1440p in 4 by 3 aspect ratio.

2. Low Light Issues

When light diminishes, the footage from the MAX tends to get really jittery – sometimes to the point where it can be unusable. Hopefully, this is something a firmware update can fix in the future?

3. Diminished Photo Options

While the PowerPano feature is a welcome addition for shooting photos with the MAX, if you came from the earlier GoPro Fusion, the lack of burst mode, night mode and the inability to capture in RAW might be a bummer. Hopefully, GoPro can bring this back to the next iteration of their 360 cameras.

OVERALL

The GoPro MAX is probably one of the best options for anyone looking to get a 360 camera that’s capable for both action shooting and vlogging. Go to your nearest camera store, pick one up and test it out. It will make you appreciate the amount of technology that has gone into creating such a small, yet powerful gadget.

Despite some quirks in low-light shooting and not having 4K single-camera capture, the GoPro MAX is still an amazing tool for all content creators and vloggers out there! We’d love to add one to our shooting arsenal.

More information and purchase options for the GoPro MAX (S$740) is available on GoPro’s website.

Rating: 3.5 / 5 Stars