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GepRC Naked GoPro Hero 8: Insta360 SMO gets competition (sample videos)

GepRC naked GoPro Hero 8
GepRC naked GoPro Hero 8 on a Cinelog 25.

GepRC has announced the release of a naked GoPro Hero 8. which is the first real competitor to the Insta360 SMO.  How does it compare to the Insta360 SMO? We’ll also take a look at a couple of sample videos

In the past couple of years, cinematic FPV pilots have been using stripped-down GoPros mounted on smaller FPV quads to capture amazing never-before-seen perspectives.  The only problem was that you couldn’t simply buy a “naked” GoPro.  You had to build one yourself, which was a bit time consuming and sometimes could result in a bricked GoPro.

NO SOLDERING needed - Insta360 SMO naked GoPro alternative
NO SOLDERING needed – Insta360 SMO, a naked GoPro alternative, shown on Beta85X v2

Last year, Insta360 and BetaFPV released the Insta360 SMO, a naked version of the Insta360 One R with 4K mod that you could buy off the shelf, as it were.  Moreover, several quads were released preinstalled with power cables for Insta360 SMO, letting you use it immediately with no soldering.  The SMO has become popular and more and more quads (and hexacopters) have been released with built-in SMO support.

Tiny hexacopter carries Insta360 SMO
The tiny Hex Nano hexacopter has Insta360 SMO support

Until now, there had been no real alternative to the SMO, other than the BetaFPV GoPro Lite (a naked Hero 6), which you still had to assemble and which, IMHO, offered lower image quality than the SMO.  But now, GepRC has produced a naked Hero 8 and a naked Hero 8 conversion kit, which on paper seems a formidable competitor for SMO.  How do they compare?

GepRC Hero 8
GepRC Hero 8

As with the SMO, GepRC’s Hero 8 is a stripped GoPro Hero 8 with no battery or rear LCD.  It needs to be powered by a cable connected to an FPV’s battery (like the SMO, it supports 2S to 6S input voltage and even uses the same GH1.25 cable as the BetaFPV GoPro Lite). The benefit for that inconvenience is that it weighs only 25.7 grams, compared to a full-size Hero 8’s 126 grams (battery included).  It is even lighter than the SMO, which is 30 grams.

The GepRC Hero 8 also appears to retain the front LCD, although it is not clear whether the LCD is functional.  The SMO has no LCD but has Wi-Fi and can be controlled by the Insta360 app, complete with live view.  It is not yet known whether the Hero 8 can be controlled via Wi-Fi or a GoPro Smart Remote.   I have a BetaFPV GoPro Lite and it can’t connect to the GoPro app wirelessly.

Like the SMO, the GepRC can use ND Filters, which seem to be the same size as the GoPro Hero 8 filters.  The GepRC kit includes an ND16 filter, just like the SMO.

Then there’s stabilization.  Cinematic FPV pilots are interested in Hero8 because it can have phenomenal stabilization with ReelSteady Go software (which is an additional $99).  Here is a sample video from the GepRC naked Hero 8, although I don’t know if they used Reelsteady Go:

Is it better than Insta360’s FlowState?  It does not seem markedly different, and in fact the highlight range seems lower, but I plan to do a comparison.

Another issue is the cost of the camera itself.  GepRC’s GoPro Hero 8 costs about $369.  The Insta360 SMO costs $239, which is 35% less.   Add the cost of the $99 Reelsteady Go software and the total price becomes almost double the cost of the SMO.  That does not take into account the additional time required to process videos with ReelSteady Go (which takes a while to render).  Is the Hero 8 THAT much better than the SMO?  I have my doubts.  But I do plan to convert my Hero 8 to a naked Hero 8 for testing purposes.

What do you think about the GepRC Hero 8?  Is it an attractive alternative to SMO?  Let me know in the comments!

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Mic Ty

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