GoPro MAX has now been launched! All of my 7 predictions have been confirmed, including features that have never been previously available in a consumer 360 camera. Here are the Max’s specifications, features, an exclusive preview, and a preliminary review (I just received my MAX and am conducting my own tests). April 3, 2019 update: new features added.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Executive Summary (updated December 9, 2019)
Specifications (updated October 15, 2019)
16 Features (updated April 3, 2019)
What’s in the box? (added October 15, 2019)
Tutorial and workflow (added October 20, 2019)
How to update firmware manually (added April 3, 2019)
Sample videos and sample photos; download MAX samples (updated November 3, 2019)
Comparison with GoPro MAX, Insta360 One X and GoPro Hero8 (updated November 2, 2019)
Price and release date
In-depth GoPro MAX vs Insta360 One X review and comparison, after one month of use:
Part 1: Why should you be interested in the GoPro MAX? How is it better than the competition? Is it worth waiting for? In this video, I discuss the MAX’s specifications, key features, and weaknesses.
Part 2: New information on GoPro MAX, plus whether you should get MAX or Hero8, or Insta360 One X?
Here are the specifications of the GoPro Max:
|Maximum video resolution, framerate, codec (360 mode)||5376 x 2688 @ 30fps|
60 mbps (H.265)
|5504 x 2752 @ 24fps |
120 mpbs (H.264)
5120 x 2560 @ 30fps (beta)
4992 x 2496 @ 30fps
3008 x 1504 @ 60fps
|Maximum video resolution, framerate, codec (non-360)||1920 x 1080 or 1920 x 1440 @ 24, 25, 30, 50, or 60 fps. |
60 or 78 mbps (H.264)
45 or 60 mbps (H.265)
|Video resolution (timewarp)||5376 x 2688 @ 25/30fps 60mpbs H.265|
1920 x 1440 or 1920 x 1080, 25/30fps 30 mbps H.264
Speed: 2x, 5x, 10x, 15x, 30x
|Photo resolution (360):||5760 x 2880|
16.6 mp JPG (Raw not available)
|5760 x 2880. |
Can take photos in burst mode (up to 30fps). Can take photos in Raw format (The GoPro gpr format, based on the DNG format)
|Photo resolution (non-360)||2704 x 2028 |
4320 x 1440
JPG (Raw not available)
|Processor||GoPro GP1||Ambarella (unconfirmed)|
|ISO (photos):||100 to 800||100 to 800|
|ISO (videos):||400 to 6400||400 to 6400|
|Shutter speed:||1/28000 - .2 Seconds (Photo)|
up to 1/2000 - (manual photo)
1/50000 - .5 Seconds (Video)
Up to 1/480 (manual video)
|up to 30 seconds. Long enough for light painting and night sky photos.|
|Waterproof:||16 ft / 5m||16 ft / 5m|
|Storage:||one Micro SD card||two removable Micro SD cards|
|Connection:||USB Type C||USB Type C|
|Dimensions (approx):||L: 64mm |
H: 75mm (without Gopro mount), 90mm (with GoPro mount)
W: 23mm (excluding lenses)
|Weight:||154g||220g (7.76 oz)|
|Battery:||1600 mAh, removable||2620mAh, removable|
|Price:||$499||$299 as of 2019|
|Release date:||October 1, 2019||November 24, 2017 (however, it began shipping sometime November 13, 2017).|
GOPRO MAX FEATURES (updated April 3, 2019)
- Touchscreen with shortcuts. GoPro Max has a large touchscreen, which will make it easier to adjust the settings without being connected to the phone. In addition, you can setup shortcuts for your most-frequently used settings.
2. Review photos and videos. The larger screen will be used not just to change settings as in the current Fusion, but will also be able to review photos and videos. Until now, almost all 360 cameras have not had a preview screen. But I’ve used a couple of 360 cameras with the preview screen (Acer Holo 360 and Pilot Era) and I think it is very convenient.
3. Realtime stitching with stabilization in non-360 mode. Nick Woodman said he wants it to be as easy to use as a regular GoPro. Max has realtime stitching with stabilization in non-360 Hero mode, a feature that has never been seen before in a consumer 360 camera. It also has realtime stitching for 360 photos (as in the Ricoh Theta Z1 and other Ricoh Theta cameras). 360 videos are what I would describe as “pre-stitched,” which can be viewed as a stitched and stabilized video in the GoPro app, and is ready for editing without further stitching, but can’t be directly uploaded to YouTube or Facebook without exporting from the app.
There are some 360 cameras with realtime stitching capability for video, but they do not have stabilization unless first processed in an app. There are a few 360 cameras with realtime stitching with stabilization (Insta360 Pro, Insta360 Pro 2, Pilot Era) but they cost at least $2500. Max is the first consumer 360 camera to have that capability.
Here is a video that shows the Max’s stabilization performance:
4. Automatically create overcapture video, shoot in 360, or vlog with a front-facing camera. The Max has two video modes: a 360 video mode and a non-360 Hero mode.
5. 4-in-1 lens. You can switch between an ultrawide Max Superview (13mm equivalent), Wide (16mm equivalent), Linear (19mm equivalent), or Narrow (27mm equivalent – similar to most smartphones).
6. Replaceable lens cover; waterproof. This is a feature that many people have been asking for in a 360 camera. While a few cameras have had it, the ones that had it (Virb 360, Orbit 360, Keymission 360, and to some extent the original Samsung Gear 360, etc.) were plagued by excessive glare. I think GoPro wouldn’t add a replaceable lens unless they have solved the glare problem. So I’m optimistic that glare will be well controlled.
In addition, the protective lenses are spherical, which may enable the Max to stitch with minimal refraction underwater, up to a depth of 16ft (5m). The photo below is a framegrab from a GoPro promo video. The stitch line is appears to be around 45 degrees from this view. The woman is within the stitch line, yet she is stitched smoothly. However, there is a circular line in the frame which seems to show that they used some type of dive case, so we can’t be certain yet how the MAX will perform underwater without a case.
7. Spatial audio + shotgun microphone. The Max has six microphones to provide spatial audio. There is no microphone input but one or two of its microphones is a shotgun microphone for vlogging, while the other microphones are used for noise cancellation.
8. Keyframing. With the GoPro app, you’ll be able to keyframe camera movements for 360 photos and videos.
9. UPDATED: Max Timewarp (hyperlapse) and timelapse. The Max has an improved hyperlapse feature for both 360 and non-360 videos. In non-360 videos, you can switch back and forth between hyperlapse and regular video. As of April 2020, you can now also create a time lapse in both 360 and non-360. The differences between a time lapse and hyperlapse in the Max are that a hyperlapse is generally for a moving camera, and a time lapse is usually for a tripod-mounted camera, and usually for longer intervals and/or longer exposures (for example, a time period of several hours can be shown as a few seconds of video).
10. PowerPano. PowerPano is a 270-degree wide panorama.
Here are a couple of samples shared with permission by Luke Bell:
Here is a sample by GoPro:
11. Live streaming in 1080p with stabilization. The Max can livestream in non-360 mode in 1080p resolution to YouTube, Facebook, or other streaming services that support RTMP.
12. UPDATED: Slow motion 60fps. As of the April 2020 firmware update, the Max can now capture both 360 and non-360 video at 60fps, which can be played back at 30fps to create a 1/2 speed slow motion video.
13. Self-timer. The Max finally adds a self-timer for photos, an essential feature that was strangely absent from the GoPro Fusion.
14. Folding GoPro mount. The Max uses a foldable GoPro mount, similar to the Hero 8.
15. Short clips. Like Snapchat Spectacles or the Insta360 Go, you can capture short, 15 or 30 second video clips in horizontal or vertical format that are ready for upload to Snapchat, Instagram Stories or other social media.
What’s in the box?
The MAX packaging looks similar to that of the Fusion. Besides the camera, the package includes the following accessories:
– one rechargeable battery
– USB Type C charging cable
– a pair of lens covers
– a pair of replaceable lenses
– GoPro quick release clip and adhesive mount
– GoPro thumbscrew
– a microfiber pouch with two small pockets for the lens covers
Tutorial and workflow
GoPro MAX’s workflow is easier, faster, and more powerful than that of the Fusion. 360 photos don’t need to be stitched. They are automatically stitched in-camera, with a level horizon and 360 metadata. Non-360 HERO mode videos are likewise ready to use straight out of the camera, in mp4 format (either in H.264 or H.265), with stabilization.
360 videos are what I would describe as “semi-stitched.” The files are in proprietary *.360 format, and cannot be directly uploaded to YouTube or Facebook, nor can they be immediately edited. They are stitched in-camera and converted into equiangular cubemap format (the first 360 camera to use that projection) for efficiency. However, the stitchline is blended during postprocessing. As for stabilization, the camera adds rolling shutter correction (again, for efficiency), but stabilization is also added in postprocessing.
When viewed in the GoPro MAX display or through the app, the videos will appear stitched and stabilized. You’ll also be able to edit the videos immediately in the desktop or mobile app, without having to stitch them beforehand. But to edit the videos in editors such as Premiere, you’ll need to stitch the videos first.
Here is a reframing tutorial by GoPro Senior Creative Director Abe Kislevitz:
As of November 2019, the Player app with keyframing capabilities is available only for Mac. For Windows users, you can use an app called MAX Exporter, which enables batch exporting of 360 videos from the Max. Videos can be exported in 5.6K in cineform format, or up to 4K in H.265 (HEVC) or H.264 format. In addition to file format, you can choose whether to enable horizon level (roll stabilization), world lock (which means the video will be oriented toward a fixed compass direction, regardless of where the camera is pointed), and 360 spatial audio. Videos in Cineform format can be played back in the free GoPro VR Player app.
How to update the firmware
The simplest way to update the firmware is to connect your MAX to your GoPro app on your phone. If there is a new firmware, you should get a popup notification prompting you to update. Occasionally, you might not get an update even if it is available. Here’s how to update your MAX manually:
- To update the firmware manually, use your desktop to login to your account at GoPro.com and fill out this registration form with your email and serial number. The easiest way to get your serial number is to use the Max on-camera screen, swipe down, tap on Preferences, tap on About, then Camera Info.
2. In the next screen you’ll be given a link to download the firmware for your MAX as a zipped file.
3. Extract the zip file and you’ll see a folder called UPDATE. Copy the UPDATE folder (not the zip file) to your MAX’s micro SD card and turn on the MAX. It will power cycle a few times and when it’s done, you’ll see a sign that the update is complete.
GoPro MAX sample videos and sample photos
Download sample GoPro MAX photos and videos here (for personal use only – please don’t post anywhere). You can view the photos on GoPro VR player. For the 360 videos, you’ll need to stitch them first on the desktop app either for Windows or Mac (see above).
Here is a sample video from the GoPro MAX by @abekislevitz, including the behind the scenes view of how it was shot:
View this post on Instagram
The intro shot for the @jonolsson1 @benjaminortega vlog this week! We had an idea to start the vlog as a cool one-shot take. We started thinking about a drone shot that flew through this villa but landed on doing a 360 shot so we could create a shot that was very unique! I filmed it on a @270pro pole – swipe over to see a little BTS of how it came together! It was super fun to hang and collab with some talented like minded peeps across the world in some epic locations. Thanks @douchebags for bringing us all together! Benni is an absolute editing animal and 2 vlogs from our trip are already up on Jon Olsson’s YT! Check my story or hit the link in my profile to see part 1. The Benni segment starts 5 min in. Thanks for a rad trip boys! @oskarbakke @olsson92 @chrisfarro @jacob @lifeof_riley // #gopro #gopromax #goprofusion #dbtravel #dbfamily #douchebags #monaco #360video #overcapture #france #frenchriviera #bennified #jonolsson
Here is another sample video of the MAX by @travisrice.
View this post on Instagram
Announcing #GoProHERO8 and @GoPro MAX. Thoroughly impressed with how damn good these cameras are getting! . Last winter in BC, found this sniper chute to test out the new Max 360 Camera. Spooky blind roll entrance and sheer cliff to the left. Better snow than I was expecting ⚡️🤘🏽⚡️. Finding the right places to ditch speed is the name of the game and it works best when done leaning into a pow detonation!
Here are sample 360 photos
Here is a sample photo from the GoPro MAX in tiny planet format.
This is another MAX photo (unconfirmed):
View this post on Instagram
GoPro MAX vs Insta360 One X and GoPro Hero8
Here is a comparison of photo quality between MAX and Insta360 One X. Based on these samples, it appears that MAX photos are slightly more detailed than those of the One X.
For video quality, I found that at default settings (sharpness: high), MAX has similar detail but higher acutance (edge contrast) than One X in the center of the lens, while One X was noticeably more detailed near the stitch line. They had similar dynamic range, although Max’s GoPro color profile is much more contrasty. You can check out these side by side comparisons yourself with the 360 Camera Comparison tool.
MAX flat mode was more similar to Insta360 One X standard mode, which appears to confirm that the difference between them is attributable to the higher contrast of the MAX default settings in GoPro color mode.
I also compared Insta360 One X HDR video mode against GoPro MAX flat mode. I found that One X HDR video mode had almost the same amount of detail, while having much greater highlight range.
MAX also had higher acutance than Fusion, as though the MAX had a clarity filter applied.
Here is a low light and stabilization comparison between MAX and One X:
Here is a comparison of stabilization and image quality between GoPro Hero8 and MAX, by Abe Kislevitz:
GoPro MAX Release Date and Price
GoPro Max is available for preorder as of October 1, 2019, with the release date on October 24, 2019. As for the price, it will be $499, available direct from GoPro, from Amazon, or from B&H Photo. What do you think of the GoPro Max / Fusion 2? Let me know in the comments!