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Hiker
Posts: 19

GoPro 7 black - LOW LIGHT FAIL (HYPERSMOOTH AND OTHER SETTINGS)!!!

I've been seeing a fair few people commenting on the issues they're encountering with the GoPro 7 in low light conditions. It seems to revolve a lot around the hypersmooth stabilisation (electronic image stabilisation: EIS) in low light conditions causing really bad video footage. Issues include jerky footage, blurry footage, washed out footage like a water colour painting, unfocussed footage. The list goes on.

 

It is a big disappointment for me to have upgraded to the GoPro 7 black after owning the GoPro 6 and to now be experiencing these issues. It sucks even more because I didn't have any of the issues with the GoPro 6. In trying to figure out why this is happening with the GoPro 7, let's look at the following.

 

There are three main settings of how a video camera can handle low light. These settings are all interconnected to some degree:

- FPS (frames per second).  The camera can slow the fps, which in turn allows it to slow the shutter down to allow more time for exposure.

- ISO: The camera can increase the ISO (post-senor gain applied to the signal from the sensor). This is often noticeable by an increase in noise/grain of the video footage.

- Shutter speed. The camera can slow the shutter speed to allow more time for correct exposure

 

As already stated, the GoPro 7 black really suffers when compared to how the GoPro 6 handles low light conditions. There are a number of possibilities for this which I'm hoping GoPro can either confirm or deny, and if so, perhaps move towards fixing in the next update.

 

It would appear that whatever in-camera technology has been developed by GoPro is different to what was being used on previous cameras. For example, in low light conditions on my GoPro 6, the footage would clearly have increased ISO resulting in more noise/gain in the footage. There would be a slight dropping of shutter speed to achieve a correctly exposed image. While slightly grainy/noisey video footage isn't ideal, I was happy with that and understood that in small sensor cameras like GoPro you aren't going to get low light capabilities like DSLRs or mirrorless cameras.

 

In the GoPro 7, it would appear that the primary focus of the in-camera technology is to drop the shutter speed and avoid increasing the ISO. The low shutter speeds, coupled with the new hypersmooth stabilisation, causes the terrible results described above. It would seem that GoPro techs need to to some tweaking and go back to the same formula they had for the GoPro 6. Focus on boosting ISO and limit the lowering of shutter speed. This will mean slightly noiser/grainy image but faster shutter speed, meaning less motion blur. This is where the hyperlapse stabilisation will be able to cope. 

 

I would rather a bit extra of noise/grain like on the GoPro 6 (in low light conditions) than the terrible, jerky, washed out, unsharp effect that occurs on the GoPro 7 in low light conditions.

 

In the meantime, there are a few options to eliminate the crappy video footage on the GoPro 7 in low light conditions:

 

1. Turn off hypersmooth stabilisation. This can improve the video footage where it was previously suffering from blurry effects (especially when there are lights i.e. street lights in the footage). I've personally tried this, and it still isn't great.... Plus... isn't the whole idea of paying for the GoPro 7 is that we can use the features of it? I.e. HYPERSMOOTH!

 

2. Use Protune to manually set the shutter speed. Some users have suggested manually setting the shutter speed to prevent the blurry effect. For instance, if shooting at 30FPS, manually set shutter speed to 1/60. If shooting 60FPS, manually set shutter speed to 1/120. This will prevent the GoPro from dropping the shutter speed down really low and instead force the camera to increase the ISO. Yes, footage will have more noise/gain, but there won't be the huge amount of motion blur you get from really low shutter speeds.

 

3. Try a combination of 1. Turning off hypersmooth stabilisation and 2. Using Protune to manually set the shutter speed.

 

If these steps are the answer, then I'm still disappointed. I shouldn't have to resort to these steps on the GoPro 7 black, particularly when I didn't have to do any of this when using the GoPro 6. All I can say is GoPro, what are you doing to fix the issue? 

 

Whatever in-camera technology GoPro were using for their GoPro 6 cameras, please bring it back for the GoPro 7 because the video quality & hypersmooth stabilisation seriously sucks in low light conditions!!!!!

GoPro
Posts: 7,104

Re: GoPro 7 black - LOW LIGHT FAIL (HYPERSMOOTH AND OTHER SETTINGS)!!!

Thank you for the detailed review, @seumas12345. We will pass this along to the team. In the meantime, you might want to check the details provided through the links below pertaining to the HERO7 Black's low light performance. 

 

Nomad
Posts: 332

Re: GoPro 7 black - LOW LIGHT FAIL (HYPERSMOOTH AND OTHER SETTINGS)!!!

You have gone through a lot of tests there but the answer to your problem is actual very simple.

 

The Hero 6 was initially released with stabilisation active in low light and everyone had the same issue. The low light footage was poor, washed out, and blurry due to the stabilisation. Anyway, GoPro went ahead and completely disabled stabilisation for the Hero 6 in low light conditions, this was automatically done in camera even is stabilisation was active. Therefore you wouldn't have had any issues with the Hero 6 at night.

 

The Hero 7 stabilisation is active in low light, so you will get those blurry movements etc. If you turn stabilisation off, you won't get these problems anymore and it will be a lot more like the Hero 6.

 

There are ways however to make the stabilisation perform better in low light, however this is at the cost of exposure.

 

If you lock the shutter speed to AT LEAST doube that of the frame rate i.e. 24fps 1/48 shutter then you will immediately notice better results, however there will be les slight. 1/96 will look even better and most likely completely get rid of the blurry stabilisation problems.

 

The truth is these cameras aren't really designed to be used in low light anyway. The sensor is tiny and it looks awful even without stabilisation active. I would recommend trying the above shutter speed fixes, turning of stabilisation, or just not shooting in low light

 

To clarify, this is not a failure of Hypersmooth. This is a failure of electronic stabilisation and the way it works in general. If the image is too dark and there is not enough data for the stabilisation to work from then it won't work. Simple.

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Hiker
Posts: 19

Re: GoPro 7 black - LOW LIGHT FAIL (HYPERSMOOTH AND OTHER SETTINGS)!!!

@quickhero77554 Thanks for the in-depth explaination. Everything you say makes sense. I guess my frustration is that regardless of GoPro claiming to have fixed the issue in the most recent firmware update by automatically reducing the level of EIS in low light, the outcome still isn’t good. The footage still looks like a water colour painting. Blurry and unappealing.

When GoPro brought out the firmware on the GoPro 5/6 that turned off EIS in low light, this worked. The footage was bearable and usable.

GoPro should revert back to the same firmware algorithms for handling low light as they previous did with the 5/6. A user shouldn’t have to turn off hypersmooth every time they’re in low light conditions. Just have EIS turned off automatically when the camera detects low light.

Maybe I’m just more frustrated than the average user with the lack of video quality in low light conditions when hypersmooth is turned on and the upgrade to the GoPro 7 is a disadvantage for me because where the GoPro 6 firmware would automatically disable EIS in low light, I now have to do it manually with the GoPro 7. Annoying...

In any event, thanks for your assistance.
Nomad
Posts: 332

Re: GoPro 7 black - LOW LIGHT FAIL (HYPERSMOOTH AND OTHER SETTINGS)!!!

I agree it is definitely an issue.

I think personally there should be stabilisation options i.e. Hypersmooth 24hr, Hypersmooth Daylight, Stabilisation off.

I think removing stabilisation all together at night is a mistake, and it actually annoyed me so much with the Hero6 that I refused to move from firmware 1.6.

For now unfortunately the only option is to turn it off when you don't think it will work well.