GoPro Labs 2021 New Features For Hero 9, Hero 8, Hero 7 and Max


For pretty much the second time in GoPro’s history, they just now added camera features to significantly older cameras – in this case, the Hero 7 in particular (the other time was the GoPro webcam mode). You may remember last spring, GoPro announced GoPro Labs, which allowed you to do all sorts of creative things with the GoPro Hero 8 using QR codes, such as sunrise/sunset timers to trigger a camera, motion-triggered activation of recording, and plenty more. It was basically a geek’s power tool dream for GoPro tweaking goodness.

Except…it only worked on the GoPro Hero 8. And then when the Hero 9 came along this past fall, it didn’t work there anymore. Nor did it work on the GoPro Max.

Well, as of today you can. GoPro has rolled out GoPro Labs firmware for all those cameras: Hero 7 Black, Hero 8 Black, Hero 9 Black, and GoPro Max. Note that you need to manually download these from the GoPro Labs page, and install them manually as well. This won’t come to your camera via the normal updates. I’d point out as well that this seems like probably a good time to just have these features go via that channel now instead, and still use QR codes if need be. Just my two cents…


Once you’ve got the firmware updated, you can point your camera at QR codes you make using the smartphone app or small website. To some, this would seem a bit tedious (and frankly, that’s true). But what it gains you is a boatload of flexibility with super-specific tweaks that would be cumbersome or costly for GoPro to add into the user interface menus. Some of course they have since done – like the ‘Scheduled Capture’ feature of the Hero 9, which started as a GoPro Labs function.

If you’re looking for the quick run-down on this feature, hit up my video below to get started:

Now one really weird new change in the last week is on the GoPro app they’ve removed the ProTune settings configuration. This is about as wonky a choice as I can think of. Instead, GoPro says you can poke at the back of the camera to change settings, flash a GoPro Labs QR code at them, or use the smart remote to enable ProTune. The problem with all of those is multifaceted. The first two don’t apply if you can’t physically touch the GoPro, or perhaps you can’t see the screen itself the way you’ve mounted it (super common). The last smart remote option doesn’t help if you just want to increase exposure one stop, or anything else that’s not a predefined setting. I hope GoPro undoes this move, cause it’s just such a bizarre change. Heck, even their press release seems to be like ‘Umm…we know this sucks, but, here’s some non-starter options to distract you.’

I do recognize that only a small fraction of users would utilize ProTune remotely, but ultimately, these are arguably the same GoPro users (or to use a fancy term – ‘content creators’) that are producing the most well-edited and widely viewed content on social media.

In any case, speaking of GoPro bits, their CEO (Nick Woodman) is speaking at noon US Pacific Time today for a CES keynote. Historically speaking when he’s done so they’ve tipped their hand for various things. Rarely major announcements, but more minor things that make their competitors sigh. Except the GoPro Karma drone. That was pre-announced, then put on life support, and then ultimately killed off, all at CES on successive years. As always, I’ll be watching to see what might slide out this year.

With that – thanks for reading!

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  1. Claus

    Just had to do it – FIRST!! 🙂

    But interesting they go all the way back to the hero 7. – But i guess it’s because the 7 is still widely available to buy today, and they have models in different pricepoints. If the 7 got the webcam functionality, that would make it highly competitive to the higher end webcams out there, and make for some new markets.

  2. Benedikt

    Its not available in all languages, if you had your GoPro Website in German, it will only tell you about the Hero 8. You have to switch the site to English.

  3. Tim Frielingsdorf

    Still waiting on the next gen Garmin camera…

    • Paul S.

      It’s pretty clear that’s never going to happen, although I don’t think Garmin has said anything official. They don’t sell them anymore, VIRB Edit has gone two years without an update, there are no longer forums for the cameras at the Garmin forums. The two things I miss with my Hero 8 is easy addition of GMetrix and camera control from my Fenix/Edge. (Yes, you can add GMetrix to a GoPro video using VIRB Edit, but only for basic modes. It’s not possible for any time lapse mode.) Otherwise, GoPro stabilization is much, much better and color fidelity is better (VIRB video always looks a little dark and color drained to me.) I still use my VIRB 360 a lot, but it’s clear to me that Garmin is out of the action camera business.

    • Mr. Ventures

      This is very disappointing that Garmin is out of this business. They were light years ahead of GoPro with their Virb Ultra 30 at the time of its release and same for the 360. I own both and was always pleased with their video editing work flow. Moved to GoPro and have had nothing but disappointment. If you want to edit MAX video on windows might as well forget it. Anyways thanks for the insight.

    • Yeah, I think that time is over.

      I agree that Garmin was (and still is) far superior to what GoPro offers in terms of metrics and overlay options. It’s not even close.

      The problem though is that ultimately, the GoPro’s underlying cameras aspects are equally so far beyond what Garmin has (and has had for a few years now), that there’s virtually no competition there.

      Which isn’t to say they couldn’t do it, via the same route as DJI. But with DJI now in that game, that’s gonna be GoPro’s main competitor in the years ahead. DJI hasn’t quite nailed the action cam yet (imho), but did a pretty incredible job for a first try.

  4. Barney ched

    Gotta check out this qr code thing.. if someone ever asked how your couldn’t touch the back of the GoPro to change settings, it happens all the time with scuba divers. Put the camera in a waterproof housing to go deep and you can only use the two buttons. I would love to be able to take the same picture with different settings but that can’t happen because I can’t use the touch screen.

    Now, maybe I can get around that limitation. Woot! Thanks for the article.

  5. BHShaman

    Since you can use QR to set a protune? vinyl print a QR and attach it to your toptube. 😉

  6. Russell

    Any chance you’ve heard of any fix for the consistent glitching when using the GoPro as a webcam? Their forums are filled with threads on this but have yet to see any response from them.

    • Darren

      Do you mean the overheating issue after approx 20 minutes that causes camera to shut down? I have a Hero8 Black and remove battery and use a remote power source. Solved the issue but is a boring option.

    • Russell

      I had hear that worked and didn’t have any luck the first time I tried a few months ago. I’ll give it a go again and see what happens.

    • It’s not something I’ve run into. 🙁

    • Russell

      Mine never actually shut off it would just get glitchy. Essentially it would make me look like Max Headroom, background would stay solid but my image went crazy.

      My coworkers found it very entertaining, but it got old…

      Like I said the GoPro forums are filled with threads on it, but I’ve never seen one with a response from them.

  7. Jason Szadura-Jones

    I love Gopro, and they are arguably the best action cam, but they are out of touch with some of their users. Would you be able to create a QRcode for every single combination of settings? Who wants to do that? In a lot of instances the camera is mounted to the body, to a vehicle, fpv drone etc.. so you can see the problem there. I don’t know about anybody else here either, but Gopros are getting bigger and heavier, with more breakable features being added all the time. I fly FPV, and would sooner have back the Session 5 form factor, smaller, lighter weight, more durable… who wants a heavy action cam!?

    • “Would you be able to create a QRcode for every single combination of settings? Who wants to do that? In a lot of instances the camera is mounted to the body, to a vehicle, fpv drone etc.. so you can see the problem there.”

      The point here is more flexibility for those exact power users though. The app is still there for everything else (well, minus protune now apparently).

      I agree that the Hero 9 for FPV is heavier than previous, though we’re now seeing FPV start to splinter towards FPV for racing vs FPV for cinematics. But we’re also seeing the quality and stabilization coming out of the Hero 8/9 specifically being a world away from the older cameras like the Session 5. It’s not even a competition anymore – and I think that’s in part why we’re seeing such good and incredible FPV films these days. Not because the sport is getting more popular, but because the camera quality is so much better able to handle it.

  8. fneuf

    Does it finally mean we don’t have to choose anymore to have either Labs feature OR standard firmware features on our cams?

    Like now it is possible to have both webcam support and QR code support via one firmware?

  9. Mr Shaik F Ahmed

    I hate my Go Pro 9 black. I had the devil of a time to install Intel UHD drivers on my computer as I have a dedicated GPU.
    As a webcam it has horrible latency making it useless for that purpose. Hyperstablization makes 4k video glitch with light sources. Who thought 5k crammed into a small sensor was a good idea?

    The worst Part of all of this is that I requested an RMA immediately. Was promised one within an hour but I’ve had no further response from GoPro. I’m so pissed off about that it’s unreal! I’ve contacted them via Twitter but no response!!!

    Worst customer service ever!

  10. Craig McCormick

    I can’t find the new firmware for the HERO7 Black. There is only version 1.90 which came out last year.

  11. OPrice

    Hi there,

    I’m interested in what this pages has but i’m just curious, is this solely now available for the hero7 black or can the hero7 silver work as well? I have the latter but like i said, I am interested.

  12. Max

    I have one Go pro and will never buy another one
    Got the drift ghost 4k for Christmas and love it already gopro could learn a lot from them
    I don’t like the mounts and the shape of the go pro

  13. Craig McCormick

    I have installed the new update and the Gopro webcam utility on my Hero 7 black but on running the webcam utility it states only for hero 8 and newer. Any ideas?

    • Rowdy

      Yea I have no idea why one page says it’s compatible with the Hero 7 black and another says it’s not. I downloaded it and it doesn’t recognize the 7 at all.

  14. I just updated my h8 to firmware 2.5, and now it won’t talk to my pc anymore. It used to talk to my usb port, but it stopped working correctly. What a mess. Why doesn’t GOPRO hire some sw people who aren’t stupid ?
    go figure.

    Hope they figure this one out and fix their new firmware. Uggggg.

  15. philipp

    The QR Code thing is a nice feature.

    but i can’t find to set the Hero 9 to Max lens mod.

    guess this will not work.

  16. Simon

    Hey Ray,
    Can you confirm that if I update my Hero 7 to the GpPro Labs firmware I still retain use with the standard GoPro app for download, remote control and Quik Stories?

  17. netposer

    A few things.

    There is a glitch on the Hero9 that causes the video to go “upright” 3 seconds into the recording.

    Here’s how it happens.
    Mount the Hero9 upside down (chesty mount)
    Start recording
    3 seconds in the message appears on the screen thus flipping the video ‘upright’ for 10 frames. It does not happen if he Hero9 is upright from the start.

    Where are the Max Lens Mod QR codes settings? You still have to go into the camera to set some settings after scanning QR code since the mod limits/adds settings.