Since its founding 20 years ago, GoPro has pretty much defined the “adventure camera” product category. Its rugged little cameras have appealed to the human drive to climb and jump off high things, speed down steep cliffs at bone-jolting velocities or launch oneself out of perfectly good airplanes.

It’s been a journey, and the new GoPro Hero 10 Creator Edition is the latest travel companion for those supremely confident in their bodies’ healing abilities. So what’s new this year?

The GoPro Hero 10 updates last year’s Hero 9 with a new GP2 image processor that makes camera response faster and images better, and that increases frame rate and resolution when making videos. But is it enough to upgrade year over year? We say if you already have a Hero 9, no, but if you’re looking for your first GoPro camera or you’re running a Hero 8 or earlier, this will be a big and worthy upgrade to your current adventure videography needs.

We reviewed the Hero 10 Creator Edition, which includes not only GoPro’s latest flagship camera but also a 32GB microSD card; the Volta battery grip; the Media Mod, which is a case with a built-in external mic and cold shoes for attachments; and the Light Mod, which is, as expected, a small light you can attach via said cold shoe mounts.

Pricing is a bit complicated, given the big discounts offered if you buy a yearly subscription ($49.99 per year) to the GoPro service. Nonsubscribers can get the kit for between $785 and $830, depending on where you shop around, and existing GoPro subscribers will pay $581.96. But new subscribers get another $50 off, so you can get the whole kit for $531.95 if you’re a total GoPro newbie. And if you don’t need all the perks of the Creator Edition, you can score the standard Hero 10 Black for as low as $349.

Of course, the big question is: Is it worth it?

Aimed primarily at dedicated vloggers, the GoPro Hero 10 Creator Edition is a great purchase for a GoPro newbie or someone with a Hero 8 model or older. For those with last year’s Hero 9 model, the upgrade isn’t as compelling.

What we liked

The Hero 10 is almost physically identical to the Hero 9, albeit 5 grams lighter, according to official specs. The Hero 10 feels solid, and considering it’s an “adventure camera,” it should. Like the Hero 9, it’s waterproof down to 33 feet without any protective case at all, which is pretty impressive, and it feels like its rugged outer case could get banged around a bit without wrecking the thing.

Beyond its toughness, it also has new smarts, thanks to the upgraded GP2 processor. GoPro says it offers twice the performance of the previous-generation processor, the GP1, and in our testing, it delivers. The GP2 offers an increase in image quality, capture speed, video stabilization, slow motion and just general zippiness to the camera’s responsiveness, which is a big deal when you’re trying to capture fast-moving subjects like kids, pets or you shredding some awesome powder on the slopes.

It can shoot up to 5.3K video (up from 5K in the Hero 9) at up to 60 frames per second (fps), 4K at up to 120 fps and at 1080p at a ridiculous 240 fps for super-slow-mo footage. The new processor also enables an upgraded HyperSmooth 4.0 stabilization function. In our testing, which did not include shredding anything, the digital video stabilization practically eliminated the need for a physical gimbal. The GP2 also boosts the resolution of still photos to 23 megapixels (up from 20 megapixels) and includes GoPro’s proprietary SuperPhoto setting with HDR.

The GP2 has sped up the front screen of the camera, which can be used for selfies and other POV shooting, giving you a 30 fps image with almost no lag (the Hero 9’s front screen was notoriously choppy). The back touchscreen, where you control the camera, is even better. While not quite as fast as an iPhone or Android touchscreen, it’s close. It feels responsive, and the GoPro menus are thoughtfully arranged, making navigation easy with a little practice. You don’t want to be hunting and pecking through laggy menus when you’re on the side of a mountain angling for the perfect shot.

You probably don’t need to shoot too many still photos, though. You can grab a 15.8-megapixel still frame from a 5.3K video or a 19.6-megapixel frame from a 5K 30 fps video.

The new processor also just speeds up the whole GoPro experience. It boots up quickly and is ready to capture content in a couple of seconds when you push the red shutter button on top. Taking and processing the photos feels super fast, and overall there’s very little waiting around for the palm-sized camera to crunch through millions of pixels.

The processor also speeds up offloads of photos and videos, with GoPro claiming a 30% increase in Wi-Fi speed to transfer photos to your phone, and it also offers a new USB wired option. Yes, you can finally plug a cable into your phone and Hero 10 and transfer content even faster.

The Hero 10 also claims a new removable lens cover with “water-shedding hydrophobic glass” is more scratch-resistant and helps reduce ghosting than the Hero 9’s lens.

Finally, there’s the GoPro subscription, which we feel is worth it. For $49.99 per year, you get unlimited cloud backup of all your images and videos, some advanced editing tools in the phone app, an automated backup whenever you plug your camera in and it’s on your home Wi-Fi network and a no-questions-asked replacement policy if you somehow destroy your Hero 10. This is a real peace-of-mind issue, and we feel that if you’re willing to plunk down $500-plus for an adventure camera that you’re going to dip in saltwater, take skiing, drop from great heights, etc., then you probably will want to protect the content you create with it (unless you’re seriously subscription averse). The $300 discount on the kit that comes with the GoPro subscription doesn’t hurt either.

Which accessories do you need?

Of course, it wouldn’t be a GoPro review without talking about the nigh unlimited number of accessories. In this case, however, we’ll limit ourselves to the Creator Edition, which includes not only the Hero 10 but also the Volta Battery Grip ($129.99), the Media Mod ($79.99), the Light Mod ($49.99) and a 32GB SD card (price varies based on where you buy it).

The Creator Edition is aimed at vloggers, livestreamers and those who don’t necessarily need to strap their GoPros onto energetic Labradors or something like that. It’s aimed at the influencer set, who live by the mantra “pics or it didn’t happen.” It’s an attractive bundle if that’s your jam, but the whole doesn’t necessarily add up to anything greater than the various parts.

First up is the Volta, a beefy battery grip that can double as a tripod for the Hero 10. Its built-in power supply can juice more than four hours of 5.3K 30 fps recording in addition to the Hero 10’s own battery life (more on that below). It has integrated buttons that can switch between camera modes for one-handed operation, and Bluetooth connectivity allows you to wirelessly control the Hero 10 from up to 100 feet away.

The Media Mod is an external case for the Hero 10 with an included directional mic that GoPro says enhances voice capture. In our tests, we didn’t notice much difference between the Hero 10’s built-in mic and the Media Mod’s mic. It does offer an additional cold shoe mount on the side of the case for additional lights, mics or LCD screens, and it gives you an HDMI out port, a 3.5mm mic jack and a USB-C power port.

Finally, the Light Mod is, well, pretty much what it sounds like: a little LCD light with a diffuser cap that can produce three brightness settings, ranging from 20 lumens up to 200, along with a strobe setting. Interestingly, this light is also waterproof to 33 feet, which makes it an option for snorkeling or shallow scuba diving.

Without GoPro subscriber discounts, this whole kit will run you $760 if you buy them all separately. The Creator Edition lists for $834.94 on its website (presumably including the cost of the SD card) but is “only” $531.95 with a GoPro subscription. That’s a pretty good deal for a nearly complete portable filmmakers kit, but if we were picking and choosing, we’d probably forgo the Media Mod case and get the Volta battery grip and Light Mod separately.

What we didn’t like

Where the Hero 10 falls short is its built-in battery life. It uses the same batteries as the Hero 9, so if you have some of these lying around, you’re in good shape, but the higher video frame rates, like the 5.3K at 60 fps, will suck that battery dry in three to four hours. If you want to shoot a full day of high-intensity activity, you’ll want some charged spares (at $16 a pop) to have in your rucksack. GoPro offers a $24.99 Enduro battery that the company says increases recording time by 40% with a 13% faster recharge time.

Secondly, buying into the GoPro lifestyle isn’t cheap. While $580 for a complete filmmakers kit isn’t bad, you’re still on the hook for $50 per year to get that discount. You can, of course, sign up, pay the $50, then cancel, spending only $630 total for the Creator Edition, but in our opinion, while the yearly subscription isn’t cheap, the automatic backup and advanced editing functions in the phone app make it worth it.

Bottom line

In the end, the Hero 10 is a great purchase for a GoPro newbie or someone with a Hero 8 model or older. For those with last year’s Hero 9 model, the upgrade isn’t as compelling.

GoPro Hero 10 Creator Edition specs

Photo 23 megapixels with Photo SuperPhoto + Improved HDR, Continuous Photo, LiveBurst (12MP)
Video 5.3K at up to 60 fps; 4K at up to 120 fps; 1080p and 2.7K at up to 240 fps
Time-lapse 1080p to 4K; Auto, 2x, 5x, 10x, 15x, 30x Speed
Audio features 3.5mm audio mic input with Media Mod for Hero 10 Black or Pro 3.5 Mic Adapter (sold separately); RAW audio capture (.wav format)
Connected features Uploads automatically to the cloud with GoPro Subscription via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, GPS enabled, auto offload to phone
Dimensions 2.8 x 2 x 1.3 inches
Price From $531