GoPro Night Photo - Mauna Kea

GoPro Hero7 Black: Night Shooting & Astrophotography

In Featured, Space Gear by Valerie Stimac

Are you researching the GoPro HERO7 Black and curious what it can do once the sun sets? Most GoPro users are daytime adventurers, but the GoPro HERO7 Black is well-equipped for those of us who love to have a little bit of adventure at night.

Shooting astrophotos is tricky business. You need the right camera, a knowledge of the settings, and then the right settings to capture a beautiful astrophoto. Even if you use all our astrophotography tips, you still might get blurry, dark, or blown-out photos. To this end, we were keen to try the GoPro HERO7 Black. With multiple modes for capturing photos and video at night, the GoPro is a great option for those who want a simpler way to capture astrophotographs. Read on for the full review and my take on each mode or type of astrophoto or video you can create with the GoPro HERO7 Black.

GoPro HERO7 Black Specs & Details

The GoPro HERO7 Black was released in July 2018. It was – in some ways – the second generation camera of the HERO6 Black, which included major hardware and software improvements over previous GoPro models. The HERO7 Black was received with generally positive feedback from photographers and camera critics (yes, those are a thing!). From a specs perspective, the GoPro HERO7 Black improved upon past models with a better processor chip and better stabilization. These two improvements make it possible for adventure travelers to capture even more stunning videos and photos in the moment.

The remainder of this review focuses exclusively on using the GoPro HERO7 Black for astrophotography. All of the photos in this post were shot on the GoPro HERO7 Black.

Shooting Astrophotos with the GoPro HERO7 Black

GoPro Night Photo - Zion

In working with GoPro in this partnership, the Night Photo mode was the one I was most keen to test. The idea of a point-and-shoot camera which doesn’t require a DSLR camera or advanced of manual settings is a great way to get more people shooting astrophotography and seeing the night sky (our mission!).

The GoPro HERO7 Black “Night Photo” mode is super easy to use and is located in the “Photo” mode menu. You can control two main settings: the shutter and the field of view. You can also set a delay on the shutter (either 3sec or 10sec). These settings alone are comprehensive enough to allow you control to shoot in dusk to total darkness.

GoPro Night Photo - Big Island

V’s Take on this GoPro HERO7 Black Feature:

As a powerful ‘point-and-shoot’ camera for night photos, the GoPro HERO7 Black is a resounding success. Set up on a tripod or shorty to stabilize the camera, you’ll get a solid astrophoto that is ripe for post-processing and editing. 

Great automatic controls and simple settings make the GoPro even more powerful for those who want to play around to capture different styles of astrophotos. The GoPro Hero7 Black is a great option, especially for those who want a small, easy-to-use camera for night photos. Invest in a tripod or shorty to ensure you get crystal clear shots.

Making Night Lapse Videos with the GoPro HERO7 Black

Like previous models, the GoPro HERO7 Black is equipped with a “Night Lapse Photo” mode, located in the “Time Lapse” mode menu. In Night Lapse mode, you change settings like the shutter, interval between frames, and field of view. 

Once you’ve shot in Night Lapse mode, you’ll have a series of photos for however long you left the camera running. How many frames you get will depend on the setting (shutter and interval). This will determine how long your night lapse photo can be. For example, 150 frames will make roughly 5 seconds of video – but 150 frames is more than enough to make a short star trail photo (which I discuss in greater detail below).

Here is an example night lapse video shot on the GoPro HERO7 Black.

V’s Take on this GoPro HERO7 Black Feature:

I tried to create 4 different night lapse videos with the GoPro HERO7 Black over the course of three trips (to Chile’s Elqui Valley, Hawaii, and Zion National Park). In most cases, I was unsuccessful in shooting a good video. The best one (above) is from Vicuña – which is surprising as this is the place where I experienced the most light pollution of anywhere I tried to shoot with the GoPro HERO7 Black.  

My guess is that this is the case due to the settings on the GoPro HERO7 Black. I’m guessing that when you start shooting in the night lapse mode, the shutter setting for the first frame are retained through the entire video. For example, if your first night lapse frame is a 15-second exposure, this won’t change even if more or less light is present in later frames. 

Additionally, I’m a bit uncertain about why the Night Lapse Photo mode seems to shoot differently than the Night Photo. In Zion, I did a test night photo shot and a night lapse photo with the same settings, but the pictures differ in exposure (and thus, in the quality of the star photo). 

As such, I’m a bit less confident in recommending the GoPro for night lapse videos

Shooting Star Trails with the GoPro HERO7 Black

Star Trail - Mauna Loa

After my first unsuccessful attempts at shooting in Night Lapse mode in Chile, I realized that my photos were not wasted. Another use of the GoPro HERO7 Black Night Lapse Photo mode is for making star trail photos.

The frames, though too dark individually to create a Night Lapse video, could be stitched together to make star trails! Additionally, night lapses when I didn’t shoot enough frames for a video of any reasonable length were often the perfect to make an interesting star trail photo. I found that between 150 and 300 night lapse frames were ideal for creating a star trail photo.

However, I was not able to figure out how to do this in the GoPro Quik app. I believe this takes a little bit of extra photo editing knowledge and access to Photoshop.

Star Trail - Elqui Valley

V’s Take on this GoPro HERO7 Black Feature:

I was more successful making star trails using the Night Lapse mode on my GoPro HERO7 Black than I was in making videos. In all but the very darkest conditions, creating a composite of the night lapse frames produced great star trails. If you’re keen to easily shoot star trails, the GoPro HERO7 Black is a great option.

Is the GoPro HERO7 Black Worth It?

GoPro Night Photo - Snow Canyon

The GoPro HERO7 Black is an incredibly powerful camera for such a small one. The sensors and automatic settings make shooting astrophotos a breeze. This is especially true for those who aren’t familiar with DSLR cameras or manual settings required to take these kinds of photos otherwise. If you’re keen to try astrophotography, the GoPro HERO7 Black could be a great starter camera. Heck, you may even just keep shooting with it in the long-term!

The GoPro HERO7 Black is not a cheap camera (starting at $399); it’s certainly more than most point-and-shoot cameras. However, it’s comparable or even cheaper than most starter DSLR cameras – and definitely cheaper than top-tier cameras. The GoPro HERO7 Black is a great option if you’re looking for a midrange camera, even more so if you’re adventurous and plan to use it for daytime shots and adventure videography.

In short, the GoPro HERO7 Black is definitely worth it for astrophotography. It’s best for beginners and intermediate photographers, but even experienced astrophotographers will find it a fun, handy tool of the trade.

V’s Other Tips for GoPro HERO7 Black Astrophotography

  • Use a shorty or tripod. Like with other astrophotography, you need stability to get clear photos. A tripod or shorty is critical for this.
  • Use the time delay on the shutter. In Night Photo mode, this ensures there is no movement from pushing the shutter button.
  • Give the Night Lapse Mode as long as you can to capture frames. It’s better to have too many than too few, especially if you want to try and create a video. 
  • Play around with settings. Unlike a DSLR camera, the auto settings on the GoPro HERO7 Black are great – but they’re a starting point. Try adjusting the settings to see if this improves your photos.

Have other questions about using the GoPro HERO7 Black for astrophotography? Email us!

Produced in Partnership with GoPro

About the Author
Valerie Stimac

Valerie Stimac

Valerie is the founder and editor of Space Tourism Guide. She decided to start the site after realizing how many friends and family had never seen the Milky Way, and that space tourism was going to unlock the next great travel destination: space!

She helps the writing team cover all of the topics you see on the site, but her favorite topic right now is writing about how to see rocket launches around the world.