If you’ve followed this site for any amount of time, you know that I absolutely love action cameras like a GoPro, especially when it comes to snorkeling (which we’re all about here). They’re waterproof, easy to travel with, capture awesome photos and videos both in and out of the water, and have let me capture incredible travel memories that I can hold onto forever. My various GoPros have always been one of my favorite pieces of travel and snorkel gear.
If you’re new to GoPros and thinking about buying one, your first question is probably around how much a GoPro costs. There’s an easy answer and a more involved answer to that, but let’s start with the easy answer.
How much does a GoPro cost? Of the most popular GoPro action camera models, the GoPro Hero10 Black retail price is $499, the GoPro Hero9 Black retail price is $399, and the GoPro MAX retail price is $499.
That’s the easy answer on what a GoPro costs (at least, for the camera itself), and the retail prices are usually pretty reliable until a new model comes out. Once or twice a year you may see prices come down by about $50, though, typically around the holidays in November and December.
But, you might be wondering what the difference is between the different GoPro models (and which one is right for you). And, there are also some possible unexpected costs which you should be aware of, too. Let’s take a quick run through all of that information so you can be confident in which GoPro is right for you, and how much you’ll need to spend to really do it right.
Let’s take a look at what the GoPro costs are for the various popular models, and also what you’re getting for your money.
How much does the GoPro Hero10 Black cost?
My pick for the best action camera around is undoubtedly the GoPro Hero10 Black (look it up on Amazon), both for snorkeling and land-based photo and video. In my opinion, it currently represents the gold standard for action cameras.
The GoPro Hero10 Black costs $449-499. For that money, you’ll find yourself with a 5.3K image sensor that also captures 23-megapixel photos — both big jumps from the last generation of anyone’s action camera, pre-Hero9 — along with excellent HyperSmooth 4.0 image stabilization and frames-per-second video ranges from 24fps all the way up to an impressive 240fps. (Normal video is typically either 24fps or 30fps, with anything above that being used for various levels of slow-motion video.)
The Hero10 Black is waterproof down to 10m / 33ft, and the camera itself is solid and well-built while still being compact and super easy to tote around. The camera also has a front-facing screen (new with the Hero9) for selfie action along with a larger battery that can squeeze a hugely-helpful 112 minutes of filming at 4K.
Ultimately, the specs are great, but the true magic of the Hero10 Black lies in its further-improved features that were new with the Hero9, many of which were previously only available to GoPro Labs beta testers. At the top of that list are Hindsight (which can help make sure that you don’t miss capturing any important action by allowing you to save things that happened in front of your camera even if you weren’t recording — huge for snorkeling) and Horizon Lock (which locks your footage to a rock-solid level horizon, completely eliminating shaking or bobbing video — also huge for snorkeling, among other things).
I’ve found it well worth the cost and there’s a lot else to like about this camera. This overview, admittedly, is a very quick summary of the Hero10 black. If you want to learn more about the GoPro Hero10 Black (Amazon) and all of its specs and features, check out The Newest GoPro for Snorkeling: 3 Keys for Buying or Upgrading to the HERO 10 Black.
How much does the GoPro Hero9 Black cost?
If you have an extra few bucks for the Hero10 Black, it’s a big step up over almost anything else and worth the extra money. If you’d rather save a little, though, the GoPro Hero9 Black (also on Amazon) — GoPro’s previous version of its Hero Black action camera — is still an excellent option.
The GoPro Hero9 Black costs $349-399. It’s a solid savings over the Hero10 Black and it will actually get you the same 5.3K image sensor which can capture 20-megapixel photos with 112 minutes of battery life at 4K video, along with the key snorkeling features like Horizon Lock/HyperSmooth 3.0 video stabilization and Hindsight recording that were new with the Hero9 (and still present in the Hero10), as well as a second front-facing screen and that all-important waterproof seal down to 10 meters or 33 feet.
You’ll be missing the Hero10 Black’s new GP2 processor (which makes things faster and allows for slightly larger photos and more video frame rate options at higher resolutions) along with the new hydrophobic lens cover (which is really nice near water, but doesn’t really change things when in the water). But, if you’re looking to save some dough while still ending up with an excellent action camera, the Hero9 Black definitely does fit the bill.
For more on the GoPro Hero9 Black (Amazon) and its features, specs and uses, check out our more thorough review at The New GoPro Hero9 Black: Is it the Best GoPro for Snorkeling?
How much does the GoPro MAX cost?
The GoPro MAX (here on Amazon) is decidedly different than both the Hero10 and Hero9 Black in that while the Hero Black cameras capture what’s right in front of them (and capture it well), the MAX captures everything around it. It’s a 360-degree camera and you can definitely do some cool stuff with it.
The GoPro MAX costs $499. Ultimately, since more goes into building a 360 camera, its suggested retail price is just more expensive. But, it may be worthwhile depending on what you’re looking to do. Check out GoPro’s demo reel below for some idea of how you can move around the 360-degree “view” when editing to create some really unique shots that kind of look like you have a tiny drone following you around:
The MAX’s specs don’t directly compare to the Hero Black cameras because it’s a whole other language when it comes to 360 cameras, but it still has HyperSmooth image stabilization, the ability to do normal and slo-mo video, and the ability to capture excellent photo and video.
The one direct-comparison knock against the GoPro MAX (Amazon), however, is that it’s only waterproof down to 5m / 16ft (instead of the 10m / 33ft of the Hero Black cameras), so usually the Hero Black cameras are a better choice for snorkeling unless you have a special desire for 360-degree filming.
The GoPro costs that we’ve outlined to this point are just for the cameras themselves, which is probably what’s been at the front of your mind when considering buying an action camera. The price for the camera will most certainly be the majority of the cost which you’ll need to think about, but there are a couple of key accessories that you’ll definitely want to consider to keep your investment safe and make sure you can use it to its full potential.
A Fast microSD Memory Card with Enough Storage
First, before you can even start taking photos or recording video, you’ll need to pick up a microSD memory card to plug into your GoPro and save everything on. But, not all microSD cards are created equal.
Different memory cards save data at different speeds, and since a GoPro will send a huge amount of data to your card every instant (especially when recording video at 4K or 5K resolution), you need a memory card that will keep up or you can easily end up with missing or corrupt photos or video, which is a huge disappointment when later you go to look at everything you had captured and realize it’s gone.
Plus, 4K and 5K video along with any photos you’re taking do tend to be huge files and take up a lot of space, so you need a memory card with enough storage to at least last you a day until you can get back home and offload your footage. If you skimp on storage, you’ll inevitably end up missing something awesome after your memory card fills up.
You can expect to spend about $45 on a good microSD memory card at this level, and I really like and recommend the SanDisk microSDXC UHS-I (on Amazon). It’s really dang fast at 2000 IOPS and I’m always using one with at least 256gb of storage, which tends to last at least a full day with decent use on high settings.
A GoPro Handgrip
Next, GoPros are kind of awkward to use when holding them directly in your hand. Their compact sizes are great for traveling and being able to just be thrown in a pocket or backpack, but that also makes them easy to drop since there’s nothing substantial to really hold onto.
So, I always recommend picking up a handgrip which attaches to the GoPro itself and gives you a much better handhold to prevent droppage/breakage. I also recommend getting a floating handgrip if you think you’ll ever use your GoPro in or even anywhere near water. While GoPros do have their respective waterproofing, they definitely do not float, and there are plenty of stories about people who fumbled their GoPro to the bottom of the sea along with all of the memories stored on them. Don’t be one of them.
So, it’s wise to spend a few bucks (about $20) on a handgrip to make sure that you don’t lose hold of your action camera investment and risk breaking or losing it altogether.
I’ve been really pleased for years with the CamKix Waterproof Telescopic Floating Handgrip (on Amazon) since it checks all of my boxes. You can use the short fixed handgrip directly on the GoPro, add in the longer telescoping extender (great for getting higher shots, closer shots, or selfies), and it easily floats with my GoPro attached.
Other GoPro Accessories
There are literally thousands of GoPro accessories out there, but my favorites always have to do with snorkeling (of course!)
From the PolarPro Dive Filters (on Amazon), which help you get much better underwater photo and video, to the Telesin GoPro Dome (Amazon) to your regular old extra battery and charger (Amazon), there’s plenty out there that can help you quickly up your GoPro game.
We won’t spend too much time on those extras here, but if you’re interested, there’s tons of useful information over at The Best GoPro Accessories for Snorkeling: 5 I Can’t Do Without and What’s the Best GoPro Red Filter for Snorkeling & Scuba?
GoPro is usually considered the gold standard when it comes to action cameras, but if what a GoPro costs feels a little outside of your price range, there are some alternatives which can save you a few bucks.
Right now, there really isn’t a comparable action camera to the GoPro Hero10 Black (Amazon) or its younger sibling, the Hero9 Black (Amazon), out there. But, if you’re more interested in a lower price than having every feature, the GoPro Hero8 Black (Amazon) or the DJI Osmo Action (over on Amazon) are good alternatives.
They’re both very similar action cameras with the trade-off, for the most part, being that the Osmo Action is cheaper, typically priced at $199, (versus $299 for the Hero8). Also, DJI’s offering actually has a front-facing selfie screen like the Hero10/Hero9 Blacks (which the Hero8 Black does not), but the specs and performance are overall a bit better with the Hero8 Black versus the Osmo Action.
If you’re set on a 360-degree camera like the GoPro MAX (Amazon), an excellent alternative is the Insta360 ONE X2 (Amazon) at $425. Performance is pretty neck-and-neck between the two 360 cameras, so the ~$70 that the ONE X2 can save you over the MAX could be a decision-maker for some, and there is definitely a camp of Insta360 loyalists out there that swear by their cameras.
If you need more info on GoPro alternatives, we have lots over at The Best Underwater Action Cameras for Snorkeling: GoPro & More.
The Deep Dive
What you’ll pay for a GoPro certainly isn’t nothing, but compared to the costs (often in the thousands of dollars) to get similar action rigs with regular camera equipment, action cameras are by far the cheapest way to capture quality photos and video in extreme situations as well as underwater.
You can expect to pay somewhere between $349 and $499 for a GoPro depending on which model is right for you (and any sales that might pop up), or $199-399 for a cheaper GoPro-alternative action camera. After that, it’s up to you what you might want to spend on accessories, but I highly recommend picking up a higher-end microSD card for around $45 and a capable floating handgrip at about $20.
If I factor in how much cheaper action cameras are than a full camera rig for action sports or even something like snorkeling coupled with the invaluable memories that I’ve been able to capture and will be able to hold onto and share for the rest of time, the cost of a GoPro has been a no-brainer for me over the years, and will likely continue to be so. I hope you can experience the same!
First, here are direct links to the product pages of the main items mentioned in this article where you can learn more about them before ordering:
- GoPro Hero10 Black
- GoPro Hero9 Black
- GoPro MAX
- SanDisk microSDXC UHS-I Memory Card
- CamKix Waterproof Telescoping Hand Grip
- DJI Osmo Action
- GoPro Hero8 Black
- Insta360 ONE X2
Next, if you’re looking for more information on GoPros and other action cameras, check out some of our other articles: