The Max Lens Module (Max Lens) is a dedicated accessory for the all new GoPro Hero 9 Black. This lens has more than one trick up its sleeve: HyperSmooth Max stabilization with ultra-wide field of view, 360-degree horizon maintenance … You don’t get it? Here is our overview and review of the Max lens module, with some supporting video examples.
The GoPro Hero 9 Black uses the same module system as the previous model, and therefore can accommodate accessories supposed to extend its capabilities. This year precisely, in addition to the new GoPro, a lens module was presented. Named “Max”, this accessory increases the field of view of the camera while maintaining the famous HyperSmooth stabilization, but it also offers a advanced horizon locking system.
We tested the Hero 9 Black when it was released, and now is the time to give you our feedback on the Max lens. What can he really do in practice? How does it work ? Who is it dedicated to? This is what we will see in this getting started with the Max lens module.
How to install this module?
The glass lens that protects the lens of the Hero 9 Black can be unscrewed, making it replaceable in the event of breakage or scratching. This feature also allows the use of filters or lenses, including this “Max lens module”. The latter is at present the only lens offered by GoPro, but third-party manufacturers should soon be offering their lenses and lenses – PolarPro filter kits are already available on the GoPro website. Before going any further, know that this Max lens is only compatible with the Hero 9 Black, the brand’s latest camera.
The first installation step is unsurprisingly to unscrew the glass cover from the GoPro. To do this, apply a certain amount of force and turn the guard a quarter of a turn counterclockwise. Note that the Max accessory comes with a rubber protection / storage, which can temporarily be used to secure conventional glass protection – when the Max lens is used. Exactly, all that remains is to screw the latter. Inside, two of the four sides are marked with a notch, so you need to align them properly before rotating the lens a quarter turn clockwise. The gesture is a little intimidating the first few times – we are afraid of damaging the product. However, it is not necessary not hesitate to put pressure on the lens when screwing it : the goal is to make sure that it is properly blocked from all sides. Be careful to check this before setting off on a motorbike or down a ski slope: if it is poorly fixed, the speed will cause it to fall quickly.
The Max objective module // Gamesdone: Maxime Grosjean for Frandroid
Importantly, once after installing the Max lens, do not forget to activate the dedicated mode on the camera, which takes the form of a button accessible in the quick access settings. The Hero 9 Black has no way of knowing that you have changed lenses.
Good news, once fixed, this accessory always guarantees the waterproofness of the camera. Be careful, however, you must not exceed 5 meters deep, against 10 meters in normal times. Also note that it is not advisable to shoot underwater with the Max lens: the videos will undoubtedly present distortions. This sealing is still welcome since it allows you not to worry about splashing water in situations where the camera is not necessarily underwater – here we think of surfing and skiing.
More immersive videos
In its promotional video, GoPro highlights two advantages offered by this accessory. Note that these features were already more or less present on the GoPro Max, the brand’s 360 degree camera that we tested a year ago, and that’s why this accessory bears the name “Max” .
- Ultra wide-angle (155-degree) field of view compatible with HyperSmooth stabilization
- Horizon hold up to 360 degrees
Coupled with the 23.6 megapixel sensor of the Hero 9 Black, the Max lens combines ultra-wide-angle and HyperSmooth stabilization, while the camera’s highest stabilization mode (HyperSmooth Boost) significantly cropped the image. In fact, the SuperView Max field of view is indeed larger than the built-in SuperView mode of the camera. The difference is noticeable, but it is especially when compared to the HyperSmooth Boost stabilization mode that the Max accessory is strong: the image is not only stabilized, but above all is not cropped – it keeps the ultra-wide field of vision, which is not the case with the Boost mode integrated into the camera.
The Max lens module from all angles // Gamesdone: Maxime Grosjean for Frandroid
By setting aside the field of view and focusing on the stabilization itself, we notice a slight improvement, but the basic on-board camera is already excellent. We invite you to read our test of the GoPro Hero 9 Black to find out more. So remember that the highlight of the Max lens is the stabilization + ultra-wide-angle combo, and not both taken apart.
Be careful, the technique has its limits: the maximum definition proposed by the Max module is 2.7K at 60 frames per second. It is in fact up to this definition that the image can be completely returned by the camera. In this video you will find some motorcycle shots shot with the Max lens (from start to 1:32), comparisons between stabilization and field of view of the camera and Max lens (from 1:33 at 3:21), and finally examples and explanations of the hold horizon mode (from 3:22).
Now let’s move on to this famous 360-degree horizon lock. A similar mode is already offered by the Hero 9 Black, but it displays some limitations: it maintains the horizon until the camera rotates more or less 30 degrees, and it is only available with the linear field of view – which is much narrower than SuperView mode. The Max lens offers full horizon lock (no matter how 360 degrees you turn the camera in all directions, the horizon will not move) and is compatible with the SuperView field of view.
This feature is really impressive, but it will now be a question of what it is really for. The motorcycle videos above give a good example of use. In the bends, the horizon remains stable instead of following the movement of the body of the driver who leans: the movements of the handlebars and the arms are then detached from the rest of the image, making the whole more immersive. Even if the horizon lock is here limited to a few degrees (against the 360 that it offers), it should be remembered that we benefit at the same time from a very wide field of vision. Without the Max lens, the video would certainly have benefited from maintaining a similar horizon, but the “linear” field of view would have made it much less pleasant.
Who is it dedicated to?
Let’s be clear, this accessory is not dedicated to the average user. The latter will not really know what to do with it, and will surely leave it at the bottom of the drawer after two or three uses. The simple manipulation required for its installation will inevitably deter many. On reading this article, the many terms “HyperSmooth”, “SuperView”, “Boost” and other “HyperSmooth Max” have surely given the headache to those new to GoPro cameras. If this is your case, We advise you to first discover the camera and the possibilities it offers before thinking about a potential purchase of the Max lens.
This module is however a relevant accessory for designers, who will certainly know how to use it to its full potential. The stabilization + ultra-wide-angle combo allows great freedom in use. We think for example here of fanatics of board sports. The horizon blocking mode is bluffing, but it will take very creative or extreme sports to use it to its full potential – understand up to 360 degrees. This mode of keeping the horizon is also the only one to be compatible with “wide” and “SuperView” fields of view : here too, freedom of use (and therefore of creation) emerges victorious.
Beware of out of stock
The Max lens module is offered at 99.99 euros on the manufacturer’s website, but the price drops to 69.99 euros if you take out the GoPro subscription – which you most certainly did when you bought the Hero 9 Black. Officially on sale since October 16, 2020, the Max lens is currently already out of stock. We hope that this accessory will not have the same stock problems as the modules of the Hero 8 Black.