Over the past few years, we’ve seen some great evolutionary, as well as revolutionary changes to the GoPro cameras. There has been the addition of the front screen making it a great option for Vloggers, improved video quality, more mods and even changes in how videos are taken from the camera to your phone.
All of that has continued with the Hero 11 cameras, yes plural, released this year. What has also continued is that GoPro has worked hard to make the camera functional, but has also worked really hard to get you faster and easier access to your footage and make it easier to share.
The looks and features
As was the case with the Hero 10 last year, you’re looking at 5.3K video capture with an increase to 27-megapixels photos this time around. It features a heap of video capture modes and features, some of which were previously only available with expensive mods such as horizon lock.
With a pile of optimisations having been added to the system, as well as a 1,720mAh enduro battery in the box, one of the biggest criticisms of previous generations has been addressed. Of course, your battery life will vary depending on what you’re filming, where and at what quality, but in our testing; the Hero 11 Black battery life is significantly better than the Hero 10.
We tested this side by side with full batteries in multiple scenarios with identical settings, consistently the Hero 11 lasted around 30% to 35% longer
The physical hardware remains — as has been the case for several generations of cameras now — waterproof to 33 feet without a case and, in testing, water quickly dissipates from the lens when you remove it from water.
If you’re adding to a collection of cameras, previous camera buyers will be happy to know that any mounts you have, as well as the batteries from the Hero 9 and 10 will fit the Hero 11. This isn’t just a matter of convenience, but it also adds a huge amount of flexibility to your camera set. Visually, if you’re not really looking for it; it’s actually quite difficult to discern the difference between the 10 and 11 through the materials used and the presentation of the cameras.
When it comes to video capture, the Hero 11 can capture:
- 5.3K at 60FPS
- 4K at 120FPS
- 2.7K at 240FPS
- 8X Slo-mo video capture
The Hero 11 Black has the GP2 chip onboard that was introduced in the Hero 10, so you’ll see — with some other improvements in software — a continued better user experience. Menu navigation, setting changes and even camera start-up is faster than in the previous version. If you remember back to the Hero 8 and to a lesser extent the 9, then you’ll know how important this is to your experience.
HyperSmooth 5 almost removes any need for a gimbal
I’m continually impressed at how good camera technology is getting at stabilising photos and videos when people are on the move. In this case, I’m honestly astounded because even in the middle of a boxing class wearing a chest mount, the footage was smooth and consistent.
With some of the capabilities of the previous generation lens mods now built in, including horizon lock, the scenarios you can take your GoPro into without concern for it coming out unscathed and with usable footage is nearly limitless. Something to consider though is that you may want to — activity-dependent — want to turn off or reduce the stabilisation. The reason I say this is that it’s so good, that it can actually make some activities look almost mundane in nature by removing some of the bumps and jolts you experience.
Auto-upload, Highlight videos and the subscription experience
As part of the GoPro subscription model, there has been for a while now, the option to automatically upload your videos to the cloud. While this is a great start, this just gets your footage off of your camera into a more permanent storage option. This year, lined up with the release of the Hero 11 cameras, GoPro has added auto-highlights.
From a user perspective, your footage uploads to the cloud and then the GoPro AI does some magic. Once the magic is finished you’ll get a notification on your phone that a highlight video is ready. You can then view and instantly share it to YouTube and your social media; all without having to manually download, manage or edit your footage on your devices. If you want to you can still manage footage manually on your phone through the camera and footage management options within the app.
Video and Image quality
What really can’t be overstated here is just how much versatility is now available in the GoPro Hero 11. The improved sensor means you’ve got a lot of choice in aspect ratio, from a full cinematic 5.3k recording at 60 FPS, down to 4K at 120 FPS or all the way down to 9:16 for social media posts that don’t lose surroundings, resolution, immersion and context of your video.
In short: The Hero 11 Black is a huge deal when it comes to videography and keeps GoPro at the front of a competitive field in action cameras. When you add 27MP still images into the mix, you’re getting a significantly better result across all capture modes.
Should you buy one?
In many cases, I have previously recommended the previous generation of technology if you’re shopping on a budget. The reality here is that you’re getting a better experience, better image quality and better battery life; I simply can’t see any reason buyers would go that way now unless the decision is purely budget based.
Whether you’re adding to a collection, upgrading an old one or buying your first GoPro – The Hero 11 is what you should be buying.
When the Hero 9 was released, the front-facing screen was a great move it’s now come of age. I don’t see the GoPro as an action enthusiast’s camera anymore. The GoPro is a lifestyle camera, it’s very capable of handling and surviving some of the craziest stuff adrenaline junkies can think of or simply capturing a day out with friends and family.
The GoPro subscription too is well worth the money, not just for the discount on cameras but the automatic uploads with unlimited storage, and automatic highlight videos you’ll be sent. Like many DIY home security setups, the subscription adds polish to the package and makes it a complete experience.
The Hero 11 Black is available now at $649.95 (AUD) for GoPro Subscribers and $869.94 MSRP
GoPro has not requested the return of the device at completion of the review.