For 15 years the team at GoPro have worked hard on improving the world’s most popular action cam. Sometimes the differences between cameras are drastically improved and other times more subtle.
For example, I think if you had a GoPro 8 or 9 they are very comparable, but then the jump to the 10 was extremely significant with the introduction of the front screen and the new G2 chip. The latest GoPro Hero 11 Black has just dropped and the big question everyone is asking is just how much better than last year’s GoPro Hero 10 Black can it be?
The answer is very complicated, as it has lots of improvements, but I would say “a subtle and controlled upgrade”. It feels like the team had extensively researched the consumers of the camera as well as potential customers and created a more user-friendly device making the redevelopment of the software behind the experience the priority in the latest action camera.
It’s Those Little Things to Love
The hardware has had a nice upgrade with the introduction of 10-bit colour which was previously at 8-bit. This has had a massive impact on making sure that the image you capture matches the real-world vision you are seeing with your eyes.
Photos and Frame grabs see an improvement as well thanks to the 27 megapixels on offer in the GoPro Hero 11 Black. Get enough light and your settings right and you’ll have some truly magnificent images.
Video frame rates get a boost as well, 5.3k at 60fps and 4K is now a whopping 120fps (4x slo-mo) for Superview.
The GoPro Hero 11 also has a larger 8×7 sensor which gives you a better field of view creating a more immersive capture. This taller sensor gives you a 360-degree horizon lock in linear mode. This lock is an improvement on something that was already pretty good, but when you compare the outcome you’ll notice the difference.
This and the brilliant HyperSmooth stabilization feature which is now at 5.0 really make the accessories like gimbals a thing of the past as it’s all built into the camera. You can run, ride, or drive as erratically as you like and the image is always smooth and clear.
The other thing I love about the new sensor is when you are recording it allows you to capture more of the field of view, meaning that if you need to then go and create a video for youtube in 16:9 and then an Instagram Reel or TikTok in 9:16. As a content creator having that kind of versatility from one camera shoot on a compact device is a blessing.
This is also a good point to talk about the new social features. GoPro are extremely excited about a new “Automatic Highlight Videos” feature in the Quik App when your footage is uploaded to the cloud, and with good reason, it’s got really clever AI that takes your videos and turns them into a really interesting edit ready-made to upload to your social channels. This is of course part of the subscription service, given that the camera is significantly cheaper when you have a subscription and the warranty vastly better, it’s another good reason to sign up and be part of the community.
The upgrade of SuperView is called HyperView which is a more warped field of view that captures more of what is going on. It can be a bit jarring to watch and is a special use solution for action adventure users.
Low light shooting is still not perfect, even with the added megapixels and upgrades, but the latest night features do make for some stunning images. The three new modes are Star Trails, Vehicle Lights and Light Painting which are all lots of fun. Light Painting in particular is an awesome effect when you have some sparklers on your next camping adventure. Vehicle Lights gives you that “music film clip look” of cars moving at night from a drone or higher vantage point turning them into light bars zipping around and Star Trails will make you want to print out images for wall posters.
I really like how the device is the same dimensions as the GoPro Hero 10 Black as it means I don’t have to fork out for a bunch of new accessories to match.
Not Everything is Perfect
But if I have any gripe about the design at all it’s the battery placement. I use the media mod pretty exclusively when I need to change the battery or SD card on a shoot, I need to unplug the mic I have plugged in, unscrew the device from the tripod, close the feet grips into the camera then take the camera out of the media mod. It’s a bit of a task when you are in a hurry, and recent accessories like the Volta charger handle have helped the battery life last longer but a door on the opposite side of either the media mod or the camera would be handy.
New Battery for Longer Life
They have solved some battery issues though, your GoPro Hero 11 Black comes with the latest Enduro Battery, which gives you longer battery life (38% more) and better performance in cold conditions. After I used the camera on a long studio shoot I noticed that the camera and battery didn’t overheat, this was an issue I had with earlier models. The 11 paired with the new battery and likely the other upgrades have (for me) changed the length of time you can film dramatically.
If you are a new casual user or just don’t want to have to learn the intricate filming options available, GoPro has the camera set out of the box to “easy mode”. In this mode, the camera AI chooses what it thinks will be the best setting based on what is happening around it. It’s really simple to jump into settings and get full control of the details via “Pro Mode” but as a solution for the novice, it’s really clever.
The GoPro Hero 11 Black is the company stamping its innovative authority on the market showing why they are the leader. The additional features to make it easier for new users to pick one up and start using it straight away with no prior knowledge are extremely well thought out and implemented while the hardware updates are enough to make you want to upgrade if you have an 8 or 9 but might not be enough if you currently use a 10. Unless like me, you just want the new best thing.