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GoPro Hero 11 Black Review: Versatile Social Media Camera

The GoPro Hero 11 Black represents the latest flagship model in the action camera lineage that traces its roots back to 2005. While it doesn’t constitute a substantial overhaul from the Hero 10 Black, which will continue to be available at a lower price, it does introduce several noteworthy features. These new additions are especially appealing to content creators focused on social media and video color grading.

Pros:

  1. The new sensor caters to vertical video enthusiasts.
  2. 10-bit mode enhances color grading capabilities.
  3. Superior Enduro battery now comes as a standard feature.
  4. Improved user interface for enhanced user experience.

Cons:

  1. Audio options remain limited.
  2. Still not optimal for low-light conditions.
  3. Competing budget alternatives offer better value.
GoPro Hero 11 Black Review: Versatile Social Media Camera

GoPro Hero 11 Black Specs:

  • Sensor: 1/1.9in (8:7 aspect ratio)
  • Max Video Resolution: 5K/60p
  • Bit-rate Options: 10-bit or 8-bit
  • Slow-Motion Video: 4K/120p
  • Photo Resolution: 27MP
  • Stabilization: HyperSmooth 5.0
  • Battery: GoPro Enduro
  • Processor: GP2

The Hero 11 Black’s novel 1/1.9in sensor primarily aims to broaden its versatility, rather than significantly improve image quality. Featuring an 8:7 aspect ratio, this sensor enables exporting videos in various formats without sacrificing quality or resolution. This flexibility makes it the top choice for shooting social media content, including TikTok and Instagram videos.

This unique aspect ratio also introduces new capabilities, such as the ‘HyperView’ digital lens, offering an equivalent focal length of 12mm. Furthermore, the Horizon Lock feature, once exclusive to the Max Lens Mod, now keeps the horizon steady during a 360-degree camera rotation. It’s worth noting that this applies when not shooting in specific modes like 5.3K/60p or 4K/120p, where Horizon Leveling takes over.

Another significant addition is support for 10-bit video, a first for GoPro. This enhancement provides a more extensive range of color gradations, allowing video editors to fine-tune footage and avoid issues like color banding, especially in GoPro’s ‘flat’ color profile.

The Hero 11 Black retains several features from its predecessor, including ‘Easy’ and ‘Pro’ modes in the menus, offering a point-and-shoot experience and the ability to capture TimeWarp 3.0 videos in 5.3K resolution. Additionally, it maintains the same resolution and frame-rate options as before, allowing for high-quality slo-mo videos.

Moreover, the Hero 11 Black introduces new timelapse features, including Star Trail, Light Painting, and Vehicle Lights options. It now includes GoPro’s Enduro battery as standard, boosting recording times and improving reliability in extreme cold. Overheating issues, reported with the Hero 10 Black’s standard battery, have been notably reduced.

In summary, the Hero 11 Black doesn’t represent a revolutionary departure from its predecessor. It remains the most feature-rich and user-friendly action camera on the market, especially suited for multi-platform content creation. However, it still faces limitations in low-light performance and onboard audio quality. Further testing is needed before delivering a final verdict, but for now, here’s our initial review of the GoPro Hero 11 Black.

GoPro Hero 11 Black: Price and Availability

GoPro Hero 11 Black: Price and Availability

The GoPro Hero 11 Black is currently up for grabs at $399.98 / £399.98 / AU$649.95 with a GoPro Subscription or $499.99 / £499.99 / AU$799.95 without it. It’s wise to dive into the subscription’s details, especially for the initial year. While it can be canceled at any time, GoPro aims to keep users invested with cloud features like backups and highlights.

Post the first year, the subscription costs $49.99 / £49.99 / AU$69.99 annually. Therefore, it’s crucial to weigh the value of its features before automatic renewal. The upfront savings make the Subscription bundle a compelling option.

GoPro Hero Range Prices

ModelPrice (with GoPro Subscription)Price (without GoPro Subscription)
GoPro Hero 11 Black$399.98 / £399.98 / AU$649.95$499.99 / £499.99 / AU$799.95
GoPro Hero 11 Black Creator Edition$579.98 / £579.98 / AU$929.95$699.99 / £699.99 / AU$1,099.95
GoPro Hero 11 Black Mini$299.98 / £299.98 / AU$499.95$399.99 / £399.99 / AU$649.95
GoPro Hero 10 Black$349.98 / £349.98 / AU$549.95$449.99 / £449.99 / AU$699.95

Interestingly, the Hero 11 Black has two distinct variants. For vloggers, the Hero 11 Black Creator Edition bundles a battery grip (promising over four hours of 4K recording per charge), a directional microphone, external mic input, HDMI port, an LED light, and two cold-shoe mounts for accessories. The Creator Edition costs $579.98 / £579.98 / AU$929.95 with a Subscription, or $699.99 / £699.99 / AU$1,099.95 without one.

A more intriguing choice is the Hero 11 Black Mini, a standard Hero 11 Black minus front and rear screens. Regrettably, it won’t be available until October 25, costing $299.98 with a Subscription or $399.99 without it.

If you’re seeking a more budget-friendly GoPro, the new ‘entry-level’ option is the Hero 10 Black, now priced at $349.98 / £349.98 / AU$549.95 with a Subscription or $449.99 / £449.99 / AU$699.95 without one, a substantial reduction from its earlier Subscription price of $399 / £379 / AU$599.95.

Design Review

Design Review

The Hero 11 Black maintains the same design as its predecessor, the Hero 10 Black. Notably, it offers an impressive scratch-resistant lens. The menu system introduces ‘Easy’ and ‘Pro’ modes for added convenience.

Distinguishing between the Hero 11 Black and its forerunner can be challenging since they share identical appearances. Unlike the Hero 10 Black, which featured an improved water-repellent lens coating, the only design alteration is the inclusion of the GoPro Enduro battery as a standard feature.

Design Review

Although the Enduro battery was an optional add-on for the Hero 10 Black and Hero 9 Black since November 2021, it’s a welcomed inclusion due to its ability to extend battery life in specific situations by up to 38% and its reliability in extreme cold. The Hero 11 Black retains GoPro’s signature toughness, boasting water resistance to 10m without the need for an additional case.

For vloggers, a 1.4-inch front LCD is available. It offers smoother performance compared to its introduction in the Hero 9 Black, thanks to the GP2 processor’s increased frame rates. The rear features a 2.27-inch touchscreen, which, while responsive, feels somewhat dated.

This improved touchscreen experience is notably better than the sluggish interface on the Hero 9 Black, thanks to the GP2 processor. The UI now offers ‘Easy’ and ‘Pro’ modes. ‘Easy’ simplifies the experience to point-and-shoot, while ‘Pro’ caters to experienced users with various presets and ProTune controls, including the new 10-bit mode for 4K and higher resolutions.

In practice, the Hero 11 Black is a polished, user-friendly camera that springs to life in seconds. It shares the same speed of operation as the Hero 10 Black and is three seconds quicker than the Hero 9 Black. The lens indeed boasts impressive scratch resistance, remaining unblemished even after rigorous use.

Mounting the Hero 11 Black on bikes and helmets is straightforward, although not as streamlined as the DJI Osmo Action 3. Those who prefer head-mounted action cameras might find the Hero 11 Black Mini appealing, offering the same capabilities in a smaller, screenless package. Our review will be updated once we’ve had the opportunity to put it through its paces.

GoPro Hero 11 Black: Enhanced Features

GoPro Hero 11 Black Review: Enhanced Features

The Hero 11 Black brings substantial upgrades beneath the surface. Foremost, it houses a novel 1/1.9-inch sensor with an unusual 8:7 aspect ratio, catering to vertical videos.

This revamped sensor delivers 27MP still photos, a step up from the Hero 10 Black’s 23MP. The sensor’s unique aspect ratio significantly enhances flexibility.

Much like the Panasonic Lumix GH6, the Hero 11 Black’s sensor excels at capturing videos in various aspect ratios, particularly vertical ones for TikTok and Instagram.

This sensor addition amounts to a 4MP increase in vertical resolution while retaining the same horizontal resolution. It allows shooting in an ‘8:7’ mode and exporting in different formats like 9:16 via the Quik app, maintaining high image quality for vertical exports.

This feature is particularly beneficial for social media creators posting on platforms with different stylistic requirements, such as YouTube and TikTok.

GoPro Hero 11 Black Review

The ‘taller’ sensor also brings further advantages, including the new HyperView digital lens, ideal for immersive ‘point-of-view’ footage. Additionally, the Horizon Lock feature, previously exclusive to the Max Lens Mod, maintains level footage, even during 360-degree camera rotation.

Horizon Lock isn’t available when shooting certain video modes, instead defaulting to Horizon Leveling. The feature works best with the Linear lens and is invaluable for rotational movements like wingsuit flights.

The Hero 11 Black’s stabilization has improved in 4:3 aspect ratio video, and it introduces an AutoBoost setting that activates HyperSmooth when needed.

A notable inclusion is the ability to record 10-bit video, a first for GoPro, beneficial for those who prefer post-production color grading.

While GoPro is known for its simplicity, this feature caters to more experienced videographers. The lack of desktop editing software in favor of the Quik app may present a challenge.

The Hero 11 Black enhances timelapses with new ‘night effects,’ including Light Painting, Star Trails, and Vehicle Lights. TimeWarp mode now supports 5.3K resolution.

However, audio options remain limited, requiring external accessories like the Pro 3.5mm mic adaptor or GoPro’s Media Mod for improved audio quality.

Despite its larger sensor, the Hero 11 Black’s low-light performance remains subpar, as the sensor primarily serves aspect ratio options rather than improving light sensitivity. If low-light performance is crucial, consider the Insta360 One R 1-Inch Edition.

GoPro Hero 11 Black: Video and Image Quality

GoPro Hero 11 Black: Video and Image Quality

The Hero 11 Black maintains the same maximum resolutions as its predecessor: 5.3K/60p and 4K/120p. Notable improvements include a higher maximum bit-rate of 120Mbps (up from 100Mbps on the Hero 10 Black) and the ability to capture 24.7MP photo frame-grabs from 5.3K 8:7 video.

However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that the primary improvements are in features and user experience rather than drastic image quality enhancements. While the 10-bit color mode appeals to those comfortable with color grading, most GoPro users prefer a straightforward point-and-shoot experience.

The ‘Natural’ profile, alongside the ‘GoPro’ and ‘flat’ options, produces pleasing results with balanced saturation. Sharpness defaults to ‘medium,’ contributing to a more natural look. The Hero 11 Black delivers exceptional video quality for an action camera, combined with a user-friendly interface ideal for beginners.

Selecting the highest resolution, 5K/60p, has trade-offs related to stabilization and overheating. The Hero 11 Black, however, demonstrates satisfactory heat management, lasting 58 minutes and 12 seconds during continuous 5K/30p recording without airflow.

High frame rates like 4K/120p may lead to heating issues, but such settings are not typically used continuously. While slow-motion settings might result in slightly soft video in certain conditions, features like Horizon Lock and HyperSmooth significantly influence the final output, enabling unique video creation not achievable with smartphones.

Early Assessment

Last year, the GoPro Hero 10 Black earned its reputation as a social media workhorse, but the baton now passes to its successor, the Hero 11 Black.

While it doesn’t revolutionize image quality, the Hero 11 Black excels in versatility, thanks to its innovative sensor. The ability to export videos in various aspect ratios without sacrificing quality makes it a go-to choice for multi-platform social media creators.

Despite its strength, the Hero 11 Black hasn’t addressed audio or low-light limitations. Nevertheless, it remains the epitome of a user-friendly, durable pocket camera for novices.

Further evaluation, especially with the updated Quik app, is underway before we render a final verdict and rating. The Hero 11 Black has the potential to secure a top spot in our best action cameras lineup and become the preferred GoPro for most users, even with the price reduction of the Hero 10 Black.

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