Review: GoPro Hero 11 Black

If you line up a GoPro 9, 10 and 11 side by side, I challenge anyone to see an immediate difference, because as far as I can tell, there isn’t one.

Resolution and Other Techie Stuff

But under the bonnet, things are very different. The biggest single change is the new sensor which has grown in size to 1/1.9 inches and now has available an 8:7 aspect ratio for shooting, and ups the ante for resolution increasing to 27.13MP up from 23MP.

Now of course this aspect ratio means you can shoot almost square still images in high resolution, but there is another bigger benefit if you are a TikTok’er YouTube’er or Instagram’er. If you shoot video at 8:7, you have the option to crop in editing to 1:1, 4:3, 16:9 or even 9:16 for these platforms. If you use the GoPro Quik app, these presets are already there (assuming you don’t mind smartphone editing of course). It also means you can shoot stabilised 4:3 video with a Superview (GoPro’s widest lens setting).

Another change is you can now shoot 5.3K and 4K at 120Mbps bit rate, an increase of 20% over the Hero 10.

And with the Hero 11, GoPro has opted to go the 10bit colour rate for the very first time. If that is pure gobbledygook to you it simply relates to the number of colours the camera can record, in this case it is 1billion, up from the 16.7 million of the Hero 10.

This means that in shots of the sky with a brilliant sunset say, the gradient between the colours will be considerably smoother and colour definition overall much better.

Stabilisation

Also scoring a makeover is GoPro’s already impressive stabilisation I mentioned earlier. There is a new mode they call AutoBoost which basically means the camera has ‘smarts’ and can detect any shake automatically and switch on the Hypersmooth system.

Shot on GoPro Hero 11 Black in  Supervidei 2.7K Handheld

In conjunction with the stabilisation, like the Hero 10, the Hero 11 has a horizon lock system which basically means as the camera is taken off the horizontal plane (tilted) it will keep the horizon straight in the image. The Hero 10 allowed this up to 27° but the 11 covers a full 360° which means there is a hell of a lot of image processing going on in that sensor which is very impressive indeed.

The other big difference here is that the Hero 11 does all this out of the box whereas the Hero 10 needs the Max Lens Mod.

There is a minor limitation though, in that the maximum frame rate / aspect ratio pair when running at 5.3K is 30fps and 16:9. If you need a faster frame rate, you need to drop the resolution to 4K.

Showing the Horizon Lock

New Imaging Modes

There are three new imaging modes built in: Light Painting, Vehicle Light Trails and Star Trails.

An example of Light Painting is being in a dark room and waving a torch about. The camera shutter will stay open, and the Hero 11 creates a short video clip giving the impression of electronic brush strokes created by the light. Vehicle Lights Trails are similar but used to create the same thing from the lights of moving vehicles. Finally, Star Trails creates star lines caused by an open shutter and the rotation of the Earth.

Power

Sometime back GoPro launched the Enduro battery as an option, but now it ships with the Hero 11. This is said to give you up to 80 minutes of shooting time. GoPro says the Enduro is more efficient when the camera is in “idle” mode.

The Enduro battery is also said to be more efficient in extreme cold.

Firmware

If you are one of those that just want the minimum off fuss to get your stills or video, the Hero 11 now has two modes, Easy Mode and Pro Mode.

Easy Mode simply gives you less options to choose from, letting you basically point and shoot. If you switch to Pro Mode, you get access to all functions and settings of the camera to tweak and experiment to your heart’s content.

The Downside

All these new features are of course very welcome, but there a few things most users wish GoPro would address. The biggest of these by reading through various Facebook Groups is an overheating issue which many say has been a curse since the GoPro Hero 8. I have an 8, 9 and 10 and have never had this issue personally. A number of observers have suggested a lot of people have every function turned in the camera – many of them superfluous to the current operation – and this will not only cause overheating but also minimise battery life, so this is worth checking.

Another solution, and one I often employ, is to remove the battery altogether and use a PowerBank connected via the USB-C. The drawback to this is of course you’ll lose the full portability, but if you have a GoPro mounted on a car, boat, trailbike etc it is a worthwhile option. You need to remove the battery door, sure, but GoPro do also sell a “pass through” door for this very purpose.

The second gripe is the low light usability. There was hope the larger sensor might have knocked this issue on the head but sadly not. Again of course GoPro do make an add on option, the Light Mod, but this needs a shoe to sit in. The easiest way to get this is via the Media Mod (which I have on my 9 and 10 permanently). Why? Because I prefer to have external audio from a Sennheiser MKE200 as against the on-board mics or the mic in the m Media Mod.

I can also use the Hollyland Lark C1 if the situation calls for wireless mic capability.

Pricing

The GoPro Hero 11 retails at $549.98, but much to many dealer’s chagrin I’d venture, you can buy through the GoPro online store with a “subscription” and save $200.

The subscription model offers a few extras, the most notable being automatic Unlimited Cloud Storage. Also included is the GoPro Quik app getting some extra features such as the Speed Tool for slo-mo effects, filters for snow and water and some themes and original music to add to your videos.

You also get offered discounts on GoPro accessories purchased from the site.

Conclusion 

The GoPro is without question the de-facto “standard” in action cameras. I wrote a few years back that many others – Nikon, Canon, Sony included – tried to muscle in on the market but none really took off (despite the Sony offerings being very, very good).

DJI is still hanging in there of course, although with the Action 2, I feel they went slightly off the rails and thus brought out the Action 3 which is more conformist, and is in some ways, I think, superior to the GoPro.

But if it’s an action camera you want, then the Hero 11 has all the things you need with the caveat of the low light and potential overheating issues.

But I have to say at this point, a GoPro is not designed as a “Swiss Knife” camera. There are some things it is just not designed for. I have seen users ask questions about using the GoPro for wedding photography for example …

I suggest a good maxim is the one used by a popular outdoor store. The GoPro is for “BCF-ing fun!”

You can get more information from the GoPro website at https://gopro.com/en/us/shop/cameras

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