GoPro Hero 11 Black REVIEW
It’s got an incredibly wide field of vision and amazing picture stabilisation. PAT PILCHER on the new GoPro.
GoPro cameras are the stuff of legend. Not only are they capable of capturing surprisingly decent video, but they’re also built like a brick sh*t house and as such are virtually indestructible. Now GoPro’s back with the GoPro Hero 11 Black.
Would you like to support our mission to bring intelligence, insight and great writing to entertainment journalism? Help to pay for the coffee that keeps our brains working and fingers typing just for you. Witchdoctor, entertainment for grownups. Riveting writing on music, tech, hi-fi, music, film, TV and other cool stuff. Your one-off (or monthly) $5 or $10 donation will support Witchdoctor.co.nz. and help us keep producing quality content. It’s really easy to donate, just click the ‘Become a supporter’ button below.
Looks wise, it bears more than a passing resemblance to its predecessor, the Hero 10. Under its hood sits a bunch of new stuff that takes its already good video/still shooting capabilities to the next level.
Equally nice, GoPro’s team gave the user interface a once-over and crafted a simplified mode so beginners and professionals can quickly get up and running, producing credible results.
So, is the Hero 11 the perfect action camera for sporty folk? Not so long ago, I reviewed the GoPro 10 and was impressed. With the Hero 11 Black, GoPro have introduced many changes that combine to make the Hero 11 Black an extremely capable shooter that pulls off the nearly impossible feat of being suitable for both amateurs and professional camera users alike.
From a design standpoint, GoPro has played it conservatively and stuck with what they know works well. This sees the overall design of the Hero 11 Black being virtually identical to the Hero 10 and the Hero 9. While some reviewers might see this as a minus, many would argue that keeping a largely similar design means that the Hero 11 is compatible with GoPro’s large selection of accessories. Equally important, existing GoPro users will find that batteries are interchangeable between the Hero 11, 10 and 9.
As with the earlier models, the Hero 11 Black’s waterproofing is still industrial strength, including a hydrophobic coating on the lens protector. The Hero 11 is built to withstand thermonuclear war, making it ideal for mountain biking, canoeing, skiing, surfing or even skydiving. For extreme sports types, there are many good reasons why GoPro is the go-to when it comes to cameras.
Hero 10 similarities aside, the big news with the Hero 11 is mostly under its hood. The most significant new addition is a larger image sensor. GoPro didn’t increase the sensor size to deliver higher resolution video or to improve its low-light performance. Instead, they gave the new sensor an 8:7 aspect ratio. This allows for a wider field of view and incredibly capable image stabilisation. Social media users will also like being able to use vertical or horizontal cropping on pre-recorded footage so their video can play nice with platforms by delivering 16:9 video for YouTube, 9:16 footage for TikTok and 4:3 for Instagramming.
If it were just the bucket load of capabilities introduced by the new sensor, that’d be fine, but there’s way more. The Hero 11 is the first GoPro camera to use 10-bit colour. This means it can capture a billion different colours, blowing the paltry 16.7 million colours of earlier 8-bit video capable cameras into the weeds. The good news for anyone looking to colour-grade footage is that they can now match the Hero 11’s video to what they’ve captured on professional cameras.
In use, the HyperView mode is a standout. It delivers an extremely wide field of view, creating a greater sense of immersion with first-person shooting. The HyperSmooth stabilisation makes for super smooth filming, even when doing something extreme like blasting down Mt Vic on a mountain bike. GoPro also added what they call the AutoBoost mode. It will automatically fire up when large amounts of camera shake are detected and subtly zoom in to keep everything looking steady. While professionals have had access to this feature for some time, the Hero 11 seamlessly gives it to us mere mortals, and the recorded results are impressive.
The other piece of video stabilisation trickery baked into the Hero 11 is Horizon levelling. Incredibly, it even works on a 360 rotation. With it, you can toss the camera around, and the recorded video will stay rock-solid. It isn’t just all about the video. Stills can be reframed into horizontal or vertical shots. The new sensor also bumps up still resolutions to 27MP from the 23MP of the Hero 10.
However, all the fancy pants features in the world are not worth a pinch of shit if the camera’s battery life means you hardly get any shooting time out of it. To this end, the Hero 11 ships with what GoPro calls the Enduro battery. According to the GoPro bumf, it gives a 38 per cent increase in filming times. Its improved run times are noticeable in colder weather which can shorten battery life.
Like the Hero 10, the 11 uses the same GP2 CPU, which translates into responsive touch screen menus. Speaking of user interfaces, GoPro has finally realised that many of its users are not videographers but ordinary folk who want to capture decent footage. To this end, they’ve added in an “Easy Mode”, which lets users choose between video quality and battery life, with the Hero 11 figuring out the rest.
The other new shooting modes on the Hero 11 come in the form of time-lapse pre-sets. These allow for light painting effects, vehicle trails and star trails. Like Hyperview, these can deliver stunning results previously only available to kitted-out videographers.
Initially, I struggled to get the Hero 11 to connect to GoPro’s Quik app on my smartphone, but this was resolved once I got my sweaty paws on the latest beta version of it. It can now auto-upload your footage to the GoPro cloud without applying video compression, keeping your footage at source resolution. The GoPro cloud service will also send you an AI-generated highlight reel of your video footage. As good as all that sounds, you’ll need to pay for a subscription to access those features.
Superficially the Hero 11 might look a lot like the Hero 10, but don’t let appearances fool you. An impressive and long list of upgrades delivers a tonne of new capabilities to make the Hero 11 a surprisingly capable camera. It might cost $50 shy of $800, but you get a hell of a lot of camera for your money.