The Hero 11 Black, GoPro’s new flagship camera, looks just like last year’s Hero 10 Black except for the number change on the side. There is one big change on the inside, though, and that change enables several features that will make the camera more appealing to everyone from professionals and creatives to casual users and even first-time GoPro buyers.
Let’s start with the biggest upgrade: The new image sensor. The GoPro uses an 8:7, 1/1.9-inch sensor. While the increase in size improves quality somewhat, it’s more about how the GoPro uses the full sensor for 27-megapixel photos and 5.3K resolution video with an 8:7 aspect ratio. With a high definition 8:7 aspect ratio, a single clip can be edited to 16:9, 4:3 or 1:1 or vertical video at 7:8, 3:4 or 9:16. This means whatever social media platform you choose – YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok – the single clip can be edited to suit your needs. Even better, GoPro’s Quik app makes the whole process painless. Plus, with all the extra resolution, you can crop and still have good looking results.
The sensor also enables HyperView, an even more immersive wide-angle shot compared to the SuperView setup on previous models. Lateral distortion is extreme, so you may want to use it sparingly, but you get the widest and highest frame possible.
The Hero 11 Black also has HyperSmooth 5.0, GoPro’s digital image stabilization. It remains impressive in the toughest situations and has now been improved when shooting 4:3 video and in SuperView. And you can shoot linear video with Horizon Lock, which means the camera can rotate 360 degrees, but the video remains right side up and horizontal. However, I did notice significant motion blur when using Horizon Lock and HyperSmooth in low-light conditions, and it’s best to avoid this combination. However, if you have enough light, you’re good to go.
Two other new features for more advanced shooters: The bitrate is switchable for shooting up to 120 Mbps, and you can turn on 10-bit color. Turn them on and videos have more detail, more than a billion colors for smoother gradients and less color banding. However, while shooting in 5.3K with 16-bit color and high bitrates, you create large files. You’ll want to keep your clips short and use a large and fast microSD card (I tested with Samsung 512GB Pro Plus).
Dealing with too many settings
The Hero 11 Black has a lot of settings, and even for someone like me who likes to experiment, it can be a bit much. To help, GoPro created Easy and Pro modes. Pro unlocks all settings, while Easy mode reduces them to just a few options that are controlled with shortcuts on the touchscreen. I found the easy mode more confusing at first because I’m used to the regular, now called Pro, interface. But if you don’t want to mess with the settings, now you have the option to simplify things.
As for new shooting modes, GoPro has added three new long-exposure time-lapse options for use at night. If you live somewhere you can see stars, you can capture star trails as the earth rotates. There’s also a vehicle light trail mode and an option for fun light painting. The good thing is that the Quik app makes it easy to capture single frames from videos for high-resolution photos from these modes.
GoPro also optimizes the camera to improve battery life by reducing power consumption when the camera is on but inactive. The Hero 11 Black also comes with GoPro’s Enduro battery, which not only lasts longer, but performs better in the cold.
Is the GoPro subscription worth it?
GoPro has been pushing its cloud subscription service for the past few years. Along with unlimited full-resolution backups of your content, you get deep discounts on new cameras and other gear, damage protection, and full access to editing tools in the Quik app and online.
The auto-upload feature is the main attraction for me. As soon as you turn on the charging camera, it will automatically upload the videos and photos to the cloud service for instant sharing and storage. Plus, the service will now take your related clips once they’re uploaded and automatically cut them together into an edited video with highlights. You can then change this video if you want or share it as is. The feature just went online so I was only able to put together a short video on my trip from New Jersey to New York. But it was great to get a finished video without having to do anything but charge the camera.
Meet the Mini
Alongside the Hero 11 Black, GoPro announced the Hero 11 Mini. A few years ago GoPro had a small cube camera without a viewing screen the session. It didn’t have the best image quality, but it was small and could be mounted in places that weren’t possible with the larger Heros, so it was one of my favorite cameras. The Hero 11 Mini is something similar, but has all the resolutions and shooting speeds available in the 11 Black.
The Mini has rear and bottom mounting fingers, making it more versatile for helmet mounting or tight spots. However, the battery is built-in and you’ll need to connect to the Quik app for many settings changes.
How much is the new GoPro Hero 11 Black?
Now let’s talk about pricing. As with the Hero 10 Black, pricing is complicated for the Hero 11 Black. The camera itself costs $499 (£499, AU$800). But if you buy directly from GoPro.com and sign up for GoPro’s subscription service – which is included with the camera – GoPro takes a $100 discount, so it’s $399 (£399, AU$650).
The Creators Edition, which includes the camera, Volta battery grip, Media Mod and Light Mod, costs $700 (£700, AU$1,100). The Hero 11 Mini is expected to be available on October 25 and will retail for $400 (£400, AU$650). Sign up for a GoPro subscription and the price drops to $580 for the Creator Edition and $300 for the Mini.
So overall, this is an excellent upgrade if your current GoPro is a few generations behind, or if you’re a creative or enthusiast looking to improve your photos and videos. For the average GoPro user, there’s not much here to warrant an upgrade from the 10 Black, but you might want to pick up the Mini for dual-camera shots. Additionally, automatic highlight videos are available to any GoPro subscriber with a Hero 5 Black or newer. If you already have a current camera, you might be better off putting your money into a subscription, which is $50 a year. A one-year subscription is also included with the purchase of a new camera if you choose to purchase the 11 Black, Creator Edition or Mini.