GoPro is a name that’s synonymous with action cameras, and while there are others in the fray, its offerings are the go-to choice for those looking to capture their trysts with adventure activities or outdoor sports. Its latest comes in the form of the Hero11 Black, an action camera that retains the signature GoPro look but gains new features and capabilities. On offer is a larger new sensor, along with fresh features that include HyperSmooth 5.0 stabilisation, full horizon lock, the capability to switch between easy and pro modes, new night photography modes, and the inclusion of the hitherto optional Enduro battery in the box. Let me take you through a few points to give you an idea of what works well and the aspects that don’t impress too much.
- The latest action camera retains the same form factor and design as its predecessor, the Hero10 Black, which itself borrowed the design from the Hero9. While there’s nothing new in terms of design, the new model isn’t just compact (while being rugged and waterproof), it can make use of any accessory from the massive range available for these devices. The accessory range includes different types of mounts, mods, cases etc available both from GoPro as well as other brands, and you can buy the ones you need as per your own requirements and use cases. GoPro’s standard folding fingers are there on the base of the camera as usual, and these allow you to attach the device to different kinds of mounts and stands — of the handheld variety, floor stands / tripods, and other mounts designed for cars, helmets, chest straps, etc.
The device also features dual screens, a smaller one on the front and a slightly larger, touch-enabled one on the rear. There are just two physical buttons on the device — a power key that doubles up as a mode button on the left, and a shutter key on top. And these buttons are quite large too, and are accessible if you’re wearing gloves and / or are participating in a sport or other physical activity. And just in case you can’t press those keys, or don’t want to, you can always use voice commands. Uttering “GoPro, start recording” can do the job, and the device supports voice commands for performing other basic tasks as well. The USB Type-C port for charging is hidden under the battery door on the right side of the camera, and it’s worth noting that the latter does need a bit of effort to pry open.
- The 2.27-inch touch LCD on the rear is the main point of interaction with the device, apart from voice commands and the physical mode button. Because of the screen’s small size, the UI and controls can be a tad fiddly to use. However, the device offers a plethora of options to customise and save your own presets, and once you have a bunch of these set up to your liking, you might not need to dive deep into the menus very often. Notably, the GoPro Hero11 Black now offers a choice between easy and pro modes, with the former designed to make things as easy as possible for newbies, effectively converting the camera into a point-and-shoot. On the other hand, the pro mode allows you to change and customise pretty much all aspects of video shooting.
- The GoPro Hero11 Black pairs over Bluetooth with a smartphone, and uses Wi-Fi to upload media to the cloud. The paid GoPro subscription, in fact, gives you access to unlimited cloud storage for all your footage, and you can enable auto uploads to back up everything you’ve captured online. GoPro’s Quik app (available on Android and iOS) manages things and lets you manage your media and control settings. As a bonus, you also get a highlights video that gets created automatically using your captures and gives you readymade content that you can share with others. The Quik app also offers various other features such as video editing and the ability to update your camera firmware.
- The new sensor can do 10-bit capture, and uses a unique 8:7 aspect ratio that lets you crop your video for a variety of different social platforms and sizes. Up to 5.3K resolution is supported, at 60fps. So you can get 1:1 videos for Instagram or 16:9 for YouTube or 9:16 for YouTube Shorts, all from the same footage. This works not only for videos, but still images too. Also worth mentioning that the new sensor bumps up the still image resolution to 27MP, up from 23MP offered by the previous model. And if you wish, you can choose to capture stills in RAW too, or use screen grabs from the video footage in case push comes to shove. A new HyperView mode is on offer, enabling a super-wide and tall perspective and there’s 360-degree horizon locking as well. Timelapse shooting modes also include options for capturing star trails, light painting and vehicle lights. I didn’t have much luck capturing star trails, not with the pollution affecting the night skies in Delhi, but the light painting mode is super fun.
- Once you’ve figured out the settings and presets that work best for your use cases, the GoPro Hero11 Black can capture high-quality footage, and when the going gets tough (read bumpy / choppy), does a great job in terms of stabilisation. You basically don’t need a gimbal, and the GoPro’s imperviousness to the elements, along with the different types of mounting options (when paired with the right accessory) makes it possible to take it places and use it in scenarios which wouldn’t have been feasible otherwise.
What’s not so good
- Not everything is hunky-dory when it comes to usage though. The easy mode seems too limiting, whereas the pro mode has so many options that setting them up could seem daunting to a new user… there’s no middle ground here. There’s a learning curve involved, and one really needs to spend time with the various settings, play around with them and try them out in different scenarios to figure out what works best.
- Also, the 1,720mAh Enduro battery, which was an optional purchase earlier but is now included in-box with the Hero11 Black doesn’t really last that long. Expect about an hour to an hour and a half of shooting time, and the fact that it takes a bit of an effort to pry the battery door open, and that charging the camera takes a while, doesn’t help either.
Smartphone cameras have edged out point-and-shoot cameras long ago, and action cameras must also be facing the heat, at least to some extent. The iPhone 14 Pro Max, for example, now features an action mode for video shooting that stabilises the footage, and similarly, many other smartphones also offer special stabilisation capabilities that promise shake-free footage. Features like horizon lock are available on the likes of the Vivo X80 Pro as well. On the other hand, thanks to its compact size, mounting options and the fact that it’s rugged and waterproof, the GoPro Hero11 makes a case for itself, especially for outdoor enthusiasts and those who partake in adventure sports. At Rs 51,500, it doesn’t come cheap, but it can go where no smartphone can, and capture some nice, shake-free footage too.
Editor’s rating: 4 / 5
- Good image quality & stabilisation
- Lots of creative options
- Compact, rugged, waterproof
- Range of accessories
- Battery life could be better
- Requires a learning curve
- Fiddly menus