GoPro Hero11 Black is proof how vital upgrades can elicit maximum impact


What really are your options, as an outdoors enthusiast, for a prime action camera? Till now, it pretty nicely whittled down to a shortlist that featured the GoPro Hero10 Black, the GoPro Hero9 Black and the GoPro Hero8 Black. Alongside the Insta360 RS, made by the Chinese company Insta360, and launched earlier in the year. This list is now bordering on irrelevance (unless you are okay with a generation older camera, saving a few bucks in the process), with the arrival of the GoPro Hero11 Black.

It’s a troika that GoPro has unleashed this year as well, with the Creator Edition and the Mini being the other two. The Hero11 Black is priced at 51,500 but you’ll need to wait for the Hero11 Black Creator Edition ( 71,500; available later in October) and the Hero11 Black Mini ( 41,400; goes on sale in November). For a majority of the demographic, the debate will be between the GoPro Hero11 Black and the Hero11 Black Mini.

There are some key changes (read, upgrades) for the Hero11 Black compared with the Hero10 Black. Yet, a lot of what didn’t need changing has been carried forward too. Hence the melding of generational upgrades alongside retaining a family resemblance. The weight continues to be 153 grams and waterproof rating is up to a depth of 10 meters. But the 1720nAh battery is now available with Enduro battery, which has a different chemistry that allows it to last longer.

Also Read: Technical Guruji: GoPro vs Drone and which is the smartest TV of them all?

The biggest upgrade with the Hero11 Black is the new image sensor. It is now an 8:7 aspect ratio, 1/1.9-inch sensor. The larger size gives this camera a stronger foundation to build with. Therefore, the increase in still image resolution from 23-megapixels to 27-megapixels. As well as the 5.3K resolution videos that top out at 60 frames per second. The 8:7 aspect ratio gives you the flexibility to further edit the clips for wide screen or Instagram-esque vertical videos.

You will need to be a bit careful in the new HyperView setting, which while great for immersive wide shots, does tend to add disturbance in photos around the frame. If you’re okay with cropping them, then the extra frame capture will be handy. Wide should be the default setting, for most photo and video captures, just to keep things simple.

A new image stabilization mode, called HyperSmooth 5.0 is even more impressive than anything before it. The differences between this being on and off are stark. For genuine action videos (helmet mounted, for instance), this eliminates the vertical movements significantly. There’s the Horizon Lock as well, which keeps the orientation as you set it even in case of 360-degree movements, but we were not able to stretch this feature to the fullest.

By now, you may be getting the idea the GoPro Hero11 Black is exhaustive on the settings front.

Finer controls include the option to bump up the video recording bitrate to 120Mbps (you’ll need a really fast memory card for that, mind you) and the 10-bit colours. The results look impressive, with really nice colours translating into the recording – well distinguished and detailed. Better than we expected, particularly for still images, and more of an upgrade over the predecessor, than we had imagined it would be. If you do go the whole hog with the highest resolution, the files will be fairly sizeable, and thus the need for a larger capacity memory card in play.

All this also means the settings can be overwhelming even for the GoPro regulars. Yet, the new features, the evolution of existing ones carried forward and the new sensor in play does give the Hero11 Black a sizeable sense of upgrade over the Hero10 Black. Which in turn was a significant step up from its predecessor.

More to the point, this can also be your port of call for still photos and not just outdoor videos, where the GoPro shines (understandably so; action cameras are very much a niche).

While GoPro have claimed a significant improvement in battery life, in reality, the Hero11 Black still doesn’t last as long as it should. There is a constant sense of battery anxiety as you use this because the battery level indicator is simply on a drain cycle. With GPS working and recording a mix of videos and photos as well as subsequently transferring them to the iPhone (using the GoPro Quik app), the Hero11 Black lasted just less than 2 hours on a single charge.

We noticed the Hero11 Black get fairly warm too when recording videos continuously for a while, or if it is powered down and switched on at short intervals.

There’s a subscription element we need to talk about, before closing this review. The GoPro Quik subscription. If you have that ticked off, you’ll get unlimited cloud storage as well as automatic backup to cloud when the camera is plugged in for charging. Within the app, detailed editing tools are unlocked as well (though the more pro users would likely already have their preferred apps for the same effect).

The thing is, whether the Hero11 Black is a big enough upgrade over the Hero10 Black will depend on how important the updated stabilization, the larger sensor and the improved shooting resolution are. But for any GoPro older than the 10th generation, this is a definite step or two forward. That’s before we even get to GoPro’s extremely detailed accessory ecosystem, official and third-party included.


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