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GoPro Hero 11

GoPro Hero 11 Black review: The action camera to beat

Our Rating :
$399.00 from
£499.99 from
Price when reviewed : 400
inc VAT (when bundled with subscription)

With an all-new sensor and full 360-degree Horizon Lock stabilisation, the GoPro Hero 11 Black is the firm’s most well-rounded camera yet

Pros

  • Larger 8:7 sensor
  • Superb stabilisation
  • 360-degree Horizon Lock

Cons

  • Pricier than rivals
  • Suffers in low light
  • Middling battery life

Update: Since publishing our Hero 11 Black review, GoPro has revised its pricing structure and subscription plan. While the Hero 11 Black was originally offered with a discount when bought bundled with an annual GoPro Subscription, its base price has now been reduced to match the bundle price. As a result, it’s no longer necessary to purchase a GoPro Subscription in order to get the best price on a new Hero 11 Black.
Our original review continues below.

The GoPro Hero 11 Black is the latest flagship from the world’s most recognisable action camera firm. While last year’s Hero 10 Black brought blistering new frame rates, courtesy of a new processor, the Hero 11’s headline update is a new sensor.

Rather than using GoPro’s classic 4:3 native aspect ratio, the Hero 11 comes with a nearly-square 8:7 chip. Combined with the camera’s high-resolution 5.3K recording options, this should allow creators to cut landscape and vertical videos from the same take.

The Hero 11 also has GoPro’s latest video stabilisation technology. HyperSmooth 5.0 promises to deliver GoPro’s smoothest stabiliser to date and it also introduces 360-degree levelling through a new Horizon Lock feature.

These updates are enough to push the Hero 11 Black to the top of our Best Action Cameras recommendations. However, with rival flagships from Insta360 and DJI entering the scene within the last few months, there’s certainly plenty of competition.

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GoPro Hero 11 Black review: What you need to know

Front and centre, the Hero 11 Black’s major update is its all-new sensor. Breaking a 4:3 sensor tradition that GoPro has stuck to for many generations, the Hero 11 has a 1/1.19in, 27MP, 8:7 aspect ratio chip. To make sense of that jargon, essentially it means the Hero 11 can natively record near-square video clips.

The upshot of this new aspect ratio is that creators who produce content for multiple platforms can record a single 8:7 video and then crop both landscape and vertical orientation 16:9 clips out of it during editing. If, for example, you publish videos to both YouTube and TikTok, this could be a potential game changer.

There’s also a new HyperView mode, designed to take full advantage of the Hero 11’s taller sensor. HyperView takes the full 8:7 image and squeezes it down into a standard 16:9 frame in-camera. The result is a super-distorted, super-wide view that GoPro is marketing as “ultra-immersive” with an “epic feel”.

Additionally, the new sensor supports 10-bit colour. Up from the 8-bit colour depth offered by previous GoPros, this should offer advanced users more flexibility while colour grading their footage in post production.

Resolution and framerate options remain unchanged from last year’s Hero 10 Black. You can record 5.3K video at up to 60fps, 4K recordings can be made at up to 120fps and there’s also the option to capture 2.7K and Full HD clips at up to 240fps for 8x slow motion.

GoPro’s HyperSmooth video stabilisation has also received some tweaks. Now in its fifth iteration, HyperSmooth 5.0 is touted as being the firm’s most effective stabilisation to date. Most notable, however, is that it’s now compatible with full 360-degree horizon levelling. A significant improvement over the Hero 10’s 45 degrees of correction this “Horizon Lock” function can maintain a perfectly level horizon even with the camera fully inverted.

The Hero 11 Black also ships as standard with GoPro’s latest Enduro battery. Released towards the tail end of last year, the Enduro is advertised as offering improved performance in colder conditions and in high-performance recording modes.

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GoPro Hero 11 Black review: Price and competition

The GoPro Hero 11 Black was released with an official list price of £499 but is currently available across most online retailers for £449. As with other recent GoPro launches, it has been available with a sizeable discount in GoPro’s online store since day one. When bought bundled with a 12-month GoPro subscription from GoPro.com you can pick up a new Hero 11 Black for £399.

Update: GoPro has revised its pricing and subscription benefits. As a result, it’s no longer necessary to purchase an annual subscription in order to get the best price on a new Hero 11 Black.

The Hero 11’s closest rivals are found within GoPro’s own lineup. The older Hero 9 and Hero 10 Black action cams are being sold concurrently with the new Hero 11 Black and, while they no longer represent the bleeding edge, they’re still highly capable.

When bought from GoPro’s online store bundled with a 12-month GoPro subscription you can pick up a new Hero 10 Black for £350. A Hero 9 Black, again bundled with a 12-month GoPro subscription, will currently set you back £300.

GoPro has recently faced increased competition with Insta360 and DJI launching rival flagship action cameras in the last 12 months. Insta360’s uniquely versatile, modular One RS can be bought with a single 4K camera module for £280. A dual-lens kit, with both 4K and 360 lens modules currently retails for £500.

DJI’s new, more traditional Action 3 camera, meanwhile, has recently entered the market with a list price of £309.

GoPro Hero 11 Black review: Features and design

On the surface, the Hero 11 Black is near-identical to its predecessor; in fact, on more than one occasion I’ve managed to get the two mixed up. Both models measure 72 x 51 x 34mm, both weigh around 155g and both offer 10m of native water resistance. Indeed, the only sure fire way to tell them apart is by the “10” or “11” details emblazoned down one side.

The face of the camera houses the lens, which is compatible with GoPro’s ultra wide-angle Max Lens Mod, a microphone and a 25 x 25mm front-facing, non-touch colour LCD. A second microphone sits adjacent to the shutter button atop the device while a third is built inside a special water-draining inlet beneath the side power/mode button.

The primary colour touchscreen is built into the back of the device and at 50 x 33mm, it takes up the bulk of the available space. While the touchscreen used for most camera control, there are rubberised physical buttons for the shutter and power/mode selection built into the top and side.

On the opposite side, there’s a water-tight door, behind which you’ll find the battery, microSD card slot and a USB-C charging port which can be used to deliver constant power or recharge the battery.

As you’d expect, the Hero 11 offers multiple modes for photo, video and time-lapse recordings and there are inbuilt presets to get you up and running with each. New for the Hero 11, GoPro has introduced some new star-trail and light-painting presets. Plus, there’s a choice of different “view modes” to pick from, ranging from the new ultra-wide-angle HyperView to the more conservative linear and narrow views.

The camera is also compatible with GoPro’s smartphone app. In fact, you’ll need to first pair it with your smartphone before you can complete the initial setup process. Available for Android and iOS devices, the app allows you to control the camera remotely, edit your footage on the go and upload your clips directly to social media.

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GoPro Hero 11 Black review: Performance

Right off the bat, the Hero 11 Black is a breeze to use. GoPro’s user interface is refined, intuitively laid out and snappy to navigate. Switching between the camera’s dedicated video, time-lapse and stills modes is as simple as tapping the mode button and GoPro’s included presets allow you to cut straight to the action.

Under good lighting conditions, the video quality offered by the Hero 11 is the best we’ve seen from an action camera. Although, it’s fair to say that when viewed side-by-side with Hero 10 footage, the differences are minor. The Hero 11’s video clips are punchy, vibrant and richly detailed. The camera also does an excellent job of balancing exposures and maintaining a natural-looking white balance using the automatic settings.

The sensor’s near-square native aspect ratio enables horizontal and vertical clips to be easily cropped out of the same shot. While I’d still recommend shooting a little wide to maximise your framing options, the camera’s super high resolution 5.3K recordings give you plenty to work with.

I will note, however, that it would be nice to have some in-camera 16:9 grid lines to overlay whilst filming in 8:7. As it is, GoPro only offers some basic rule of thirds guides, which leaves you guessing as to how to frame your shots.

The new HyperView view mode is also very interesting. Squashing the full 8:7 sensor image into a standard 16:9 frame, this mode is able to create videos with an ultra-wide feel, compressing the vertical plane and giving the impression that the horizontal plane has been stretched. While this won’t work for every shot – the distortion is quite noticeable on people and faces – it does add to the intensity of fast-paced action.

GoPro’s HyperSmooth stabilisation continues to impress, with the Hero 11’s HyperSmooth 5.0 able to smooth out even the jerkiest of camera movements. Cycling across rough terrain the camera was able to tame all but the most violent vibrations and, while vlogging, the footage positively floats along. Again, viewed side-by-side with last year’s GoPro the differences are subtle but this is still the best we’ve seen yet.

However, the biggest update over the previous model is the full 360-degree Horizon Lock. While the Hero 10 could correct up to 45 degrees of lean, jarringly reorientating itself if you exceeded that limit, the Hero 11 can maintain a perfectly level horizon even while fully inverted.

While the Hero 11 brings several valuable improvements it isn’t without its faults. Indeed, to a certain extent, it feels like the 11 Black bolsters many of the Hero’s existing strengths while glossing over its weaker points.

In particular, low light performance continues to be the action camera’s Achilles heel. While the Hero 11 produces punchy, detailed footage in good light, the quality quickly muddies when the light levels dip. This means it’ll be great for those bright shots on the beach or ski slopes but it simply won’t deliver the same results in shaded areas or indoors.

And, despite the new Enduro battery, not much appears to have changed on the stamina side, either. During my battery testing I was able to squeeze around 50 minutes of 5K60 recording out of a single charge, or a little over an hour’s worth of recording at 4K60, both results that near identical to those I recorded with last year’s Hero 10 Black.

My battery test also had to be completed piecemeal as the automatic overheating protection would kick in after around 25 minutes of 5K60 recording. Again, these results are nearly identical to those I encountered with the Hero 10. My tests were recorded with the camera stationary on my desk with rather limited air flow, so it’ll likely perform much better while out and about.

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GoPro Hero 11 Black review: Verdict

Compared with the Hero 9’s complete design overhaul and the Hero 10’s supercharged spec bump, the Hero 11 Black’s update feels comparatively subtle. The refinements are, however, welcome ones.

While GoPro’s overall image quality remains solid as ever, the Hero 11’s new sensor presents video makers with even greater creative freedom both through cropping flexibility and the new super-wide HyperView mode. The introduction of full 360-degree Horizon Lock levelling, meanwhile, reaffirms GoPro’s HyperSmooth stabilisation as the best around.

It would have been nice to see some low light and battery life performance improvements and, for the cost, current Hero 9 and 10 owners may struggle to justify upgrading. Those looking to invest in the best, however, can end their search here.

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