GoPro HERO11 Black Review: Freshman Filmmaker Goes Surf Testing


GoPro released the HERO11 Black, claiming it was the most advanced and user-friendly HERO to date — a bold claim that I decided to put to the test.

I bent the task of testing the HERO11 into a surf trip, setting out on a weeklong tour of the PNW coast with boards in tow and GoPro rolling.

Video has never been my primary medium. But along the way in testing the HERO11 Black, I amassed some of the best footage I’ve ever shot. And editing in Quik (GoPro’s video editor) proved far more intuitive than I expected. I returned with a new tool on my belt as a content creator and a brand-new YouTube channel to prove it.

I found some fun waves, dreamy campsites, and a new passion for creating video content with the GoPro HERO11 Black.

In short: The GoPro HERO11 Black makes shooting high-definition footage and photography easy, and with the Quik app, editing is streamlined. Some advanced features, like the AI ​​Auto Highlights, can be a benefit or a frustration depending on what you’re doing. But overall, the camera makes filmmaking fun and uncomplicated.

Field-Testing the GoPro HERO11 Black

Easy/Pro: GoPro HERO11 Black Modes

GoPro introduced a handful of new features and functions that make the HERO11 Black almost foolproof to operate. Chief among them are the dueling user interfaces: Easy and Pro modes.

Easy Mode automates settings to make using the camera straightforward and uncomplicated. Then, Pro Mode opens the hood and lets the user dictate far more intricate settings.

I started testing in Easy and quickly transitioned to Pro without looking back. Some of the coolest features — star trail timelapses, for example — are only accessible in Pro Mode, and navigating it is surprisingly simple.

(Photo/Mike Misselwitz)

Extended Battery, Automatic Shutoff

One of my biggest frustrations with the early GoPros was that they were always dying. I’d leave them on accidentally, or forget to charge them, or the cold would kill them. The HERO11 offers multiple solutions to remedy that.

The first is the Enduro battery. Enduro is GoPro’s extended-runtime battery, which was an accessory for the HERO10 but is the default for the 11. I was able to film for almost 2 hours at 1080p on a single charge.

even better, this camera Holds a charge in freezing temperatures, which I tested by putting the camera in my freezer overnight. It was a risky move, but the camera fired up the next morning with plenty of juice. Gone are the days of wrapping my GoPro in a hand warmer to take it snowboarding.

Shooting surf sessions from a tripod on the beach called for GoPro’s highest resolution and biggest frame: 5.3K at 30 fps with an 8:7 crop. This eats up a fully charged Enduro in under an hour.

In those cases, I plugged the camera into a portable charger while filming and was able to capture over an hour of surfing. The SD card ran out of space before the battery died.

When the battery did die, I was able to charge it from dead to 100% in less than an hour. But that rarely happened.

Killing the battery by accidentally leaving it on is no longer a concern — after 5 minutes not in use, the camera turns off automatically. The only downside was that it sometimes shut down while I was managing content in Quik, and I had to turn it back on and reconnect.

GoPro - Light Painting
(Photo/Mike Misselwitz)

Timelapse Modes, Light Trail Capturing

For me, the most impressive upgrades of the HERO11 Black are the light trail modes: Star Trails, Light Painting, and Vehicle Light Trails. Those modes capture a long-exposure trailing effect, automating the slow shutter technique that can be difficult to execute on a traditional camera.

These modes yield spectacular timelapse footage. As you can see in the video above, I had an exceptionally good time testing that out. Light trail painting literally makes me feel like a kid again.

GoPro - hypersmooth view
(Photo/Mike Misselwitz)

Hyperview: GoPro’s Most Immersive Field of View Yet

Action cameras are probably best known for their unparalleled ability to capture POV footage, and Hyperview takes that to a whole new level.

Similar to a fisheye lens on a DSLR camera, the Hyperview digital lens expands the camera’s perspective for an ultra-wide frame. Paired with a helmet or chest mount, this will undoubtedly be the new standard for athletes looking to capture POV footage.

I didn’t have a helmet or chest mount to test it. But I did test it on a selfie stick while skating a pump track. And paired with the new image stability and horizon lock features of the GoPro HERO11 Black, the footage turned out fantastic.

It’s almost as capable as the naked eye at capturing the periphery, which makes it outstanding for POV footage. But it does distort the image around the edges some, so I prefer Superview or Wide mode for some cases.

360 horizon lock
(Photo/Mike Misselwitz)

Best Image Stabilization Yet, 360-Degree Horizon Lock

GoPro’s image stability tech essentially provides gimbal-like stability without the need for an attachment. It has been impressively capable since the HERO7.

Last year, the HERO10 introduced 360-degree horizon lock and made it even better. With the horizon lock on, the camera can be turned completely upside down; Meanwhile, the horizon stays level and upright.

It was one of the most coveted functions of the HERO10, but it was only available with the addition of Max Lens Mod, which was an attachment accessory that cost $100. Max Lens Mod is built into the digital lens of the HERO11 Black, making 360-degree horizon lock a stock option without any attachments.

I found horizon lock to be helpful but not perfect. During turbulent cases where the camera flails around abruptly (like skating the pump track), horizon lock lags just enough to be noticeable.

Still, it’s incomparably better than shooting without it.

GoPro - 8x7 sensor
(Photo/Mike Misselwitz)

Bigger Sensor, Better Resolution

The HERO11 Black is the first GoPro to come with an 8:7 sensor. That allows you to shoot with a large, nearly square field of view. Paired with the new capacity for shooting video in 5.3K at 30 fps, users can shoot a wide, square frame at high resolution, then crop into whatever aspect ratio is desired after the fact.

It’s a convenient asset for creators posting to multiple mediums with different frame sizes. They’ll no longer need to shoot different fields of view for varying applications like TikTok or YouTube. The 11 essentially offers one frame to rule them all.

Impressive Photo Resolutions

On the HERO11 black, 27-megapixel photos are standard, up from 23 megapixels on the HERO10. That translates to millions more pixels and better image quality for photos.

Although, given the outstanding definition of GoPro video, it’s much easier to shoot video and pull a still frame from the footage. Even GoPro suggests this method these days.

More Accurate Color Quality

Where the HERO10 saw with 8-bit color, the 11 sees with 10-bit. That means it’s capable of seeing 1 billion shades of color as opposed to the HERO10’s 16 million.

This solves an issue that was common with past GoPro footage, where color gradients lacked cohesion. Blue skies, for example, were prone to appearing stripey.

It also allows for more intricacy in post-production color editing and grading.

HERO11 Black: Subscription Is a Bargain

Close up of GO PRO HERO11 Black
(Photo/Mike Misselwitz)

The HERO11 Black is most useful when combined with the full GoPro ecosystem, which includes the Quik editing software and subscription service. GoPro offers the HERO11 Black packaged with a yearlong subscription for $400.

Otherwise, the 11 costs $550. Alone, the subscription costs $50 per year.

With a subscription comes unlimited cloud storage, auto-uploads and highlights, discounts on GoPro.com, and no-questions-asked camera replacement. Subscribers can swap out up to two broken GoPros per year for a replacement fee between $69 and $99.

Unlimited Cloud Storage, Auto-Uploads

GoPro recently introduced a couple of valuable new features specifically for subscribers. It now provides unlimited cloud storage, auto-uploads, and use of the Quik app — which, together, make managing content convenient.

Connect to Wi-Fi after a shoot, and the auto-upload feature automatically saves new content to the cloud. That keeps your SD card free and doesn’t take up space on your phone or computer.

When I was home and able to connect to Wi-Fi, the auto-upload feature worked great. But I was on a trip without Wi-Fi for a large portion of the testing period. I ended up transferring a lot of content manually.

AI Edits

Auto-highlights is another new feature of the subscription service, which uses AI to pull footage from a shoot, piece together an edit, and send it to the user’s phone automatically.

GoPro designed this feature to appeal to users who want to go from the shoot to the ‘gram quickly and brainlessly. It does a pretty good job by AI standards. As long as you’re not a perfectionist about your edits, it serves the purpose.

HERO11 Black Quik Editor: Pros & Cons

Quik works great as a content-management platform, as content can be stored there indefinitely. From there, you can transfer it to your phone or computer to use at your desire. For me, it was less impressive as video editing software.

I used Quik to edit the video above. While the process was intuitive, even as a first-timer, it was also frustrating. I’m not a huge fan of automated edits, which is why I didn’t rely on the auto-highlights feature to create the video.

But even when manually editing content, Quik’s AI got in my way. Every time I pulled a clip into the Quik studio, the AI ​​took the liberty of cutting it into a highlight.

The highlight was never the exact clip I wanted, so I had to re-trim each clip every time. The issue was palatable at first (at least they’re trying to help). But my frustrations escalated when, instead of saving my edits, Quik reverted them to the AI ​​selections, and I had to edit the same clips multiple times to get them right.

For a TikToker trying to mass produce simple, specific video shorts with minimal effort, Quik’s automations are probably an asset. Paired with a decent collection of royalty-free music and automated beat syncing, it really does make basic video editing accessible to anyone.

But even as a beginner, I prefer more control and less automation, so it’d be nice to have the option of turning AI off entirely. Still, I was proud enough of my Quik edit to post it on YouTube, and altogether, I’m beyond happy with the GoPro ecosystem at large.

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Coming Soon: HERO11 Black Mini

HERO11 Black MINI
(Photos/GoPro)

On Oct. 25, GoPro is releasing the HERO11 Black Mini. It’ll have all the same functionality packed into a more compact, simplified camera with a one-touch capture system. We’ll be testing that out next.

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