GoPro 11 Black review: Not just an awesome action camera
Our previous review was about a music player whose name has become synonymous with portable audio over the decades. What we have for review today has done the same to portable action cameras for a little over a decade. Yes, we are talking about GoPro's latest 11 Black that now strives to go beyond action videography with some useful and thoughtful additions to cater to the current generation of content creators. The new GoPro camera may look just like its predecessor but has some new tricks up its sleeve. Having said that, it doesn't come cheap and may not appeal to all. So we take a closer look at what it has to offer, what's new, how it performs and whether one should invest in it. Let's start with what's special about the GoPro 11 and why one should consider buying it.
Sturdy build, extremely easy to use, higher capacity battery
The GoPro camera design has been a part of its identity for generations, and the company hasn't bothered altering it much in the 11. In fact, it looks exactly like the GoPro 10 with a 2.27-inch touchscreen LCD at the back and a 1.4-inch preview screen up front. The camera feels rugged and is well protected from the elements and some accidental drops too. One can even take it up to 33 feet deep underwater without worry. It's an action camera after all! The battery, microSD card slot and USB-C charging port are located under a flap that can be tricky to open till you figure out the right technique. Speaking of battery, GoPro has bundled the higher capacity 1,720mAh Enduro battery which promises to deliver 30% more battery backup as compared to the one in its predecessor, without making the camera heavier. The GoPro 11 Black weighs just 154g with the battery. Though the battery backup has improved, keep your expectations real. One obviously cannot put a single figure for the battery life across the board. It is inversely proportional to the resolution you shoot in and the frame rate. In simpler terms, the higher the resolution and frame rate used to record videos, the lower the battery backup. During our testing, we managed to get an hour of 4K recording at 30fps, and it dropped to half of that at 120fps. If you intend to record more than that in a day, it would be advisable to buy a spare battery or keep a powerbank at hand. The user interface of GoPro cameras has always been user-friendly and it is no different with the 11. It is simple, neat and well organized, and the touchscreen makes your life more convenient in comparison to a few generations old GoPro. Those new to this brand should also get a hang of it pretty quickly.
Excellent 4K video quality, 10-bit color, outstanding video stabilization
The GoPro 11 uses the same processor as the GoPro 10 but has a newer, larger sensor with a default aspect ratio of 8:7. That seemed a little odd to begin with but the thought behind it and the implementation is brilliant. One can shoot the footage in the stock aspect ratio and then use a 16:9 crop or a vertical 9:16 crop or both depending on where you plan to upload the video. So a single video can take care of your regular YouTube as well as YouTube Shorts or Instagram reels at one go. Clipping the video in the necessary format is as easy as cropping an image. The video quality is excellent, but what's even better is the video stabilization courtesy of the new HyperSmooth 5.0 stabilization. The captured footage looks smoother than videos shot on some of the best smartphones in the business including the iPhone 14. Then you have the Horizon Lock feature which essentially keeps the frame steady even if you turn around a full 360 degrees. The GoPro 11 shoots in 10-bit color and with HDR making the colors look more vivid with minimal banding. This camera gives you an option of shooting in various modes at multiple resolutions and aspect ratios, in case you don't want to shoot at the stock ratio and crop the footage later. It can record at as high as 5.3K resolution at 60fps, 4K videos at up to 120fps, and slow motion 2.7K videos at up to 240fps. You can also click photos up to 27MP with a fairly broad FOV. The image quality is surprisingly good in proper lighting. Though this is meant to be an action camera, it is a great tool for regular content creators too across various social media platforms, and even better for those looking to publish the footage on multiple platforms in different aspect ratios.
Consider these points before you buy the latest GoPro 11
While the results are excellent in good lighting, it can use a little improvement when the light is suboptimal. In low light, while the footage is perfectly usable, a bit of noise is noticeable. Given the large sensor used on the GoPro 11, we were expecting better results this time. In terms of still photography, while the results are more than satisfactory, we wouldn't term them better than flagship phones from the past two generations. So manage your expectations accordingly. As we mentioned at the start, though the battery life has improved in comparison to its predecessors, it could have been even better. While an hour is an acceptable figure for 4K footage at 30 fps, you may find it insufficient when recording full-frame videos at peak resolution, where it lasts for just half an hour. Also, the bundle is a little scant. While the company bundles the new Enduro battery, an addition of a memory card and/or a GoPro subscription would have been nicer at its hefty selling price in India. Lastly, this is not exactly a shortcoming but a gentle reminder. Buying the GoPro 11 will not be a one-time expense. You will have to invest in some of its accessories as well. The original accessories don't come cheap either, but the good part is you get a variety of them to choose from. You also get a lot of affordable third-party accessories for GoPro cameras, some of which are worth a try. Cheap may not necessarily be good though.
A solid all-round camera that goes beyond action videography
The GoPro 11 can be purchased in India for Rs. 51,499 with a comprehensive one year warranty that pretty much covers anything that may go wrong with the camera. Is it worth the asking price? That depends on what you want the camera for. If you are looking for a camera not just for action videos but for all kinds of content that can be quickly repurposed for various social media platforms, this is a great option. If you are an avid GoPro user and looking to upgrade from anything older than GoPro 9, this is a substantial upgrade with all the new features and modes that have been added here. Without a doubt, the GoPro 11 is the best GoPro around even with a bit of premium one may have to shell out. However, if you are looking to try your hand at an action camera for the first time, and don't need the extra resolution and more premium features that the 11 offers, the GoPro 9 Black may be a good starting point for almost Rs. 20,000 less.