CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

GoPro Hero 11 Black Hands-On: A Super-Sized Sensor Adds Value for Everyone

With a bigger sensor, better battery and some new editing tricks, the Hero 11 is ready for all the shooting and sharing.

Joshua Goldman Managing Editor / Advice
Managing Editor Josh Goldman is a laptop expert and has been writing about and reviewing them since built-in Wi-Fi was an optional feature. He also covers almost anything connected to a PC, including keyboards, mice, USB-C docks and PC gaming accessories. In addition, he writes about cameras, including action cams and drones. And while he doesn't consider himself a gamer, he spends entirely too much time playing them.
Expertise Laptops, desktops and computer and PC gaming accessories including keyboards, mice and controllers, cameras, action cameras and drones Credentials
  • More than two decades experience writing about PCs and accessories, and 15 years writing about cameras of all kinds.
Joshua Goldman
5 min read
GoPro Hero 11 Black lying on its back pointing up on a bed of green moss.
Josh Goldman/CNET

The Hero 11 Black, GoPro's new flagship camera, looks just like last year's Hero 10 Black except for the number change on the side. There's one big change on the inside, though, and that change enables a handful of features that will make the camera more attractive to everyone -- from pros and creators to casual users and even first-time GoPro buyers. 

Let's start with the biggest upgrade: The new image sensor. GoPro used an 8:7, 1/1.9-inch sensor. While the size increase improves quality some, it's more about how GoPro is using the full sensor for 27-megapixel photos and 5.3K-resolution video with an 8:7 aspect ratio. With a high-resolution 8:7 aspect ratio, one clip can be edited to 16:9, 4:3 or 1:1, or vertical video at 7:8, 3:4 or 9:16. That means whatever your social media platform of choice is -- YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok -- the single clip can be edited to meet your needs. What's even better is GoPro's Quik app makes the whole process painless. Plus, with all the extra resolution, you can crop in and still have good-looking results. 

Watch this: GoPro Hero 11 Black Hands-on: Super-sized Sensor for All Your Socials

The sensor also enables HyperView, an even more immersive wide-angle shot compared to the SuperView setting on prior models. The distortion out to the sides is extreme so you might want to use this sparingly, but you do get the widest, tallest shot possible. 

The Hero 11 Black also has HyperSmooth 5.0, GoPro's digital image stabilization. It remains impressive in the bumpiest of situations and now it's improved when shooting 4:3 video and in SuperView. And you can shoot linear video with Horizon Lock, which means the camera can rotate 360 degrees but the video remains right-side up and level. However, I noticed significant motion blur when using Horizon Lock and HyperSmooth in low-light conditions and it's best to avoid that combination. If you have plenty of light, though, you're good to go. 

Two other new features for more advanced shooters: The bit rate can be switched to capture at up to 120 Mbps and you can turn on 10-bit color. Turn them on and videos will have more detail, more than a billion colors for smoother gradients and less color banding. However, while shooting in 5.3K with 16-bit color and high bit rates creates large files. You'll want to keep your clips short and use a large and fast microSD card (I tested with a Samsung 512GB Pro Plus). 

GoPro Hero 11 Black rear touch display.
Josh Goldman/CNET

Solving for too many settings

The Hero 11 Black has a lot of settings and, even for someone like myself who likes to experiment, it can be a little much. To help, GoPro created Easy and Pro modes. Pro unlocks all the settings while Easy mode takes it down to just a handful of options, which are controlled with shortcuts on the touch display. I found the Easy mode more confusing at first because I'm used to the regular, now called Pro, interface. But if you don't want to mess with settings, you now have an option to simplify things.

As for new shooting modes, GoPro added three new long-exposure time-lapse options for use at night. If you live somewhere where you can see stars, you can capture star trails as the earth rotates. There's also a vehicle light trail mode and a fun light painting option. What's nice is the Quik app makes it easy to grab single frames from videos for high-resolution photos from these modes.

Light painting made with the GoPro Hero 11 Black.

The GoPro Hero 11 Black's Light Painting mode makes it easy to create them.

Josh Goldman/CNET

GoPro also optimized the camera to improve battery life by reducing power use when the camera is on but idle. The Hero 11 Black also comes with GoPro's Enduro battery, which not only lasts longer but works better in the cold. 

Is a GoPro Subscription worth it?

GoPro has pushed its cloud subscription service for the past few years. Along with unlimited full-resolution backups for your content, you get big discounts on new cameras and other gear, damage protection and full access to editing tools in the Quik app and online. 

The auto-upload feature is the main attraction for me. As soon as you plug in the camera to charge, it will automatically upload the clips and photos to the cloud service for immediate sharing and safekeeping. Plus, the service will now take your related clips once they're uploaded and automatically cut them together into an edited highlight video. You can then tweak that video if you want or share it as is. The feature just came online so I was only able to put together a quick video during my commute from New Jersey to New York. But it was cool to receive a completed video without having to do anything beyond charging the camera. 

GoPro Hero 11 Mini in a hand.

The upcoming Hero 11 Mini has most of the capabilities of the 11 Black. 

Josh Goldman/CNET

Meet the Mini

Alongside the Hero 11 Black, GoPro announced the Hero 11 Mini. A few years back, GoPro had a tiny cube camera with no viewing screen called the Session. It didn't have the best image quality but it was small and you could mount it in places that weren't possible with the larger Heros, so it was one of my favorite cameras. The Hero 11 Mini is kind of like that but it has all the shooting resolutions and speeds available in the 11 Black.

The Mini has mounting fingers on the back and bottom, making it more versatile for mounting on a helmet or tight spaces. The battery is built-in, though, and you'll need to connect to the Quik app for many setting changes.

How much is the new GoPro Hero 11 Black?

Now, let's talk pricing. As with the Hero 10 Black, pricing is complicated for the Hero 11 Black. The camera by itself is $499 (£499, AU$800). But if you buy direct from GoPro.com and sign up for the GoPro subscription service -- which is included with the camera -- GoPro knocks $100 off, so it's $399 (£399, AU$650). 

The Creator Edition, which includes the camera, the Volta battery grip, Media Mod and Light Mod, is $700 (£700, AU$1,100). The Hero 11 Mini is expected to be available on Oct. 25 and will sell for $400 (£400, AU$650). Sign up for the GoPro subscription and the price drops to $580 for the Creator Edition and $300 for the Mini. 

Left side of the GoPro Hero 11 Black.
Josh Goldman/CNET

So all in all, it's an excellent upgrade if your current GoPro is several generations behind or if you're a creator or enthusiast looking to punch up your photos and videos. For the average GoPro user, there's not much here to warrant an upgrade from the 10 Black, but you might want to pick up the Mini for two-camera shoots. Plus, the automatic highlight videos are available to any GoPro subscriber with a Hero 5 Black or newer. If you already have a current camera, it might be better to put your money into a subscription, which is $50 a year. A one-year subscription is included when you buy a new camera, too, if you decide to buy an 11 Black, Creator Edition or Mini.