GoPro HERO11 Black Review: Do the Underwater Features Sink or Swim?

GoPro HERO11 Black Review: Do the Underwater Features Sink or Swim?

So, I had some help with this review in the form of some very pretty turtles. I really wanted to put the new GoPro HERO11 Black through its paces — underwater, no less — and what better way to do that than by swimming with turtles in New Caledonia? Someone had to do it, and you’re welcome.

The GoPro HERO11 Black features

It’s been 10 years since I bought my first GoPro, the HERO3, and proceeded to take it on every one of my overseas holidays. A lot has changed since then, but the cameras are definitely still compact and sturdy, perfect for travelling. The HERO11 model includes:

  • Cinematic 5.3K60 + 2.7K240 video with 24.7 megapixel stills from video
  • 27 megapixel high-res photos
  • HyperSmooth 5.0 video stabilisation with Horizon Lock
  • Waterproof to 10m
  • Automatically upload footage to the cloud and get a highlight video when charging
  • Larger new image sensor delivers an immersive, extra-large field of view

The Creator Edition ($834.94 RRP), which is what I used for this review, also comes with the Volta Hand Grip, Light Mod and Media Mod for enhanced lighting and sound, and a hard case to store and protect it all. I also managed to fit a GoPro harness, Handler grip, Protective Housing and Floaty in the case, along with all the mounts and cables that came with it.

Protective Housing and The Handler

The GoPro HERO11 Black itself is waterproof to 10 metres, so you can use it snorkelling without the extra housing. There were a few people on my day trip to Signal Island in New Caledonia who did that without any issues. But I’ve always found the hard casing offers extra protection, plus if you’re into diving it’s waterproof up to 60 metres. More than just the waterproofing, it helps to protect the camera from a lot of the grit and grime you often encounter while snorkelling.

The Handler (a floating handgrip marked with bright orange for extra visibility) definitely gave me better control, especially with filming smoother videos. In the past, I had just held the camera (with housing) in my hand and was always terrified I would drop it. The Handler’s wrist strap solves that.

Floaty casing

Ok, so this was a flop. I really wanted it to work because I had all these grand plans of filming myself swimming towards the camera (the joys of solo travel), but as soon as I popped this device in the water it was clear it was never going to happen. Because the GoPro HERO11 Black is front-heavy, and the Floaty is quite light because it’s designed to, well, float, it was never going to stay upright. Every time I placed it on the surface it would instantly fall face-first into the water, albeit still floating, which is fine if you want to get some shots of the ocean floor, but not ideal if you want a nice shot of the horizon.

Take a look. And a warning: if you suffer from motion sickness, maybe scroll past.

All in all, the Floaty is probably best used as a safety device, so that if your GoPro does fall out of your hand or off your surfboard, it won’t sink to the bottom of the ocean.

GoPro Quik

One of the big selling points of the GoPro HERO11 Black is that with the help of the Quik app, you can have highlights reels generated for you. However, in order to access this feature of the app you need to pay a monthly subscription of $7.59, or $69.99 for the year. I wasn’t up for that, so I just used the GoPro tab in the app, which connects to your camera with BlueTooth, and easily adds the selected images to your phone. You can also directly post them to Instagram or Facebook from the app. If you want a highlights reel, you could just use a simple video editing tool on your phone, or if you have TikTok, let it sync up your footage to a song and Bob’s your uncle.

The GoPro Hero 11 Black makes it a hell of a lot easier to see and cull your images on the go. With my old HERO3, there wasn’t even a view screen on the camera, so you were shooting blind. And to get the images off the camera you had to hook it up to a computer. Not ideal. So the app, even without the subscription, is a win.

The verdict

The GoPro HERO11 Black Creator Edition is the way to go. The handle-come-tripod is great, the light solves the old problem of shooting indoors or at night, and it’s all compact enough to fit into a small handbag, which is a huge win if you’re travelling light. The Handler and Protective Housing are worth shelling out the extra $80 for if you love snorkelling or diving. But I would pass on the Floaty — it might float fine for safety reasons, but it doesn’t stay upright on the surface like it’s shown on the box.

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