Sunday November 14, 2021
By Jeff Meyer
The GoPro Hero Black action camera range has been enduringly popular, mixing portability with superb image quality, a wealth of features and great value for money. It’s one of those rare products that offers true crossover appeal for photographers, adventurers, sports enthusiasts and more.
With the GoPro Hero10 Black now upon us, these are the GoPro Hero11 Black specs we’d like to see from the next iteration of the action camera.
If history is to repeat itself, then we can probably expect to see a GoPro Hero11 Black release date in September 2021. In September 2021 the company announced the current Hero10 Black, and in September 2020 we learned about the GoPro Hero9 Black. This follows a similar pattern. In September 2018 GoPro unveiled the Hero 7 Black, Hero 7 Silver and Hero 7 White. The exception, only just, has been the GoPro Hero8 Black and GoPro Max 360 camera, which were launched on 1 October 2019.
Every year for the past few years GoPro has unveiled a new addition to its Hero range, so it seems inevitable we’ll see a GoPro Hero11 Black release sometime within the third quarter of 2022.
Despite its struggles a few years ago, GoPro is a savvy company and it’s not going anywhere. The Hero Black action camera is the company’s core product, and it’s hands-down the best action camera on the market. What’s great about the Hero Black cameras is that they cross over many demographics of users, from thrill-seekers to professional photographers and videographers.
With its reinventions with the Hero 5 and Hero 6 several years ago, GoPro successfully managed to capture the action camera market with stunning new features and a great new design.
But that design is now several generations old. GoPro tweaked its body design with the Hero9 Black, making it slightly bigger and introducing a front LCD. GoPro refined this new design with subtle improvements in the Hero10 Black. But is it time for GoPro to take things further and upgrade both the looks and features with its successor, the Hero11 Black?
GoPro has steadily broken new ground when it comes to features: GPS and motion sensors, voice control, full-colour touch screen and HyperSmooth. However, the resolutions and frame rates stagnated for three generations until the Hero10 Black was announced. With the latest version of the camera you can now capture 5.3K video at 60fps, or 4K video at 120fps for high-resolution slow-motion playback. You can also now shoot 2.7K video at 240fps for even slower motion footage.
At present, there are not even the other best action cameras that can match those specifications, not even the new DJI Action 2. Other action cameras fall short of GoPro’s features and build quality, as well, but it would be good to see a resolution increase.
The GoPro Hero11 Black will need to beat the already high bar set by recent iterations from the GoPro Hero7 Black onwards, and the action camera will also need to offer the company’s devout followers something special.
The original GoPro design lasted for four generations, and subsequent releases of the camera after the Hero5 kept to the same form factor.
That is, until GoPro changed the shape and size of the camera body with the Hero9 Black. While it may not quite hark back to the bloated size of the pre-Hero5 Black design (with housing), it’s still a considerable size increase.
And this, of course, made the Karma Grip gimbal redundant, which was a very popular accessory for a long time (though you could argue that GoPro’s sensational Hypersmooth Stabilisation technology made the Karma Grip redundant several years ago).
So where does GoPro go from here with the Hero11 Black? There are three major areas for improvement when it comes to the design as we see it: the cage, lens and touch screen.
The disappearance of the old bulky waterproof housing was genius, and although it reduced the water resistance depth from 30m to 10m, this was no real issue for the majority of users. Now that the cage was gone completely with the Hero8 what more is there to do?
We’ll have to see what GoPro has in-store for us for the next generation, but as we’ve seen with the Hero8 and Hero9 Black, seemingly small changes can be massive.
Perhaps the most overlooked feature of the GoPro Hero8 Black, for instance, was the addition of the folding fingers on the base of the camera. These fold out to form the traditional GoPro mount, meaning you no longer need the cage to mount it to different accessories, what’s more, this fold down mount can be removed and replaced.
The removal of the casing helped to reduce some of the muffling experienced with the audio and reduce the overall mounted size slightly.
GoPro could take this new-found freedom a step further. The addition of optional base plates with different fixing types, for example, a standard 1/4-inch thread would be a welcome addition for many users, enabling flush mounting to a new wave of accessories or simply direct mounting for any number of uses.
Taking this route would also enable the connection of a standard GoPro mount for backward compatibility.
GoPro has worked hard to produce a quality lens that enables the capture of clear, crisp and vibrant footage. It’s also tough, made from Gorilla Glass, which is important for an action camera.
One of the big disappointments of the GoPro Hero8 Black was the lack of a removable lens. This meant that once a scratch appeared on the lens, that was pretty much it for your camera.
Thankfully, GoPro brought back the removable lens with the Hero9 Black. But GoPro has gone a step further with the Max Lens Mod, which enables an ultra-wide 155º field-of-view and image stabilisation up to 2.7K resolution.
Wouldn’t it be great if there were a few optical lens options for different scenarios. This thought isn’t new, and there are companies out there that customise GoPros and other cameras in a variety of ways – check out the excellent Back Bone.
Imagine if you had a different lens for different situations with your GoPro. Say, a linear lens for vlogging, a standard wide for extreme sports and general use and a longer focal length optic for drone and other aerial work.
This would also open up endless possibilities for effects lenses, filters and engage a new market of creative filmmakers without impacting on the original customer base.
It’s been adopted by the majority of smartphones, and where they go surely everyone else must follow.
If the cage is gone then that leaves more space for the screen. The Hero10 Black’s screen is big but there’s plenty of real estate left. That additional area could be used for more features and touch gestures.
If you can remember back to the GoPro Hero4, there was the option for a detachable touchscreen. Although the screen used at the time now seems primitive, back then it was a significant breakthrough.
Moving on to the GoPro Hero11 Black, what if the company returned to that novel idea and developed a screen that could detach and switch to a wrist- or bar-mountable remote?
We possibly saw the first steps toward this with the Hero8 Black’s Media Mod. This handy device fits around your GoPro and allows you to attach a flippable LCD for vlogging. What if you could mount that LCD to your wrist?
This would be ideal for those situations where the last thing you want to do is reach into your pocket and connect to the GoPro through the app.
The small Remo remote is good, but what’s the point if you can’t see what you’re shooting?
Utilising a detachable screen could just be the start, why not make it flip or articulate to make it easier for the selfie / vlogging generation.
We’ve wrongly predicted that new GoPro Hero cameras would be available in a dual fluorescent colour scheme for a few years now, but we’re not giving up hope. Why do we want this? So when it disappears into the undergrowth, it would be easily found!
Once again, we’ll put this forward as one of our top new features for the GoPro Hero10 Black #makegoprofluro
We’re not expecting GoPro to release a camera capable of shooting 8K (yet). With computers still struggling to process 4K content, it’s not quite time to push 8K in the consumer market. However, GoPro did push its video resolution to 5K at 30p and 4K at 60p with the Hero9 Black. And with the Hero10 Black, GoPro pushed its capabilities even further with 5.3K video at 60fps. Where can GoPro go from here?
We don’t think GoPro will expand the Hero10 Black’s 5K recording, and we got our wish of 4K video at 120fps with the Hero10 Black. So it seems unlikely that GoPro will push its 4K recording capabilities much further for now.
With the Hero11 Black, though, we expect GoPro to make a big change to its slow-motion capabilities and offer Full HD at 480fps.
When the Hero10 Black arrived, one of the big new features was the all-new GP2 processor, developed by GoPro itself. This new engine promises even better image quality and more variety of frame rates. It enables better low light performance, more manual control, greater slow motion and smartphone-style apps, for a start.
We believe GoPro will build on this capability in the Hero11 Black and introduce new intelligent photo options powered by AI. Like your smarphone, the new GoPro camera would have subject detection and scene recognition. If you want to get a shallow depth of field, then AI tech will apply that effect.
Sony has made massive inroads into the mirrorless market with its Alpha range, but one feature that impresses us with these cameras is the ability to boost the feature set with apps.
Again, pulling from the mobile world, apps have become essential. There are now apps for pretty much everything, and their inclusion on the GoPro Hero9 Black could enable increased functionality and features.
An effects app could see Instagram-style effects made available for your GoPro footage. Or YouTube or Facebook Live could be integrated. Who knows, maybe even Pro users could find a revamped ProTune that offers S-Log colour mode and timecodes.
These apps could be organised and managed in the GoPro app enabling the full integration of the GoPro Hero11 Black with your mobile phone.
One of the biggest leaps in the quality of your GoPro footage is when you start to multi-angle, and there’s only one way to do it. Use multiple cameras.
However, once you’ve captured a variety of angles on two, three or more cameras you then need to sync that footage together before it’s edited.
Adding multi-cam functionality to the GoPro Hero11 Black would enable you and your mates to go out for a ride, sync cameras and then the data from each would automatically sync the footage to help speed up and ease editing, giving you a clear picture of your face plant from all angles.
It could even enable fast auto editing, switching between cameras based on motion and GPS data.
Speed is key when it comes to editing and GoPro has already made massive inroads with its app. This could be extended with Multicam and effects capabilities.
Taking this multicam functionality even a step further, what if GoPro introduced motion detection. Let’s say, for instance, you have a camera mounted to your helmet and to the rear of your bike.
If you fell from your bike, your rear camera could detect this motion and start filming from that angle.
A number of mirrorless cameras offer this functionality, and GoPro users would also find it useful. A built-in ND filter that you could turn on or off would reduce exposure by a few stops. This would allow you to shoot at wider apertures with brightly lit subjects and play around with slow shutter speeds.
GoPro users would be able to create cool motion blur effects like you can with interchangeable lens cameras.
GoPros are used for TV productions and all sorts of filming, so why not include support for LUTs? GoPro could create a CINE version with a true log profile so LUTs can be loaded and used in the Hero11 Black.
Other companies like Canon and Sony have done this. Launching a software development kit for third-party developers would allow people to use their GoPro Hero11 Black cameras for all sorts of industry applications, such as CAD and 3D printing.
When it comes to accessories the GoPro Hero rocks more than any other product. Not just those made by GoPro, but by almost every other manufacturer that has anything to do with imaging.
But, those accessories are for the most part slight variants on what’s already there or they’re built so generic that they default on function. What we now need is a premium line of GoPro accessories, GoPro Pro Accessories.
We’ve already seen a small toe-dip into the market with the company’s partnership a few years back with the 360 pro movement, and more recently there’s been an all-metal under-saddle mount, but we want more. Also…
The motorised handheld gimbal stabiliser was excellent but died a death due to hyperSmooth. But now bring the company should bring back the GoPro Karma Grip with intelligent tracking. Select an object and GoPro Karma 2 and the Hero11 Black will rotate and tilt to follow the subject. This would be ideal for bloggers.
GoPro did it before with the GoPro Hero3, GoPro Hero3 Silver and GoPro Hero3 Black, and again recently the company branched out with the Hero7 Black, Hero7 Silver and Hero7 White. Could GoPro be poised to do it again with the Hero11 Black?
Taking Sony’s Alpha 7 range and its success as an example, they have three very clearly defined models that look identical, and this philosophy could easily be applied to the GoPro Hero11.
You know the format, the all-encompassing action camera that we know and love.
Voice activation, sound alerts, vibrations, GPS, touch screen, Full HD at 480fps, 4K at 120fps and 5.3K at 60fps, live video streaming, waterproof to 10m without the cage, and so on.
The Hero11 Black would need to push the limits and connect with other GoPro’s to create multicam camera scenarios.
More of the same, but better.
Designed for the vlogger and social media star, or even the family.
This model would feature an articulated touch screen, direct mic input and an improved front LCD.
Sony has seen the potential and already has a good line of action cameras, but with a history in broadcast, the Sony RX0 series is the small camera that has been designed to push the GoPro out of the broadcast industry.
The Hero11 Broadcast would need to be something special, with clean HDMI out, the ability to record high-quality 4K in-camera, high 960fps Full HD and again pack in the Multi-cam features.
The design of the GoPro Hero11 Broadcast would need to deal with the design issues that have opened the field for the RX0, primarily the addition of 1/4-inch mounting options and audio in.
A Pro app would also be required to manage the multiple cameras integrating them seamlessly with the broadcast systems being used.
The GoPro Hero11 Black price tag is likely to be around the £450 / $475 mark, or around £400 / $425 with a GoPro subscription. This seems a likely ballpark given that the GoPro Hero10 Black price tag is £379.98 for the action camera plus one year of GoPro’s subscription service or £470.99 for the camera without a subscription. The Hero9 Black was priced at £429.99 / $449.99, which was slightly more than the Hero8 Black launch price.
Depending on how big of an upgrade the Hero11 Black will be, you can probably expect to pay at least £400 / $425, with a similar discount if you take on a GoPro subscription.
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Sunday November 14, 2021