(Pocket-lint) – With the rise of image stabilisation in smartphones, the importance of the action camera market has reduced somewhat in recent years. After all, your phone is likely water-resistant and something you already carry around with you. But that said, there are still situations where an action camera is preferable, particularly if you want to mount it easily to your bike, helmet, drone or chest. And there’s one company that does action cameras better than the others: GoPro.
While there’s more competition now, GoPro still has arguably the best all-around ecosystem of action cameras. And thanks to some product lines refreshing over the past couple of years, the sheer number of options has reduced to make choosing one much easier. So which GoPro should you buy?
What GoPro offers
GoPro’s entire lineup has gone through something of a streamlining process and complete refresh over the past couple of years. Whereas prior years saw various models, including a budget model and a tiny Session camera, the company now only offers versions of the flagship Hero series and the 360-degree Max.
In 2018, it moved around its product line quite a bit to achieve this streamlining, and further slimmed it down in 2019 with the launch of the Hero 8 and Max. In 2020 and 2021, that process was refined further. Although, older models are still available from third party retailers.
GoPro also offers an array of accessories, from small handheld mounts that act as tripods, to floating cases and handles. It also has a great, easy to use mobile app for editing. As an ecosystem goes, it’s pretty unbeatable.
Best GoPro Cameras in 2022
- GoPro Hero 11 Black
- GoPro Hero 11 Black Mini
- GoPro Hero 10 Black
- GoPro Hero 10 Black Bones
- GoPro Max
- GoPro Hero 9 Black
Our Top Pick:
GoPro Hero 11 Black
- 360-degree horizon levelling
- New HyperView mode
- 10-bit colour
GoPro’s latest and greatest action camera is called the Hero 11 Black. It uses the same chassis and processor as the Hero 10, but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s not a significant upgrade.
A new sensor at the heart of the camera unlocks some amazing possibilities. A new 8:7 shooting mode allows you to choose between vertical, horizontal or square format video after shooting for ultimate flexibility.
It also offers the widest-ever FOV from a GoPro, thanks to the new HyperView digital lens. What’s more, stabilisation is improved, now offering full 360-degree horizon levelling as well as HyperSmooth Boost.
If you’re a professional, you’ll be pleased to hear about the camera’s 10-bit colour capabilities. Meanwhile, wider FOVs like SuperView are unlocked at higher framerates, including 4K 120fps.
GoPro Hero 11 Black Mini
- Lightweight and small
- Same features as the Hero 11 Black
- No screens to break
- Will need to connect to the app for configuration
The Hero 11 Black Mini is a new addition to the lineup. It offers almost all of the same features as the flagship camera, but it’s shrunken down into a lightweight package.
This means it’s ideal for mounting in tight spots. or in places where weight is a concern, like on a drone or a helmet.
To add to its flexibility, the Mini has an additional set of mounting tabs on the rear, which makes it extremely easy to use with a wide variety of accessories.
There are no screens on this model, aside from a very small Session-style settings display. This is a good and a bad thing. On the plus side, it means that the camera is more durable, but it also means that you’ll need to keep a phone handy and use the app to frame your shots.
GoPro Hero 10 Black
- Excellent for slow motion
- Much smoother menus
- Up to 5.3K 60fps
- SuperView only available at up to 4K 60fps
While the GoPro Hero 10 Black has been outdone by its newer brother, it still packs serious specifications. It’ll be coming down in price now, too, which makes it a more appealing option than ever.
The camera can shoot at almost identical resolutions and frame rates to the Hero 11. This includes 5.3K at up to 60fps, 4K at up to 120fps or 2.7K at up to 240fps, essentially double the frame rates of the Hero 9.
You’ll still benefit from excellent HyperSmooth stabilisation, and Horizon Levelling, it’s just limited to 45 degrees of tilt rather than full 360.
If you can do without the new lens modes, this is an incredibly capable camera for the asking price, and might just be the sweet spot when it comes to value.
GoPro Hero 10 Black Bones
- Extremely lightweight
- Designed specifically for FPV drones
- The only camera in this class with a protection plan
- Requires soldering expertise
For those seeking something completely different, we have the GoPro Hero 10 Bones. This is designed pretty much exclusively for FPV drone users, and unless you’re comfortable wielding a soldering iron, you’ll want to steer well clear.
Specs-wise it’s identical to the Hero 10, only all the parts unnecessary for use when strapped to a drone are stripped away. That means no screen, no battery and a massive 100-gram weight reduction.
As there’s no screen, the camera is configured entirely in the app and since there’s no battery, buyers are expected to solder a custom power lead to their drone’s PCB – it’s not for the faint of heart.
So, why go to all of this trouble? Well, one of the best examples is presented in this video from Red Bull. A lightweight and small FPV drone can capture shots like nothing ever before – and the Hero 10 Bones makes it easier than ever to fly a high-quality camera on a tiny rig.
- Awesome 360-video capture
- Single lens modes
- Simplified editing process
- Less durable than a traditional GoPro
GoPro doesn’t want you to think of the Max as a reboot of the Fusion, but in a lot of ways, it is. Likewise, in a lot of ways, it isn’t. It’s a 360-degree camera, that’s true, but it’s more than that and GoPro has completely changed the way you edit video from it.
You can shoot using either of the two 180-degree cameras on its own, and it features even better stabilisation than the Hero8. As well as using the HyperSmooth technology of the more standard camera, it uses its ultra-wide lenses to automatically level the horizons, so not only does it make all your footage smooth, but it’s also always level.
Of course, you can shoot in 360 too, using both cameras, and then you simply use the GoPro mobile app to reframe any of the footage you capture in a way that’s much more user-friendly than the method offered by the Fusion. You can also use a TimeWarp feature that lets you speed up and slow down footage while panning around the 360-degree footage.
GoPro Hero 9 Black
- Can be found for cheaper than current Hero cameras
- Up to 5K 30fps videos
- Same great chassis as the Hero 11 Black
- Menus are less fluid with the older processor
The Hero 9 Black, despite being succeded by the Hero 10 and 11, is still available to purchase brand new in many regions – and at a substantially reduced price.
It can record at the same resolutions as the new cameras, it just can’t match the frame rates. So if you don’t care about slow motion so much, you can save a wad of cash by going for the older model.
It uses the same rugged chassis as the newer options and still has the same excellent displays. It’s compatible with all the same accessories and batteries, too.
The main thing we don’t like is how sluggish the menus feel compared to the updated versions. However, this is a small niggle and it’s definitely a bit of a bargain at its current price.
Which GoPro should you buy?
If you want the best of the best, the Hero 11 Black is the easiest recommendation. Its new sensor makes it more versatile than ever, while it retains all of the perks of its predecessors: A rugged waterproof design, extremely high resolution, blistering frame rates and class-leading stabilisation.
With that said, the GoPro Max also makes a solid case for itself by not only offering high-end Hero performance, but also more advanced stabilisation and horizon levelling, plus 360-degree capture. It could use a refresh, though.
And, we can’t forget about the Hero 10 Black. It may have been out longer, but it still offers comparable specs and is available at a better price than ever before.
Ultimately it comes down to weighing up what’s important to you in an action camera. To read up more on GoPro and its products be sure to check out ourGoPro Hub.
Writing by Cam Bunton and Luke Baker.