GoPro Hero 11 Black Mini: A little smaller, a little less capable

GoPro’s annual Hero Black replace got here with a small shock this yr. As an alternative of simply the same old flagship digicam, a “Mini” model was additionally unveiled. Alas, solely the common Hero Black was out there once they had been introduced, so if the diminutive model caught your eye you needed to wait till Oct twenty fifth. And you then needed to wait just a bit bit longer. However lastly it’s right here and it’s an fascinating proposition.

After all, the pitch is easy: A Hero 11 Black however smaller. The Mini is about 3/4 of an inch narrower than the common Hero 11 Black once you have a look at it head on. But it surely’s additionally a teensy bit taller and about 5mm deeper. It’s clearly smaller general, however there’s a lot much less of a distinction than there was with the Session cameras and the flagship of the time. As with that digicam, although, the primary commerce off is the dearth of viewfinder/shows. That’s a giant deal, in order that discount in dimension actually has to attraction to your use case. And I can say proper up prime right here, for most folks, it seemingly doesn’t.

To place issues in perspective, on the time of writing, the Mini sells for $299.98 with a GoPro subscription, whereas the common Hero 11 Black is listed for $349.98 with the identical deal ($449.98 / $549.98 respectively if for some motive you may’t take the subscription provide). That’s both a $50 or $100 distinction, relying, for the general compromises and comparatively minor distinction in dimension. And there are extra variations past the dearth of display screen that you simply’ll wish to take into account. For instance, there is no picture mode this time round.

A picture of a football pitch at dusk which was take from a video of the same shot by the GoPro Hero 11 Black Mini.

James Trew / Engadget

To be clear, sure you will get pictures out of the digicam (there’s one proper above this sentence) however you’ll be pulling frames from video. And whereas that’s fairly straightforward, it’s positively not so simple as selecting picture mode and urgent a button (additionally your pictures would possibly find yourself 16:9 if that’s what the supply materials is). Taking pictures is certainly one thing you would possibly assume you are able to do natively and I’m obliged subsequently to inform you that you simply can’t.

After all, as talked about, there’s no touchscreen which impacts the way you entry the menu. You’ll be able to navigate the settings through a small show on the highest that may ship GoPro veterans proper again to the Hero 4 (and earlier) days. The choices listed below are barely restricted, with simply capturing mode, mode settings and a few (however not all) normal settings up for grabs. Every little thing else you’ll be doing by the app.

I personally want doing most issues on the digicam itself, after which use the app when the digicam is mounted out of attain, however I didn’t discover it exhausting to transition to doing most all the things in Quik. This solely actually turns into a problem in the event you’re doing one thing the place your telephone isn’t close by. Browsing, for instance, would possibly want somewhat little bit of pre-planning to be sure to’re arrange earlier than you get within the water.

Both the regular GoPro Hero 11 Black and the Mini are pictured back to back for size comparison.

James Trew / Engadget

Relatedly, I seen the digicam goes into standby in a short time. After simply eight seconds of inactivity the Mini will flip itself off (15 in the event you’re within the settings menu). That is clearly to save lots of battery life, but it surely additionally means in the event you had been simply pausing for thought, you must flip the digicam again on, and probably re-connect to the digicam over WiFi after which decide up the place you left off. It looks like a simple repair so as to add an choice to vary the period of time, however for now, that’s how it’s.

If you’re used to utilizing GoPro’s video presets, it’s price realizing there’s just one right here on the Mini. Not like the common Hero 11 that gives many together with the choice to create your individual for various capturing eventualities, the Mini has the necessities and never a lot else. It simply means it’s essential to change your video settings on a per-shot foundation (like life earlier than GoPro launched presets) but it surely was one thing I discovered myself lacking.

As for battery life, there’s excellent news and unhealthy information. The unhealthy information is that the sealed-design means you may’t swap out a brand new cell must you run out of juice. The higher information is that the Mini makes use of the brand new longer-lasting Enduro battery. GoPro claims you must get about an hour of steady recording on the highest high quality, or nearer to 2 hours are much less demanding settings. This feels about proper primarily based on the quick time we’ve had with the digicam and in addition inline with the Hero 11 Black, which makes use of the identical battery.

For the reason that newest redesign and addition of 5.3K video modes, some folks had points with the digicam overheating whereas recording indoors, with the digicam in a hard and fast place. The corporate issued a software program replace in response together with a brand new “stationary/tripod” mode.

GoPro Hero 11 Black Mini.

James Trew / Engadget

Once we examined our Hero 9, 10 and 11, we didn’t expertise that situation, however with the Mini, it occurred fairly shortly (in below 10 minutes) when recording at 5.3K/60fps. In much less power-hungry modes the problem disappeared, so something 1080p, for instance, was effective. GoPro’s messaging right here is that the Mini is an out of doors digicam, designed for mounting on you or your gear. So, in the event you had been taking a look at this for a possible static/indoor software, it’s not the digicam you need, even in accordance with GoPro.

If that appeared like loads of phrases about issues you may’t or shouldn’t do, then the excellent news is that, from right here on out, it’s all about what the Mini can do. The quick model of that’s, principally all the things it’s larger sibling can. But it surely’s price calling out some specifics, and even a few issues which are distinctive to the smaller digicam.

The very first thing I needed to substantiate was that the Mini had full 360-degree horizon lock. This was one thing new to the Hero 11 Black and it was one of many standout options this yr. There was no motive why the Mini wouldn’t be capable of do that, with it having the identical sensor and all, however take into account this affirmation of that nonetheless.

The identical goes for the brand new Hyperview mode, which squeezes each pixel from the sensor right into a 16:9 video. It’s extremely immersive and makes even essentially the most mundane of actions appear surprisingly dynamic. And naturally, full-frame capturing can be right here, so you may seize all the things the sensor sees after which punch out completely different mobile-friendly or desktop movies from the identical supply file.

A rear view of the GoPro Hero 11 Black Mini.

James Trew / Engadget

The place the Mini excels, unsurprisingly, is with something physique mounted. The smaller form-factor and lighter weight make it a a lot good expertise for head or helmet mounting. Actually, I’d go as far to say that the Mini is all about being a helmet cam. Not least due to the second pair of mounting fingers on the rear that make it simpler to repair in a forward-facing place.

And this actually looks like what the Mini is all about. In the event you don’t need all of the bells and whistles and simply need an honest-to-goodness motion digicam with all of the Hero 11 Black video credentials, then the Mini is it. It additionally looks like it might make a very good secondary digicam for a unique angle. Equally, in the event you use a full-size GoPro for drone FPV footage (reasonably than the devoted “Bones” digicam) then the Mini can be an important choice for that – plus you get a digicam you should use elsewhere, too (in contrast to Bones).

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