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Rain pinged off my gas tank as I looked down and saw puddles pooling on my overalls. A typical ride through the lush mountains of Jalisco, Mexico during the rainy season, but this was the first pressure test for my GoPro Hero10 Black and I was worried I’d made the wrong decision by keeping the action camera out. But then a voice in my head said, “this is what it’s made for” and the only thing riding through that storm did was clean the lens. That set the tone for the next three months of torture tests.
The Hero10 Black was the pinnacle of action cameras until GoPro launched the Hero11 range in September. The Hero11, however, represents evolution rather than revolution. Although the latest model will be a must-have for a select few, the Hero10’s ability to capture footage in 5.3K at 60 frames per second (5.3K60) and 4K at 120 frames per second (4K120) in eight-bit color is more than enough for many. It’s also priced at $349.89, $50 less than the Hero11. Since it's also very likely to go on sale in the near future, it’s a great pick for a budget-conscious buyer.
I put this model through its paces in what should be its natural environments to see if it lives up to GoPro’s king-of-the-hill status. And, like most people reading this, I wanted to capture footage that makes others stop and take note. So I did my best to find the right settings and see if the Hero10 could make me look like, well, a hero.
I also dropped a UTV onto it, so there’s that.
The Set-Up and Extras
Setting up the Hero10 is foolproof. I followed the on-screen prompts, downloaded the GoPro Quick app, and was ready to shoot. I bought a SanDisk 128 GB Micro SD Card, an extra GoPro Battery, and a helmet mount specifically for my pointy AGV K3.
Action Camera Meets Action Man
OK, it’s a reach to say I’m an action man. Some of the most successful motorcycle YouTube channels, such as ChaseOnTwoWheels, were built on the back of GoPros and hard work. But these action cameras aren't just for pros and I didn’t have to go out of my way to test the Hero10. Weekend motorcycle trips through the mountains, tackling sand dunes in side-by-sides, off-road riding courses, and ripping through the Baja desert meant I put the camera through its paces.
Mostly, my Hero10 was used on rainy motorcycle rides. Rainy season in Mexico means dealing with temperatures of up to 91 degrees Fahrenheit and heavy rain. The camera's body got a tad hot when I came to a standstill for too long but was entirely unphased by the rain. The rainy season also highlighted how useful the hydrophobic coating on the lens is, as it meant water stains didn’t stick and ruin the footage after a shower. If you need proof, check out the screen grabs below that were taken just minutes apart.
On the move, I always use the QuickCapture button to start and stop recording instantly, meaning I rarely missed a moment but still saved battery life, which I found to have good longevity. When recording in 4K60, I usually got around an hour of footage. But, while riding on a particularly hot day in Baja California, I noticed that the GoPro overheated and ran out of juice in less than 20 minutes. Likewise, when adjusting the settings and using the touchscreen, the body gets hot, and you can almost watch the battery percentage fall.
The issue of draining the battery while using the touchscreen became such a problem that I started adjusting the settings the night before any ride. This left me time to fully recharge the battery, which took three hours.
There are several pre-programmed shooting modes that are intended to give you the best results based on what you're doing. Once I understood what I liked about each mode, I started making custom modes, which is when I captured the best footage. The setting that stood out the most is SuperView. This feature offered the widest field of view and gave the most realistic perspective of what I saw during my adventures.
I would like a way to quickly flick through different preset camera modes on the fly, as it’s a bit of an effort to pull over and adjust settings once I'm on the move.
A trip through the dunes in Baja California left me in no doubt that this camera is durable. Long story short, I flipped a Can-Am side-by-side while the Hero10 was attached to the hood. Although the Hero10 dug into the sand with the weight of the vehicle and two passengers in it, it was completely unscathed. Later, the body became caked in so much mud and wet sand that it looked more like a brownie than a GoPro. I cleaned it off by driving through the biggest puddles I saw. It didn’t surrender.
GoPro’s HyperSmooth 4.0 electronic image stabilization software is a highlight. I tackled some of the trails used in the Baja 1000 on a Honda CRF450X for an enduro training course. While I was rattling my fillings loose, the HyperSmooth-polished footage could put a baby to sleep. I’m not a fan of ReelSteady, GoPro’s post-production stabilization software, as I think it makes everything look too smooth. I still want to give some impression that I'm pushing limits. But anyone who wants cinematic footage will love the HyperSmooth 4.0 and ReelSteady combination.
Another feather in GoPro's cap is the color capture, as when I show friends my footage, they’re almost always taken aback by it. The 23.6-megapixel sensor takes such good photos that it prompts me to leave my phone at home on some trips. Even if you don’t pull over to snap a shot, you can pull 15.8-megapixel screen grabs when recording in 5.3K. This article’s hero (pun intended) is a screen grab.
But I’ve been using the Hero10 for six months and have no desire to upgrade because it's not holding my content back. Quite the opposite. I think my footage has more to offer if I use a few post-production tricks. I'm not happy about how hot the body sometimes gets, but it's a small trade-off for clear, vibrant footage that looks like it's about to jump off the screen.
If you’re flush with cash and want an action camera, you’ll probably love the Hero11. And since it comes with GoPro’s Enduro battery as standard, the additional $50 on its price tag stings less. But, if buying the Hero11 is a financial stretch, I wouldn't lose a wink of sleep over choosing Hero10. If I were buying an action camera now, I'd get the Hero10 if it was on sale and spring for the Hero11 if both cameras are at regular retail prices.
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