GoPro’s annual Hero Black replace got here with a small shock this yr. As a substitute of simply the standard flagship digital camera, a “Mini” version was additionally unveiled. Alas, solely the common Hero Black was out there after 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 little bit longer. However lastly it’s right here and it’s an attention-grabbing proposition.
After all, the pitch is straightforward: A Hero 11 Black however smaller. The Mini is about 3/4 of an inch narrower than the common Hero 11 Black while you have a look at it head on. Nevertheless it’s additionally a teensy bit taller and about 5mm deeper. It’s clearly smaller total, 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 digital camera, although, the primary commerce off is the shortage of viewfinder/shows. That’s an enormous deal, in order that discount in measurement actually has to attraction to your use case. And I can say proper up high right here, for most folks, it possible 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 purpose you possibly can’t take the subscription provide). That’s both a $50 or $100 distinction, relying, for the general compromises and comparatively minor distinction in measurement. And there are extra variations past the shortage of display that you simply’ll need to contemplate. For instance, there isn’t any picture mode this time round.
To be clear, sure you may get pictures out of the digital camera (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 unquestionably one thing you would possibly assume you are able to do natively and I’m obliged subsequently to inform you that you simply can not.
After all, as talked about, there’s no touchscreen which impacts the way you entry the menu. You possibly can navigate the settings by way of a small show on the highest that can ship GoPro veterans proper again to the Hero 4 (and earlier) days. The choices listed here are barely restricted, with simply capturing mode, mode settings and a few (however not all) normal settings up for grabs. Every part else you’ll be doing by way of the app.
I personally favor doing most issues on the digital camera itself, after which use the app when the digital camera is mounted out of attain, however I didn’t discover it arduous to transition to doing most the whole lot in Quik. This solely actually turns into a problem should you’re doing one thing the place your telephone isn’t close by. Browsing, for instance, would possibly want just a little little bit of pre-planning to be sure you’re arrange earlier than you get within the water.
Relatedly, I observed the digital camera goes into standby in a short time. After simply eight seconds of inactivity the Mini will flip itself off (15 should you’re within the settings menu). That is clearly to avoid wasting battery life, however it additionally means should you had been simply pausing for thought, it’s important to flip the digital camera again on, and presumably re-connect to the digital camera over WiFi after which choose up the place you left off. It seems like a straightforward repair so as to add an possibility to alter the period of time, however for now, that’s how it’s.
In case you are used to utilizing GoPro’s video presets, it’s value 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 personal for various capturing situations, the Mini has the necessities and never a lot else. It simply means it’s worthwhile to change your video settings on a per-shot foundation (like life earlier than GoPro launched presets) however it 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 possibly can’t swap out a brand new cell do you have to run out of juice. The higher information is that the Mini makes use of the brand new longer-lasting Enduro battery. GoPro claims you need to 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 digital camera 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 digital camera overheating whereas recording indoors, with the digital camera in a set place. The corporate issued a software update in response together with a brand new “stationary/tripod” mode.
Once we examined our Hero 9, 10 and 11, we didn’t expertise that subject, however with the Mini, it occurred fairly rapidly (in underneath 10 minutes) when recording at 5.3K/60fps. In much less power-hungry modes the problem disappeared, so something 1080p, for instance, was tremendous. GoPro’s messaging right here is that the Mini is an outside digital camera, designed for mounting on you or your gear. So, should you had been this for a possible static/indoor software, it’s not the digital camera you need, even in keeping with GoPro.
If that appeared like numerous phrases about issues you possibly can’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 the whole lot it’s larger sibling can. Nevertheless it’s value calling out some specifics, and even a few issues which can be distinctive to the smaller digital camera.
The very first thing I wished to verify 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 purpose why the Mini wouldn’t be capable of do that, with it having the identical sensor and all, however contemplate 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 probably the most mundane of actions appear surprisingly dynamic. And naturally, full-frame capturing can be right here, so you possibly can seize the whole lot the sensor sees after which punch out completely different mobile-friendly or desktop movies from the identical supply file.
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. In truth, 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 seems like what the Mini is all about. For those who don’t need all of the bells and whistles and simply need an honest-to-goodness motion digital camera with all of the Hero 11 Black video credentials, then the Mini is it. It additionally seems like it will make a great secondary digital camera for a special angle. Equally, should you use a full-size GoPro for drone FPV footage (fairly than the devoted “Bones” digital camera) then the Mini can be a fantastic possibility for that – plus you get a digital camera you should utilize elsewhere, too (in contrast to Bones).
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