Which is the best action cam in 2023: GoPro Hero 11 or Insta360 X3? GoPro Hero 11 has many advantages including far better detail at up to 5.3k 60fps with 10-bit video. It is also much more durable and has a replaceable lens protector. Hero 11 is also simpler to use.
Notwithstanding the GoPro’s many advantages over the X3, many athletes have begun using the Insta360 X3 (reviewed here). Why? Because it’s like an invisible flying camera. To see what I mean, check out my side-by-side comparison:
Comparing the Hero 11 and Insta360 X3’s Advantages and Disadvantages
When comparing the Hero 11 and Insta360 X2, here are factors you might want to consider:
Detail: As mentioned in my review, GoPro Hero 11 has far better detail, even though the Insta360 X3 has a higher nominal resolution (5.7k) than the Hero 11 (5.3k), the X3’s resolution is spread out over 360 degrees, whereas the Hero’s resolution covers only about 140 degrees. As a result, Hero 11 has more pixels per degree. Winner: GoPro Hero 11.
Stabilization Quality: Hero 11 has excellent stabilization, but the X3 has much better stabilization still. They both use electronic stabilization, which works by digitally “moving” the image in the opposite direction of camera vibrations to create the illusion that the image hasn’t moved. For the Hero 11, moving the image digitally is done by cropping the image. The more aggressive the stabilization, the more cropping is required, effectively shrinking the field of view, the resolution, and usable sensor size.
With the X3 and other 360 cameras, however, moving the image digitally doesn’t require any cropping. Instead, the image is moved simply by rotating the 360 spherical video. This means that X3 suffers no image degradation from stabilization, and it can be “moved” farther to counteract vibrations, resulting in smoother stabilization. Winner: Insta360 X3.
Capturing the Moment: Sometimes the subject of your video can be unpredictable. With Hero 11, you’ll have to be able to point the camera in the direction of the action. For the X3, you don’t have to worry about aiming the camera. It captures the entire 360 view. After shooting, you can decide where to point the camera, which means you’ll never miss the moment (as long as the camera’s recording). Winner: Insta360 X3.
Third Person View: If you want a photo or video that looks like it was shot with an invisible flying camera, the X3 is your choice. You can even get a third person view while ziplining or bungee jumping. Winner: Insta360 X3.
Focusing on Fun: Being able to “shoot first and point later” isn’t just great for capturing the moment. It can also help you BE in the moment. With the Hero 11, you’ll need to consider where to point the camera, which will use up at least some of your attention, away from your family and friends and away from your activity. In some cases, this could be dangerous, as you might slip and fall while trying to frame your shot. With Insta360 X3, you can just start recording and focus on what you’re doing and being with your family and friends. You don’t have to worry about the camera. Winner: Insta360 X3.
Selfies: If you want to shoot selfies on the Hero 11, you’ll need to frame the shot properly. It helps that the Hero 11 has a front-facing LCD screen to help you frame the shot. With Insta360 X3, you are guaranteed to get the shot, and as a bonus, the selfie stick will be invisible in the shot. You’ll never need to ask a stranger to take your photo again. Winner: Insta360 X3.
Subject Tracking / Intelligent Tripod: Suppose you want to track a subject automatically as they move around the camera. Insta360 X3 can do that either automatically using AI, or manually using keyframing. Hero 11 has no equivalent option. Winner: Insta360 X3.
Multiple Subjects: Do you have more than one subject and need to get a video of both of them at the same time? The Insta360 X3 can shoot videos of multiple subjects, and even create separate videos for each subject automatically. Winner: Insta360 X3.
Mobile Editing: Do you want to be able to edit your photos and videos on your phone to post to social media immediately? Both Hero 11 and Insta360 X3 have mobile apps that allow for automatic editing. But Insta360 X3 also has literally dozens of special effects such as adding animated lightning effects on the subject or changing the sky to show the aurora borealis. Winner: Insta360 X3.
Workflow: With GoPro, you can post the video as soon as you shoot it. With Insta360 X3, the video has to be exported first, either from the phone app or the desktop app. The desktop app can batch export the photos and videos, but it’s still an extra step compared to GoPro. Winner: GoPro Hero 11.
Drone-Like Shots: you can use the Insta360 X3 with a long monopod such as the Extended Selfie Stick to capture drone-like shots. Although it is also possible to put a Hero 11 on a long monopod, the Hero 11 has a fixed position on the monopod, making it impractical to aim with it. Moreover, the long monopod will be visible in the Hero 11 shot, making it obvious that it wasn’t shot with a drone. Winner: Insta360 X3.
Durability: the Hero 11 is known for its durability. It’s not totally immune from damage (it does have a huge LCD screen at the back) but it’s pretty tough. Moreover, if you damage it and you have a GoPro subscription ($50 per year), you can get a replacement for a small deductible. The Insta360 X3 on the other hand has fisheye lenses bulging out on both sides of the camera. You can get lens protectors but they will increase glare. Insta360 also has a product replacement plan ($50 per camera), but it only protects one camera, whereas a single GoPro’s subscription protects all your GoPro cameras. Winner: GoPro Hero 11.
Choosing the GoPro Hero 11 or Insta360 X3 depends on your needs. If your top priority is durability or detail, go for Hero 11. For convenience, creativity, versatility, and being able to enjoy the moment with your family and friends, get the Insta360 X3.