DJI released their Osmo Action 3 on the same day that GoPro released the Hero 11. What stands out to me most is the significant price difference between them: $399 for the Hero 11 versus $329 for the Action 3. How do they compare? Are either of them worth getting? Also, will we see a GoPro Max 2 in 2022?
First, here’s a comparison by Potato Jet.
Hero 11 Key Features
The headline feature of the Hero 11 is that it features a taller 1/1.9 inch sensor with an 8 x 7 aspect ratio, which is almost square compared to the 4:3 aspect ratio of previous GoPro sensors and sensors in most action cameras. The taller aspect ratio should make it possible to have better stabilization with less cropping.
The Hero 11 video resolution is up to 5.3k 60fps or 4K 120fps, the same as the Hero 10. Hero 11 also features 10-bit video which should have richer colors and better dynamic range. Fortunately, the Hero 11 is compatible with existing Hero 10 accessories such as the Max Lens Mod and the Media Mod.
The Hero 11 is $399 if you purchase it with a 1-year GoPro subscription (or if you already have a subscription). Otherwise without the subscription, it is $549. After the first year, the GoPro subscription is $50 per year. You can cancel the subscription if you want, although GoPro is hoping that you’ll forget to cancel, or that you’ll keep it to as a product replacement plan.
Hero 11 Mini Key Features
Hero 11 Mini will have the same new sensor as the Hero 11 but will not have any screens and will be $299, available October 25 ($399 without GoPro subscription). It will weigh 133 grams, compared to the Hero 10 Bones which is 54 grams.
DJI Action 3 Key Features
The Action 3 features a 1/1.7 inch sensor, which is larger than GoPro’s. The form factor goes back to the original Osmo Action, as opposed to the more compact and modular design of the Action 2. Action 3 features a dual touchscreen, which I think will make it much more convenient to operate.
Action 3’s video resolution is up to 4k 120fps (in 16:9 aspect ratio, or 4k 60fps in 4:3 aspect ratio), the same as the Action 2. DJI is promising a firmware update that will add 10-bit video.
Other than minor improvements such as a magnetic mount similar to the Action 2, the Action 3 has a unique feature called Invisistick, which will digitally remove the selfie stick, creating a 3rd person view. However, it only works in the snow, such as when you’re skiing or snowboarding.
The most important feature of the Action 3 appears to be the price, which at $329 undercuts the Hero 11 by almost 20%, with no subscription required. I’m curious to see whether DJI’s aggressive pricing will sway buyers who would otherwise be choosing the Hero 11.
Preliminary Conclusion; Hands-on test coming soon
Both cameras seem like incremental upgrades to me. In terms of image quality, they appear comparable. GoPro has better highlight range but has more noise in shadows. As for stabilization, GoPro can get a bit smoother stabilization when used with Reelsteady.
Between the Hero 11 and Action 3, the Action 3’s dual touchscreen seems more useful and the significantly lower price seems to offer better value. As for the Hero 11 Mini, I think the lack of a touchscreen would make it useful only to FPV pilots and to pros using the Hero 11 as a crash cam or as part of a rig. Compared to the Hero 10 Bones, the incremental image quality improvement of the Hero 11 Mini is not worth the extra weight unless you absolutely needed the best image quality. Anyway, I ordered both Hero 11 and Action 3 and will post an updated comparison when I get them.
Will there be a GoPro MAX 2 in 2022?
No, I don’t believe so. At their Q1 2021 earnings call, Nick Woodman did say that their plan was to expand from two product lines (Hero and Max) to four product lines in 2022. Those new product lines are Bones and Mini. Having four product lines does not necessarily mean releasing four new products. It just means that they will be selling four sub-types of cameras: Hero, Max, Bones and Mini.
The fact that Max will continue does give me hope that eventually there will be a Max 2, even if it’s not this year. I’m hoping that GoPro will use the new Hero 11 sensor in the GoPro Max 2. Hero 11 is capable of 5.3k resolution in an 8:7 aspect ratio at a resolution of 5312 x 4648. If the sensor is used for a circular fisheye lens, it would be able to capture video with a height of 4648, which in theory means that it should be capable of 9k 360 video (9,296 x 4,648). All that assumes that the processor is up to the task, which is by no means a small feat. It’s possible that we’ll first see 9k in a timelapse video mode, until there’s a more advanced processor that can handle actual 9K 360 video.
On a tangential note, the Hero 11 Mini could be used for a 360 camera rig and should have amazing resolution. The Hero 4 Black was used for the GoPro Omni to shoot 8K 360 video. The Hero 11 Mini has about 4 times as much resolution in an 8×7 aspect ratio versus the Hero 4 Black’s 2.7k 4:3, so it should theoretically be possible to capture 16K video with a Hero 11 Mini rig. Unfortunately, GoPro killed off the Autopano stitching software after acquiring them.