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Published May 10, 2023 11:00 AM
Since the company was founded in 2002, GoPro cameras have revolutionized the video and photography industry by giving outdoors adventurers (including hunters, anglers, hikers, mountain bikers and the like) an easy and reliable way to document their adventures. These tough, handy action cameras come with a wide range of features and can be operated via just a few buttons—or just one button, depending on the model. Most importantly, GoPros offer extraordinary image resolution via still photos and/or video footage, both possible in various shot angles and aspect ratios even in 360 degrees.
There are several great GoPro options to choose from in 2023, but how do you pick the right one for your particular needs? Here are our top recommendations for the best GoPro cameras, whether you’re looking to buy your first or your next model.
How We Picked the Best GoPro Models of 2023
GoPro currently offers six camera models on its website, including multiple versions of its HERO11 and HERO10. To make our selections for the aforementioned categories, we looked at camera variables such as price, size, battery size, and, of course, image/video quality.
While many of GoPro’s older models are still available via third-party vendors or on the used GoPro market, we chose to limit our guide to just the models that are still sold by GoPro itself, as older models sold by another vendor might not qualify for GoPro’s manufacturer warranty. Additionally, the technology behind these action cameras advances at such a rapid rate that comparisons between current- and previous-generation GoPros might not be useful for readers.
Best GoPro Cameras: Reviews & Recommendations
Best Overall: GoPro HERO11
- Weight: 154 grams
- 27.13 megapixel max photo resolution
- “Hindsight” feature captures video from 30 seconds before recording actually begins
- Four photo-output options including RAW and HDR
- 3- and 10-second photo timers for capturing grip-and-grins
- Can take “night photos” of the Northern Lights, star trails, etc.
- Can capture time-lapse videos at up to 5.3K resolution
- HERO11 Black Mini offers many of the same features in a smaller package for roughly $100 less
Choosing the overall best GoPro of 2023 was easy. The HERO11 Black features a sensor capable of producing photos up to 27.13 megapixels as well as video up to 5.3K. It also sports GoPro’s Horizon Leveling and Horizon Lock features for staying on subject regardless of the camera’s movement (making it a great gift for water sports enthusiasts). If you’ll be traveling somewhere with a clear view of the night sky, it’s even up for star trail photos, videos of the Northern Lights, and more nighttime possibilities. Combine all of this with many of the features found across several other GoPro offerings in just one camera, and we had ourselves a clear winner.
The only GoPro that comes close to matching the HERO11 Black’s performance is the HERO11 Black Mini, which comes with many of the same features as the larger version but in a smaller, lighter, cheaper format. However, the Mini can only produce video content, not still photos. Add it all up, and the HERO11 Black makes the most sense as our all-around choice.
Best Budget: GoPro HERO9
- Weight: 317 grams
- Can produce 20 megapixel photos and up to 5K video
- Livestream in high-definition 1080p
- Waterproof up to 33 feet
- Five “digital lens” options allow for a wide selection of fields of view
- Can capture slow-motion video at up to 240 frames per second
- Has two screens—one on the front of the camera and one on the back
- Low photo resolution compared to other options
- Older model and, therefore, a bit out of date compared to other models’ feature sets
At first glance, the HERO9 pales in comparison to its younger sibling, the HERO11 Black Mini. The latter is available at the same price, offers more video resolutions and frame rates to choose from, is significantly lighter, and can even capture star trails and other night views. However, the Black Mini can’t take photos (see below), and the HERO9 can—and does very well, thanks to a 23.6 megapixel sensor. It also features a 2.27-inch LCD touchscreen compared to the Mini’s .57-inch status-only display and a larger battery. Depending on what you want out of your GoPro, the HERO9 still has a lot of bang for the buck despite being a few generations old at this point.
Best for Beginners: GoPro HERO11 Mini
- Weight: 133 grams
- Capable of producing up to 5.3K video
- Features HyperSmooth 5.0 Stabilization
- Lighter than the full-size HERO11
- Can be operated via just one button
- Cheaper than its big brother but with many of the same specs
The HERO11 Black Mini would likely have taken our Best Overall category if it was capable of producing 27.13 megapixel photos or featured the removable/larger battery the HERO11 Black does, but for roughly $100 less than the HERO11 Black, there have to be some concessions made to keep the Mini’s price down. However, given its lower price and that it’s incredibly easy to operate, it’s a great beginner GoPro camera.
It’s also the best for hunting. The HERO11 Black Mini lends itself to being mounted on a shotgun or compound bow because of its light weight and particularly small dimensions. GoPro’s HyperSmooth 5.0 Stabilization helps not only stabilize the footage the camera produces but, through the AutoBoost feature, determines just how much stabilization is needed based on the speed and movement of the camera—perfect for accounting for firearm recoil. There’s also the Horizon Lock feature, which locks onto the horizon and keeps the footage stable even if the camera is turned 360 degrees. This could come in handy if you twist your shotgun as you reload or the like.
Best for Fishing: GoPro MAX
- Weight: 153 grams
- Max HyperSmooth stabilization featuring Horizon Lock
- Capable of video resolutions up to 5.6K
- 360-degree photo/video capability via two cameras
- Can stream directly to YouTube, Facebook Live, etc.
- GoPro’s Player + ReelSteady app can transform 360-degree content into traditional photos or videos
- Capable of producing 270-degree panoramic photos and videos
- Larger than other models
- Not as waterproof as other models
- Relatively low-resolution still photos compared to other models
GoPro markets the MAX as offering users “three cameras in one,” and that is a great way of describing its capabilities. The GoPro Max sports two cameras, one on the front and another on the back. The two cameras allow for traditional photos or video when used separately or for 360-degree versions of both when used in concert with one another. Users can also create 270-degree panoramic shots with the MAX.
The MAX’s 360-degree capabilities put it in a unique position compared to other GoPro models, but it does have some pretty severe limitations. Its LCD touchscreen, for instance, measures just 1.69 inches versus the 2.27-inch ones found on several other models. The MAX is also only advertised as waterproof down to 16 feet, with other offerings rated to depths of 33 feet. It also lacks some of the fringe-benefit features found in other GoPros, such as the ability to take night-lapse videos or capture star trails.
However, looking at this from a purely fishing perspective, the MAX’s dual cameras make it the best suited for capturing incoming fish because you’re covered regardless of which direction they swim in from. GoPro’s Player + ReelSteady app can then let you take that 360-degree content and transform it into a traditional video if you choose.
Best Lightweight: GoPro HERO10 Black Bones
- Weight: 54 grams
- Features HyperSmooth 4.0 Stabilization
- Capable of recording video up to 5.3K and taking 19.6 megapixel photos
- Very lightweight due to its ventilated design
- GoPro’s Player + ReelSteady app adds even more stabilization to video
- Simple to operate because it contains only what you need for drone use
- Not waterproof due to its ventilated design
- No touchscreen like on the original HERO10
The Black Bones version of GoPro’s HERO10 is specifically designed for use with a first-person view drone (i.e, a drone controlled from the ground by the pilot). This makes the Black Bones perfect for getting an overview of your new hunting lease or recording your buddy’s next fly cast from directly overhead.
However, that lightweight optimization does come with some drawbacks. Unlike the other GoPros mentioned on this list, the Black Bones is not waterproof. It also doesn’t have a touchscreen or some of the other features found on the original HERO10. None of this matters if you’re using the Black Bones as it was designed, but if you want to shoot underwater video or take a self-timed photo of yourself with your next big buck, consider some of these other models.
What to Consider When Choosing a GoPro Camera
There are several key features to consider when choosing which GoPro is best for you. The camera’s waterproofness — its availability as well as its depth rating — is an important one, as the HERO10 Black Bones and MAX demonstrate. How much or how little stabilization a GoPro lends to your video footage is also important, as well as whether it sports Horizon Lock or Horizon Leveling.
Speaking of video, it’s also important to decide if you want to use your GoPro to take still photos, record video footage, or do both, as some cameras only allow for one or the other. Thinking about how you’ll present the content you create with your GoPro will also help you make a photo/video selection, as you’ll have to take resolution into consideration. If you’re just planning to display your creations via social media, lower-resolution content will be fine. If you might want to print your photos fairly large or show the videos on a big-screen TV, you may need a GoPro with a higher-resolution sensor.
Regarding camera size, all GoPro models are relatively small, so most hunters and anglers won’t stress over weight and dimensions. However, you may want to double check your selection’s specs if you’re a mountain hunter counting every ounce and cubic inch that goes into your pack.
Q: Do I need a special housing for my GoPro since it’s already rubberized and waterproof?
While these GoPros are waterproof (minus the HERO10 Black Bones) and tough all on their own, there are several good reasons for adding an extra layer of protection to them. Protective dive housings like the one GoPro offers for the HERO11 Black Mini add more than 100 feet of depth to its waterproofness, greatly extending its usability as a result. There’s also a rubberized blaze-orange cover available from GoPro that enables compatible cameras to float and be easily seen at a distance. You may not “need” one of these add-ons, but you’ll probably want them.
Q: How many hours can a GoPro last?
I didn’t speak much to this in my reviews because it is a highly subjective issue, especially given the different resolutions these cameras are capable of. Cameras require more power to produce high-res photos and video than low-res ones, and most of these cameras have a wide range of potential settings to choose from. Comparing them all across models was simply beyond the scope of this comparison.
Q: Does GoPro’s warranty cover damage to the camera resulting from my adventuring?
No. Manufacturer defects are covered by the warranty for up to one year from the date of purchase, but damage caused by normal use is not covered.
Final Thoughts on the Best GoPro Cameras of 2023
When it comes to electronic products, newer very often means better. Such is the case with the GoPro HERO11 Black. Some of the other models reviewed in this guide had several features in common with the HERO11 Black, but none outshined it, and none came close to beating its total offering of price and performance. Unless I was shopping for a specific feature for a specific use (i.e., the MAX for fishing or the HERO10 Black Bones for drone use), I would opt for the HERO11 Black and use it for any and everything.
Why Trust Us
For more than 125 years, Field & Stream has been providing readers with honest and authentic coverage of outdoor gear. Our writers and editors eat, sleep, and breathe the outdoors, and that passion comes through in our product reviews. You can count on F&S to keep you up to date on the best new gear. And when we write about a product—whether it’s a bass lure or a backpack—we cover the good and the bad, so you know exactly what to expect before you decide to make a purchase.