When it comes to action cameras, in 2023 two of the best options are the GoPro Hero 11 and the DJI Osmo Action 4. Both can shoot cinematic, high-quality, stabilized video in any outdoor condition, but they have a few key differences that set them apart.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the GoPro Hero 11 and the DJI Osmo Action 4, comparing their features, capabilities, shortcomings, and overall performance to help you decide which camera best fits your needs.
While the Hero 11 is a minor improvement over the Hero 10, the Osmo Action 4 (full review here) is a big leap forward from the Osmo Action 4 – even if they look the same from the outside.
I’ve used all three of them to film downhill mountain bike POV footage for the Suspension Traveler Youtube channel. Below you’ll find example videos of the GoPro Hero 11 and the DJI Osmo Action 4.
To summarize my experience with both of these cameras, here are the main differences most important to any outdoor video creator:
GoPro Hero 11
- MSRP $399 or €449
- Slightly more accessories
- Higher bitrate video
- 8:7 sensor allows cropping in post
- Hyperview is very distorted
- High dynamic range
- Better exposure metering
- 10-bit color depth
- 3 Profiles: Vibrant, Natural & Flat
- Clunky menu
- Drains battery when turned off
- Reliable, no overheating
- Cloud storage (slow)
- Optional Quik app
DJI Osmo Action 4
- MSRP $399 or €429
- Compatible with most GoPro mounts
- Magnetic mounting system
- Native 4K vertical video
- Wider FOV
- Better dynamic range
- Great exposure even on automatic
- 10-bit color depth, better color separation
- 2 Profiles: Normal & D-Log M
- More shutter speed options
- Longer battery life
- Reliable, no overheating
- Active firmware support
- Mandatory Mimo app
Both are at the very top of their game. The real differences come down to the overall usability outdoors and which visual style you like more.
GoPro Hero 11
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DJI Osmo Action 2
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Let’s get pick apart the differences and similarities in detail for each feature.
Both record at the best video quality currently available. That being said, there are some differences worth noting when looking at it in detail. Let’s start with one I haven’t seen anyone talk about, and it’s color reproduction.
Color reproduction & separation
What do I mean by that? Both have 10-bit color depth to capture more shades of color than any action cam before.
BUT, they still look very different. Below are two videos shot in similar, overcast conditions. If you notice the GoPro footage looks a little mushy in comparison. The colors blur together and there seems to be an orange hue over the entire picture – even tho I used a “cooler” white balance of 5000K compared to the 5500K on the OA4.
It’s not a contrast issue, although that’s another difference resulting from the color profiles. The blacks are rich and deep while the highlights are bright, but not overexposed in both. The colors are looking more natural and are popping more on the DJI even with similar saturation levels.
Another big differentiator are the color profiles. Gopro has three with Flat, Natural and Vibrant. And the Action 4 has two with Normal and D-Cinelike ( both being 10-bit now). DJI’s Normal and GoPro’s Natural look most alike. But the flatter profiles, designed for easier color grading are drastically different.
D-Log M is a very low-contrast, low-saturation profile introduced with their new drones. GoPro Flat on the other hand is more vibrant with a little more contrast. You could use it as is in high-contrast lighting or touch it up a little, while D-Log M is specifically designed for color grading and looks bland otherwise. The great benefit is that it allows for much more room to play around with or correct exposure, contrast and colors in post.
That’s a major consideration for anyone editing their footage.
Color Grading for Action Cam Videos
Make your POV footage pop with custom color grades!
Download my FREE LUT specifically for MTB videos:
Both have arguably the best digital image stabilization available, so feel free to jump over this section entirely. Hypersmooth and Rocksteady 3.0 are in a league of their own.
The OA4 has 4 options: Off, Rocksteady, Rocksteady+ and Horizonbalance. I couldn’t tell a difference between Rocksteady 3.0 of the Action 3 and now the improved Rocksteady 3.0+ as both stabilize incredibly well.
Even the roughest downhill mountain bike clips are so smooth it looks like drone footage. It does it so well in fact, that I wish it had a reduced option to get at least some bounce for an immersive effect (like it does in ultrawide).
The Hero 11 has 5 Hypersmooth settings: Off, On, Boost, Autoboost and Horizonleveling (which is actually in the lens options). So, basically an additional reduced option (“On”) with Boost being similar to Rocksteady.
Field of View (FOV)
One of the big selling points of the Hero 11 was Hyperview, a FOV mode that is NOT wider than Superview, but extends more up and down. And it’s not available in 4K 30p, a popular resolution and framerate. Only 5.3K 30p or 4K 60p among others. Weird choice and something not mentioned a lot.
The OA4 on the other hand has such a wide FOV (Ultrawide) that GoPro can only get close to with the Maxlens Mod, a $100 accessory.
The trade-off is lower stabilization that doesn’t crop in as much but I found it very realistic even on rough downhill MTB trails. Comparing all FOV options side-by-side, DJI’s are wider and the distortion is less noticeable than GoPro’s.
It used to be that GoPro had the best dynamic range for an action cam. Dynamic range refers to the range of dark to light areas in the same shot. You’ll likely notice a dynamic range too small when overexposure (bright white spots), underexposure (pitch black spots) or both at the same time (sunlight and harsh shadows) happens.
DJI caught up big time with the bigger sensor and their new HDR technology. Now, it too has a balanced exposure, no matter if there’s direct sunlight coming from directly in front, or difficult, patchy lighting on a sunny day.
Take this OA4 clip for example. It’s in one of the worst possible lighting conditions you can have: bright sun and deep shadows at the same time. This is even filmed in fully automatic settings, something that results in horribly exposed footage in most other cameras!
Audio quality is good and what you can expect for waterproof microphones. There aren’t too many settings to tweak here. The OA4 can turn the front-facing microphones On or Off by itself when wind gets too loud. And the GPH 11 can record separate audio tracks using the RAW setting. But that’s only useful for in-depth audio editing and not useful for the normal user.
Here’s a comparison when using no wind-noise processing and only foam wind covers at high-speeds:
Wind noise reduction
Another audio feature they both have is the built-in wind noise reduction. This is a post-processing change added on top of the audio track. In addition, the Hero 11 also changes to mono audio using it! Here’s how that sounds:
In any case, the sound will be like it’s submerged. Muffled and processed, sounding unnatural. For the best wind protection and the best overall sound, foam wind mufflers are definitely the way to go.
This is the only way to get crisp audio under all circumstances. But that’s not something to hold against these action cams. I’d rather have it that way than have them not waterproof.
Winner: it depends…
Out of the box: DJI
With accessories: GoPro
A big difference in usability are DJI’s magnetic mounts. It’s basically the same “GoPro fingers” mount with a magnetic plate on top for extremely quick and easy dismounting. Perfect to adjust settings, preview clips, and quickly check the status on the back screen. And those magnetic adapters are also compatible with most GoPro mounts.
Both can save various setting presets and recording profiles to switch between on the fly. GoPro’s are a bit clunky to swap between as you need to press both buttons simultaneously, while the DJI can switch just using one button.
Both make noises for all kinds of actions to let you know what it’s doing – recording, stopping, turning on or off etc. GoPro sticks to its iconic Morse code beeping (same tone in varying amounts), that’s often difficult to decipher. DJI went for entirely distinct sounds that are easy to recognize, even if you don’t remember any of them.
Both can also do voice control. And then there’s GoPro’s ability to turn on and off via App. It’s nice to have for sure, but also a big energy consumer – just like voice commands.
Winner: DJI (magnets ftw!)
UI & Settings
The user interface is a different story. There is not much in common here apart from the fact that both cameras offer the most important features you’d expect from a prosumer action camera. Framerates, white balance, shutter, EV, sharpness, color profiles, and so on are all there. One PRO setting the OA4 has, that the Hero11 doesn’t is a shutter speed range, that lets you define a minimum shutter – important for stabilization in low-light.
It’s the way they are presented that makes the usability better or worse!
DJI learned from the complicated UI of the OA3 and made it much easier to use with the OA4. Everything you’d expect to be in the same place is. From exposure to audio and low light. And all in a way that you see exactly how your settings are changing on the viewfinder.
GoPro went with a different approach, that’s arguably much worse. They present each and every setting in a long list. That leads to unnecessary searching every time since not even all are relevant in the recording mode you are in. Timer for video recording? Don’t need that. And they’re not even sorted by importance so the crucial ones are at the bottom.
I won’t get into the exact settings and all the options here. For more, you can read up on my recommended settings for the Osmo Action 4 or the Hero 11’s settings where I also explain which does what.
Winner: DJI (easier to use)
As you may know, the Hero 11 uses the “Enduro” batteries, which were heavily marketed as an upgrade for the Hero 10 back in the day. And even with these, the Action 4 lasts up to 1.5x as long as the Hero 11 in my test session.
This is of course depends on the specific settings and use case. Intense energy-consuming operations like high framerates, maximum stabilization and processing like low-light mode will drain the battery quicker.
On average the Osmo Action 4 can record about 2 hours of uninterrupted 4K video with one battery. The Hero 11 can manage about 1.5 hours under the same conditions.
Another fact worth mentioning is the Hero 11 drains battery even when turned off. And its settings don’t support battery saving very much. The automatic screen-turn-off when recording is 30 seconds at a minimum, while the Action 4 turns off after 3 seconds after starting recording if you want.
All in all, a second battery is a must for H11, while you may get through a whole day on a single battery with the Action 4. Both have practical charging cases available, and the DJI one doubles as a charging pack to fuel other devices.
Winner: DJI (by a mile!)
With both using the same mounting mechanism, the standard GoPro “feet” that have become the norm for action cams, there are basically all the GoPro mounting accessories ever available for both.
And with the broad market share GoPro has had over the years, there are many more third-party brands to choose from. On top of that, the Hero 11 has the same housing as the Hero 9 and 10 before, so all the accessories (like Media Mod) and filters (ND or CPL) designed for the previous models fit this one as well.
For more info, here I list all the accessories I actually use with the Osmo Action 4 for MTB. And here is all my Hero 11 gear, including a single-axis gimbal.
To be honest, the overheating issue has been blown way out of proportion by reviewers. I’ve never had either of them overheat during regular use. I only managed to do it with them sitting on my desk indoors while charging or right after charging, which heats up the unit.
And if you really try and push the hardware while having it sit still indoors (outdoor cameras need airflow) they overheat while recording.
Both the OA4 and Hero 11 overheat in high framerate modes like 120p and 240p when they’re sitting still on my desk indoors without any airflow – which is a weird scenario in itself for outdoor action cams. So, nothing you’ll encounter if you use them for what they’re built.
Winner: Tie (no real overheating issues with both)
DJI Mimo App
The Mimo phone app is a necessity for using the Osmo Action 4. The camera has to be activated using a DJI account before it can be used. With the app not available on the Google Play Store, this is definitely a strange move. Instead, it has to be downloaded from DJI directly.
Actually using it to set up the camera, preview via live view or rewatch captured clips works fine. It connects like a charm every time, which I can’t say the same for the GoPro app.
GoPro Quik App
All in all, the Quik app is very easy and intuitive to use. Some minor features like the grid overlay for the back screen of the camera are missing. But that’s being very picky.
One extremely helpful feature is powering the camera on and off using only the app! As a trade-off, it’s also draining the battery even when powered off.
Plus, it seems to be entirely optional!