Is GoPro changing the way we experience the great outdoors, and more specifically outdoor sports and activities? Today’s young would definitely agree (the opinion is not limited to the young though; many tech-savvy photographers welcome the possibilities that a GoPro action camera offers).
Taking action shots and making videos has never been easier. A GoPro camera can be mounted on practically anything in practically any environment which makes it the best gadget for any kind of outdoor activity you want to record.
Underwater life? Sure! Sunset timelapse? Done! Snowboard slide? Hell, yeah! There isn’t anything that a GoPro can’t record, and what is more, the quality of the shots is amazing.
How do you start?
First of all, be prepared to experiment with functions that the camera offers, if you are a first-time camera user, try to learn some photography fundamentals in the process which will help you choose the right settings. But, even if you are not a photographer, it is fairly easy to learn how to use a GoPro camera.
Aside from experimenting with the functions, you should play with light, angles, points of view and so on and find what suits you best.
The very first thing you should do is make sure that the battery is fully charged, but just in case bring either a charger or a spare battery to your outdoor filming session. You do not want to miss out on a great video because you ran out of battery.
Then, be sure to have enough memory on your memory card (a 32GB memory card will hold up to 3 hours of video, and up to 18 000 photos, which is more than enough). Another thing about memory cards is that they need to be fast enough to choose a Class 10 (or higher) microSD card.
The next thing you would like to do is to set up a resolution, ratio, and FPS. Initially, it is best to set up your camera to the highest resolution and ratio there is as it will make sure that your videos are of the highest quality possible. It will also make the editing process much easier and with better results since some editing (like cropping) can lower the quality of the shot.
FPS (frames per second) is usually set up on 30, however, if you are planning on creating a slow-motion shot, increase the FPS to at least 60, or even 120 and 240 FPS if it is possible on your GoPro. This will also ensure that your video has the best quality post editing.
The GoPro cameras are set up to a wide angle, which can be a cause of image distortion and can include some unwanted objects in your frame. The solution is to either get closer to the object of your shot or to set up an angle to a medium or narrow. Those options are available on newer models (GoPro Hero 3+, for example).
What modes can you use?
Aside from a regular video, slow-mo option settings, and a single shot, there is a time lapse, burst, and continuous shot mode.
Time-lapse mode is usually used if you want to make a long time period into a short video/sequence- e.g. a flower blossoming, Sun’s/Moon’s travel across the sky and more. Set up your camera to take single shots at 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30 and 60 seconds.
The interval you choose will vary according to what you need to shoot. Since most of the time, lapse sequences cover a period longer than the battery life, be sure to change it, and do not worry if you miss some frames, it will not affect the outcome.
Burst and Continuous shooting are similar. However, they differ in the shooting speed, which affects the final outcome. Burst shot allows the camera to shoot up to 30 single shots in one-second. You can then edit your footage into a moving sequence. On the other hand, Continuous shooting allows up to 10 shots per second.
Tips and Tricks:
To save memory space, and make it easier to delete/edit video files shoot shorter video segments-as short as 3 seconds even.
For high FPS rates (120, 240 FPS) make sure that the lighting is great as the video will be dark otherwise.
Be sure to download a GoPro app to your smartphone or tablet. It will ease the editing process, help you share your photos and videos instantly, and will function as a remote control when you are not near your camera. For the earlier versions of GoPros that do not have a display, the app doubles as it as well, making sure that you have the frame you desired.
Use accessories. What makes GoPro cameras so cool is the fact that you can mount them on almost any surface, shoot underwater, and it will still deliver high-quality shots.
To stabilize your GoPro use a tripod mount. To attach it onto a skateboard, for example, use a jaws clamp. The Gorilla Tripod will latch onto almost everything. You can also use a gimbal to make sure that your shots will not be blurred and your videos not shaky.
For water activities use a floaty backdoor since it will not allow your camera to sink.
Another thing useful for the underwater shooting is a red, magenta or pink filter that will neutralize the green/blue shades and make everything visible.
If your GoPro is not waterproof by itself (like Hero7 Black is), you have to use a waterproof case. Make sure that the different temperatures do not cause condensation inside the case. But when that happens use anti-fog inserts, they keep the lens fog and humidity away.
Get creative and experiment!