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GoPro has grown into the best-known name in action cameras. The company has become so popular that people today use “GoPro” as a verb, to indicate shooting video or still images while participating in extreme sports.
That’s almost the equivalent of becoming an athlete or entertainer with a single name, like Pelé or Adele!
Don’t feel bad if you aren’t quite as familiar with GoPro cameras as you are with Adele, though, especially if you don’t participate in extreme sports.
You might feel GoPro cameras are only for skateboarders and surfers, but this type of camera will work for plenty of other types of photographers.
If you’re interested in an easy-to-use camera with an extremely small size, consider a GoPro.
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Please continue reading to learn whether GoPro cameras will meet your photography needs. When you’re ready to purchase a GoPro, check out the product matrix, above, to see our top recommendations.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
The GoPro HERO5 Black is the most feature-rich model and the easiest model to use. To begin recording, you just need to touch one button, or use voice control for hands-free operation. Audio and video recordings with the HERO5 yield excellent results, thanks in part to video stabilization features. If you sign up for a GoPro Plus cloud storage account, your photos and videos will automatically upload for sharing via WiFi, another amazing feature of this top-end action camera. And to keep track of where you’ve been, the HERO5 will tag your files with a built-in GPS.
The GoPro family is a series of compact digital cameras that can record still images and video. These tiny cameras excel in video recording, offering full HD and even 4K resolution.
GoPro cameras separate from the pack by offering waterproof and shockproof capabilities. They’ll stand up to very rough treatment, such as occurs with extreme sports. GoPro also offers an amazing array of mounts and cases for their cameras. You can mount a GoPro securely on a helmet, bicycle handlebars, or a car window, among other places. The cases help protect the camera even in extreme conditions, such as underwater, high winds, or in case of strong impacts.
That combination of toughness, compactness, and versatility makes GoPro a great model for filming just about anything — cycling, skateboarding stunts, skydiving, and many other activities. Some filmmakers are even using GoPros for action sequences in feature films. But you don’t have to racing down a mountain or jumping from a plane to get great footage from your GoPro. You can use a GoPro to produce a first-person video of just about anything.
If your GoPro contains a QuikCapture feature, you can use it to turn on the camera or begin recording by just touching and holding the shutter button.
Different GoPro camera models offer different features, or vary in specifications of some characteristics, such as video resolution. You can use these features to identify the models that are most likely to suit your needs.
Newer GoPro cameras offer the ability to issue voice commands for running simple aspects of the camera.
Some GoPro cameras offer voice control. For best results, you need to be within several inches of the camera when issuing commands.
Manufacturers measure video recording by the number of pixels horizontally and vertically per frame. New GoPro cameras will record at 4K video resolution, which is 3,840 by 2,160 pixels, or roughly 8.3 MP per frame.
If you own a 4K resolution television, video recorded at 4K with your GoPro will play back perfectly on that TV.
You also can scale down to HD video resolution or lower with your GoPro, which requires less storage space.
Recording in 4K resolution requires roughly four times more storage space than recording in full HD resolution for the same duration. Plan accordingly!
A GPS chip inside the GoPro camera allows it to mark your location when recording a video or still image, storing the location data directly in the photo or video file.
Use the still image megapixel maximum to compare resolution in a GoPro. Higher resolution numbers contribute to better image quality. GoPro cameras range from 6 MP to 12 MP of resolution.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Onboard Editing — Underwater!
The GoPro HERO4 includes plenty of different video resolution and frame speed options. You’ll love the ability to crop your video segments from inside the camera, making it easy to remove your wipeouts before sharing the video. When performing action sports around water, the HERO4 delivers waterproof capabilities up to 131 feet. You even can shoot 12 MP still images at speeds of up to 30 frames per second.
Each camera will work within a certain water depth without a waterproof housing. Others can reach greater water depths with the use of a specialty case. If you’re using the GoPro camera underwater, don’t exceed the maximum depth or you risk damaging the camera.
A touch-enabled display screen isn’t available on every GoPro camera, but newer models do offer them to help you control the camera. Other models simplify the controls dramatically — using only one or two buttons with a combination of button pushes to activate the device.
Double check all latches and seals on your waterproof case before throwing your GoPro into the water.
Although GoPro cameras are digital cameras, they differ quite a bit from the traditional digital camera design, such as a DSLR.
With GoPro cameras growing in popularity, you may wonder whether using this type of action camera for all of your photos would be acceptable. For example, using a GoPro while traveling sounds like a good idea because of the GoPro’s small size, making it easy to pack.
Certainly, GoPro cameras have advantages over traditionally designed digital cameras in some areas, but they also have disadvantages.
To charge the GoPro camera battery, you need a charging device with at least a 5V 1A output.
Still image quality in a GoPro will be adequate. Most GoPro photos have a bit of a fish-eye feel to them, with curved lines near the edges of the frame.
Many basic digital cameras record higher quality photographs than GoPro cameras. DSLR image quality runs significantly higher than GoPro image quality, thanks to larger and better quality lenses and light sensors.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
GoPro Hero5 Session
Amazingly Small, Amazingly Powerful
Though the GoPro HERO5 Session camera body features a small size, its image and video quality hit the mark. The Session will record video at a resolution up to 4K/Ultra HD, producing amazing footage. When using the GoPro HERO5 Session for action photos or videos, you’ll appreciate the ability to give the camera voice commands, leaving your hands free. All in all, the GoPro HERO5 Session boasts all the best GoPro features, lacking only a touchscreen in favor of the compact size.
Most GoPro cameras are very easy to use. Just press one button and begin recording videos or still images. Many traditional digital cameras have simple, fully automatic modes too.
Traditional digital cameras create significantly better closeup photos than GoPro cameras. The GoPros just don’t have the lens quality, nor ability to adjust settings, that digital cameras use for great closeup photos.
If you’ve used the GoPro camera in water, you may need to use forced air to dry the microphone port and restore optimum audio quality. After using a GoPro camera in salt water, rinse the camera in freshwater before storing it.
If you want to shoot hands-free photos or video, GoPro wins, hands down. You can attach the GoPro to your body, a surfboard , a helmet, or just about anything. Digital cameras don’t typically have similar mounts available to record action sports.
Because GoPro cameras are so small, batteries are small, too. Typical battery life for GoPros runs well below the average digital camera. You should be able to shoot with a digital camera for nearly a full day with good battery life, but a GoPro battery only lasts a few hours.
To pick the correct mount for your GoPro camera, think about the shape and type of surface to which you’ll mount the camera. Different mounts work better on particular surfaces.
A GoPro camera will be quite a bit smaller than DSLR cameras, and they’re even smaller than point and shoot cameras. This makes packing and carrying a GoPro easier than other types of digital cameras.
If you’re looking for a camera to use safely around water, GoPros work great. Some traditional digital cameras offer shockproof and waterproof capabilities, and some may make use of an external waterproof case. GoPro cameras make shooting around water easier and more natural than most digital cameras.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Top Capability at a Low Price
With a low price and some nice beginner features, the GoPro HERO+ offers an excellent means of joining the action camera craze. The HERO+ stands up to tough shooting conditions, including around water. With both WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity options, you will be able to share your photos and videos instantly, or use the GoPro app to control the camera remotely. This model weighs only 4.3 ounces, which shouldn’t throw you off as you’re participating in extreme sports activities with the camera attached to your body.
Both GoPro and digital cameras do a nice job with video recording, usually offering multiple resolutions up to 4K.
GoPro cameras have no zoom lens capability, giving traditional digital cameras a big advantage when shooting far-off subjects is a must.
Q. Why would I want a GoPro camera? I already have a digital camera.
A. GoPro cameras have quite a few features different from standard digital cameras. The primary difference involves the ability to record photos and videos in tough conditions, such as rough weather, around water, or when participating in extreme sports. Typical digital cameras cannot stand up to rough treatment.
Q. What does it mean to use a mount with a GoPro camera?
A. By attaching the GoPro to a mount, you can secure the camera to some other object, leaving your hands free. For example, some people may attach the GoPro to a mount on a bicycle handle, or a skateboard, to record some interesting angles for videos. Others may even mount the GoPro to a bicycle helmet, to a chest harness, or on a card window.
Q. Can I use a GoPro camera as an everyday camera?
A. You certainly could use a GoPro camera to shoot everyday types of photos, rather than only action photos and videos. However, the GoPro tends to lag behind typical digital cameras in terms of battery life. GoPro cameras also can’t match a DSLR in terms of high-end image quality, or with the versatility of lens options. If you’re only looking for basic photo quality, a GoPro will be just fine. But if you want the best possible photography results, a GoPro struggles to compete with DSLRs.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.