Is the GoPro a ‘Proper’ camera. You bet. And more than you may know! Unlock some secrets here.

I had a look at the manual for my Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K this morning. And as you’d expect for such a complex piece of gear, it is a goodly size.

155 pages to exact

So how many pages do you think the “humble” little GoPro 10 camera has. I mean, it’s only a so called “action cam” so doesn’t need a lot, right?

Well it might surprise you that the little GoPro manual is itself 153 pages!

So what might you have been missing?

I know many people have GoPros of all model numbers and variations, and without to much of an exaggeration, it is safe to say, that just as many users do with “standard” camcorders or cameras, and indeed smartphones, most put it in “A” for “Automatic” and leave it there.  Which is a shame as they are then missing out on some gems of capability that would raise the level of their photography and videos and add capability found in more expensive and supposedly “sophisticated” camera and camcorders..

Presets

The first thing you might want to do is create some of your own presets. A preset lets you create a series of settings and save them for use in particular situations. A simple example might be ‘wide angle at 1080p resolution and 60 frames per second’. Once saved under a name, you can quickly recall it and save having to go through the manual setup, saving enormous amounts of time when you need that specific setting to get the perfect shot.

Once you understand more of video / photography and your GoPro, you can then also go into the ProTune mode and play around with advanced settings such as Colour Profile, White Balance, ISO, shutter speed and more.

Gosh, just like a REAL camera hey?

Power Tools

The next thing to be aware of are the inbuilt Power Tools in the latest GoPros. These are a suite of smart capture settings such as Hindsight (which records up to 30 seconds of video before you press the shutter button. This means you’ll have less chance of missing the perfect shot, especially useful in situations such as sporting events, or fireworks displays say.

You’ll want to make sure you have all your capture settings in place though before starting HindSight, as you cannot change them once it is on. Also be aware that Hindsight will use up battery juice faster than normal use.

Another goodie is Liveburst which captures a burst of shots both 1.5 seconds before and after the shutter is pressed. Again great for sport and fireworks as examples.

If you know a particular event is going to happen but cannot be there, another PowerTool, Scheduled Capture, allows you to set the GoPro to automatically turn on and capture a shot any time up to 24 hours in advance. In conjunction with software like PhotoPills that will tell you the exact time of sunrise / sunset, moon rise / moon set, golden hour / blue hour etc according to your location by latitude and longtitude, this mode is brilliant to get shots where you cannot be bothered getting up or can’t be there for some other reason.

A variation on this is Duration where you tell the GoPro how long to record for before it stops. You can set increments from between 15 seconds to 3 hours (you might need an external battery for that). You can if you wish, set a ‘No Limit’ which will continuously record until out of memory or battery, whichever comes first.

QuikCapture

In QuikCapture mode, simply pressing the shutter button will start the GoPro recording without the need to turn the camera on. QuikCapture is on by default by the way, but if you want to turn it off, you do it from the GoPro Dashboard (the Rabbit symbol).

HiLight Tags

If you want to mark a spot when recording to make it easy to navigate to that during playback, when recording press the Mode button. But a much sexier way is to take advantage of the GoPro’s Voice Control system.

When you are recording and want to mark a HiLight, simply say ‘GoPro, HiLight’!

Additionally if you edit with the GoPro Quik app, it uses HiLights to make sure it includes the highlights in the video.

Orientation

Did you know the GoPro can record in Landscape and Portrait mode and once you are in a specific orientation you can lock it so it stays in that mode? Even upside down (useful when mounted on a car windscreen).

Time Lapse

As the name suggests, this lets you take a series of frames of video at set intervals. Additionaly, you can “speed up” time with the TimeWarp mode. In Time Lapse mode, this uses the fantastic stabilisation ability of the GoPro in conjunction with Time Lapse to get super smooth video whilst on the go. This is how they get those shots of clouds moving quickly overhead for example.

Live Stream

If you want to share you video in real time with others, your GoPro can act as a webcam.  This requires a bit of setup and I’ll go through this in another article, but if you are anxious to get started, go to www,gopro.com/live-stream-setup

Exposure Controls

In simple terms, exposure is how much light is being used in a photograph or video and is dependent on such things as shutter speed and aperture settings. Your GoPro can set these automatically based on the scene, but for creative purposes, you can override any of these settings – and more – to get just the effect you want.

To do this, tap and hold on the view screen until a set of brackets appears. Once they do, drag them around the screen and the exposure will be set based on the area inside the brackets. If shooting on snow or over water, it is almost a given you will do this to make sure you do not overexpose an image.

Voice Control

As I mentioned earlier the GoPro has a fabulous built in voice control system letting you perform a whole bunch of actions just by telling it to. These include ‘GoPro start recording’ and then of course, ‘GoPro stop recording’. But you can also change modes from video to photo to time lapse or any combination of these. There are more too, so have a look at your manual or on the web to get a complete list.

ProTune

If you really want to get into the engine compartment of your GoPro, check out the ProTune settings where you can get right into setting the very basics of your camera in terms of its image capture. I alluded earlier to these with shutter speed, aperture and ISO, but you also have colour settings and bit rates, frames / second, exposure compensation, sharpness, audio settings, wind noise reduction and more you can play with.

The Manual

The manual for your GoPro contains detailed information on everything I have touched on here, and if you don’t have it yet, you can get one from the web. The one I have is for the GoPro 10 and is at https://gopro.com/content/dam/help/hero10-black/manuals/HERO10Black_UM_ENG_REVB.pdf as a PDF you can download.

Conclusion

So, the next time a photographer or videographer with a big flash camera or camcorder sneers at your “little” GoPro, rest assured that technically, most of what they can do, so can you. And it fits in your pocket.

Better yet, ask them if their super-dooper model45 whizzbang can go underwater?

(If they mention zoom lenses they will have you there however. Just tell ‘em you’ll get closer to the subject.

But whilst not a zoom, you might like to check out the GoPro Lens Mod).

By the way, for our GoPro camera, lenses and accessories, we like Videoguys in Melbourne. Their service and pricing is excellent and you can order online.

 

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