Can You Take Pictures With a GoPro?

GoPro cameras have a dedicated photography setting that lets you capture still images. However, the photo quality won’t be as good as a DSLR, mirrorless, or even newer generation smartphone cameras.

Hi, my name is Larry, and I’ll be your guide today as we navigate the photography world of GoPro cameras. I’ve been using GoPros since 2014 when I got my first GoPro HERO4. I now use a GoPro HERO10 and have taken thousands of pictures across my set of GoPros. 

Today’s guide will explain the photography capability of GoPro cameras and if it’s worth getting if you’re only going to use it for pictures.

Say cheese, and let’s jump in!

What Type of Camera is a GoPro?

First, it’s important to define what a GoPro is and what features it offers. If you didn’t already know, GoPros are action cameras meant to record outdoor video footage of action sports or adventures. They are ideal for high-quality action video shots.

The portability, durability, and waterproofing features of the GoPro are what make it so versatile for filming action content.

However, there is a dedicated photo mode on GoPro cameras. But this doesn’t mean the camera was designed to take still images. 

That brings up our next question.

Do GoPro Cameras Take Good Pictures?

Compared to DSLR and mirrorless cameras, GoPros don’t offer the same control, lens options, and image quality. But unless you’re a professional photographer or aspire to be one, these factors are not very important.

Generally speaking, GoPros offer relatively good photo quality. Starting with the GoPro HERO5 Black, GoPros feature the ability to shoot RAW photos.

The RAW photo format allows for less compression than standard JPG files. Furthermore, RAW photos produce higher quality photos and offer more editing flexibility. 

This means that you can take some impressive photos with your GoPro using the RAW format and touching up the photo afterward in Adobe Lightroom.

If you already have a GoPro and want to learn how to take amazing photos, check out this tutorial from Chris Rogers:

What Lens is on a GoPro?

GoPro cameras come with a “fisheye” lens which is essentially an ultrawide angle lens that covers horizontal and landscape views. Since the GoPro is meant to film action, the ultrawide angle lens allows you to capture as much scenery as possible within your shot.

Taking pictures with an ultrawide angle lens can provide some uniquely beautiful shots. 

Check out this compilation of beautiful photos shot with a GoPro:

Although the standard photography setting for GoPro is ‘Wide’, you can also choose ‘Linear’ or ‘Narrow’. These settings use the camera’s built-in software in an attempt to correct the optical distortion of the fisheye lens by straightening lines that would be bent in the ‘Wide’ setting. 

Which GoPros are Best for Photos?

An essential distinguishing factor in determining which GoPro is best for photos is how many megapixels (MP) it supports. In essence, megapixels describe a camera’s resolution based on the number of pixels it can capture.

Before diving too deep into the technicals, more megapixels typically mean higher quality photos. However, this isn’t the case for cameras in general. Other factors include sensor size, lens quality, image stabilization, and distortion. These factors are generally consistent among GoPro cameras and improve with every new model.

For this reason, the newer GoPro cameras are better for photography. Let’s look at how many MP each new GoPro model offers.

Camera ModelMax Photo Resolution
GoPro HERO10 Black23 MP
GoPro HERO9 Black20 MP
GoPro MAX16.6 MP
GoPro HERO8 Black12 MP
GoPro HERO7 Black12 MP

Based on this discussion, it’s clear that the GoPro HERO10 Black is the best GoPro for photography. It offers the most megapixels while also offering the new GP2 processor. The second best GoPro for photography is the GoPro HERO9 Black.

Should I Buy a GoPro for Photography?

The moral of the story is that you can take good pictures with a GoPro even though it wasn’t what the camera was designed for.

If you’re interested in professional photography, I recommend getting a professional camera that’s meant for photography, like a DSLR or mirrorless camera. 

GoPros can be a great option if you want a portable camera that takes relatively high-quality images. Furthermore, GoPros are one of the best cameras for underwater photography. 

It all comes down to your goals for photography and what you want to use the images for. New smartphones like the iPhone 13 Pro Max and Samsung Galaxy S22 offer better pictures and are easier to use than a GoPro.

Keep these factors in mind as you’re deciding to get a GoPro for only photography purposes. In the end, I recommend that you test a friend’s GoPro or trial one at the store to see if it fits your photography needs.

FAQs

Now that we understand that you can take pictures with a GoPro, let’s cover a few other questions that may have sprung up in your mind.

Can GoPro take pictures while recording?

You cannot take pictures while recording footage with your GoPro. However, you can grab frames from the video and essentially capture stills from recorded content. To do so, launch the GoPro Quik app, upload your video, use the slider to find your frame, and then tap ‘Save Frame’.

Can GoPro take pictures underwater?

All GoPro cameras since the GoPro HERO5 Black are waterproof without protective housing. This means you can bring your GoPro underwater and take as many images as you want.

Does GoPro take better pictures than iPhone?

The newer edition iPhone cameras have incredible built-in cameras that offer better image quality than GoPros for standard shots. If you’re only interested in everyday shots and not action shots, you’re better off purchasing an iPhone 13 Pro or iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Is GoPro better than DSLR?

A GoPro will never beat a DSLR camera in terms of image quality. However, GoPro cameras are better than DSLR cameras in convenience, portability, and durability. Would you want to lug a massive DSLR on your daylong hiking trip? That’s where a GoPro wins.

Closing Thoughts

Although GoPros are known for capturing video footage, they are also competent photography shooters. However, photography is a skill, and you’ll need ample practice with your GoPro before your photos are incredibly high quality.

Although I have the new iPhone 13 Pro, I love bringing my GoPro around to take pictures because it feels better to capture images using a real camera. 

There’s a particular sensation in the art of photography that’s lost when I take photos with a phone, so I try to avoid it as much as possible.

But now I’d love to hear from you!

Are you going to buy a GoPro specifically for photography? Do you have any more questions about taking pictures with a GoPro?

Let me know in the comment section down below.

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  • Mike

    Hi There,

    I am trying to take photos of fast moving players on a squash court. The nature of the activity means that players necessarily have their backs to any camera in most viewing areas, so I am trying to capture images from floor level at the front of the court; potentially with a GoPro10. Recommended f stop for photos is 2.8; however DSLR’s are bulky and encroach too much on the court and have the potential to affect play.

    Although courts often seem bright, a fast shutter speed and dark floorboards can often result in dark images, and there is no ability to flash or increase the light from the cameras position.

    Would you recommend the GoPro10 in this circumstance, and if so, what settings should be used, given there is often a lag with wireless remotes and iphone triggers?

    All assistance gratefully received!!
    Mike

    Reply
  • Ed Roberts

    Great content, Larry. Short and sweet; to the point. Thanks for your informative article.

    Reply