If you just got a new GoPro camera or are going to buy one soon, you have come to the right place. As a first-time GoPro user, there is a lot to learn about your new camera before you’re ready to create amazing GoPro videos.
Hi, my name is Larry. I’m a certified GoPro expert who’s been creating cinematic action videos for 10 years. Throughout this past decade, I’ve taught dozens of beginner GoPro users how to use their cameras effectively.
In today’s guide, I’ll explain everything you need to know about GoPro cameras.
So, strap in and continue reading to learn more!
Chapter 1: GoPro Basics
GoPros are the most versatile action cameras on the planet. Founded in 2002 by Nick Woodman, GoPro quickly grew to become a household name and a must-have for millions of action enthusiasts and vloggers. GoPro went public in 2014 on the NASDAQ stock exchange under the ticker ‘GPRO’.
Action cameras are unique because you can use them in various situations. This is because GoPros are lightweight, compact, and durable. If you want to know how much a GoPro weighs, the HERO10 Black weighs 5.6 ounces and is 2.8 inches wide, 2.2 inches tall, and 1.3 inches deep.
Best of all, GoPros have built-in electronic image stabilization (EIS) technology that automatically smooths out shaky footage. This EIS technology is known as HyperSmooth in newer GoPro cameras and is the best image stabilizer in the entire action camera market.
Therefore, GoPros are the perfect cameras to record outdoor action content or sports videos. From snowboarding and jet skiing to hiking and skydiving, you can use a GoPro camera to record virtually anything.
In essence, GoPros harness the best qualities of a standard point-and-shoot video camera and pack them into a smaller, waterproof, and incredibly durable frame. GoPros also have a wide-angle lens that lets you capture more of the outdoor scenery surrounding your video subject.
Furthermore, newer GoPros have built-in microphones, mounting fingers, and lightning-fast camera processors. The newest GoPro, the HERO10 Black, can record up to 5.3K video resolution at 60 fps.
The ability to record ultra high-definition videos in such a small device is what catapulted GoPro to the top of the action camera market. No other action camera brand comes close to brand recognition and popularity compared to GoPro.
Since GoPros are so lightweight and compact, you can use dozens of different mounts to capture hands-free action content. For example, you can mount the GoPro on your snowboard helmet using a helmet mount to record footage without needing to hold a camera in your hands.
In addition to high-quality videos, GoPros also take incredible pictures. The GoPro HERO10 has a 23 MP camera sensor, which is significantly better than the iPhone 13 Pro’s 12 MP camera sensor. Therefore, you can use your GoPro to record videos and take pictures.
Although GoPros are manufactured overseas, they are incredibly high-quality and robust.
Chapter 2: GoPro Buying Guides
Since there are over 20 different GoPro models, finding the best GoPro for your specific situation can be difficult. However, the best GoPro for you depends on what type of content you want to film.
If you want to film water sports like scuba diving, fishing, snorkeling, or surfing, you should get a GoPro with built-in waterproofing capabilities. Although the newest GoPro is the HERO10 Black, all GoPros have been waterproof since the release of the HERO5 Black in 2016. There are also beginner-friendly GoPros for kids if you want to spoil your child with an incredible present.
You’ll need a similar waterproof GoPro for sports such as skiing and snowboarding as well. However, suppose you want to film other activities like hiking, hunting, mountain biking, vlogs, live streaming, motovlogs, or baseball games. In that case, I recommend choosing a GoPro with excellent built-in image stabilization.
In terms of how much GoPros cost, they range from $100 to $450, depending on the model. GoPros command premium price tags because they are premium devices. You get what you pay for with a GoPro camera since they are the best action cameras on the market.
However, there are several cheaper GoPro alternatives from manufacturers like Asako, Campark, and Dragon Touch. These options are perfect for budget-conscious shoppers who want a capable action camera but don’t want to dish out for a new GoPro.
Chapter 3: GoPro Accessories
To make the most out of your GoPro, you’ll need to invest in a few additional accessories. First, I recommend getting some extra SD cards. I’ve been in situations where all my SD cards are full, so I can’t film unless I delete a few clips, format my memory card, or purchase a new SD card.
Furthermore, it’s important to note that GoPros don’t come with an SD card unless you purchase a bundle pack. If you are buying a standalone camera, you must purchase an SD card to film and save videos, and you can’t use your GoPro camera without inserting an SD card.
I also recommend purchasing a couple of extra GoPro batteries. This is because GoPros don’t have the best battery life, especially when recording at higher-quality resolutions. For example, your GoPro battery will drain much faster if you record at 4K than if you record at 1080p.
So, buying two to three extra batteries can prevent you from cutting your filming session early if your first battery runs out of power. It also prevents you from having to charge your GoPro with a portable charger while filming, which can be highly inconvenient if you need to hold a bunch of extra equipment in your hands.
It takes anywhere from one to four hours to fully charge a GoPro battery, depending on if you connect it to a wall outlet or computer. Wall outlets offer faster charging speeds than computers.
However, the world of GoPro accessories goes much deeper than only batteries and SD cards. This is because there are hundreds of different GoPro mounts and attachments. For example, you can find car mounts, jet ski mounts, mountain bike mounts, kayak mounts, bike mounts, mouth mounts, dog harness mounts, and ski and snowboard mounts.
Although you can get a GoPro accessory kit that includes dozens of mounts at an affordable price, you can also purchase individual suction cup mounts, monopods, tripods, and selfie sticks. It all depends on what type of content you want to film and what viewing angle you want to record.
Overall, I highly recommend any GoPro user to invest in a chest mount, helmet mount, and selfie stick. These three mounts are very versatile for nearly any activity or sport.
Quality of Life Accessories
If you want to dive even deeper into the world of GoPro accessories, I recommend getting a backpack, gimbal, drone, lights, external microphone, and case. A GoPro backpack is perfect for travelers who want to store their GoPro and accessories safely.
Gimbals are perfect for GoPro users who record high-intensity content prone to frequent camera shakes. This is because gimbals offer even more video stabilization in a handheld mount device.
GoPro drones let you attach your camera to the drone to record epic sky-high videos. In addition, GoPro lights are crucial if you record content at night or in dark situations. Since GoPros have a small camera sensor, they don’t offer the clearest videos in low-light scenarios.
Furthermore, external microphones let you record higher-quality sounds since the built-in microphone on GoPro cameras isn’t the best. Therefore, vloggers should invest in a high-quality external microphone.
Lastly, I recommend getting a GoPro case because it protects your camera lens while traveling or during your extraordinary adventures. Getting a scratch on your GoPro’s lens can render your camera unusable, so it’s vital to keep your camera safe at all times.
Chapter 4: How to Use a GoPro
You can use a GoPro just as you would use any other type of camera. In fact, the only way to get better at recording GoPro videos is to record as much as you can.
If you just unboxed your new GoPro camera, the first step is to insert your SD card and battery. Then, make sure the battery is fully charged. Once you insert your accessories and charge up your battery, you’re good to go.
However, you should learn what each button on your GoPro does before you start recording.
Here’s a breakdown of the features GoPros typically have:
- Camera Status Screen: Shows what camera setting you have enabled and how long you’ve been recording.
- Shutter/Select Button: Cycles through different camera settings indicated on the touch screen or camera status screen.
- Power Mode Button: Turns your GoPro on and off.
- Camera Status Light: Turns red to indicate the camera is currently recording.
Let’s take a closer look at each component of the newest GoPro camera model:
I also recommend connecting your GoPro to your phone before you start recording. You can download the app GoPro Quik and then pair the app to your GoPro.
With GoPro Quik, you can transfer videos from your GoPro to your phone wirelessly and conveniently. This way, you don’t have to connect your GoPro to your computer whenever you want to upload your videos. The app also lets you transfer videos from your GoPro to an iPad or other tablet.
However, you can also use a GoPro Quik Key to transfer footage from your GoPro to a mobile device.
GoPro Quik also has some editing features I’ll discuss later on in today’s comprehensive guide. In addition, GoPro Quik makes sharing and sending videos to family and friends easy. You can also set up a live stream within GoPro Quik and stream on different platforms like Twitch, YouTube, and Facebook.
GoPro Video Settings
Although you can immediately turn on your GoPro and begin recording videos, you should learn about all the different video settings GoPros offer.
While the most important video settings are resolution and frame rates, you can also adjust the:
- Field of View
- Shutter Speed
- White Balance
- Exposure Value Compensation
However, these advanced videography settings will take some time to learn and get used to. Therefore, I recommend starting in Auto mode and letting the GoPro itself do most of the heavy lifting for you at first.
Then, once you are comfortable filming videos in Auto mode, you can expand your videography skills and begin playing around with other settings. Nevertheless, you must first set your video resolution and frame rate.
Your video resolution defines your video’s quality. Higher resolutions, such as 5K and 4K, offer more detail than lower resolutions, like 1080p and 720p. By definition, a resolution is defined as how many pixels an image contains. Therefore, more pixels in higher resolutions provide better image quality.
The standard GoPro resolutions are:
I recommend recording videos at each resolution and then watching back each video to see your favorite resolution. This way, you know what resolution to use for future videos. However, it’s important to note that higher-resolution videos create larger video files.
For this reason, you may need to stick with a lower resolution, like 1080p or 1440p, if you don’t have extra SD cards available.
In addition, frame rates are the number of images your GoPro captures per second. For instance, 60 frames per second (FPS) means your GoPro captures 60 images per second and stitches them together to create the video.
While 24 and 30 fps are the standard frame rates used in television shows and movies, higher frame rates let you create slow motion shots. For example, recording with 60 fps lets you add 2x slow motion for added video effects.
Chapter 5: GoPro Filming Tips and Tricks
As you dive into the world of GoPros and start recording incredible videos, here are a few tips you can use to improve your videography skills.
#1. Plan Out Your Shots
The quickest way to improve your GoPro footage is to plan out your shots. Instead of immediately turning your GoPro on and beginning to record, it’s much more effective to take a second and brainstorm the sequence and shots you want to get.
I recommend observing the environment and trying to find different camera angle opportunities, background scenery, and lighting combinations. This lets you tell a better story and create a more captivating and engaging video.
Your footage should follow a storyline with an intro, body, and outro. Videography and storytelling go hand-in-hand, so learning to record a compelling video will exponentially boost your skills.
#2. Keep It Concise
In the fast-paced world of TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts, not many people have the attention span to watch the same angle for more than 30 seconds. Think about how long a shot typically lasts in a professional video. It’s usually only a few seconds.
For this reason, you should keep your videos short and snappy. You should avoid fluff and redundancies and instead focus on bringing in unique viewing angles and storytelling elements.
I recommend keeping your shots 10 seconds or less and then moving to a new angle or part of the video. This way, you’ll have plenty of different shots and angles to make the best video possible. If you want to record a longer scene, film the same shot from multiple angles. Your video will be much more watchable.
#3. Keep Your GoPro Charged
As I mentioned earlier, GoPros don’t have amazing battery life. Since GoPros are so small, they use a smaller battery that only lasts up to a few hours in most cases. Therefore, you should always charge your GoPro overnight before your filming adventures.
In addition to keeping your battery charged, you should scoop up a few extra batteries.
However, you can use the following tips to get as much power as possible out of your battery:
- Only power on your GoPro when you’re ready to film
- Turn off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and Voice Control when not needed
- Turn off the display if not needed
Keeping features like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth running will drain your GoPro battery faster.
#4. Use the Proper GoPro Accessory
GoPro accessories let you mount your camera on nearly everything. Therefore, I recommend finding the best mount for your specific activity. The right GoPro mount makes filming much more comfortable and fun.
For travel vlogs, I recommend using a tripod or selfie stick mount. If you want to record sports, you can’t go wrong with a helmet mount or chest mount. For fast-paced adventure enthusiasts like motorbikers and mountain bikers, I recommend using a bar, head, or chest mount.
Car enthusiasts can stick their GoPro on their cars with a suction cup mount. In addition, water sports lovers should use a floating handle grip or chest mount.
#5. Get Close
GoPros have a super wide-angle lens which is different from a standard camera lens. As such, objects are 2.5x further away on a GoPro compared to the human eye. Therefore, I recommend getting as close to your recording subject as possible. This lets you capture highly-detailed footage of your target subject.
Furthermore, you don’t have to worry about getting too close since the wide-angle lens naturally zooms out slightly to capture the scenery behind your subject.
#6. Understand Lighting
Lighting is the core of everything in videography and photography. If you don’t understand how lighting works, you can’t capture the best shots possible. For example, pointing your GoPro directly into the sun results in a lower-quality video.
Instead, it’s better to point it away from the sun and to use the sun the help light your shots.
#7. Practice Makes Perfect
The best way to improve at anything is to practice as much as you can. I recommend recording as many videos as possible. You should experiment with different settings and conduct additional research on attributes like ISO, speed, and aperture.
However, recording alone is not enough. You also need to analyze each video to see what works well and what could use improvement. The testing, review, and implementation cycle will substantially enhance your videography skills.
Chapter 6: GoPro Editing Tips
While recording GoPro videos is fun and exciting, it’s only half the battle on your quest to create incredible content. The other half is combining all your clips through video editing.
So, here are a few key tips I’ve learned from 10 years of filming and editing with GoPro cameras.
#1. Choose Your Video Editing Software
There are dozens of different video editing programs you can use to edit your videos. The GoPro Quik mobile app is a great option if you want a simple editing tool to edit videos on your phone.
You can also use GoPro’s dedicated desktop video editing app called GoPro Studio. This is video software that lets you edit GoPro and non GoPro videos. You can use it just like any other video editing program and add music, transitions, and various effects.
Personally, I edit all my GoPro videos from my computer using Adobe Premiere Pro since it offers advanced editing tools and features. However, since Adobe Premiere Pro comes with a hefty price tag, there are many free GoPro editing software like DaVinci Resolve and OpenShot.
Some excellent paid GoPro video editing software includes Final Cut Pro (Mac only), Adobe Premier Elements (for beginners), and Lightworks. However, the paid video editing software uses a lot of processing power, so you’ll need a capable laptop or desktop for GoPro editing.
#2. Tell a Compelling Story
The primary difference between a great video and a mediocre video is the story. The biggest issue with most videos is that there is no storytelling element. They are just a compilation of different clips that don’t connect or relate to each other with purpose.
#3. Pick Your Music
Picking your GoPro video’s song first can help you craft a better story. You should pick a song that matches the mood of your footage. For example, you wouldn’t want a sad love song playing over a fast-paced snowboard stunt video. Instead, pick music that fits the mood and pace of the video.
#4. Edit to the Beat
One of my favorite video editing tips is to set your footage to the beat of the music. The beat can help you decide when to add transitions and jump cuts to different clips.
#5. Mute Recorded Audio
Unless you record a vlog with people talking, you may want to mute the audio of your GoPro footage. Most of the time, it doesn’t add much value and actually distracts the viewer. The GoPro microphone tends to pick up crackling and wind sounds, so it’s a best practice to mute the recorded audio.
#6. Get Inspiration From Other Creators
The best way to learn what’s possible with GoPro video editing is to watch videos from other prominent creators. Some notable GoPro bloggers and bloggers are Jay Alvarrez, MicBergsma, and Christian Leblanc.
Watching other videos can spark your own imagination in regard to filming and editing. If you see an effect or shot you really like, you can try to recreate it yourself.
Chapter 7: GoPro Maintenance Tips
Even though GoPros open up an entirely new world of videography, they also come with their own set of camera issues. From SD card errors and camera freezes to your GoPro randomly turning off and powering on issues, there are several problems to be aware of. A common SD card error is when your GoPro says ‘No SD Card’ on the display panel.
You may also experience GoPro overheating and choppy videos. The best way to troubleshoot these issues is to look up the corresponding article from this website when problems arise. I have quick and easy fixes for every type of GoPro problem.
For example, if you accidentally delete your GoPro videos, there are ways you can recover deleted GoPro videos. Furthermore, you should keep your GoPro firmware updated to the latest version to prevent bugs and glitches.
You also might wonder why your GoPro splits videos after a certain point. In essence, GoPros have a built-in function called chaptering that automatically splits up long videos into shorter clips. Your GoPro also records LRV files for previews and thumbnails.
Chapter 8: Other Useful Resources
GoPros are even more capable than you think. For example, you can use your GoPro as a webcam for online video meetings and live streaming. You can also automatically upload GoPro videos to the Cloud with a GoPro Subscription.
Nonetheless, you can find an in-depth guide on every GoPro topic on TheSweetCamera’s website. My ultimate goal is to teach you everything you need to know about GoPro cameras. These lovely little action cameras have drastically changed my life for the better, and I want to encourage as much GoPro education as possible.
GoPros are the most versatile cameras on the planet. I hope you found this guide helpful as you jump into the world of GoPro cameras.
However, I also hope that your GoPro isn’t something you take out and use once a year. Instead, you should bring it on all of your adventures. Not only do they let you capture beautiful memories to look back at, but they also enable your creativity and imagination.
But now I’d love to hear from you. Do you have any questions about GoPro cameras? What type of content will you record with your new action camera? Either way, let me know by leaving a short reply down below!