How Does a GoPro Work?

GoPro cameras work like any other camera, such as a digital, DSLR, mirrorless, or phone camera. You can simply turn it on and start recording videos and taking pictures. However, GoPros are unique because they are built explicitly to film action content.

Hi, my name is Larry. I’m your neighborhood GoPro expert who’s been using GoPro cameras for nearly a decade. After buying my first GoPro HERO4 Black in 2014, I now use my GoPro HERO10 Black daily to record videos of my outdoor adventures.

In today’s comprehensive guide, I’ll explain how a GoPro works and how it’s different from other cameras.

Let’s dive right into it!

What is a GoPro and How Does It Work?

A GoPro is a compact, portable, and durable camera that can be mounted to your chest, helmet, surfboard, bike handlebars, and much more. GoPros are popular among action enthusiasts and athletes because of their portability, strength, and convenience.

Rather than holding a bulky DSLR camera as you go on adventures around the world, you can fit your GoPro in your pocket and pull it out whenever you want to shoot a video or take a picture.

Furthermore, GoPros offer high-resolution recording and photo-taking capabilities, so you don’t have to sacrifice much quality for comfort.

GoPro cameras work just like any other camera. They have a power button that allows you to turn the camera on and off. They also have a shutter button that allows you to record video.

Furthermore, the majority of GoPro cameras (there have been over 20 models) are equipped with an LCD touchscreen that allows you to play back your footage and change your camera’s settings.  

Overall, GoPros are extremely easy to use, and it shouldn’t take more than a few hours to get the hang of all the settings and features.

Most GoPro cameras have an external battery that you can take out and replace. In addition, all GoPros use a microSD card that saves and stores your footage.

What Kind of Camera is a GoPro?

GoPro cameras are classified as action cameras. They are the most popular brand of action cameras and are used by millions of action enthusiasts and athletes around the world. 

This is because GoPros are incredibly lightweight, compact, and durable. As I mentioned earlier, you can fit a GoPro inside your pocket. The newest GoPro model, the HERO10 Black, is 2.8 inches wide, 2.2 inches tall, and 1.3 inches deep. It’s exceedingly tiny and can fit in the palm of your hand.

Furthermore, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of different GoPro attachments and accessories. So no matter what sport you’re playing or adventure you’re filming, you can find an attachment to use your GoPro without your hands.

For example, I went skydiving last summer and attached my GoPro to my helmet using a GoPro helmet attachment. 

Isn’t that awesome?

Most GoPro cameras are also waterproof. Since GoPro released the HERO5 Black in 2016, each GoPro model afterward is completely waterproof out of the box. You can check out my guide on Are GoPros Waterproof to see the complete list of waterproof GoPros and how deep each model can go.

Water sports enthusiasts that want to record footage need an action camera because other types of digital cameras are not water-resistant. So I always bring my GoPro with me whenever I go snorkeling or surfing. 

In essence, action cameras are built for vloggers, cyclists, divers, and anybody else who plays sports or enjoys outdoor activities. 

What Can a GoPro be Used For?

GoPros are best used to record action content that requires movement. This is because GoPros have image stabilization features that automatically stabilize shaky footage of your recordings. 

In addition, GoPros feature a wide-angle lens that allows you to capture more of your surrounding environment while still being close to the action.

However, GoPros aren’t exclusively used to record action content. GoPros are popular among casual vloggers that want to film their vacations or daily lives because of how portable these cameras are.

Not everybody wants to carry a massive camera with them when they shoot vlogs, so a GoPro acts as an excellent compromise. Although you can adjust your video and picture settings, such as the exposure and aperture, GoPro’s automatic settings work perfectly in most situations.

This means that beginner and expert videographers can use GoPro cameras effectively. Once you’ve finished a filming session, you can easily upload your footage to your phone using GoPro’s mobile device Quik, or transfer it to your computer with a microSD card adapter.

Then, you can either share your videos with your friends or edit them to create beautiful sequences and montages. 

Here’s a list of activities you can record using a GoPro:

  • Skateboarding
  • Snowboarding
  • Snorkeling
  • Skydiving
  • Wakeboarding
  • Mountain biking
  • Climbing
  • Basketball
  • Soccer
  • And much more

How Do You Use a GoPro for Beginners?

If you recently got a GoPro and have no experience using cameras, you may be totally confused about how to get started. 

The latest GoPro models feature:

  • Mode (Power) Button – A button on the side of your GoPro that powers off and on your camera.
  • Shutter/Select Button – A button on the top of your GoPro that allows you to start recording video or taking pictures.
  • Camera Status Light – A light that flashes red which indicates your camera is currently recording.
  • Camera Status Screen – A front screen on your camera that shows what camera setting you’re on and how long your current video has been recording.

Here’s an in-depth look at all the components of the new GoPro HERO10 Black.

This graphic explains each feature and component the GoPro HERO10 has and where it’s physically located on the camera. 

Check out this video for an in-depth tutorial on how to use a GoPro HERO10 Black:

If you have a different GoPro model and want to learn how to use it, go to YouTube and type in “[Your Camera Model] Guide”. For example, if you own a GoPro HERO8 Black, type in “GoPro HERO 8 Black Guide”.


Now that you understand how does a GoPro work and what it’s used for, I want to answer a few additional questions that may be lingering on your mind. This will help to clarify any confusion you’re facing about GoPro cameras.

Can GoPro take pictures?

Although GoPros are best known for recording video, they can take pictures too. Most GoPro cameras allow you to take JPG pictures or RAW pictures if you want better post-processing and editing capabilities. However, since GoPro’s have a wide-angle lens, the pictures will look slightly different than what you’re used to seeing on your phone. 

How long can a GoPro record?

GoPros can usually record for 50 minutes to 150 minutes, depending on which resolution you use to record. You can check out my guide on How Long Can a GoPro Record for more information on how long your specific GoPro and resolution records.

Does GoPro record sound?

All GoPro cameras have a built-in mic that can record sound. This means you don’t need to purchase an external microphone to record audio with your GoPro. However, don’t expect the best audio quality with the built-in mic. If you want clearer audio, you’ll need to purchase an external mic which ranges from $10 to $100.

What do I need for a GoPro?

The one item that you absolutely need for your GoPro is a microSD card. Unfortunately, GoPros do not come with a microSD card unless you purchase a bundle that specifically includes one. You won’t be able to record or use your GoPro without a microSD card so make sure you purchase one that’s compatible with your GoPro.

Is GoPro easy to use?

One of the best features of GoPro cameras is how easy they are to use. Even without any prior camera experience, you can pick up a GoPro and begin shooting amazing content right away. As such, GoPros are extremely beginner-friendly and allow you to record your favorite moments conveniently.

Closing Thoughts

GoPros are outstanding compact action cameras that are durable and offer high-resolution recording. I hope you enjoyed my guide on how a GoPro works and now truly understand why they’re so globally popular.

But now I’d love to hear your thoughts on GoPro cameras: Do you own a GoPro camera? If so, which model do you own, and what type of content do you record?

Do you have any further questions you’d like me to answer about GoPros? I’m all ears, and I am happy to assist you with anything related to GoPro cameras. Leave a comment below and let me know!

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