Whether you are filming your latest mountain climbing adventure or your best friend’s outdoor wedding, you need to understand how to use a GoPro to get the best shots. But while these handy little action cameras look simple, there is a lot to learn if you want to master them.
No matter which type of GoPro you have, you’ll need to figure out how to use the buttons. Unlike a DSLR or compact camera, you will only have 1-3 buttons to learn, depending on which type of GoPro you have. Your time with your GoPro, therefore, will be simple, fun, and well worth the trouble of learning.
What is a GoPro?
A GoPro is a compact camera that allows users to capture photos or videos in extreme conditions. For example, if you are a surfer, you can attach the GoPro to your body to video yourself as you ride the waves. If you rock climb for fun, a GoPro can be attached to your helmet to catch the breathtaking event on film. But GoPros aren’t only limited to action sports. You can use them any time you want to capture an event or moment on video.
GoPro vs. smartphones
Since so many people use their phones to make videos these days, you might wonder why you should even consider adding another piece of equipment like a GoPro. After all, if you have to learn how to use a GoPro, wouldn’t it be simpler to just use your phone?
If you’re using your phone to take photographs of your friends or scenery, then yes, a GoPro would probably be overkill. But if you are an active person who loves documenting your action-packed adventures, learning how to use a GoPro is almost mandatory.
With a GoPro, you can strap the camera to your skateboard deck, bicycle helmet, ski cap, even your dog if that’s your idea of adventure. But when you use your smartphone to video or take pictures, you have to keep one hand free to use it. In other words, for sports action and adventure, a GoPro handily beats a smartphone.
And let’s not forget the durability factor. Smartphones are fragile. So if you’re thinking about recording your downhill longboard action on one, you better make sure the insurance is paid up.
Unusual uses for a GoPro
Because of its unique ability to sit mounted on a person or object, you will have all sorts of cool ways to use a GoPro. For example, as we mentioned above, you can strap the camera to your pet and press record. Then sit back at the end of the day and learn what it feels like to be a dog or cat.
You can also buy a macro lens for your GoPro and film some pretty unusual macro shots. When using a GoPro, images can get blurry when objects are closer than 12 inches. But with a macro lens, you can film objects as close as 2 to 3 inches. How about a slow-motion video of ants as they collect their harvest? Or light a match, record it with your macro lens, and watch it ignite in slow motion. How about recording tears as they fall from your face?
If you’re more of the adventurous type, you can use your GoPro underwater to record your adventures. GoPro Hero 5 and 6 are waterproof so that you can go diving with them without any risk to the camera. If you own a GoPro Hero 3 or 4, you will need to put it in dive housing before taking it underwater because they are not waterproof.
Go Pro accessories
Part of the fun of learning how to use a GoPro is finding out about all of the accessories you can add to your camera. Because this camera was built to help you record your extreme sports activities, the accessories list is large and lets you go almost anywhere you want with your camera.
You can choose from head and chest mounts, grips, bike mounts, skateboard mounts, goosenecks, floaties, surfboard mounts, blue water snorkel filters, and so much more. Basically, if you can dream it, there is a GoPro accessory to help you accomplish it.
How to download the Go Pro app (and why you should)
When learning how to use a GoPro, you should connect your smartphone to your camera. The GoPro Capture App lets you remotely control your GoPro with your smartphone. Imagine how handy that will be when you want to film something remotely. For example, if you want to film a nature scene that involves wild animals and don’t want to startle them, using your GoPro with the Capture app will enable you to do it. To download the app, you’ll need to download the software that goes with your GoPro model.
How to Use a GoPro and Shoot Your First Video
It’s tempting to just take your new GoPro out of the box and begin filming, isn’t it? But if you want to capture the best video, you will need to take a few steps before you press record. When you want to know how to use a GoPro, here are the steps you need to take to set up your GoPro and begin filming.
1. Set up the GoPro
Setting up your GoPro isn’t difficult. But you should follow the directions closely to ensure your camera operATES correctly. The first thing you should do is take the GoPro out of the box. Be careful when removing it, so you don’t damage the camera. Next, you should unlatch and open the camera’s backdoor. Pay attention that you do not accidentally remove the camera from the housing. Then insert a MicroSD card. You can buy these cards separately.
Your next step is to charge the battery using the USB cord that came with your GoPro. You shouldn’t remove the battery from the camera. You will need to connect the cord to the GoPro and let it sit until charged.
2. Select the Mode
Once you charge the battery, it’s time to select which mode you want to use. You can choose from:
to record a video
when all you want is a single shot
to capture up to 10 photos in only 2 seconds
to record something in half-second intervals
To select the mode you want to use, keep pressing the power button until you find it and then press the shutter/select button.
3. Choose the right accessory
Now that your GoPro is set up, you’ll need to determine which accessory to use to get the best shot or video. Choose a grip to hold the camera in one hand while you film yourself, or a head or body strap if you want to film the action as it’s occurring. For a unique view, choose an accessory that straps onto whatever sports equipment you’re using. If you’re not sure which accessory is right for your shot, GoPro has an entire section of its website dedicated to answering questions about accessories.
4. Connect the app
The next step to learning how to use a GoPro is to connect the app. If you’re filming remotely, you should download the GoPro Capture App we discussed earlier. But that’s not the only app you can use for your camera. You can also download the Plus App, which allows you to upload up to 35 hours of video per month to the cloud. You will pay a monthly subscription rate for this app, but GoPro offers a free trial.
Now you’ve learned how to use a GoPro and properly set up your camera. It's time to use it to make that rad video you’ve been dreaming about, or set up the perfect shot. But to do both, there are a few basics you’ll need to think about.
For starters, if you have a newer model of a GoPro, you'll have the ability to frame your shot. That is important whether you are taking a photo or video because it will eliminate any unwanted objects in your shot. Obviously, you can only frame your shot if you are taking a still video or photo. If you’re surfing the waves, you’re better off letting the experience guide the frame.
6. Don't forget to plan
Next, you should plan — but just a little. One of the great things about learning how to use a GoPro is that it can be used on the fly to create some pretty sweet videos. And while spontaneity is cool, you should plan for the basics to get the best shot. For example, if you’re going to shoot a video near the water, take along a floaty, so your camera doesn’t fall in the water. (Hint: GoPros don’t float unless you buy a special case) Make sure you charge the battery, and that you have all the gear you’ll need for that perfect shot.
And then just shoot. The great thing about using a GoPro is that you can take as many shots or videos as you need and edit out the ones you don’t want. Experiment a little until you discover your ideal shooting style.
Finally, don’t forget about the GoPro’s $1,000,000 challenge. If you own a GoPro Hero 7, submit your best raw video footage for a chance to be a part of the Hero Black Highlight Video. If your clip makes the cut, you will get to share in the monster prize.
How to Edit Your GoPro Video
Once you’ve filmed your video, you’ll want to edit it to make it the best it can be. The GoPro Fusion Studio App is the official GoPro editing app, and you can download it from the GoPro website. Here is a quick guide on how to use a GoPro editing app.
Import the video
Your first step in the editing process is to import your video. To do this, open the Studio app and look for the blue button in the left-hand corner that says Import New Files. Click on it and select the files you want to edit.
Trim the videos
You won’t want to include every frame in your finished video, and so you need to cut or trim the video. Start by clicking on the thumbnail of the video and then pushing play. As it plays, use the two trimming buttons on the left side of the screen to mark the portions of the video you want to keep. You will be able to choose the beginning and end of the section of the video you want to use. You can select as many of these clips as you want to include in the finished video.
Change video settings
Go to Advanced Settings, and change any settings you want for the video. For instance, you can change the size of the video, the frames per second, increase the speed, or many other settings. Once you’ve changed them, click Remember Setting and Ok to save them.
Add files to convert
You’ll need to add all the clips you want to use to the conversion list. To do this, select the first clip and go to Add to Conversion List. Rotate them in the order you want. Then click Convert All. Once you finish, a "Proceed to Step 2" popup will appear. Click on it to go to the next step.
Add a video title
Your next step is to title your video, and GoPro Studio gives you two options. You can choose Blank, which lets you name the video yourself, even playing with the fonts and colors. Or you can choose a pre-designed template. Click on the option you want. Then drag the video to "Drag Title Here" on the side of the screen.
Now, add the video by choosing it and dragging and dropping it to the timeline. There, you will be able to adjust the speed, brightness, volume, fade time, and other things. Be sure to play with the special features options such as night vision feel, the razor blade symbol, which allows you to divide a portion of your video into two parts. Also, the plus symbol lets you fade parts of the video.
To add music to your video, just click on Media and select the file you want. You can use prerecorded songs or even record in your own voice.
Export the video
Now all you have to do is export the video to the format you want. If you want to upload it to YouTube, just choose that option. Or if you want to save the video to your computer, you can do that too.
How to Use a GoPro: Helpful Hints
Finally, here are a few helpful hints that will help you get the most when learning how to use a GoPro.
Watch for sun glare
The best time of the day to get great shots is early in the morning or as the sun is setting. If you shoot your pictures or video in the middle of the day, the strong sun rays will make it look harsh. If you have to shoot in the middle of the day, do so facing away from the sun.
Clean the lens frequently
No one wants to see smudge marks on their work of art. But the only way to avoid them is to clean your GoPro lens regularly. Make it a habit to clean the lens every time you plan to shoot to ensure that a dirty mark never ruins your photos or video.
Pay attention to angles
GoPros have a wide-angle lens, and that makes it more likely that you’ll experience image distortion. To prevent this, keep the back of the camera perpendicular to the scene you’re shooting. That will limit the distortion.
What Will You Do with Your GoPro?
Learning how to use a GoPro doesn’t have to be hard or complicated. Just follow the instructions above and practice. Soon you’ll be taking great action videos.
Have you taken any great pictures or videos with your GoPro? We would love to hear about them in the comments below!