Looking for some GoPro time-lapse tips because you just got a new travel camera and can’t wait to get some great shots?
Stuck wondering what the best GoPro settings are for time-lapses and general photography?
Unsure about which GoPro editing software you should use to edit time-lapses?
In this post I’m going to go over how to use a GoPro for taking amazing time-lapses.
Some of the things you’ll learn are:
- How to take a quality time-lapse
- The best settings for GoPro time-lapses
- Proper positioning and the accessories you should get for great shots
Plus a lot more helpful tips and tricks.
The settings I’m going to tell you to use are the same ones that I use for the majority of my time-lapses and regular shots. I’ve spent a lot of time fiddling around with all of the settings and I’ve found a few good ones that result in the best time-lapses and videos.
The GoPro Editing Software I Use
Check out my more in-depth post on the best GoPro editing software!
If you’re looking for the best GoPro editing software for time-lapses I recommend using GoPro Studio to format all of the clips and a different software for piecing them all together, color correction, and for exporting and uploading to YouTube.
The options for best time-lapse editing software I would recommend are:
Those are the top 3 options for reliable and easy to use GoPro editing software.
I actually started out using Premiere Pro but after a year of never getting the hang of it I moved over to iMovie.
Premiere is an amazing software and Final Cut Pro X is also something you should consider using. All three options are popular and make an ideal choice for editing your time-lapses.
The Best GoPro Time-Lapse Settings
Taking a time-lapse with GoPro cameras is easy but getting the settings right is the hard part.
Once you’ve found your favorite editing software it’s time to head out and grab some footage.
- Choose the right shooting interval
- 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10 30, and 60 second intervals
There are 7 different interval options for time-lapses and each interval is ideal for a different situation.
For example, if you want to capture a storm moving in and the clouds are moving pretty quickly you might want to go with a 2-second interval.
If you want to catch a sunset or sunrise you’ll probably want to go with something a little slower like a 10 or 30-second interval.
Here is a quick guide on the best time-lapse intervals (in seconds) for your GoPro:
0.5 – Driving, up-close shots of something small (birds, insects, fish tank, etc)
1.0 – People walking in a busy area, heavy traffic flowing, view from a moving bus or train
2.0 – Clouds moving quickly, popular tourist areas
5.0 – Sunset or sunrise, normal moving clouds
10 – Slow moving clouds, construction sites
30 – Nature shots, Shadows moving across the ground, puddles drying, storms
60 – Plants growing, shoot the entire day or night, long-term processes
It’s easy to choose the best interval setting for your GoPro.
After a few times getting some practice you’ll find the intervals which work for you and produce the results you want.
- Pick the most ideal resolution (12MP)
The best resolution for getting high quality time-lapses is the 4000×3000 pixels, or the 12MP option.
Yes, these images do take up the most space per image on your memory card but they look the best in the end result. If you use GoPro Studio it will crop the images from 4000×3000 into the 1080p time-lapse video version and you’re left with an ultra-high resolution time-lapse.
Another benefit to shooting in 12MP resolution is that if you want to go back and grab a specific picture, say of a strike of lightning or something else interesting that happened while you were shooting, you’ll have a high quality image instead of something smaller and of lower quality.
You should only go with a lower resolution if you don’t have enough space on your memory card for your trip or if you’re shooting something really long and don’t want to move the camera.
- Choose the right playback rate
Deciding on the playback rate beforehand is a good way to not only get a high quality time-lapse but also determine how long you need to let the GoPro capture for.
I always use 30 FPS (Frames Per Second) for my video and I apply the same settings to my time-lapses.
30 FPS looks the best on YouTube and, if you converted it from 4000×3000, it looks incredible on TV’s as well. It’s the ideal playback rate for getting the most fluid-looking and realistic time-lapses.
- Determine how long you need to film
If you’re filming something at an interval of 60-seconds you’re going to need leave the GoPro there for a while to get a time-lapse of any substantial length.
Just to get 1 second of time-lapse footage you would need to let the GoPro capture images for 30-minutes if it’s on a 60-second interval.
On a 1-second interval you would only need to wait 30-seconds to get 1-second of time-lapse footage. If you stand somewhere for 10-minutes you can get about 20-seconds of time-lapse footage and if you’re in a hurry or you’re just making a quick montage that’s definitely enough.
I like to go for 10-minutes at a time but if I’m going to be in the same place for a long period of time or I want to capture something specific i’ll stand there until the batter runs out, which is about 1.5 hours.
Practical GoPro Time-Lapse Tips
Find the right location
When you’re out looking for somewhere to take a time-lapse from try to find a spot where you can grab amazing and interactive footage.
Take advantage of the rule of thirds and always make sure you have a focal point of your time-lapse.
If you’re filming a popular tourist destination try to do it from a vantage point where you can see people moving or clouds floating by.
Nothing is worse than watching a time-lapse and it appears that nothing is really happening. Clouds, moving water, trees blowing in the wind, these are all things you can include to make a better time-lapse.
Use the right gear and accessories
You don’t want your time-lapse to be ruined because you couldn’t position your camera properly or a gust of wind knocked it over.
They’re quick to set up and give you a lot more options when it comes to vantage point and shots you can capture. They’re also super durable so you don’t have to worry about dropping your camera or having it blown over.
I would also recommend picking up a suction mount so you can stick your camera to flat surfaces and get more unique angles than if you were just using a tripod.
The battery that comes with the GoPro simply isn’t enough. If you want to get longer time-lapse shots you’ll want to buy a few spare batteries.
I carry around 4 different batteries and so far I’ve never fun out of juice. I personally recommend any of the Wasabi batteries since they’ve been good to me so far.
You could also get a longer power cord and with a USB adapter keep the GoPro directly plugged into the wall. This would give you the ability to do super long (multiple hour or day) time-lapses and not have to worry about switching the batteries out. I have a 6-foot USB cord and I use it every time I get the chance.
Also, make sure to keep your camera protected, especially when you’re in transit, and consider using a GoPro carrying case.
High storage capacity memory cards are simply one of the best GoPro accessories.
It’s a good idea to have 2 or 3 different 32 or 64 GB cards. This way you’ll never run out of memory and you’ll be able to record all you want.
Be sure to use a Class-10 or better because the GoPro writes data pretty quickly and a weaker card simply won’t be able to keep up.
5 GoPro Photography Tips (and Film)
- Avoid scenes longer than 30 seconds. It’s a good idea to aim for 5-15 second clips so your footage is easy to organize and edit into a video.
- Create the ultimate vantage point. Try to film or capture shots from a vantage point where you can cover both your subject and something interesting in the background or foreground. Try not to capture a scene where there isn’t any action, movement or an interesting centrepiece – boring!
- Look for unique angles. Don’t simply shoot the regular POV angle you see in almost every video and picture. Try to find new and exciting angles and add a fun twist to your filming and photography style.
- Tell a story. Always try to shoot footage and capture images with a story in mind. Don’t just capture abstract buildings or settings, continue to try to improve and build on your previous shots and always try to captivate your watchers.
- Have fun. It stops becoming an interesting and exciting hobby once you stop having fun. Keep it fresh and always look for new and exciting ways/methods to film and take photos.
What’s the best GoPro camera?
The best GoPro is the one you can afford.
Lately the new “Hero” model has come out as the most affordable base model – I recommend avoiding that one and getting one of the older Hero 3+ models or waiting until you can afford the Hero 4 Silver or Black.
There is nothing wrong with the base model Hero but I guarantee you’ll fall in love with the GoPro and you’ll regret not getting a better model with improved specs and better features.
The GoPro can get so many shots that a normal point and shoot just can’t get from high-res wide-angle selfies to incredible time-lapses. This is what makes it almost an essential piece of travel gear for photographers, bloggers, or people who like making travel videos.