In this post I want to share with you guys some of the best GoPro tips for beginners.
When I first picked up my GoPro and started using it I had no idea what was going on. Having used these amazing action cameras for the past three years I now have a better idea of their full potential.
Rather than diving into serious photography tips it’s probably better to start off right at the beginning. Let’s talk about the settings and accessories that you should be using with your GoPro as well as some helpful tips on how to get amazing photos and videos.
Being able to capture steady video and clear images should be one of your main goals as a GoPro user. If you’re not careful you’ll be dealing with a lot of blurry photos and shakey footage that you can’t use.
Thanks to the newer models that come with built-in touch screen navigation it’s now easier than ever to use a GoPro and take advantage of all of its different settings. These small cameras come packed with features and design qualities that you’ll fall in love with.
Some of you might even start using your GoPro on a daily basis whether it’s for vlogging, travel, or just general photography. You can push these guys to the limit to get some amazing footage and stunning photography – it might end up surprising you!
Enough rambling on. Let’s dive right into what you’re looking for and get started with some basic tips and tricks.
The Best GoPro Tips for Beginners: Making the Most of Your Action Camera
Use the Right GoPro Settings for Beginners
You can use your GoPro right out of the box and start filming everything right away. The problem with this approach is that the default settings might not be what you’re looking for.
At this point it’s time to start getting comfortable with the touch screen and menu of your device. Take some time to browse different settings and make some changes to see what happens.
Once you’re comfortable with your camera we can start making lasting changes to give you a better filming or photography experience.
Changing the video resolution is the first thing I do when I start recording with a new GoPro.
With video, the higher the resolution that you’re using the more storage and battery life you’re using. This means that capturing higher-resolution footage is going to run down your battery and fill your SD card faster than using a lower resolution.
Depending on your computer and what you’re using the footage for I recommend capturing video in 1080P. This is currently the industry standard for video resolution and anything you capture in 1080P is going to look great on most devices.
With the newer GoPro models you can capture footage in 2.7K or 4K. This is overkill for most people and I don’t recommend it unless you want the higher quality video for a specific reason.
For photos you can leave the resolution the same or set it to the maximum. Images don’t take up as much space as video and it’s unlikely you’ll have to worry about running out of storage with pictures.
Frames Per Second (FPS)
With the GoPro you can capture video footage in 24, 30, and 60 frames per second for most standard filming needs. There are higher FPS that you can capture in for slow motion video but most people won’t be using this feature.
Personally, I recommend shooting video in 30 frames per second or 24 frames per second. The higher FPS the more battery life and memory card storage you’re going to use so keep that in mind when you’re deciding what to capture in.
Field of View (FOV)
One of the best features of the newest GoPro models is the ability to change the field of view from wide-angle to linear mode. Linear mode results in a better-looking footage that’s less blown out and more representative of what the camera is actually capturing.
Of course when you’re using linear mode you won’t be able to capture as wide of a field of view as you’re able to when you’re using the wide-angle mode.
For high-action activities like skiing and water sports I recommend shooting in the wide-angle mode. For travel videos and up-close footage I recommend capturing in the linear mode.
Capture Everything All The Time
With your settings good to go you can finally start using your GoPro.
The best thing you can do to take better photos and capture better quality videos is to use your GoPro all the time. Bring it with you everywhere you go and capture everything going on around you.
You don’t have to use it only for high-intensity activities. It’s fun to bring along when you’re hiking, exploring somewhere new, or just taking your dog for a walk.
When you’re starting out there’s no need to worry about whether you’re taking Steven Spielberg level footage. Just get out there and get familiar with everything that this little action camera has to offer.
Eventually you’ll learn how everything works and you’ll be able to start putting together great photos and videos. After a few weeks of regular use you can start making YouTube videos or small movies to share with your friends and family.
The important thing to remember here is that you always want to have your camera with you when you’re out and about. There’s no point in leaving it back home and never getting a chance to use it!
Keep on Top of the Battery Life
One of the biggest gripes that I have with the GoPro cameras is that the battery life has always been subpar. Even in the newest models with the best improvements you only ever get one or two hours of constant use before you have to start worrying about your battery running out.
For beginners I recommend picking up some spare batteries. Having one or two extra batteries to use during the day remove the stress of low battery life. This way you can focus on taking photos or capturing videos while having fun!
Here are some tips for managing your GoPro battery life:
- Turn off any of the settings you don’t need. Features like wifi or high screen brightness can run down your battery even when you’re not using the device. Turn all of these unneeded features off and only keep your camera on when you’re using it.
- Pack one or two extra batteries in your camera bag or daypack before you head out for the day. It sucks when your battery runs out halfway through your day so it’s always good to have backups.
- Capture what’s important. It’s always nice to have B-roll footage or lots of extra photos to go through but these can run down your battery life and eat up your memory card storage. Always consider what you’re taking the photo or video of – this will benefit you in the long run.
The best way to avoid running into any GoPro battery life issues is to carry extras. I can’t recommend enough picking up a few spare batteries to use, especially if you’re planning on traveling or using the camera when you’re not close to home.
These days spare batteries come with their own chargers so it’s easier than ever to keep on top of everything with your batteries.
For some more tips take a look at my post on how to improve your GoPro battery life!
Use the Best GoPro Accessories for Beginners
There are so many different GoPro accessories out there. How do you know which ones are worth it?
Over the past few years I’ve amassed an enormous collection of both branded and private label accessories. To this day there are a few that I use regularly. Most of them have very specific purposes so I never end up using them.
The best accessories that I would recommend starting out with include:
Spare Battery and Charger
Like I’ve already mentioned, you can’t go wrong with some spare batteries and an extra charger. These are the accessories I recommend picking up first since you’ll see the most use out of an extra battery.
I’m a big fan of the GoPro branded batteries. For me they’ve lasted longer than the private label once so they’re what I recommend for anybody looking for spares.
Whether you’re hoping to start vlogging with a GoPro or you just want to take some amazing selfies – having a hand grip or selfie stick is important.
This is another accessory I use on a daily basis and the mount basically stays attached to the camera all the time. For traveling, taking photos around your neighborhood, or getting selfies you need to pick up a hand grip.
Take a look at the Vicdozia Monopod if you’re looking for a reasonably priced selfie stick. This is the one I use and so far I’m impressed by the quality and design.
The suction cup mount gives you the ability to mount your GoPro on flat, smooth surfaces like windows or car windshields.
This is great for getting amazing time lapses or setting up the camera as a dash cam for road trip videos.
The official GoPro suction mount is a great choice if you’re looking to pick one up.
Tripods give you the ability to set up your camera in a fixed position for an extended period of time. This is great for time lapses or recording videos of yourself for vlogs or YouTube videos.
Serious photographers will find a lot more use out of a tripod compared to if you’re just a beginner lobbyist.
Nonetheless, take a look at my review of MeFOTO Backpacker tripod.
Chest Mount or Head Strap
For any activities or outdoor excursions you’re going to want a chest mount or head strap. With one of these mounts you can strap the Go photo yourself and not worry about it.
It’s going to keep capturing footage while you can focus on the experience happening in front of you.
The chest mount and head strap are two accessories I use fairly regularly and are a necessary addition to any accessory arsenal.
Keep the Camera Steady (Pro Tip: Use a Gimbal)
Even though the newer GoPro models come with digital image stabilization the videos still tend to come out with noticeable vibrations and shakes.
These shakes and vibrations were much worse in older models and it’s something all of us action-cam users have to deal with on a regular basis.
Thankfully it’s easier than ever to stabilize the shots that you’re getting when you’re moving around. In some cases a sturdy tripod might be enough but for the most part I recommend looking into a powered gimbal to stabilize your footage.
Gimbals use a series of small electric motors to counteract the movement of the camera. This results in incredibly smooth and crisp footage regardless of the setting. You could be gunning downhill on a mountain bike or snowboarding in the Swiss Alps – your footage is going to come out steady whenever you’re using a gimbal.
The problem with these gimbals is that many of them are quite expensive and out of reach for amateur photographers and obvious. However, if you want to take your GoPro shots to the next level then a gimbal it is something you need to consider investing in.
For those of you on a budget still looking to pick a gimbal for better handheld stabilization take a look at the Feiyu G5 V2. This is a cheap GoPro gimbal that will turn your unsteady footage into the crisp and clean shots that you’re looking for.
There’s also the official GoPro Camera Karma Grip so you can take a look at that as well if you’d prefer the branded product.
Edit Video Using Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere
When it comes to the best editing programs for GoPro videos look no further than Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere.
These are two of the top-rated video editing apps and it’s what many videographers and YouTubers are using.
As a Macbook user I’m currently editing videos with Final Cut Pro. Those of you on Windows computers are going to want to take a look at Adobe Premiere.
There are a number of different free editing programs and apps that you can use if you’re looking for something simple and basic.
GoPro comes with their own editing app but in all honesty it’s no good and it can completely turn you off video editing if you’ve never done it before.
For Apple users your devices come with iMovie. This is a simple software that you can use for making basic videos. The problem with the free apps and editing programs is that they lack the features and functionality that you’ll find with a dedicated program.
Take a look at my post on the best GoPro editing programs for a better idea on how you can edit your videos.
Edit Photos With Lightroom
The GoPro is capable of taking incredible photos. When I started using my Hero 5 Black on a regular basis I was blown away by the pictures I was able to get with such a small device.
For editing your photos I recommend using Lightroom. This software is extremely capable of bringing the best out of the photos that you captured.
Even as a complete beginner you can quickly edit your photos in Lightroom using PRESETS for professional level results.
There are plenty of tutorials online if you’re wondering how to use Lightroom for editing GoPro photos.
Alternatively, many smartphones come with their own built-in photo editing apps. The Instagram editing app is amazing and it shows that you can still come out with some incredible looking photos using only your smartphone.
Whether you want to edit your photos on the computer or smartphone it’s something that you should be doing regularly. Unedited photos tend to come out uninspiring and dull – not what people are looking for these days.
There’s no need to go overboard with the edits. A few small changes can make a drastic improvement!