8 GoPro tips and tricks to take your footage to the next level

GoPro Tips

Things have changed quite a bit since GoPro shipped its first product — a wrist-mounted, 35mm film camera — in 2005. Now, long after moving to digital and having gone through multiple generations of cameras, adrenaline junkies all over the world have flocked to GoPro for their video and photo needs. Perfect for strapping to one’s chest, helmet, snowboard, or otherwise, GoPro cameras have become the go-to tool for POV videos, especially in the world of extreme sports. Their sheer portability, however, makes the small action cameras popular for more casual uses, as well.

If you bought a GoPro to record the more adventurous portions of your life, whether that’s a supersonic skydive from the stratosphere or simply your morning bike commute, chances are you’re pretty satisfied with it. But what about all those nifty GoPro videos you see online that have the production value of a Planet Earth episode? While many of those might actually possess a bit of professional postproduction, there’s still a few GoPro tips and tricks we recommend employing to turn your basic videos into masterpieces. These won’t necessarily make the Academy come calling, but, hey, you need to start somewhere, right?

Mounting, filters, angles, and stabilization

Use a mount

GoPro Tips

This is perhaps the single easiest way to spice up a GoPro video, and can definitely make things more exciting. Fortunately, there are literally hundreds of different mounts available on the market, and a nearly infinite way to mount them. Whether you opt for a helmet or chest mount for filming mountain bike and snowboarding excursions, or decide to procure a tripod for stable stationary shots, a mount is always a good idea.

We also recommend testing out different places to mount the camera to determine which spots work best for producing smooth shots, correct angles (more on this below), and all of the desired action. Different mounts can provide different POVs, which can help tell the story you envisioned. For example, a camera mounted on a bike helmet can provide a view from the rider’s eyes, but a rear-facing camera mounted to the frame can capture other riders trailing you — two different views from the same moment.

Beyond GoPro’s broad array of first-party mounts, there are plenty of third-party options, as well — you have no shortage of choices.

Find a new angle

GoPro-Hero6-Black-review
Daven Mathies/Digital Trends
Daven Mathies/Digital Trends

A GoPro offers a very wide angle of view that makes it easy to capture the action, but to create truly interesting videos, you should do more than simply set it and forget it. Try a mix of different camera positions to give viewers a comprehensive view of what’s going on, rather than just sticking to one viewpoint. For example, when recording action, it’s most common to mount a forward-facing GoPro, but sometimes looking back at yourself can produce equally entertaining footage. If you’ll be repeating an action many times throughout the day, say for surfing or snowboarding, consider repositioning the camera on each run to capture a greater variety of shots that can be edited together later.

Newer GoPro cameras offer a selection of crop modes, such as an ultrawide 170-degree angle of view, a medium 127 degrees, and a narrow 79 degrees. The new Hero6 Black even has as touch-to-zoom function that mimics a traditional zoom lens. Making use of different fields of view is another way to mix up your shots.

Here’s an easy way to remember which field of view you should pick: If you’re unsure of your framing and want to know that you’re getting all the action, go for ultra-wide. The narrower fields of view are good when you have more control over your framing and want to hone in on a particular subject or area of the scene.

Use filters to improve video quality

GoPro Hero6 Black
GoPro Hero6 Black

Here, we aren’t talking about the color-altering filters in Instagram. We’re talking about actual physical filters that you can place in front of the lens to alter the light your GoPro sees. For instance, using a neutral density (ND) filter works wonders when filming in bright environments by allowing for a slower shutter speed, which keeps footage from looking too jarring like the beach landing scene in Saving Private Ryan. For filming underwater, use a red filter to help remove the blue-green colorcast inherent to the environment. There exists a host of available filters to choose from, so the sky’s the limit when it comes to giving your videos a unique look and feel.

Hold steady

GoPro Karma Grip review
Daven Mathies/Digital Trends
Daven Mathies/Digital Trends

Newer GoPro models, such as the Hero6 Black, feature digital image stabilization. As impressive as this feature is, it’s not flawless — and often has limitations to resolution, framerate, or both.

One of the best things about GoPro cameras being as ubiquitous as they are is that third-party accessories are equally common. For stationary shots, nothing beats a tripod when it comes to stability. As a GoPro is very light weight, there’s no need to get a heavy duty set of sticks for it, but do consider a tripod with a fluid pan head. This will let you make smooth pans to follow a subject or reveal a landscape.

For stabilizing shots in motion, there’s nothing better than a powered gimbal. Gimbals use motors to counteract momvement, producing incredibly smooth footage in virtually any setting, from an easy handheld shot to an epic downhill mountain bike ride. Gimbals are also found in many camera drones, like the GoPro Karma. These devices don’t exactly come cheap, however, so expect to spend at least a few hundred dollars to get something worth your while. GoPro’s own Karma Grip is probably the easiest handheld gimbal to use with the GoPro Hero5 Black or Hero6 Black cameras.

Don’t have the cash for a gimbal or a tripod? While this next tip may seem a bit odd, it does allow you to keep some hard-earned dough in your pocket. To achieve a consistently stable shot, simply press your GoPro camera against your face — yes, your face — while tracking whatever it is you intend to film. Obviously this method of stabilization works best when your surroundings don’t require the use of both of your hands, as we wouldn’t recommend trying to pull this off while, say, running. Still, if you’re looking for a cheap, effective way to record stable video, sticking a GoPro against your face is as good as it gets. This, combined with the digital stabilization feature makes for extra-smooth shots without dropping the dough on a gimbal rig.

If you’re up to the task, footage can also be stabilized in post-production using software like Apple Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere. This will result in a slight crop of your footage, so it helps if the video was recorded in the highest resolution available. If you’re fortunate enough to have a GoPro Hero6 Black that shoots 4K at 60 frames per second, make sure you’re in this mode if you plan to stabilize footage in post and still want to end up with sharp results.

Product Review

Knock, knock. Who's there? The Ring video doorbell shows you on your phone

Along with the door itself, the doorbell is one of the first items most visitors will interact with when entering your home. The Ring Video Doorbell can show you who's at the door, whether they've actually rung the doorbell or not.
Deals

Save $50 on the GoPro Hero Session for Amazon Prime Day

If you're looking to capture those intense moments of biking, surfing, hiking, climbing, or just about anything else action related, GoPro is the camera brand you can trust. And with this Prime Day deal on the GoPro Hero Session, now is the…
Photography

Here are the best Amazon Prime Day photography deals (updated)

Amazon's biggest shopping day of the year is here, and if photography is your hobby, there are a few deals for you. From action cameras to accessories and photo-editing software, here are some of our favorite Prime Deals in 2018.
Photography

What does this button do? A quick guide to understanding your camera’s controls

Most DSLR cameras are user-friendly, but that doesn't mean you can make sense of every button on your own. Thankfully, our quick-hit guide will help you better acquaint yourself with your camera's operation.
Photography

The best mirrorless cameras pack all the power of a DSLR, minus the bulk

Mirrorless cameras offer a lot of photography firepower, inside a compact body. Explore the best mirrorless cameras, from the pro-level to the beginner-friendly shooters, in this guide.
Home Theater

Are there reasons to own a projector when big TVs are so cheap? Glad you asked

Since no aspect of your home theater setup is more important than your display, we weigh in on the projectors vs. TVs debate. We've put together this comprehensive guide to help you find the right option for your lifestyle.
Virtual Reality

Got a Gear VR headset? These are the apps and games you've got to try

Before you put on your new Gear VR headset, you should know which apps and games are worth downloading. Whether you're a fan of documentaries or arcade games, here's a list of the best Gear VR apps and games to be had.
Mobile

Check out the best iPhone 8 cases and covers you can buy so far

We go shopping for the best iPhone 8 cases and covers to protect your beloved device and achieve your ideal look. There are all kinds of different styles, finishes, and protection capabilities available.
Deals

Time to upgrade! Here are the best 4K TV deals for July 2018

There's no doubt that a good 4K smart TV is the best way to take your home entertainment setup to the next level so you can enjoy all of your favorite shows, movies, and games in glorious Ultra HD. We've got the best 4K TV deals right here.
Mobile

The Xiaomi Mi Max 3 has a tablet-sized screen and a huge battery

Do you need a phone that's around the size as your head? Then check out the Xiaomi Mi Max 3, Xiaomi's latest addition to its huge Mi Max range. Here's everything you need to know.
Computing

Expand your desktop real estate (or just make it prettier) with the best monitors

Everyone wants a monitor, sure, but not just any monitor. You want a display with the highest resolution, the largest screen, and the most customization options to be had. Thankfully, we've got your back.
Home Theater

The best Dolby Atmos movies for your home theater sound as good as they look

If you've got your hands on some sweet Dolby Atmos gear, the next step is to find films that take advantage of it. These are our picks in every genre for the best Dolby Atmos movies currently available on Blu-ray and streaming services.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Roll-up solar panels, dream controllers, and more

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Photography

When you're ready to shoot seriously, these are the best DSLRs you can buy

For many photographers the DSLR is the go-to camera. With large selection of lenses, great low-light performance, and battery endurance, these DSLRs deliver terrific image quality for stills and videos.
Mobile

Want to watch Netflix in bed or browse the web? We have a tablet for everyone

There’s so much choice when shopping for a new tablet that it can be hard to pick the right one. From iPads to Android, these are our picks for the best tablets you can buy right now whatever your budget.
Home Theater

Here’s how to mirror your smartphone or tablet onto your TV

A vast arsenal of devices exists to allow casting of anything on your mobile device to your TV. If you're wondering how to mirror content from your smartphone or tablet to a bigger screen, we've got an in-depth guide.
Emerging Tech

Buying on a budget? Here’s all the best tech you can snag for $25 or less

We live in a world where you can get a cheeseburger for $1, a functioning computer for $5, and thousands of HD movies for $10 -- so it stands to reason that you should be able to pick up some pretty sweet gear for $25.
Photography

Photo FOMO: Fujifilm ramen, KodakCoin DOA, and Nikon’s secret sensor lab

In the latest photo industry news, Fujifilm released a limited-run of Provia-branded instant noodles, Kodak's Kashminer is DOA, and Imaging Resource looks inside the "super-secret" sensor lab at Nikon.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Photography

The top-selling digital photography book can be yours for free now

To celebrate their YouTube channel reaching a million subscribers, popular photography vloggers Tony and Chelsea Northrup have launched a limited-time free offer for their top-selling book.
Photography

Fujifilm announces ultra-wide 8-16mm f/2.8 and massive 200mm f/2 lenses

Two new premium lenses have joined Fujifilm's X Series, an ultra-wide zoom for landscapes and astrophotography and a fast telephoto prime for low-light sports and wildlife. At $2,000 and $6,000, both are decidedly made for professionals.
Photography

With flip-out lenses, the Vuze XR transforms from 360- to 180-degree VR camera

The Vuze XR is a compact, dual-lens camera with an integrated handle and a neat party trick: The back-to-back lenses can flip forward to transition from 360-degree two-dimensional video, to 180-degree three-dimensional video.
1 of 2