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GoPro 101: helpful ways to choose and use your next camera

Jamie McAleney
December 8, 2015 by Jamie McAleney Support

According to Amazon’s post-holiday press release last year, the best-selling camera of the season was the GoPro HERO4 Silver. The people have spoken. As such, it only seems fitting that the most popular camera maker gets some TLC from Vimeo just in time for the consumer-fiending season. Below is a brief guide for those curious to dip their toes into the versatile world of GoPro — a “GoPro for Dummies,” if you will!

Hand-pick a highly useful model

First, it’s important to note that not all GoPros are created equal. There are currently six different camera models, all available with different features, functions, and looks. Unsure which will best suit your needs? The fine people at GoPro have put together an awesome camera comparison chart to help you narrow your search.

Bedeck your camera in functional gear

When it comes to picking out accessories and gear, make sure you’re using things that will help you achieve your desired shot. When in doubt, put yourself in your viewers’ shoes. It’s awesome that you’re trying to get some great point-of-view shots in while skateboarding, but remember that a chest mount will limit your vantage point only to the passing scenery, and not that crazy kick flip of yours. So choose gear that will allow you to point your GoPro where the action is! Sounds easy enough, but it’s often forgotten. When in doubt, test it out! 

Pro tip: You don’t always need fancy shmancy gear to achieve epic, steady shots. Try experimenting with things you have lying around the house. This ingenious Vimean used a broomstick to steady their GoPro in this awesome snow day edit.

Mind your resolution and frame-rate ratios

You may know that higher resolutions allow you to capture more detail than lower resolutions. But don’t forget that low resolutions can record higher frame rates for more awe-inspiring slow-motion videos. Consider the balance of resolution and frame rate so you can achieve your epic shots.

Appreciate the speed of your frames

Like with all cameras, choosing the frame rate on your GoPro depends heavily on the lighting conditions and the type of shot you want to capture. Keep in mind that a higher frame rate should be used with bright light conditions, rapid movement, and to achieve slow-motion shots. A low frame rate will work nicely in darker light and slower action shots, and will also give you that cinematic look.

Get fields upon fields of views

These awesome tiny cameras give you three great field-of-view options while shooting. The wide setting, as the name might suggest, allows you to capture a more expansive shot so you can fit more into the frame. This resembles the famous “fish-eye” effect that GoPro users know and love. The medium setting fits less into the frame and only minimally distorts the image into a fish-eye look. And the narrow setting captures the tightest view, fitting the least into the frame.

Sift through sound mechanisms

For all of you audio aficionados out there, take notes (har har): you may need to get creative to make the in-camera sound recording fit your needs. Remember that the mic is a tiny hole drilled directly into the camera body, which is often put into a plastic case. Because of this, I recommend hooking up an external mic to your GoPro, which can help boost the quality of audio that you’re able to record.

Helpful field note: when your camera is mounted to a stable surface like your body, the HI setting will work well. However, when your camera is mounted on a vehicle or a surface with heavy vibrations, the LO setting will help avoid audio distortion.

Enlist assistance from your mobile

While the tiny camera body comes in handy, anyone with sausage fingers like me knows it can be tricky to control your settings with those wee little buttons. Never fear, the free GoPro app is accessible for the downloading! Available in both iPhone and Android, the app allows you full control of your camera from your phone or tablet. Chubby thumbs, rejoice!

Now that you’ve gone from GoPro dummy to GoPro smarty, you may be wondering what lies ahead for this camera leader. GoPro is teaming up with panoramic imagery start-up Kolor to venture into the future of virtual reality and immersive media, and is continuing on their mission of innovating cameras, mounting rigs, and accessories.

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p>If you remember nothing else from this post, just hang onto the fact that GoPro cameras are known for their dexterity. So take advantage of that to diversify your shots and spice things up! For more lessons for Dummies, Smarties, and all brain powers in between, give our Video School posts a healthy peruse.

5 Comments

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Ice Block Plus

The GoPro is quite a little camera, but we've found that the best feature (ProTune) is a little bit buried. So, we cooked up this short tutorial that explains what all the settings are and how they affect your footage.

vimeo.com/148335510

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