What Can GoPro Cameras Do?

By John Carucci

What can a GoPro camera do? Here’s a more relevant question: What do you want it to do? Asking this question is more like asking yourself about your own wishes and desires for unique video footage. When you determine what you want to capture, all you have to do is connect the camera to the appropriate mount and press the Record button.

Take still photos with GoPro

Although still-photo capability rarely (and rarely means almost never) finds its way onto the list of reasons to buy a video camcorder, GoPro is the refreshing exception to that rule. It not only gets up close and personal with its ultra-wide-angle view, but also does it with extreme sharpness.

You can take still capture even further by capturing a scene at preset intervals to create a time-lapse movie. Although the current editions of the GoPro have excellent still photo quality, it increases with each model.

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Capture the scenes of your dreams with GoPro

The GoPro liberates your imagination by allowing you to capture situations that in the recent past seemed like fantasies. Since the early days of motion-picture capture, people always had the desire to present each shot with a unique perspective.

At some point or another, we’ve all wanted to mount a video camera on a car bumper to capture compelling footage or fly it remotely over the action on some hobby craft, but doing so was never feasible or practical. The ambitious efforts of the more adventurous often ended in a crash landing.

Now, with GoPro, those creative ideas are not only possible, but also practical thanks to the camera’s durability, unique mounts, and Wi-Fi communication. Here are a few things that GoPro makes possible:

  • Connect it to an extension pole to get an overhead shot of the scene.

  • Put it on a guitar.

  • Mount it on a car.

  • Wear it on your wrist or headband.

Capture HD and 4K video with GoPro

Although all current GoPro models let you capture full-frame high-definition (HD) video, the quality and frame-rate options increase with the Silver and Black editions.

Using H264 compression, the GoPro compresses captured video files to fit more information on the microSD media card, and the compressed files maintain substantial quality when opened.

4K is a high-resolution setting for video capture. Think HD and then double the quality. Only the Black Edition has the capability to capture 4K video, making it one of the most affordable cameras of this type on the market.

The 4K mode captures 3820×2160 resolution with a frame rate of 30 frames per second (fps) on the Hero4 Black Edition. The higher frame rate cuts down the choppiness when capturing action sequences.

The Hero4 Silver Edition and Hero3+ Black Edition capture at 15 fps. The HD modes on all current Hero models capture between 30 and 120 fps. The more frames a camera captures, the smoother the playback. At 15 fps, situations that have less movement render much better than those with fast action.

Attach the GoPro to anything

The GoPro system can make you feel like Inspector Gadget. There’s something very spylike about securing your GoPro anyplace you want — high or low, moving or stationary — and then monitoring the scene on your smartphone. Thanks to the camera’s various mounting plates, you can put it almost anywhere.

Connect the camera to a skateboard, or mount a bunch of cameras inside and outside a car as it plows through dunes. You can even hold a GoPro underwater with an extension pole to capture underwater video.

GoPro on a roll-bar mount attached to a pole captures this night scene.

GoPro on a roll-bar mount attached to a pole captures this night scene.

Connect GoPro to your other devices

Wi-Fi capability doesn’t mean you can check your fantasy-football scores when shooting, but it does provide some pretty radical communication between the camera and your smartphone or remote. You can control the camera over Wi-Fi with your smartphone, view footage on your tablet, and use either device as a monitor. About the only thing you can’t use it with is a real-time monitor because of the delay.

Here’s what you can do via Wi-Fi:

  • Update firmware.

  • Check battery level.

  • See microSD card info.

  • View still photos and video.