GoPro Cameras For Dummies book cover

GoPro Cameras For Dummies

By: John Carucci Published: 01-10-2017

Shoot, edit, and share action-packed video with a GoPro

The world moves fast—so if you want to capture it in real time, only a fast-moving camera will do. Enter the GoPro! This small but powerful camera is easy to hold, wear, or mount to capture video of all your high-speed adventures. Unfortunately, to the uninitiated, it can be a bit intimidating—but fear not! With the help of this revised edition of GoPro Cameras For Dummies, you'll acquire the skills needed to shoot high-quality video or photos, edit raw footage into a final masterpiece, and share your GoPro works of art with the world.

Compared with traditional digital video devices, the GoPro is a superhero. Okay, so it can't scale high rises, but it can go virtually anywhere and produce thrilling new perspectives of an epic slalom down the slopes or awesomely scenic hike—and everything in between. When still photos simply won't do the trick, GoPro Cameras For Dummies shows you step by step how to use your GoPro camera to make movies, work with available light, create time-lapse sequences, and so much more.

  • Meet the full line of GoPro cameras, including the HERO5, and find the one that's right for you
  • Get help setting your GoPro to shoot better video
  • Discover what you need (or don't need) to shoot in the water
  • Find step-by-step guidance for capturing better sound
  • Edit your work like a GoPro guru

Packed with full-color photos and updated to cover the latest GoPro cameras and software, this fun and accessible guide is a gadget lover's dream.

Articles From GoPro Cameras For Dummies

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34 results
34 results
GoPro Cameras For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 02-24-2022

The GoPro camera has changed the way people make movies. It's not only affordable and durable, but also offers features that seemed like far-fetched wish-list items only a few years ago. You can mount this camera on almost anything, take it underwater, and capture the most expansive video scene known to mankind. Okay, that's a slight exaggeration, because the GoPro captures only 170 degrees. But you can put the camera in a tight space and still get an immersive view. When you couple the camera with the GoPro App on your smartphone, you don't even need to be near the camera to monitor the scene and make adjustments.

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Underwater Accessories for the GoPro

Article / Updated 03-01-2017

If you're looking to record underwater seascapes or artful pool pictures, GoPro lets you easily capture submerged scenes. Whether you're using the new HERO5 models, or a previous generation model, you can capture underwater scenes with relative ease and little worry. The HERO5 Black comes with a built-in LCD screen making it possible to monitor and frame the scene right out of the box. Previous versions are a little more challenging, when it comes to viewing the scene. Normally, you would monitor the scene with your smartphone, but that's not feasible for underwater recording because of the whole water-is-wet thing. So, there's a little more guessing involved. Of course, you could also attach the optional Touch BacPac (see the next section) on most HERO models, Session excluded. The Touch BacPac allows you to monitor the scene from the back of the camera, but it's submersible only to shallow depths, and the touch panel won't work underwater. Here are some accessories to consider for underwater recording: Antifog inserts: These inserts drop into the camera's housing to prevent fogging in cold and humid environments. You can reuse them several times by drying them out in a 300ºF oven for 5 minutes. A big media card: You can't change the card underwater (or anywhere that's even slightly moist, for that matter), so it's a good idea to use the biggest one you can afford. Color-correction filters: Underwater scenes are beautiful, but they have blue or green casts. An optional color-correction filter in red or magenta can reduce or eliminate the cast. Floaty Backdoor: This accessory attaches to the back of the camera and keeps it afloat in case you accidentally let go of it while taking an underwater selfie (see the following figure). Any time you play in the water, there's a risk that the camera will take more of a plunge than you'd like. Thanks to this bright-orange back, however, you'll have no problem spotting it in the water. Dive Housing: The waterproof housing that comes with the camera works well for most underwater situations, but if you want to take the camera deeper, consider this housing. It's more durable than the standard model and is waterproof to 197 feet (60m). The kit includes Standard, Skeleton, and BacPac backdoors. Its increased durability makes it perfect for more serious diving encounters. And its glass lens delivers optimal sharpness in and out of the water. While the HERO5 Black is already waterproof to 33 feet, to go deeper requires the optional Dive Housing. The Handler: The handgrip provides stability when holding the camera. It's great for use in and out of the water, and will float if you accidentally drop the camera. Scuba mask: The GoMask is a cool third-party accessory that lets you wear the camera on your face while snorkeling or scuba diving so you can see what you're capturing. Video lights: You can get a complete light system that mounts on a rack with your GoPro and provides up to 900 lumens of illumination for densely lit underwater scenes.

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The GoPro Capture App

Article / Updated 03-01-2017

The Capture app for your GoPro camera allows you to control the camera from a distance and monitor the scene. It also lets you wirelessly update camera firmware and get the latest features to maintain best performance. The app lets you control the camera and do more with your content than ever before, including sharing it over social media. It provides full remote control of all camera functions so you can start and stop your recording, adjust camera settings, or take a photo. Live Preview (see the figure) lets you see what your camera sees for easy shot framing while capturing the scene. You can also play back video and view photos right on your smartphone. Updating firmware on electronics isn't for the faint-hearted. It's complicated and bothersome, and nobody wants to do it, so it doesn't always get done. The Capture app, however, changes all that by allowing you to keep your camera up to date via Wi-Fi. You can share your favorite video clips and photos via email, text, Instagram, Facebook, and other social networking sites. Although you can't share directly from the camera, you can use the app on your smartphone or other mobile device to access the image files and then share them. It's a free download. Here is a quick list of the things it lets you do: Operate the camera from 50 feet away. Monitor the scene on your smartphone's screen. Don't expect monitoring to be perfect. There's a bit of lag time between the camera and your smartphone as much as a few seconds. To judge the delay, put your hand in front of the camera's lens and then take it away, and see how long it takes for the change to appear on your smartphone. Control one camera or multiple cameras, with all the technical settings at your disposal. Select the mode you want to capture. Start and stop video recording, take still photos, and do time-lapse photography. Erase a full memory card or delete just the last item captured. One caveat: The app doesn't work when the camera is underwater. You can still record by tapping the shutter before submerging the camera. Unfortunately, you won't be able to monitor the scene. Setting up the app Here's how you set up the app: Activate Wi-Fi on the camera by pressing the Wi-Fi button on the side. The blue light blinks to show that Wi-Fi is activated. Open the Capture app on your smartphone and then tap the Connect & Control button, shown in the following figure. If you see a No Cameras Connected warning, navigate to the Wi-Fi settings on your smartphone and make sure that the GoPro is selected. Often, your home Wi-Fi network is selected by default on your phone, and you need to select the camera. Control the camera. Monitor the scene and make changes without ever touching the camera. You can change camera modes, adjust resolution settings, and access Protune settings on the Black Edition. Giving the app a test drive Although using the Capture app is intuitive, giving it a test drive doesn't hurt. Follow these steps: Launch the Capture app. Tap the Connect & Control button. Tap the video icon. By default, the video icon should be selected, but if it's not, tap the icon that looks like a movie camera. Point the camera at something, and check the scene on the monitor. Make camera adjustments, if necessary. Tap the red button to start recording video. Tap the red button again to stop recording. Editing on the fly After capturing whatever situation strikes your fancy, you can quickly turn it into a movie on your smartphone. Splice lets you assemble a series of clips together, add titles and transitions, and even has a music library to give your movie the right pizazz. Another app can automatically make a movie with clips and music so quickly it's called Quik. Quik If you're looking for an automated approach to editing movies, the Quik app is perfect for you. Create edits in a matter of moments by transforming a few clips into a movie with choices for soundtrack loaded in the program, or simply choose a song that's already on your device. Quik automatically analyzes the footage, puts it together, and synchs it to the beat of your soundtrack. The music can come from files on your phone. Quik will automatically make a movie for you by selecting your best clips of the week, and even add a soundtrack (see the following image). Here's an overview of what you — er, Quik — can do: Choose video styles: Pick the style of the movie. Each selection has its own set of filters, graphics, fonts, and transitions. Custom text overlays: Add captions, Identifications, and emojis to give your movie the right pizazz. Soundtrack library: Allows you to pick the perfect soundtrack for your movie. Whether it's something from your own music library. Whatever soundtrack you use, the app quickly synchs the action to the beat of the music for a really awesome video, regardless that it was automatically variety. Automatic video creation: Once a week, Quik will surprise you with a produced movie from footage found on your mobile device over the past seven days. One–button posting: Just tap save and you can share video on a variety of social media sites including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You can also save directly to your device or on the Cloud. It's great to perform a quick edit in the field and share it immediately from your app, but it's a little more comfortable doing it from your computer. The desktop version of Quik provides the same easy operation when it comes to offloading files from your GoPro. Just connect the camera and the software automatically downloads your movies and photos to your drive. If you're a GoPro Plus member, it will upload directly to the Cloud, allowing you to access, view, and edit your content on any device wherever you are at the moment. Splice Splice brings the power of a desktop editing system to the convenience of your iPhone or iPad, so you can make pro-quality edits moments after you shoot them. You can easily add music, sound effects, and titles before uploading to a sharing site. Here's what you're able to do: Fully edit on your phone: Includes all you need to produce video clips. You can trim clips, crop the frame, as well as add titles and special effects. Great audio choices: Free music and sound effects allow you to overlay multiple tracks, adjust audio levels, or record a voiceover. Impressive outros: Lets you end your video in style.

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Mounts for Your GoPro Camera

Article / Updated 03-01-2017

GoPro has a lot of mounts and one for every occasion and situation. There are mounts for your ski pole, the roll bar of your all-terrain vehicle, and the top of your bicycle helmet. There's even one that your dog can wear as a harness. Here are some of the key pieces (see the figure): Pivot arms: The pivot arms come in two varieties: straight and angled. You use them to put the camera farther from the mount or to rotate it. When you add an angled extension, it changes the mount by 90 degrees, so each one that you add turns the camera. You can add as many arms as you need, joining them with the thumbscrews that come in the GoPro package. Quick-release buckle: You get two of them, one of which is slightly larger and more flexible than the other. The pivot arms attach to many of the mounts as well as the quick-release buckle that locks into some of the mounts. When using the quick-release buckle, you just slide and clip, as shown. Double-stick base plates: One of the adhesive mounts that accommodates the quick-release buckle is flat, and the other is slightly curved. The quick-release buckle can be used with either adhesive mount. These plates are permanent, so be sure to put them where you want them to stay. Even though the base-plate seal is somewhat permanent, you may have to wait a while for it to set and as much as 24 hours during cold weather. It's possible to remove it with heat for reuse. A blow dryer works great.

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Controlling Your GoPro Camera

Article / Updated 03-01-2017

If you're a first-time user, you'll find that the GoPro differs from any other camera you've operated. It can take some time to get used to the lack of a viewfinder on the Session (as well as some older models), the camera's ultra-wide-angle lens, and its dependence on Wi-Fi. The GoPro HERO5 has two buttons, one for shutter, and the other for mode. But it also has a touch screen monitor that provides intuitive access to camera functions, preview, and adjustments. You can also control the camera from a distance using the Capture app. The Session also has two buttons, shutter and a menu button. Controlling the HERO4 The GoPro HERO4 has three buttons: Power/Mode: This button acts as both a power button and a means of cycling through camera modes and menus. Shutter/Select: Press this button to start and stop video recordings, take photos, and toggle among menu settings. Wi-Fi: To turn the camera's Wi-Fi signal on or off, hold this button for three seconds. This button also allows you to enter the Settings menu, connect to the remote, or connect to smartphones and tablets via the Capture app. Turning the camera off Powering down your GoPro requires you to hold the Mode button for a few seconds. Whatever you captured will be saved before the camera powers off. Setting the date and time Not setting the date and time on your camera would be the equivalent of not setting the clock on a DVR. All your pictures, including the ones you took during the summer, would be dated January 1. While you can do it on the camera, the easiest way to do this is connect to the Capture app and it will sync automatically. Syncing your GoPro Your GoPro connects to your smartphone or device via Wi-Fi so that you can control the camera, clear the media card, and update its firmware when necessary. More important, the Capture app provides a comfortable way to use the camera because chances are you're not always going to be that close to the action, and if you are, then you can concentrate on what you're doing.

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Setting Up Your GoPro Camera

Article / Updated 03-01-2017

At first glance, the GoPro resembles a miniature version of an early 20th-century box camera or maybe the Instamatic still camera of the 1970s. Its design is simple: nothing more than a small box with a protruding lens, a few buttons, and a small LCD screen up front on most models. One very important piece doesn't come with the camera: the microSD card. Guess what? The camera won't work without it. Ideally, you purchased one when you bought your GoPro. If not, get one before you set up your camera. Setting up your GoPro takes a few minutes (not counting battery-charging time) but is easy. Follow these steps: Take off the GoPro's protective waterproof housing. (Skip to the next step if you're using a HERO5 Black or Session.) Like a turtle uses it shell for protection, so does the GoPro. But you need to take the GoPro out of its case to set it up. Pull the black latch on the top front of the camera. You'll need to pull it back hard because it locks in place. Lift the latch and pull out the camera. Put the battery in the camera. (Skip to next step if you're using a Session.) Slide off the battery door, place the battery inside the camera, and put the door back on. The battery comes partially charged and can be used right out of the box, but it's a good idea to charge it fully (see Step 4). Load the microSD memory card. Insert SD card on bottom door where battery is located. Push the tiny card into the card slot until it locks in place. If you're using an older model, the door on the side of the camera slides off. Then slide the door back on. Charge the camera. Plug one end of the charger cable (the one with the mini USB plug) into the camera and the other end into your computer or USB power supply. While the camera is charging, the LED lights turn on; when the camera is fully charged, they go off. You can also use the optional GoPro Super Charger, which charges your HERO5 up to 70% faster with the USB-C cable. And you can charge your phone or other device at the same time. Power up the camera. Press the Power/Mode button. The LED indicators blink, and the camera beeps three times. Shoot some video. Once your camera is charged, you're ready to start recording. The video mode is the default mode when you turn on the camera. Press the Shutter/Select button to record video; press it again to pause it. Take a still photo. Press the Power/Mode button to find the Photo button, which looks like a camera. You can also pick other still-photo choices like Burst Photo and Time-Lapse.

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The GoPro HERO4 Silver Edition

Article / Updated 03-01-2017

The HERO4 Silver is loaded with features, captures 4K video, and was the first GoPro camera to include a viewfinder. While it can record 4K video, it does so at 15 frames per second, which is great for still or slow-moving subjects, but not so great when they move fast. On the HD side, this camera is impressive with capture up to 60 fps, making it possible to capture maximum detail even when applying slow motion in GoPro Studio. Other features include: Auto Low Light: Automatically adjusts exposure by changing frame rates to compensate when you move between dense shadow areas and bright spots. Protune for photos: Apply the same control over images as you have for video. Change the ISO setting, use exposure compensation, or adjust white balance on your still images, as seen in the figure, and time-lapse sequences. Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth: Allows you to control the camera remotely, using the Wi-Fi remote with the GoPro App. For this model, the remote is sold separately. Set tags on your video: The HiLight tag makes it easy to find the best part of your clip by setting markers while capturing footage.

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The GoPro HERO4 Black Edition

Article / Updated 03-01-2017

Every bit as relevant as its HERO5 Black successor, you can do everything with this camera model with minimal quality issues. Just like the new line, it captures 4K video at 30 fps as well as 2.7K at 50 fps for ultra-high-resolution capture. It doesn't have the built-in waterproof case, nor does it have a touch screen. But since it's waterproof to deeper depths in its housing and you can always add an optional LCD Touch Screen Back, this model remains highly relevant. Here are some of its features: HD video capture: Captures HD video at up to 1080p (progressive) at 120 fps, making it possible to capture maximum detail even when applying slow motion in GoPro Studio. More powerful processor: Twice as fast as its predecessor, so you can capture video at increased frame rates with more detailed image quality, increased sharpness, and better color. Auto Low Light: Automatically adjusts exposure by changing frame rates to compensate when you move between dense shadow areas and bright spots. Protune for photos: Apply the same control over images as you have for video. Change the ISO setting, use exposure compensation, or adjust white balance on still images and time-lapse sequences. Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth: Allows you to control the camera remotely, using the Wi-Fi remote with the GoPro App. For this model, the remote is sold separately. Set tags on your video: The HiLight tag makes it easy to find the best part of your clip by setting markers while capturing footage.

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The GoPro HERO Session

Article / Updated 03-01-2017

Not only is it the smallest GoPro in the lineup, but it's also the most inconspicuous. Easily worn, or mounted, The HERO Session allows you capture impressive video and pictures in the smallest spaces. One-button operation makes it easy to start recording, but its small size provides less control on the camera. That's no problem, since you can control the camera from your app. Some aspects to consider: Waterproof: No need to worry about a waterproof housing, since the camera is already waterproof to depths of 33 feet. Impressive quality: Sharp, professional-quality video capture at 1440p at 30 fps or 1080p at 60 fps. You can record at the higher frame rate of 100 fps at 720p for amazing slow-motion playback. Great photo capture: Captures still frames at 8MP and photo bursts up to 10 frames. In addition, it captures time-lapse at intervals from 0.5 to 60 seconds. Built-in intelligent battery: It only uses power when you're recording; otherwise it shuts off the camera. You can capture continuously for two hours or more on a full charge. On the downside, you cannot swap out the battery, so if it dies, you must fully charge the camera before using it again. One-touch recording: A single button powers on the camera and starts recording video or time-lapse photos automatically. Few buttons: The camera must be controlled through the Capture app to change settings. Always captures right side up: Even if the camera is upside down, it will automatically capture the scene right side up. Protune: When capturing video, it provides more control for camera settings, including white balance, exposure, ISO, and color. In addition, it captures with less compression than the non-Protune setting.

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The GoPro HERO5 Session

Article / Updated 03-01-2017

Most of the power of the GoPro HERO5 Black, but half its size, makes the HERO5 Session a great choice when you're looking to carry a little less camera without sacrificing a whole lot of quality. Not only can you mount it using a wide range of accessories, but you can wear it on your lapel like a corsage and capture the world with this incredibly portable camera. Stunning 4K capture, along with one-button simplicity makes this waterproof powerhouse a force to be reckoned with. Other new features over previous Session models include: Voice control: This camera is so small that when you're talking to it, a bystander may just assume you're talking to yourself. But it's a necessary function on a camera that's so small to control to get hands-free operation. Like the HERO5 Black, it understands a dozen commands such as "GoPro start recording," or "GoPro turn off." Stunning 4K recording: Capture 4K video at 30 fps as well as 2.7K at 48 fps for ultra high-resolution video. Expanded modes: Added Time-Lapse, Night-Lapse, and Night Photo modes expand the possibilities for creativity. Auto Low Light: The camera adjusts exposure when light values change by changing frame rates to compensate when you move between dense shadow areas and bright spots. Impressive HD video: Record HD video at up to 1080p (progressive) up to 90 fps for capturing maximum detail. The higher frame rate also provides the best quality applying slow motion in GoPro Studio. Protune for photos: Provides the same control over still photographs as you have for video. Change the ISO setting, use exposure compensation, or adjust white balance on still images and time-lapse sequences. Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth: Allows you to control the camera remotely through the Wi-Fi remote and the GoPro App. It also enables auto upload to your optional GoPro Plus Cloud account.

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