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GoPro Protune:

The Definitive Guide


The great thing about your GoPro camera is it’s so easy to use, right out of the box; that is, if you intend on keeping it on Auto mode indefinitely.

However, if you want to explore what it’s like to go beyond Auto mode’s limitations and take back some creative control over your GoPro filming, then this guide is what you need.

In this tutorial, we’re going to take a deeper dive into your GoPro’s potential. But before we start, take a few minutes to refresh your memory and get reacquainted with GoPro’s settings. Go back and review GoPro Settings: The Definitive Guide if you need some refreshing.

And now, this is where the real fun begins!

Ready? Let’s go!

 

Contents:

  • Shutter Speed
  • ISO
  • White Balance
  • Sharpness
  • Color Profile
  • Raw Audio Tracks
  • Photo Mode
  • 6 FAQs
  • BONUS: FREE DOWNLOAD

 

Protune is available on these GoPro models:

  • GoPro Fusion
  • HERO 3 Black Edition
  • HERO 3 Silver Edition
  • HERO 3+ Black Edition
  • HERO 4
  • HERO 4 Session
  • HERO 5 Black
  • HERO 5 Session
  • HERO 6 Black (taken as a reference for this article)
  • HERO 6 Session
  • HERO 7 Black

What is GoPro Protune?

According to GoPro, Protune enables you to get much higher quality throughout your post-production workflow. Basically, the main purpose of the Protune software update is to help you get more dynamic images from your camera than you are currently getting today.

Essentially, Protune gives us options. And we like that.

By enabling Protune you will gain manual control of:

  • Shutter Speed
  • EV Compensation
  • ISO
  • White Balance
  • Sharpness
  • Color Profile
  • Audio

 

Protune has undergone several changes and updates since its inception when the Hero 2 model was released. Now it’s standard for most GoPro cameras and can be found and activated within your main GoPro menu:

 

📈 Increased GoPro Bitrate

Perhaps the greatest benefit of Protune is the increased bitrate. For example, a video shot at 1080p @ 60fps in standard video mode (Protune OFF) has a bitrate of 30Mbps. If we turn Protune to ON, the bitrate of the same file will be 45Mbps (depending on the model). This means more data is captured per second while filming, resulting in a higher dynamic range. If image quality is your priority, then I suggest to keep Protune ON.

 

1️⃣ Shutter Speed

Shutter speed is one of the most important settings when it comes to light.

In Auto mode, GoPro constantly changes shutter speed to balance the change of light. In certain situations when light levels consistently change, Auto mode can work to your advantage.

In Protune, shutter speed is manually selected depending on your surrounding ambient lighting. But if that light level changes too drastically during your shot, you risk producing footage that is out of exposure – too bright or too dark.

Ideally, the shutter speed should be fixed at double (x2) the frame rate.

 

Example:

FPS = 30 → Shutter Speed = 1/6

FPS = 120 → Shutter Speed = 1/240s

 

Why the Math?

This is filmmaking 101 – a fundamental rule of thumb.

By doubling frame rate to get the correct Shutter Speed every video frame will produce a “motion” effect for that film look we often see in movies.

Pro Tip: If you use Protune to manually double the Frame Rate to get the Shutter Speed, we recommend buying a series of GoPro ND filters. They’ll keep lighting as consistent as possible for your GoPro while in Protune. They’re like sunglasses for your GoPro.

 

➡️ RECOMMENDED ND FILTERS:

 

[ For GoPro HERO5/HERO6 ]

 

[ For GoPro HERO4/HERO3+ ]

 

➡️ HOW TO CHANGE GOPRO SHUTTER SPEED

  1. Enable GoPro Protune (this unlocks a new custom setting screen)
  2. Click on “Shutter”
  3. Choose a speed value (see image below)

 

➡️ IN SHORT

Unless your film requires that movie look and feel with an increased shutter speed, I highly recommend staying in Auto mode. The newer GoPro models – like the Hero 5, Hero 6, Hero 7 – are pretty good with automatic changes in variable lighting conditions.

 


⚙️ BONUS: The GoPro Cheat Sheet

Setting Protune values always rely on the activity you are going to shoot. Your Protune camera settings will look different when filming a surfing day compared to a hiking trip. But, how do you know what to choose from tens of those menu settings?

Here is where the GoPro Settings Cheat Sheet comes in! A super valuable double sided setting reference sheet, for most GoPro shooting activities. It can be printed or kept on your phone so that you will never miss the best GoPro settings.

It’s 100% FREE  👉 Download it from here 👈

Preview of GoPro Settings Cheat Sheet from Project GoPro


 

2️⃣ EV Compensation

Exposure Value compensation is a brightness assistive setting on your GoPro under the Protune option. By adjusting EV COMP, you can override the auto-calculated exposure to increase or decrease exposure.

EV compensation range is measured in “stops”, where each stop is an incrementally higher or lower level of brightness.

The range on GoPro is -2 to +2, in 0.5 increments:

  • +2.0 (brighter)
  • +1.5
  • +1.0
  • +0.5
  • +0.0 (default)
  • -0.5
  • -1.0
  • -1.5
  • -2.0 (darker)

 

Suggested Protune EV Comp. Settings: -0.5 or -1 (improves details in highlights)

 

3️⃣ ISO

ISO is the measurement setting of light sensitivity of your GoPro’s image sensor. It’s an important variable to understand because selecting the wrong ISO setting can produce a grainy effect in your footage, rendering it unusable.

 

➡️ OPTIMAL GOPRO ISO SETTINGS

As general rule, the higher the ISO number, the brighter the image; but the catch here is that a higher ISO number will also add a grain or noise to your footage. Therefore, the other general rule with ISO is to keep it as low as possible.

This is one of the GoPro settings for which I believe Protune should be enabled, to avoid exceeding acceptable ISO values.

In Auto mode, your GoPro will shoot at variable ISO values to compensate variable light conditions; these values range from 100 (ISO Min) to 3200 (ISO Max). But because of the potential for grainy and unusable footage with higher ISO levels, we want to adjust the ISO Max value down to a reasonable level.

This is how to change ISO Max with Protune:

  1. In the settings window prompt, you’ll see your GoPro’s default ISO levels.
  2. Select the ISO MAX level and adjust it down to a reasonable level, like 400.

 

 

Note: The ISO Min value doesn’t need adjusting because at that level, image quality is fine.

The following video demonstrates how to do this:

 

If 400 ISO is still producing dark footage, instead of increasing the Max ISO (remember the grain…) I recommend adding some more light – artificial or natural – to your scene, or I wouldn’t use the GoPro at all (use another camera if available or wait for lighter conditions).

In the following video, check out the difference in quality in the footage shot with GoPro’s default ISO values and then our recommended adjustment to an ISO Max of 400:

 

4️⃣ White Balance

White Balance, measured in Kelvin, is the temperature of your GoPro image, and it’s set to Auto by default.

The following video demonstrates how to change White Balance settings with GoPro Protune:

 

Unless you’re shooting with multiple cameras and need to color match the temperature before filming, I would leave your White Balance setting on default.

Of course, there are some challenging lighting conditions (indoor light, snowy scenes, etc.) where your GoPro may struggle to correct white balance automatically. In this case, it’s best to manually set the right temperature. To do this, use a white surface as a color reference and select a temperature that best matches that white surface.

The video below demonstrates a White Balance Test on a GoPro Hero 6 for varying temperature levels (kelvin), as well as in Auto and Native modes:

 

5️⃣ Sharpness

In Protune, GoPro offers three sharpness modes – Low, Medium and High:

By default, the sharpness of GoPro should be set to High.

But I believe this level of digital sharpness produces artificial looking footage. The following image is a comparison of each sharpness setting for footage shot in 4k resolution on a GoPro Hero 6. What do you think?

 

Let’s take a closer look at a section of this image, at each sharpness level, to better understand the difference. Can you see it?

 

Can you see the variation of detail with each level of sharpness? Look closely at the air conditioner grating or the patterns on each wall paper design.

Protip: If you plan on editing your footage in post-production and you want maximum control over sharpness, I suggest switching to Medium or Low. I think high sharpness looks too crispy, and it often introduces additional unwanted noise to your footage.

 

6️⃣ Color

By default, your camera is set to GoPro Color, which is a vibrant colored filter on your footage. It’s typical of GoPro, but I love the way it looks.

However, if you plan to edit your GoPro footage with some other footage shot from another camera, it might prove difficult to match the color profiles of each one. As well, applying some color grading in post-production video editing apps like Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro X will be more difficult with GoPro Color enabled.

Thankfully, GoPro Protune allows us to disable this Auto mode feature and shooting in a neutral or flat raw color profile. Doing so reduces your footage contrast, retaining its detail within highlights and shadows.

Here’s how to change your GoPro’s color profile:

 


GoPro LUTs Color Grading

[2018 Pack]

If you want to try more color grading to transform your photos and videos, I recommend downloading our new Color Grading LUTs Pack (2018), specifically optimized for GoPro and Drone footage.

The pack Includes 12 cinematic filters for all GoPro Activities and 24 Sweet Bonus filters. Check out what you can do with it:


 

7️⃣ Raw Audio Track

Raw Audio Track is a Protune feature that creates a higher-quality, standalone audio WAV file in addition to your original footage file.

 

➡️ SHOULD YOU ENABLE RAW AUDIO TRACK?

If you’re serious about audio design in your GoPro footage then go for it! This is how to set it:

 

Once enabled, you should select Low, Medium or High quality audio according to the level of editing you intend to apply. However, despite GoPro’s built-in stereo microphone capabilities (on later models), it does have limits, it picks up ambient noises and it’s more difficult isolating a single subject.

If you really want to have the cleanest and clearest audio, you might opt to use an external microphone. There are many kinds of external microphones for GoPro.

 

➡️ HERE IS WHAT WE RECOMMEND:

 

[ Saramonic G-Mic Stereo (for GoPro Hero 3, Hero 3+ and Hero 4) ]

 

[ Movo GM100 Lavalier (HERO 3/HERO 3+/HERO 4) ]

 

[ GoPro Pro 3.5mm Mic Adapter (HERO 6 Black/HERO5 Black/HERO5 Session) ]

📷 Protune for Photo Mode

As with Protune for video shoots, Protune for Photo enables more advanced settings, giving you more control over GoPro’s photo settings and potentially producing better quality content.

 

➡️ WHEN TO USE PROTUNE FOR PHOTOS

  • Varying shutter speeds: You can experiment and play with different shutter speeds in low light situations (use a tripod!) or to use a still-photo motion effect by holding and moving your GoPro.
  • Greater editing flexibility: If you intend on editing or color grading on your photos, other than shooting in RAW, you should set your color to neutral or flat using the Protune Photo color feature.

 

➡️ HOW TO ENABLE PHOTO PROTUNE

Clicking the ON button within the GoPro menu:

Now you can take manual control of Shutter Speed, EV CompensationISO, White Balance, Sharpness, Color Profile, Audio.

 


The 5 Most Asked Protune Questions

 

1️⃣ What does Protune do on a GoPro?

Protune unlocks the camera’s full potential, yielding stunning image quality and cinema-caliber video and photos optimized for professional productions. Protune gives content creators more flexibility and workflow efficiency than ever before.

 

2️⃣ What is ISO on GoPro?

By unlocking Protune, you gain full control on ISO values. ISO measures the image sensors sensitivity to light (higher ISO values equals brighter image but with possible noise/grain).

 

3️⃣ What is ISO limit on GoPro?

GoPro ISO limit incorporates a minimum and a maximum value. This is the ISO range that GoPro will use depending on lighting conditions. It’s advisable to keep ISO Min. at 100 and ISO Max. not more than 400 to avoid noise.

 

4️⃣ How do I adjust White Balance my GoPro?

By activating Protune, you can manually choose a white balance value depending on external lighting conditions. WB adjusts the images with a colder or warmer temperature. In the White Balance section above I demonstrate all the different white balance options (with video comparison) and explain you how to set white balance.

 

5️⃣ How do I turn Protune ON?

By default, GoPro Protune is set to OFF. To unlock Protune in video and photo modes, go to the main menu and tap the ON button. Further details (with images and videos) can be found above in the article.

 


Related Articles:

 

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Hi! I'm Andrea Magrì - Videographer & Entrepreneur.


I write all of the content you'll find on the Project GoPro blog.


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