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GoPro Protune:

The Definitive Guide


We all know that GoPro cameras can be easily used in auto mode out of the box, that’s great!

However, Auto mode has a lot of limitations.

So, turn on your Protune Advanced Settings and start taking full control over your camera. You will be impress by what more you can achieve.

In this tutorial I will guide you through the roots of GoPro Protune.

Ready? Let’s go!

While in the GoPro Settings Tutorial we talked about recommended Protune Settings, in this tutorial we will learn GoPro Protune Advanced Settings in more details and how to quickly implement it into your workflow.

By the end of this article you will know how best adjust: Shutter Speed, ISO, White Balance, Sharpness, Color Profile and Raw Audio Track; for most situations and light exposures.

I will conclude by answering to the most frequent asked questions by GoPro Users, hoping to serve more Heroes like you ????????

What is GoPro Protune?

From 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. We really wanted to meet requests from members of our professional community.’

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

Protune has changed several times since it’s inception during the Hero 2 days. It’s now a standard for most GoPro’s and can be activated within your main GoPro menu:

 

The Protune feature is available on the following GoPro models:

  • GoPro Fusion
  • HERO 6 Black
  • HERO 5 Black
  • HERO 5 Session
  • HERO 4
  • HERO4 Session
  • HERO Session
  • HERO 3+ Black Edition
  • HERO 3 Black Edition
  • HERO 3 Silver Edition

 

???? Increased GoPro Bitrate

Perhaps the greatest benefit of Protune is the increased Bitrate. Switching from standard video mode to Protune increases the bitrate from about 30mb/s to 45mb/s for a 1080p @60fps video (depending on the model). This means more data is captured per second while filming, resulting in better overall image quality. And who doesn’t want that?

Note: Protune clips take up more card space!

 

1️⃣ Shutter Speed

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

In Auto mode, the camera will constantly change the shutter speed automatically to balance the change of light.

Typically, on a GoPro you would keep the Shutter Speed in Auto mode if there is a consistent changing of light.

In manual mode, you select one that is most appropriate to the ambient lighting conditions. But make sure that you don’t have drastic changes of light throughout your shot, otherwise your clip will end up being out of exposure (too dark or too bright).

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

Example:

FPS = 30,   then →  Shutter Speed = 1/6

FPS = 120,   then →  Shutter Speed = 1/240s

Why?

This is a fundamental rule of filmmaking.

By having the Shutter Speed double the Frame Rate, every frame of the video will appear with a “motion” effect, gaining that film look seen in movies.

Pro Tip: If you need to keep Frame Rate double the Shutter Speed in manual mode, we advise you buying a series of GoPro ND filters. They are like sunglasses for GoPro.

 

➡️ SUGGESTED ND FILTERS:

 

[ For GoPro HERO5/HERO6 ]

 

[ For GoPro HERO4/HERO3+ ]

 

➡️ HOW TO CHANGE GOPRO SHUTTER SPEED

To access Shutter Speed settings, make sure you enable GoPro Protune (as we discussed above).

This will “unlock” a new custom setting window.

Then click on “Shutter” and choose a value like below.

 

➡️ IN SHORT

Unless you want to create a film look video that requires you to set the Shutter Speed to double the Frame Rate, I would set Shutter Speed to Auto.

GoPro cameras, especially the latest models like GoPro Hero 5 and GoPro Hero 6, can handle quick changes of exposure very well in Auto.

 

2️⃣ ISO

ISO measures the sensitivity of our GoPro’s image sensor to light. It’s very important that you understand how ISO affects your image quality in order for you to choose the right ISO settings. A wrong ISO setting could result in unusable grainy footage.

 

➡️ BEST GOPRO ISO SETTINGS

The higher the ISO, the brighter the image, but also more noise will be in your photos. Usually you want to minimize noise so keep ISO down as much as possible.

Therefore, it is extremely important that you set your GoPro ISO manually so that your GoPro will not exceed your ISO set values.

In this way, the GoPro will shoot at a variable ISO value to compensate light, ranging between ISO Min and ISO max.

This is how you do it:

Make sure Protune is activated.

You’ll be prompted on a settings window with two ISO values:

ISO Min and ISO Max.

Note: smaller sensors like that of the GoPro, at high ISO, will introduce noise and grain in a dark shot, making the content unusable.

By default, your GoPro has ISO Min set at 100 and ISO Max set to 3200.

We are just going to change ISO Max, leaving ISO Min at 100.

Why?

Because when it comes to ISO, the image quality is better at lower ISO values.

Therefore,

ISO Min will be left at the lowest value: 100.

ISO Max will be reduced to about 400 to guarantee a good balance between noise and light.

Here is how you can change the ISO settings:

 

If 400 ISO is still not enough (too dark of an image), instead of increasing the Max ISO value, I would add light to the scene with an LED when available or I would not use the GoPro at all (use another camera if available or wait for lighter conditions).

In the video below I compare the footage quality between GoPro default ISO values and our suggested ISO values: 100 – 400.

Watch the difference:

 

3️⃣ White Balance

Another addition to the Protune suite is White Balance (WB). White Balance measures the temperature of camera image in Kelvin.

By default, GoPro White Balance is set to Auto.

Here I show you how to change White Balance settings (Hero 5 and Hero 6):

 

Unless you are recording with multiple cameras and need to color match the temperature before shooting, I would leave it to default.

There are some challenging lighting conditions (indoor light, snowy scenes, etc) where the GoPro might struggle to Auto correct the white balance. In this case, you can manually set the right temperature. To do so, use a white surface as color reference and try to select a temperature that best matches the white surface.

This is a White Balance Test on a GoPro Hero 6 – WB from 2300k to 6500k, Auto and Native:

 

4️⃣ Sharpness

GoPro offers three different modes of sharpness within the video Protune menu:

Low – Medium – High

GoPro Hero 6, by default, sets Sharpness to High.

This adds digital sharpness to the footage, often resulting in artificial looking images.

Here’s a practical comparison of sharpness taken with a GoPro Hero 6 in 4k:

Let’s take a closer look to better understand the difference.

If we zoom in, you can see the variation of detail as the sharpness changes from low to high, especially on the air conditioning flaps.

If you plan to do any editing on your footage and want maximum control over the sharpness, I would suggest switching to Medium or Low as high looks too crispy.

High sharpness also introduces additional noise, which it’s always best to avoid.

 

5️⃣ Color

By default, your camera is set to GoPro Color. This applies a vibrant colored filter to your footage, typical of GoPro. I love the look of it.

However, if you plan to edit the footage of your GoPro with footage from another camera, it would be hard to match both color profiles.

Also, if you want to apply some color grading in video editing apps like GoPro’s Quick desktop app, Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro, it will be harder.

So, what do we do?

Simply set Color to Neutral or Flat.

This will disable the GoPro color profile, outputting a neutral raw color footage.

By doing so it reduces the footage’s contrast, retaining better details in highlights and shadows.

Here I show you how to change GoPro’s profile color (Hero 5 and Hero 6):

 


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6️⃣ Raw Audio Track

Raw Audio Track allows you to create a separate audio track at higher quality than the one embedded into the mp4 video file.

It’s basically a separate stand alone WAV file.

 

➡️ SHOULD YOU ENABLE RAW AUDIO TRACK?

Well, if you are serious about your audio design with GoPro then go for it!

This is how you enable Raw Audio Track on your GoPro Hero 6:

You should enable this function and select Low, Medium or High according to what level of audio editing you intend to apply.

However, if you like to achieve good clean audio I believe you would have to opt for another solution as the GoPro built in microphone, although being stereo (on latest models at least), it picks up all ambient noise, without being able to isolate your subject.

There are many kinds of external microphones for GoPro that you can use to improve your audio in your films.

 

➡️ THIS 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 for Video Protune, Photo Protune enables more advanced settings for you to explore. By enabling Photo Protune you can take control over your camera settings and potentially produce better content.

 

➡️ WHEN YOU SHOULD ENABLE PHOTO PROTUNE

  • For longer exposure photos

By having the freedom to manually select any shutter speed, you can experiment and play with different options. Try a lower shutter speed for photos in low light (GoPro on tripod!) or to create photos with a motion effect (hand held).

If you intend to make any editing or color grading on your photos, other than shooting in RAW, it’s advised to select a neutral/flat look within Photo Protune Color.

 

➡️ HOW TO ENABLE PHOTO PROTUNE

Activate the Photo Protune just by clicking on the ON button within the GoPro menu, like in the image below (GoPro Hero5/Hero6):

Now you can take manual control of: Shutter Speed, ISO, White Balance, Sharpness, Color Profile.

 

⚙️ Best Protune Settings?

An experienced user will have the upper hand regardless of Protune. But, there’s a reason why experienced GoProers always use it. It’s better than not using it.

If you enjoy learning with Project GoPro don’t forget to check out the articles linked below or consider downloading the GoPro Settings Cheat Sheet here. It can be printed or kept on your phone so that you will never miss the best GoPro settings for your activity.


The 6 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. Protune is compatible with professional color correction tools, the Quik desktop app, and other video and photo editing software.

 

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.

 

6️⃣ Which GoPro Cameras Have Protune?

  • GoPro Fusion
  • HERO 6 Black
  • HERO 5 Black
  • HERO 5 Session
  • HERO 4
  • HERO4 Session
  • HERO Session
  • HERO 3+ Black Edition
  • HERO 3 Black Edition
  • HERO 3 Silver Edition

 


What we’ve learned today

  • What is Protune on GoPro and how it applies to Photo and Video
  • How to adjust the Advanced Settings manually: Shutter, ISO, White Balance, Sharpness, Color Profile, Audio, etc.
  • Best Protune Settings (included in the Settings Cheat Sheet – download below)
  • The most frequently asked questions about Protune

 

 


Related Articles:

 

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About Author



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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