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What resolution should I use for my GoPro? Resolutions explained!

You’ve probably heard of resolutions terms like 720p, 1080p, 4k… but, do you actually know what they mean and how they affect your footage? In order to know what resolution you should set on your next GoPro shoot, it’s important to understand how resolution operates.

So in this article I want to clarify what resolution is, how to use it, and finally guide you to pick the right resolution setting for your next shoot!

Common video resolutions used in video (and why!)

On all GoPro cameras you have the ability to set a resolution, typically between 480p to 4k. These numbers represent the quantity of horizontal and vertical pixel lines contained within a video. The larger the resolution (height x width), the more detail. High resolution video (HD) can be played back on large displays without noticeable defects, whereas low resolution (480p), may appear poor in quality.

  • Full HD/1080p: Full HD is the most common video resolution used nowadays. It’s supported by most devices and it’s good for the web. On this resolution you are able to achieve a higher slow motion (120-240 fps) on the latest GoPro cameras, which is ideal for shooting fast action scenes.
  • HD Ready/720p: The only reason you would want to shoot at 720p or lower is because you can increase the level of slow-motion to the max. – like 480fps or probably more – and capture super slow motion actions. Lower resolutions take less memory space but at the same time offer a lower quality as there are less pixels to compose your video. So forget watching low resolution clips on big screens.
  • 4k: After 1080p we have 4k as the most used resolution nowadays. Since the HERO4 Black, most GoPro cameras can shoot at this high resolution. This is the best resolution if video quality is what you are after. Though remember that 4k video files take loads of space, especially if you shoot at 4k/60fps. GoPro battery drains faster due to the increased power required for processing 4k videos. So I would’t recommend it for everyday shooting.

 

When You Should Consider Shooting in 4k

Although most GoPro cameras (and smartphones) now can shoot at large 4k resolutions, I would’t recommend filming in 4k every time.

Why?

Simply because you don’t need it 80% of the times. Plus 4k video clips will take a lot of memory space and your GoPro battery will drain faster. So if you don’t need to use the zoom, nor to watch your video on large screens/projectors, then Full HD 1080p is enough. 4k is a large resolution that contains loads of pixels which will make the image more detailed. And even if 4k might sound good (as advertisers want us to believe), it’s not always the wisest choice.

So consider shooting in 4k ONLY if:

  • You need to be able to zoom in without losing quality (within limits)
  • Video quality is priority (display on large TVs, projectors)
  • Your editing device can handle large 4k files

 

 

How Resolutions Affect Your Video Editing

Resolution choice doesn’t only affect the performance of your camera (battery life, video quality and size, etc) but also it has an influence on the post production phase (video editing). In fact, when deciding what resolution you should use when filming with your GoPro, consider these 3 factors:

  • Performance of Editing Device: 4k video clips need a fast machine to work well and require large storage capacity. Lower resolutions videos (like 1080p, 720p) require less processing power to be edited, allowing more devices to support it.
  • Editing Software: All video editing software (on mobile and computer) support videos up to 1080p, but not all do 4k. Double check the resolutions supported by your editing software if you intend to edit high resolution videos like 4k. Good editors that support 4k are Final Cut Pro X or Adobe Premiere Pro.
  • Digital Zoom: Higher resolutions such like 2.7k or 4k allow you to zoom into your frame digitally during the editing process, often without loosing quality. For instance, if your exported video will be at 1080p and your raw clips are 4k, then you have the freedom of using a digital zoom of 4x without loosing resolution quality, and keep your final video at 1080p.

 

Which GoPro resolution should you choose?

Short Answer: 1080p/30-60fps at all times. 4k/60fps when I need to zoom in.

The choice of your GoPro video resolution highly depends on the purpose of your video work as well as all of the factors discussed above in this article.

The table below sums up when to use each resolution available on GoPro cameras:

720p or lessLow resolution.
Small file size.
Used for smartphones and web.
1080pFull HD - Produces a sharp and clean image.
It's the most common option.
1440pProduces a sharp and clean Full HD image. But aspect ratio is 4:3 (almost a squared image, like in the old movies)
2.7KExcellent quality.
Can be used for digital zoom in editing.
4K4x Full HD.
Can be used for digital zoom in editing or for large 4k screens.
Big file size and shorter battery life in shooting.

 

Choose Your Resolution by the Activity

I made this table (below) to show you how the resolution choice may also depend on the activity you are going to film with your GoPro. This is because GoPro Resolutions settings are linked to Frame Rate and FOV.

I know we are getting a little technical here, but stay with me… it’s easier than you think 🙂

Let me give you an example:

You are going to shoot a fast action scene (like surfing) and so you probably need 120fps or 240fps. Well, these frame rates are not supported at 4k resolution. Therefore you are forced to set your GoPro at 1080p/240fps.

This is all to explain that there’s a logical way to evaluate the right resolution before every shoot. This table will help you in your GoPro resolution choice based on the activity:

ActivityResolutionFrame Rate (FPS)Field of View (FOV)
Travel1080p
4k
60fpsWide
Cycling1080p
2.7k
60fpsWide
Superview
Hiking1080p
4k
30fpsWide
Drone1080p
4k
60fpsWide
Motorcycle1080p
2.7k
120fpsWide
Sport1080p
4k
60fps
120fps
Wide
Ski1080p
2.7k
120fps
240fps
Wide
Surf1080p
2.7k
120fps
240fps
Wide
Underwater1080p
4k
30fps
60fps
Wide
Sunset1080p
4k
30fpsLinear
VLOG1080p
2.7k
30fpsLinear
Automobile1080p
2.7k
60fpsWide

 

 

Supported Video Resolutions by GoPro HERO Cameras

If you are still wondering what are all the resolutions supported by your GoPro (and other models), here you find a table showing all the resolution options available on GoPro HERO5, HERO6, HERO7 and HERO8:

👉 GoPro HERO 5 Black Resolutions

Video ResolutionFrame Rate (fps) -
NTSC/PAL
Field of View (FOV)Screen Resolution
4K- 30/25
- 24/24
- Wide
- SuperView, Wide
- 3840x2160
- 3840x2160
2.7K- 60, 48, 24 / 50, 48, 24
- 30 / 25
- Wide, Medium, Linear.
- SuperView, Wide, Medium, Linear.
- 2704x1520
- 2704x1520
2.7K 4:330 / 25Wide2704x2028
1440p80, 60, 48, 30, 24
/ 80, 50, 48, 25, 24
Wide1920x1440
1080p- 120 / 120
- 90 / 90
- 80 / 80
- 60, 48, 30, 24
/ 50, 48, 25, 24
- Wide, Narrow
- Wide
- SuperView
- SuperView, Wide, Medium, Linear, Narrow
1920x1080
960p120, 60 / 120, 50Wide1280x960
720p- 240 / 240)
- 120, 60 / 120, 50
- 100 / 100
- 30 / 25
- Narrow
- SuperView, Wide, Medium, Narrow
- SuperView
- Wide, Medium, Narrow
- 1280x720
- 1280x720
- 1280x720
- 1280x720
WVGA240 / 240Wide848x480

👉 GoPro HERO 6 Black Resolutions

Video ResolutionFrame Rate (fps)
NTSC /PAL
Field of View (FOV)Screen Resolution
4K- 60/50
- 30, 24 / 25, 24
- Wide
- SuperView, Wide
- 3840x2160
- 3840x2160
4K 4:330, 24 / 25, 24Wide4096x3072
2.7K- 120 / 100
- 30 / 25
- Wide, Medium, Linear.
- SuperView, Wide, Medium, Linear.
- 2704x1520
- 2704x1520
2.7K 4:3- 30 /25
- 60, 30, 24 / 50, 25, 24
- Wide
- Linear, Wide, SuperView
- 2704x1520
- 2704x1520
1440p60, 30, 24 / 50, 25, 24Linear, Wide1920x1440
1080p- 240 / 200
- 120, 60, 30, 24 / 100, 50, 25, 24
- Wide
- Linear, Wide, Superview
- 1920x1080
- 1920x1080
720p60 / 50Linear, Wide1280x720

👉 GoPro HERO 7 Black Resolutions

Video ResolutionFrame Rate (fps)
NTSC /PAL
Field of View (FOV)Screen Resolution
4K- 60/50
- 30, 25 / 24, 24
- Wide
- SuperView, Wide
- 3840x2160
- 3840x2160
4K 4:330, 25 / 24, 24Wide4096x3072
2.7K- 120 / 100
- 60 / 50, 30/25, 24/24
- Wide
- Linear, Wide, SuperView
- 2704x1520
- 2704x1520
2.7K 4:360/50, 30/25, 24/24Linear, Wide2704x2028
1440p60/50, 30/25, 24/24Linear, Wide1920x1440
1080p- 240 / 200
- 120/100, 60/50, 30/25, 24/24
- Wide
- Linear, Wide, Superview
- 1920x1080
- 1920x1080
960p240/200, 120/100Wide1280x960
720p- 240/200
- 60/50
Linear, Wide1280x720

👉 GoPro HERO 8 Black Resolutions

Video ResolutionFrame Rate (fps)
NTSC /PAL
Field of View (FOV)Screen Resolution
4K- 60/50
- 30, 24 / 24, 24
- Wide, Linear
- Wide, Superview, Linear
- 3840x2160
- 3840x2160
4K 4:330,24/25Wide, Linear4000x3000
2.7K- 120 / 100
- 60 / 50, 30/25, 24/24
- Wide
- Wide, Superview, Linear, Narrow
- 2704x1520
- 2704x1520
2.7K 4:3- 60/50
- 30/25, 24/24
- Wide
- Linear, Wide, Narrow
- 2704x2028
- 2704x2028
1440p 4:3- 120/100
- 60/50, 30/25, 24
- Wide
- Wide, Linear, Narrow
- 1920x1440
- 1920x1440
1080p- 240 / 200
- 120/100, 60/50, 30/25, 24/24
- Wide
- Wide, Superview, Linear, Narrow
- 1920x1080
- 1920x1080

 

 

FAQ’s

  • Best GoPro resolution for YouTube?

If you film with GoPro for youtube then the ideal resolution to use would be Full HD 1080p, at 30fps or 60fps depending if you need slow motion parts.

  • Best GoPro resolution for Instagram?

Instagram recommends a video resolution of 1080×1920 for optimal quality.

  • Best GoPro resolution for editing on iPhone?

If you intend to edit your GoPro footage on iPhone or Smartphones then it’s best to shoot at 1080p or lower as 4k requires a lot of processing power from the smartphone.

  • GoPro Resolution vs. FOV

GoPro resolutions are strictly correlated to FOV and Frame Rate. For full details check the tables above.

  • What is 1080 SuperView on GoPro?

GoPro Superview is the immersive 16:9 aspect ratio mode of GoPro. This is done by taking a 4:3 aspect radio and dynamically stretches it to become 16:9 aspect ratio. The centre of the image remains unchanged and it would only stretch the side parts, making it ideal for activities with the camera mounted on your head and chest (motocross, biking, skiing, surfing, etc) to get a full immersive view.

  • Can GoPro camera’s zoom?

Yes, GoPro cameras allow you to zoom in and out. You can enable the zoom feature by selecting a resolution of 1080p/60fps (for instance), click the FOV option in the bottom right corner of the frame, select “Wide” and you’ll see the blue Zoom slider. Move the tab up and down to zoom in and out.

  • Is 1080p/60fps better than 4k 30fps?

Depending on the use, you would prefer 4k/30 if you are looking for a detailed video quality and the ability to digitally zoom in, while 1080p/60 is good for everyday use (vlogs, actions, b-rolls, etc.).

FREE DOWNLOAD: 100% Free GoPro Cheat Sheet with Best Settings Per Activity