GoPro Settings Explained:

Best for Action, Travel and More


Are you struggling to understand your GoPro settings?

In this article we’ll explain how each setting can be use to improve your photos and videos.

First, we’ll cover video, photo, time lapse and Protune settings, then, we’ll discuss the best settings for action, travel, and more.

GoPro Video Settings

  • Resolutions
  • NTSC/PAL
  • Frame Rates
  • Field of View
  • Stabilization
  • Auto Low Light
  • Manual Audio Control

 

main GoPro settings menu

 

GoPro Resolutions

What are resolutions?

Resolutions refer to the number of pixels an image contains. 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.

 

How to use resolutions:

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.

 

GoPro Frame Rates

What are frame rates?

Frame rates refers to the number of images captured by a camera (per second), which is then stitched together to give the appearance of motion. By utilizing higher frame rates, you can learn to improve your videos by creating cinematic slow motion shots.

 

How to use frame rates:

24 (PAL & NTSC)Cinematic frame rate. No slow motion.
25fps (PAL)
30fps (NTSC)
Standard TV style. No slow motion.
50fps (PAL)
60fps (NTSC)
For action shots.
Slow Motion 2x
100fps (PAL)
120fps (NTSC)
For faster action shots.
Slow motion 4x.
Not good in low light conditions.
200fps (PAL)
240fps (NTSC)
For super fast action shots.
Slow motion 8x.
Bad quality in low light conditions.

 

GoPro Field of View (FOV)

What is field of view?

Field of view is the area visible to the camera sensor (170°, 120°, 90°). It’s almost like changing the lens on your GoPro: the resolution will remain the same but your angle of view will vary (so you don’t lose quality if you pick a narrower FOV).

 

How to use field of view:

Superview: 170 degree angle; Great for action-shot.

Captures the widest angle possible, giving you that signature GoPro look. The frame is distorted due to such a wide angle. It’s a great option when shooting action or shaky occasions (the wider your frame, the more stable the footage looks).

 

Wide: 120 degree angle; Slight fish-eye

Still has a slight wide-angle feel but is good for reducing the fish eye look.

 

Linear: 90 degree angle; DSLR wide lens feel

Linear FOV is more comparable to DSLR footage. This is the best option for non-action shots like interviews, b-rolls, Vlogs, etc.

 

Update: If you’re interested in learning more about the specifics of configuring your GoPro to achieve professional results, check out the GoPro Basics chapter of the our new book » The GoPro Handbook: A Professionals Guide to Filmmaking

 

GoPro Stabilization

What is electronic image stabilization?

Electronic image stabilization (EIS) is a feature used to minimize shaky shots. This is done in camera and works well in daylight, but is best to avoid in low light because the software makes adjustments that can cause a minor distortion.

 

How to use EIS:

Stabilization ON: Stable cinematic look. Used for shaky shots (hand held, GoPro stick, sport, etc)

Stabilization OFF: For tripod use or low light shots.

 

GoPro Auto Low Light

What is auto low light?

Auto low light is a feature that improves low light shooting performance by automatically adjust key low light settings like frame rates to allow more light to reach the cameras image sensor.

 

How to use auto low light:

Auto Low Light ON: The camera would automatically adjust its frame rate to compensate for light. However, you will have a variable frame rate clip that is not ideal if you are planning a clean slow motion shot.

Auto Low Light OFF: For bright situations.

 

GoPro Manual Audio Control

What is manual audio control?

Manual Audio Control (available on the HERO5/HERO6) is a feature that allows you to improve the audio performance of your GoPro by manually adjusting the audio settings. By default, Manual Audio Control is set to Auto (OFF).

 

How to use manual audio control:

AUTO: GoPro will automatically switch between recording in stereo and applying the wind noise reduction to get the best audio results possible.

ON: your camera will let you choose between Wind Only and Stereo Only.

Wind Only: your GoPro applies a fixed wind reduction filter. So you would have less background noise but lower audio quality due to the filter.

Stereo Only: your GoPro will record audio without any filters. So you will have a raw higher audio quality but almost every sound will be recorded, including background noise.

 

GoPro NTSC and PAL

What are NTSC and PAL?

NTSC & PAL are the two main video formats used around the world (different electrical frequencies). By selecting the appropriate option for your region (NTSC or PAL), you can prevent the flickering effect that occurs when recording lights running on a different frequency.

 

How to use NTSC and PAL:

NTSC (60Hz): shoot/view footage in Central-North America.

PAL (50Hz): shoot/view footage outside Central-North America.

 


GoPro Photo Settings

  • Photo
  • Night
  • Burst
  • High Dynamic Range

 

main photo menu settings on GoPro camera

 

GoPro Photo Mode

What is photo mode?

Photo mode allows you to capture single shots like a traditional DSLR or point and shoot camera. On the GoPro Hero 5 & 6, you can access this menu option by clicking on the video icon at the bottom left-hand corner of the home page menu.

 

How to use photo mode:

Photo mode is best used when taking standard photos like you would with your phone or point and shoot camera.

 

GoPro Night Mode

What is night mode?

Night mode is designed for long exposure photographs, typically used in low light. Depending on the amount of ambient light, you can set the exposure from 2 seconds up to 30 seconds or Auto (Hero 5 & 6).

 

How to use night mode:

Darker subject → Longer exposure (more seconds)

Brighter subject → Shorter exposure (less seconds)

 

GoPro Burst Mode

What is burst mode?

Burst mode allows you to capture multiple photos over a short period of time (eg. a jump, moving car, etc). Burst Rate determines how many photos are taken per second. If we take 5/1 as an example, 5 pictures are taken every second.

 

How to use burst mode:

Slow movement: ~ 3 photos per second (eg. 3/1, 5/1, etc)

Fast movement: ~ 10 photos per second (eg. 30/3, 30/6, etc)

 

GoPro High Dynamic Range (HDR)

What is high dynamic range?

High Dynamic Range is a feature that works by overlaying multiple images taken at different levels of light (more or less exposure). This allows the camera to adjust for both high and low levels of light intensity, which comes in handy when photographing sunsets or settings with similar lighting conditions.

 

How to use high dynamic range:

High dynamic range is best used in situations where are significant difference between levels of light is present. Example: when struggling to capture both the sun and shadows of a scene.two identical images side by side - one displaying the use of hdr and the other not

 


GoPro Time-Lapse Settings

  • Video
  • Photo
  • Night lapse

 

Newer GoPro touch screen display showing time lapse setting menu

 

GoPro Time Lapse Video

What is time lapse video?

Time lapse video is a feature that outputs ready-to-go time lapse videos without the need for editing. 

 

How to use time lapse video:

Select this option from your menu settings and hit record. It’s that simple. Once you hit stop, your camera will automatically combine the photos together into a ready-made time lapse sequence.

 

 

GoPro Time Lapse Photo

What is time lapse photo?

Time lapse photo is a feature that automatically captures photos at a set interval which can then be joined together in editing to create a time lapse video. The benefit of time lapse photo over time lapse video is that you have control over the interval and access to the individual photos which allows you more creative freedom in post production.

 

How to use time lapse photo:

Select this option from your menu settings, select the interval (see how to create time lapse videos here for suggestions), setup the camera on a tripod, and hit record. Come back after 1/2 hour or more and hit stop. Then import the photos into your favorite video editor, and merge the photos.

 

 

GoPro Night Lapse Video

What is night lapse photo?

Night lapse photo provides the same functionality as time lapse photo except adds long exposure settings which provides better performance in low light.

 

How to use night lapse photo:

Select this option from your menu settings, select the interval (see how to create time lapse videos here for suggestions), select the exposure settings, setup the camera on a tripod, and hit record. Come back after 1/2 hour or more and hit stop. Then import the photos into your favorite video editor, and merge the photos.

 


GoPro Protune Settings

  • Shutter Speed
  • ISO
  • White Balance
  • Sharpness
  • Color Profile
  • Raw Audio Track

NOTE: To access these settings, Protune must be activated.

 

GoPro display showing Protune menu settings

 

GoPro Shutter Speed

What is shutter speed?

 

Shutter speed is a term used to refer to the shutter mechanism that controls how much light reaches your GoPro’s image sensor (by “opening” and “closing”). The lower the shutter speed, the longer the exposure (length of time the image sensor/film is exposed to light), the brighter the image (vice-versa).

 

How to use shutter speed:

Auto: Automatically adjusts exposure. Good in drastic change of light.

Manual: Full control over exposure. Good with consistent lighting.

 

GoPro ISO

What is ISO?

ISO measures the image sensors sensitivity to light (higher ISO equals brighter footage). Unfortunately, this sensitivity comes at a cost,  grainy footage. So in general, it’s always best to keep your ISO as low as possible unless necessary.

 

How to use ISO:

ISO Min: 100 – For daylight. Best quality.

ISO Max: 400 – For medium light. Low noise possible in shadows.

ISO Max: >400 – For low light. May introduce noise/grain.

 

GoPro White Balance

What is white balance?

White Balance measures the color temperature of your footage. A cold temperature (6500k) will have a bluish tint, whereas a warm temperature (2300k) will appear closer to yellow. In general, you want to adjust your color temperature (if needed) to reflect what the eye naturally sees.

 

How to use white balance:

Auto: For most occasions. Automatically selects image temperature.

Manual: Full manual control over image temperature (2300k-6500k, Auto & native).

 

Update: If you’re interested in learning more about the specifics of configuring your GoPro to achieve professional results, check out the GoPro Basics chapter of the our new book » The GoPro Handbook: A Professionals Guide to Filmmaking

 

GoPro Sharpness

What is sharpness?

Sharpness determines the amount of detail that’s added to your images/videos digitally. In theory, it’s possible to achieve greater image quality by editing low sharpness footage in post production which is why some people choose this option (not recommended for beginners).

 

How to use sharpness:

LowVery soft image. Good for editing.
MediumDetailed image. For light editing.
HighVery crispy image. For little or no editing.

 

GoPro Color Profile

What are color profiles?

Color profile is a setting that determines the color values that are applied to your photos and videos. GoPro has two options: flat & GoPro. Like sharpness, flat is best for users with experience color grading.

 

How to use color profiles:

Flat: Ideal for color grading in post production as the raw image has no filter applied, resulting in neutral colors.

GoPro: Ideal for no color grading. Applies a vivid GoPro color style in-camera.

 

GoPro Raw Audio Track

What is raw audio track?

Raw Audio Track allows you to create a separate audio file (.wav) with higher quality than normal. By default, Raw audio is OFF which allows you to select from 3 audio options with different processing.

 

How to use raw audio track:

OFFDefault option. No audio processing applied. Audio is embedded with video.
Low/Medium/HighFor advanced audio editing. It applies audio processing and outputs a separate .wav audio file.

 


Best GoPro Settings by Activity

  • Travel
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Drone
  • Motorcycle
  • Sport
  • Ski
  • Surf
  • Underwater
  • Sunset
  • Vlog
  • Automobile

image showing 10 different icons each representing a different popular activity used for GoPros (hiking etc.)

 

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

 


Frequently Asked GoPro Settings Questions

 

Q: What is the best frame rate for GoPro?

A: The best frame rate depends on what you’re shooting. Choose a higher frame rate (eg. 60fps, 120fps, etc) for action shots, or a slower frame rate (eg. 30fps) for standard shots.

The table above (Settings by Activity) shows recommendations for common activities.

 

Q: What does PT mean on GoPro?

A: PT is an abbreviation for “Protune”, which is a suite of advanced features available on GoPro cameras. When enabled, users are able to manually adjust Shutter Speed, ISO, EV Comp, White Balance, Sharpness, Color Profile, & Raw Audio Track.

 

Q: What is ISO limit on GoPro?

A: ISO limit is a Protune feature for GoPro. Depending on lighting conditions, GoPro’s adjust the ISO between two values: ISO min and ISO max. A lower ISO max will result in a darker image with reduced noise, while a higher ISO max will produce a brighter image but with more noise.

 

Q: What does Protune do on a GoPro?

A: Protune enables advanced settings on a GoPro. If activated, you will be able to manually adjust: Shutter Speed, ISO, EV Comp, White Balance, Sharpness, Color Profile, & Raw Audio Track.

 

Q: What is looping on a GoPro?

A: GoPro Video Looping enables continuous video recording, overwriting the beginning of your video to allow for new footage to be captured, which can help you save space on your SD card. This feature is used in situations where something important is going to happen but you’re not sure when. By continuing to record (while overwriting old footage), you’ll be able to shoot indefinitely (bearing in mind battery life) knowing that when the right moment happens, you’ll have the space available.

 

Q: What is a spot meter on a GoPro?

A: Spot meter is a feature used to analyze and calculate automatic exposure in the center of the frame rather than on the whole frame. The spot meter is useful when you have uneven lighting across the frame but you need a specific area of the frame to be exposed correctly. (Note: spot meter is not available on the Hero 5 Black or later models).

 

Q: What is best PAL or NTSC?

A: PAL and NTSC are two video display systems used in different countries: PAL in Europe and some parts of Asia, while NTSC is used in US and Canada. Select PAL or NTSC depending in which country you are shooting, or else you may encounter a video flickering effect when shooting near tungsten lights.

 


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