The Definitive Guide
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.
Section 1: GoPro Video Settings
GoPro video settings include: Resolutions, NTSC/PAL, Frame Rates, Field of View, Stabilization, Auto Low Light & Manual Audio Control.
“Resolution” refers 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.
Recommended GoPro Resolution settings:
|720p or less||Low resolution.
Small file size.
Used for smartphones and web.
|1080p||Full HD - Produces a sharp and clean image.
It's the most common option.
|1440p||Produces a sharp and clean Full HD image. But aspect ratio is 4:3 (almost a squared image, like in the old movies)|
Can be used for digital zoom in editing.
|4K||4x Full HD.
Can be used for digital zoom in editing or for large 4k screens.
Big file size and shorter battery life in shooting.
2️⃣ FRAME RATES
“Frame rate” 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.
Recommended GoPro Frame Rate settings:
|24 (PAL & NTSC)||Cinematic frame rate. No slow motion.|
|Standard TV style. No slow motion.|
|For action shots.
Slow Motion 2x
|For faster action shots.
Slow motion 4x.
Not good in low light conditions.
|For super fast action shots.
Slow motion 8x.
Bad quality in low light conditions.
3️⃣ FIELD OF VIEW (FOV)
“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).
Recommended GoPro Field of View settings:
- 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.
Electronic Image Stabilization or EIS (available on Hero 5, 6 & Hero 2018) 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.
Recommended GoPro stabilization settings:
- Stabilization ON: Stable cinematic look. Used for shaky shots (hand held, GoPro stick, sport, etc)
- Stabilization OFF: For tripod use or low light shots.
5️⃣ AUTO LOW LIGHT
Auto low light comes in handy when you are shooting at a higher Frame Rate – like 60fps or more – in low light.
Recommended GoPro Auto Low Light settings:
- 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.
6️⃣ MANUAL AUDIO CONTROL
This feature, present on the latest GoPro models (HERO5/HERO6), allows us to take control of the audio settings within the Manual Audio Control menu option.
Recommended GoPro Manual Audio Control settings:
By default, Manual Audio Control is set to Auto (OFF).
- 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.
7️⃣ NTSC & PAL
NTSC & PAL are the 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.
Recommended GoPro NTSC and PAL settings:
- NTSC (60Hz): shoot/view footage in Central-North America.
- PAL (50Hz): shoot/view footage outside Central-North America.
Section 2: GoPro Photo Settings
GoPro photo settings include: photo, night, burst & HDR.
1️⃣ PHOTO MODE
This 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.
2️⃣ NIGHT MODE
This option 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).
- Darker subject → Longer exposure (more seconds)
- Brighter subject → Shorter exposure (less seconds)
3️⃣ BURST MODE
This feature 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.
- Slow movement: ~ 3 photos per second (eg. 3/1, 5/1, etc)
- Fast movement: ~ 10 photos per second (eg. 30/3, 30/6, etc)
4️⃣ HIGH DYNAMIC RANGE (HDR)
“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.
Example of GoPro HDR:
Section 3: GoPro Time-Lapse Settings
Time-lapse photography is a technique in which images taken at an interval (once every 2 seconds for example) are played back at in increased rate, resulting in a lapse of time.
GoPro time lapse settings include: video, photo & night lapse.
1️⃣ TIME LAPSE VIDEO: For basic users. Outputs ready-to-go videos without the need for editing (no advanced settings available).
2️⃣ TIME LAPSE PHOTO: For more advanced users. Captures photos (at set interval) which need to be joined together in editing (advanced settings available).
3️⃣ NIGHT LAPSE PHOTO: Standard time lapse capabilities but introduces long exposure settings.
5 occasions where time lapse sequences shine:
- To connect two scenes
- To start/finish a scene
- To represent a long time span
- To show developments over time
- To make a scene more dynamic or cinematic
Related article: GoPro Time Lapse: Creating Stunning Time Lapse Shots
Section 4: GoPro Protune Settings
GoPro Protune settings include: Shutter Speed, ISO, White Balance, Sharpness, Color Profile, & Raw Audio Track.
1️⃣ SHUTTER SPEED
A shutter (in photography) is a mechanism that controls how much light reaches the camera film or 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).
Recommended GoPro Shutter Speed settings:
- Auto: Automatically adjusts exposure. Good in drastic change of light.
- Manual: Full control over exposure. Good with consistent lighting.
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.
Recommended GoPro ISO settings:
- 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.
3️⃣ 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.
Recommended GoPro White Balance settings:
- Auto: For most occasions. Automatically selects image temperature.
- Manual: Full manual control over image temperature (2300k-6500k, Auto & native).
This option 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).
Recommended GoPro Sharpness settings:
|Low||Very soft image. Good for editing.|
|Medium||Detailed image. For light editing.|
|High||Very crispy image. For little or no editing.|
5️⃣ COLOR PROFILE
We can imagine color profile as a color filter that gives a different look/mood to your images & videos. GoPro has two color options: flat & GoPro. Like sharpness, flat is best for users with experience “color grading”.
Recommended GoPro Color Profile settings:
- 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.
6️⃣ 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.
Recommended GoPro Raw Audio Track settings:
|OFF||Default option. No audio processing applied. Audio is embedded with video.|
|Low/Medium/High||For advanced audio editing. It applies audio processing and outputs a separate .wav audio file.|
Best GoPro Settings by Activity
GoPro settings by activity include: travel, cycling, hiking, drone, motorcycle, sport, ski, surf, underwater, sunset, vlog, automobile. In this section we cover common activities and recommend settings for each.
We’ve also created the GoPro Settings Cheat Sheet which you can download here. It includes the best settings for every activity!
|Activity||Resolution||Frame Rate (FPS)||Field of View (FOV)|
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.
Enjoyed what we’ve covered today?
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.
- GoPro Protune: Everything You Need to Know to Master Your Advanced Settings
- GoPro Time Lapse: Creating Stunning Time Lapse Shots
- GoPro Slow Motion: Learning to Use Slow Motion
- GoPro Low Light Tips: Learn How to Improve Your Low Light Footage
- GoPro Editing: Step by Step Beginner Guide + Best Free Editing Software