Unlike a DSLR camera’s mechanical shutter, the compact GoPro shutter is digital — there are no moving parts at work. Conceptually, there’s no difference in operational results: the slower the shutter speed (eg. 1/30s), the more light allowed in, the brighter the resulting image (exposure) and vice versa.
GoPro’s shutter will open for a fraction of a second to allow light in and capture an image, then close it for the same amount of time. This is repeated as many times per seconds to match your frame rate.
By default, GoPro’s shutter speed is set to Auto, which means the camera will adjust its speed automatically, depending on its surrounding lighting conditions. Manual mode gives you somewhat more control over your shutter speed.
Faster shutter speeds (1/4000 seconds) are usually used for action shots or very bright scenes, while slow shutter speeds (1/30 seconds) are good for low light situations or to capture specific lightning effects like light trails or starlight.
(setting options might differ with different camera models)
Now, depending on your lighting situation and what you’d like to achieve, choose the speed that most suits your setting.
How Shutter Speed Impacts Your Frame
Your GoPro’s shutter speed can noticeably impact your video results, especially when it comes to capturing motion.
In videography, A fast shutter speed, like 1/400th of a second, will produce a series of crispy video frames that could, upon playback, appear choppy. Conversely, a slower shutter speed, like 1/60th of a second, will produce softer and smoother video footage.
As a general rule, the number of frames per second (FPS) — your frame rate — at which you’re recording should be approximately half of your shutter speed denominator.
- Frame Rate (FPS) = 30
- Shutter Speed = 1/60s
Manual Shutter Speed: when should you use it?
By default, the Shutter Speed of your GoPro is set on Auto. However, consider taking control over your shutter speed when:
In Video Mode: If you want to keep a constant 2:1 ratio between shutter and frame rate (fps)
In Photo Mode: To take light trail or starlight photos
Pro tip: when you set shutter manually, you might need to use ND filters to help you control light in your frame. That’s because when you got a fixed shutter, and a change in light occurs, the camera won’t automatically adjust.
ND filters will help you take better long exposure photos during daylight, like shown in the image below:
How to Set Shutter Speed to Take Light Trail Photos
By selecting low shutter speeds (2 seconds or more) you will be able to capture some nice light trails like in the image below.
To achieve this cool effect, you need to make sure your scene has moving lights (cars in a busy road are the perfect example) in a dark background (better if shot at night).
Then switch to night mode and try different shutter speeds (2-30 seconds) until you find the one that works best with your lighting settings.
For long exposure shots I suggest using a tripod as the camera needs to be as stable as possible to avoid blurring and grain.
GoPro Shutter Speed – FAQ’s
- What is the max shutter speed for GoPro’s?
Shutter speed values may vary on different GoPro camera models. Generally, their range is from 1/30s to 1/480s in video mode, and 1/125s to 1/2000 in photo mode.
- What is the best shutter speed for GoPro’s?
In video mode, the ideal shutter speed would be double the frame rate (manual mode). However, this often implies the use of ND filters to control lighting in the scene. Keep shutter on Auto if you want to keep things simple.
In photo mode adjust shutter speed manually when you are going to take long exposure photos. Otherwise I suggest to keep it on Auto for simplicity.
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