New Go Pro owner? Want to get the most out of your new toy? Don’t worry if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed- that’s perfectly normal! To help you get started, here are 9 simple but effective Go Pro tips and tricks for beginners (and other owners!) to help you create fantastic photos and videos with your new action camera!
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Go Pro tips for beginners- where to start
Getting a new camera can be daunting- especially if you’ve never had an action camera like a Go Pro before. We’re going to share some fun tips and tricks with you veeeeery soon but first, let’s just make sure you have the basics covered.
If you’re complete new to photography, you might find these top beginners tips for travel photography useful)
So, once you get your Go Pro out of the box, you need to:
- Make sure the battery is charged
- Put in an SD card- a mistake many Go Pro beginners make is buying the wrong SD card. Make sure to choose one the right size and also one capable of filming in the right resolution (for example, if your Go Pro can film in 4k, make sure the SD card is capable of that.)
- Make sure the Go Pro case is closed and locked properly so water or dirt doesn’t get in.
- Clean the lens- in case you smudged it whilst doing everything else!
- Put it in a housing or case if you have one- especially if you’re taking it into the water.
Done all that? Awesome- let’s move on to actual tips and tricks to make your Go Pro results better…
Go Pro Trick #1- Tell a story!
Whether you’re using your Go Pro for photos or videos, you’ll get the best footage if you tell a story. Find something to focus on- whether it’s people, the location or the event you’re doing.
If you’re making a film or a vlog, make sure you have a beginning, a middle and an end. Introduce the characters or the location, set a tone for your adventure and think about what you want to show.
Go Pro Tip #2 Plan your shots- What do you want people to feel?
Every story needs emotions- whether it’s excitement, fear or intrigue. Plan your shots in advance as much as possible in order to share the feelings you want in your story.
Visting an amazing location? Choose sweeping landscapes scenes to show off the area.
Adrenaline junkie? Surfing or riding a bike? Mount your Go Pro to the board/ bike or yourself to give people a sense of the action.
TOP TIP: keep it SHORT. There’s no need to film HOURS of footage to show off a place or event. To make your editing life easier, film short clips of 5-15 seconds, and then string them together to give a sense of what’s happening. Not only will you have more SD card space, but you’ll also need to spend less time editing. You’re welcome.
Go Pro Tips for beginners #3- think about your angles
Along the same lines, think about the angles of your videos or photos. If you’re mounting the camera to a motorcycle or a surf board, what will it see? Do you want it face outwards at the scenery, or inwards towards yourself? Is it only going to capture a leg, or an arm (or a butt if mounted to the back of a bike!)
Don’t do what everyone else is doing- try to think outside of the box and mix up the angles for each shot, so it’s unique and interesting. Get high, or low, or go closer in/ further away. Tell the story from YOUR perspective and find angles to show that best.
Go Pro Tips #4 Learn the right settings
One of the hardest things to get your head around when you’re new to photography is the settings. Luckily, with a Go Pro you don’t need to know or even understand Aperture, F-stop and all the rest. Instead, you need to remember:
- Resolution– how sharp the image is (and how big the file is on the SD card)
- Speed– measured in frames per second
- Field of View– how wide the shot is
Luckily, you have a couple of options. You can just set the Go Pro to ‘auto’ mode and, honestly, it does a really good job of figuring out the best settings for you without you needing to worry.
TOP TIP: If you’re filming an important event or occasion and using the Go Pro in auto mode, film a short clip first and then watch it back- just to check the settings are ok and everything looks good.
There are, of course, other settings, such as ISO, low light, stabilization etc, but as a Go Pro beginner our advice is not to overwhelm yourself trying to figure out the best settings for them all in every situation. Start with the basics and improve from there.
To get really good shots, especially video, try to shoot in the highest resolution possible. It’s better to compress the file in editing, rather than trying to increase the resolution afterwards- that just makes everything blurry.
So, if you have the Go Pro Hero 8 for example, you’re going to be doing most of your filming in 4k, even if you never plan to upload it at that.
You might find this chart useful:
Go Pro Beginner Tip #5- Pay attention to the light
Many people, even if you’re not a famous photographer (yet!) have heard of the ‘golden hour’. That time around sunrise or sunset when the light is softer and everything just looks… better.
If possible, try and do your filming during this time- locations will look better and you’ll find editing easier.
READ MORE: 19 insanely useful apps for editing travel photos and videos
Also, if you’re shooting anything fast moving, which requires a high frame rate (120 or 240 frames per second) you MUST have good lighting- otherwise everything will look grainy and even blurred. You can use a torch or a light from your phone to improve the lighting if necessary.
Go Pro Tips #6 Give it a helping hand
Go Pro is one of the best action cameras on the market for many reasons… one of which is the in-built stabilization.
But there are times when it struggles to pick out objects in the frame or focus on them correctly and it needs a little helping hand- this is especially common when filming or shooting in low light conditions.
When shooting in low light, using a gimbal stabilizer, go pro tripod or anything it can use to help keep it still will massively reduce the dreaded ‘shaky image’.
Sure, it’s possible to reduce this shake a little in post-production, but it will never look as good as if it were perfectly still in filming.
Similarly, if you’re shooting in low light, use a really low frame rate (maybe even as low as 24 FPS (frames per second.) This allows more time on each frame for the light to reach the camera’s sensor- which means you get a higher quality photo or video from your Go Pro.
Go Pro Tips for beginners #7 Look after your batteries
Go Pros are getting faster and more powerful, but at the same time they’re demanding more from their batteries. Here are some tips to get the most from your batteries- although we highly recommend you put a couple more into your Go Pro bag!
- Turn off the Wifi, GPS, Voice Control and Bluetooth
- Turn off the display if you’re not using it. Personally, I use mine all the time, but many people don’t.
- GoPro batteries are more efficient when they’re warm, so pop them into your pockets if you’re in a cold environment
- It might sound obvious, but turn your camera off when you’re not using it!
Go Pro Tip #8 Make life easier with the right Go Pro accessories
Honestly, part of the reason the Go Pro is so good is because of the all the compatible accessories it can use. Now, if you’re a complete Go Pro Beginner, please do NOT rush out and buy every accessory on the market. It’s not necessary.
Instead, just pick and choose the ones which are right for how you want to use the Go Pro. Here are some of our favourites:
|Activity||Helpful GoPro Accessories for beginners|
|Travel/Vlogging||Selfie stick, tripod, mini tripod, 3-way mount|
|Skiing/ Fast Sport||Helmet mount. Chest, head or wrist attachments|
|Mountain Biking/ Motorbike||Bar mount. Head or Chest mount|
|Car/ Campervan||Suction Cup Mount for windscreen|
|Surfing/ Watersports||Selfie stick with wrist wrap, 3 way mount, Floating Handle Grip, surfboard mount, Red filters for underwater filming, Clarifii water repellant, waterproof housing, underwater dome|
READ MORE: Essential travel photography equipment for beginners
Go Pro Tips #9 Make good use of the Go Pro apps
Go Pro has some great apps to help you make the most of your action camera. 3 of the best for beginners are:
The Go Pro App allows you to use the Go Pro through your phone- allowing the phone to act as a remote control, change settings and even see a preview.
You can turn on Protune in the Go Pro settings menu. This unlocks the Go Pro’s manual settings and allows you to play with the setup to get what you want.
Quik is an editing app GoPro which transforms photos and videos from your GoPro into videos within seconds. You can use it to speed up or slow down clips, add music and share the finished results.
And there we go- 9 of our best Go Pro tips for beginners (plus some bonus ones thrown in). We hoped your find that useful for getting to grips with your Go Pro. If you have any more tips, feel free to leave them in the comments below.