I always try to answer as many questions as can, so if you have any burning questions that are photography (or video) related feel free to send them to me and I’ll do my best to answer them in a future blog post.

A little while back I was asked the question “Is a GoPro worth buying?” – Like the LR question that too four or five blog posts to answer this is a complex topic (although thankfully nowhere near as complex as the LR one and you will be relieved to hear that I will deal with it in a single post).

The first thing to say is that I have a GoPro and I love using it.  I purchased mine so that I could create video and photographs in environments where I wouldn’t want to take my DSLR.  You can see a couple of example GoPro stills in this post.  The times and places I use my GoPro includes:

  • Water-based activities such as kayaking
  • Swimming
  • Action shots and activities – eg when taking part in runs
  • Close to the action video at water-based or messy photoshoots
  • Time-lapse photography

If you want to see what a time-lapse produced on GoPro looks like I recently uploaded to YouTube one from the Chilean fjords that I created earlier this year.

Of course, as with any device, there are pros and cons.  Here are some of the Pros:

  • It is small, lightweight easy to carry with you
  • If buying the GoPro brand (rather than the clones) there are plenty of third party mounts available at reasonable prices
  • The video and image quality are good. Video on mine is excellent at 1080p – 4K is possible but only at lower frame rates, and only at the widest of angles.

On the ‘cons’ side of this you really need to be aware of these drawbacks:

  • The sound recording is awful – especially when in a waterproof housing, I have been able to use audio from the GoPro but it does need work in post-production to enhance it and make it useable.
  • The controls on the device are not intuitive – especially if you don’t have a model with a touchscreen. Mine does have a touch screen but when it is in the waterproof housing that isn’t available to me.  I find that I often take it out of the housing to make changes to the settings and then put it back in to it.
  • Not all models have a screen to easily compose your photos/videos (thankfully mine does).  You can buy an add-screen but then it doesn’t fit in the housing.  The alternative is to use the GoPro app on your phone and view what the camera is seeing from there.  This works well but there is, of course, a slight delay.

Equator Crossing Ceremony on the MV Marco Polo

If you are thinking of purchasing a GoPro here are some questions to ask yourself?

  • Does buying a GoPro solve a frustration that you have with existing gear? – For me, it was about being able to create a video in water/sea
  • Realistically how often are you going to use it? A GoPro is a fantastic bit of kit but if you only use it once a year it may not be worth buying, but if you are going to use it a couple of time a month it probably is.
  • Are you worried about the quality of sound on video – if so you may struggle with a GoPro’s audio capability

There are clones and other brands that are cheaper than GoPro but they may not be compatible with the third-party mounts and in some cases the video quality will not be as good as a real GoPro.  I do think paying the extra for a version with a screen is worth the extra money.

One final bit of advise – If you are planning to use one in water make sure you get a float/handle (like the yellow one you can see in the image right) so that if you drop it, the GoPro floats rather than sinks to the bottom of the ocean.

If you are considering adding a GoPro to your kit list I hope this blog post has been of help to you.

Until next time, keep MAKING great photos,

Ian.