Should I Get a GoPro? 13 Things to Know (Before You Buy)

GoPro Cameras

If you’re asking: “Should I get a GoPro?” this post will help.

Should I Get a GoPro?

GoPro HERO5 Black
$399.00
You want one but don’t know if it’s worth the splurge.

In this post, you”ll learn about the good (and not-so-good) things of the GoPro.

First, I’ll cover why you may want to buy one. And later in this post, I’ll write about why you may decide not to.

Why Should I Get a GoPro?

Let’s talk about portability, durability, and wearability. Here come the pluses.

Eight Reasons You Should Get a GoPro

1. Size and Weight

This is a very small, light camera. It looks like a child’s toy, at least that’s what I thought the first time I saw one.

Its small size makes it portable and easy to pack. This is great for backpackers concerned about weight in their packs.

Here is a size comparison shot. This is an average sized pencil.

GoPro Hero4 small camera

Moms will also love how small it is because it won’t take up much space or weigh down their purse/diaper bag.

Most of the mounts and accessories are small too.

2. Waterproof

This is one of the main reasons people get a GoPro.

With the exception of the Session, it’s not waterproof on its own. But inside the waterproof housing, it’s good up to 131 feet (40 meters). With a dive housing, you can go even deeper, 197 feet (60 meters).

Update: The Hero5 Black and Hero5 Session cameras are waterproof without an extra case.

This means it’s a great fit for water sports enthusiasts and families at the beach.

underwater-gopro-family-selfie

I love not worrying about sand and salt water ruining my camera. The GoPro makes capturing beach time worry-free.

Not Our First “Waterproof” Camera: All of the other waterproof cameras we’ve owned have busted (leaked) after a few uses, but not the GoPro.

We bought our first GoPro 3+ years ago (shot 100,000+ images and 100’s of hours of video) and it’s still going strong.

The GoPro also makes rain and snow worry-free.

getting-gopro-video-screen-shots

Learn how to keep water drops off your GoPro lens, eliminate lens fog, and get half underwater shots.

3. Tough

Inside its waterproof housing the GoPro is super tough.

It’s been put through some pretty crazy tests and come out with no (or almost no) damage.

GoPro Shock Test: Dropped from a car at 40 mph

Watch on YouTube Video copyright owner GizmoSlip

GoPro Shock Test: GoPro Vs Explosives

Watch on YouTube Video copyright owner GizmoSlip

The durability of the GoPro also makes it a great camera for kids.

4. Wearable

Its small size, light weight, and durability come together to make the GoPro easy to wear.

There are a lot of wearable mounts available. You can wear it on your head, chest, wrist, helmet and even in your mouth.

Wearability means you’re free to control your mountain bike or climb a mountain.

It also allows you to capture your babies first steps while leaving your hands free to catch them during that first tumble.

You can even let your baby wear it. 🙂

Baby Wears GoPro While Being Tossed in the Air

Watch on YouTube Video copyright owner GoPro

5. Quality Still Photographs

The Hero3+ Black, Hero4 Silver, and Hero4 Black are 12-megapixel cameras. You can enlarge a 12-megapixel image to at least a 24×36 print with really good quality.

The Hero 3+ Silver Camera shoots 10-megapixel images, which is still very good.

Take a Screenshot from GoPro VideoCheck out this chart for megapixel enlargement information.

Learn how to take screenshots from GoPro video. And how to get the best color capture with your GoPro.

6. Wide-angle

GoPro cameras have a fixed 170-degree lens. This allows for wide-angle photos and videos.

Basically, at 170-degrees, it will capture almost everything in front of the camera. To get absolutely everything, it would need another 10-degrees.

Why a wide-lens matters: Because of the wide angle lens, you can just point the camera and know that it’ll capture it all. Now you can focus on the adventure at hand.

It’s this wide-angle that gives the fish-eye effect GoPro is famous for. The GoPro’s wide-angle is wonderful for anytime you want to capture a lot, all at once: sporting events, hiking, travel, and parties.

Should You Get a GoPro

More of the action and atmosphere is captured than with a traditional point and shoot or video camera.

7. HD Video Capabilities

This is the GoPro’s strongest feature. HD video capture is available on all GoPro models.

The Hero4 Black and Silver, and the Hero 3+ Black take things beyond HD video.

  • Hero4 Black does 4K (that’s 3820 x 2160 resolution) at 30 fps (frames per second) and 2.7K at 50 fps.
  • Hero4 Silver captures 4K at 15 fps.
  • Hero 3+ Black does 4K at 15 fps and 2.7K at 30 fps.

Learn more about GoPro settings.

You may not need that high of a capture (yet) but it’s nice to know you’ve got it.

Tip: When you shoot at such high resolutions, you have the luxury of cropping the footage and retaining HD video quality.

The Hero4 Black and Silver, and the Hero 3+ Black and Silver are also great for time-lapse and slow-motion as well.

8. WiFi Capabilities

Wi-Fi makes the GoPro really user-friendly.

No matter where your GoPro is mounted (unless it’s underwater – WiFi doesn’t travel well through water) you can monitor what’s happening from you phone or tablet.

gopro sunset timelapse

You don’t have to physically touch the camera to make changes, you can do it via Wi-fi. So if you’re in the water with your kids (GoPro mounted to your head) your spouse can switch from shooting video to shooting stills, without getting up from their beach chair.

GoPro App: Viewfinder, Playback, and Remote Control

Watch on YouTube Video copyright owner Sold With Video


Are You Convinced?

So, are you convinced now? Are you ready to order your new GoPro?

Well, there’s still more to say. Let’s look at some reasons why you may decide not to get a GoPro.


 

Why Shouldn’t I Get A GoPro?

5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Get a GoPro

Let’s talk about fixed focal length, time investment, awkward handling, and picture quality. Here come the minuses.

9. Fixed Focal Length

With a GoPro you can’t zoom in and you can’t adjust your aperture setting.

Any closer than 12 inches and things start to get fuzzy. You can work around this by using a macro lens to bring things closer and get some blur going on in the background.

Read more about GoPro macro photography and check out my review of the Orea 12.5x magnification macro lens.

GoPro Macro Photo Miniature Rose

Shot wit the Hero4 Black and Orea 12.5x magnification macro lens

But you can’t use a GoPro like a DSLR. You have to find other ways to get creative with a GoPro.

Like with the following image. I used natural light and a backdrop. I also measured 12 inches from the lens, used the Wide field of view setting, shot in Protune Flat and did some editing.

Read more indoor GoPro photography tips.

take indoor gopro photos

10. Time Investment

GoPro’s are different than a traditional camera – so there’s a learning curve.

This will take some time.

The instructions that come with the camera are super basic, so you’ve got to do some extra digging to sort things out. Which means more time.

There are some great books available and lots of online resources (like us) to help. And once you learn how, the camera is easy to use and the footage is easy to edit. But you’re going to need time to figure that stuff out.

11. Awkward Handling

The GoPro is so small, that it can be awkward to use. You can’t easily use it like other point and shoot cameras.

Sometimes my hand starts to cramp up from trying to hold it and press the buttons at the same time. It’s also hard to keep your fingers out of the shot because of the super wide-angle lens.

This awkward handling can be overcome by putting the camera on a selfie stick (extend pole) or one of the many mounts available.

xshot pocket extender

You can also set the GoPro to take time lapse or burst photos so you don’t have to keep pushing the buttons.

Connecting it wirelessly to your phone is another way around this, but holding it in your hand like a point and shoot will not work very well.

12. Photo Quality

GoPro cameras only shoot JPEG images. This is not ideal if you’re for a photographer looking to sell your images (video quality is a different story, no worries there).

  • JPEG files are compressed as soon as they are captured, and continue to degrade a little as they are opened, edited and shared.
  • RAW images (shot in DSLR cameras) on the other hand, contain much more detail and have more potential in editing. RAW files maintain all their integrity and don’t degrade.

This may not be important unless you are looking to do some really serious editing. You can’t get the same results from a GoPro JPEG as you could a DSLR RAW file. You’ll be able to edit and crop, but not to the same extent.

Many people shoot JPEG files even with their DSLR camera, so this may not be a deal-breaker but it’s something to consider.

Shooting in Protune Flat is more like a RAW image because it captures more detail in the highlights and shadows than the GoPro Color option. It will give you more to work with in editing. I’ve been impressed with it.

Here is an example of Protune Flat versus GoPro Color. Both received the same edits.

Protune-flat-does-awesome-in-post-processing

13. No Viewfinder, Short Battery Life, and Monitoring Lag Time

I grouped these three together because they are more annoying than problematic.

When you are used to shooting photos by looking through a viewfinder, not having one feels really weird. You can work around that with the GoPro app (see #8), but it will take some getting used to.

Batteries drain fast with the GoPro. We use Wasabi batteries because they last longer, and we always have 2 or 3 charged up.

When you are using your phone or tablet to monitor your GoPro there is a lag time. It looks weird, but we’re not that bothered by it. We find it funny and goof around with it a little. Try flashing a quick smile, and then seeing yourself flashing that smile two seconds later, it’s pretty funny. We primarily use the app for composition and to adjust the settings.


Should You Get a GoPro? Summing It All Up

GoPro HERO5 Black
$399.00
We love our GoPro because we can use it pretty much anywhere and we don’t have to worry about hurting it (inside its waterproof housing).

We also love the way capturing video, time lapse, and slow motion help bring back memories in a more lively way than still photos.

So if you were to ask me “Should I get a GoPro?” I would say “Yes”.

You can capture amazing video with it. It captures decent stills. And you can mount it almost anywhere, wear it, and let your kids use it. It’s also a great travel camera because it’s so tough and portable.

The more I use it, the more I like it.

Avoiding-water-spots-on-gopro-cameras

Your Turn

What do you think: will you get a GoPro? If you already have one, what do you love about it? Let us know by commenting on this post.

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Hi, I'm the Author!

Dena Haines

I'm an amateur photographer and Canadian entrepreneur. Since moving to South America in 2009, we have made our living as content creators. I'm a partner at Storyteller Media, a content marketing company for Canadian travel brands. I am co-founder of this site, and our Nova Scotia travel site WiseGuides.ca.

3 comments… add one
  • Mike Sep 5, 2016, 9:40 am

    Fantastic article! I’m looking to buy a GoPro and this was the best Pros & Cons reading yet! I know some people who have a GoPro (all kinds) and they never say anything bad about them. As good as a product can be there are some flaws and it’s good that you stated some that you see are worth noting. I’m definitely leaning towards getting one because I hike a lot and want to capture a more immersive feel when others ask me about my adventures. Thank you!

    • Dena Haines Jan 17, 2017, 5:43 pm

      Thanks so much for your thoughts on the article Mike! 🙂

  • pamela Feb 20, 2017, 10:35 pm

    I just bought a go pro 5 sessions and whilst I’m not the most computer savvy I do live in silicon valley and usually have no problems with set up or instructions HOWEVER this is not the easiest camera to set up and learning all the functions by trial and area as apposed to good go pro pages on line I find this very frustrating and am considering returning it. A company that doesn’t give good service as in being able to contact them by phone to troubleshoot in my eyes do not deserve my business. I really wanted one of these because I cycle a lot all around the world and to capture my views without stopping would be a godsend especially when I’m downhilling at great speeds. Having said that if I try again for hrs and don’t find this more user friendly then it will go back to the store.

    Also to have only a voice remote with a remote button costing an additional $79 I think is just not acceptable.

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