If you're asking: “Should I get a GoPro?” this post will help. I'll cover 8 pros and 5 cons to buying a GoPro. Is GoPro worth it? By the end of the post, you'll know if this is the right type of camera for you, and if it's worth buying (and learning) a new 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? 8 Reasons
Let's talk about portability, durability, and wearability. Here come the pluses.
1. Size and Weight
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.
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.
This is one of the main reasons people get a GoPro.
Since the Hero5 (released in October 2016), all GoPro cameras are waterproof without an external case.
But add the waterproof housing, and it's good up to 131 feet (40 meters). With a dive housing, you can go even deeper, 197 feet (60 meters).
This means it's a great fit for water sports enthusiasts and families at the beach.
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 back in 2012 (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.
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
GoPro Shock Test: GoPro Vs Explosives
Watch on YouTube
The durability of the GoPro also makes it a great camera for kids.
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
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5. Quality Still Photographs
Every GoPro (Black model) since the Hero3+ (including the Hero7 Black) are all 12-megapixel cameras. You can enlarge a 12-megapixel image to at least a 24″ x 36″ print with really good quality.
The silver models shoot 10-megapixel images, which is still very good.
Check out this chart for megapixel enlargement information.
Here are 16 tips to improve your GoPro photography
Basically, at 170-degrees, it will capture almost everything in front of the camera. To get absolutely everything, it would need another 10-degrees.
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.
More of the action and atmosphere is captured than with a traditional point and shoot or video camera.
7. 4K Video Capabilities
This is the GoPro's strongest feature. 4K video capture is available on all GoPro models.
Since the Hero4 (released July 2015) all GoPro cameras in the Hero line shoot 4K video at 30 frames per second (fps) or better. Learn more about shooting video in 4K.
Here's what the current (and previous) models can shoot:
- Hero7 Black: 4k 60/30/24fps (3840 x 2160) with Wide field of view (FOV). Superview FOV available at 30 and 24 fps. Shoot 4K looping video at 30fps. This setting is useful when using your GoPro as a dashcam.
- Hero6 Black: 4k 60/30/24fps (3840 x 2160) with Wide field of view (FOV). Superview FOV available at 30 and 24 fps.
- Hero5 Black: 4k 30fps (3840 x 2160) with Wide FOV.
- 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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.