GoPro cameras are known for their premium shooting capabilities, but not all of them hold up underwater. Some options are a bit blurry, while others lack great depth. Always ensure the GoPro you take diving is able to shoot as well underwater as it can on land. A bit of quality difference is not the end of the world, but you want your videos to be as clear as possible.
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Inexpensive: Between $200 and $300, you’ll find GoPro cameras that are perfect for most people. There are great 1080p models and some decent 4K models in this price range, and if you’re willing to look at last-generation models, you’ll find a lot to like here. If you absolutely need bleeding-edge features like spherical capture or live streaming, you’ll need to look at more expensive models, but if you just want an action camera that can take gorgeous video and go just about anywhere, you don’t need to spend more than $300.
Although obvious, I put this here first because this is one of the most important factors when purchasing your camera. The HERO3 has three editions (white, silver and black), ranging from $199 - $399 (prices continue to drop annually as newer versions are released -- we'll keep you updated on those). The HERO2's are at the bottom of this gap, but aren't as "new" and lack some features the 3's have (they're discontinued at this point but can be found on the net here and there).
What are the best GoPro accessories?
Much like Band-Aids or Kleenex, GoPro makes products so good that their brand name is synonymous with the product itself. GoPro’s portable video cameras set the standard for action cameras: they’re durable enough to withstand just about any outdoor activity, they’re easy enough for anyone to use, and they include features typically reserved for far pricier cameras.
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Look online for GoPro videos. If you’re having trouble deciding between GoPro cameras, look online for sample videos posted by current owners. GoPro owners frequently post demo videos on various video-sharing sites, giving you an opportunity to see what video quality is like under real-world conditions. Watch as many sample videos as you can to get a sense of what each model is capable of.
GoPro is leading the charge toward consumer-created virtual reality (VR) environments, and their first VR-ready cameras make it happen with what they’ve dubbed “spherical capture,” which is pretty accurate, given the 360° field of view they record. VR is still a nascent technology, but it’s definitely the future. If you’re an early adopter, you’ll want to pick up a GoPro with spherical capture.
GoPro cameras are great for hands-free, point-of-view recording — but that doesn’t mean they can replace a camcorder or larger DSLR or mirrorless camera. For advanced users, a GoPro’s lack of fully manual control may be problematic (you can set exposure compensation using the Protune feature, but you have no direct control over aperture and shutter speed). The lack of buttons and dials also means you’ll have to rely on the touchscreen or your smartphone to make changes, which is fine for set-it-and-forget-it adventure filming, but isn’t great if you need to make adjustments on the fly.
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Some GoPro cameras have user-replaceable batteries, and some don’t. If you need a camera for camping or several days away from home, you’re going to want the former. If you buy a GoPro camera with a swappable battery, you can keep extras with you, so you’ll never miss filming the perfect moment. On the other hand, if you’ll only be using your camera for an hour or two at a time, you can save money by getting a model without a user-replaceable battery.