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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All GoPro cameras cover the basics of action cameras: they’re portable, waterproof, and rugged enough to tag along on any outdoor adventure, and they also take high-quality video. Beyond that, however, there are some big differences across the product line, including some features that are worth paying extra for. Here are the GoPro camera capabilities to consider keeping on your short list.
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And sure, those options could include your waterproof and crack-resistant smartphone, but keep in mind that the best action camera is designed for this kind of shooting. Plus, just because your phone is tougher, it doesn't mean you should risk losing or damaging the thing that keeps you connected to work, family and friends. It's also way easier to mount one of these to your body, car, bike or anything else than your phone.
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There’s really only one criteria that should matter when it comes to buying GoPro accessories such as the ones profiled here and that is this: does it enhance the quality of your adventure footage? Just as fashion accessories like a bracelet or broach will activate an outfit or the right lens will help you get the most out of your DSLR, GoPro accessories should allow you to get more from your adventure cam. They should open up new documentary as well as expressive pathways and present your activities in new and unexpected contexts that conjure the much sought after “Oh wow!” response from your audience.
Sign up for a cloud-based service. All GoPro cameras are set up to transfer photo and video files to your computer or smartphone, but if you’re serious about backing up your content, consider subscribing to a cloud-based backup service. Cloud-based services, such as GoPro Plus, safely keep copies of your media files and allow you to access them from other devices as needed, which can be a lot more convenient than carrying all of your content around with you on your phone.
Image quality, while good for a small action camera, is another area where a camcorder or interchangeable lens camera will come out ahead. Mirrorless cameras and DSLRs use significantly larger imaging sensors, which capture more light and thus lead to superior image quality, particularly when you have to shoot in low light conditions. But even small-sensor camcorders benefit from built-in zoom lenses, which offer a variety of perspectives without cropping the image, as a GoPro does when selecting narrower fields of view.
This is the best single-lens action cam you can get from GoPro at the moment in features and performance. Compared with the Hero 7 Black, there are a lot of feature tweaks and updates that make it just generally easier to use and a better camera, regardless of what you're shooting. But for those who use a GoPro regularly, things like the redesigned waterproof body that allows you to attach the camera directly to GoPro mounts, a customizable interface with shooting presets and improved image stabilization all add up to a worthwhile update. The lens is now made with Gorilla Glass that's twice as impact-resistant as the glass on past Hero models. Read about the GoPro Hero 8 Black.
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Although not necessarily the most important component, a defining element of a GoPro is its lens. Rather than using a standard lens, GoPros — like many other action cams — use an extremely wide lens. What this does is increase the amount of scenery you capture in the frame, making it easy to frame your shot. Mount it to your handlebars or the side of your helmet, and you can rest assured that it sees just about anything that happens in front of you.
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.
You get many of the same shooting modes you'd find on a GoPro device, such as time-lapse photos and videos and slow motion footage at 1080p at 240 fps, and there's even a Drive mode so you can use it as a dash cam when plugged into your car, automatically turning on when you start your car and off when you stop it. It's not waterproof on its own, but a dive housing is included as well as several mounts, two batteries and a charger that simultaneously powers up both packs. It also has built-in Wi-Fi so you can connect to a smartphone and use an app to control the camera and transfer your shots for sharing.
GoPros can be used as standalone cameras, but thanks to a great mobile app, they also pair perfectly with Android and iOS devices, allowing you to add more functionality and versatility. Using built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, users gain full control over their GoPro camera and can even display a live feed of what’s being captured right on their mobile device.