You’ve probably heard of it before but never seen one. Or maybe you’ve seen one of your friends bring theirs on a trip with you. GoPros have become so popular among travelers and bloggers that they’re basically an essential part of any backpacker’s or adventurer’s toolkit.
The term “GoPro” is often used to refer to compact action cameras nowadays, but the truth is that the words actually refer to a particular brand of that kind of camera. GoPro is the name of a company based in California that was the first to manufacture a camera that can capture photos and videos in the most extreme and exciting conditions. Since then, the brand has stuck as being one of the best of its kind, earning its household name status.
GoPro was originally designed by Nick Woodman, the company’s current CEO. He developed the idea while he was trying to come up with a way to capture photos and videos of him surfing. Needless to say, the device turned out to be great for that exact purpose. However, it has found itself many practical uses over the course of 15 years. Today, GoPro is being used to document and cover all kinds of extreme sports and activities by athletes and adventurers alike. Casual users have found ways to make use of them as well.
Basically, a GoPro is a very compact camera that takes really high-quality shots and videos. The device itself is small, rugged, waterproof – pretty much designed to take a lot of the punishment that it might encounter in its travels. The shape of the camera is normally cuboid and sports a high-quality image sensor, ultra-wide-angle lens, a processor as well as a mic for recording audio. Meanwhile the entire thing is controlled by an interface that has only up to three buttons. Some later models, namely the Hero5 Black and Hero 6 Black models, have touchscreen capabilities as well.
Perhaps one of the most important elements of the GoPro is its lens. Unlike most cameras, the GoPro uses a lens that’s wider than usual. This allows the device to be able to capture breathtaking scenes in one frame. If you mount the device to your bike’s handlebars or your helmet, you can guarantee that it will be able to capture everything your own eyes can see.
But more than its lens, the GoPro is also known for its impressive ability to capture videos. In fact, the new Hero6 Black can record 4k videos at an amazing 60 frames per second with full HD 1080 (up to 240 fps). To get an idea as to how impressive this is, there aren’t very many cameras as small as the GoPro that can achieve such feats. Meanwhile, the Hero6 takes superb 12 megapixel photos thanks to its wide-dynamic range (WDR) and RAW file capture features. The camera also comes with an image processor – a first of its kind among GoPros – that helps stabilize images and improve overall performance. All these amazing features are stocked into a camera that’s no larger than most DSLR batteries.
Although GoPros are used as standalone cameras, they pair really well with Android and iOS devices with just the installation of a mobile app. This gives the device a lot more versatility and functionality than it already has. The built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functions also give users the ability to display a live feed of what the GoPro is seeing through their mobile device.
What makes GoPro stand out from its competition is its software. While some other brand may have the same specs as the GoPro, the latter uses software to make sure that the hardware and software work perfectly together. For example, it has an app that allows you to automatically assemble all your footage into shareable videos ready for upload onto social media (Quik app).
GoPro is also particularly known for its versatile mounting capability. Even the first models were so compact that they could be mounted onto almost any spot, no matter how tight or obscure. GoPro’s mounting system is so versatile that it’s prompted other manufacturers to make their own cameras in such a way that they’re compatible with it.
GoPro uses all kinds of mounting devices. They’ve got what you need to mount your camera onto bikes, drones, cars, and even helmets. There are very few scenarios where a GoPro can’t be mounted in the right spot to do the job. And even for those rare instances, users have shared their DIY solutions, so pretty much any mounting setup is possible.
On top of that, GoPro’s more recent models are waterproof and ruggedized so that they’re nearly indestructible – making them ideal for even the most extreme adventures.
This doesn’t mean that you should scrap your camcorder or DSLR cameras. This is because the GoPro doesn’t offer manual control and other things that professional photographers look for in a camera. This also means that a GoPro’s image quality can’t beat the best that a DSLR can produce under the right circumstances.
This, of course, is a natural downside to a camera that’s designed to be compact and easy to use for travel. GoPros will be perfect for point-of-view shots and hands-free recording, so it’s good to have one with you when you’re taking on extreme sports or going on adventures. But if you’re looking to take higher quality photos while tinkering with exposure, aperture, and shutter speeds, you’re going to need a DSLR.
The two have different purposes anyway, so there’s really no point in trying to figure out which is better. If anything, there’s no harm in bringing both. Given that GoPros are so small and ideal for travel, you can pretty much just pack it with the rest of your gear with no added hassle. After all, when you’re out on an adventure, you’re going to be taking some action shots at some point.