Since the beginning of 2021 I have been using my GoPro Hero 9 Black, as my primary go-to camera for my hiking photography and the occasional video. It’s an incredibly robust piece of equipment that can withstand being dropped in the dirt, accidentally kicked across the floor, and capable of being submerged to a depth of 30 feet.
Although primarily designed for recording videos, the GoPro can take excellent photos, and there many ways of setting up the camera to get the best shots for your particular requirements. Although there are numerous YouTube presentations of how to set up your GoPro, I have found the best settings that suit my particular needs and requirements by means of trial and error (lots of errors).
GoPro users will know that when you turn on the device it automatically goes to video mode. Ordinarily this would not be a problem, unless of course, like me, you wanted to take a photo and have forgotten that you have to swipe left in order to get to photo mode. I have lost count of the number of times I have taken, what I thought was a photo, and carried on walking, only to find that I have a perfect, five minute video recording of my feet.
It was largely because of this that I decided to use the video mode almost constantly and then photo grab from the videos.
Before we get into the details of how I have set up my GoPro, I thought it best to show you the selection of accessories I have included in my kit.
The selfie stick/tripod in some of its various configurations
I also have a Chesty harness. This is a convenient and comfortable harness that allows you to mount the GoPro in the centre of your chest where it can be operated, either manually or hands-free by audio command (see below). You need to experiment a bit to make sure you have the correct angle and height for the photography, or video work you want to do.
I have now set up my GoPro as follows:
As mentioned, after several months of trial and error I have discovered how to make the best use of my GoPro Hero 9. I have set it up in two configurations, one for recording videos and the other to grab photos from videos. I know that sounds complicated, I will explain.
To record great quality videos I have set it on 5K resolution & 30 FPS. This makes for great videos, but when you try to grab a photo they sometimes appear slightly blurred or out of focus. This particularly happens if you have panned too fast and is due to the low FPS rate. Also, when you are using this setting you need to use either a tripod or selfie stick because if you are panning the camera from side to side you have to have a very steady hand.
When I know that I will be photo grabbing I use the second setting which is 2.7K resolution and 120 FPS (remember to set the lens to Linear to avoid the fisheye effect). The outcome is much clearer photos. I’m still fine-tuning, but I’m going to try these settings for the next few outings. I’ll let you know what happens.
In order to demonstrate what I have learned from experience I have made the following grabs.
All photos are unedited apart from size reduction for posting
Grab from 5K 30FPS quick pan
The Voice Control Function
The GoPro Hero 9 has a Voice Control function which allows you to make various audible commands. These include, turn on/off. I won’t go into too much detail as this is covered in the YouTube presentations but the commands that I use frequently are: start recording, stop recording, take photo. (All commands need to be proceeded by ‘GoPro’).
You need to be aware of background noise. If you are in the middle of a noisy crowd, or on a noisy vehicle, it may not work so well.
Downloading data from your GoPro onto your smartphone, PC or Mac.
When you unbox your GoPro the instructions will ask you to download GoPro Quik on your smartphone. You then have to pair the GoPro with your phone.
This enables you to transfer photos and videos directly. However, depending on your phone you will not be able to transfer videos using a resolution of more than 2.7. I found this to be an unnecessary waste of time due to the nature of my work, because I would then have to transfer the same files to my iMac. Initially I did this by removing the SD card from the GoPro, inserting it into a card reader, which I then plugged directly into my iMac.
To be honest this wasn’t incredibly onerous but I was convinced that there was an easier way to directly transfer the files. After several hours of frustrating searching I discovered how to do it. This involves downloading a programme called Android File Transfer (AFT) and using a USC cable from your computer.
Opening the back of the GoPro plug the cable into the charging port, you need to make sure that the GoPro is turned on and that AFT is running. After a few seconds the GoPro directory will appear on your monitor and then it is simply a case of dragging the files onto the home screen or into a directory. You can then edit and manipulate your videos and photos at will.
I hope you found this information to be of some use. As mentioned, there are numerous YouTube videos available and while the vast majority of them are quite informative they don’t always answer specific questions. If you do have any specific questions I might be able to help with please do not hesitate to contact me.
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