Okay, so setting the time on a GoPro is a pretty basic function. It might have been one of the first things you did when you unboxed it. And while there's no real magic to it, it's not immediately self-evident that there are two methods to setting the time on a GoPro--at least on some of the cameras. Each has its own advantages.
You can, of course, shoot without setting the GoPro's time and date. It'll work just fine. But there are a lot of situations where it can be a very useful step. If you're shooting with multiple cameras, whether GoPros or some mix of others, it'll allow you sync the photos or video footage into a coherent chronological order. And it's essential if you're stitching video footage together to create VR footage.
So here's a quick rundown of the two methods for setting the date and time on a GoPro.
Method 1: Manually
The first method to setting the time on a GoPro is the old-fashioned way of setting it manually in the camera. While the precise location of the set date and time option varies between GoPro models, it's under the setup menu.
On models with a built-in back screen, like the HERO4 Silver and HERO5 Black, you can use that.
On models with a small front screen, you can also use that. You change the time with the regular buttons on the camera, much the same way you'd set an alarm clock.
Setiing the time manually is a little tedious, but it's also probably not something you'll have to do all that often.
Doing it manually has it's advantages in some situations. For instance, because I tend to travel with several cameras and hop across timezones, I like to have all my cameras set to UTC. That makes it easier when I get back to properly sequence the photos and is also easier when geocoding. If you use the automatic option for setting the time, it'll use local time and you don't have the option of adding an offset.
Method 2: Automatically by GoPro App
The quickest and most accurate is by using the GoPro mobile app. This obviously only works on models that have wifi capabilities, which includes most of the recent models.
This option gets the current time and timezone from your phone, so it's more precise, but you don't have the option of overriding the timezone. The time comes from your phone's time.
You can find it under: Settings > Setup > Set Date and Time
It's at the bottom of the Setup section, just before the deleting and formatting options.
There are no options below that--once you hit that menu item it will synchronize the camera's clock to your phone's clock.
On the newer models like the GoPro HERO5 Black, you can also set the date format, with these options:
As with most cameras, the time on GoPros gradually slips. Over the course of a few weeks, you might find that your camera's clock has slipped off by a few seconds or more. It's only a minor annoyance and easily fixed, but you might find yourself resetting the clock from time to time.
Common GoPro Questions
Here are some common questions I get from GoPro users.
Is it normal for GoPro cameras to get hot?
Yes. Depending on the model and the shooting mode you're using, it's normal for GoPros to get quite warm while shooting. They can get hot enough to be uncomfortable to touch. It's especially noticeable when shooting high-resolution and high-framerate video. Some newer models have an overheating protection mechanism that will shut the camera down if it gets too hot. I have more details on GoPros getting hot, here.
How can I control a GoPro remotely?
GoPro makes a range of wireless remote controls. They don't all work with all GoPros--for example, the HERO (2018) isn't compatible with this type of remote control. Many of the newer models also work with the GoPro mobile app. Not every model can be controlled remotely, but most of the newer models have wireless compatibility that can be used for at least some methods of remote control.
Can you take pictures with a GoPro?
If you've been using a GoPro for a while, this might seem pretty obvious, but if you've never used one, it's not quite so self-evident. GoPros are best known for dramatic action videos, but they can most certainly take still photos too. In fact, they can be a very interesting alternative to a traditional camera so long as you work within its limitations. I have more more details here.
Do GoPro wireless controls work underwater?
No. You can't use the mobile app or a wireless remote control if the camera is fully submerged in water. They will normally work just fine in rain and spray--just not submerged. I have a more detailed explanation here.
Do GoPro touchscreens work underwater?
No. If they're just wet above water, they can work to some extent, although often less reliably. But the touchscreens won't work underwater.