GoPro Linear FOV: Pros, Cons & Examples

Some newer GoPros have a new in-camera feature for something you could only do in post-production before: correcting fisheye in photos and videos. It’s called Linear FOV.

Text & Photos By David Coleman
Last Revised & Updated:

The extreme wide-angle lens of GoPros helps with that immersive look, putting you in amongst the action. It packs a lot of perspective and information into the frame.

But the price you pay is that distorted, bulging fisheye look, where horizons and straight lines get curved and subjects in the middle of the frame look artificially big compared with the things around them. And that might not be the look you’re going for. You might be wanting a more “normal” perspective.

It’s possible to correct it in post-production–easier when working with photos than with videos—but that’s an extra time-consuming step. Some newer GoPros have a built-in antidote that corrects for that fisheye look in camera. It’s known as the Linear FOV.

What is Linear FOV?

The Linear FOV in newer GoPros is a field of view that corrects for the fisheye distortion of GoPro lenses. It straightens horizons and verticals and narrows the perspective.

Linear FOV is particularly useful for aerial footage shot from drones, but it’s also a good option to have any time you’re after a more traditional perspective.

What Linear FOV Does

It has always been possible to correct for the fisheye look in post, whether you’re shooting still photos or video. But until now it has involved extra work in post-processing. I’ve written about how to do that with still photos as well as with video footage. But in several GoPro models since the HERO5 cameras, it’s now possible to shoot in modes that correct the distortion in the camera, eliminating the need to do it later. 1

It’s a new Field of View setting available in photo modes and some video modes and called Linear FOV mode. It applies software correction to the lens distortion before it saves the image file to the memory card.

The impetus to add this non-distorted field of view was mainly GoPro’s push to enter the drone market with the Karma. Linear FOV is especially useful in footage from a drone to avoid the exaggerated horizons you get from shots looking down.

GoPro Linear FOV Examples

Even when not shooting with a drone, Linear FOV can be useful if you don’t want that exaggerated fisheye look.

Here are a few real-world examples of what it does. These first ones are still photos shot with a GoPro HERO5 Black:

GoPro HERO5 FOV Wide GoPro HERO5 FOV Linear

With the horizon already pretty much centered and the detail in the frame in the distance, the effect is less obvious in this one:

GoPro HERO5 Black FOV Wide GoPro HERO5 Black FOV Linear

These are screen grabs from video shot side-by-side with a GoPro HERO4 in its standard Wide FOV mode and the GoPro HERO5 Black in its Linear FOV mode.

Limitations and Drawbacks of GoPro’s Linear FOV

Linear FOV isn’t available in all video sizes and framerates, in part because the software processing has to cannibalize information around the edges of the frame. The specific shooting modes its available in varies by camera model.

As you can see, lines get straightened and the whole look is much less distorted. But there is a price to pay, and that’s principally in terms of losing image real estate from around the edges of the frame and the parts near the edges can get a stretched look. It’s pretty obvious is all of these examples, but especially so in the shot of the bridge above where it looks as though it was shot from a different spot. But in all of these examples, they were either shot using the same camera in the same spot or two cameras mounted exactly side-by-side.

There is also something to be aware of even if it’s not a drawback, as such, and that is that shooting in Linear FOV mode is non-reversible. That is, once you shoot in Linear mode you can’t revert the image or video footage back to the wide view as you can with the old post-processing method. So you’ll want to be certain as you shoot that Linear mode is what you want.

Post-Processing Methods

You can, of course, continue doing it the old way of shooting in the regular Wide FOV mode and correcting in post. It doesn’t always give exactly the same results, but you can get close. Here’s a quick example where I corrected an image shot from the GoPro HERO5 Black in Lightroom using the post-processing method I’ve outlined here. At the time I originally processed this example and wrote this post, Lightroom didn’t have a built-in lens profile specifically for the GoPro HERO5 Black yet. I used the one for the HERO4 Black and found that it worked well on HERO5 Black images. Since then, newer versions of Lightroom have added support for the newer GoPro cameras.

For video, it’s trickier. You used to be able to use GoPro Studio to do it. But that’s no longer available, so if you don’t already have it installed (and still using an operating system that’s backwards compatible with 32-bit apps), that’s no longer a viable option.

  1. Linear FOV was a feature included with the HERO5 cameras when they were released. It was also retroactively made available for the HERO4 Black and HERO4 Silver through firmware update v.05.00.00. But on those cameras it’s only available when shooting video.[]

Text & Photos by David Coleman

I'm a freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my travel photography here.

I've been shooting with GoPros for years, starting with the HD HERO, and have owned and used just about every model since. More »

33 thoughts on “GoPro Linear FOV: Pros, Cons & Examples”

  1. “For video, it’s trickier. You used to be able to use GoPro Studio to do it. But that’s no longer available, so if you don’t already have it installed (and still using an operating system that’s backwards compatible with 32-bit apps), that’s no longer a viable option.”

    In this statement why do you think an OS that’s backwards compatible not a viable option?
    If Gopro studio is an old application it should be able to run in such an OS right?

    BTW greatly helpful article! Great job!

    • I do. What I mean by that is that you need both to already have it installed (because it’s no longer available) as well as using an operating system that’s backwards compatible with 32-bit apps.

  2. Hello, sorry to dig up an old article, but I went on a vacation to Utah to hike the national parks there and wanted to get an action camera for it. I didn’t want to get a gopro because I honestly cannot stand that fisheye distortion. I looked online for alternatives and found a Chinese brand called Firefly and got their 8se. It does what it advertises, has the distortionless lens that’s only 90-degree FOV which I’m totally fine with, but honestly the picture quality really isn’t all that great despite the generally positive reviews it has online. And after reading this article and others that all say the software distortion correction gopro offers would often result in some stretched looks around the edges and how it limits the video modes you can save in, I guess the solution is still one with an actual lens without the distortion rather than doing it the software route. So my question is, are you aware of any other action cameras on the market with really good features and picture quality but without that ultra-wide fisheye distortion lens? I’ve heard before that you can buy a lens to replace the one on the gopro but don’t know much about that. Have you heard of that? Thanks for your time in making this comparison article.

    • I’ve tried quite a few different action cameras (although I haven’t tried the Firefly), but most of them have that superwide fisheye distorted look. And yes, the Linear FOV can stretch around the edges. You can of course crop after that, but that’s not an ideal solution either. There is an excepption: the Sony RX0 II. It’s not strictly an action camera, and it’s almost double the price of the top GoPro model, but it’s roughly the same size, is waterproof and rugged, and the picture quality is excellent (24mm lens without fisheye). I’ve posted a review of the previous model here (I have the newer model but I haven’t posted a review yet). They’re great little cameras, but they are a big step up in price.

  3. I have 3 gopro black cameras. In the live preview with linear fov mode, I noticed two cameras have the pincushion effect while the third looks normal.
    Why is this happening and is one of my camera defective?

  4. Subjective observation:

    The fisheye distortion from the Wide FOV (GoPro Hero 5 Black) when shooting on land seems to disappear when using the same mode underwater. Is this due to the refraction of water or is it some other factor?

  5. We seem to be saying the same thing except that I’m putting more emphasis on what you’re doing with it and what the users’ priorities are. If you’re recording and playing it back at 720p on web “HD”, any perceived loss of detail is going to be minimal. If you’re recording and playing back at full 4K, then yes you will notice more detail loss. And chances are there’s more detail being lost in the re-encoding process, with all sorts of variables going on there too.

    EDIT: The H7 Black doesn’t offer Linear FOV at 4K–the highest resolution where it’s available is 2.7K. So full-resolution playback would be 2.7K, not 4K.

  6. For a beginner, what picture setting do you recommend? Also noticed that at night, picture comes better on my iphone…what settings do you recommend for night shots?

    Thank you

    • Assuming you’re referring to photos (rather than video), I usually keep the Wide FOV on most of the time. It’s much easier to work with the Wide field of view when editing and correct for the distortion than go the other way around. So it’s more flexible. I usually use the RAW mode when possible (but it doesn’t work with Burst Mode, etc). For night photos, the sensors GoPro uses have never been especially good in low light. Some of the cameras do have a night mode, but what that does is keep the shutter open longer. That’s good if the camera is still or mounted somewhere solid, but it’s not good for hand-held. You’ll be able to squeeze a bit better quality out of low-light RAW files than JPGs, but it has nothing like the dynamic range of leading mirrorless cameras or DSLRs. The sensors in iPhones (and other smartphones) these days are very good, but in addition, they also usually apply a lot of automatic noise reduction that makes the photos look better. You can do that with GoPro photos too, but it’s not done in the camera–you’ll have to use editing software for that.

  7. Hey guys, I am a constant user of the GoPro Hero 4 Black, and I would like to know if shooting in Linear FOV has any effect on the quality of the footage detail-wise.

    • It depends what you’re after. It does its corrections digitally, which means that it’s going to stretch some bits to try to compensate for the usual fisheye distortion. Because it’s not being done optically, there are areas where the pixels will get stretched. So on a pixel basis, there’s likely to be some fudging going on in close detail. But whether it’s noticeable or acceptable is a personal judgment call. Linear FOV is also non-reversible and crops information from the sides, so if that’s not the FOV you want, it’s probably not going to be a good default option. It’s easier to go from Wide FOV to Linear FOV (or something very close) in post-production than the other way around.

      • I don’t agree with this answer.
        The raw shot (event when captured in linear FOV) is the large angle shot which is then cropped and corrected resulting in a lower resolution, then digitally interpolated to the user-defined resolution. So the answer to the question is: ” Yes image quality is affected when choosing linear FOV. As compared with a wide angle when shot at the same resolution”. Agree with the rest of the author’s answer: “whether the difference is noticeable depends on what you do with the shot”. For upload, it won’t matter but for a 27′ retina display, you’ll definitely notice the lower quality of linear FOV.

        • thanks David for clarifying!

          I have a follow-up question:
          Since the linear FOV implies much more in-camera processing, compared with wide do you notice any difference in the heat generated and in battery autonomy? (which is really low in 4K60 ~ 4% per minute! ) on the model 7Hero Black

        • Good question. I share those same assumptions, but was interested to actually try it out before responding. I don’t have a reliable way to measure the operating temperatures that precisely–they both get hot. But I could look into the recording time. I put two H7 Blacks side-by-side at 2.7K60, one with Wide FOV and the other with Linear (2.7K60 is the highest mode with the Linear FOV available). Both had fully charged original GoPro batteries and otherwise identical settings (Protune OFF, Stabilization OFF, wireless OFF, GPS OFF, etc). On the one with the Wide FOV, it ran for 1:09. On the one with Linear, it ran for 0:59.

          Of course, this is hardly a rigorous test. It’s just one sample, and there are all sorts of asterisks to go along with it. Most users, for instance, wouldn’t necessarily be shooting continuously until the battery dies. And there are factors like ambient temperature that affect the battery life (although these were both in the same environment). But for what it’s worth, the processing of the Linear FOV does appear to have taken a good chunk out of the battery life.

          Somewhat related, too, is that I’ve been doing some side-by-side tests of the H7 Black with the H6 Black and have consistently found that the H7 Black gets less runtime out of the battery with otherwise identical settings. That would seem to make sense for the same reasons–that the clock speed of the H7 Black’s chip has seemingly been ramped up over the identical chip in the H6 Black.

    • Good question. I put a HERO5 Black set to Linear view it side-by-side with a DSLR, and from eyeballing it it looks to be somewhere around the 17mm mark, give or take.

  8. I am about to update my GoPro H4S but before I update it, I’d like to know if I’ll still be able to record video with the fish-eye FOV or is it gonna be linear FOV from now on with no option to switch from one to another. Thanks

  9. Hey Guys,

    I have some GoPro Footage here (I believe it is from the Hero 5) and I’m noticing that the GoPro Studio application is not allowing for ingest. I need to be able to remove the fisheye distortion. I’ve read that GoPro Studio is in need of an update in order get the Hero 5 footage to be recognised.

    My questions are:
    1. Has this been updated yet?
    2. What solution do you suggest in order to remove the fisheye? I know there are other third-party solutions, but that doesn’t sound like a solution to me.

    Please advise?



    • Hmmm, it should be there by default without needing to install anything else. Is upgrading to 2015.8 a possibility? That includes profiles for HERO5 models. If they still don’t show up, here’s a quick guide to adding them manually that might help.

    • I don’t know what their plans are. If they’ve done it for video it’s presumably technically feasible to add it for photos, although they might want to keep that feature as something distinct to the HERO5 models.

  10. Could you compare the native linear FOV with the post-processed linear FOV? I’m curious if the different correction methods produce different results.

    • Sure thing. I’ve added some examples above for still images. When Studio gets updated to allow fisheye correction of HERO5 video I’ll add that too.

  11. Thanks for the side-by-side comparison. We just got our Hero5 Black a few days ago and haven’t shot in linear FOV yet. This weekend…


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