GoPro HERO6 and HERO5 Built-In Fisheye Distortion Correction: Linear FOV

The newer GoPros have a new in-camera feature for something you could only do in post-production before: correcting fisheye in photos and videos.

The extreme wide-angle lens of GoPros helps with that immersive look, putting you in amongst the action. But it also comes at the cost of a kind of 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.

What is GoPro’s 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.

But with the GoPro HERO6 Black and both HERO5 models, it’s now possible to shoot in modes that correct the distortion in the camera, eliminating the need to do it later. 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.

Get 50% Off GoPro Mounts + Accessories with PLUS

If you sign up for GoPro PLUS, one of the benefits is that you get 50% off mounts and accessories purchased on GoPro.com. It's a great way to stock up on GoPro original accessories for your camera. I've often found the official GoPro accessories to be of higher quality than some of the aftermarket versions you find elsewhere.

There's a free 30-day trial for GoPro PLUS, then it costs $4.99/month (a little less if you pay for the year in advance). It includes many of the accessories on GoPro.com, but not all. And there's a limit to 10 items per subscription anniversary year. PLUS also includes unlimited cloud storage for your GoPro photos and footage, as well as discounted replacements if you break your camera. You'll be able to see the discounted accessory prices showing when you sign in with your PLUS account.

The Linear FOV is now available in the HERO4 Black and HERO4 Silver. It was a new feature included with firmware v.05.00.00. It was added because the Linear FOV is especially useful in footage from a drone, and GoPro has updated the firmware of the older cameras to be compatible with the new GoPro Karma drone. It’s available only in the video mode, not with still photos.

GoPro Linear FOV Examples

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

[before-after viewer_position=”center” orientation=”horizontal” label_position=”one” overlay_color=”#ffffff”  label_color=”#000000″ label_one=”Wide” label_two=”Linear”]


[/before-after]

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

[before-after viewer_position=”center” orientation=”horizontal” label_position=”one” overlay_color=”#ffffff”  label_color=”#000000″ label_one=”Wide” label_two=”Linear”]


[/before-after]

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.

[before-after viewer_position=”center” orientation=”horizontal” label_position=”one” overlay_color=”#ffffff”  label_color=”#000000″ label_one=”Wide” label_two=”Linear”]


[/before-after]

[before-after viewer_position=”center” orientation=”horizontal” label_position=”one” overlay_color=”#ffffff”  label_color=”#000000″ label_one=”Wide” label_two=”Linear”]


[/before-after]

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. These are the video modes it’s available in:

  • 2.7K
  • 1080p (60fps and below)

Linear FOV is available in the Timelapse Photo mode but isn’t in the Timelapse Video mode.

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 Method

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 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. Used the one for the HERO4 Black and found that it worked well on HERO5 Black images. Since then, a new version of Lightroom (2015.8) has come out that adds HERO5 Black support.

For more details, I’ve put together a separate guide for how to remove fisheye distortion from GoPro photos in Lightroom.

For video, you should be able to use GoPro Studio to remove the fisheye, but for now Studio v.2.5.9.3372 needs an update–it’s not registering HERO5 footage and giving the option for fisheye correction of video.

This post was last modified on May 8, 2018 2:13 pm

View Comments

  • 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.

  • 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?

    • I've not run into that behavior and have just tried it on some of my cameras to see if I can replicate it. Which specific model? And which shooting mode--video or photo?

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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?

    Thanks,

    Jeff

    • 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.

Share