GoPros are best known for video, but they can also work well with still images, whether it’s an individual image, a fast sequence using burst mode, or a longer sequence of time lapse shots.
Here’s a rundown of the specifications and options of the GoPro HERO (2018)'s photo mode.
Photo Size on the GoPro HERO (2018)
Some GoPros let you choose an image size, but with the HERO (2018) you don't get any choice--it's a fixed 10MP image size. That produces images that are 3648 by 2736 pixels with an aspect ratio of 4:3.
While the HERO (2018) probably isn't necessarily a first choice of camera if you're looking to take photos to print and hang on your wall, that 10MP resolution is comfortably large enough to make 8 by 10 inch prints at full resolution (and much of the time significantly larger than that will also look good). It's certainly more than enough for sharing images online while still allowing plenty of room to crop.
The file size of the JPGs varies because of the way that JPG (or JPEG) image compression works. Images with few tones and little detail can be compressed better than images with lots of smooth tones and heavy on details. That means that the file size can vary shot to shot. I've gotten images anywhere from 3MB to 10MB, with most falling around 4-6MB.
Photo Format on the GoPro HERO (2018)
All photos on the HERO (2018) are saved as JPGs. There is no option to save as RAW files (GoPro’s .gpr file).1
Fields of View
Fields of View, or FOV, refer to the perspective of the lens. The ultra-wide angle perspective that we’re most used to with GoPros produces that distorted, bulging fisheye look. It creates an immersive feel, but it doesn’t look “normal” to us, and it’s not ideal for all shooting situations. But there are other fields of view available when shooting photos on the HERO (2018).
The other FOVs available are Medium and Narrow. Those are essentially crops rather than corrections. Or, put another way, the result is like a digital zoom (not an optical zoom). Nothing changes with the lens—it just crops in on the center part of the image. But the resulting file dimensions remain constant across all the fields of view (ie. they’re always 3648 by 2736 pixels).
This is the default fisheye view. In capturing a super-wide perspective, it also distorts the view beyond what we’d consider normal. The center of the frame seems to bulge, while lines that should be straight, such as the horizon or vertical walls, end up curved. The effect, or barrel distortion, is more exaggerated closer to the edges of the frame. The EXIF metadata registers this FOV as a 15mm focal length when converted to 35mm (or full-frame) equivalent.
Here’s an example using the Medium FOV. It was taken from the same camera and same spot. The EXIF metadata registers this FOV as a 23mm focal length when converted to 35mm (or full-frame) equivalent.
And here’s an example the Narrow FOV, again from the same camera and position. The EXIF metadata registers this FOV as a 35mm focal length when converted to 35mm (or full-frame) equivalent.
Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) on the GoPro HERO (2018)
Wide dynamic range, or WDR, is a special mode that tries to capture more detail in the shadows and highlights.
So it’s the same sort of idea as what is usually referred to as high dynamic range (or HDR) images. (The HERO6 Black has an HDR mode instead.) But WDR is less aggressive (and also less effective than the HDR mode on the HERO6).
Here’s a side-by-side example of a standard non-WDR image and a WDR image, both taken with a HERO (2018).
Burst mode is a special photo mode that takes a high-speed sequence of photos.
The HERO (2018)’s burst mode is limited to 10 photos in 1 second.
The HERO doesn't have a continuous mode, something that’s available on some of the other recent GoPro cameras higher in the range.
The HERO (2018) doesn’t offer any Protune settings in either photo or video modes.
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- The RAW (.gpr) format is available for some of the still image modes the HERO5 and HERO6 models. ↩
Images and product information from Amazon Product Advertising API were last updated on 2018-07-20 at 23:15.
Common GoPro Questions
Here are some common questions I get from GoPro users.
How to Maximize a GoPro's battery life
There are several factors that influence how long the GoPro's battery life lasts. Among them include what mode you're recording in (4K uses more power than 1080p30, for instance), the health of the battery, and even the environmental temperature (lithium batteries don't perform well in very cold temperatures). But there are some things you can do to maximize battery life. Not every GoPro has all of these features, but start with these:
- Minimize use of the back screen
- Turn off wireless
- Turn off voice commands
- Turn off GPS
- Turn off Protune
- Use QuickCapture mode
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.