What is GoPro LiveBurst & When to Use It?

LiveBurst is one of the newer features on recent GoPro cameras designed to capture fast action. Here’s how it works and when to use it (and when not to).

GoPro LiveBurst
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Burst Mode has been a staple of GoPros since the earliest models. It takes a rapid sequence of photos, and it’s especially good for capturing fast-action shots. It’s something I’ve covered in more detail separately.

LiveBurst is a newer feature. It was first included on the HERO8 Black. And the cameras that have LiveBurst available also have Burst Mode. So what’s the difference?

There’s quite a lot of overlap between Burst Mode and LiveBurst in terms of the types of situations where they’re especially useful. 1

In general, they’re great for fast action where you want to be sure to get the critical moment or the ideal shot. Both shoot a rapid sequence of shots. But they work slightly differently.

Burst mode takes a series of still images over a preset duration. Some examples might be 30/1, which takes 30 photos in 1 second. Or 10/2, which takes 10 photos over 2 seconds. The output from Burst Mode is a series of photos (on older models, it was JPG-only; newer models can also output RAW (.gpr)).

LiveBurst can output a still image. Or you can choose to output it as a short video clip. The way it works is that the camera is actually generating a 4K 30fps video clip. If you choose to export a still image, it saves a single frame from that video.

But the key feature of LiveBurst that makes it most useful is that it pre-rolls. In other words, it actually starts recording 1.5 seconds before you press the shutter. And it continues for 1.5 seconds after the shutter is pressed, taking a total of 90 frames. That greatly increases the chances that you’ll capture precisely the moment you want.

Downsides of LiveBurst

There are several benefits to using LiveBurst, and it’s an interesting way to capture critical action. It’s quite intuitive to use, and the pre-roll, in particular, makes it a reliable way to make sure you don’t miss the shot.

But there are also some downsides to using it rather than Burst Mode. The first two are the biggest negatives for me and the reasons I usually choose Burst Mode instead.

  • Battery usage. The pre-roll essentially means that it’s always recording. So it chews through battery charge very quickly.
  • Still image output resolution. On some models, you have a choice of output resolution. But even on those, the output resolution of the still images is lower than the output resolution of the images that Burst Mode produces.
  • Camera gets hot. Again, this is because the camera is actually recording all the time.
  • Single frame image. This is only relevant if you plan to save a sequence of still images. But there’s no quick and easy way to save a sequence of still images. You can export frames individually, or you can use separate software on your computer to export a video file to individual still frames, but both of those are tedious. So if you know you’re going to want to keep a sequence of still images, Burst Mode is the better option.
  • Wide Lens Only. You can’t switch to other FOVs (lenses) with LiveBurst.

LiveBurst Still Image Output Resolution

  • HERO10 Black: 12MP (4000×3000 pixels)
  • HERO9 Black: 8MP (default) or 12MP
  • HERO9 Black: 8MP (default) or 12MP

NB: The HERO11 Black does not have LiveBurst.

Exporting LiveBurst

Somewhat frustratingly, there’s no way to export a LiveBurst directly from the camera. There are often times I’d like to just choose the frame on the camera and export that as a still image.

Instead, you have to use the GoPro Quik mobile app. First, view the camera’s media through the app. You can then select an individual frame to export as an image or save the clip as a 3-second video file (you can do the same if you download the LiveBurst to the app’s media folder, too).

You can also go the old-school manual route and download the memory card’s data to your computer.

The LiveBurst will show as a regular MP4 video file. So if you want to export an individual frame, you’ll need to use your video editing app’s tools to do that (in the GoPro Quik for Desktop app, it’s the Grab a Photo tool on the bottom panel).

Things Worth Knowing

LiveBurst is found under the Photo functions (not under Video).

There’s another similar feature on some models called Continuous Photo or Continuous Capture. It’s most similar to Burst Mode, with the key difference being that the duration of the capture is determined by how long you hold the shutter down rather than a preset duration.

LiveBurst can be used in combination with Zoom, Scheduled Capture, and the self-timer. It’s not compatible with SuperPhoto or HDR.

When you play back the LiveBurst on the camera, it starts at the middle frame (45/90), which is the point at which you pressed the shutter. You can move forwards and backward from this point to find the frame you want.

Which GoPro Cameras Have LiveBurst?

LiveBurst is a relatively new feature on GoPro cameras. It’s available on these models:

  • HERO10
  • HERO9
  • HERO8
  1. There’s also a relatively new HindSight feature, first introduced with the HERO9. It’s conceptually similar but is specifically for shooting video.[]

New Model: GoPro HERO12 Black

Released in September 2023, the HERO12 Black is GoPro's newest model.

GoPro HERO12 Black
  • 5.3K60 / 4K120 / 2.7K240 Video
  • 27MP Photos
  • Waterproof to 33ft/10m
  • HyperSmooth 6.0 Stabilization
  • Shoot 5.3K60 & 4K120 video at up to 120Mbps bitrate
  • HDR video up to 5.3K30
  • Horizon Lock keeps level even during movement
  • Take 27MP photos (5568 x 4872 pixels)
  • 1/1.9" CMOS sensor
  • Waterproof to 33ft / 10m, so you can take it swimming, paddling, surfing, or snorkeling without a separate housing
  • Built-in mount point
  • HyperSmooth 6.0 In-camera Video Stabilization creates smooth video without a gimbal
  • Shoot up to 8x slow motion
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David Coleman / Photographer

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 every model since. More »

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