GoPros are best known for video, but I often get asked whether they can take still photos too. The answer is yes, they most certainly can take still photos.
GoPro Still Photo Formats
All GoPros can take still photos as JPGs.
Some of the newest models can shoot RAW as well using GoPro's own .gpr format.
- GoPro HERO6 Black
- GoPro HERO5 Black
- GoPro HERO5 Session
The RAW format isn't available in all still photo modes. It's not available in Burst Mode, for instance, and it's only available for time lapse photos when the interval is set to 5 seconds or longer.
I have a more detailed post on using GoPro's RAW format for photos here.
Fields of View
By default, the GoPros have a very wide-angle fisheye perspective. Some of the newer models also include a Linear field of view option which greatly reduces the lens distortion.
Some models also include cropped and smaller modes: Medium and Narrow.
High-Dynamic Range (HDR)
The HERO6 Black includes an HDR mode. The HERO5 models have a wide-dynamic range mode (or WDR) that is similar but not quite as aggressive (or as effective).
There are a few different ways to trigger still photos on GoPros.
You can obviously use the shutter button on the top of the camera.
You can use the mobile app.
On the HERO5, HERO6, and HERO (2018) models, you can use voice control.
On many models (but not all), you can use one of the GoPro remote controls. One of them, the Remo remote, also works with voice control with the HERO5 and HERO6 models.
There's no self-timer on GoPros, but what you can do as a workaround is use the time lapse photo mode to shoot a continuous sequence of photos and simply stop it when you're done and delete the shots you don't want.
Controlling the Exposure
All GoPro models have auto exposure. Some of the higher models--the ones with Protune--also include options to control ISO and, on some models, shutter speed. Some of them also have exposure compensation. All of them use a fixed aperture--you can't adjust that aspect of the exposure.
Some models have a spot meter, while some newer models have an updated and more flexible version called Exposure Control.
Still Photo Examples
Here are some examples of still photo I've shot with various GoPro models. If you're looking to use a GoPro as an everyday photo camera, I've written up more details on pros and cons of doing that.
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.