Can You Take Pictures with a GoPro?

GoPros are best known for video, but yes they most certainly can take still photos. All GoPros can take still photos as JPGs. Some of the newest models can shoot RAW as well.

GoPro HERO9 Black for $349.98

GoPro is running a deal on the HERO9 Black, their newest and best camera. You can get the camera and a 1-year subscription to GoPro for $349.98. It comes with a 32GB SD card and a case. You can get the deal here.

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. They don’t go about things in quite the same way as more traditional cameras, but if you play to their strengths rather than fighting their quirks, they can create some interesting and unique shots. I’ve posted more examples separately.

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 HERO9 Black
  • GoPro HERO8 Black
  • GoPro HERO7 Black
  • 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)

Models since the HERO6 Black have included HDR mode. It shoots a rapid series of images and then automatically chooses the best parts of each in an effort to draw out more detail from shadows and highlights. On newer models, the HDR is both a standalone feature and one included as part of the suite of features known as SuperPhoto.

The HERO5 models have a wide-dynamic range mode (or WDR) that is similar but not quite as aggressive (or as effective).

Shutter Options

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 HERO9, HERO8, HERO7, HERO6, HERO5, 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.

Since the HERO7 Black, GoPros have included a self-timer (yes, it really took them that long to incorporate this basic feature). For earlier models, you can use a workaround to start 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. It’s not particularly elegant, but it works.

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.

GoPro HERO6 Black / Washington DC

GoPro HERO6 Black / Chantilly, Virginia

Taken with a GoPro HERO (2018) with Narrow FOV

GoPro HERO6 Black / Washington DC

GoPro HERO4 Silver / Sydney, Australia

GoPro HERO4 Silver / Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina.

GoPro HERO4 Silver / Chantilly VA

GoPro HERO4 Black / Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina

GoPro HERO4 Silver / Washington DC

GoPro HERO5 Black / Svalbard, Norway

More Examples of Photos Taken with GoPros

I’ve also posted more examples taken with specific models:

More GoPro Tips & Tricks:

This post was last modified on October 12, 2020 3:45 pm

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  • I’ve never owned a GoPro and I want to buy one today. Which GoPro will allow me to set it up to take a still photo every few seconds or so for an extended amount of time?? Thank you so much for your help.

    • Of the ones currently available, the HERO8 Black and the HERO7 Black (the previous model but still available) can do that. They can also save the time lapse directly as a video. The two lower models in the HERO7 lineup, the Silver and White, can both record time lapse and save it as a video, but don't save as still photos.

      They'll all record until the battery runs out, which isn't that long with the built-in battery. If you need to record something longer, maybe over days, weeks, or months, you can run on external power.

      • Thanks! Is there any other product you would recommend besides the GoPro that would do what I’m looking for? I only need the camera to take intermittent photos for 3 hours.

        • There are other action cameras that will also do this. On the cheaper end, there are Akaso models that can do that. At a similar price point to the GoPro Black models, the DJI Osmo Action is also a strong contender that has a lot of flexibility. There are plenty of other cameras that also have a time lapse function--and for ones that don't, you can often use an external intervalometer/remote shutter—but they tend to be more expensive.

  • I do regular trekking at an altitude of 14k to 17k feets. I am more interested in taking pictures rather that shooting. But at this height carrying DSLR becomes bulky. So I was thinking of taking pictures with Go Pro which seems to be quite handy. Can you please suggest if I can take still photos with Go Pro 7 or Go Pro 8 black & what will be the picture quality & how feasible it is consider GoPro over DLSR

    • It will certainly work, but they do things quite differently to a more traditional camera and DSLRs. They're small, light, can take a beating, and don't care about water or dust, but they also have a very wide fixed lens and short battery life. If you're shooting POV-style shots, they can work very well because that wide angle lens gives you an immersive look. But as much as I love shooting photos with GoPros, I'd be hesitant to take them as an only camera on something like that.

      In terms of pure image quality, GoPros don't come close to most of the newer DSLRs on the market, even entry-level DSLRs like the Nikon D3500. And they don't have anywhere near the versatility in controlling the exposure or zooms, etc.

      If it was me, two other alternatives might appeal. For something rugged and waterproof, the Olympus TG-6 is excellent. I've posted some example photos taken with the previous model, the TG-5, here. Or, for something equally small (but not waterproof), but a big step up in image quality and zoom, the new Sony RX100 VII packs a lot of punch for something that fits in your pocket (some examples here).

      And in between those smaller cameras and a larger DSLR, the rugged Olympus mirrorless cameras and the Sony a6000/a6300s are worth a look. Something in the mid-size mirrorless range like these would probably be top of my list if I ever get talked into climbing Kilimanjaro again.

      I have various examples of photos taken with a HERO7 Black. I'm shooting with the HERO8 Black at the moment, but the image quality is overall similar.

      All that said, GoPros could also work well. It's just that you have to shoot to their strengths and you can't expect the same style of shots you can get from other cameras.

  • first of all thank you for the interesting article.
    i am ilan from israel and i want to use the gopro mainly for still photos.
    i saw that the gopro fusion has 18 mp resolution.did you shoot with it or do you know if it is better then the 7 black model?
    many thanks for your time
    reagards Ilan

    • Hi, Ilan. It's quite different. That 18MB is for a spherical image. If you're shooting stills in standard aspect ratios, the resolution from the Fusion is lower than you'd get from the HERO7 Black. So for "normal" stills shooting, the HERO7 Black is often a better choice. In terms of stills photography, the Fusion's strengths are:
      - Overcapture. Basically, you don't have to worry about composing the shot as you're shooting. Because it creates a spherical image, you can compose afterwards in post and then export your selected framing then.
      - Spherical 360-degree images.
      - Tiny Planet images.
      - Panoramas

  • Yes, they can definitely do that. The best way for an extended event like that (as opposed to something that's over in less than 3 seconds) is to use the Time-lapse Photo mode. That will keep taking photos at whatever interval you select. It'll keep going until the battery dies, the memory card fills up, or you stop it with the shutter button. Of the current GoPros, only the top model, the Black, will do time-lapse photos (the other two do time-lapse video which saves a single video photo rather than individual images). There's a wide range of possible intervals, starting at 1/2 a second (ie. it will take a photo every 0.5 seconds). The 1 or 2 second options might also be good. You'll end up with a lot of photos but it will also give you a better chance of getting some shots you like.

    You can also find good deals on previous models that can also do this, like the HERO6 Black and HERO5 Black.

  • Hi, I have never owned a GoPro camera before but plan to do a tandem paraglide and wonder if this is the camera for me? I wish to take a series of still pictures (rather than video) of the actual jump and my time in the air. Am i able to set a GoPro to take still pictures on its own rather than me having to press the shutter button as i wish to enjoy the experience of the glide but also have a series of pictures to show that i done it!
    Thank you for any advice you can offer.

  • I never owned a gopro and know very little about them but I’m not a big fan of the extreme fish eye effect on some of the gopro pictures. Now I’m curious why it’s 10 times worse on some pictures then others? I know you can adjust some of this in settings but my question is will you loose quality when you straighten them? I noticed one of your pictures taken on the beach that was straight with very little distortion, very nice picture. Did you loose quality by shooting that way? Or why are some worse than others?

    • There are a few parts to the answer, starting with just the shooting (ie. no "correction"). The curved lines from the fisheye effect are most noticeable near the edges of the frame. If you put the horizon (or other straight lines) in the center of the frame, it can minimize or even eliminate--at least just for that part. Angling the camera up or down will bend the horizon. So for the last shot (or the first one, as well), of the kayaking, the camera is angled down a bit, which is why the horizon is so curved. Leveling it so that the horizon is centered vertically will straighten the horizon.

      As for correcting it, yes, you can. You don't really lose quality, but you will lose some field of view from around the edges. Some of the newer models have a Linear FOV mode that corrects for it (examples here). It's especially useful when using the camera on a drone for the very reason that the camera is usually angled down and that strongly curved horizon isn't always a good fit, but there's no reason you can't use it for normal shooting (although it's not available in combination with every shooting option, such as not with RAW). You can also correct for it in post-processing, and I have some practical examples here as well as a guide on how to do it in Lightroom.

  • I want to take still photos on my GoPro5 Black Camera WITHOUT starting with video first.
    How can I do this?
    Please advise,

    • Not sure I understand your question properly. Is there a reason you can't just switch it to photo mode? If you want it to start up in photo mode when you power the camera up, you can set that under Preferences > General > Default Mode.