Recent models like the HERO9 and HERO8 cameras have had a zoom feature that works in video and photo modes. So, technically, yes, you can zoom in on a GoPro.
But there’s more to it, and there are some limits to its effectiveness. That’s because it’s a digital zoom, not an optical zoom.
What that means is that the “zoom” feature is done by software by narrowing in on the center of the frame. There’s another, much more effective, way to zoom. That’s by adjusting the lens optics. That’s why sports and nature photographers lug around those massive long lenses, and it’s why the lens barrel moves in and out on smaller, compact cameras. But GoPros have a fixed lens, so optical zooming isn’t possible.
Basically, the digital zoom is a glorified crop. So it takes the existing image data and narrows down on it. Because you can’t magically create extra detail from the visual information in an existing image (despite what we see in TV shows and movies), the finished result might look larger and closer, but it has the same image information and therefore isn’t as sharp.1
When shooting photos, you can get the same result by using the crop feature that every respectable image editing app will have.
There is somewhat more of an advantage when shooting video. And that’s because the video file that’s saved at the target resolution (or uprezzed). That makes it much more convenient when it comes to sharing or editing the video.
Practical Examples of GoPro Zoom
Here’s are some practical examples of the GoPro zoom. These are side-by-side shots fully zoomed out and fully zoomed in.
This first one is when shooting video with the Wide FOV.
[caption id="attachment_20567" align="aligncenter" width="678"] GoPro HERO6 Black Video FOV: Wide[/caption]
Here’s another in the video mode:
And some more in the photo mode:
[caption id="attachment_25027" align="aligncenter" width="678"] Zoomed Out[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_25028" align="aligncenter" width="678"] Zoomed In[/caption]
Which GoPros Have Zoom?
The digital zoom is available on these models.
- HERO9 Black
- HERO8 Black
- HERO7 Black
- HERO7 Silver
- HERO7 White
- HERO6 Black
How Do You Zoom with a GoPro?
On the GoPro models that have digital zoom, you do it an on-screen slider. It’s quite an imprecise method and can be hard to get it exactly where you want it.
It’s only available between shots. What I mean by that is that you can’t use it to transition while recording video. You’ll need to stop the recording, zoom in or out, then start recording again.
It’s also only available with the on-screen control. You can’t do it with the GoPro mobile app or with a remote.
Limitations & Things Worth Knowing
- The zoom doesn’t work with the RAW image format when shooting photos—only JPG.
- It also doesn’t work with some of the other shooting modes such as Burst Mode, Time-lapse Photo, or Time-lapse Video.
- When shooting video, the zoom isn’t available at the 4K resolution. The highest resolution it’s available at is 2.7K.
- Again when shooting video, the zoom isn’t possible while recording. To zoom in or out, you need to stop the recording, changing the zoom, and then resume recording.
- The zoom slider is only available on the camera’s touchscreen. So you can’t use the zoom from the GoPro mobile app or with a remote.
Wrap Up: Can you zoom in on a GoPro?
Yes, you can with some of the newer models. It’s a digital zoom, not an optical zoom, and there are limits on how useful it is in practice.
- Some cameras have proprietary algorithms that can enhance digital zooms to make them look better. Sony’s ClearImage is one example. And there are various software apps that handle uprezzing with interpolation, such as Photoshop, or other proprietary methods, such as Gigapixel AI. GoPros don’t currently have anything like that. ↩