Switching between NTSC and PAL isn’t something that many GoPro users will need to do very often. The reality is that most users will have it set on one or the other and happily shoot away on that all the time without ever changing it. If you’re in the United States, that’s likely to be NTSC. If you live in the UK or Europe, it’s likely to be PAL.
NTSC (National Television Standards Committee) and PAL (Phase Alternating Line) refer to different broadcast formats used in various parts of the world. NTSC is the standard in the Americas and Japan, while PAL is used in the UK, Europe, Australia, the Middle East, and parts of Asia. There are technically others, but NTSC and PAL are the two major ones still used today. For NTSC, the underlying power system for broadcast television is based on 60 hertz. For PAL, it’s 50 hertz.1 They’re primarily relevant to broadcast signals and are much less relevant if you’re shooting footage that will be shared on the web.
The practical difference between them when it comes to shooting video with your GoPro is that they have different refresh rates. When shooting video with a GoPro—or any camera, for that matter, that impacts the frames per second that are available in each mode. In NTSC, they’re multiples of 30 (eg. 30fps, 60fps, 120fps, 240fps). In PAL, they’re multiples of 25 (eg. 25fps, 50fps, 100fps, 200fps).2
Most users will rarely need to switch between NTSC and PAL. But maybe you’re traveling and need to shoot for an international audience or playback on a local television. Or maybe you need to match a clip to some previously shot footage or are collaborating with someone else (mixing and matching can cause problems).
Toggling these will open up new framerate options when you set the video options. If you set it to the 60Hz, you’ll get framerate options that are multiples of 30. If you set it to 50Hz, you’ll get framerate options that are multiples of 25.
Put another way: if you need to match some footage with some that was previously shot at 100fps, you’ll first need to set the anti-flicker setting to 50Hz before you can choose the 100fps framerate.
How to Switch Between NTSC and PAL on the GoPro HERO8 Black’s On-Camera Menu
The reason I’m going to the effort of writing this quick guide isn’t that it’s particularly hard to change between NTSC and PAL on the HERO8 Black, but because it’s not as obvious how to do it as it could be. That’s because you won’t find “NTSC” or “PAL” anywhere in the settings or menus, not even in the setting help description.
GoPro has done away with those for this model, instead referring only to frequency. The menu item is called Anti-Flicker. And it’s not under the regional settings, which is one logical place for it (and where it is on the HERO7 Black, for instance, under
Preferences > Regional > Video Format > NTSC or PAL).
To find this setting on the camera, go to:
Preferences > General > Anti-Flicker
From there, you can choose between 60Hz (which is NTSC) and 50Hz (which is PAL).
How to Switch Between NTSC & PAL on the GoPro HERO8 Black’s On-Camera Menu
GoPro doesn’t always have the wording on the camera menu system matching exactly what’s in the GoPro mobile app, but in this case, it does. So it’s straightforward.
In the mobile app, go into the camera’s settings by hitting the wrench (spanner) icon at the top right. Then in the first, large batch of settings under the Setup heading, scroll down to `Anti-Flicker’. You can then toggle between 60Hz (for NTSC) and 50Hz (for PAL).
- There are other differences, such as the number of lines, which in turns affects image resolution, and pixel aspect ratio. ↩
- More precisely, it’s a fractional framerate of 29.97, but it’s nearly always rounded up to 30fps in settings menus and when talking about it. That is, when talking about NTSC video, 29.97 and 30 are referring to the same thing. ↩