So you always wanted to try out a GoPro action camera but you never had the budget… until now.
But is GoPro worth it? Is overrated? Are there better alternatives?
I was in your situation too and I took the plunge and bought one.
Go Pro’s marketing team makes some great advertisements.
When you watch them, you feel like you’ll be able to make similar videos of your travels and the whole world will stop to gawk.
I had a couple of months to play with it, so I can share my honest opinions in this GoPro 5 Review.
GoPro is a brand of action cameras and gadgets. While they might seem like the only action camera brand out there, that’s not the case.
You can find plenty of other off-brand action cameras with similar, if not better, features.
Before we get into the details, let’s run through some of the basics.
Are you in Taiwan? Check out this article on where to buy one.
Which GoPro Model is Best?
You might be wondering which GoPro is the best. In my opinion, the best GoPro is the latest one, GoPro 8.
GoPro 8 is the best GoPro model at the moment, for features and price.
But if that’s out of your budget, consider these:
- Go Pro Hero 4 (Mid-range)
- Go Pro Hero 5 (I have this one!)
- Go Pro Hero 6 (Upper Range)
- Go Pro Fusion (Most Expensive)
- Go Pro 2018 (Entry Level, Cheapest)
Pretty much all of them can take decent quality videos, but the Go Pro Hero 8 and Fusion can take videos in much higher resolutions.
They’re waterproof and extremely durable, but they don’t have as many shooting options as other video cameras.
One more thing to keep in mind is Go Pro cameras can only use mini-SD cards, and they fill them up FAST.
For the best quality, it’s recommended to buy an SD card with the fastest possible write speed, at least 60mb/s.
The battery is also something to consider, which we’ll talk about later on.
Anyways, let’s get back to the model at hand, my trust little Go Pro Hero 5 Black.
We’ll talk about the limitations later on in this review.
Go Pro Hero 5 Black: What I Love About It…
Is GoPro worth it? This section should clear up some doubts:
For starters, it’s my first action camera ever, so I was quite obsessed with it.
Now, it’s a part of my equipment kit.
You can take a look at it on Amazon, here. It’s usually cheaper than buying one in Taiwan!
I took it out to the closest park and ran it through all kinds of tests, like sticking it into murky ponds and throwing it around.
I was quite happy with the results.
Let’s run through the video modes:
Unfortunately the Go Pro Hero 5 can only shoot 4K at 30 frames a second.
With 2.4K you can get a maximum of 60 frames a second, and with all the lower modes you can go well over 120 frames a second.
On 480 and 720P you can record at 240 frames a second, which lets you take some really cool slow-motion shots.
Except, the field of view is stuck on Narrow.
What is the Best Resolution for Videos?
I usually film at 2.4K in 60 FPS so I can slow it down later, or zoom in and out digitally, without losing too much image quality.
You can also slow it down to 30 frames a second in your video editing software to get some cool scenes.
1080P is fine too, but it’s nice to have a bit more resolution wiggle room.
Speaking of zoom, a question I see a lot is do Go Pro cameras have zoom?
And the answer is: no, they don’t. And it sucks. GoPro doesn’t have any native zoom.
Then again, if the camera is strapped to a body part, who has time to zoom in and out?
I made the mistake of trying to use a Go Pro as my main video camera.
For the main camera you need something with zoom and focus capabilities.
(And that’s why I bought a Nikon B700, click to read my review)
But as far as video quality is concerned, the Go Pro can create some really high definition videos.
I have no complaints about the video quality – it looks wonderful.
Features & Accessories:
Not that kind of mounting!
When you order a Go Pro, it comes with a plastic housing you can mount to various accessories.
What I recommend is a sturdy selfie stick, not those crappy flimsy ones, but something made from metal.
A wrist strap is helpful too.
I bought a selfie-stick/mini tripod package from a store here in Taiwan, it includes a blue tooth capture button too.
Except, that button doesn’t work with the Go Pro – but oh, well.
The other accessories work fine.
Before you take it on a trip, you’ll definitely need a selfie stick or some other mount like a head or chest.
If you’re going to swim with it, it wouldn’t hurt to buy a stick that floats, so you can find your camera if it ever slips off.
Of course, I did the opposite and bought a dumbbell selfie stick.
I’m not videoing! I’m curling!
Here’s a picture of my handheld setup:
You can get pretty much any selfie stick as long as it is secure and stable.
You don’t want your camera to fly away!
Wireless & Voice Features:
The Go Pro Hero 5 has voice-activated features too.
Here are some of the voice commands:
- Go Pro take a picture
- Go Pro start recording
- Go Pro stop recording
There are some other commands too, but these are the most useful.
I wasn’t really a fan of the voice command feature, it’s cool, but not practical.
When in the housing the Go Pro doesn’t seem to pick up voice commands very well.
You end up having to shout at the camera… and then it refuses to work out of spite.
You can download the Go Pro app on your phone, connect it to the camera, and control the camera from your phone.
I really like this feature, and it works quite well.
You can see a live-view of your Go Pro on your smartphone, a great feature for selfies and stuff.
And you can also change the settings on the camera via the app too, which is useful.
It connects via WiFi so the battery does drain quite fast.
Generally, for travel videos, I recommend turning off WiFi and voice control because they quickly drain the battery.
Issues & Tips:
Go Pros were made for one purpose: action points of view videos, like head cams and whatnot.
So you can’t really expect that much from them. But what they can do, they do really well.
For example, underwater shots are great.
I love the clarity, and the wide-view is perfect for underwater.
If you go snorkeling or scuba diving, these cameras can take some really beautiful videos.
Perfect for you’re trips to the Philippines!
Just keep in mind, though the camera is waterproof without a case, it’s only waterproof up to ten meters.
If you need to go deeper than that, it’s recommended to buy an official diving case for the camera.
Also, remember to securely close all the ports before you jump in the water.
Salt does leave residue behind, which I discovered later on. I recommend rinsing the camera in fresh water, dry it (with a towel) and let it dry off before you store it.
Configuring the Slow Motion:
Since the GoPro 5 doesn’t automatically render slow-motion, you might be wondering how people get those slick slow-motion videos.
It took me a while to figure out, but it’s quite simple. You do need a video editor though.
What you want to do is take a video at a high frame rate, and then reduce the speed to a lower frame rate, inside your video editing software.
The video editing software I use is Adobe Premier Pro.
With Adobe Premiere Pro you can right-click on a video in the timeline and select speed.
And then you have to do some math:
Since Premiere Pro only lets you change the speed in percentages, it’s time to do some fractions.
Just a heads up, most cinematic movies are filmed in 24 frames a second.
But most video editors like to use 30 frames a second for their videos, it’s the most standard mode.
Anyways, what you want to do is divide the frame rate you want your video to be, by the frame rate it’s recorded at, and then slow it down that amount in Premiere Pro.
For example, if I record at 60 FPS, and I want the video to be at 30 frames a second, I’ll reduce the speed in Premiere Pro by 50%.
When I do that, the video clip will slow down by 50% but it will still look smooth.
Likewise, if you take a higher frame-rate video, filmed at 120 FPS, to reach the 30 FPS project, divide 120 by 30 and you get four.
1/4= 25% so that’s what you put into Adobe Premiere Pro, which will slow the video down by 25% and you’ll have some cool slow motion.
Here’s a list of the numbers you’re probably looking for:
- 240/30 = 8 = 12.5%
- 120/30 = 4 = 25%
- 60/30 = 2 = 50%
So if you shoot a 240 FPS video with the Go Pro you’ll want to reduce the speed by 12.5% in Adobe Premier Pro to get the slow motion.
So, the Go Pro Hero 5 has a good amount of frame rate modes, and you can get some really cool slow-motion videos.
The main issue you’re going to have with videos is stabilization.
Trying to capture an absolutely smooth shot is pretty much impossible without accessories like tripods and gimbals.
Even gluing the camera to your chest doesn’t stabilize the shot enough.
Go Pro Hero 5 has a built-in video stabilization mode, and it’s decent, but it won’t remove all the shakiness.
The best way to reduce shakiness is to use a selfie stick, tripod, or gimbals.
Most video editing software like Premiere Pro has digital functions to stabilize the image further, which can be quite helpful.
You can also slow down the video to remove some of the shakiness as well.
Do all those tricks, and the final video should be relatively smooth.
Gimbals will eliminate this problem altogether, but they can be quite expensive.
And ain’t nobody got money for that.
So just try to use a selfie stick and keep your hands as stable as possible, the Go Pro will automatically remove some of the jerky movements.
Overall, the shakiness with the Go Pro Hero 5 is not too bad.
I’ve found if you keep the camera close to your body, and hold the selfie stick with two hands, elbows in, and then slow down the footage later.
This is the main issue I had with the Go Pro:
The focus is static.
In other words, you can’t focus on individual objects, everything is in focus.
This means you can’t take macro shots of bugs and other gross creepy crawlers.
So you can’t zoom and you can’t focus on objects, which are two important features the Go Pro lacks.
Then again, when you’re underwater, there’s no need to focus on individual fish anyways.
I wouldn’t say these are deal-breakers, I still love the camera, but I wish there were at least some modes for this.
As strange as it might sound, Go Pro cameras do not have timers.
It’s weird for such modern cameras to not have a feature most cameras have, even ancient ones, but oh well.
The only way to get around this is to use your phone as a remote, and hide the phone behind your back or something like that.
Maybe the firmware will be updated to include a timer, but as of this writing, there is no option.
You’ll have to play around with the color settings. I found the default colors to be a bit bland…
But then I also discovered I’m like 80% colorblind.
Overall, though, it’s worth tinkering with the color settings, or at least improve them in post.
Is The Go Pro Worth It?
So if you made it this far, you’re probably wondering if I’m happy and recommend my purchase. Yes, GoPro is worth it.
As a matter of fact, I do like the GoPro. I feel like it’s the perfect camera for underwater shots, like corals, waterfalls, and cliff-jumps.
You’re obviously not going to use it on a day-to-day basis unless you have a particularly exciting life.
My camera usually sits in storage for months before I have a chance to use it.
Overall, it’s a great camera, and perfect for beaches and water activities.
But if you want to take good travel videos and have more configuration options (like zoom and focus) then you’ll need another camera.
Something with a good zoom… or even just a good phone, that works too.
So that’s pretty much everything I have to say about this camera.
Thanks for taking the time to read this Go Pro Hero 5 review!
Hopefully, now you know what to expect from the camera.
Leave a comment if you have any questions!