Here are the different settings for each GoPro cameras to achieve the best possible result with your FPV videos. I have been using these settings recommended for my GoPro Hero5 Session camera for FPV, and I really like how the flight videos look.
You can buy the GoPro from:
- GoPro Session 5: https://amzn.to/2RNbNDO
- GoPro Hero 6 Black: https://amzn.to/31fvN56
- GoPro Hero 7 Black: https://amzn.to/37Mw6qN
- GoPro Hero 8 Black: https://amzn.to/2uQr2De
Table of Content
- Uploading to Youtube
- Settings for Session 5 & Hero 6
- Settings for Hero 7
Uploading to Youtube
When uploading FPV videos to Youtube, fast motion will almost always be ruined by Youtube’s compression (in order to save storage). Areas where a lot of detail is required such as grass and leaves on a tree, will most likely appear pixelated.
I think the best approach is to follow Youtube’s guideline. If you upload a video with a higher bit rate than Youtube wants, it just compresses it anyway. And it probably does a worse job than your video editor would.
Another popular approach is to upscale. For example, if your video is recorded in 2.7K, export it as a 4K video; or if it’s recorded in 1080p, export in 2.7K. Even though the bit-rate might be the same when you upload it, Youtube will use higher bitrate for higher resolution videos to play it back and it will look better.
The choice of resolution really depends, use the highest resolution your computer can handle. Higher resolution results in much larger file sizes and requires more computer processing power to edit and render it.
There is no point to record in 2.7K or 4K if you are just going to export it in 1080p, unless you want to be able to zoom in, but we don’t normally do that with FPV footage.
Note that a higher resolution usually offers higher bit rate, for example in the GoPro Session 5:
- 1080p 60fps – 45Mb/s
- 2.7K and 4K 60fps – 60Mb/s
But the it has a maximum bit rate of 60Mb/s, 2.7K and 4K have the same bit rate. That means if you are using 4K you will effectively have less image quality per pixel than 2.7K.
And I almost always turn Superview on for my FPV footage, since 4K doesn’t support Superview in the Session 5, I had to use 2.7K in this case.
When it comes to frame rate (FPS), I’m normally recording everything with 30FPS because it shows less jello and looks more “cinematic” than higher FPS. If you are going to play with slow motion, then 60FPS and 120FPS are good options.
There are 3 things that affect your camera exposure:
- Shutter Speed
Aperture changes the amount of light that let in to the camera. You can forget about this one because the GoPro doesn’t allow you to change Aperture.
ISO is the digital enhancement of light, it’s a digital way of adding more light to the image. Generally the lower ISO the better, because high ISO introduce more noise to your image where there isn’t enough light.
Shutter speed affects how much light it lets in for every individual shot.
By changing one setting requires you to adjust another to compensate, it’s really a balance between these settings.
For the GoPro, to change exposure you only have 2 options: Shutter Speed and ISO.
Setting exposure with the GoPro is not easy because you don’t have any light indicator. I usually set the exposure with the camera facing the brightest area, make sure nothing is overexposed (blown out). It’s okay to have under-exposed areas because these can be easily brought back out in post, but overexposed areas are not recoverable.
See this article for the ways of stabilizing FPV footage, including the new feature “Hypersmooth” in the GoPro Hero 7 and Hero 8.
Settings for GoPro Session 5 & Hero 6
Recommended Setting: OFF; Despite how well this might work when you are holding the camera by hand, auto stabilization doesn’t work well on a drone. It makes it look even worse :)
Recommended Setting: On; Use superview whenever you can, the wider vertical field of view makes your footage look more stable, smoother and faster.
Recommended Setting: Protune On
I prefer to enable Protune for FPV. With ProTune you can choose “flat color” and it offers increased bitrate and wider dynamic range to your footage.
Recommended Setting: Flat for Pro, GoPro Color for Beginners
- Flat – the video would look more neutral and low in contrast
- GoPro Color – the result would look very vivid and nice
Basically Flat Color has higher image detail and allows more room for the user to “color grade” in post editing later. Flat color is not designed for direct consumption, it’s for those are really good at video editing. If you are new to making FPV videos, maybe you should just stick with “GoPro Color”.
Recommended Setting: Medium
I like to leave this at medium, so the image looks smoother with a bit more motion blur.
Recommended Setting: As low as possible depends on lighting; 100-400 for expert users, 1600 is a good general value if you are not sure
ISO changes the exposure of the image, it works like an “signal amplifier”. The Higher ISO, the higher sensitivity to light, and it’s great for dark environment. But it also introduce/amplifies digital noise. The problem can be seen as “grainier” image.
When setting the ISO limit, you are not setting the fixed ISO the camera is going to use, but rather just the highest value the camera is allowed to use. For example if 1600 ISO limit was set, the camera could be using ISO range from 100 up to 1600.
On a bright sunny day you might not notice any difference between ISO 100 and 1600, as long as you don’t fly under shadows. But if you start going in and out of lighting, you will need more ISO for flexibility, such as 1600.
In my opinion, it might be better to give the camera room for adjustment in case you run into low light conditions so 1600 might be more suitable for the type of dynamic flying we do with these fast moving drones.
But if you want the most consistent and cleanest possible image, I recommend keeping your ISO as low as possible given the lighting condition.
Recommended Setting: Auto
I just leave it to the GoPro to manage its own shutter speed.
Shutter speed can change the exposure of the image too. The slower shutter speed, the brighter image and good for dark environment.
From my experience, different shutter speed can create a certain image look. Faster shutter speed gives you sharper and more natural image, while slower shutter speed gives you more motion blur and cinematic effect.
The general rule of thumb for constant lighting is to have the minimum shutter speed at least 2 times of the frame rate. For example for 30fps, shutter speed should be at least 1/60. With shutter speed too low, your image can look over-exposed, with lots of motion blur that doesn’t look good.
Make sure you experiment with the settings under different lighting condition for your personal preference.
Many people prefer to use ND filters on their GoPro to reduce amount of light entering the camera, which will allow them to use longer shutter speed even on a bright sunny day.
Beware that in the latest firmware updates, GoPro removed the option to change shutter speed. You might need to downgrade the firmware if you wish to have this option back.
Motion Blur and ND Filters
To achieve a so called “cinematic” look in your footage, you have to introduce the right amount of motion blur. Setting shutter speed using the “180 degree rule” will give you that effect. In a nutshell, shutter speed should be set to a multiple of frame rate, for example, 1/60 for 30fps or 1/120 for 60fps. This is why ND filters are so important because it allows you to control how much light to let in, so you can play with shutter speed without getting the footage overexposed.
Recommended Setting: Native for Pro Editors, otherwise use 5500K. Setting it to a fixed value ensures the consistent white balance and you can adjust it later in the post. But if you don’t know how to work white balance in the post, just set it to auto.
White balance determines the colour temperature of your footage. Unless you are filming indoor where there is light source (e.g. bulbs) that might change the colour of the environment in an unnatural way, you might want to just leave this at default.
Settings for GoPro Hero 7
- Aspect Ratio 16:9
- Resolution 4K (or the highest your computer can handle)
- Frames Per Second (FPS) 30
- Field of View (FOV) Superview
- Video Stabilization (Hypersmooth) ON
- Protune ON
- Shutter (1/30 – 1/60, adjust based on your lighting condition, as well as what ND filter you are using)
- ISO Min 100
- ISO Limit 800
- White Balance 4500 – 5000
- Sharpness Low
- Color Flat
- Mar 2017 – Article created
- Mar 2018 – Added sections “Shutter Speed” and “Uploading to Youtube”
- Jan 2020 – Updated GoPro list, added settings for Hero 7