How To Use GoPro on FPV Drones

by Oscar
Naked Gopro 10 Hero10 Black Bones Fpv Camera Compare Full Size

This tutorial is dedicated to everything about GoPro cameras for FPV drones, including my best GoPro settings, accessories, top tips and common issues.

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GoPro Options for FPV

GoPro Hero 11

Product Page: https://amzn.to/3RZnEL7

Two main new features that get our attention as FPV pilots, 10-bit videos and 8:7 aspect ratio image sensor.

The nearly square image sensor is interesting for FPV drones, as it allows 16:9 and 9:16 cropping without the need to physically rotate the camera, and it’s more suited for social media use.

The GoPro Hero11 Black films in 5.3K at 60fps and in 2.7K at 240 fps, better performance is made possible by the new 1/1.9” sensor and lens. Hypersmooth is at the new V5 version, and it takes advantage of the AutoBoost function that automatically assesses the level of stabilization required in relation to the movement. It also allows complete horizon locking. It is also now possible to take 24.7 megapixel photos from videos.

The GoPro Hero11 Black is capable of slow motion up to 8x in 2.7K and 4x in 4K. It offers a new feature Hyperview which according to GoPro offers the highest FOV ever on any GoPro cameras.

Same size as the Previous GoPro 10 and GoPro 9, and almost all the accessories / ND filters are compatible.

Gopro Hero 11 10 9 Size Compare 8 7 6 Front Gopro Hero 11 10 9 Size Compare 8 7 6 Side

GoPro Hero 11 Mini

Product Page: https://amzn.to/3XqMQNu

Basically the Hero 11 but smaller and lighter (only 133g). It’s still heavier than the GoPro Session 5 (74g) and the Hero 10 Bones (54g), but it’s slightly better than the full size Hero 11 for FPV drones as it’s about 20g lighter, and it’s also $100 cheaper at about $300. It has the same capability and performance, the small size is achieved by replacing the back and front color screens with a monochrome screen.


GoPro Hero 10

Product Page: https://amzn.to/3VibzU2

Features the new GP2 processor which brings a lot more computing power than the previous chip and doubles the frame rates available on all formats compared to the previous model.

Improved Hypersmooth (V4.0) – a built-in digital stabilization feature, offers up to 5.3K 60FPS resolution, and yet it’s a few grams lighter than the Hero 9. It can also do horizon lock.

There’s a stripped down version of the GoPro 10, GoPro Bones. Same camera but much lighter and more suited for micro FPV drones.


GoPro Hero 9

Product Page: https://amzn.to/2LRcDQ4

Better Hypersmooth (V3.0) than the previous version, but bigger and heavier. Removable lens protector. Color front display. Slightly better image quality, there is no cropping when you do 4K Superview with the Hero 9, previously it’s only possible in 2.7K. Learn more here.


GoPro Hero 8 Black

Product Page: https://amzn.to/2uQr2De

The latest offering from GoPro (May 2020). It has built-in Hypersmooth 2.0 stabilization, and also being fully supported by Reesteady. Comparing to the previous Hero 7, the Hero 8 offers higher bit rate which results in sharper image. The overall image quality is the best in all the GoPro options.


GoPro Hero 7 Black

Product Page: https://amzn.to/37Mw6qN

This is the first camera from GoPro that supports Hypersmooth stabilization. However, the hardware, as well as image quality are similar to the previous Hero 6, and it doesn’t work well with Reelsteady (requires extremely good soft mounting), therefore it’s not as popular as the Hero 6 despite being newer.


GoPro Hero 6 Black

Product Page: https://amzn.to/31fvN56

Although the Hero 6 is an older model, it still offers 4K 60FPS and decent image quality which is adequate for most hobbyists’ needs. It has no built-in stabilization, however it’s one of the best choices for Reelsteady in terms of reliability. The Hero 6 is very good value for the money, and a popular options for light weight micro drones. After strip-down it only weighs 17 grams.


GoPro Session 5

Product Page: https://amzn.to/2RNbNDO

The Session 5 is often used on racing and freestyle drones thanks to its relatively more aerodynamic shape and lighter weight. It’s also crash resistant and and water-resistant. However it’s not common for professional and cinematic shots as it doesn’t have decent stabilization, and not well supported in Reelsteady.

360 Cameras

GoPro also offers 360 cameras, check out this comparison guide for more detail.


Best GoPro Settings

The tables below sum up the best settings I personally use for the latest GoPro camera (GoPro Hero 11), but they should also work well on older cameras, if the resolution isn’t available just choose the next best option.

Video stabilization is a must to achieve cinematic look in your videos. There are two ways to stabilize your GoPro footage: Hypersmooth and Reelsteady. Hypersmooth stabilization is done inside the GoPro, it’s more convenient but you can’t fine tune the stabilization and you have no access to the unstabilized footage. Reelsteady is done in post in the GoPro Player app, it costs $99 to buy and requires extra rendering, but you can tweak the level of stabilization as you see fit. You can learn more about Hypersmooth and Reelsteady here. Personally I prefer Reelsteady, I think it gives better result in most situations.

For Hypersmooth

Resolution 4K (or 2.7K for smaller file / slow PC)
Frame Rate 60fps (or 30fps)
Shutter Speed 1/120 for 60fps, 1/60 for 30fps, or Auto*
Aspect Ratio 16:9
Lens (FOV) SuperView (or HyperView if available)
Stabilization Hypersmooth On
Protune On
White Balance Auto, or set manually to match scene 4500K-5500K
ISO Min 100
ISO Max 400 (or even lower for a low noise image) **
Color Flat if you color grade, or Normal if you don’t
EV Comp 0 ***
Sharpness Low
Raw Audio Off
Wind On

* Only use Auto if you are not using ND filter, otherwise set a fixed shutter speed for a more cinematic look

** See ISO Max for detail, in certain situations you might want to set this even higher for extra flexibility, e.g. in low light, you may set it to 800 or even 1600. 400 works well in most cases for me.

*** In low light, you can set this to -0.5 or even -1.0 to make image brighter

For Reelsteady

Resolution 4K (or 2.7K for smaller file / slow PC)
Frame Rate 60fps (or 30fps)
Shutter Speed 1/120 for 60fps, 1/60 for 30fps, or Auto*
Aspect Ratio 8:7 for Hero11, 4:3 for older cameras
Lens (FOV) Wide **
Stabilization Off
Protune On
White Balance Auto, or set manually to match scene 4500K-5500K
ISO Min 100
ISO Max 400 (or even lower for a low noise image) ***
Color Flat if you color grade, or Normal if you don’t
EV Comp 0****
Sharpness Low
Raw Audio Off
Wind On

* Only use Auto if you are not using ND filter, otherwise set a fixed shutter speed for a more cinematic look

** The Wide lens setting under 8:7 or 4:3 aspect ratios actually provides wider field of view than Hyperview/Superview in 16:9 as it’s using the whole image sensor of the camera. When you run the footage through Reelsteady in GoPro Player, it will automatically stretch it to 16:9 Hyperview/Superview for you

*** See ISO Max for detail, in certain situations, you might want to set this higher for extra flexibility, e.g. in low light, set it to 400 or even 1600.

**** In low light, you can set this to -0.5 or even -1.0 to make image brighter

Session 5

Resolution 2.7K
Frame Rate 30
Shutter Speed 60 or Auto*
Aspect Ratio 16:9
FOV Superview
Stabilization n/a
Protune On
White Balance Set manually to match scene or 4500-5500K
ISO Min 100
ISO Max (Limit) 100 or 400
Color Flat
EV Comp 0
Sharpness Medium
Raw Audio n/a
Mic Setting n/a

* Use Auto shutter speed if you don’t use ND filter

Now, let me explain each setting in a bit more detail.

Resolution

For freestyle, I’d recommend 2.7K and for Cinematic go with 4K. The higher resolution results in larger file sizes and requires more computer processing power to edit and render it, so take into account your computer speed too.

In my opinion, there is little point in recording 2.7K or 4K if you are just going to export it in 1080p for Youtube, unless you want to be able to zoom in in post, but we don’t normally do that with FPV footage.

Note that a higher resolution may offer higher bit rate, you can find out in the data sheet of the GoPro camera, for example here is the bit rate of the GoPro Session 5:

  • 1080p 60fps – 45Mb/s
  • 2.7K and 4K 60fps – 60Mb/s

Bit rate per pixel is actually lower in 4K, so sometimes it makes sense to select the slightly lower resolution e.g. 2.7K if you fly freestyle and do a lot of acro, so you get less artefacts due to rapid movements. For cinematic flights that don’t involve a lot of motion 4K is totally fine.

FPS

FPS (frame per second) is the frame rate. I prefer 60FPS over 30FPS because I think it looks better in social media like Instagram and Youtube, some people prefer 30FPS, it’s really just a personal preference. 24FPS is popular in film making but it doesn’t always look good for FPV videos because FPV drone movements are sometimes too rapid. If you are going to play with slow motion, then higher FPS such as 120FPS or even 240FPS might be better options (it might require you to lower resolution in older cameras).

Aspect Ratio

The native aspect ratio of the latest GoPro image sensor is 8:7, so selecting 8:7 as your video aspect ratio will make use of the full sensor information. In all other older GoPro the image sensor is 4:3.

When selecting 16:9, it will simply crop the top and bottom of the sensor. In case you don’t already know, Hyperview and Superview is actually dynamically stretched from 8:7 or 4:3 to 16:9.

Basically, if you plan to use Reelsteady, always choose 8:7 or 4:3, the software will export 16:9 clip for you to upload to Youtube. If you use the built-in Hypersmooth stabilization in the GoPro, select 16:9.

Lens

The Lens setting determines the field of view (FOV) of the image. From narrowest FOV to the widest FOV, the lens options available are Linear, Wide, Superview and Hyperview, depending on the camera and resolution/FPS/stabilization settings you are using.

FPV videos prefer the widest FOV possible, because the wider vertical field of view makes your footage look more stable, smoother and faster to the audience.

Unless you are using Reelsteady for video stabilisation, in which case you’d want to choose Wide, otherwise, I almost always recommend going with Hyperview (or Superview if Hyperview isn’t available).

Hypersmooth

As explained in this article, there are two ways to stabilize GoPro videos, Hypersmooth is one of them. Hero 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 all come with Hypersmooth built-in, and it works well. But most FPV pilots prefer to use Reelsteady as it works better in most situations for FPV videos.

If you want to use Reelsteady, then you should TURN OFF Hypersmooth in the camera, otherwise leave it ON. I don’t like Boost or Auto because it crops too much of the image and it zooms in and out too much sometimes, they are great for sports though.

10-Bit

Currently only the GoPro Hero 11 Black can shoot in HEVC 10-bit which means it can capture 64 times more colors than its predecessor with 8-bit. On a normal computer screen this might not make a huge difference, but it’s a step closer to professional filming on a tiny action camera! You still have the option to turn 10-bit off and use 8-bit if you want.

Bit Rate

If this settings is available, always set it to High, it gives your footage more image detail at the cost of bigger file size.

Shutter Speed

If you don’t use ND filter, then just set Shutter Speed to Auto. If you do use ND filter, then you should set Shutter Speed to a fixed value. This post explains why you should use an ND filter on a GoPro for FPV flying.

Shutter speed affects how much light it lets into the sensor, and it changes the exposure of your image. Apart from exposure, shutter speed also affects the look of your image. Faster shutter speed results in a sharper image, while slower shutter speed introduces more motion blur. A good amount of motion blur is desirable in FPV videos to achieve so called “cinematic”.

The general rule of thumb is to set shutter speed to 1/60 for 30fps, or 1/120 for 60fps, or 1/240 for 120fps, or 1/480 for 240fps. If you set a lower shutter speed than the suggested value, your image might get over-exposed with an excessive amount of motion blur.

Note that when you set shutter speed to a fixed value, you should use an appropriate ND filter on the GoPro in order to get the correct exposure. I recommend having ND16 filter for sunny day, ND8 for early morning and sunset, and ND32 for snowy day. I never use ND2 and ND4.

I prefer this type of ND filter that you can replace the original lens with. You are less likley to lose them than the ones that push into the existing lens. You will also save a few grams.

Gopro Hero 11 Lens Cap Nd Filter Change Protect

If you cannot decide what ND filter to use to get a good exposure, typically I’d rather under-expose than over-expose, because it’s more likely to recover detail in the shadow than overexposed areas.

EV Comp

It stands for Exposure Compensation. Majority of the times you can just leave EV Comp at default (Zero).

When the camera tries to change exposure, it would look at the whole image and get an average value of the current exposure and bring it down or up to the middle grey value.

Changing the EV Comp value is basically telling the camera to either brighten or darken the image from the optimal exposure it perceives.

When you are filming a subject that is darker or brighter than the background, and if you leave EV Comp at default (0), your image will probably look over-exposed, or under-exposed. In this case you’d want to adjust EV Comp. But for FPV we are usually filming a whole environment so we don’t really need to change it too much.

White Balance

Auto works well most of the times, but if you know what you are doing, it’s preferable to set this manually to match the scene you are filming. For example, use 5500K if you are shooting during the day, as this is the closest to day light. Setting it to a fixed value ensures consistent white balance and you can adjust it later in post. But if you don’t know how to work white balance in the post, just set it to auto and save some headache.

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 5500K or just Auto when flying outdoor during the day.

ISO

Recommended Setting: ISO Min set to 100 always, set ISO Max as low as possible depends on lighting (100, 200, 400 or even 1600 are all acceptable values, I usually just go with 400)

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.

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.

You should set your ISO as low as possible, because high ISO makes your footage look grainy and noisy.

When setting the ISO Min and Max, you are not setting a fixed ISO value, but rather just a range of ISO the camera is allowed to use. For example if 100 was the minimum ISO, and 1600 was the maximum ISO, the camera would be using ISO from 100 up to 1600. It changes depending on the lighting condition.

Setting a high ISO Max is useful for flexibility especially when you set shutter speed to a fixed value, ISO would be the only way the camera adjust exposure. But if you want the most consistent and cleanest possible image, it’s best to keep your ISO Max as low as possible given the lighting condition.

If you are shooting outdoor during the day, and you know you won’t be flying under the trees or shadow, you can set ISO max to 100 for the most consistent image. If you do fly under shadow, you can set this higher, such as 400 for the extra flexibility. If you fly in and out of a house for example, you can even set it higher such as 1600.

Sharpness

My sharpness recommendation is low.

The high sharpness setting is usually too high in GoPro cameras and it doesn’t look good. If you set it to low, you can always bring sharpness back up in post (in video editor) to a level you prefer, that’s why I usually use low sharpness.

Color

If you are going to color grade in post, use Flat. Otherwise just go with Normal.

  • Flat –
  • GoPro Color – image has vivid color and high in contrast

Flat Color retains more image detail and allows more freedom for the user to “color grade” in post editing. Flat Color video is not designed for direct consumption, it’s for those who know how to color grade in post. If you are new to making FPV videos and not sure about colour grading, maybe you should just stick with Normal color.

Color grading your videos is a great skill to learn. It will bring your videos to a whole new level when it’s done correctly. To do this, get a decent video editor, such as DaVinci Resolve, Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro X.

Top Tips

Uploading to Youtube

Youtube compression can ruin your video if it’s not exported properly: fast motion and details such as grass and leaves will appear pixelated.

I think the best approach is to follow Youtube’s guideline. It’s useless to just use super high bitrate, Youtube will compresses it anyway. And it probably does a worse job than your video editor would.

It’s important to know that Youtube retains higher bitrate for higher resolution videos, therefore you should “upscale” your video when exporting it in your video editor if you want it to look good in playback. For example, if your video is 1080p or 2.7K, export it in 4K! This is because Youtube will limit any 1080p videos to 12Mbps bitrate, but they allow 4K videos to have up to 68Mbps bitrate!

GoPro Dummy

When you are just practicing, or tuning your quad, you are not always recording. You can use a GoPro dummy so you don’t accidentally break your precious GoPro.

You can get it 3D printed in TPU, stuff it with metal and rice so it weighs exactly the same as your GoPro.

Gopro Dummy Dead Weight 3d Print Tpu Fpv DroneWeight distribution can greatly affect your drone’s performance and control feel, mounting a GoPro dummy is great to achieve consistency in your training even when you are not recording and you won’t damage your GoPro when you crash.

Fpv Drone Gopro Dummy 3d Print Tpu TrainingThis is the weight I use, “Wheel Balance Weight”, they come in 5g and 10g pieces: https://amzn.to/3GDHCYd. You can also use coins, chains, rice or whatever weight you can find and fit inside the dummy.

Wheel Balance Weights Rc Model Adhersive Fe 10g 5g

Common Issues

GoPro doesn’t fully charge battery

If your GoPro always stops charging at around 80%-90% (some even reports it stopping at 70-80%), it’s likely to be an issue with the charger. If you are using a powerful 3rd party charger (e.g an Apple charger or PD capable charger), and the battery never reach 100%, try a less powerful, less smart 10W charger – one that doesn’t support the fancy PD or QC protocols, for example one that outputs 5V 2A. You can also try charging from your computer’s USB port, that should work too.

Edit History

  • Mar 2017 – Article created
  • Mar 2018 – Added sections “Shutter Speed” and “Uploading to Youtube”
  • Jan 2020 – Updated GoPro list, added settings for Hero 7
  • May 2020 – Added settings for Hero 8 and included separate settings for Reelsteady
  • Oct 2022 – Updated product links and settings
  • Jan 2023 – Added “Top Tips” and “Common Issues”

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19 comments

satlus 24th November 2022 - 2:01 pm

Thanks for this Oscar! I keep coming back to it over the years. There is an excellent firmware update on the go pro labs website that re-enables all “lost” protune settings on the session 5, and allows configuration via QR when the camera powers on. There is also a mobile app for QR code generation with the ability to store multiple settings profiles on it
https://community.gopro.com/s/article/GoPro-Labs?language=en_US

There is another great benefit to upgrading to the labs firmware for the session5 – it removes the need for the “Fry Hack”, a bug that resulted in a blurred image with fixed shutter speeds that you’d have to manually fix in the app (https://youtu.be/CvUGV4kwBik?t=431)

I’ve uploaded the firmware on my hero7 as well, and the QR settings can be shared across camera models. It’s awesome. You can also configure the QR code to set the date/time as well.

Reply
Sam 1st November 2022 - 12:50 am

Looks like a cut and paste error in the table for “When using Reelsteady GO for Stabilization”, you have Aspect Ratio as 16:9 there, it should be 4:3.

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Oscar 1st November 2022 - 11:01 am

You are correct, thank you for pointing it out!

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Kevin R Johnson 27th December 2021 - 9:24 pm

I’m using a iOS App called Camera Tools that gives you back Shutter control and other functions that the GoPro Quick app took away. Works great!

Reply
Mitchell Ponton 12th December 2021 - 9:31 pm

Thank you so much! this is fantastic!
Do you have any updated info on settings for the Hero 9 and 10?

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TunerFPV 8th August 2021 - 5:36 pm

Very useful article:) I would add the newest way to do shutter and ISO settings, probably all other settings which where removed from the APP.. the GOPRO LABS and QRControl app! Simple update instructions on GoPro Labs website and it’s supporting Session 5 and above :)

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Djuna 28th February 2021 - 11:16 am

Thanks so much for these cheat sheets, Oscar!

From the “Known Issues” page at ReelSteady (reelsteady.com/pages/go-known-issues), I see it’s also recommended to turn off GPS and auto-flip. Maybe these are default settings out of box, but I just bought a naked GoPro Hero 6 in a NamelessRC Sunny case and the GPS was turned on, so I thought I’d pass that along.

I also ran into the unfortunate issue — since Jan 2021 — of GoPro removing ProTune control from phone apps. Ugh! Thankfully, I got around this by sideloading the last-working APK file from an archive site: apkmirror.com/apk/gopro-rm/gopro-formerly-capture-featuring-quikstories/gopro-formerly-capture-featuring-quikstories-7-3-1-release/

Thanks again!

.

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Roy 4th June 2020 - 8:13 am

Following youtube’s video upload guidelines is fine except for the bitrate; there’s so much moving stuff in the average fpv video that you need a way higher bitrate than recommended. I’m usually somewhere between 80 and 160 for 30/60fps 1080p just to make sure most details make it to youtube. A 1080p 8Mbps h264 video (current recommended settings) export is gonna look bad even before uploading it to youtube.

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Frank Ragsac 9th December 2019 - 11:04 pm

Is there a hack for Hero 4 to output Video for FPV? I have the firmware version 5 and have the getfpv cable. I can’t get any video. I need it to work with my gimbal as a second camera where I can control pan and tilt. Appreciate any help. I’ve been searching the internet and nada. Except that people said GoPro disabled AV out.

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John 6th February 2018 - 3:25 am

Hey Oscar,
Im confused. My Session 5 does not have 2.4K? The closest is 2.7K and 2.7K 4:3. Whats the deal there?
I bought the camera this week just incase that makes a difference.

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Michael Russell 9th January 2018 - 4:51 am

So how is 5 better if you can’t hook it up to your fpv

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Oscar 16th January 2018 - 3:37 pm

even if you could it’s going to be useless because how large the latency is.
Just use it for recording HD footage.

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FELIPE MARCANTE 16th October 2017 - 12:49 am

Good night,
I would like know, there is fpv sustem for gopro hero 5 session??
Thanks

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Oscar 19th October 2017 - 3:53 pm

I don’t think so, they don’t have an analogue video output anymore, only HDMI.

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John 6th February 2018 - 3:24 am

No there would not be one as the latency is way too long on HD video. Youll have to run a specific system line the Connex FPB system but $$$$$

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Ethan 19th August 2017 - 2:57 am

I have went through my session(not 4K) and there isn’t a stabilization option. Also don’t see an option for sharpness. It is set now at 14400/30. Was using 1080 and it just looked horrible.

Am wondering if I should have just gotten the 5 now.

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Oscar 21st August 2017 - 2:59 pm

The old Session was quite bad IMO, and yea Session 5 is the way to go.

Reply
Scott A Lazaruk 1st August 2017 - 4:18 pm

Hey Oscar,

Found this useful, but … could you post a more complete set of settings?
IE include the ones you skipped over?

For example, turning off video stabilization. (Which I think I’m supposed to do, from searching around). Would be cool to have the settings all in one place for those who are getting started with this. thanks!

Reply
Oscar 3rd August 2017 - 3:04 pm

Hi Scott,
I’ve only mentioned the ones that need changing, the rest should just be at their default values :)
definitely leave stabilization off :) it makes FPV footage look worse.
I am still experimenting with other settings i will keep updating this article.

Reply