Exploring still photography with a GoPro

I got a GoPro Hero5 Black as a generous Christmas gift from my parents, and I have been having a lot of fun exploring what I can do with it. By default, it is a video camera, but it is also a very capable still camera.

It has a wide-angle 12mm full-frame equivalent lens. I no longer have an ultra wide-angle lens in my main lens lineup, so the GoPro has been a refreshing option for street and documentary work.

It has 12 MP of resolution. It shoots jpeg and raw (interestingly enough, Adobe products can read the GoPro .gpr files, but MacOS and, by extension, Photo Mechanic, doesn’t recognize them as raw images).

Exposure is almost entirely automatic. You can manually control other options like minimum and maximum ISO, white balance, and EV compensation, but all of that is buried in settings menus. It’s easier to let the camera do the work, and it does it pretty well.

The Hero5 series cameras are waterproof, which is a handy feature for a photographer living in Seattle. I was able to shoot during a major downpour that would’ve caused issues with my other camera gear (weather-resistance is not the same as waterproof).

The built-in GPS and Wi-Fi are incredibly handy. When I was traveling recently, I didn’t bring my MacBook Pro with me and I was able to wirelessly transfer images to my iPhone 6+ for quick edits with GPS data for easy location tagging.

Technically, everything I’ve mentioned can be done with an iPhone and an adapter lens, but I really like the simplicity of the GoPro. It has one button to turn it on and one button to take photos. Super simple and super quick. And all of it works with gloves on and in a downpour (try interacting with an iPhone screen with gloves or wet fingers…).

I’m looking forward to seeing what else I can do with my GoPro. In the meantime, here are a few more images from the past couple of weeks.


All images photographed with my GoPro Hero5 Black. Editing and metadata were handled with Photo Mechanic. Toning and retouching were done in Lightroom CC with The Preset Factory.

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