3 mistakes everyone makes with their GoPro

Your GoPro can capture stunning footage... if you dodge these common pitfalls

Man wearing GoPro on head mount
(Image credit: Photo by Arindam Raha)

GoPros are incredibly powerful action cameras. Used correctly, they can capture stunning footage and stills in the most extreme situations. While we're starting to see some excellent GoPro alternatives appearing on the market, as we speak, it's still today's best GoPros that dominate the top half of our best action camera guide.

If you've bitten the bullet and bought your first HERO (perhaps via a hot GoPro deal), there are some key things to know to help you capture great footage from the off. You don't want to ruin an otherwise perfect outdoors moment due to poor camera knowledge, so it's a good idea to get clued up before you embark on your adventure.

Werner is a camera enthusiast who runs MountMedia (opens in new tab), a popular YouTube channel that offers advice on filmmaking and photography. He's put together a video of common mistakes make by action cam newbies, so you don't have to go through the annoying trial-and-error period yourself. Watch the full video below or read on for three of the most common GoPro mistakes.

These tips are applicable to the full current GoPro lineup – so the GoPro HERO 10 (the current flagship), as well as the HERO 9, and HERO 8 – but also older models that are now only available through third party retailers, such as the HERO 7. So whichever cam you've got, you should find something useful here. 

1. Shooting in bad light

While GoPros are impressive cameras, they can't fix everything, reminds Werner. And that includes poor lighting. While you can capture stunning images, you won't automatically get this quality of image in any lighting condition. 

"Many people... underestimate that the GoPro has a very small sensor, and this small sensor is very dependent on good lighting condition," says Werner. "The fact is, that the GoPro can only show its full potential in good lighting conditions."

GoPros are built for shooting outdoors, so won't be at their best shooting indoor footage in artificial light. They'll also struggle to capture good footage in either very dull or very bright lighting conditions, as well as situations in which there's a lot of contrast in the same frame (i.e. area of deep shadow as well as bright sunlight). For the best results, stick to shooting during the so-called Golden hour just after dawn or before sunset.You can also help the situation along by adding GoPro's Light mod (opens in new tab)

2. Not making use of different mounts

One of the benefits of GoPro is the sheer number and variety of mounting options available to you. Don't underestimate the creative potential of switching up your mount. A chest strap can create dynamic first-person footage, while a telescopic pole lets you film yourself going about your activities. 

People tend to stick to one or two mounts – often, a helmet mount and perhaps a handlebar mount – says Werner, but there are loads of other possibilities. The GoPro store (opens in new tab) has plenty of options, but it's also easy to pick up cheaper, non-branded alternatives for the more common mounts. One of the most exciting options is the new Volta mount, which is essentially a tripod / grip that also includes a battery pack and control buttons for single-handed capture.

3. Forgetting the GoPro has a fish-eye lens

The GoPro has a fish-eye lens with an extreme wide angle, which works well for things like POV, time lapses and landscape shots. However, you shouldn't forget that you're not working with a standard lens, and with those special properties come certain limitations, says Werner. It's not great at close-ups of people, and you can't do things like blur the background. You might also end up with a curved horizon in your wide landscape shots. 

"Personally, I consider these special properties to be great strength of the GoPro," says Werner. "The only decisive factor is that you are aware of them and try to deal with [them]. 

Ruth is currently on secondment as Sleep Editor for Tom's Guide and TechRadar. The role is an extension of her work on T3, where she ran the site's Wellness channel, which includes sleep, relaxation, yoga and general wellbeing. She was also Outdoors editor, reviewing and writing about everything from camping gear and hiking boots to mountain bikes, drones and paddle boards. She has tested more mattresses than her small flat can handle, and has had to implement a one-in-one-out pillow policy, for fear of getting smothered in the night.