How to Use a GoPro for Vlogging

Use the cheap video camera to make a great looking video blog

Vlogging is still a relevant medium. YouTube provides a never-ending supply of vloggers discussing nearly every topic imaginable. But you might assume you’d be required to spend thousands of dollars to create a vlog. You don't. One way to up your vlogging game is with a GoPro camera. These cameras work exceptionally well for vlogging if you use them correctly and work with the right equipment.

Your GoPro Vlog Setup Starts With the Lighting

The first thing to understand when using your GoPro for vlogging is that lighting is key. Because these cameras are created to be filming action shots outside, they need a lot of light. That doesn’t mean you have to spend tons of money on professional film lighting. You should, however, spend a bit of money to get lighting that will serve the purpose, otherwise, your vlogs will turn out dim, grainy, and generally unprofessional.

One of the best lights you can buy for the purpose of vlogging with a GoPro is an LED panel. A great example is the Neewer Dimmable Bi-Color LED. You should purchase at least two of these lights. You will also need a way to mount them so they hang in front of and above you (pointing downward, toward your stage). You can purchase stands or you can go the DIY route and mount them to a ceiling or wall. However you get them mounted, make sure they are above and in front of you, as well as behind your camera. 

A pair of LED light panels

You will also want to make sure to turn off all other lights and make sure no external ambient light is bleeding into your filming area. You also want to only have one color of light available, otherwise, you’re going to have trouble getting the white balance correct. We tend to go with as bright a white as possible (in LED terms, think Daylight).

Testing Testing, Can You Hear Me?

The built-in GoPro mic is plenty good for action shot audio. It is not, however, even remotely good for vlogging. In other words, you'll need a third-party mic, otherwise your sound will be sub-par for your efforts.

The version of GoPro you have will dictate the type of mic you need (or the type of adapter). For example, the GoPro Hero 5 Black Edition requires an adapter to go from 1/8th inch phono plug to USB-C. Once you have the proper adapter, you can plug a mic in to get superior sound.

Black GoPro mic adapter

What kind of mic? One of the best vlogging mics available (for the GoPro) is the Audio-Technica AT8024. This is a pricier mic, but if you’re serious about vlogging, you need a mic of this quality. The AT8024 does use a 1/8th phono plug, so the USB-C adapter will be required on newer GoPro models.

This is a shotgun mic, so you’ll want to set it up at least two to three feet from where you'll be sitting and make sure the mic is pointed in your direction. If you place your GoPro camera on a stand (which you should), it’s always best to attach the mic to the same stand (using a clamp similar to the SMALLRIG Clamp Mount).

Audio-Technica AT8024 with 3.5mm jack

Tweaking Your GoPro Vlog Setup

Now it's time to configure the GoPro for the best results while vlogging. This is absolutely critical, otherwise your video won't be usable for the format. How you set this depends on the version of GoPro you use. If possible, you should be using a GoPro Hero version 4 or newer (otherwise you’ll have to try to adjust the fisheye effect using a third-party piece of software). With newer versions of GoPro cameras, you can change the field of view so its narrow enough to get rid of the fisheye look.

  1. First, install the GoPro mobile app (for Android or iOS).

  2. Once you’ve installed the app, connect your device to your phone using the instructions provided for your model GoPro. Then go to the Camera Settings section of the app.

  3. In Settings, set the following options:

    • Resolution: 2.7K
    • Frames Per Second: 30
    • Field Of View: Linear (if optional) or Narrow (if Linear is not available)
    • White Balance: Set this to taste, but most likely either at 4800k or 5500k
    • Color: Flat
    • ISO Limit: 400
    • EV Comp: Adjust this down to reduce harshness.
    • Audio Protune: OFF
    GoPro mobile app camera settings
  4. Some of the above settings will be contingent on how strong your light source is as well as the color(s) of your filming area. Do several test clips before you begin filming seriously to adjust settings until the video matches your expectations.

Ready for Your Closeup

With all that in place, you are finally ready for your close up. Make sure you know your material and, if this is going to be a vlogging series, that your setup stays the same across all your videos once you’ve dialed it in to perfection. You’ll spend a lot of time upfront, nailing the setup. Once you get it right, using the above suggestions, your vlogs will look and sound more professional, which is appealing to a much wider audience.

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