More Than One Way to Use a GoPro
GoPro has dominated the compact-action camera industry for more than a decade, and its cameras are great for capturing high-risk, high-flying sports in high-definition video. But did you know you they can also be used to stream video to social media networks? Or used as a backup camera on a car? Here are 10 cheap, creative and fun ways to use your GoPro.
Stream to Periscope
YouꞋll need a GoPro Hero4, but if you have one, you can pair it with your Periscope social media account on your smartphone. You still need to keep your phone nearby so you can connect to the cameraꞋs Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but this opens up a world of underwater and high-speed video you can stream to your friends when your smartphone's built-in camera just wonꞌt cut it. You can do this in three easy steps:
- Turn your GoProꞋs Wi-Fi on and connect your phone to it.
- Open the Periscope app and click broadcast.
- The app will detect your GoPro, and is ready to roll!
We suggest getting a waterproof case for your smartphone and streaming some tropical snorkeling footage, or mount the GoPro on your mountain bike and rip down some trails while your friends are watching from their desk with envy.
Spend a Day in the Life of Your Pet
Have you ever wondered what your pets do all day while youꞌre gone? Do you constantly blame your significant other for something that happened, never suspecting the real culprit is Fido? Or maybe you just want to get your dogꞌs-eye view of playing fetch. No matter the reason, seeing the world from your petꞋs perspective always seems to give a tiny look into what might be going through your petꞋs brains when the animal is acting playfully and foolishly.
You can attach a collar, harness or head mount with existing accessories, or use some of the up- and-coming products designed for this kind of thing. GoPro has recently released the Fetch harness for dogs ($59.99) that gives you the POV angle weꞋve all come to love with our GoPros.
Make a Floating Platform for Mellow Watersports
It would be great to make a floating tripod that could withstand 20-foot swells and Class IV rapids to capture your killer surfing and rafting adventures, but for some of the more mellow watersports — stand up paddle boarding (SUP), non-whitewater kayaking, canoeing — you could easily make a floating platform for your GoPro to capture those serene, middle of nowhere, "how did they do that?!" moments. Yes, GoPro has the Floaty Backdoor ($19.99) and floating selfie sticks, but for these types of captures, youꞌre going to need your camera upright and pointing directly at you, not floating upside down in the water.
To do this, just grab a few empty plastic bottles for pontoons, a plastic lid or a Frisbee for the GoPro platform, some duct tape to hold everything together and, viola! — you have a floating GoPro catamaran. Now just use some clear fishing line to pull it behind your watercraft and start capturing your moments.
Grab the Best Pictures on the Move
The GoProꞌs video capabilities are excellent, but if you want to grab one single instant, exporting a still photo from the video isnꞌt going to be of the highest quality. Instead, use the time-lapse feature built into the camera.
Depending on your activity, go into the time-lapse settings and set the time accordingly. For high-octane captures, such as screaming around that hairpin turn on your sport bike, set the timer to take a photo every half second. For slower things where the scenery isnꞌt changing quite as quickly (like SUP), slow the timer down to once every second or longer.
When shooting faster, like every 0.5 seconds, change the field of view to medium or narrow if possible to ensure the highest image quality.
Back-up Camera for Your Car
GoPro Back-Up Camera
If youꞌve always wanted a back-up camera, hereꞌs your chance to make one using your GoPro. Sure, thereꞌs a little hassle with installation and youꞌre not going to use it every time you back out of a parking spot, but when youꞌre in a tricky situation, this hack can come in handy.
Simply use the adhesive-mounting platforms that come with your camera and affix it to your bumper. Or grab the surfboard suction cup attachment ($19.99) and put it on your back window — this method will let you keep the GoPro mounted, and you wonꞌt have to worry about someone ripping it off your bumper. Then, just open and connect to the GoPro app, tap on Control, and wait for the preview to show up. You can now see behind you so you can avoid those tricky obstacles.
Built-In Time Lapse
Thereꞌs something intrinsically mesmerizing about watching time-lapse videos, and your GoPro has some pretty amazing capabilities built right in.
The size of your SD memory card will help determine how fast you can set the timer, but the more pictures you can take (0.5 - 1 second intervals) within your eventꞌs time period, the smoother your time-lapse video will look. Conversely, if youꞌre filming a long-term project, perhaps the building of your house, you can set the interval much slower and still have a cool-looking video. If itꞌs a days-long shoot, your GoProꞌs battery may run out well before the end, so make sure you have spares or a portable battery pack handy.
GoPro’s native video-editing software makes importing the still photos and creating the final video incredibly easy.
The Most Compact Point-and-Shoot Camera
People have mistaken GoPro images for full-resolution DSLR pictures as long as you use it within its "sweet spots." Bright, diffuse lighting and about a 3-foot distance seems to be the GoProꞌs bread-and-butter, though it certainly handles conditions outside that zone extremely well, too. You can use either the shutter button on the camera itself or your smartphone to preview and/or snap the shot. The latter method also lets you hold the GoPro up high, to capture photos from awkward angles.
Compact point-and-shoot cameras have gotten really small and really good at what they do, but most still donꞌt match the quality, ruggedness and functionality of the GoPro camera.
ꞌDashcamꞌ for Your Bike
GoPro Dashcam for Your Bike
If youꞌre a pedal-powered commuter you already know this, but riding your bike in the city, even bike-friendly cities, is still inherently dangerous. Grab a handlebar-mounting accessory ($19.99) and press record as you set out on your urban journeys. Nobody ever tries to get in an accident, but if it happens, youꞌll have it all on video. The insurance companies will love you AND youꞌll probably go viral online.
Stream to Anything with HDMI Inputs
Using the GoProꞌs built-in HDMI port, you can stream to any device that has HDMI input ports without using an app. You can use the GoPro as a webcam or record directly to your DVR. Or you can have a much better camera than whatꞌs included with your mobile device (with the proper cables and/or adapters).
Whether you raise bees or teach an educational class on beekeeping, having a look inside a beehive with a GoPro is much more convenient (and a lot safer to show an entire class). This one could end up damaging your camera if you get a little honey in the wrong place, so take every precaution necessary to protect it.
For the most protection — aside from a beekeeperꞌs suit so you can safely mount the GoPro — buy an extra waterproof case ($49.99) and use a Dremel to carve out a hole so that you can connect a USB charging cable and the HDMI connector. Connect the two cables and then use some moldable putty to create a complete seal. Make sure the cables are long enough to reach a power source and the viewing screen, and then youꞌre ready to add it to the beehive. Watch as the queen lays her eggs and the bees fill their honeycombs. As a bonus, youꞌll know exactly when to feed them, when to add another screen, and when youꞌre ready to harvest the honey.
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Still deciding which camera is right for you? Here are our top action cam picks for all types of outdoor activities. If you've narrowed your selection to GoPro, check out this guide for the best GoPro to suit your needs. Or, if you want to take your video to the next level, take a look at our buying guide to 360-degree cameras, as well as our reviews of the best 360-degree cameras.