GoPro as a vlogging camera?
Really? I know a lot of people think of GoPros as an action camera- something you take when you're surfing the pipeline in Hawaii or when jumping out of an airplane, right? Yes, because the GoPro is nearly indestructible, those are all great uses for it!
But how many of you guys have considered the GoPro as a portable, light, high-quality video camera for vlogging, or just making YouTube videos in general?
My 2019 video setup has been a reliable combination of two: the high-quality, but bulky Canon EOS R + 10-18mm lens + Rode microphone, and the tiny, gimbal-stabilised DJI Osmo Pocket. The combination of these can get me great video (and usually audio) in most situations, except in bad weather.
So why am I exploring new options? Well, you're going to find out in this mega-vlog!
Firstly, the EOS R will remain the gold standard for my video recording this year. The 4K video, the side swivelling screen, the hot-shoe for mounting a microphone, and all the bells and whistles I need. The only drawbacks are size (ain't gonna fit in an every day bag) and the 1.6x crop (that's why I have to use a wide lens, which is not the best if you're doing a combination of video and photo). With the Ronin SC added to stabilise the whole system, this becomes really big and heavy. Good if you've got a car, but not so great if you're just walking around all day. I'm not even sure I'd be able use this all day in Disneyland.
The baby companion, the DJI Osmo Pocket, is literally a little pocket dynamo. The built-in 3-axis gimbal stabilisation and great video quality is fantastic. But after a year of use, some issues are starting to emerge. Audio quality has not been a huge issue for me, but maybe for others. Yes, it's possible to attach an external microphone to this thing, but you won't be able to stand it up on its base if you do that. Of much greater concern to me is the battery. First off, the battery life isn't bad, but you can't swap it. So if you run out during a shoot, that's it unless you can get it into a charger (even a portable battery pack- but again you can't stand it up on its base). The rest is much more concerning for me. I can't seem to get mine to charge to 100% anymore. It seems to stop around 86% and won't go further. Of still even greater concern is the fact that sometimes, when you remove the camera from the charger, it won't turn on! The only way to solve that is to plug it back into a charger, and turn it on then. Now if you're on a shoot and that happens- well, you know what will happen- nothing!
So with all this in mind, I've decided that I need to replace the lighter part of my rig. After tons of research, I narrowed it down to the following three, and I'm going to give you reasons why I didn't go for the first two.
1) Sony RX100m7- This is the premium camera in its class, rumoured to have the same autofocusing capabilities of the Sony A9 mirrorless camera. 4K with no crop, zoom, what more could one ask for? Well, for starters, a lower asking price (around $1800 here in Australia). With all the compact cameras, whilst the ones I looked at had an external mic input, there is no way to attach the microphone to the camera itself, without using some sort of bracket or cage.
2) Canon G7Xm3- About half of the price of the Sony, this seemed like a much more practical option. Except I freaked out when I found out that this thing doesn't focus well. Canon left out the Dual Pixel AF, and the results apparently were terrible. I know they have since released an update to address this issue, but the fact that the original focussing algorithm is still available as an option, it makes me think that there is some serious denial going on here.
So the option I went for was the GoPro Hero 8 Black. At $600 or less, it is a powerhouse that does everything the above cameras could, with some exceptions. There is 4K, Hypersmooth 2.0 (a stabilisation system that is considered to be a "Gimbal-killer"), waterproofing, and an improved external microphone. Things it doesn't do as well include no zoom, short battery life, no front-facing screen, and no lens cover or protection. Battery life can be overcome by having more batteries, and there is a new mod to be released which will allow you to add a screen, with the combination of the 2 costing around $260. The change in the design makes it impossible to attach a lens cover without adding a cage (which can't be used with the mod). So all this takes the GoPro to just under the price of the Canon. I consider this the best option for me, especially once the mods are available. Right now when you're vlogging, you can't see yourself. But with the wide angle lens on this GoPro, you're definitely going to be able to fit yourself in, but you just can't frame it properly, unless you use your phone to check.
So this might not be the best option for you, but I feel that it is a good solution for me right now. I am definitely looking forward to the new mods though, because I think that will make this system more complete. In my video, I've gone through some of the things I've written about, and also show you some footage that you can get with this camera from a vlogger's point of view (not an action enthusiast).
Please let me know in the comments what you think- I'd love to hear from you!
Until next time,