We’ve been using our GoPro Hero 7 Black as a vlogging camera for about three months now and have dialed our settings in pretty well. Before we dive into those settings though, let’s talk about how and why we’re using this awesome little action camera for our vlogging.
Why the GoPro Hero 7 Black?
When we first started our YouTube channel we were posting weekly and using our phones to record everything. About a month into our adventure we decided to step things up and get a Canon T7i with a 10-18mm lens and a Rode VideoMicro external microphone. All of this was combined and attached to the end of either a monopod or a flexible tripod. Not only is this a BIG vlogging setup, it’s also fairly expensive – about $1200. The size was a big burden too as it drew a ton of attention when we were out in public and there was also no good way to “put it down” to chase after one of the kids if necessary. This ended up being a frequent question each morning:
“Are we taking the big camera today?”
The fact that we even had to ask this question was a big problem. There was no way we were ever going to vlog more frequently with that big setup. Our phones are good enough at video and certainly pocket-sized, but the audio is so-so and there’s no stabilization without an external device that, again, adds weight and size. We had talked many times about creating more videos per week, but the physical headaches and limitations of our cameras were holding us back.
Enter the GoPro Hero 7 Black.
More Frequent and Easier Vlogging Is Now Possible!
We picked up our GoPro Hero 7 Black the first week of October, only a few days after it was released here in the US. All of the industry rumblings got us excited to check this thing out, and once we started seeing real-world videos online showing off the built-in stabilization and audio quality we knew we had to have one. This was the camera we needed to not only enhance our channel, but also increase our ability to vlog more frequently.
We were so impressed with its features and performance that we jumped right in and started carrying it with us everywhere. The Hero 7 Black is so small that it easily fits in a pocket, so we’re never asking ourselves if we’re going to take it along. It goes everywhere with us and enables us to share so much more of our life that we wouldn’t be able to vlog more frequently without it.
Our GoPro Hero 7 Black Setup
There are two main components to our setup: the physical gear that we use with our GoPro, and the custom settings that we use on the camera.
There’s not a lot to share here. We have the GoPro Hero 7 Black itself, the “cage” that it comes with, and that’s on top of a small tripod that folds into a handle, like this one:
So really, we’re just using the Hero 7 Black by itself. We don’t use an external mic because the onboard audio is so much better than the older models. It’s not quite as good as the audio we were getting out of our DSLR + Rode setup, but it is totally usable and sounds great in most environments. Adding a mic would also make the “pocketability” factor go way down. Also, the GoPro external mic adapter is huge, in addition to the size of the mic plus any wires.
Custom GoPro Hero 7 Black Settings for Vlogging
Here’s where the real magic happens. The Hero 7 Black works wonderfully out of the box with the standard automatic settings, however with just a little bit of tweaking you can really squeeze out even more quality and control over your video and audio.
We record all of our regular vlogging footage in 1080p at 60fps. We edit and publish videos in 30fps, so recording in 60fps gives us a little creative wiggle room with slow motion. Every once in a while we’ll bump the fps up to 120 or 240 if we know that we’re recording something that we want to slow down a lot. Quick side note: The GoPro Hero 7 Black is by FAR the cheapest camera that will record in 240fps, so if you like really slow-motion video, this camera is perfect for you!
We also set our FOV to Linear. Out of the box, GoPro shoots in Wide, which gives that characteristic fisheye look to your footage. We use Linear because we’re mostly recording ourselves selfie-style and that fisheye look isn’t great and can heavily distort your face.
Now on to the good stuff!
Turn Protune On
If you don’t do anything else, at least turn Protune on and leave the rest of the settings on default/auto. When you record in Protune mode your video files will be 2-3x larger, and this is a Very Good Thing™. Larger video files mean the camera is capturing more data, and that means you’re getting a better picture.
Custom Protune Settings
Let’s just go through the Protune screen and talk about each setting:
We haven’t noticed much of a difference between Auto and 1/60. This may affect lower-light situations in some way, but we haven’t seen anything noticeable in our own tests.
EV Comp: 0
We leave this alone unless we really need to record in a low-light environment. More often than not you’ll get better EV adjustment results out of your editing software.
White Balance: Auto
GoPro’s software is pretty good at adjusting the white balance based on what’s coming into the lens, so we just leave this on Auto and let the camera do it’s thing.
ISO Min: 100
If you really want to know what ISO is, google it 🙂 The quick version (when talking about ISO with video cameras) is the higher your ISO, the more light is being captured at the expense of picture quality. We’re talking about the minimum ISO right now though, which isn’t near as important. When filming in bright sunlight, an ISO of 100 is appropriate and makes the clearest, most high-quality picture. You can set the Minimum ISO higher, but I honestly don’t know when or why you’d do that. ISO is way more important when talking about the maximum, so let’s move on!
ISO Max: 400
This is the most important setting you can adjust on your GoPro Hero 7 Black. GoPro’s optical sensors are not known for their performance in low-light environments, so to compensate for this shortcoming they let the software increase the ISO all the way up to 6400. While this will let you record in fairly dark places, the image quality is awful. By limiting the Max ISO here, you can ensure that you will always have a high quality picture. It does mean that you won’t see much in dark places though. If you want to record in a dim restaurant or somewhere outdoors with streetlights or some other kind of lighting, you can somewhat safely bump this up to 800 without it looking too bad. Be careful though as the stabilization gets a little funky at higher ISO’s because the stabilization software “looks” at the image and grainy images are hard for computers to read. We haven’t seen any weird behavior from the stabilization at 400 ISO though, and the picture is still really clear.
Some people prefer to turn GoPro Sharpness to Low or Off and handle image sharpness while editing, but we think the Medium sharpness setting works pretty well. It saves time while editing and rendering as well!
This is another setting that others like to turn off and handle while editing, but again, we think the GoPro color is pretty nice looking and it also saves time while editing and rendering. Feel free to adjust this to your own preferences.
RAW Audio: Off
If you need a separate audio file, or if you’re into heavily post-processing your audio during editing, you’ll want to adjust this setting. We just let the camera handle the processing and have been perfectly happy with the results.
This is the second most important setting you can adjust on your GoPro Hero 7 Black. If you leave this on Auto, the software will automatically switch between Stereo and Wind as it detects wind noise or other interference. The result is a weird, hollow, wooshing sound as it transitions and this is extremely annoying – especially in the middle of a talking segment. We initially set this to Stereo to stop the camera from switching back and forth, but the wind noise was too frequent and too loud, making a lot of footage we had recorded pretty unusable. After forcing it into Wind mode, we haven’t looked back. It doesn’t switch back and forth and also doesn’t get messed up when a light breeze picks up or if you adjust your hand on your selfie stick/tripod. If you were to compare an audio sample in Stereo and Wind, the Wind version would sound a little muddier and flatter, but if you record everything in Wind it sounds just fine! It’s not the best audio ever and certainly doesn’t compare to a real microphone, but the Hero 7 Black has the best audio we’ve ever heard on an action camera, and is 100% usable for vlogging.
We love this little camera! Not only is it pocket-sized, it also records really clear and crisp video and 100% usable audio. Our GoPro Hero 7 Black is always with us and always ready to capture our daily lives. We can’t recommend it more and think it’s the perfect sub-$500 vlogging camera.
All Of Our Settings In One Place
EV Comp: 0
White Balance: Auto
ISO Min: 100
ISO Max: 400 (800 sometimes)
RAW Audio: Off