Using a GoPro as an underwater device can yield great results if used properly. In this post, Lars will give you his best tips for making great underwater video.

Henrikke filming in the kelp

Settings I use most often in Norway:
  • Res: 1080 SUPER
  • FPS: 24
  • FOV: W – Wide (super)
  • Protune: On
  • CAM RAW
  • Colours: Flat
  • ISO limit: 1600
  • Sharpness: medium
  • Exposure compensation: +0,5
  • Up Side Down (If filming on a pole)
  • No filters

 

Stability:

You can have the most spectacular activities and scenery going on in your view screen and still not get great results, if you video is not stabilized. My suggestion will be to use a sturdy pole or a steady tray to get the most fluid motion as possible. Practicing good buoyancy control is also very important to get fluid motion. You can have as stable hands as you like, but it won’t help if you’re wobbling uncontrollably in the water. Planting your knees in the sand or holding on to something will help if you don’t have the best buoyancy control.

Thor Inge using Ikelite GoPro tray

View angle:

If filming wide angle you should generally try to set the view angle as high as possible. If possible, preferably the  superwide setting(1080s). Medium or narrow should be considered if you want to shoot objects up close. In that case, I will recommend using some kind of artificial light to make the colours pop even more.

Wide angle of the wall

Frames per second:

Frames per second (FPS for short) is also important to consider, and which one you use depends much on what you want as an end result. Generally I use 24 fps, which will give nice smooth video, and will let the maximum amount of light to reach the camera sensor.

If I want to slow down my video in post production, I will have to use a higher frame rate such as 50 or 60 fps, or even 120 fps in the most extreme circumstances. Using such high frame rates will require more than double amount of light, which is why I will only recommend using such frame rates on sunny days, on shallow depths, or if you have powerful artificial light.

 

Protune:

Using Protune and camera RAW is the most important setting to get right if you want vivid colors in your video. Having a RAW white balance means that you can adjust the colours in GoPro’s free editing software in post production. Using Raw this will bring forth a lot more vivid colours than without it. Using Protune you also get more details in the shadows and highlights, meaning you get a greater dynamic range. NB: Don’t be upset if the video doesn’t look good straight out of the camera; Using protune and RAW will make your video look flat and more boring than using auto. The advantage of using Protune and RAW will present itself after using editing software.

The slider below shows the effect of a RAW white balance, and how you are able to choose correct colors. The effect will not be as big on GoPro as the image is taken with a dSLR with higher bitrate. But you will see significant results using a GoPro as well.

Some people ask me if I use colour filters, I generally don’t. The reason is that using filters will require more available light when filming. Since the light is very limited underwater, I generally leave it at home. It also won’t work as intended if not following specific guidelines for how to use it, such as having the sun coming in from behind you. In my option you can get just as good results using Protune and RAW white balance. – But if you are not at all interested in editing your video, a filter might be the right choice.

 

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