Are you wondering if you should buy a GoPro or DSLR for shooting videos? In this tutorial, I’m going to show you the differences between GoPro and DSLR camera !
Coming up !
GoPro vs DSLR
I bet that you’re just starting out as a filmmaker/photographer and you want to know if GoPro or DSLR is the right camera for you. Honestly, the answer is definitely more complicated than the question because it all depends on what kind of project you’re shooting… GoPro is also known as the world’s best action video camera, meaning people always buy it for shooting action, extreme sport videos. And a DSLR(digital-single-lens-reflex) seems a lot more professional. There are too many things you need to learn and explore when shooting on a DSLR. So which one is the best for you ? It’s really hard to answer isn’t it ? Don’t worry ! In this next few minutes I’m going to explain everything you need to know before buying a GoPro or DSLR !
Are you shooting photos or videos ?
The first question you need to ask yourself is “Are you shooting photos or videos ?” If you’re going to shoot still photos then you should consider a DSLR. Because the photos you get from a DSLR camera are definitely better and more professional than a GoPro. If you’re planning to shoot videos, then it could be a bit challenging to decide which one to buy because both of them have their own pros and cons.
When it comes to shooting still photos, the first thing we need to worry about is the “resolution” Due to the bigger sensor size, a DSLR camera usually has a very high effective resolution. For example, Canon 80D(crop sensor) has 24 megapixel, and a full frame sensor DSLR – Canon 5D IV even has 30.4 megapixel ! GoPro is designed for video shooting, so the maximum resolution you have is 12 megapixel. That’s why we’d want to choose a DSLR for our photography.
Due to the fact that GoPro is designed for action video, you will definitely have “higher frame rate and resolution” On GoPro HERO6, you can shoot 4K with 60 fps, 1080p with 240 fps, which allow you to capture every action, moment in super slow-motion. That’s why it’s called “action camera” But a DSLR normally doesn’t have such high frame rate and 4K video capability. So I think GoPro is so far the best and cheapest 4K camera for casual filmmaking.
Setting up your camera properly is the most important thing to do before any shot. Without the right camera settings, even a ten thousand dollars camera could be a waste. When it comes to photography/videography, there are four main settings we need to learn – aperture, shutter speed, ISO.
The aperture controls how much light will enter the camera. Obviously, if you shoot with aperture wide open, then more light will get into the camera than if the aperture is closed down to barely allow light to enter the camera. Aperture can also control the “depth of field” A wider aperture such as f/2.8 can give you a nice out-of-focus background. On a DSLR camera, you can easily change your aperture value in a matter of second. Unfortunately, GoPro uses electronic aperture, meaning that you’re not able to decide what aperture you want to shoot at.
Shutter is like a small curtain in the camera that quickly rolls over the sensor. The shutter speed controls how much light will enter the camera. The longer the shutter speed, the brighter the picture. So a shutter speed of 1/10 will produce brighter images than a shutter speed of 1/100. It’s also responsible for controlling the amount of blur in the footage. On a DSLR camera, you have available shutter speeds of 30 second ~ 1/8000 second. On a GoPro camera, you don’t have ability to control the shutter speed. GoPro will handle it based on the different frame rate and lighting conditions.
ISO use software to control the brightness of your images. A high ISO allows you to capture more light. But the down side of shooting at higher ISO is that you will also get a lot of noise, which might ruins your entire footage. Both of DSLR and GoPro allow you control the ISO manually. But a DSLR has better low-light performance, meaning you will get sharper and cleaner footage in low-light environment. For example, the Canon 80D has approximately the same amount of noise at ISO 3200 as the GoPro HERO6 at ISO 800. It really makes a huge difference !
Canon 80D ISO-1600
GoPro HERO6 ISO-400
The focal length on the lens is the distance between the lens and the camera sensor. It decides the field of view of your footage. The shorter the focal length, the wider the footage. The longer the focal length, the narrower the footage. So if you want to capture a wide-angle shot, then you’d want to shoot with a lens that has shorter focal length such as 17-50mm. There are literally tons of available lenses(focal length) you can use for your DSLR. On a GoPro camera, you cannot change the lens, meaning your videos will be limited to a very small range of focal length. In other words GoPro only allows you to shoot at wide-angle.
Canon 80D + Sigma 17-50mm
As you can see, on a DSLR camera you’re able to change the focal length by turning the zoom ring. But GoPro doesn’t have this function. Basically, you can only capture wide-angle shots.
Pros & Cons – GoPro
GoPro has already changed the way we see the world. It’s a very tough action camera that can handle all the extreme situations such as skiing, parkour, surfing, skateboarding, diving, climbing… It really brings the ability to film extreme sports or document some special moments. There are also hundreds of accessories in the market that allow you to mount your GoPro anywhere you want.
The build quality of GoPro is definitely tougher, stronger than a DSLR. It’s super tiny and 100% waterproof, which make it easier to capture videos in thousands of variations of ways !
Also, you can setup your shots in a matter of second ! You don’t have to figure out those settings like aperture, shutter… GoPro does all the work for you, but the downside is that you don’t have ability to fully control your footage. Sometimes it will be a bit difficult to get that perfect shots you expected to see(especially in low-light)
GoPro allows you to capture videos in any environment.
- easy to setup
- tiny and tough
- 100% waterproof
- 4K video ability
- high frame rate
- great for capturing wide-angle shots
- hundreds of available accessories for GoPro
- you can mount it anywhere you want
- cheap price
- poor low-light performance
- you can’t change the focal length
- You can’t fully control your footage
- photo quality isn’t very sharp
Pros & Cons – DSLR
If the resolution, image quality, and ability to shoot in low light matter to your project, then you definitely have to get a DSLR camera. While DSLRs are heavier and more cumbersome, that extra weight means a better image quality. There are also tons of available lenses you can use for your DSLR. The most obvious reason why people buy a DSLR is because it really has way more manual control than a normal point-and-shoot camera. Being able to control each setting manually really gives you a lot of flexibilities and will make your footage looks a lot more professional.
It seems that DSLRs are overall better than GoPro ? Yes, it is. But sometimes, bringing a DSLR with you could be very inconvenient due to its big size and heavy body. It’s also not waterproof, so you can’t use it in some extreme environments.
DSLR can make your subjects look dramatic
- high quality video
- image resolution is very high
- you can control everything manually
- more available settings
- you can change the lens(focal length)
- you can control the depth-of-field
- better low-light performance
- a bit pricey
- no waterproof
So which one to buy ?
I’ve explained everything you need to know about GoPro vs DSLR. I hope this article can help you find out the best camera you’ve been looking for. If you still can’t decide which one to buy, then just think about this: Most people buy GoPro for filming travels, adventures, and extreme sports because it’s the toughest and most compact, versatile camera we’ve ever seen.
No one wants to bring a cumbersome camera when filming in some extreme environment right ? Imagine that you’re riding a bike and you want to film the entire journey. Would you handhold a DSLR or simply mount a GoPro on your helmet ? Sure, you’d want to mount a tiny camera on your helmet so that you can be focusing on the ride.
But often times we still want to make our videos as professional as possible, so having a DSLR in the backpack is required ! So which one to buy ? There is no or wrong answer for which camera to use. It really depends on your needs. But if you want to step up your photography, then you definitely have to buy a DSLR ! Wait… why not buy both of them?