5 Reasons Your GoPro Footage Looks Bad (How To Fix)

by | Action Cameras

GoPros have made action filmmaking simpler and easier than ever.

Whether you’re using your GoPro to film a POV on your bike or to capture interesting underwater footage, GoPros are pretty easy to use.

But just because shooting with them is easy, it doesn’t mean that capturing professional-level footage with them is quite as simple.

In fact, you may be wondering why your GoPro doesn’t look quite as great as it does in those professional ski videos!

Well, in this article we’ll cover five reasons your GoPro footage looks bad and how to fix it.

1. Your GoPro Lens And Case Are Dirty (Spots On Your Footage)

The Problem

GoPros are designed to be used in all kinds of gritty situations like muddy mountain biking or surfing in sandy water.

With most standard DSLRs, camera sensors and lenses need to be cleaned regularly to ensure there are no spots on your footage.

While GoPros aren’t designed to be taken apart in the same way, their external lens and case may still become marked with dirt, mud, or dust.

In some cases, your lens may look clean, but you may notice small dots on your footage upon review.

The Solution

The solution, in this case, is obviously to clean your GoPro’s lens and case.

But what’s the best and safest way to do this?

What you’ll need are a microfibre cloth and sprayable glasses/lens cleaner.

  1. Start by taking your GoPro out of its case.
  2. Lightly spray a small amount of the cleaning fluid onto your GoPro lens, the inside of your GoPro case, and the outside of the GoPro case.
  3. Then, use the microfibre cloth to lightly wipe each sprayed surface. Make sure not to scrub any of the surfaces — scrubbing can cause any dirt or sand to dig in and scratch your GoPro lens or case.
  4. Once complete, allow for your GoPro and case to fully dry before putting them back together.

2. Your ISO Is Set Too High (Grainy Footage)

The Problem

GoPros might be modern high-tech cameras, but they still operate on all the same fundamental principles that all cameras do.

That means you still need to consider your ISO settings when shooting.

ISO is responsible for how much light is being allowed into your GoPro’s sensor.

In a bright setting, choosing a lower ISO (say around 100) will let in less light. In a dark setting, setting a higher ISO (maybe around 6400) will let in more light.

Sounds simple, right?

Well, the problem with this is that high ISOs introduce more grain into your footage — the higher the ISO, the more grain.

The Solution

So, how do we fix this problem?

The general rule of thumb is to keep your ISO as low as you can get away with for any given shot.

Unfortunately, some shots will simply be too dark for your GoPros sensor to pick up without a super-high ISO.

In this case, you may have to compensate by setting a longer shutter speed, but be careful because this can also introduce its own set of problems into your footage.

3. Your Shutter Speed Is Too Long (Motion Blur)

The Problem

As we previously covered, it can be tempting to set a high shutter speed to compensate for a low ISO, but this can cause excessive motion blur.

Due to the nature of GoPro’s motion stabilization technology, it is even more important to ensure you use a fast shutter speed to ensure every individual frame you shoot is sharp — this helps to capture crisp action.

The Solution

Shutter speed should typically be set to twice the frame rate. For example, at a standard frame rate of 24 FPS, your shutter speed should ideally be set to 48, or as close as your camera can be set to 48.

The unfortunate truth is that GoPros generally do not perform well in low light.

To capture the best possible footage you can with your GoPro, follow the above guidelines for shutter speed and shoot try to only shoot in optimal lighting conditions.

4. There Are Compression Artifacts In Your Footage (Pixelated Footage)

The Problem

Shooting video involves a lot of compromises, and file size is one of them.

In order to keep your files at a manageable size, cameras often compress footage to save space.

This is great for news for your memory card, but not so great for video quality.

If you are noticing that your footage appears blocky, pixelated, or just plain “glitchy,” you may be experiencing issues with your compression settings that are resulting in unwanted compression artifacts.

These compression artifacts can become more noticeable when shooting scenes with many small details.

Uploading files to YouTube can make compression artifacts even worse, as YouTube and other video streaming platforms will compress your files again upon upload.

The Solution

To avoid excessive amounts of compression artifacts in your final exported video, and upon uploading to YouTube, try exporting your projects in 4K.

Higher resolution video files typically have less noticeable compression artifacts than those exported in a lower resolution (such as 720p, for example).

5. You Have Poor Dynamic Range (Overly Dark Or Light Spots)

The Problem

Dynamic range is the range in which a camera can capture the darkest and lightest areas of an image while still maintaining detail.

Unfortunately, GoPros are not known for their dynamic range. In fact, some models have rather poor dynamic range, at least when compared to something like a full-frame DSLR.

Poor settings can make the effects of poor dynamic range even worse.

You. may notice poor dynamic range when shooting in situations with a large range of light. For example, when shooting out a window, from an indoor location. Your GoPro may pick up the indoor location just fine, but the outside portion of your shot may appear completely white.

The Solution

To fix this issue, we will, unfortunately, need to compromise.

In many situations, it will simply be impossible to capture both the light and dark areas of your scene in perfect detail.

This means the best course of action may be to simply find a more balanced exposure.

For example, if your shot has areas that are blown out, lower your exposure until they are more visible and detailed. This will of course make your entire shot darker, so it will be necessary to find the sweet spot between light and dark.

Final Thoughts

Fixing bad GoPro video footage doesn’t have to be difficult. With a few simple tips and tricks, you can make your videos look more polished and professional.

Have you tried any of these methods for fixing bad GoPro video footage?

What worked best for you?

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