GoPro cameras are great for shooting epic underwater videos, but it doesn't mean everyone can succeed without some skills and tricks. What are the best GoPro underwater settings? Is it necessary to buy filters and video lights for underwater filming when scuba diving, freediving or swimming? How to edit and fine-tune raw underwater video files in post-production? Here we list 7 tips for GoPro underwater filming and post-processing to help you create stunning footages. Also, remember practice makes perfect.
One of the stunning features of GoPro Hero 5/6 Black and Hero 5 Session is the built-in video stabilization, but it's not effective enough for smooth underwater filming. A shaky clip could make some viewers feel seasick. Try the following tips to get steady underwater.
● Swim and pan the GoPro slowly, make sure you are still when taking a shot.
● Buy some GoPro dedicated stabilizers, such as a small pole, tray, selfie stick, camera rig/handle and mount.
● Use VideoProc to easily smooth out the jerkiness and vibrations in post-production.
Filters are useful for color correction of underwater footages when it is below 10 feet of water and there are vibrant tropical colors. We have different color filters to choose from. Commonly used filters for GoPro underwater are listed below.
● Red filter: it can be used for tropical and blue water correction while scuba diving or snorkeling and filming underwater below 10 feet.
● Magenta filter: it is the best for green water and dive housing in freshwater lakes/rivers.
● Macro Filter: good choice for shooting small objects, like close-up shots along the reef.
The filter (red, magenta, etc) allows the camera's white balance system to see the reds and chose a much better WB for the photo or video scene.
You'd better use filters and shoot with the sun at your back. The performance of filters also depends on the color and the depth of the water.
Don't alter your direction or depth quickly when filming with filters.
GoPro is an ultra-wide-angle camera. A minimum focusing distance of 12 inches is recommended.
When you take GoPro underwater to shoot at a very wide angle, it properly results in fish-eye distortion. In post-processing, you can correct GoPro fisheye easily.
Don't worry if your underwater footages look blue or green. VideoProc makes it very easy to correct your GoPro clips colors and make some adjustment like brightness, contrast, gamma etc., as well as to add special effects to GoPro underwater projects.
White Balance is the color brain of a GoPro camera, which makes auto adjustments to the color temperature of underwater footages. If you don't want to apply filters and correct colors during post-production, try setting the White Balance in Protune mode.
GoPro cameras have the following WB settings, and GoPro Hero 6 Black offers additional 2300K, 2800K, 3200K, 4000K, 4500K and 6000K.
CAM RAW ( no compensation)
Native (only available in GoPro Hero 4/5)
The Auto option manually corrects colors and is recommended for users who want easy and efficient filming. 2800K and 3200K (blue tones) are the best uses when auto white balance setting doesn't work well in green water. If you need warm tone, 5500KM 6000K and 6500K are worth trying, which should add yellow in your GoPro underwater filming. Native option brings good ability to make an adjustment to GoPro underwater projects flexibly and precisely in post-production. That means Native White Balance setting is the most suitable one for GoPro underwater filming post-production.
Note: The useful GoPro White Balance settings doesn't mean we can eliminate the need for filters and post-processing. White Balance settings are far from enough when you take GoPro underwater below 10 feet.
Underwater is included in GoPro settings by activity and recommended GoPro underwater filming setting is listed as below to get the best out of GoPro underwater.
● Common GoPro underwater settings
● Resolution: 1080p/4K
● Frame Rate: 30fps/60fps
● Field of View (FOV): Wide
● Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS - GoPro Hero 5/6): On
● Slow motion underwater videos
● Resolution: 1080p
● Frame Rate: 120fps
● Field of View (FOV): Wide
● EIS: On
● Filming underwater in Protune mode
● WB (White Balance): Auto
● Sharpness: High
● Shutter: Auto
● Color: Flat
● ISO limit: 1600
● EV COMP: -0.5
● Audio: Med
Is it necessary to take lights for underwater filming? Yes. Filters don't really bring natural colors. A light is needed to fill in shadows and solve dark looking footages when you are diving. On the other hand, a light can be used for underwater communication when you get lost at sea. Waterproof LED lights are cheap. But video light only works within 2-3 feet or away from the camera. You'd better get a handle and mount the light on GoPro.
Post-processing is essential to create professional-looking videos from GoPro underwater. It can also save your ruined underwater raw footages when swimming, diving or snorkeling. There are tons of options for the job, but there is no best. The best choice depends on what you want to do, your computer performance, the video format you are going to throw at, learning curves, etc. Here we introduce VideoProc for users who are hunting for simple but powerful video editing software to post-process underwater raw videos shot by GoPro Hero 8/7/6/5 Black. Look what it can do.
1. Click the Video icon on the main interface, click Add Video icon on the Video window, and select your source GoPro underwater file you'd like to process. On the Target format section, select an output format, for example, you can convert GoPro 4K HEVC clips to H.264 for better compatibility.
2. There are many video editing options under the video information list. You are free to correct colors, add effects, filters, watermark and subtitles to your footages shot by GoPro underwater, and cut out unwanted part, trim, crop or rotate video files.
3. Click the Options button to adjust video audio parameters, including frame rate, bit rate, resolution, quality and more.
4. Click the Toolbox button at the bottom to get more options to post-process raw GoPro underwater footages, such as stabilizing, removing noise, merging, splitting, etc.
How deep can GoPro go underwater?
GoPro Hero(2018), Hero 6/5 Black: 33 feet (10m）without a housing.
● Fusion: 16 feet (5m) without a housing.
● Hero Session, Hero 4 Session, and Hero 5 Session: 33 feet (10m).
● Hero (2014): 131 feet (40m).
GoPro Hero 4 and Hero + are waterproof with housing. With the Standard housing, the cameras are waterproof down to 131 feet. Hero 3, HD Hero 2 and HD Hero Original are waterproof to a depth of 197 feet with a waterproof case. A housing rated at 196 feet is a good choice for scuba diving.
How to clean GoPro after salt water?
It's possible that the salt deposits get stuck and cause corrosion if you don't deal with your camera after use in seawater. Make sure you rinse off the salt water with fresh water and dry with a soft cloth. The rice idea is also worth trying. Take off the battery and SD card, put the camera to a big full of rice and wait for a few days.
Can we control GoPro cameras by Wifi underwater?
No, you can't. The GoPro WIFI signal drops quickly in a tiny amount of water because the water absorbs Wifi 2.4GHz waves. Wifi works only a few feet underwater. A coaxial antenna cable is needed to use GoPro Wifi signal.
Gabriel is a technical editor with several years of writing experience. Gabriel covers video processing, post-production, hardware, Windows, Apple's Macs, iPhones, iPads, and all kinds of technology topics. He loves collecting cool gadgets and trying new things like virtual reality, drones, 8K TVs and the latest 4K games. He also has interests in reading, photography, climbing, scuba diving, and tennis.
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