I never used GoPros as low light cameras. But as many people asked me I tested the GoPro Hero 8 at night and I was actually surprised by the results.
The night video footage I got with the GoPro Hero 8 was a lot better than I thought, but it really depends on the settings. And especially the stabilization suffered a lot.
Just to set the right expectations from the beginning: Don’t expect your low light GoPro video footage to be as good as from your DSLR or mirrorless camera. Even if the results of the GoPro footage are very usable, the small sensor is still a limiting factor.
Hypersmooth stabilization not as good in low light
You should also consider that the Hypersmooth stabilization doesn’t work that good in low light. It’s still good enough for smaller camera movements, but if you want to walk with it, you better want to use a gimbal.
GoPro Hero 8 settings for low light & night
To get the very best results you have to use the right settings. You basically want to keep your ISO as low as possible. And to do that, you have to use a low framerate and low shutter speed. So the settings that I used are:
- Resolution/FPS: 4K/24p
- Lens: SuperView
- Hypersmooth: On
- Bit Rate: High
- Shutter: 1/48
- White Balance: Auto
- ISO Min: 100
- ISO Max: 800
- Sharpness: Medium
- Color: GoPro
The reason why I used the SuperView instead of normal wide is that SuperView reads the full sensor, instead of doing a crop. Having a crop would mean bigger pixels, what makes noise more visible. So by reading the full sensor I essentially make the noise less obvious.
Very important as well is using the GoPro color profile. If you set the color profile to flat, it tries to brighten the shadows, what makes noise more visible. The GoPro color profile is more contrasty and therefore hides the noise in the dark shadows. In the night it’s totally fine to have dark shadows without any detail as people expect dark areas in videos shot at night. So don’t worry about the dynamic range in that case.
The shutter speed should be twice the framerate. So if you shoot your videos in 30p, it must be 60 and 50 in 25p. If you set it to auto or below twice the framerate, the image will get a bit brighter but you also introduce too much motion blur, what makes your video look weird.
I’ve set the ISO max to 800 because everything above that causes too much noise from what I’ve seen.
Overall, the GoPro Hero 8 is definitely usable as a low light camera. You are just a bit limited with the settings you can use. If you want to vlog I definitely recommend to bring a light with you.
If you want to improve your GoPro filmmaking in general, you should also have a look at my new Cinematic GoPro Video Masterclass. It’s an affordable online course, where I teach everything you to know to create professional and cinematic GoPro videos.