If you love your water sports, then the chances are you’ve heard of or even used a GoPro camera. These compact, versatile devices have revolutionised the way we capture and share our aquatic adventures. We have dived into the world of GoPro’s and underwater camera’s so you can pick the best GoPro for surfing and other days out on the water.
This is high performance camera that has all the latest technology to enhance your surf video’s.
While it’s towards the high end in price, you get the best camera on the market.
What is a GoPro?
The GoPro camera changed the landscape of filming in the water. Traditional cameras were bulky, fragile and often needed a complex set up to protect them from the damaging effects of the water. They would have very limited depth ratings, making them useless in deep water. You would also need a degree in photography to understand how best to record surf sessions and capture high quality images when in the water.
Even then, if you did manage to master all the of the above, the processing of film took forever and there would usually be limited visibility. This made filming in the water hard. I look back at my youth and think of all the great surf sessions that were missed due to the fact I wasn’t able to film my surf sessions. That really irks me as my kids will never know that I was once actually a decent surfer!
Thankfully the GoPro has changed the way we can record in the water. This has meant people can record their days in the waves, or even time lapse their stand up paddleboard sessions. Have you seen the clips online of Orca’s or Sea Snakes coming right up to paddleboarders? These wouldn’t happen if it wasn’t for the advancements in filming thanks to the GoPro.
GoPro is a brand that has become synonymous with outdoor filming. These compact, rugged, and versatile action cameras are designed for capturing high-quality photos and videos in various adventurous and action-packed scenarios. They aren’t exclusive to water sport action. Extreme sports, outdoor activities, and travel adventures can all be enhanced by choosing a good camera. While GoPro is a specific brand, the term “GoPro” is often used generically to refer to any action camera with similar features and capabilities. We have sampled all types to help you get the best GoPro for Surfing, but you can also use them in any other outdoor pursuit.
How is a GoPro used in Surfing?
One of the key factors that set GoPro apart in the water sports industry is the extensive range of mounting options and accessories. The best GoPro for surfing will bring you 4k videos that capture your entire surfing sessions. I am sure that you will use the camera is different ways. You can choose to mount the camera and catch your own waves, or alternatively you may do a solid favour for a friend and go in the water without your board to catch their session.
When choosing a surfing GoPro mount options there are four main choices:
Surfboard Mount: You can buy a mount that is secured to your board. This can be at the front or rear of the board and keeps your camera attached the surfboard or paddleboard. This is a great way to get that first person perspective of your session.
Chest Mount: If you want to opt for the chest mount, you’ll get that higher perspective. The downside for surfing is the fact that you will be paddling. Thankfully the camera’s are small enough to allow this, but it’s definitely not the most comfortable option.
Head Mount: Strap your camera onto your head and see the wave as you see it.
Selfie Stick: Hold your camera on a stick to get different angles of your waves. Has its pros and cons as you are required to look after the stick while in the water.
Whatever mount option you choose you will find the GoPro camera incredibly user-friendly. Look for features like touchscreen interfaces and voice control capabilities. This allows you to start and stop recording with a simple command. This hands-free operation is especially convenient when you’re in the middle of a water sports adventure and don’t want to fiddle with buttons or settings.
When you’ve spent your hard-earned money, make sure you use the safety tether. The last thing you want is for your camera to go missing during your time in the water.
Best Camera’s For Surfing
GoPro Hero 12
This innovative action camera is designed to thrive in the elements, making it an ideal companion for those who love to ride the waves or dive into underwater adventures. The Hero12 GoPro comes in a sleek, compact design that easily fits into your gear setup. It’s not just stylish, but also built to withstand the rigours of water sports. Thanks to its rugged construction, the Hero12 is waterproof down to 10 meters (33 feet) without the need for an external housing.
The Hero12 features a powerful 12-megapixel sensor that delivers stunning photos, even in challenging lighting conditions. But where it truly excels is in video quality. It supports 4K video at 60 frames per second, ensuring that your water sport adventures are captured in breath-taking detail.
GoPro is renowned for its array of shooting modes and features, and the Hero12 does not disappoint. TimeWarp 3.0 allows you to create mesmerising time-lapse videos, while SuperPhoto intelligently enhances your photos. The camera also offers LiveBurst mode, which captures 1.5 seconds of footage before and after you press the shutter, giving you more options for that perfect shot. Navigating the Hero12 GoPro is a breeze. Its intuitive touchscreen interface makes it easy to adjust settings, switch between modes, and review your footage. The camera also has voice control, so you can give it commands even when your hands are busy with your water sport gear.
The Hero12 offers seamless connectivity with the GoPro app. You can easily transfer your photos and videos to your smartphone for instant sharing on social media or editing in the app. Additionally, the app allows you to control your Hero12 remotely, providing even more creative options for your water-sport content.
GoPro Hero Mini
For water sport enthusiasts seeking a compact and versatile action camera, the Mini Hero11 GoPro is a compelling choice. The Mini Hero11 GoPro lives up to its name with a compact and lightweight design. Its portability is a significant advantage. Designed to meet the challenges of water sports, the Mini Hero11 boasts impressive waterproofing capabilities. It can handle depths of up to 10 meters (33 feet) without an external housing
While the Mini Hero11 may be small in size, it certainly doesn’t compromise on performance. It offers video recording at up to 4K resolution, capturing your waterborne adventures in stunning detail.
The Mini Hero11 features an intuitive touchscreen interface, making it easy to navigate menus and switch between different shooting modes. Even in wet conditions, you can access your camera’s functions without any hassle.
The Mini Hero11 offers decent battery life, ensuring you can capture your water sport activities without constantly worrying about recharging. However, it’s a good idea to bring spare batteries for extended outings. In summary, the Mini Hero11 GoPro is a versatile and reliable choice. Its compact design, durable build, and exceptional image and video quality make it a valuable companion for capturing the excitement of your aquatic adventures.
DJI Osmo Action 4
The Osmo Action 4 provide a high quality alternative to the GoPro range. It is built tough. With a robust construction, it’s waterproof down to 20 meters (66 feet) without the need for an external housing. This is a significant advantage for those who indulge in surfing, scuba diving, or other deep-water activities.
Equipped with a high-quality camera sensor, the Osmo Action 4 delivers outstanding video and photo performance. It supports 4K video at 60 frames per second, ensuring your water sport experiences are captured in breathtaking detail. With advanced image stabilization, your footage remains ultra-smooth even in the most challenging conditions.
One of the standout features of the Osmo Action 4 is its dual-screen setup. With a front-facing screen, you can frame your shots, even when you’re the one in the frame. The touchscreen is easy to navigate.
This action camera is packed with advanced shooting modes. Time-lapse, slow motion, and HDR video capabilities allow you to get creative with your content. The camera also features RockSteady 3.0, an advanced image stabilization technology that ensures your videos are incredibly smooth, even in turbulent waters.
With a long-lasting battery, the Osmo Action 4 provide plenty of film time without the need for new batteries. The DJI Osmo Action 4 is a premium choice for water sport enthusiasts.
Insta 360 Waterproof Camera
The Insta360 Waterproof Camera is built to withstand the harsh conditions of the surf. With an impressive waterproof rating, it can handle being fully submerged, ensuring your camera stays safe and operational, even in the gnarliest of conditions. The camera offers a 360-degree field of view, so you can capture every angle of your ride. No matter where you are on the wave, you won’t miss a moment. The camera’s 4K resolution ensures your footage is crisp, clear, and vibrant. Another benefit of the Insta360 camera is that it comes equipped with advanced image stabilization technology, ensuring your videos are smooth and professional-looking, even in choppy waters.
With built-in Wi-Fi and a user-friendly app, sharing your surf adventures on social media is a breeze. Show off your skills and keep your friends and fellow surfers stoked with just a few taps on your smartphone. It also comes with a variety of mounting options, allowing you to attach it to your surfboard, body, or any other suitable gear, providing endless possibilities for unique and exciting shots. This Is a good alternative to a GoPro option.
What are the Benefits of a GoPro?
The GoPro is small, rugged, and waterproof. We have already mentioned the old days of big bulky camera’s in the water. The modern waterproof camera is designed to withstand the rigors of water sports so you don’t have to be too precious over the inevitable bumps it will take. Whether you’re surfing massive waves, scuba diving in the deep blue, or riding the rapids in a kayak, a good waterproof camera should be built to handle it all.
I have already touched on it, but one of the standout features of any GoPro or equivalent is its waterproof capability. If you are going to use your GoPro for surfing or SUP adventures, then you will want reassurance that it will not break. These cameras are designed to be submerged underwater without the need for additional casings. They can typically withstand depths of up to 33 feet (10 meters) without compromising their functionality. This makes GoPro the perfect for days out on the waves, lakes and other water-based activities.
GoPro cameras have a reputation for fantastic image and video quality. Even in challenging underwater environments, the cameras can capture what you are living. The latest trend of GoPro use is the high dive sticks. They throw the GoPro off with the cliff jumper, so you get to witness their freefall and acrobatics in the air. The result is captivating. If you want to catch your mates’ cutbacks and wipe-outs in high definition, the GoPro is the best option.
One nice features that a GoPro brings to your session is that it allows you to capture more of the action in a single frame, making for immersive and visually stunning footage. The wide-angle view is particularly advantageous when documenting water sports. When someone is racing down a wave you need a camera angle that allows for fast and dynamic movements. The GoPro is good at capturing everything thanks to the wide angle perspective.
Have you ever wondered how some of the action you see manages to be filmed in a level setting? Keeping a steady hand while riding waves is very tricky and something I wouldn’t ever be able to do. GoPro cameras come equipped with built-in stabilisation technology. This is a great feature to look for in a camera as it smooths out your footage. This ensures your shots are as clear and steady as possible.
Durability and Reliability
In the unpredictable world of water sports, durability is paramount. GoPro cameras are built to withstand shocks, drops, and extreme temperatures, ensuring they keep functioning even in challenging conditions. You can trust your GoPro to perform reliably, even when you’re pushing your limits in the water.
Sharing the Adventure
Once you’ve captured your water sports escapades on your GoPro you have the ability to go viral! The GoPro cameras are designed to seamlessly connect to your smartphone or computer, allowing you to edit, share, and relive your adventures. You can upload your clips to social media, create captivating videos, or simply share your experiences with friends and family.
What are the Negatives of a GoPro?
If you’ve decided that you want to record your surf or SUP sessions then you’re probably already committed to buying a GoPro. It’s the popular choice among water sports enthusiasts. They aren’t without their drawbacks. If you want full disclosure regarding the GoPro then it’s important to consider some of the downsides.
Limited Battery Life
If you want to pick apart the GoPro then you could start with their short battery life, especially when shooting in high-resolution or capturing extended surf sessions. This can be frustrating, as it often requires frequent battery swaps. If you are organised you can avoid these problems. Make the effort to recharge after a session and this shouldn’t be too big of an issue. Make the charging part of your post surf routine.
“Pay cheap, pay twice”. While GoPro cameras offer exceptional quality, they come with a hefty price tag. This can be a significant investment for surfers and paddleboarders, especially if you’re just starting or not sure how often you’ll use the camera. I’d always recommend you pay the money towards your surf gear. The more cash spent on things like wetsuits and surfboards, the better your time in the water. If you’re already deep in your surf career then, despite the price, it’s not a bad investment.
Although GoPro cameras are marketed as waterproof, they may not be entirely immune to water damage, especially in heavy surf or if not properly sealed. I know many surfers who opt for additional waterproof housing to ensure their cameras’ safety. The downside of this is that it can be bulky and affect image and sound quality. Having your GoPro on your insurance isn’t a bad idea, should you need to replace it.
Processing Your Film
To get the most out of your GoPro footage, you often need to invest time in post-processing. This includes stabilising shaky shots, colour correction, and editing, which can be time-consuming, especially if you’re new to video editing. GoPro cameras have a wide-angle lens that captures a lot of the scene, but this can distort the perspective and make waves look smaller and less impressive than they appear in reality. Achieving the desired framing and perspective can be challenging, but then again, if you want the perfect shot you will need to work for it.
What to look for in a Go Pro?
We’ve already discussed some of the mounting options. But there are some other considerations when you’re looking for the best GoPro for surfing.
Firstly, ensure that the GoPro is designed to handle water, as surfing involves exposure to splashes, spray, and sometimes full submersion. Many GoPro models are waterproof without the need for an additional housing. Look for a camera with at least IPX7 or IPX8 water resistance ratings.
Once you’ve chosen the right camera your next challenge is maintaining steady footage. Your first few attempts may look shaky as you find your way in the world of water cameras. Try to find camera models equipped with advanced image stabilization technology, such as GoPro’s HyperSmooth. This feature reduces camera shake and provides exceptionally smooth video, even when you’re riding the waves.
For the best possible video quality you will want to opt for the models that offer higher resolutions, such as 4K, and higher frame rates, like 60fps or 120fps. Higher resolution and frame rates not only result in sharper and more detailed footage but also enable you to create stunning slow-motion sequences, adding an extra dimension to your surf videos.
Voice control is nice optional feature that makes it easier to start and stop recording, take photos, change settings, and perform other actions without needing to physically touch the camera. To use voice control on a GoPro, you have to enable the feature in the camera settings and then issue voice commands by saying keywords like “GoPro start recording” or “GoPro take a photo.” When you’re in the water, this means you can concentrate on the ride, rather than have to worry about your camera catching the wave. It’s distractions like pressing a button that can be the difference between a barrel and a wipe-out!