We're all probably very familiar with the handheld VHS cameras of the 90s and early 2000s.
They were clunky, difficult to maintain and offered picture quality that could only be described as very, very “low-def”. For all the charm of analog tape, these technological dinosaurs are a memory most consumers have gladly left behind.
Contrast that to today’s world of handheld digital cameras. Not only can you film yourself paragliding with a device the size of a deck of cards - you can do it in crystal clear, 4k picture quality. Not only that, but you can film for hours without ever having to switch out a tape.
None of this would be possible today without GoPro, Inc., the inventors of the eponymous GoPro camera. Here’s how they did it.
GoPro was started in 2004 by Nick Woodman, a surfer looking for a better way to film his adventures. At the time, the only way to film someone surfing was to shoot video from the shore or with an expensive hand-held grip. In other words, you either had to settle for grainy quality or prohibitively expensive and bulky equipment.
Woodman wanted to capture those shots himself, in the moment, with equipment that didn’t break the bank. He began his company with the idea that anyone living an active lifestyle should be able to document their life without buying professional gear.
Nowadays, GoPro isn’t just for people who spend their weekends skiing, surfing or backpacking through the mountains. It’s also for families who want to document their day-to-day lives or couples who want to savor their honeymoon. Woodman even used a GoPro to record his children being born.
The GoPro has also been a saving grace for students and low-budget filmmakers. Now anyone can shoot an action sequence or crane shot with a camera that costs less than the old-school handheld camcorders - and with the higher end models, reduction in picture quality is minimal or even nonexistent.
Unlike other camera and video products, GoPro products are designed to work in-sync with the mobile app, available on both iPhone and Android. The app allows users to connect with their camera and edit footage directly from their phone. You can shoot on your GoPro all day and then create a movie on your phone in just a few minutes.
The app lets you share your creations directly to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, as well as through text or email. You can also use the app to change your camera angle and settings, so you can adjust your video anytime.
GoPro also syncs to Quik, a desktop-editing software that allows you to create a perfect video montage of your footage. You can add in music, data about where you were and even a time-lapse sequence.
GoPro products can also be regularly updated with the latest software, which you can do by connecting your device with the GoPro app on your phone.
From amateur to professional
Nowadays, the GoPro brand includes cameras that can fit any budget, from a novice videographer to a professional auteur. For example, the Hero session only costs $149.99 and has a resolution of 1440 pixels per inch. It’s also waterproof - not bad for a camera cheaper than the latest smartphone.
In September 2017, GoPro revealed its latest model, the Hero6, with 4K capabilities and the highest image quality out of any GoPro currently on the market. Another new addition to the GoPro family is the Fusion, a spherical camera that can maneuver 360 degrees and capture virtual reality footage.
They’ve even ventured into the drone marketplace with the Karma drone camera, operated with an easy-to-use controller. The Karma also connects to the Passenger app where friends and family can watch your flight live.
GoPro’s product confidence is genuine - you can return most items within 30 days for a full refund, no matter what your reason. For Karma drone products, the window is 14 days. This applies to all products purchased through GoPro.com directly.
It pays to be a customer
Not only is GoPro creating amazing equipment, they also reward those who excel at using their products. The GoPro Awards is a competition open to the public that pays up to $1,000 for the winning entry and offers special discounts at GoPro.com to other entrants.
There is no limit to how often you can submit an entry, and rewards are given out on a daily basis. Current categories include Adventure, Family, Sports, Travel and more. The company even offers free music to entrants who want to create a video without buying licensed music.