I conducted a little research/interview a while back and I asked 44 travel bloggers what are their top tips for getting the most out of their GoPro.
There was one thing that people constantly brought up – the GoPro battery life. The bottom line was that there’s simply not enough power in one single battery to last as much as the users want.
Especially when you are traveling a lot and you want to capture as much footage as you can.
So if you find yourself having the same issue, read on and find out how long does a GoPro battery last and what you can do to make it last longer.
I’m also going to touch a little bit on what are some good accessories to use to improve battery life.
So let’s get started.
How long does a GoPro battery last?
According to the information provided by the manufacturer, most GoPro models will have a battery life of 1:30 to 2:00 hours. Which is pretty accurate… in ideal conditions.
Here are the exact values provided by GoPro:
- GoPro Hero5 Black: 2h
- GoPro Hero5 Session: 1h 35m
- GoPro Hero4 Black: 1h 20m
- GoPro Hero4 Silver: 1h 40m
- GoPro Hero4 Session: 1h 45m
Depending on what settings you are using, how old your battery is and the weather conditions, you might be looking at much lower values. I mean, I had my battery die on me after just 60 minutes or so.
So I would look at the above values, as the maximum, you can get out of your GoPro battery. Definitely, don’t expect to go above those numbers. You can, however, come very close to these values if you follow the tips outlined below.
How long after the Low Battery icon
To give you the short answer: about 10-12 minutes.
That is how long you can continue to film with your GoPro after the low battery notification pops up on the screen.
Here’s a test done by Mic Bergsma.
How to make your GoPro battery last longer
If you are a normal GoPro user you probably have just 1, maybe 2 batteries. So making the most out of that it is really important. And it is quite easy actually. Here’s what you need to do:
- Turn it on only when you are shooting (Quick Capture)
- Use the Auto OFF feature
- Avoid keeping your GoPro in cold places
- Turn OFF voice control
- Turn OFF WiFi
- Turn OFF GPS
- Turn OFF the LCD display
- Turn OFF Protune
- Don’t use a remote
- Film in 1080p 30fps
- Fully charge your battery using a wall charger
- Keep your GoPro firmware up to date.
I imagine that you will not be able to check every single thing on the list above but do the ones you can. For example, I like to use Protune sometimes because it gives me more flexibility in the post-production process.
I know that’s going to mean less battery life, but it is a compromise I am willing to make.
In a nutshell, every single feature that you enable will drain a little bit of your battery. The fewer you use, the more battery life you will have. Just turn OFF everything you don’t need and keep using the ones which really help you.
The Quick Capture feature is one of my favorite to use. You will find it on the Hero 5 and Hero 6, and it allows you to start recording when the camera is OFF, by clicking on the top button.
So the camera powers on and starts recording automatically when you are using this feature. Once you hit it again, it stops recording and shuts down the camera.
A short press of the button will tell the camera to record a normal video, and a long press will tell it to record a timelapse.
The Auto OFF feature is great for those who forget to turn off the camera after they are done using it. I’m a little bit OCD about my GoPro battery life, and I don’t really forget to turn in off, so I can’t say I’m using this feature.
But if you have the tendency to forget your camera on when you are not using, by all means, go ahead and activate the Auto OFF feature. You can set it to have your GoPro turned off after 5 minutes of inactivity and you will save more power. You can find this feature under the “General” menu.
The WiFi by far will have the biggest impact on battery life. It just drains A LOT of power. So, by all means, turn it OFF when you are not using it. That feature alone will make a huge difference. You can find it under the Connections menu.
The Voice Control got a bit better with the new Hero 6. Meaning that the Hero 6 now has an option called “Wake on voice” which turns on the camera using voice control. So that right there tells you that the camera will be listening even when it is turned off (for up to 8 hours after you turn in off).
In other words, the voice control feature will drain the battery even when the camera is off. So the batter can die on you even if you didn’t really turn on the camera.
Again, you will find this feature only on the Hero 6. For the older models, you will just have the voice control function which is active only when the camera is on.
The GPS is used to overlay location coordinates over your video, so if you don’t need that, be sure to turn on off as well. Personally, I never really used it. You can find it under the Preferences menu.
The LCD display will drain a lot of battery too. When you can do is turn it off completely or lower the brightness. Or you can use the Screensaver option and have your display go black after a certain period of time, like 2 minutes for example.
Cold temperatures will have a negative impact on the performance of the battery, so when you are not using your GoPro, but you are outside, try to keep it in the pocket close to your body. That way it will stay warmer and your battery life will improve.
The video mode or video settings you are using are going to have a big impact on the battery life as well. You will get the most out of the battery when you are shooting in 1080p @ 30 frames per second, in Wide view.
I noticed that Superview decreases the lifetime of the battery a bit. So if you don’t really need it, don’t use Superview.
Accessories for longer battery life
Now, if you are serious about stepping up your GoPro game and you use this camera a lot, at some point, you will want to invest in a couple of accessories which will help you extend the battery life.
There are a ton of options to chose from, but I’ve selected my top picks down below.
#1 Extra batteries
Obviously, the first thing that pops into everybody’s mind is to have a spare battery or even several.
There are a handful of brands to pick from apart from the GoPro original ones. However, starting with the Hero 5 model, GoPro has disabled the support for third party batteries.
This pretty much means that you will have no other choice than to buy GoPro genuine batteries. Which isn’t exactly such a pain if you ask me. The price of a good third party battery is not that much cheaper anyway.
If you are using the Hero 4 though, you can still go out and buy batteries from different ones.
The Wasabi ones seem to last slightly longer, as per this test run by Cameralah.
I think the optimal number of batteries you want to have on you is 3.
That should give you up to 6 hours of non-stop filming. This will probably be more than enough to shoot any adventure that you go on. It is enough for a day of skiing, scuba diving, hiking, cycling or simply walking and visiting places.
You already have 2 batteries that come with the camera, so if you buy 1 or 2 extra ones you should be good.
#2 Charger for multiple batteries
Now, when you have multiple batteries you will notice that charging all of them will start to become quite inconvenient.
On average, charging a GoPro battery will take roughly 1:45 up to 2:00 hours. If you are using a wall outlet that is. So that can add up if you need to charge 3 or more batteries.
So a charger that can take 2 or 4 batteries at once will be a lifesaver, especially when you are traveling and you plan on filming every day.
There are a bunch to chose from, but I recommend the GoPro genuine ones.
Just be careful to buy the right one for your type of batteries.
The Hero 4 batteries and chargers, will not work with the ones for Hero 5 and Hero 6.
#3 Power Bank
A power bank comes in handy for pretty much any portable gadget such as your iPhone or iPad. And the GoPro makes no exception.
The thing with power banks is that when you use them, you can really hit the slopes or scuba dive with your GoPro.
So unless you are shooting a time-lapse with your GoPro or any kind of static scene, you can’t really use it when you are filming.
It works great for charging up your battery on the fly though when you don’t have access to a wall outlet.
Here’s Mic Bergsma showing you how it works.
#4 Battery Bacpac
This can be used on a Hero 4 only. The Hero 5 and Hero 6 don’t have the 30-pin connector on the back anymore.
The Bacpac will give you around 4 hours of filming, so it is the equivalent of 1 extra batteries or so.
Here’s how it looks and works.
Lastly but not least, there’s the grip charger or the so-called grip battery.
It works like e regular power bank, but it is more practical. Because it also functions as a grip, you can easily move your GoPro camera around and film or take pictures, just like you where using a regular grip.
Here is a video demonstration by Kyle Martin.
To sum everything up, there are a number of factors that will determine how long your GoPro battery will last.
The WiFi is probably the biggest power draining feature. But also look out for stuff such as the brightness of the display, voice control (especially on the Hero 6) and avoid keeping your GoPro in the cold.
Once you have taken care of all that, think about how many hours you will be filming before you can recharge and do the math. You will need an extra battery for every 2 hours of footage.
Most of the people will be fine with 3-4 batteries. That will last for one full day of adventure filming.
Besides the extra batteries, you will also want to consider a multiple battery charger, so that you can charge them all at once and save time. You may also want to look at a power bank if you don’t have access to an outlet. Or a grip battery of you uses a hand grip a lot.
If you’re using other accessories or maybe you’re doing other clever stuff to save battery life on your GoPro, let me know in the comments below.