If you are a GoPro user or any alternative action camera user for that matter, you know what the fisheye effect does.
It has become a trademark of GoPros, I could say, and most of the time comes in very handy. It allows you to capture more of the action by offering a wide view angle.
On top of that, it looks really cool too.
But there are situations in which the fisheye effect doesn’t work.
Maybe you just want to vlog using your GoPro.
Or maybe you are using your GoPro on a drone and you don’t want the horizon line to be bent. Here’s how to step up your drone filming game, if you’re into that.
These are just a couple of the situations in which you would want to remove the GoPro fisheye effect, but I’m sure there are a ton more.
Oh, and did I tell you that we are editing videos for clients such as yourself?
How does the fisheye effect work?
It all has to do with the type of lenses you are using on the camera.
The GoPro comes with the so-called “fisheye” lens which is an ultra-wide-angle lens that covers horizontal / landscape views of up to 122.6 degrees if you are using a GoPro Hero Black for example.
That’s pretty wide. Depending on which field of view you are using, that angle will change.
With the GoPro, you can really get far away from your subject (which usually is yourself), so getting everything in the shot wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for the fisheye lens.
So with a GoPro, you get an intentional distortion of things, especially on the sides of the image, so that more stuff fits in the shot.
That’s why you have straight lines looking like they are bent. So it is actually the lens that does all the job.
If you look at the lens of your GoPro from the side you will notice that it’s curved. That’s because the edges of the lens are built to distort the light which comes into the sensor of your GoPro, creating that fisheye effect.
OK great, but how do I turn it off? What if I don’t want the fisheye view on my GoPro. Is there any way to remove it?
Sure there is. And it’s quite simple too.
Here’s how to remove it.
But before that, why do GoPro cameras have the fisheye effect in the first place. Let’s find out.
Why GoPro comes with the fisheye effect?
GoPro has the fisheye effect in all its latest models, beginning from GoPro Hero 5 to Hero 11.
You’ll find the details of the effect under Video Settings.
Under the Field of View menu, you’ll see three options: SuperView, Wide, and Linear. The FOV setting allows the user to change the angle from which a video is shot.
SuperView: This allows you to record with the widest angle. The maximum angle available under this option is 170 degrees. This option will give you the full fisheye effect.
SuperView FOV is best suited for shaky or action shooting. This FOV angle gives the user greater flexibility and more stable videos.
Wide: Your first option if you want to reduce the fisheye look but don’t want it to be completely absent. With the Wide FOV, users get to shoot at an angle of 120 degrees.
Linear: Choosing this FOV option will allow you to film visuals at a 90-degree angle. The Linear FOV will completely remove the fisheye effect. That said this option is not suitable for high-action and adventure videos.
Hot to remove the fisheye view
If you are using the GoPro 11 the linear digital lens does a the trick and will eliminate eliminating the fisheye effect.
If you are using older GoPro models, there are a few different methods to do this.
The first one is to change the settings on the camera, the second one is to correct the fisheye distortion on post-production and the third one is to use a correction lens on your GoPro.
So let’s look at each of these methods.
#1 Use Linear mode
This is the quickest way of removing the fisheye effect of a GoPro, but not the best in my opinion, as it comes with a few important drawbacks.
Please note this will work only for HERO6 Black, HERO5 Black, and HERO5 Session. These are the only GoPro models that support the Linear field of view.
To make this even easier for you.
The Linear FOV isn’t supported when the resolution is 4K UHD videos or even when the resolution is 2.7K and 1080 time-lapse videos.
If you are familiar with the field of view settings you can use on a GoPro, you know that you can get a tighter or wider shot by selecting between different options such as Wide, Medium, Narrow, Superview, or Linear.
The Liner view will help you get rid of the fisheye effect completely and it’s the best option to use.
Here’s how it looks.
Cons of using Linear field of view:
- you can’t go back to the fisheye look
- works only for specific frame rates and resolutions
- can’t be used for time-lapse videos (works for time-lapse photos though)
- the edges of the shoot will get slightly cut off.
#2 Use Narrow or Medium FoV
In the preceding section, three FOV angles were discussed. There are two more that are similar to the Wide FOV. The Narrow and Medium FOV also provide the fisheye effect, but not as pronounced as the SuperView or even Wide FOV.
Whenever you are using any of the other field of view settings (except Linear), the fisheye effect will still be there, but it will be more or less dramatic depending on which one you use.
The wider the shot is, the greater the fisheye effect will be.
The Superview is the widest shoot with the most dramatic fisheye effect, while the Narrow setting has a less dramatic fisheye effect, but the view angle will be much smaller.
The Narrow setting will use more of the center of the sensor to crop the image, so it will include less fisheye distortion. Even so, there will be some bending on the sides.
So if you are OK with have just a little bit of a fisheye effect in there you can use the Narrow setting.
Here’s how it looks compared with the other field of view options (left is Normal, the middle is Medium, and the right is Narrow).
Image credits go to Mitch Bergsma.
Cons of using a Narrow field of view:
- you will capture less of the action
- the footage will be shakier
- you can’t go back to the fisheye look
#3 Remove the GoPro fisheye effect in post-production
Most of the time this will be your best course of action.
GoPro used to offer a really quick and simple fix to this in its own video editing software – GoPro Studio. Unfortunately, that has been discontinued and it is not available for download anymore.
However, we now have two new video editing apps, Quick and Slice. Luckily, Quick has a desktop version that you can get from here, but as far as I am aware it does not have a feature to help you remove the fisheye effect.
And here are even more options if you’re looking for a video editing software to use for your GoPro edits.
Remove the fisheye effect with Premiere Pro
You can remove the fisheye effect of your GoPro footage in a matter of minutes and with just a few clicks in Premiere Pro.
Here’s what you need to do.
After you have imported your clip and dropped in on the timeline, go to the effects tab and search for “Distortion”.
Here’s what you should see.
Depending on which version of Premiere Pro you are using you should find more or less the same Distortion effect presets.
As you can see Adobe included several presets that are customized for removing the fisheye effect of most GoPro models and DJI drones.
Additionally, there’s a dedicated preset for each video resolution and frame rate.
If you are using a different action camera, as I did in this video, don’t worry about it. You can still remove the fisheye effect.
Select the preset which matches your camera and settings, or the one which is closest to your settings.
Drop in over your video and then go to the Effect Control tab.
Here you can play around with all the settings and notice the changes in real-time. Make adjustments until you are happy with the output.
There are other free and paid video editing programs that will allow you to remove the fisheye effect too. After Effects has an effect called Optics Compensation and Filmora also has an Action Cam Tool which comes with a Lens Correction option.
GoPro Fisheye lens: The Pros and Cons
Before we part ways, here is something you already know yet worth repeating – the fisheye lens comes with benefits and drawbacks. Here is a quick look at some of the pros and cons of the fisheye lens in GoPro.
Super wide-angle shots: Fisheye lens allows you to cover everything or as much as possible in the shot.
Incredible depth of field: Easy to cover a large landscape with a greater depth of field. This means your GoPro Hero 10 camera will focus and capture more of the landscape scene.
High-quality visuals: With a wide-angle view users can capture a larger and more in-depth video with awesome sharpness and image quality.
Suitable for action-packed videos: Fisheye wide-angle lens is best suited for fun and adventure videos.
Curved edges and bulging center: Not a pleasant sight in all circumstances. Not only does the horizon curve the center of the frame becomes unnaturally large, making certain videos look weird.
Absence of viewfinder: This makes it difficult to find the view of the lens as there is no viewfinder.
No focus control: Cameras with the fisheye wide-angle lens does not have focus control.
To wrap this up you basically have 2 options.
The first is to remove the fisheye effect in pre-production when you shoot. Do this by using the Linear mode or Narrow field of view.
Or use video editing software such as Premiere Pro, After Effect, or Filmore to get rid of it in post-production.
Cristian Stanciu is a freelance video editor, owner, and post-production coordinator of Veedyou Media – a company offering video editing services to videographers, marketing agencies, video production studios, or brands all over the globe.