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GoPro Protune Explained [Image & Video Examples Included]

Home / GoPro / GoPro Protune Explained [Image & Video Examples Included]

Alright so in this post, we are talking about GoPro Protune.

What it is, what it does, who is it for and when should you use it.

Let me tell you right off the bat that if you don’t plan on spending some time in post-production on video editing or photo editing you are better off without using Protune.

So if that’s the case, I’ll save you the time and tell you to simply forget that it exists.

Focus on other features on your GoPro instead, such as the field of view, the spot meter or learn how to create a time-lapse or maybe a slow-motion video.

If you do want to tweak the knobs and push the buttons in post-production though, keep reading.

gopro protune explained

What is Protune?

Protune is a feature offered by all of the above mentioned GoPro models, which allow the user to set recording parameters such as the White Balance, ISO Limit, Color, Sharpness, and Exposure.

The Protune feature has evolved over the years and the newer GoPro cameras will allow more controls when compared to older models. That’s why the settings you can control on your GoPro might be different from the ones you will see outlined here.

Keeping your camera software update helps.

The Protune feature is available on the following GoPro models:

  • HERO6 Black
  • HERO5 Black
  • HERO5 Session
  • HERO4
  • HERO Session + HERO4 Session
  • HERO3+ Black Edition
  • HERO3 Black Edition
  • HERO3 Silver Edition

So if you are a GoPro owner chances are that you’ve come across the Protune feature before.

What does it do?

The first thing that most people notice when they turn on Protune is that the footage starts to look dull.

The colors are not there anymore and everything looks washy and grey.

And that’s true, I’ll give you that, but what Protune really does (and it may not look like it in the first place), is to up the quality of your videos.

It does that by increasing the bitrate, which will result in more crisp and clear footage, especially when you are shooting in high motion.

Which is perfect if you think about it. After all, GoPro is an action camera and most of the times you will be shooting fast moving scenes, right?

Your average 1080p 60 fps video will use a bit rate of 30 Mbps. When you turn on Protune, your GoPro will up that to 45 Mbps.

That is why Protune files take up roughly 50% more space on your SD card and they also drain the battery life faster.

GoPro Protune On or Off

If you just turn Protune on and don’t really change any of the settings you will probably not notice any difference.

Image credit

So if you really want to make good use of Protune you will need to dive into all the different settings that it offers. And that’s exactly what we are going to do right now.

GoPro Protune settings

Alright, so like I was telling you above, once you turn on Protune, you will see a bunch of different image settings you can control.

White Balance

The white balance will adjust the color temperature of your video. You can go from a work yellow to a cool and de-saturated blue image.

There’s also an Auto option which does a really good job, but you can experiment with different settings and see how they look.

For outdoor shots though, I think the Auto option will work best. Indoors, you can try different white balance settings depending on the type of light it’s being used there.

Image source

Within the settings of your camera, you will find one called Native or Camera Raw, depending on which GoPro model you are using. This setting doesn’t actually apply any corrections to the image. So it’s will give you the raw picture as it comes out of the GoPro. I mainly use this setting outdoor shots.

You can easily make the image brighter or darker in the video editing process.

Here’s a video comparison of how different White Balance settings will look like.

ISO

The next thing on the list is the ISO. I’ve already touched on the subject of ISO pretty extensively in the low light post, so you can check that out as well.

So the ISO setting will come into effect only in low light situations. Which could be indoors or at night. The numbers go from 400 up to 6400.

By setting a higher ISO your image will get brighter, but it will have more noise to it as well.

gopro low light iso comparison

I don’t really think that the GoPro was made for shooting in low light situations. It is an action camera, and most of the action sports take place during the day, right?

I don’t think it handles higher ISO values too well and personally, I like to limit the ISO on my GoPro at 800 and simply avoid shooting in low light conditions with this camera.

Shutter speed

The newer GoPro models – namely the Hero 5 and Hero 6 will let you control the shutter speed.

I don’t really like to mess around with this setting because I feel like the camera is doing a pretty good job when I leave it on Auto.

Adjusting the shutter speed is a great way of adjusting the brightness of your shots though. The lower the value the brighter the image. And the higher the value the darker the image will become.

Most of the times, in filmmaking, in order to achieve that cinematic, motion blur look, videographers use a shutter speed which is twice the value of the frame rate. So for a 30 fps shot you should use a 1/60 shutter speed.

Here’s a really cool video which talks about the relationship between frame rate and the shutter speed.

Sharpness

Your GoPro camera will use the High settings as default. So all the videos and photos will appear to be sharper than they really are in reality.

You have the option to use the Medium or Low settings which will give you softer, less sharp images.

I feel that using the High setting makes the images look a little bit unnatural, so I often go with the Medium or Low settings.

Image source

Then, I review the footage that I have and if I feel that it is too blurry and it needs more sharpness I add that when I edit the video.

The reason I prefer to add more sharpness during the video editing process instead of using the High setting is that I can’t undo what the camera did and I have more control over the footage.

Color

Under the Color profile menu, you will find a find just two different options.

The default one is the GoPro Color which is a very saturated image style with lots of vibrant colors. Most of the time it looks good, but when I’m using Protune I want my footage to be in a flat image style.

Then I go through my normal color grading flow which you can read more about over here.

Image source

I found that using the Flat setting will let you capture more details in both the darker and brighter areas of your shot. So the final, color graded video will look better anyway.

On top of that, color grading a GoPro video is not rocket science and it doesn’t really take that much time to do. So why not do it yourself?

Exposure

The exposure compensation value can make your image brighter or darker.

If you feel like a scene is to dark increase the exposure. If it looks too bright, decrease it. It’s a quick fix that can drastically improve the quality of the image if you are not going more than 0.5 or 1.0 up or down.

The exposure goes from -2.0 up to +2.0 in 0.5 increments.

Image source

Audio

The Hero 5 and Hero 6 also come with an audio option. If you set it on low, medium or high, the camera will record the audio as a separate file which you can play around in post-production.

It will try to reduce the wind effect as well as make the sound stereo and automatically adjust the gain/volume of the audio.

Most of the time I don’t even use the audio that comes out of a GoPro so I don’t use this setting.

So those are all the settings you can play around with in Protune mode.

 

Conclusion

To wrap it up, here’s what you need to take away from this post.

If you don’t have the time or you don’t want to mess around with your videos in post-production don’t use Protune at all. Just go with the automatic settings and let the camera do the job for you. The videos will look pretty good.

If you do use Protune, don’t just simply turn it on and that’s it. Browse through all the settings and turn off as much stuff as you can. You want to get the naked, native video out of your GoPro so that you have complete freedom and control over it in the video editing stage.

Here’s the “best practice” when it comes to the GoPro Protune settings.

  • White Balance: Native/Camera Raw
  • ISO: 400
  • Shutter speed: Auto
  • Sharpness: Low/Medium
  • Color: Flat
  • Exposure: +/-0.5

Thanks for reading and do send me links to your Protune edits.

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