Got the latest GoPro 12 but your videos still look like crap? Don’t return it just yet, it’s all about the right video settings.
Below I reveal the exact settings I use to make my Downhill Mountain Bike POV videos for the Suspension Traveler YouTube channel!
In fact, 3 setting presets to choose from: beginner to pro.
Let’s start with beginner-level options.
If you don’t want to mess around, here are just the most important beginner settings you must get right:
Set-and-Forget Beginner Settings:
- Controls: Easy Mode
- Video Mode: Standard Quality (4K)
- Framerate: 30 FPS
- Frame: Widescreen
- Stabilization: Hypersmooth AutoBoost
- FOV: Superview or Hyperview (personal preference)
- and just point and shoot.
These will work well in any lighting condition, keeping footage stable and colors popping straight out of the camera without any editing required.
If that’s what you were looking for, you’re welcome. Cya and have fun!
Or check out my GoPro 12 battery-saving tips while you’re at it 😉
For anyone looking to fine-tune their look or even edit and color grade their footage, I’ve got just the right preset for you…
Recommended GoPro Hero 12 settings for cinematic footage
- HDR Mode: Off
(On for high contrast scenes)
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Framerate: 30
- Resolution: 4K (or 5.3K)
- Lens (Field of View): HyperView
- HyperSmooth (Stabilization): On
- Pro Controls: On
- Bit Rate: High
- Bit Depth: 10-Bit (color)
- Shutter speed: Auto
- EV Comp: -0.5
- White Balance: 5000K
- ISO min: 100
- ISO max: 1600
- Sharpness: Low
- Color: Natural (or GP-LOG for editing)
- RAW Audio: Off
- Wind (noise reduction): Off + wind muffler (Info: WNR On works well, but turns your audio to Mono)
- Video Mode: Highest Quality
- Everything else: Off
Congrats, you now set specific boundaries for the camera to get amazing video quality every time!
This preset will work in pretty much any daytime scenario – even in difficult, changing lighting conditions like going in and out of tree cover during sunshine.
Color Grading for Action Cam Videos
Make your POV footage pop with custom color grades!
Download my FREE LUT specifically for MTB videos:
How to adjust settings to find your own style
Using these semi-manual settings above, the camera will only adjust the shutter speed and ISO automatically within the ranges you set.
Everything else is set in stone to produce exactly what you want every time you push record. Feel free to change some things around to find your style. Here are some pointers:
- HDR: The new High Dynamic Range mode allows to get evenly exposed footage even in high-contrast scenes like bright sunlight or even sunsets with the sun in direct view. For overcast days, or low-light filming, you may get better quality without HDR enabled. In either case, it has a particular look to it – see for yourself if you like it.
- Color Profiles: Both Natural and Flat provide a natural look. Use GP-LOG only if you plan on color grading. It’ll look bland without any LUTs applied.
- FOV: This is how you pull your viewers into the experience. Experiment to find your go-to Lens mode. But also keep in mind, that higher Hypersmooth settings reduce FOV. It’s a balancing act.
- ISO: You may find that ISO 800 or even ISO 400 looks super rich as it prevents the camera from going too bright, resulting in deep, saturated footage. For overcast days or dark forests, 3200 might be the way to go.
- Wind-noise reduction can make the audio sound overly processed. It also switches to a single mic. Avoid if you can. And try out a foam windscreen (“Windslayer“) if you want to high-quality wind-free sound.
Find my current camera setup here. In this resource, I list all the gear I use to make quality MTB POV videos.
For the true geeks of you, let’s go even further down the rabbit hole and have a look at ND filters.
ND Filter settings for GoPro 12
ND filters are notorious for destroying any stabilization in order to get some cinematic motion blur.
Not with these settings!
I found specific shutter speeds that allow both motion blur and stabilization at the same time:
- Use the exact cinematic settings listed above with specific exposure settings
- EV: -0.3
- Shutter and ISO:
- Stabilize anything: Shutter 1/320 and ISO max 1600 with ND4 or ND8.
- Sweet spot: 1/240 and ISO max 1600 with ND4 or ND8.
- Smooth rides: Shutter 1/120 and ISO max 800 with ND8.
- Smooth rides and helmet mount: 1/60 and ISO max 400 with ND8.
These settings will keep stabilization working well by using a fixed shutter speed – which is the whole point of using an ND filter in the first place. Don’t just slap it on and be disappointed when it’s all shaky.
If you were wondering which exact ND filters I use: I got a collection of Freewell ND filters. But I’m only using the ND4 for MTB videos. ND8 just gets too dark most of the time for the settings I use. ND16 and 32 are basically unusable for me.
What are ND filters and what do they do?
They’re basically sunglasses for your camera, reducing the overall exposure (= everything gets darker). This is to allow lower shutter speeds, which make everything brighter.
This is the goal here as a slow shutter results in natural motion blur.
ND filters DO NOT change colors, increase contrast or increase saturation.
In other words: If you want awesome, cinematic motion blur, you need to have your shutter setting fixed at a slow setting. And ND filters allow you to do that without making everything too bright.
The only problem with action cameras is that you probably need them to stabilize. And their electronic image stabilization needs crisp (not blurred) frames. Bummer.
But now you don’t need to worry about that using the ND settings above 😉
How to access GoPro 12 PRO controls
If up to this point, you were wondering why you can’t find any of the settings I was talking about, here’s how you unlock every setting in your Hero 12:
- On the main screen swipe down to reveal the menu.
- Swipe left to get to the second menu page.
- Tap on the button “Controls” in the lower left corner.
- Switch it from Easy Mode to “Pro Controls”.
- Done. Now all the ProTune settings are unlocked for you.
In order to gain access to the full list of settings, you need to activate the PRO setting on the second page of the main menu. The unlocked video settings are accessed through the bottom menu of the main screen (viewfinder).
So, there you have it. That’s how you actually set up your GoPro 12 to capture cinematic videos. If you still can’t get enough and want to nerd out in-depth, be my guest.
Read on for a deep dive into what each setting does.
GoPro Hero 12 Settings Explained
On a bike, it’s critical to use any one stabilization option. Regular Hypersmooth works fine, Boost is almost unnecessarily good.
You may find that AutoBoost and Boost get too narrow. I personally stick with the regular HS. It works incredibly well as is. And if the occasional bump gets through, it only adds to the immersion.
In other words: stabilization and FOV work very closely together.
Lens Modes / Field of view (FOV)
A wider FOV can help with a couple of effects: the sense of speed, showing steepness and capturing reference points the viewer can identify with like the handlebar, hands and bike frame as well as the trail ahead.
The wider the FOV, the more of that is in the picture. This time around Hyperview may actually be wider than Superview, not just include more above and below.
If that overly distorted look of Hyperview is something you like, is entirely personal taste. Or a question of mounting position. Helmet (chin) mounts seem to do better with it than chest mounts.
Horizon leveling mimics a gimbal that’s keeping the camera level. I don’t recommend it for biking POV, because the FOV gets way to narrow. It’s a cool effect tho, especially doing a follow-cam where the subject is in front.
I’m sure you know this one: total pixel count. But there’s more to it in an action cam!
The way stabilization works is entirely by software. The camera crops / zooms into the frame to be able to seemingly “remove” movement from the picture – resulting in lower FOV and lower resolution.
That’s why 1080p will look blurry and a minimum of 2.7K is recommended. 4K is optimal, and 5.3K may already be overkill (huge file size).
This is what makes your video look unnatural and jarring or true-to-life. Bonus points for cinematic natural motion blur.
Framerates of 24, 25, and 30 are a big part of what makes video footage cinematic. I believe 30 FPS works best as 24p can look stuttery as well. But it’s all personal preference!
60fps is used only for slow-motion. At regular watch speeds, it looks unnatural and sometimes even jarring as it’s much crisper and sharper than what you would see through your own eyes. It’s also a big reason why POV MTB videos LOOK slow.
Unless you plan on slowing down your footage in editing, a high framerate is completely unnecessary for MTB. Your SD card also fills up much quicker.
White Balance (WB)
Wrong WB can make or break a video!
WB is basically the overall color temperature ranging from red to blue – think golden hour sunset to blue hue mist. It’s measured in Kelvin. And it’s a big influence in how colors look in a video.
Automatic white balance has become pretty good. So you may get away with it. Setting a fixed value is your extra guarantee that color hue won’t just suddenly change mid-video.
So, it’s up to you if you leave it on auto, or set it yourself. Either way, it’s a set-and-forget option. Why? Because this is an outdoor camera. And sunlight has a color temperature of about 5500 Kelvin.
Exposure Value (EV)
Exposure Value is a measurement of how a shot is “exposed” or how well it’s lit. The camera is usually trying to aim for an EV of 0, meaning it’s well-exposed subjectively – to the camera.
It’s doing that by adjusting the two options it has for exposure control: shutter speed and ISO. GoPro cams have a fixed aperture, so they can’t adjust that.
Especially outdoors, it struggles in some situations like patchy lighting in a forest or lots of bright, white snow in winter. Overexposure is usually the most common problem for MTB, so a negative EV (darker) can be quite helpful.
Shutter speed determines how long the shutter is open and your camera’s sensor is exposed to light. A faster shutter speed lets in less light, and a slower shutter speed lets in more light.
The longer it’s open, the more blurry each frame gets when there’s movement. The faster it is, the better stabilization works. 1/400 an pretty much stabilize anything, but can look jittery.
ISO determines the light sensitivity of the camera’s sensor. The higher the ISO number, the more sensitive the sensor is and the brighter the image gets. But more isn’t always better as high ISO also leads to grainy, blurry, desaturated footage – here is how you fix that.
So, a limit on the maximum ISO is a good idea!
That way you’ll limit the negative effects that occur in low light. Additionally, you’ll keep darker areas realistically dark and don’t make them unnaturally bright.
ISO 800 is usually enough for outdoor stuff. And even if it isn’t your video won’t be ruined since you set your minimum shutter. ISO 1600 will be enough for pretty much anything, but it also brightens up dark areas a lot. So it’s a personal preference.
Completey change the look of your videos straight out of camera.
- Pop: High-contrast, high saturation. Easily looks unnatural.
- Natural: Medium-contrast, Medium-saturation. Looks natural as is.
- Flat: Low-contrast, low-saturation. Looks natural in bright, high-contrast sunshine, bland on cloudy days.
- GP-Log: Lowest-contrast & saturation. Captures most information for maximum color grading flexibility.
Color Grading for Action Cam Videos
Make your POV footage pop with custom color grades!
Download my FREE LUT specifically for MTB videos:
Sharpness is a processing effect that’s applied on top of footage. It will not increase resolution or bitrate. Instead, the sharpening effect will be applied in real time and is baked into your footage. That should be enough reason for concern.
If that look is something you like or not, is up to you. But keep in mind, that you can’t remove it and high sharpness may look unnatural or even jarring to watch. It can also introduce weird visual glitches on gravel, leaves and grass.
Bit Depth (10-Bit Colors)
10-bit color offers a significantly higher color depth than 8-bit color (1 billion vs 16.7 million colors), resulting in smoother gradients and more detailed color nuances. This is particularly noticeable on high-quality displays and when color grading GP-Log footage.
Wind Noise Reduction
Again, this is a post-processing effect coupled with front microphones being turned very low or off. The processing can sound unnatural and distorted. For extreme wind noises, it can be beneficial.
It’s not the best wind-muffling solution tho. That’s still using foam windmufflers.
Bonus tips and tricks
Reset: Format SD card after offloading all files
To be safe and prevent SD card errors, format it after pulling off all the files to your computer or hard drive. It’s not necessary, but good practice.
This grid overlay is perfect not only to align the adhesive mounts on a helmet but also to find the perfect camera angle that captures the trail not just your front wheel.
Ideally, the trail and horizon should meet somewhere near the center. With the handlebars in the lower third, it makes the footage enjoyable and inviting to watch as the viewer can look ahead on the trail and also get a feel of how the bike’s handling.
Orientation lock: landscape or on
This auto-detect works well enough to not lock it completely. Landscape lock is generally the more useful option unless recording for 9:16 aspect ratios for short-form video platforms. Also recommended for easy swapping between helmet and chest mount where the cam is upside down.
This has nothing to do with the recording format, only what’s displayed on the touch-screen finder. Both a 4:3 and 16:9 format will get cropped to fit “fullscreen” on the square screen.
Leave it off to be able to see the actual frame you’re recording including the peripheral space on either side. Especially in Superview and Hyperview, a lot gets lost in the preview when fullscreen is on.
Voice Commands: Hands-Off Control
For moments when you can’t reach for your camera, take a look at the voice commands. There is quite the list of controls to use.
Leave these on as it’s the only indication for you of what the camera’s doing. Either starting to film, stopping recording or powering off. Each situation has its own beep signal. The volume can be turned lower or higher. Just don’t mute it or you’ll have no feedback without looking at it.