Overcast, cloudy weather, blinding white snow and dull colors – in winter it isn’t exactly easy to get great-looking footage out of your GoPro. Whether you’re skiing, snowboarding or sledding this winter, my GoPro winter settings will get you amazing video footage every time.
Stop getting grey snow, bland colors and boring-looking videos by just setting up a winter setting preset you can activate when you’re in winter wonderland.
- HDR Mode: Off
- Framerate: 30 FPS
- Resolution: 4K or 5.3K (depending on FOV + FPS)
- Lens (Field of View): HyperView or SuperView (personal preference)
- HyperSmooth (Stabilization): AutoBoost
- Pro Controls: On
- 10-Bit Color: On
- Bit Rate: High
- Shutter speed: Auto
- EV Comp: +0.0 to +1.0 (more clouds = higher EV)
- White Balance: 4500K (for a cool blue look)
- ISO min: 100
- ISO max: 3200
- Sharpness: Low
- Color: Vibrant (to make bland colors pop)
- RAW Audio: Off
- Wind (noise reduction): On (or Off + foam wind muffler)
- Video Mode: Highest Quality
- Everything else: Off
These are based on my own cinematic GoPro settings for summer tweaked to work in snowy conditions when much of the scenery is white. Mainly the White Balance, Color Profile and EV Compensation are different from what you’d use normally.
Using these settings, the camera will only adjust the shutter speed and ISO automatically to adjust the exposure on the fly. Everything else is in your control for consistently high-quality footage!
Now let me explain the three most important GoPro settings for winter shooting. I’ll not go into every single one here but would recommend another article explaining all GoPro Hero 11 Video settings.
And if you’re wondering how to activate Pro Controls (or Protune) on newer cameras, I’ll show you at the end of this article!
3 most important settings in winter
Recommended: +0.0 to +1.0
This is the most critical one! If you only adjust one setting, this is it.
Using the above settings, your GoPro is still exposing automatically by adjusting ISO and shutter speed. By setting an Exposure Value (EV), you can tell the camera how to expose: Over- or underexpose.
Now here’s the devil in the detail: With a lot of snow in the picture, the camera thinks everything’s too white and bright and makes the image darker. This is the culprit for the grey snow in your GoPro footage!
In every other case, I use a negative EV, but in this case, a positive one may save your videos.
Unfortunately, even newer GoPros don’t feature a histogram or zebras to objectively judge exposure. So you’ll have to rely on your own eyes and the rear screen or phone screen (using the Quik app) to get the exposure right and prevent any over-exposure. Start out with +0.5 if in doubt.
Recommended: 4500K – 5000K
When left on auto WB, the camera will constantly color correct by itself. Now imagine the camera seeing mostly white snow and trying to compensate and reduce all that white color. This is why colors can look completely off and even change throughout a clip. No bueno.
Weird color fluctuations are the trademark of amateur footage. Luckily this is easy to fix!
This is an outdoor camera. And sunlight has a color temperature of around 5500 Kelvin. However, GoPros tend to create a warmer picture, so I prefer 5000K for normal sunny daylight.
To create a cool look, you may even go down to 4500K for a nice chilly blue hue on your winter footage. On a really cloudy day, 6000K may be okay too to avoid a blue hue.
Easy as that. Set it and forget it.
Nothing is inherently wrong with any of the color profiles. Vibrant and Normal provide the saturated colors and high contrast you’d expect from an action cam. While GP Log looks bland by design so that you can come in with with heavy color grading to put your style on it.
The problem for winter sports is, pure white snow against people in colorful jackets and dark trees sounds high-contrast. But especially in overcast weather it can look pretty flat on camera. So “Natural” or “Vibrant” tend to be more natural to watch – and look just like you remember it through your eyes.
On a normal, bright summer day I’d go with Natural but for winter it’s different. You want all the color and contrast you can get. (Unless you’re color grading, then go with GP Log)
Polarizer filter (PL & CPL)
Any kind of lens filter is usually only marginally useful on an action cam. For winter filming, however, polarizers are in fact a big help! They not only make the sky pop in a darker, saturated blue. Even more amazingly, polarizing filters reduce glare coming from highly reflective snow drastically!
There’re two types available: Slide-on polarizers that go over the lens cap, or screw-on filters replacing the lens cap. In any case, the bigger difference is between circular (CPL) and regular (PL) polarizers. CPLs can adjust the level of glare-reduction. With an action cam we’re talking about here, this can lead to unintentional adjustments. This is why I’d go for regular PL polarizing filters for a GoPro.
Wind (Noise Reduction)
In order to achieve the best possible audio quality, don’t use the menu option for wind noise reduction as this results in weird-sounding software distortion. Rather, leave wind noise off and muffle wind using a windsock or foam for crisp sound.
I glued dead cats and foam to my GoPro before, but think a full foam housing works best and is the easiest to use. That’s why I keep an HSU Windslayer on my GoPro or in my camera gear bag at all times.
HOWEVER, I can’t recommend it without restrictions! Using this in snow, there’s a high chance it will get wet and soaked reducing its effectiveness. So, feel free to experiment with the built-in software wind noise reduction first and see if you can live with that.
keeping your GoPro warm in winter
Battery life decreases with colder temperatures. When shooting winter sports with additional chilling airflow, GoPro batteries really suffer. Here’s a little trick to extend your battery life in winter.
While the camera gets a little warm while filming, it quickly cools off in freezing temperatures.
Try and keep the batteries at room temperature or at least above freezing. To do this, keep the (spare) battery inside your jacket to heat up with body heat and only insert it right before use.
If the camera is wet from snow, be careful with opening the side door and exposing the electronics to water. Tilt it to the side so the battery slot points down and no water can drip in.
The new “Enduro” batteries can handle the cold well, but this technique will extend their life even more.
Unlocking Protune Settings
- 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 option 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 detailed video settings are accessed through the bottom menu of the main screen (viewfinder).