The GoPro Hero 11 offers tons of adjustability, however it does not have a dedicated Low-Light mode. With it’s small sensor it’s not really designed to perform at night, but with a couple of easy tweaks, you’ll be amazed at what you can squeeze out of this little guy!
Good settings for low-light or night filming are very similar to those used when filming with ND filters. Those, of course, make the everything darker with the goal of creating natural motion blur. That’s done by reducing shutter speeds. And that’s also the most important setting for night shooting.
Slow shutter means that the sensor has more time to capture light for each frame. More light = brighter image. Our goal is to slow the shutter only so much that ISO can stay relatively low (reduce noise) and stabilization still works.
Recommended GoPro Hero 11 Black settings for low-light video:
- Framerate: 30 or 24 FPS (personal preference)
- Resolution: 4K or 5.3K (depending on FOV)
- Lens (Field of View): Personal preference
- HyperSmooth (Stabilization): On
- Pro Controls: On
- 10-Bit Color: On
- Bit Rate: High
- Shutter speed: 1/60 to 1/240 (depending on stabilization needs)
- EV Comp: Auto
- White Balance: 3500K
- ISO min: 100
- ISO max: 800 – 3200 (depending on shutter)
- Sharpness: Low
- Color: Natural (or Flat for color grading)
- RAW Audio: Off
- Video Mode: Highest Quality
- Everything else: Off
A few pointers on how to choose shutter and ISO. They work hand in hand but the shutter is the priority here.
- Shutter: Slower is better for low-light. But faster (darker) is better for stabilization. 1/120 should be fine for most filming, 1/240 can stabilize most activities. If you don’t need much stabilization, you may get away with 1/60 and ISO 1600 at 30 FPS.
- ISO: Lower is better for avoiding noise (grain). But higher ISO results in a brighter image. This is a balance. For shutter 1/120 select ISO 3200. For 1/240 pick ISO 6400. For 1/60, ISO 1600 may be enough.
Don’t forget to save your favorite setting as a preset for easy access!
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These will work in most night-time conditions, provided there is at least one good light source available. Light street lights or a strong helmet lamp. The ISO range allows the exposure to adjust without creating excessive noise from high ISO. For other filming projects, use my other recommended GoPro settings for mountain biking or settings for winter sports filming.
Using these settings, the camera will only adjust the ISO automatically to get the right exposure and stabilization. Everything else is in your control for consistently high-quality footage!
To even get access to all of the settings necessary, you need to activate Pro Controls. On the Hero 11 that’s deactivated by default. So here’s how you unlock the full power of your GoPro:
How To Unlock Protune Settings for GoPro Hero 11
- 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).
So, there you have it. Those are the semi-automatic settings that record cinematic, well-balanced footage that looks more like what you experience through your own eyes. Read this article for a deep dive into what each GoPro setting does.
The Most Important GoPro settings for night-time
White Balance (WB)
Also referred to as color temperature, this is the red or blue tint. During daytime a WB of 5500 Kelvin is best. That’s the color temp of the sun. Makes sense. When the sun is gone, however, a much lower WB is necessary. The “correct” one depends on the temp of the artificial light you’re using. But it’s also an artistic choice, so feel free to play around. If you want to go for a cyberpunk-esque cool look, go as low as 3300K. Or 4000K for a more balanced look.
On a normal hand-held camera, you’d pick a shutter speed of twice the frames per second for a cinematic look – 1/60 for 30fps and 1/48 for 24fps. Not so for action cams, that need to stabilize the footage.
Stabilization requires fast shutter speeds. As you can see, this is a problem, that you can let the camera’s software solve for you by leaving it on auto. Alternatively, for manual control, I found that the GoPro needs a minimum shutter of 4x the framerate to properly stabilize even on rough MTB trails. That’s how I arrived at the 1/120 number for a helmet mount. Wobbly chest mounts need 1/240 and above.
In daylight, you would use ND filters to slow down shutter speeds without overexposing the image. At night that effect happens by itself and the challenge becomes keeping the ISO as low as possible.
ISO: min. 100 – max. 3200
ISO is the main reason for grainy or noisy footage. If that’s something you’re struggling with, check out this resource on how to get rid of noise in your videos.
ISO is the maximum light sensitivity of the camera, and the Hero 11 lets you define a range it can work within. However, you don’t want to give it more than it really needs as more ISO means a more grainy image.
This is why to set the ISO as low as possible. 3200 should be the upper limit when using fast shutter speeds of 1/240. Try if you can get away with 1600 and 1/120 shutter too. You’ll notice the difference!
There’s a definite trade-off between stable or grainy (noisy) video.
Sharpness can make well-exposed footage look crispy. But it makes underexposed footage even more grainy. Sharpness is a post-processing effect that should be used sparingly as is. And even more so when you expect some noise from high ISO.
Sharpness can always be added later on in editing, but can’t be taken out afterward. So, err on the side of no added sharpness, especially for night time.
In low-light conditions the “Natural” or “Vibrant” color profiles may be your best friends for making a otherwise dull scenery pop. In a city with vibrant colors or for color grading, the Flat profile may be more usable. Whatever you pick is completely subjective.
Video Mode – Quality or Battery
Recommended: Highest Quality
Everything we set up is so we can get the highest quality. So, don’t compromise your work by letting the camera lower resolution or stabilization in favor of longer battery life. This setting exists for use cases where the camera is placed on a stationary tripod.
That’s all you really need to know to go out and get good-looking video at night! Have fun filming.