When filming with an action camera like the GoPro Hero 11, the expectation is footage that looks cinematic, intense, and true to life. But when you go out with your new action cam and you play back your footage, it looks nothing like the promo videos. The problem is the automatic video setting.
And that’s the case for even the best action cameras out right now. The stock settings are designed so that any inexperienced user can simply press record and film without knowing anything about videography. And after reading this article, you’ll be above and beyond that level!
After riding and recording dozens of clips in various weather and lighting conditions, testing video settings, mounts and accessories with the GoPro Hero 11 I found the baseline settings that I can get the best mountain bike videos out of my GoPro action cam.
Recommended GoPro Hero 11 Black settings for cinematic footage:
- Framerate: 30 or 24 FPS (personal preference)
- Resolution: 4K or 5.3K (depending on FOV)
- Lens (Field of View): Superview (chest mount) or HyperView (helmet mount)
- HyperSmooth (Stabilization): On
- Pro Controls: On
- 10-Bit Color: On
- Bit Rate: High
- Shutter speed: Auto
- EV Comp: -0.5
- White Balance: 5000K
- ISO min: 100
- ISO max: 3200
- Sharpness: Low or Medium (personal preference)
- Color: Flat (or Natural for no editing)
- RAW Audio: Off
- Wind (noise reduction): Off + wind muffler (On = Mono)
- Video Mode: Highest Quality
- Everything else: Off
Settings for ND Filters that keep stabilization intact:
- Chest mount: Shutter 1/240 and ISO max 1600. ND4 or ND8 should be fine.
- Helmet mount: 1/120 and ISO max 1600. ND8 or ND16.
These will work in most outdoor riding conditions, even in difficult, changing lighting conditions like under tree cover and direct sunlight as well as overcast weather. For special shoots, use these other settings for winter sports filming, recommended underwater settings or low-light settings for night shoots.
Color Grading for Action Cam Videos
Make your POV footage pop with custom color grades!
Download my FREE LUT specifically for MTB videos:
Using these settings, the camera will only adjust the shutter speed and ISO automatically to get the right exposure and stabilization – which is obviously crucial for MTB POV. Everything else is in your control for consistently high-quality footage!
Here is some footage using these exact settings. I did color correction in an editing program, taking advantage of the flat color profile. The benefit of filming with a lower exposure value (EV) of -0.5 to -1.0 is that details can be brought forward by brightening shadows, even in high-contrast situations like going in and out of forests:
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 on further down for a deep dive into what each setting does.
Why automatic settings produce bad footage
None is going to look very good out of the box with fully automatic factory settings. Like all action cams, the GoPro Hero 11 does have automatic video settings to compensate for all variables during a ride.
But automatic settings always tend to be all over the place when left unchecked, creating inconsistent, amateur-looking films. This is why it’s recommended to use semi-manual settings.
Automatic vs Manual video settings
You might have been disappointed by your action cam footage using auto settings. That’s to be expected and it happens because these cameras absolutely cannot tell what you’re trying to film and what result you’re aiming for.
These cams can do almost anything outdoor-related. Mountain biking, snowboarding, and diving are completely different activities in terms of what the action cam is supposed to capture.
That’s why it’s not a good idea to unlock the complete array of options to the camera’s processors but rather to give it boundaries it can work within. A good principle to follow is to keep variability minimal for consistent image quality. And that’s what the recommended settings above do.
Video settings are the difference between amateur and professional-looking, cinematic action cam footage.
However, filming outdoor activities is tricky because of changing light conditions. It’s an important variable to videography you can’t control outdoors. Additionally, while mountain biking we often ride in and out of shaded woods, which creates even more contrasting lighting on sunny days.
This is also the reason why ND filters only have limited applicability in action cams for MTB as they require constant lighting conditions.
Fully manual settings are not possible most of the time. Especially in sunny weather. I did the test and rode the same track twice back to back using automatic exposure and manual exposure settings (details are in the video description). Here’s the resulting comparison:
Although the manual option looked phenomenal the couple of times the exposure was just on point, it’s rarely the case with a moving camera.
All GoPro Hero 11 Video Settings Explained
Let’s move this one to the top of the list because it has the biggest impact on your footage. DO NOT LEAVE THIS ON AUTO! If you only take one piece of advice away from this article, this should be it.
When left on auto, the camera will constantly color correct by itself (a big reason to worry), while not knowing what it sees. A screen full of lush green grass? Auto WB will reduce green colors. Riding through amazing brown dirt? Expect it to look bland and boring with auto WB.
And it will do that in real-time, resulting in weird-looking color fluctuations that can’t be saved by editing. This is the reason why auto settings will always look amateurish.
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 daylight.
Easy as that. Set it once and never change it again. On a really cloudy day, 6000K may be okay too to avoid a blue hue.
Recommended: 24 or 30 fps
Low framerates are what produce the natural motion blur, similar to what you would see through your own eyes.
Sure, 60 fps would result in a more crisp image, where you can see every single pebble on the trail, but that’s not how it really looks in real life. It’s unnatural and quite jarring to watch. Same with high sharpness settings, more on that later.
I change between 24 fps and 30 fps depending on the situation. In very low light conditions (heavy tree cover, after sunset) I found 30 fps to result in a bit better stabilization. Personally, I like the look of 24p, but that’s personal taste in what viewing experience you want to create.
Extremely high fps above 60 frames allow for slowing footage down for a slow-motion effect. At regular watch speeds, there is no tangible difference between 60 and 240 fps. Your SD card may disagree as it fills up much quicker.
Recommended: 4K or 5.3K depending on Lens setting
Resolution is the pixel count in relation to the aspect ratio. And there’s the important hint, that’s new for the Hero 11: the sensor’s own aspect ratio of 8:7 instead of 4:3
In other words: Hyperview requires 5.3K, while Superview can be both 4K and 5.3K. Opt for the lower resolution if possible as this will dramatically impact the memory storage required.
That being said, 1080p Full HD is not recommended in any case. Here’s why:
The way stabilization works is through software. The camera actually crops into the frame a little bit to be able to seemingly “remove” movement from the picture.
That also means the final resolution of the video is a little lower than what the setting indicates. That’s why 1080p will look more blurry and a minimum of 2.7K is recommended.
Lens / Field of view (FOV)
Recommended: Superview for chest mounts or Hyperview for helmet mounts
A wider FOV can help with a couple of effects: the sense of speed and capturing reference points the viewer can identify with. Since on a bike both hands are occupied, the camera needs to be able to see a lot without moving the camera angle.
Generally, a wide FOV is able to capture the ground, ahead on the trail and the bike as reference for the viewer within the same shot.
A view from on top of the helmet sometimes only has a view of the trail ahead and much of the feeling gets lost for the audience since there are no reference points. No arms, no bike frame, no handlebars.
Hypersmooth Image stabilization
Recommended: Auto or Boost
On a bike, it’s critical to use any one stabilization option, preferably the max setting.
Above and beyond, a stable image is the most important feature of any camera strapped to your helmet, chest or bike.
I used to own the first generations of GoPros, but any mount besides the helmet mount was completely unusable because of the shaky footage. Now chest mounts are all the rage (GoPro’s Chesty 2.0 is still my favorite tho).
One of the main selling points of the Hero 11, which was actually the first action camera capable of capturing a color depth of 1.000.000.000 colors! Yes, that’s one billion. Make use of all of them.
One feature of the newer GoPros is the ability to record at higher bitrates. This makes editing more powerful as the camera is able to capture more detail, even if all other settings are the same.
There’s simply more data to work with and a fundamentally sharper image at a given resolution.
Great for post-production color grading!
Recommended: Auto or 4x the framerate
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.
In order to keep shutter speeds low (four times the frame rate is okay for the stabilization to still be working well), you could use ND filters like these on amazon (which include an ND4 but no CPL, ideal for MTB) to reduce exposure, but they are definitely optional and have limited usefulness in changing light conditions.
Recommended: -0.5 in summer or +0.5 in snow
By setting an Exposure Value (EV), you can tell the camera how to expose: Over- or underexpose. Meaning, how much light gets through to the sensor and basically how light or dark the base footage will get.
With action cams usually overexposing and over-saturating it’s best to pump the brakes a little on this issue. Overexposure means blown-out highlights that are just white, detail-less blobs on your screen.
And the details can’t be brought back – they’re gone forever. Not so for dark shadows, which can be brought back up in post.
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 I normally set the ISO as low as possible. But light sensitivity (ISO) is what’s required for the stabilization to work well. So, it’s a compromise.
The choice is between jittery stabilization and a grainy image. Even with the highest max ISO, the camera won’t likely use those high values during daylight.
During sunsets and low-light situations (in dense forests), you may even bump up the maximum ISO to 6400, which will lead to noisy (grainy) but stabilized footage.
I’d personally rather have a stable, grainy video than the other way around.
Recommended: Low or Medium
Sharpness can make the footage look higher resolution than it is. The higher the sharpness, the crisper and also the more unnatural it’s going to look. Use this sparingly, overly sharp videos are not very inviting or pleasing to watch.
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 (the camera will add some anyway) or a low sharpness setting at the most.
Recommended: Flat or Natural
Nothing is inherently wrong with the “Natural” or “Vibrant” color profiles, which sport the popping colors and high contrast you’d expect from an action cam. If those oversaturated and high contrast style is something you like, is completely subjective.
That being said, those saturated colors and high contrasts just limit the options for post-production color corrections and custom color profiles to really make the edit your own.
If you like playing around creatively in an editing suite, “Flat” is perfect for you as it provides more freedom for creative exploration.
Anything but OFF will produce separate audio files in a raw file format. For most of us, this is unnecessary clutter on the SD card, unless you really plan on editing audio separately from video and piecing them back together later in an editing program.
Wind (Noise Reduction)
Recommended: Auto or OFF w/ wind cover
The built-in wind noise reduction is alright, but is miles behind actually using all three stereo mics. Not only because it switches to Mono audio from only the rear mic, but it also distorts the audio resulting in unnatural, muffled sounds.
Make use of the amazing onboard microphones by leaving the wind setting OFF and putting some sort of wind muffler on the camera housing. Either dead cats, or one of the many windslayer foam housings.
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.
Battery Saving Tips
One big issue with the current GoPro Heros is that they draw battery even when turned off. This is probably because the camera is on standby for various features like remote turn-on (Quik app), voice control and wireless connections.
Here’s how to extend battery life on the GoPro Hero 11:
1. Remove the battery for storage
The most effective battery-saving technique is to simply remove it from the camera when not in use, especially when putting it away for extended periods of time. Batteries stored inside the camera will deplete much faster than ones stored by themselves.
2. Turn Off GPS
Making use of the GPS data is actually a major hassle, I’ve found. For a result with minimal usefulness.
First, you gotta (slowly) upload the files to GoPro’s cloud, then download them to use them in the editor, which is cumbersome to use, and then export for an actual editing program for editing and color grading.
Sure, it can be nice to overlay speed and location, but does that make the video a better viewing experience?
3. Turn Off Voice Commands
Unless you regularly use these, turn them off to save battery. Otherwise, the camera is always on “alert” and listening if commands are ushered.
4. Turn Off Wireless Connection
Connecting to the Quik app is still possible. But automatic cloud uploads aren’t. Since this feature is of relatively little use due to the slow speeds (especially if you got an external hard drive to backup your videos, highly recommended), you aren’t missing much.
Manual upload is still available also and the camera isn’t hunting for WLAN connections constantly.
5. Keep Batteries Warm
In cold conditions, try and keep the batteries at room temperature. If the camera is outside in freezing temperatures, keep the battery inside your jacket to heat up with body heat and only insert it right before use.
The new enduro batteries can handle the cold, but this technique will extend their life even more.
6. Auto screen off
Sadly, there is no option for instant screen-off when recording option like there is for the DJI Action 3.
The next best thing is to let it turn off as soon as possible when recording on a mountain bike, where looking at the finder isn’t possible. So there is no use in leaving the screen on any longer and wasting battery charge.
7. Front screen options: Status or off
When mounted, you won’t be looking at the front screen to see what it’s recording. This is more of a vlogging-type scenario. So, to save some battery, switch the front screen off altogether or just show the basic status to get a quick update at a glance.
Bonus tips and tricks
Don’t be sleeping on this one! This underrated 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.
Don’t let yourself get held back by waiting for the camera to record. One-press-record is extremely helpful for capturing snapshot moments.
It also helps for knowing if the camera is recording or not. It’s either on and recording, or off. Either way, Quikcapture can be overruled by the regular on/off button.
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.
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.