The GoPro HERO9 is one of the most compact and easy-to-use cameras for capturing 4K video underwater. It’s also great for photo shooters who want simplicity with easy point-and-shoot operation. Our team at Backscatter has spent hundreds of dives shooting GoPro cameras to determine the best underwater settings for capturing excellent video and photos in the easiest way possible. GoPro,Hero9,Best,Underwater,Camera,Settings,hero,9,flip9,flip,Photography,PHOTO,VIDEO,VIDEOGRAPHY

GoPro HERO 9 Best Underwater Photography Settings

The GoPro HERO9 is one of the most compact and easy-to-use cameras for capturing 4K video underwater. It’s also great for photo shooters who want simplicity with easy point-and-shoot operation. Our team at Backscatter has spent hundreds of dives shooting GoPro cameras to determine the best underwater settings for capturing excellent video and photos in the easiest way possible. Setting a GoPro HERO9 for success underwater is a lot easier than many people may think. Nearly everything on the camera is going to be set-and-forget before the dive. The only thing we actually need to change on the camera while underwater is the Custom Preset mode depending on what we plan to shoot (wide angle, macro, video, photo, etc.). Read on to understand why we need to use the Custom Presets and how to get your GoPro HERO9 dialed-in with our settings. Be sure to download and keep a copy of the settings in your camera bag for reference in the field. *Note: Make sure to update the firmware on your GoPro to the latest version to ensure that it is current and compatible with these settings and features.JUMP TO THE SETTINGSDOWNLOAD SETTINGS PDFGETTING STARTEDPower On & Setup The first thing to do upon powering on the GoPro is to select your desired language, current date & time, agree to their terms and conditions, and choose whether to activate the GPS or not. We always set the GPS to ‘OFF’ because it doesn’t work underwater. It will then prompt you to install the GoPro Quik app on your smartphone. The app will allow you to finish setup on the camera, pair it via Bluetooth, and enter a custom name for your camera. This also has the added benefit of enabling remote control camera operation and live view preview on your phone, but this is only something that we like to play with topside. Pairing your GoPro with the Quik app on your smartphone allows you to complete the setup.Dashboard Settings Start off by swiping ‘down’ on the touchscreen to bring up the Dashboard. The screen will have 8 icons along with the time, date, and other info at the top of the screen. The icons can be tapped to toggle them on or off, or to bring up additional options. Set them as follows: The DashboardVoice Control: Off (On by default)Beep: Off (On by default)QuikCapture: OnScreen Lock: OffGrid: OffFront Screen Options: Status Only (Full Screen by default)Orientation: Locked (Off by default)Max Lens Mod Mode: OffYour Dashboard icons should look exactly like this when set correctly. The Dashboard settings are set and forget. They remain unchanged regardless of shooting mode and will not need to be adjusted at all no matter what the camera is being used for underwater. Grid setting Pro Tip Some users set Grid ‘on’ to assist them in following the Rule of Thirds for making compositions on such a tiny screen. We generally prefer Grid ‘off’ to minimize screen clutter. Preferences Settings Swipe ‘right’ from the Dashboard to access the Connections and Preferences menus. The General and Displays options are found within the Preferences Menu. Select Preferences, and then General. Set these options as follows: General:Beep Volume: MediumQuikCapture: OnDefault Preset: Last Used (Last Used Video by default)Auto Power Off: Never or 5 Min (15 Min by default)LEDs: All OnAnti-Flicker: 60HzVideo Compression: H.264 + HEVC After completing the General settings, select Displays. Set the Display settings as follows: Anti-Flicker Setting: PAL vs NTSC 60hz is the North American standard for NTSC. If you’re in a country running the PAL standard you’ll want to select 50hz. This will also cause the frame rate settings to be slightly different. Displays:Orientation: LandscapeScreen Saver Rear: NeverScreen Saver Front: Match Rear ScreenDisplay Brightness: 100%Battery Conservation Tips / Screen Settings Maximizing battery life will ensure that the camera makes it through an entire dive. We like to save battery life by minimizing the time the camera is on, but we also want the camera to be ready to record in a split second. We use a combination of screen and power settings as listed above to pull this off. First, set Auto Power Off to ‘Never’ if you're actively monitoring the camera, or ‘5 Min’ if you tend to get distracted and forget to manually turn off the camera between scenes. Next, set QuikCapture to “On” and Default Preset to “Last Used.” No matter if you’ve manually turned off the camera or if it times out in 5 minutes, QuikCapture will allow you to instantly turn on the camera and begin recording with just one press of the record button. While it might be tempting to activate the Screen Saver to reduce power, this will cause the screen to go black during recording so we keep it set to ‘never’. The screen brightness is dimmable to conserve power, but shooting in bright shallow conditions will require a bright screen to overcome any glare so we keep it set to 100% during daytime use. Lower brightness levels of 60-75% however can be effective on night dives to increase battery life. After completing all of the Display settings, back out of the menu and return to the main shooting screen. CUSTOM PRESET SETTINGSWhy We Need Custom Presets When the camera is sealed in the Dive Housing there is no access to the touchscreen. This effectively locks out all settings choices other than shooting mode and will require you to create Custom Preset settings for different shooting styles before closing the camera in the housing. After the camera is sealed in the housing we can cycle through our Custom Presets by using the “secret menu” on the front screen of the camera. Activate the “secret menu” by holding down the Power/Mode button and pressing the Record button. A ‘wrench’ icon should appear on the back screen of the camera while the Presets will appear on the front. We will create Custom Presets for Wide Angle Video, Macro Video, and Burst Photo to be able to instantly cycle through any shooting mode we want using the “secret menu” while underwater. By cycling through custom presets the user can swap between settings for macro, wide angle, photo, and video with ease.WATCH VIDEO: How To Make a Custom Preset×Watch the video to learn how to use the custom preset feature on the GoPro HERO9. Setting a custom preset is very easy. For this example, we will start in Video mode. While at the main shooting screen, tap the default ‘Standard’ preset in the bottom center of the screen. This brings up the additional default presets built into the camera. Scroll down until you see the ‘+’ icon and tap it to add a new Custom Preset. Add Custom Presets in video and photo modes for set-and-forget operation.Mode The first thing to select is the mode, which will be Video. Only Video options are available while the camera is in Video mode, whereas Photo options will become available once we switch to Photo mode and build a new Preset for photos within that mode. Resolution & Frame Rate The next option is resolution and frame rate. These are the two most important settings because they determine how much information the camera will capture while recording. There are multiple resolution options available on the GoPro HERO9. The 2 most frequently used are 4K and 1080HD. 4K has about four times the resolution of 1080HD, but the files are also much larger and more highly compressed, making them difficult to work with unless you are editing on a newer computer. The GoPro will even show a warning about this when you select the 4K setting. 1080HD is the more ideal choice for people with older computers that cannot handle smooth playback of the 4K files. We recommend always shooting at the highest resolution possible based on what your editing computer can handle. Frame rate is less variable than resolution. We like to keep it set to 60fps (NTSC) for general purposes. 60 frames per second creates footage that looks super smooth and lifelike when played back at full speed, or it can be slowed down and played back at half speed for an even more stabilized and lengthened effect. Note that if you’re editing in countries using the PAL standard, your frame rates will be 25, 50, 100, 200 frames per second versus North America’s NTSC standard of 24, 30, 60, 120, 240 frames per second. 4K has about four times the resolution of 1080HD but also requires a more modern computer to edit.Note: Be sure to select 4K and not 4K 4:3 (located at the top of the screen). The 4:3 setting limits the aspect ratio of the camera and does not allow for recording at 60 frames per second.Lens (Field of View) The Lens setting (also known as Field of View, or FOV) is what determines how wide or narrow the view of the GoPro is. This is the setting that will determine whether you are going to shoot wide angle or macro, since wide angle requires a wide view while macro requires a narrow one. Set the Lens to Wide for wide angle or Narrow for macro. If the Lens setting is kept at Wide when shooting macro then the corners of the +15 MACROMATE MINI accessory lens will appear in the frame, and the subject will appear too small in the center of the frame. Switching to Narrow eliminates the visible lens and presents a larger subject in the frame. It should be noted that underwater refraction eliminates the visible lens anyway, but regardless of this, the camera should be set to Narrow when shooting macro to make small subjects appear large. The field of view must be set to ‘Narrow’ when shooting with the +15 MACROMATE MINI Lens.Hypersmooth Hypersmooth is what GoPro calls their in-camera digital image stabilization. We recommend setting this to Boost for all video shooting modes. This will crop in on the shot, creating a reduced field of view, but the benefit of the amazing stabilization that it adds is enough to offset any potential drawback. In fact, a reduced field of view is only a drawback for wide angle; it’s actually a benefit for macro because it produces a subject that appears larger in the frame. Protune Settings The Protune settings are the more advanced exposure, image, and sound settings. Fortunately for us, these will be the same for all video modes - though they still must be assigned individually for each Custom Preset. Bit Rate: High (Standard by default)Shutter: AutoEV Comp: -0.5 (0 by default)White Balance: AutoISO Min: 100ISO Max: 1600Sharpness: Medium (High by default)Color: GoProRAW Audio: OffWind: AutoISO Tips We’ve found a max of ISO 1600 to produce the best image quality, however, if you’re not using lights and might be swimming into a wreck, you’ll need the very grainy setting of 6400 to pull off an image. Shortcuts The last option within the Custom Preset is the Shortcuts. These are the icons that are present on the main shooting screen that allow for quick access to features when able to use the touchscreen. Since we cannot do that underwater, just turn all the Shortcuts off to have a less cluttered main shooting screen. Turning off the Shortcuts reduces screen clutter, and we can't use them in the housing anyway.Name & Save The final step is to save the Custom Preset with a name. The default options that GoPro includes don’t really apply to our underwater applications, so just choose “Custom”. Hit the check box in the corner to save the Custom Preset. One detail about using custom presets to be aware of is that there is no way to customize the name of the preset other than the default options the camera provides. This requires the user to remember what preset is for what mode (Custom for Wide Angle, Custom 1 for Macro, Custom 2 for Slow-Motion.). This isn’t much of an issue because the only thing you’re really looking for to differentiate between those 2 modes is the Lens/FOV setting (Wide or Narrow). The camera is now set to your Preset, and you can cycle through as many as you create by either tapping the touch screen and selecting it when out of the housing, or by using the “secret menu” on the front screen when sealed in the housing. SETTINGSJUMP TO WIDE ANGLEJUMP TO MACROJUMP TO SLOW-MOTIONJUMP TO PHOTOWide Angle Video SettingsWIDE ANGLE: CustomAccessory: FLIP9 Two Filter Kit with Shallow & Dive filtersMode: Video Basic SettingsLens: WideRES/FPS: 4K or 1080 | 60fpsHypersmooth: BoostDuration: No LimitTimer: OffProTune SettingsBitRate: HighShutter: AutoEV Comp: -0.5White Balance: AutoISO Min: 100ISO Max: 1600Sharpness: MediumColor: GoProRAW Audio: OffWind: AutoWide Angle Requires a Filter The biggest limitation that the GoPro HERO9 faces for underwater wide angle video is the lack of ability to set a manual white balance. Cameras need to be able to set a manual white balance to restore the red, orange, and yellow color tones that would otherwise be lost as we descend deeper into the blue, green, and cyan-toned water. By adding a color correction filter onto the GoPro HERO9 we are able to restore the red, orange, and yellow color tones without having to change any settings in the camera. We recommend FLIP Filters for GoPro because they offer easily interchangeable filters for different levels of color correction at different depths. GoPro cameras need a filter to restore red, orange, and yellow color tones at depth. To learn more about FLIP Filters and the full range of GoPro accessories, please see our GoPro Solutions article.Macro Video SettingsMACRO: Custom 1Accessory: FLIP9 Pro Package with +15 MACROMATE MINI LensMode: Video Basic SettingsLens: NarrowRES/FPS: 4K or 1080 | 60fpsHypersmooth: BoostDuration: No LimitTimer: OffProTune SettingsBitRate: HighShutter: AutoEV Comp: -0.5White Balance: AutoISO Min: 100ISO Max: 1600Sharpness: MediumColor: GoProRAW Audio: OffWind: AutoMacro Needs a Lens The lens of the GoPro HERO9 is a fixed-focus lens, so getting too close (less than 12” away) to subjects will result in soft focus which is unacceptable for close-up work. This limitation can be overcome by using our +10 Close-Up Lens and + 15 MACROMATE MINI Lens, both of which move the fixed focus range of the camera closer, allowing the user to get closer to smaller subjects without dropping focus. MACRO LENS COMPARISONBy adding accessory lenses the focus range of the camera can be moved closer, allowing for sharp shots of smaller macro subjects. To learn more about FLIP Macro and Close-Up lenses and the full range of GoPro accessories, please see our GoPro Solutions article.Super Slow-Motion Video SettingsSUPER SLOW-MOTION: Custom 2*Requires some knowledge of editing software and a reasonably powerful computer to process. Limits resolution to 1080. Good for jumping off the boat and other fast, short moments of action.Accessory: FLIP9 Two Filter Kit with Shallow & Dive filtersMode: Video Basic SettingsLens: WideRES/FPS: 1080 | 240fpsHypersmooth: BoostDuration: No LimitTimer: OffProTune SettingsBitRate: HighShutter: AutoEV Comp: -0.5White Balance: AutoISO Min: 100ISO Max: 1600Sharpness: MediumColor: GoProRAW Audio: OffWind: AutoPhoto SettingsPHOTO: BurstAccessory: FLIP9 Two Filter Kit with Shallow & Dive filtersMode: Photo Basic SettingsLens: WideBurst Rate: 5/1sOutput: StandardTimer: OffZoom: 1.0xProTune SettingsEV Comp: -0.5White Balance: AutoISO Min: 100ISO Max: 1600Sharpness: MediumColor: GoProDon’t Miss The Moment with Burst Photo Mode While the video features may be the more exciting aspect of the GoPro HERO9, it is a great tool for capturing photos in an extremely easy point-and-shoot method. We recommend setting the camera to Burst Photo Mode with a burst rate of 5 shots per second. We like Burst Mode for capturing a fast sequence of shots which allows us to choose the best shot after the dive. RAW vs. JPEG The output setting on the GoPro HERO9 captures photos in either RAW or JPEG file formats. RAW photos are uncompressed and can be heavily edited without quality loss, but they require a program such as Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop to develop and export. JPEG files are compressed and can’t be edited as much, but they’re ready to share as soon as they’re shot. Recycle Delay with RAW Settings When shooting 5/1s Burst Photos and using the RAW output setting, the time between bursts can be up to 10-12 seconds as the camera saves the RAW files. Bursts of 3/1s will have a reduced buffer time of 6-8 seconds. JPEG output recycle time is only 1-2 seconds between bursts. We recommend you consider these potential problems with delays and make changes appropriately for your subject matter. Download Our Settings Guide We hope that this guide helps you make the most of your GoPro HERO9 underwater. Remember to download a copy of these settings and keep a copy in your camera bag for reference in the field. DOWNLOAD NOW If you have any questions at all send us an email at info@backscatter.com, or give us a call and we’ll be happy to help you out. Be sure to also check out our GoPro Solutions article to learn all about the FLIP Filter product line and the full suite of accessories for GoPro underwater. Back to Top GoPro HERO9 Camera $399.99ORDER NOW GoPro HERO9 Protective Housing $49.99ORDER NOW Isotta GoPro HERO9 Housing $450.00ORDER NOWOutfit Your GoPro With Our Popular Packages FLIP9 One Filter Kit Color Correction System with DIVE Filter $59.00 FLIP9 Two Filter Kit with SHALLOW & DIVE Color Correction Filters $99.00 FLIP9 Pro Package with SHALLOW & DIVE Filters and +15 MACROMATE Mini $199.00FLIP Color Corrections Filters FLIP SHALLOW filter Bluewater Color Correction Red Filter $19.95 FLIP DIVE filter Bluewater Color Correction Red Filter $19.95 FLIP GREENWATER Color Correction Magenta Filter $19.95 FLIP FLUORESCENCE Filter $19.95 FLIP5 55MM Threaded SHALLOW Color Correction Filter $24.95 FLIP5 55MM Threaded DIVE Color Correction Filter $24.95 FLIP5 55MM Threaded GREENWATER Color Correction Filter $24.95Close Focus and Macro Correction Lenses FLIP 55MM +10 Close-Up Lens $19.95 +15 MACROMATE MINI Macro Lens & FLIP 55mm Adaptor $119.00FLIP Filters & Accessories FLIP 55MM Filter Holder $19.95 FLIP FILTERS Neoprene Protective Pouch $5.99 FLIP FILTERS Neoprene Protective Wallet for Filters $9.95 FLIP FILTERS Lens Removal Tool for GoPro HERO5, HERO6 & HERO7 $6.95Back to Top


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