The GoPro cameras are fantastic cameras, as demonstrated by their enormous popularity. But how do they work for folks primarily making Metal Detecting videos? In this review of the GoPro Hero5 Black Edition, I’m going to walk you through what makes a great camera for metal detectorist, arrow head hunters, bottle hunters, and treasure hunters of almost any stripe, and point out how the GoPro Hero stacks up to those requirements.
I have put together a video review of the GoPro on Youtube. See it here: Metal Detecting with GoPro Hero3+ Review
First, Why is the GoPro so Popular?
GoPro has absolutely nailed the action camera category. These tiny cameras are tough and resistant to almost any environment that a human being might want to play in. They were created with the express purpose of recording people in extreme action situations, and they do that very well.
Here’s where the GoPro excels:
- Dozens if not hundreds of mount options for mounting to all manner of equipment, structures, and body parts, allowing you to capture the action hands free. This is super tantalizing to metal detectorists, but alas does not justify the purchase
- Rugged – waterproof (131 ft.), dust proof, shock resistant, etc
- Beautiful HD video – the Hero5 Black Edition can capture 4k, 2.7k, 1440p, 1080p, 960, and 720p, delivering gorgeous footage (see the video of the GoPro on the DJI Phantom personal UAV linked below…it’s beautiful)
- Slow motion video, perfect for extreme sports – in the right modes, you can get 120 frames per second, which gives you smooth slo-mo. It’s awesome, but if you’re swinging your detector fast enough to need that, you probably need to slow it down
- 170° field of view angle
- 12MP still photos at up to 30 fps
- The Hero3+ comes with very good quality audio capture. In my test, it sounded even better than my iPhone 7, which is pretty good itself
Want to see where GoPro rocks? There are thousands of beautiful GoPro videos out there. Check these out, but come back here to see why GoPro may not be for you if you want it for metal detecting:
For the record, I’d be afraid to ride with guy…
Requirements for a Great Metal Detecting Camera
To make a great metal detecting/relic hunting video, here’s what you need from your camera:
1. Good image quality
The GoPro has got great image quality. Just look at the videos above. The one area that its image quality is lacking, just happens to be very important to metal detecting videos. See #2 for that one.
2. You probably want great close ups of your finds (at least I do)
This means two things: decent optical zoom and good optical image stabilization. Many times, you can make out detail on coins and relics through the view screen of a good camera that you can’t with the naked eye. I’ve seen many Metal Detecting videos where the person can read the date through the camera, but not without it. I’ve experienced this many times myself.
How does the GoPro do for close ups and fine detail?
This is not what the GoPro is designed for. Skydiving, whitewater rafting, skateboarding, shark cage adventures, panoramic vistas from Everest? Yes. A close up of your 1909 VDB Wheatie? No.
While the Hero5 Black Edition (and maybe other editions) has the ability to give you 3 different fields of view (Wide, Medium, and Narrow), it is not a zoom camera, nor is it well-suited for macro photography. As you’ve seen in the videos above, the GP can produce beautiful images, but close ups of fine detail is not easily attained.
There are a number of Macro lens attachments available on Amazon, but they do not have very good reviews by Amazon users. When you’re in the field detecting, stopping to add Macro to the camera takes away valuable time you could be swinging and digging. It is not optimal.
3. Good low light performance is frequently required by many detectorists
If you’re a beach hunter or like to stick to wide open fields, then low light might not be an issue for you. But if you find yourself strangely attracted to the woods where nobody else likes to hunt, or if you work during the daylight hours and like to sneak in an hour or so of hunting just before sunset, then low light conditions may be part of your normal hunt. You need a camera that can produce footage in low light without it becoming so grainy as to be unusable.
How does the GoPro handle low light?
The latest edition (Hero5 at the time of this writing) has a special mode for low light that improves on the performance of previous editions. In my testing, the Hero5 had passable quality footage in low light. It was easily surpassed by my iPhone 7, and did not do well with close ups of a coin in that light.
There are some beautiful videos of nighttime city scenes and other vistas using the GoPro, but you do not see it used for our applications in low light.
4. Hands free operation
The Holy Grail of cameras for metal detecting would be one that you didn’t have to pull out of a pocket and set up. It would already be in position to film you as you sweep a target and then dig, retrieve, and examine it. That is almost the GoPro. This is also why the GoPro is so tempting for metal detectorists.
The GoPro Hero5 has WiFi capabilities that allow it to be controlled via a Remote as well as through an iPhone or Android device. The unmatched mounting options also insure that the GP can be mounted anywhere and in any way you might possible dream. The ability to shoot with the Narrow FOV option can reduce the fisheye effect that kills a good dig video. Fisheye is a cool effect for the right applications, but it is not typically desired in a Metal Detecting video. Thankfully, the Narrow FOV option solves that well enough.
Once you have your GoPro mounted, you can control start and stop the video with a single click of the Remote or Smartphone. You can also set any of the settings you might need from those remote devices.
The incredible flexibility and ease of use of the GoPro (not to mention its great video quality) are what have made it so wildly successful. The lack of zoom and its iffy close up capabilities are simply too important and overwhelm the advantages GoPro has here.
5. Durability and ruggedness
Dirt, dust, and water almost define metal detecting for me. That and banging into stuff. And the GoPro handles these elements with ease. It comes with a waterproof housing that is good to 131 feet underwater, which is plenty for most divers.
Underwater detecting is one area where the GoPro is used to good advantage. Due to the magnification factor of water, you can get some decent close up images of your finds.
While the GoPro is an awesome camera and may be the absolute best for what it is designed for, I do not think (read…this is my opinion) that it is the best camera for the money for the metal detecting application. Many others have attempted to use the GoPro for Mding and found it unsatisfactory for their needs. There are detectorists out there who put out good videos with the GoPro, but they are the exception.
I have returned my GoPro Hero 5 Black Edition and am now looking at the Panasonic DMC TS5, which was recommended by Mal Potter. I hope to do a review on that in the near future.
If you choose to go ahead with the GoPro for metal detecting videos, i recommend that you keep all of the parts and packaging nice and neat until you have decided whether it will work for you or not. It is truly a great camera system with more accessories than any other camera on the market, but it is not all things to all people.
Best wishes and happy hunting!