GoPro macro photography – really?! GoPro built its brand on action and sports photography. But that’s not all it’s good for. Here’s how to turn your action cam into a macro camera. I include tips and lens recommendations.
In this post, we’ll look at how to get macro shots with a GoPro. You’ll find some macro lens options at the end of this article.
GoPro Macro Photography: Introduction
GoPro macro shots require a special lens. The wide field-of-view (FOV) that GoPro is famous for is great at keeping everything in focus. But if your “everything” is closer than 12 inches from the lens, things get blurry.
With a macro lens, you can film and photograph subjects within two to three inches. Being able to capture images that close will open up a new world of GoPro photography.
Once you have a macro lens, you’ll want to use a narrow or medium FOV. The wide and superview settings leave the edges really blurry and stretched-looking. This look, especially in video, will take away from your footage. With the medium and narrow FOV the edges are much softer.
For photos, I prefer the look of the narrow FOV because the edges look the softest, as you can see in this next shot.
Macro lenses have a fixed FOV. That means everything beyond its FOV is soft/blurry, or out of focus.
So a macro lens would not be a good choice for capturing action or sports footage. But, it’s the perfect choice for close-up images.
GoPro Macro Photography Explained
In this video, MicBergsma does an excellent job of showing how to shoot macro, how to stack the lenses, and what the different field-of-view settings look like.
GoPro Macro Photography Video
Why Use a GoPro Macro Lens?
Using a macro lens is a good idea because without one GoPro images are fuzzy if the subject is any closer than 12 inches.
The game changes when you add a macro lens.
GoPro Macro Lenses
When you’re shopping for macro lenses make sure that the lens will fit your GoPro camera.
Some lenses only fit some models, and others only fit with, or without the waterproof housing. So make sure to read the specs and reviews.
Macro Lens for Hero11 (and Hero10, Hero9)
QKOO makes a 15X macro lens that fits the new model GoPro cameras. These include Hero11 Black, Hero10 Black, and Hero9 Black.
This lens directly replaces the standard protective lens on your GoPro.
Macro Lens for GoPro Hero7, Hero6, and Hero5
Engineered specifically for the Hero 6 and Hero5 GoPro cameras, this glass lens will give razor-sharp close-up shots. No adapter is needed.
This lens by PolarPro is a great option – just attach to the front of your GoPro, without the supersuit. If you want to attach to your waterproof supersuit (for some underwater macro photography, then some Macro/Red Filters should do the trick.
Note: Be careful not to confuse a GoPro macro lens with the GoPro Max Lens. A macro lens brings the subject closer and the Max Lens gives a wider field of view – up to 155 degrees.
Using Your GoPro Macro Lens
Excited about getting started with GoPro macro photography? There are some things you’ll need to keep in mind to get quality macro footage.
Follow these tips – and you’ll be off to a good start:
7 GoPro Macro Photography Tips
- Keep your subject within 3 to 2.5 inches of the lens
- Shoot in bright sunlight
- Use a medium or narrow FOV setting for video
- Shoot still photos with a narrow FOV at 1080p for best results
- Use a tripod or handheld mount (like Knuckles Grip Mount) for steady shots
- Shoot in Protune flat for the richest color capture
- Keep your subject in the center of your composition or it will be distorted and blurry.
Why GoPro Macro is Great For Animal Photography
Pet stores are usually nicely lit which is important for great GoPro macro shots. It’s also easy to get close to the animals.
The GoPro is a great camera to use at the pet store because it is:
- has no flash
- and is really tough (inside the waterproof housing).
You’ll be happy about that last one if a macaw tries to grab your camera as this one did.
I think the birds like how shiny the macro lens is. I was happy this grab attempt didn’t leave any scratches on my lens.
9 Tips for GoPro Macro Photography at the Pet Store
Here are some things to keep in mind. These tips will help you get great shots, and keep the animals (and staff) happy.
1. Hand-hold the camera
Keep the camera as small and inconspicuous as possible. This will keep the animals calm and draw less attention.
If people start coming over to check out what you’re up to, the animals will be distracted. That makes it harder to get a good shot.
The staff is always concerned about animal stress levels, so the smaller your gear, the better it is. If it looks like what you’re doing might stress the animals, they’ll probably ask you not to do it. Fun over.
2. Look for open cages
Bunnies, puppies, and kittens are often in open cages that allow petting. This makes it easy to get close to them.
Macro lenses are best at about 2.5 to 3 inches, so you’ll need to get nice and close.
This is another great reason to hand-hold the camera. It’s smaller than your hand so it won’t alarm the animals or the staff.
3. Shoot between the bars
As you move your camera the animals (birds) will follow.
Try to keep the center of the macro lens clear of the bars. A bar in the middle of a shot can look okay, but it’s less distracting without it.
4. Check the glass
It’s easy to get caught up in shooting and forget to check for scratches in the glass.
If you try to find an area of the enclosure with no (or very few) scratches your photos will look better.
5. Shoot at the highest resolution
Choose your highest megapixel setting for better cropping options. I shot with Hero4 Black in the Wide field of view option with 12-megapixel quality.
Cropping is necessary with macro because of distortion, the higher resolution you’re working with, the better quality photo you’re capturing.
6. Shoot in Protune Flat
Protune flat will give you the best color capture so you’ll be able to make your photos look better while editing.
7. Be patient
Animals move around a lot. You’ll need to be patient in order to get a clear shot. Try these GoPro ideas for macro when you’ve some play time on your hands.
8. Take lots of pictures
It’s not easy getting clear macro shots at the pet store. Take lots of pictures, of the same animal. The more you take, the more chance you have of getting a few keepers.
9. Talk to the staff
If you notice the staff watching you, talk to them about what you’re doing. Chances are they’ll want in on the fun. If not, find a different pet store.
More reading: How to Use Your GoPro
Is GoPro Macro Photography for You?
Does this look like a fun GoPro idea? Do you think you’ll take your GoPro to the pet store?
What do you think: Will you give GoPro macro photography a try? Please share your thoughts and tips by commenting on this post.
Please share your tips and experiences shooting macro with a GoPro. We look forward to your comments. 🙂
- About the Author
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Hey, I’m Dena! I’m a content creator and co-founder of Storyteller Tech.
Experienced GoPro Videographer: I’ve been shooting with GoPro cameras since 2012. Our first GoPro was the Hero3 Silver, bought for a Galapagos press trip. And today, we own 20+ action cameras, including GoPro, DJI, and Insta360 cameras.
Professional Creator: Bryan and I have developed video and content marketing plans for numerous international travel brands. And we also run several content businesses.
Photography Writer: I’ve written photography tutorials for well-known sites, including Digital Photography School.