A few years ago, comparing a GoPro vs a DSLR might have seemed like an unfair argument to make. But particularly since the launch of the Hero5 GoPro cameras are fast becoming the go-to camera of choice for professional videographers who appreciate its size and versatility.
And the Hero5 Black also competes with many DSLRs on image quality.
GoPro vs DSLR: Photos
GoPro cameras are built for versatility and designed for videographers on the go. They’re ready for action and as such can record fast-moving subjects and sequences just about anywhere you take them – even underwater.
A DSLR, on the other hand, is bigger and less versatile. Recording video with a DSLR is more of a process, from stabilising the camera to its controls (the Hero5 offers voice-activated controls).
This, of course, is because a DSLR is designed to shoot still images, and if you are wanting to shoot still images of your action sequences a DSLR has the clear advantage here.
But if video is your primary concern, well, bigger isn’t always better…
GoPro vs DSLR: Video Quality
Like shooting still images, with video the system that will best serve your needs really depends on the subject you want to shoot. However, the GoPro’s size and some of the advanced features introduced in the Hero5 Black will likely make it the better choice.
This may sound like heresy if you’ve been shooting with a DSLR for some time now, but hear us out!
Let’s simply work through a list of things every videographer should consider before a shoot, and we’re pretty sure you’ll agree that a GoPro is the better option for video over a DSLR.
You only need to glance at a DSLR and GoPro side by side to get a sense of just how much smaller and lighter the GoPro is. However, to be fair to DSLRs, they are also quite a bit smaller than standard pro camcorders. So they are quite versatile tools, as well, just not as flexible as a GoPro.
A GoPro camera allows you to shoot from vantage points and places where you’ve quite likely never filmed before. Their size has opened up a whole new world of creative possibilities for videographers who tether them to Frisbees, arrows, dogs… the possibilities are endless.
Your DSLR, on the other hand, offers the option to upscale with lenses and accessories, which is useful as it gives you more control. But this functionality contributes to their bulk and requires storage. A DSLR kit can quite easily fill an entire photo backpack and be quite heavy to transport around.
Meanwhile, you can fit a GoPro rig, stabilizer, card, batteries and the camera itself comfortably into a side pocket on your backpack.
In-camera image stabilisation technology has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years. Many cameras offer 5-axis image stabilisation that allows photographers to shoot handheld at shutter speeds that were once impossible.
But despite these advances, the best way to ensure smooth, professional-looking footage is to film with a dedicated stabilizer rig, such as the DJI Ronin.
The GoPro also offers built-in digital image stabilisation, which slightly crops your frame to give the appearance of stability. But there are also numerous options on the market for handheld stabilisers to use with your GoPro camera.
This is one key advantage you have with a DSLR vs a GoPro. With a DSLR you have total control over your aperture and shutter speed, not to mention lenses. Having these exposure controls at your disposal means you can manipulate the look and feel of your footage to get a very particular style.
The GoPro Hero5 Black does allow you to control exposure settings such as the shutter speed and ISO, but it does limit you with a fixed lens and aperture. That said, you can make adjustments to the field of view in the Hero5’s menu system.
Resolution and frame rate
This might surprise you, but in a GoPro vs DSLR comparison the plucky action camera wins this battle hands down. Yes, a number of DSLRs now record HD and 4K video at 30fps, but the GoPro can do this as standard and raises the bar even further. A Hero5 Black can record 4K movies at a staggering 120fps!
Being able to record video at this sort of frame rate opens up many creative opportunities, such as slow-motion movies that slow down a fast-moving action sequence in striking detail.