A few months back High Street photo retailer Jessops announced that Jessops Academy would be running a new course in association with GoPro, the market leading action cam manufacturer. It’s the only course in Europe to be approved by GoPro and its aim is to help GoPro Hero action cam owners get more from their camera. I went along to Jessops store in Birmingham one Saturday to join a course and find out a bit more.
Jessops’ GoPro Course review: who’s it for?
The attendees on the course I went on were all relatively inexperienced GoPro users. Some had owned a GoPro for a couple of years but had not used it much, while others had received their action cams for Christmas. All were united by a desire to make more use of their GoPros.
While the course leader, Michael Mann, is a very experienced photographer and videographer, the course assumes no prior knowledge and is ideally suited for non-photographers and videographers as well as those who’ve taken the first steps with their GoPro.
It would also suit experienced photographers who want to understand more about using a GoPro.
Jessops’ GoPro Course review: What’s covered?
As well as going through the differences between recent GoPro cameras, the Jessops’ GoPro course takes you through every stage of setting up and using a GoPro camera, from selecting the resolution to choosing a mount.
There’s no need to worry if you don’t understand terms like resolution, frame rate, aspect ratio or field of view (FOV) as everything is explained clearly and concisely. By the end of the course you’ll have a clear idea about which settings to use when.
Michael also explained what the camera controls do and how to find the various features. He took us through each of the modes available (Video, Photo, Burst and Time Lapse) and there were short practical sessions during which we could try each of them. This wasn’t an opportunity to great footage, it was about discovering the cameras’ capabilities and taking control.
The course also covered using Protune, the more advanced control area available on GoPro cameras. Again this was explained in simple non-techy terms suitable for those with no experience of photography or videography.
While the course touched on editing video using the GoPro apps, it wasn’t covered in-depth. The apps are quite intuitive, but the less app-savvy delegates might appreciate a little more guidance.
At the start of the course everyone was asked what their hopes and expectations of the course were and at the end we were all asked whether they had been met, everyone agreed that they had.
Jessops’ GoPro Course review: What do I need to take?
Participants are asked to bring their GoPro camera and have GoPro’s app (GoPro Capture and GoPro Splice) installed on their smartphone. Ideally delegates should have a Wi-Fi enabled GoPro: Hero5 Session, Hero5 Black, Hero4 Black, Hero4 Silver, Hero Session, Hero+ LCD, Hero+, Hero3+, Hero3 (requires camera software update) and HD Hero2 with Wi-Fi BacPac (requires camera software update).
A spare battery or two would be useful, along with a phone charger as the camera and phone are used extensively throughout the course. A GoPro battery charger is available, but it’s best to go with charged spare batteries if you can.
Jessops’ GoPro Course review: The venue
Jessops academy has in-store venues in Birmingham, London (Oxford Street), Manchester and Cardiff. The course I attended was in Birmingham and the academy is located at the back of the store, away from public access.
The course was held was a typical windowless training room, with a horse-shoe arrangement of tables and essentials such as a large TV screen and flip chart. Tea and coffee making facilities were freely available throughout the course.
All the filming and photography was done within the course room, but there were props like a remote control car and a toy cross bow to fire at targets. There was also a large collection of mounts to look at and try.
The course started at 10am and finished at 4pm with a break for lunch (not provided).
Jessops’ GoPro Course review: Verdict
Jessops GoPro Course is a very good introduction to using a GoPro Hero camera. The atmosphere was relaxed and friendly, with participants of a wide age range.
The course I attended enabled someone who hadn’t even taken their camera out of the box to feel comfortable with using it for shooting video, stills and time lapses. Our tutor was very knowledgeable and was able to explain everything clearly and concisely without seeming patronising. He was also able to answer all the questions that came up and everyone went home excited about using their GoPro in the future.
While some outdoor adventure shooting might’ve been nice, working within the confines of the training room enabled us to cover a lot of topics over a relatively short space of time. We were also able to watch example videos on the television.
As mentioned earlier, video editing was touched on and could be covered in a little more depth, but the course is also tailored to the requirements of the participants and some may need to focus on other areas a little more.