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Does A GoPro Make Sense For Someone Starting To Shoot Property Video?

Published: 03/10/2016

goprohero4Stuart asks:

I was considering upgrading my Canon EOS 5D to the Mark III so that I could take videos. I then came across the GoPro system. I would like to know if anyone uses a Go Pro for videos, and any shortcomings, recommendations that other members might have.

I think you are right for considering other options than just upgrading to a Canon DSLR. New smaller cameras have video quality are improving rapidly. Here are some points to consider in this decision:

  1. You are going to need other gear like a stabilizer if you are going to do walk through video and/or a slider, etc. if you are going to shoot cinematic video.
  2. You might also consider the DJI OSMO it has a built-in stabilizer. We talked about this alternative several other times here and here on PFRE. Zoltan's results in Rio illustrate that the OSMO is very useable for property video and it is quite similar in price and quality to the Hero 4.
  3. Learning to do property video is takes a substantial and investment in time and gear. Expect to get by with less than the best gear when you are starting out. It's good to start out slow and small to make sure you really want to do video.
  4. Many property videographers are moving to cameras like Sony A7s Mark II and Panasonic GH3. If you become serious about property video this is a direction you should consider.
  5. Previous GoPros have had issues with barrel distortion (horizontals and verticals are curved) but this can be removed in post-processing with Adobe Premiere Pro CC. From the video samples I've seen of the GoPro Hero 4 it still has this problem.

I'm sure others have plenty of advice in this area.

Update Oct 3: As a couple of commenters below pointed out below, just recently the GoPro Hero5 Karma system was announced that consists of the new Hero5 camera, a drone, and a Karma handheld stabilizer. It appears the camera, drone and stabilizer will be available Oct 23. I revisit this subject when the Karma system is released.

Larry Lohrman

9 comments on “Does A GoPro Make Sense For Someone Starting To Shoot Property Video?”

  1. Interesting question and one I have been considering too the last couple of days. I have to shoot video at the same time I shoot stills and to keep visual continuity of look and feel not to mention light, I am constantly switching my ultra wide lens between my two Canon camera bodies, one better for video but of higher resolution and as a result larger still image size too. I find it hard, especially when shooting under a time pressure, to remember to switch lens settings (manual for video and auto focus for stills). I know, I need to buy another lens, one for each camera. The new GoPro 5 just launched today caught my attention as I am buying one for another type of shoot altogether since it has image stabilization built in and also works with their own gyro 3 axis hand held stabilization unit. They also have fish eye correction software but then so does GoDad. And you can pick between full wide angle and two more less wide angle settings.

    So since I am having to buy one, I'll let you know just how effectively it works for RE video. It certainly has enough resolution (according to their product description) anyway. But they tend to focus more on what to do with it on their site than on its specifications. It also is water proof for those of us who shoot on rainy days or underwater homes. With climate change very much with us, many more of us may be shooting such properties if we work in the Marshall Islands or, it appears, in the US Eastern states.

  2. I've shot 100s of apartment walk-through videos using a GoPro 4 and an EVO GP-Pro gimbal. Shoot 4K, 30 fps, wide. Downsample to 1080p. You can see the videos at our YouTube channel:

    The free GoPro Studio software does an effective job of correcting lens distortion. I do minimal post-processing in Lightroom.

    The videos won't win any awards, but my client advertisers are very pleased with the results. They save leasing agent time and result in rentals.

    I shoot with a GH4, 7-14mm lens, when higher quality is required. Bought and returned two gimbals which didn't work as advertised.

    I haven't used one, but the DJI Osmo reportedly has awful sound quality and lower-quality video than the GoPro.

  3. If you are already invested in an array of Canon lenses and accessories, a 6D or 5DmkIII might be a good investment. If you decide that offering video services isn't working out, you will have a very good still camera. If you start making good money with video, you may want to purchase a dedicated video camera such as a Blackmagic or Canon C series that uses Canon EF lenses. You could even get an EF mount RED camera if you want to go all out.

    I find the technical quality of the GoPro camera output to be rather poor. They are great as a very very wide throw away camera that isn't too painful financially to destroy. Their claim to fame is all of the mounting options available. A GoPro could get you started, but it will take more processing to correct basic lens distortion and it's a dead end if you want to go to the next level. There is also a low perception of quality in the eyes of customers. It's almost as bad as showing up to a job and using an iPhone to shoot stills.

    The biggest factor in deciding to offer video services is whether your area will support it. Video takes more work and more gear, so you will need to charge more than you would for stills if you plan to do more than deliver a nearly straight out of the camera video. If very few agents are using professional still photography where you are, getting them to hire you for video (and pay a reasonable price) could be an uphill battle. Conversely, if many listings are professionally photographed, you may be able to bring in a bunch of business.

    You don't have to start with new equipment. Search eBay and Craigslist for "last year's model". I've had some excellent luck with Canon's high end consumer camcorders ($600-$800 MSRP range). Those cameras record images in a frame by frame manner rather than by scanning like the lower priced video cameras (GoPro, Aiptek, etc). This gives them better and more natural motion capture. You will want to reserve some of your budget for a computer upgrade and added storage. You many also want a video tripod, sliders, hot lights, etc.

  4. GoPro just introduced the Hero5 that has lens correction built into the firmware. I've only seen their promotional shots, but the lens distortion out of the camera is hardly noticeable.

    On my Hero4, I discovered that when shooting video+still, the still photo resolution is lower than still only.

  5. The "lens correction" in the Hero 5 is in the form of a special field of view selection, Linear. It's not available when shooting 4K, and it results in a restricted field of view that is probably equivalent to a 22mm lens.

    I have the Hero 5 and will not use the Linear selection for interiors. The stabilization is electronic rather than optical; not a substitute for a gimbal.

  6. You need to step outside the “real-estate” market for a second to analyze this question. GoPro’s are being used in broadcast television every day and nobody is complaining about quality. Jay Leno’s garage is just one of many high quality TV shows using them. The reality is, there are places where only a GoPro will work and in those times, the quality seems to work just fine.

    In video, content is king and well-made productions will not suffer from any perceived degradation miniature cameras are thought to introduce. Unlike still photography, where a single picture can be analyzed to death, in video you control the viewer’s eye and the idea is to get him more interested in the content than the presentation. If you analyze real-estate video’s that you like, you’ll see that it’s the creative editing, interesting angles, and good story line that make them good; not the quality of the image (as long as the quality is reasonable). When your videos are SO good the only area for improvement is the camera, that’s the time to invest in better gear. For me, that’s a long way off – LOL.

  7. A real estate video by GoPro...

    Shot list

    Agent flys in with a wing suit on with a GoPro strapped to their forehead, skims the tree tops, narrowly miss's the neighbor's houses before pulling his 'chute and landing on a giant A in the front yard.

    Kayak's down the waterfall into the pool, free climbs up the side of the home to the balcony to see the view then sets himself on fire and jumps into the snow with a selfie stick.

    Then up the stairs and through the front door on an offroad motorbike for a quick walk through

    A quick look at the lot by riding around on the fence on a mountain bike followed by a cute closing shot of the owners dog skateboarding off down the street into the sunset.

    Anyone up for it?

    I jest of course - the best advice I saw years ago was that the best camera to get started with is the one you have (thanks Stephen Garner).

    We 'upgraded' to the GH3 when it came out and that little camera is still producing a sufficient standard for our needs. Keen to see what advances the GH5 brings. We plan on doing more 'agent tip' videos for FB and the like and in good light the iPhone6 (combined with the Sennheiser Wireless mic for good audio) is more than capable of producing reasonable image quality.

    BTW @Joe Zekas, love your work - came across your channel years ago and you really encouraged me with the example of just getting the job done and achieving results for your clients without all the fanfare.

  8. Real estate aerial photography and videography will be best for exterior shots. Use a steady cam rig to create beautiful smooth interior videos. You might even consider the Go Pro Karma, a solution for aerial photography and stable ground video. There are a ton of solutions out there so make sure you research what you want to do and how versatile your equipment will be. Your equipment is only a tool but make sure your creativity shines!

    Real estate aerial videography and ground videography are going to the standard in real estate production and marketing. You and your equipment will need to keep up with the ever growing technology.

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