GoPro vs DSLR: Face Off
If you are here, you are probably looking to purchase a new camera to meet your requirements, and you want to do thorough research before making a decision. And whether you are interested in photography as a hobby or an active photographer who loves capturing the perfect shot while traveling or in events, you definitely do not want to mess up on making an accurate purchase.
And when we talk about the best cameras in the photography industry, there is no way you can miss mentioning the two most popular types of cameras today- the GoPro and the DSLR. Are you confused between them? Are you wondering which one of these will help you take epic shots?
Well, let me give you a fair warning beforehand. The competition between GoPro vs DSLR will be intense because they have been designed for use in different situations. And both of these have a fair amount of similarities and differences to go through.
Having used both DSLR and GoPro cameras during my travels, I can help you figure out which one will be best suited to your needs. Honestly, my experience with both these cameras has been unique, and I can assure you will not be disappointed with either. Both have pros and cons, but that is expected in a debate.
The trick is to sort your priorities and evaluate your photography style and needs to decide which camera compliments you better.
So let’s get to business and enter the ultimate battle between GoPro vs DSLR.
- 1 What is a GoPro camera?
- 2 What is a DSLR camera?
- 3 GoPro vs DSLR – all the differences you need to know
- 4 Why choose GoPro over DSLR?
- 5 Why choose DSLR over GoPro?
- 6 GoPro vs DSLR – my final verdict
- 7 FAQs
What is a GoPro camera?
The primary objective behind designing a GoPro camera was to create an epic device to capture the best action shots. The best feature about these cameras is that even though you are in the middle of adventurous activity, it keeps your frame steady. They are compact, have the sturdy build quality, and come with a wide-angle lens to capture as much as possible.
GoPro arrived on the market in 2002, and its popularity has only been growing. I have hardly found any other camera that can record adventures while traveling like this one, and it is so easy to upload the footage on social media. Many professional vloggers use GoPro cameras to showcase their experiences while streaming concerts, music festivals, and even sports events.
You get the opportunity to use various mounts, making it easy to place your camera on different surfaces. The Hero series from the brand has taken over the world and gathered many fans. And the models in this series, like the GoPro Hero 8, GoPro Hero 9, and GoPro Hero Black 10, performed exceedingly well with the audience.
I own the GoPro 8 and have recommended it to many friends and family members. And none of them have ever complained about it.
What is a DSLR camera?
DSLR or digital single-lens reflex cameras have been popular for years and are still a favorite among many photography enthusiasts. You get crisp, high-quality pictures, and the flexibility is a bonus. Another thing I appreciate about DSLR cameras is that they are super beginner friendly, and you can try them out even if you are just stepping into the world of photography.
With these cameras, you get high speeds and interchangeable lenses, which is impossible with a GoPro. Professional users love using these cameras equally, and some newer models offer 4k support too. But I have to mention a disadvantage of DSLR cameras; it would be that they are expensive.
But a wide variety of price ranges is available. Even if you do not have the budget for purchasing a hug-end variant, there is no need to get disappointed, as there are multiple budget options too.
I have been using the Nikon D850 for slightly over a couple of years, and it is easily one of my favorite DSLR cameras I have ever used.
GoPro vs DSLR – all the differences you need to know
Size and design
Let’s discuss the GoPro and the DSLR in size and design. Even though the size is a factor you will notice immediately as soon as you look at both types, there are a few things worth considering.
A GoPro camera is smaller than a DSLR, so I prefer it more since it is easy to carry during my trips. And it’s not just the portability that impresses me. You can keep and use a GoPro anywhere, and you do not even need a huge bag to carry it.
Apart from the size, there is also a significant difference in the weight between both types. To help you understand the difference in weight, let us take two famous examples of both camera types. I will pick the GoPro Hero 8 on the one hand and the Nikon D7200 on the other. While the GoPro Hero 8 weighs roughly 142 g with the battery, the Nikon D7200 weighs approximately 676 g.
I will take another example to make a fair comparison- GoPro Hero 5 session vs Nikon D3400 in terms of weight. While the former weighs roughly 73 g, the latter weighs around 395 g.
I always prefer lightweight cameras when I am traveling or while shooting outdoors in general. Hence, the GoPro camera is a clear winner for me in this category of GoPro vs DSLR.
Well, I cannot compare two excellent cameras without mentioning their lenses, isn’t it? The lens you choose plays a significant role in determining the type of shots you will get.
DSLR cameras have bigger lenses, allowing more light to enter them. Another advantage of using DSLR cameras is the option of using an interchangeable lens that gives you a variety of shooting options to explore. Even if you want to take the perfect shot and capture the details of an object present far away, the DSLR camera will do the job amazingly with the help of high zoom.
And do you like that slightly blurry effect in the background while clicking portraits? A DSLR camera lets you achieve that via F-stop lenses. You can even try vintage lenses to take it up a notch.
Now, if I talk about a GoPro, it is possible to add wide-angle lenses when shooting landscapes. But it is impossible to get that blurry effect a DSLR can offer. Of course, you can go for some specific software to create the same effect, but you will be able to see a significant difference in the results. But whatever options you get in a GoPro are just features within the lens. You will not be able to use any dedicated lens like you can in a DSLR.
Hence, in the lens department, a DSLR camera will be the winner for me as you get to explore a lot according to the type of photography you are going for.
I will be very direct with you in this department from the very beginning. The primary goal behind creating a GoPro camera was to record action videos. The main priority of a GoPro camera isn’t capturing good-quality images.
And if your top priority for purchasing a camera is to click the best quality pictures during your travel sessions, a DSLR camera should be your direct pick. You do not even need to have second thoughts about this.
DSLR cameras are excellent for elevating your photographs by capturing every minute detail. It is not just the best camera to capture pictures while traveling. It is the best camera for clicking pictures overall, that’s it.
There is another reason why DSLR cameras are better at offering comparatively much better quality images, and that is because the sensor in it it is is twice the size of the sensor present in GoPro cameras. And it’s not just the lens size; the quality of the lenses used in DSLR cameras is also better.
There is one more feature I would like to add which impacts the quality of images in a camera- the ISO settings. You can go way high with this DSLR camera setting, which is why the picture quality is excellent, even in low light conditions.
Let me come down to the numbers to help you understand better. I will compare the specifications between a GoPro Hero 9 and a Nikon D7200. While the former has a 20MP sensor, the latter has a 24MP sensor.
Bosch cameras can support JPEG and RAW image formats, but there is a significant difference in the ISO range. The GoPro supports an ISO range between 100-3200, and the Nikon supports a range between 100-25600. And, of course, there is the automatic ISO setting in both.
If I have to pick a winner in this category of GoPro vs DSLR, it will most definitely be a DSLR.
Video quality and stabilization
This is the most challenging category to compare both cameras because there are many factors to consider. I always want to help you to the best of my capability, which is precisely what I will try to do here.
As I have already mentioned multiple times by now, a GoPro camera was manufactured especially as an action camera. It is all about recording the best quality videos and has been preferred by many users because of its compact size and design. But even though a DSLR was not initially meant for recording videos, it still does a decent job. But is it good enough? Let’s discuss this further.
When you are clicking videos, the subject matter plays a significant role, and so does the stability the camera offers. The stability technology in cameras has been making remarkable advancements in recent years. And ultimately, we all want smooth-looking footage which looks professional.
The GoPro camera features built-in digital imaging stabilization, and the technology has been enhanced further, known as the EIS HyperSmooth. You will get even better results if you use a gimbal, but a GoPro still does terrific in this zone. However, you will not get this facility in a DSLR camera.
I will not say that a DSLR camera is insufficient for recording videos, but when you have a GoPro while traveling, you do not need anything else. Based on my experience, I will vote for the GoPro camera in this category.
Let me cover a little about the various video formats you are getting in both cameras. I will again use the GoPro Hero Black 9 and the Nikon D7200 here for comparison. The range of video formats supported in a GoPro camera is out of the world. You get 5k support (30/25 fps), 4k (60/30/24fps), SuperView lens (30/24fps), linear lens (60./30/24fps), 2.7k (120,60,30,24fps), and many more variations.
But the Nikon only offers a few format variations. You get 1080p support (60/50/25/24fps), 720p (1280×720) at60/50fps, and 720p (640×424) at 30/25fps.
As you might have noticed, the variety of video formats and frame rates is way more in a GoPro. And this can impact the action videos while capturing them. One important tip I can give you here is that the lower the frame rate, the less detailed your footage will be. DSLRs perform okay in this department, but they are not enough for those who love capturing action videos.
The GoPro camera clearly wins the crown in this department.
Convenience and ease of use
Let us suppose you are a beginner in photography and are confused about whether to choose a GoPro or a DSLR. So which one is more beginner friendly? Both GoPro and DSLR are packed with unique features and offer a wide variety of settings to let you capture the best shot. So, it will take some time to get the hang of all the features and the settings if you are an absolute beginner.
But if I still question which one is better to start with right after you take it out of the box. I feel it is very easy with a GoPro since you just need to press the red button to start recording. But always ensure you are in video mode and not in photo mode. Overall, you should not face many difficulties in exploring the controls on the screen.
On the other hand, a DSLR is comparatively more complicated to use. But it should be fine if you use the auto mode. There are a few additional features to get used to, like the focus, zoom, etc.
Based on ease of use for beginners, I will declare GoPro as the winner as it is far less intimidating and mostly requires using one particular button.
But what about convenience? Photography for me is mostly during travels and outdoor shoots. And while doing that, I want to feel comfortable without carrying a huge bag stuffed with many accessories.
I travel light because it is easier, and I do not have to worry about many different things simultaneously. Hence, using a GoPro makes sense for me during this scenario as they are compact and lightweight, while a DSLR camera is heavy and clunky.
Based on being manageable and beginner-friendly, I will declare GoPro as the winner of this round.
Durability and waterproof capability
This one is the most straightforward category to compare because nothing can beat a go pro in terms of durability. Even though a DSLR camera is durable, it is meant for professional use and is somewhat fragile.
If you drop them on the ground or into the water, it can immediately damage the camera. To help you understand what you are dealing with here, think of handling delicate wine glasses when working with a DSLR.
But what about the GoPro? This baby is meant for pure action! Bounce it off the sand if you want, but it will still continue working after that.
And since it has been designed specifically for action videos, you do not have to worry about the waterproof capability. You cannot make a DSLR without ruining it, but that is not the case with a GoPro.
In fact, the GoPro Hero 5 is waterproof up to 33 feet and does not need any separate housing. Some models allow you to go down to 196 feet underwater. Plus, the image quality is first class, even underwater. If this does not interest you, I don’t know what will.
But if you have decided to buy a DSLR, you can use a waterproof cover. However, I do not recommend using them as it is a considerable risk.
I will have to give the crown again to GoPro in this round.
It’s not just about enjoying the standard features when you purchase the camera. The fun features and the perks that come with it are equally enjoyable.
One of the cool features I enjoy using in a camera is the time-lapse mode. Many DSLR cameras out there come with built-in timelapse mode. The GoPro also allows this feature, but it provides a little extra. With the GoPro, the time warp mode, night lapse photo, etc. If you want to click those ultra-smooth motions in a video, the GoPro is the best bet to achieve that.
Another feature that is very popular amongst vloggers today is the live streaming feature. This is another department where GoPro races ahead; you can easily do that with the app’s help. You can log in to your preferred social media platform to begin the live streaming session and activate it when ready.
Ultimately the GoPro is all about capturing action and contains some advanced features, like setting frame rates, color correction, audio correction, and so on. But if I compare it to a DSLR, the level of control you get in a camera is more in a DSLR.
The DSLR camera allows you to adjust the focus with the lens, mix up the options available for shutters and lenses, use high-quality filters, and switch to different modes and settings.
My vote will go to a DSLR in this category.
Comparing two different camera types is hard based on the price range. Because I have seen sales happening way too often where the price keeps fluctuating. But if I talk about general terms, GoPro cameras are cheaper than DSLR cameras.
If you get the simple session variant of the GoPro, it is relatively easy on your pocket. Even the higher-end models are not overly expensive. On the other hand, the price range with a DSLR camera can get way higher, and it keeps increasing if you want to try different lenses. But when I think about the results I can get using a DSLR camera; I consider it an investment.
Another point I must mention is that you get built-in stabilization with a GoPro. But to capture perfect, steady shots with a DSLR, you must purchase a gimbal separately. Otherwise, you can buy a DSLR camera with built-in stabilization, which will be incredibly expensive.
So in terms of cost, I will pick a GoPro as the winner.
Why choose GoPro over DSLR?
There are multiple features due to which I would recommend picking a GoPro over a DSLR. And trust me, a GoPro camera is not all about recording action videos.
It is a fabulous option if you want to start your career as a vlogger or even as a content creator on YouTube. There is hardly any other camera on the market which comes close to a GoPro in terms of performance while capturing videos.
The build quality is rock solid; they are waterproof, compact, lightweight, and incredibly versatile. It gives you a wide-angle view and is super convenient for beginners. All you need to do is open the box, and your GoPro is ready to use.
From the time-lapse feature to the night mode, this camera sets a gold standard in action photography, and you will rarely get anything else that can match up to its level. I will especially recommend it to you if you are a regular traveler and seeking a companion to capture the memories epically.
Why choose DSLR over GoPro?
You have seen why a GoPro is a better option than a DSLR. But what about the other way around? When it comes to size, a DSLR might be heavier and bulkier, but the quality of images you get with a DSLR is unmatched. And it is not the image quality, the ergonomics, and the capability to use it during a continuous shoot, are also significant advantages.
Moreover, there are no limitations regarding using interchangeable lenses as you would face with a GoPro. Due to this, you get the opportunity to capture every type of shot imaginable with your preferred lens. The pixel size and the sensor is larger, and you get a higher ISO range in a DSLR camera.
I never complained about the color tones, depth, and sharpness. You can edit the pictures a little if you want to upload them for professional purposes.
Overall, a DSLR camera is the best option for you if your primary goal is to capture high-quality images. Even though it is an investment, it is 100% worth it. They are dependable and do their job in the best way possible.
GoPro vs DSLR – my final verdict
I hope I have explained the differences between a GoPro and a DSLR in detail. The ultimate choice on which ones you should pick depends on your expertise and requirements. And of course, we cannot forget the budget. These factors will help you narrow down the options and help you make an accurate decision.
In this article on GoPro vs DSLR, you have also figured out the purpose behind each and the features you get to avail. If you want to capture action videos during travel, a GoPro camera should be your best bet. And if you want to capture epic images, a DSLR will work best.
If I have to say my personal opinion, GoPro is my winner in the battle of GoPro vs DSLR. I know the image quality is not as good as a DSLR, but it is more suitable for my requirements and fits my travel style.
Is GoPro as good as DSLR?
The primary purpose behind designing a GoPro camera was to record videos. So it excels in that department. But if you compare the image quality of a GoPro with a DSLR, the results will be close, but a DSLR performs slightly better in this case.
Is GoPro good for still photography?
GoPro cameras are famous for recording videos and can take still photographs too. Most models support the JPG format only, but you can use the RAW format in some new models. So even though their image quality is decent, a DSLR camera will be a better pick for still photography.
Which is better DSLR or action camera?
The answer depends on your requirements. If you want to go for still photography, a DSLR will be the better option as the lenses are better, and so is the image quality. You also get a higher manual control. But if you are looking for an action camera GoPro is the clear winner, allowing you to record adventurous videos.
Is a GoPro better than a camcorder?
The GoPro is smaller than a traditional camcorder, offers a wide-angle view, and is also waterproof at the same time. On the other hand, a traditional camcorder contains a viewfinder, which is not readily available in a GoPro. But in terms of convenience and features, I would say that a GoPro is better than a conventional camcorder.