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I’ve been a GoPro user for years – starting with the second version (I have a buddy that has the original tradeshow version (the digital one) that runs on AAA batteries – that thing belongs in a museum). I upgraded along the way – again and again and again, all the while buying all the silly GoPro accessories as I went. All the GoPro mounts, the GoPro handles, the GoPro head mount, I even bought the GoPro Chesty on a whim.
While I was mostly content with the GoPro accessories, The GoPro camera upgrades always left me wanting more and more. I hated the first version. I hated the second version. I thought the Hero 3 Black was pretty good – for about 20 minutes. Let’s face it, the batteries sucked, the connection to the phone was laggy and wonky, the app was garbage and the audio when it was in the housing was… well, nonexistent.
Most of that changed with the Hero 5. I know people complain about it too, and it’s far from perfect. There’s the Xiamoi Yi 4K and a host of other sub $100.00 action camera knockoffs available on Amazon. You know what though? I’ve owned a few of them and they’re not really 4K. It’s a crappy interpolation that gets them to 4K. The colors are awful, and the menus are stupid. The Hero5 is miles ahead of them, and, more recently, the GoPro Hero6 is even better. GoPro opted to design and manufacture their own chip for the the Hero6, and the difference is pretty significant.
Connecting to a phone and to the GoPro app (and in turn the GoPro camera) is almost painless – I still have to reboot my phone every time I want to connect to the Session5, but after that it works pretty well. The app itself is a little better than it used to be, and overall I find the battery life improved enough that I really don’t worry about it anymore. I used to carry 7-9 GoPro batteries with me almost everywhere. Now I carry the cable and a small powerbank. I’ve never had a problem.
Recently I checked in on the GoPro subreddit and found people asking about the GoPro accessories and different stuff to carry or mount the GoPro with. I’ve had some successes (RAM Mounts) and some failures (the chesty – I hate that thing) with mounting the cameras in different configurations, but in the last year or so I’ve managed to settle into a comfortable routine and I’ve found a couple GoPro accessories or mounts I really like.
The Ultrapod mini tripod is my favorite. It’s small, it’s light, it’s made in the U.S.A and it costs $12.00. The Utrapod was invented in 1982 and it’s changed very little since then. That says just about everything you need to know right there. You can’t go wrong with affordable and versatile piece of equipment. I use this thing all the time. I leave my GoPro on the tiny tripod and slip a DIY fleece bag over it and throw it in my camera bag. It’s protected and it’s ready to go. I use this trail running, driving, shooting reviews in hotel rooms – everywhere I go I have this little guy with me.
The ballhead component is pretty small, but it tightens enough to keep a GoPro upright and it offers enough flexibility and motion to balance out your camera on some pretty uneven terrain.
I use the hook and loop strap (heaven forbid we call it Velcr*, right?) to attach the camera to signposts, trees, and often my hiking poles to in order to kind of fake that drone style shot. It’s awesome. did I mention it’s made in the USA? Did I mention that as of writing this it’s around 12 bucks?! Get one. Of all the GoPro accessories I own, this one gets the most love.
I used the Ultrapod II for a long time. I mean that. I think I ordered this from the Campmor catalog in the early 90’s. Later I used it for my GoPro for a while, and then picked the older, but smaller version above and largely retired this Ultrapod II. I still use it for point and shoot cameras occasionally, but I generally find the smaller, original Ultrapod to be better suited to the GoPro.
I have a love/hate relationship with this Three Way action camera handle. I find it finicky to use, difficult to angle just right, and a little too bulky to carry with me very often. I also feel like it’s large enough to pass for a full-on selfie stick, and I just can’t abide being that jackass with a selfie stick. Having made fun of it and complained about it, it’s great for getting low shots along the ground, and sometimes the reach is just what you need to get the shot. If you’re only buying one GoPro accessory handle thing, you could do worse than this. Just get ready to look like every other “Hero” out there.
The Go Pro Shorty is a rip-off. It’s way too expensive for what it is. As expensive as it is, I’ll admit it’s comfortable to hold. It’s compact and it will slip in and out of your pocket with nothing to catch on it. It’s well-designed. I like the extending feature, even if it’s not all that long.
Sometimes if you’re filming in “superview” moving the camera just an inch or two away from your face makes a huge difference. This is the GoPro branded one, and as soon as the East catches up, there will be knockoffs of this little guy for $8.00. One thing to note, this is hardmounted for the GoPro adapter. It only takes the GoPro style connectors and only pivots forward and back – not side to side. If you want to be able to use this for anything other than a GoPro style mount, look elsewhere. Unless you really need the extender bits, get the Ultrapod. It’s more versatile.
I love the suction cup. I love RAM Mounts. I have three of the RAM suction cups, one of the drink-holder auto mounts, I have the phone cradle… I can’t get enough. My dream is to tour the factory and leave with a cart of mounts.
I use this one for filming anything inside an auto. Usually forward facing time-lapse video to illustrate a roadtrip or travel scenario. My little GoPro Hero Session 5 lives in this thing. It’s pretty bomber. They make a model with three suction cups, and maybe if you were mounting it outside on the hood of the car that may come in handy. I’ve had this thing fail and come crashing down in my lap a couple times, but it’s rare. It seems to work far better in a car or truck than it does in the lightweight, plexiglass, vibration-prone cockpit of a 40 year old Cessna.
Check out the comparison pros/cons below. Thanks.
Disclosures? Some of my Amazon links are affiliate links – if you buy an item from one of those links I get some pennies. I also (against the advice of everyone) own some stock in GoPro. It’s done me no good, having plummeted faster than Bill Cosby’s career. I thought I bought it when it was low. I guess they showed me, right? It went way lower. I still like the cameras.
While I’m no expert – GoPro tried to do too many things. They wanted their name on stuff more than they wanted to make cameras. If they’d have stuck to simply trying to make the best action camera possible for a competitive price, they’d still be on top. Whatever – Nick Woodman probably isn’t taking advice from idiots like me on the internet.