One of the best things about flying FPV drones is being able to strap on an HD camera or GoPro and get some great-looking footage to show your family and friends.
FPV Drones can go many places a traditional camera cannot and get footage so good that even professional filmmakers are using FPV drone shots more and more in everything from big-budget blockbusters to chasing snowboarders down a mountainside.
If you are looking for the best action camera to start your own HD FPV journey, here are the best GoPros for FPV, and how to tell what one’s right for you!
We also have an article that looks at the best action cameras for FPV that aren’t Gopro’s. Check it out here.
Why are GoPros So Good for FPV Drones??
For years the FPV community has relied on GoPro cameras to get their shots for three different reasons.
First of all, GoPros are extremely durable. These cameras are designed to help withstand impact, dust, and water damage and while not being indestructible, are arguably the most durable of all the action camera brands on the market.
If a camera isn’t durable, it won’t be suitable for FPV because crashing is part of the hobby. This is probably the biggest reason why the FPV community has fallen in love with GoPro since they really do make their cameras with action in mind.
Accessibility & Insurance
Secondly, GoPro’s are easy to find at online and in-store retailers, and some stores like BestBuy offer insurance and will replace your GoPro for free…even if you flatten it in a massive crash. GoPro themselves also offers reasonably priced insurance and will replace up to two cameras a year for a small fee each time.
Thirdly, GoPros have really good image quality and are constantly improving its line of action cameras. Even if you get one of the older cameras on this list, you won’t be disappointed with the footage!
GoPro Hero 10
The GoPro Hero 10 Black is the best action camera on the market right now. But does that make it good for FPV? In terms of image quality, yes. In terms of weight…it’s debatable.
As GoPro has improved upon its design year after year, each release seems to get heavier than the last. You can see just how much extra weight GoPro has packed on over the years when you compare them directly.
The Hero 10 Black is 154g and compared to the 116g of the Hero 7, there’s a 38-gram difference. 154g is pushing the limit of what a 5” Freestyle drone can carry, without it impacting performance too much.
That being said, we still think most pilots can manage the extra weight and it’s worth it for the image quality you can get. The Hero 10 Black offers 5.3K video resolution at 60fps, which gives FPV pilots more than enough pixels to work with when editing.
Another nice feature of this camera is the hydrophobic lens cover that repels water and helps to minimize lens flare. You can use Hyper smooth 4.0, GoPro’s newest inbuilt electronic stabilization software, to help ensure your videos come out as smooth as silk.
Quality: [email protected] FPS
Price: $349 USD
GoPro Hero 10 Bones
As good as they are for FPV, GoPro was never making their Hero line of cameras with FPV in mind. That all changed in 2022 when GoPro released a camera designed specifically for FPV; the Hero 10 Black Bones camera.
The Bones is basically just a lighter Hero 10 Black with a few less features. It does away with both external screens and a battery and it is housed in a stripped-down casing.
Cutting down on these features means that GoPro was able to shave off a whopping 94 grams, and have the Hero 10 Bones weigh in at just 60 grams. This makes it perfect for even smaller drones to be able to carry an action cam, without having to sacrifice image quality.
However, there are a couple of things that might discourage you from buying the Bones. Because it doesn’t have an internal battery, the Bones needs to be powered from the drone itself – either through the Flight Controller or an external BEC. This isn’t a huge issue for most experienced builders, but it does add more wires to a build and means any drone you want to fly with the Bones will need to be modified.
The other reason the Bones may not be right for you is that it is currently only available to buy in the United States. As part of the package, GoPro provides you with insurance for the Bones, which allows you to get two replacements per year.
This type of deal is attractive to FPV pilots who crash a lot and find themselves constantly replacing cameras. It may not be possible for GoPro to offer this worldwide, so in the meantime, the insurance plan for the Bones is only good if you live in the U.S. It is also slightly more expensive than the Hero 10 Black, coming in at $399 USD.
Quality: [email protected] FPS
Price: $399 USD
GoPro Hero 9 Black
The Hero 9 Black launched in September of 2020. It pretty much does everything the GoPro 10 does, with a couple of differences.
The Hero 9 Black has a slightly lower resolution than the Hero 10, and it uses Hypersmooth 3.0 instead of 4.0. It also has a front screen, which is useful if you want to see what you are filming while you film it.
The main reason you may want to choose a 9 over a 10 is the price. You can pick up a 9 for about $50 cheaper than the 10.
One thing to consider for both the Hero 9 and 10 is that although the front screen is very useful, it’s an additional weak point that can break in a crash.
Quality: [email protected]/[email protected] FPS
Price: $349 USD
GoPro Hero 8 Black
Our last recommendation in the Hero lineup is the Hero 8 Black.
Since it’s a little older than the 9 or 10, you can find the Hero 8 for around $299 USD and is a great buy at that price.
The Hero 8 has a smaller battery than the 9 and 10 which also makes it lighter, coming in at 126g. It can’t do 5K like the 9, but the Hero 8 can do [email protected] – more than enough for FPV pilots.
Hypersmooth 2.0 helps to smooth out your footage and the Hero 8 can also be used with aftermarket stabilisation software like GyroFlow and ReelSteady.
One downside of the Hero 8 Black is the lens is part of the case itself. If you break the glass protecting the lens it’s much more hassle than with other GoPro’s where you can simply snap on a replacement lens/glass.
Quality: [email protected] FPS
Price: $299 USD
GoPro Session 5
The GoPro Session 5 is a bit of a classic of the FPV hobby. When it was first released it was very different from any other camera GoPro had made, and much lighter than any other GoPro.
It doesn’t have an external screen, it’s cube-shaped and seems to have been designed with things like action sports in mind because of its small size. Because of its small size, the Session was easier to strap to your head or body to help you get a perfect shot as you barreled down a BMX track or jumped out of a plane.
The Session was then adopted by FPV as the best camera to use. Its lightweight and compact design made it easy to fit it on the front of your drone, without having camera parts hanging off the edge.
Another big difference to traditional GoPros was the use of aluminum in the case, which helped to make it even more durable than a traditional GoPro.
The image quality isn’t going to compare to the Hero cameras we’ve already discussed, but most FPV pilots don’t care if all they want is decent 4k footage to upload or show friends.
The biggest issue is that the Session went out of production years ago. This means that the number of working Session 5’s out there for sale is always decreasing. You can really only find them now in second-hand listings for a reasonable price, since suppliers lucky enough to still have stock sell them at ridiculously high prices.
Quality: [email protected] FPS
What is a Naked GoPro?
A ‘naked’ GoPro is made by completely stripping down a retail GoPro 6 or 8 and then using the bare minimum of parts to place back into a lightweight casing.
Naked Gopros have no battery, no screens, no waterproofing or shock protection, all you get is a camera in a very basic case.
Why Use a Naked Gopro?
These cameras are perfect for small cinematic drones where you are going to be flying slower and not crashing that often since a naked GoPro is fragile.
The best thing about Naked GoPros is their weight savings. You can get a Hero 6 down to around 20g and a Hero 8 down to around 26g.
Compare that to the normal weight of a Hero 6 at 118g, and a Hero 8 at 126g and you can see why FPV pilots started tearing open their cameras.
How to Get a Naked GoPro
If you’re going to go the Naked route you have a couple of options. You can either purchase a Hero 6 or Hero 8 and de-case it yourself, or you can buy one that has already been done for you.
Buying a Naked GoPro is going to be more expensive because of the time involved in making the change, so it really comes down to what you value more, your time, or your money.
The GoPro 6 is also getting harder and harder to find, so you’re better off going with a Hero 8. Here’s a link to one of the best Naked GoPro Hero 8’s we could find!
Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS): What are Hypersmooth, ReelSteady, and Gyroflow?
We’ve mentioned Hypersmooth a lot so far, and it’s just GoPro’s name for their in-camera EIS software (electronic image stabilization).
Hypersmooth is especially useful in FPV because drone motors and props create a lot of micro-vibrations and drone flying means the camera is constantly changing perspective. It’s like a cheat code for getting smooth-looking FPV footage.
Electronic Image Stabilization can be done both in the camera or outside the camera. Reelsteady and GyroFlow are programs that let you stabilize your footage after you’ve already shot it.
This software works by analyzing all the data from your camera and then using that data to crop all the shaky sections out of each video frame.
One nice feature about Hypersmooth is that if your footage isn’t stabilized enough for your liking, you can still use Reelsteady or Gyroflow afterward to fix it up.
You may have noticed that we didn’t include the GoPro Hero 7 in this article, and that’s because it doesn’t work with Reelsteady or Gyroflow, so it’s not the best option available. If you’re content just using Hypersmooth, you can pick up a Hero 7 for pretty cheap.
Best GoPros for FPV Comparison Chart
You can compare every GoPro from the Session 5 to the current Hero 10 Black in this handy table below.
Final Thoughts: What GoPro is Best for You?
Hero 10 – Perfect for Freestyle
For a traditional 5” freestyle build we recommend getting a Hero 10. This GoPro will give you unbelievable image quality, has a great replacement policy and will hold up to crashes as well.
Hero 10 Bones – Perfect for Cinematic Drones
For cinematic pilots flying a cinewhoop we recommend the Hero 10 Bones because of the ridiculous amount of weight you can save, and the GoPro insurance replacements.
It’s twice the weight of a naked GoPro but offers a lot more protection. The Bones is also good for a 5” freestyle build, or even a racing build, but a key drawback is that you can currently only buy it in the US.
Session 5 – Great for Crashing a Ton!
If you know you crash a ton and want the most durable camera possible, this one is for you. The one downside to the Session 5 is the lack of camera replacement programs.
Naked GoPro – Best for Slow Micro and Cinematic Drones
For micros and cinematic pilots, a naked GoPro is an amazing option, being the lightest of all the GoPro cameras we have covered.
Which GoPro do you think is best? If you are already using a GoPro to capture your HD footage, let us know which one in the comments below!