How to use the GoPro Hero3 / HERO3+ spot meter

Your GoPro action camera is quite capable despite its fixed lens and small form factor. It has a spot meter that performs well. You can use that if the subject in the centre of the video frame is too bright or too dark when light metering is set to its standard setting. This tutorial teaches you how to set spot metering and what to look out for.

In the GoPro Settings menu, you have an item that reads “Capture Settings”. Under this submenu you will find an icon that refers to the camera’s Spot meter. The GoPro spot meter works just as any ordinary photo camera’s spot meter: only those objects that sit dead centre in your picture frame will be used for setting the proper aperture/exposure value.

What you might not know, is that Spot meter mode on the GoPro also works when in video mode. However, just switching it on may give unexpected results. There are a couple of things you should keep an eye on and with some models, there are caveats too. This tutorial shows you how to work with a GoPro when spot metering, what to expect from it and what to look out for.

I’ve included a 15 seconds clip that shows you clearly how spot metering improves upon detail and correct lighting when shooting a fountain the sun is shining on, while the camera is handled from within a shadowy area. The clip shows the spot meter effect and then the default light meter results.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Go to Preferences (Setup — the menu with the tool icon) > Capture Settings.
  2. Set the camera to Protune.
  3. Set its ISO limit to 400 when in brightly lit environments. Otherwise set it at 1600 ISO.
  4. Switch the camera to video capture mode.
  5. Point the camera to the object you want to shoot.

That’s basically it, but there are a few things you should keep in mind:

  • With a HERO3, there is a caveat with spot metering: it’s a bit slow. It takes about three seconds to adjust to a centre object. Of course, when you move away from the spot metered area in video mode, the camera auto-adjusts within the same time span, so if you must pan, you must do so slowly.
  • The GoPro spot meter applies to a fairly narrow area in the centre of the frame. An object of four square centimetres (about 1.5in) at a 60cm distance (about 23.50in) can be properly lit
  • A HERO3+ and HERO4 adjust the exposure within less than a second so you can move faster from one high contrast area to the next.

I set the ISO limit to 400 because that improves noise levels, which can run quite high when shooting high contrast scenes, especially in the dark areas with the camera set to its maximum ISO value of 16000. The Protune setting allows for the greatest flexibility in settings.

[videojs class=”center” width=”320″ height=”240″ mp4=”http://it-enquirer.com/media/Fountain_3000Kbps_320p.mp4″%5D

To view a large version of this clip, click here.

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