GoPro, now synonymous with action-oriented cameras, is the favorite lifestyle accessory of many, allowing photographers and videographers of all levels to produce a fantastic working product. What cannot be ignored though is the brilliant quality of the videos and photos all starts with one thing the GoPro Lens. Below we will go over what GoPro lens add-ons, replacement capabilities, and modifications that turn your GoPro videos into anything you could want.
GoPro lenses are built-in and not designed to be removed or replaced. These built-in lens has become a pain point for people who want to diversify shots or video shoots, enhance current GoPro lens options or even attach mountable lenses from other companies. What companies, such as Kickstarter’s funded Lensbaby do, is add-on lenses that mount over the housing of the GoPro and not the GoPro itself. What this creates is an easy system that allows pulling lenses on and off. The system allows individual perceptions such as an 185-degree fisheye lens that enhance field depth and sharply focused close-ups. Ultimately, these add-ons will take the decent pre-existing lens options from GoPro and make them great while not having to absorb the costs of OEM accessories. Another great option to enhance and build on the current GoPro lenses are filters that, like the add-ons, go over the case or housing of the GoPro but add filtered colors that not only beautifully accentuate what is being shot but also can add a very professional final product without needing after shoot edits or color correction.
An add-on GoPro Lens is a variety of protective lenses that people purchase to fit over the lens of your camera. GoPro lenses, like all camera lenses, are typically the most expensive part of the camera, so it is in the best interest of the user to preserve and maintain the lens in pristine condition. The protective lenses are designed to keep any dirt and dust out and any unwanted scratches so they can be used when not in a protective case while also being transparent so people can still shoot.
While the GoPro lens infrastructure is built-in, and hopefully users take the precautions to maintain the camera and provide longevity, there are needs to replace the lenses. GoPro offers a comprehensive replacement kit that includes two lenses, set of screws, two seals, and the necessary screwdriver so that the person has everything that they need to replace the lens and have their GoPro back in working action. The design of the GoPro also allows for the replacement to be very smooth and seamless such that any user can do it him or herself without needing any professional or outside support. This offering tends to work best with the Hero line of GoPro cameras.
GoPro is not designed for interchangeable lenses, only really offering the replacement of existing lenses as we noted below. A pain point for some, modkits or modification kits are available on the market, but these must be approached with caution as they typically are permanent modifications and will likely lapse or negate any insurance you have with the GoPro in case something happens. One of the main servicers of this option is Back-Bone, who offers Rib Cage that allows for a DIY (do it yourself) mod to the GoPro. The modification is neat in that it allows for any mountable lens to go onto the GoPro, transforming the already transformative GoPro into a professional camera.
One of the main complaints of GoPro users is one key limitation: the fixed lenses. This issue is especially prevalent for filmmakers or people who are looking for less rugged footage or diversify the seemingly one-dimensional wide view. This lens makes it particularly evident that a shot was with a GoPro which is perfect for action shots but sometimes not the best for others. While GoPro has been less than inclined to offer a solution, thankfully some companies have created mod or modification kits that provide a complete interchangeable lens system designed specifically for a GoPro. While these modkits offer a lot of value, they come with some risk which we will explore and if you choose to make the change let’s look at a few companies who supply the kits.
Versatility: All the modkits offer a c-mount that will accept any lens extension that is compatible with or made for c-mounts. However, in addition to this, the c-mount allows for third party adapters that allow users to use virtually any lens system including Nikon or Canon lenses.
Shutter Speed: While GoPro limits the autoexposure, these modkits give more control of shutter speed and ISO
Depth and Focus: A key for filmmakers or those looking to achieve a cinematic look, the modkits allow for field depth to be changed, creating shallowness or blurriness as needed
Enhanced Zoom: The news lens options using telephoto lenses or zoom particular lenses, a new realm of detail or crispness is now allowed with your GoPro
Price: Modkits start at $249, and you’re required to assemble yourself. Many YouTube videos have directions, but it does require taking apart the GoPro
Warranty: Attaching a modkit will also breach the warranty you have on the GoPro and in most cases, even if you don’t damage the GoPro while implementing the kit, if you damage it after the fact and they see the kit it can void warranty as well
Identity: Rigging the GoPro with a Modkit is great but does this truly achieve what you want or need? The essence of the GoPro is the live action shots, so GoPro stuck with the basics and introduced only wide view and focus capabilities. Additionally, if the GoPro can be modified, is it supposed to or is there a lot of value? Cause if so, why wouldn’t GoPro themselves release a kit for this? Ultimately, if you’re looking for a tripod functioning camera, you may want to keep the GoPro without modifying it and aim for an actual DSLR designed for the other things you’d like to do.