There may be other camera brands out there other than GoPro, but for many sports enthusiasts, adventurers, and pilots, only a GoPro will do.
Depending on your budget, and whether you’re more interested in an action or 360-degree camera, here are my picks for the top GoPro cameras for pilots.
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Best GoPro Action Cameras for Pilots
Top Pick: GoPro Hero 9
Shoot video up to 5K resolution and pro-quality photos with 20MP clarity.Check Amazon for Pricing
There’s no doubt that the GoPro Hero 9 is the best action camera on the market – GoPro or otherwise.
While you can shoot 5K resolution and take pro-quality 20MP photos, where the camera really shines for pilots is with its HyperSmooth stabilization. This ensured that all the footage I captured was as smooth as possible. Due to the very nature of flying a plane, this is of course key and what sets the camera apart from others.
The Go Pro Hero 9 rugged construction, intuitive design, and unmatched video and image clarity ensure that it has everything a pilot needs from a camera, making it my top pick.
Budget Pick: GoPro Hero 7 Silver
The Hero 7 Silver offers some of the same features and qualities that are found on the more expensive Hero 9.New: $328.99
The GoPro Hero 7 Silver is a great option for pilots on a budget.
The camera brings some of the same features and qualities that are found on the Hero 9, but not to as high of a standard. For example, while the HyperSmooth stabilization is present, it didn’t work as well as the Hero 9.
I was able to shoot up to 4K and take 10MP photos, which might be of a lower quality compared to the Hero 9, but they should still be sufficient for most pilots.
I found the camera to also be intuitive to use, and it features the same rugged and waterproof construction that GoPro is known for. Keep in mind that there is no front status LCD, which can be handy to have in the cockpit.
Despite a couple of omissions and captured footage being at a lower quality, at this price point, the GoPro Hero 7 Silver offers excellent value for money and can’t be beaten.
Best GoPro 360-Degree Camera for Pilots
The GoPro MAX lets you capture 360-degree footage in 5.6K/30fps resolution, and excels at image stabilization and distortion-free panoramic photos.New: $359.99
The GoPro Max shares many of the same features found in the company’s other cameras, but with 360-degree capability. Thankfully, this means that the all-important Hypersmooth image stabilization feature is still present.
Being able to capture 360-degree at 5.6K/30fps resolution and standard footage at 1440p/60fps is hugely impressive. But the PowerPano feature is something that I really appreciated due to being able to take 270-degree distortion-free panoramic photos.
Additionally, Max SuperView, Wide, Linear, and Narrow digital lenses/FOV options meant that I could capture footage just as I wanted, and the six onboard mics were able to capture top-quality, 360 immersive audio.
The GoPro Max is GoPro’s main and only 360-degree camera and replaces the Fusion that is no longer in production.
Things to Consider if You’re a Pilot Buying a GoPro Camera
- Action Camera vs. 360-Degree Camera
Being able to attach a camera to a plane and capture footage in all its 360-degree glory is certainly cool to have, but do you really need it? What about in the future? Will you wish you had this capability a few months or a year down the line?
A dedicated GoPro action camera might be the better choice if you rarely see yourself capturing 360-degree footage.
- Image & Video Quality
Is 1440p video quality sufficient, or will only 4K, or even 5K do? What about image quality? Will 12MP be sufficient, or will you feel like you’re missing out compared to the 16.6MP and 20MP GoPro models?
- Mounting Options
With a GoPro, you have many mounting options available to you.
If you want to mount your GoPro inside the cockpit, I recommend the Nflightcam Ultimate Action Camera Cockpit Mounting Kit.
Helen Krasner holds a PPL(A), with 15 years experience flying fixed-wing aircraft; a PPL(H), with 13 years experience flying helicopters; and a CPL(H), Helicopter Instructor Rating, with 12 years working as a helicopter instructor.
Helen is an accomplished aviation writer with 12 years of experience, having authored several books and published numerous articles while also serving as the Editor of the BWPA (British Women Pilots Association) newsletter, with her excellent work having been recognized with her nomination of the “Aviation Journalist of the Year” award.
Helen has won the “Dawn to Dusk” International Flying Competition, along with the best all-female competitors, three times with her copilot.