GoPro vs DSLR – Which One Is Best?

The GoPro vs DSLR debate is all over the internet.

Purchasing a digital camera is one of the most critical decisions in a traveler’s life. Whether you are buying a camera for domestic use or a professional camera for capturing the beautiful sunset on the mountains, you thus need to do a lot of in-depth research to make an informed purchase. This is especially necessary because digital cameras such as GoPro vs DSLR cost much more than traditional point and shoot cameras. It’s not at all a low-cost venture. So, you need to be aware and well-informed to pick the right camera for your travel plan.

In this article, I’ll do a detailed comparison of two best-selling travel cameras – GoPro vs DSLR. I understand it’s not easy to select one in particular, and will, therefore try to help you in every way possible during this important decision making stage.

An overview

I have picked the Nikon D3400 DSLR camera against GoPro Hero 5 Black, and my comparison will thus focus on the following aspects of both types of cameras:

  • Image quality
  • Video format
  • Weight and size
  • Video stabilization
  • Accessories and versatility
  • Lenses
  • Waterproof ability
  • Ease of use
  • Controls and settings
  • Field of view
  • Price

Quick table comparison

To begin with, let’s start the comparison with a quick table showing important specifications of both the products – Nikon D3400 DSLR vs GoPro Hero 5 Black

Nikon D3400GoPro Hero 5 Black
Product dimensions15.8 x 12.2 x 7.7 inches (40.1 x 30.9 x 19.5 cm)9.1 x 9.1 x 9.1 inches (23.1 x 23.1 x 23.1 cm)
Product weight97.6 oz (2766 g)11.2 oz (315 g)
Model no. B01MUU95XFCHDHX501
BatteriesRechargeable lithium-ion batteryLithium polymer batteries
Color BlackBlack
Screen size3 inches (8 cm)2 inches (5 cm)
Optical zoom1.5x1x
Video capture resolution1080p1080p, 4K, 2.7K, 1440p, 960p, 720p, 480p
Optical sensor resolution24 megapixels12 megapixels
ISO range100-25600 (Auto)100-1600 (Auto)
Image formatsJPEG and RAWJPEG and RAW

GoPro vs DSLR – Image quality

The image quality of both the high-end camera is very different. An important thing to note here is that GoPro has been designed to serve the purpose of a video camera and the image capturing functionality is secondary. As clearly visible here in the above table, the optical sensor resolution of GoPro Hero 5 Black is half that of Nikon D3400 DSLR, so, you can therefore only capture half the detail as compared to Nikon D3400.

The quality of the lens is also different. However, I have to be fair here and say that lens quality is not something that we should be comparing here as the DSLR comes with multiple lenses which can be changed based on the light settings and object.

In addition, another critical factor here is the ISO settings. In the case of DSLR however, the ISO settings can be adjusted at higher levels. This thus provides DSLRs with an excellent image taking ability in low-light settings also.

WINNERDSLR

GoPro vs DSLR – Video format

Next, get ready for an interesting twist here. As you already know, the GoPro Hero 5 Black camera is an action camera designed to capture videos. Moreover, the camera has been optimized to capture high-quality action videos.

GoPro supports a wide variety of frame rates and video formats. Low frame rates are not ideal for capturing highly-detailed, HD videos. You’ll be surprised to know that GoPro can capture up to 120 frames per second in some formats.

On the other hand, DSLRs have just entered the 4K space, and they can only go up to 60 fps. If your purpose is more video-oriented, the GoPro would be the best option.

WINNERGoPro

GoPro vs DSLR – Weight, and size

Moreover, there is a clear winner in this case for this section. But, let’s look at some details about the weight and size of both the products.

The GoPro Hero 5 Black is small as compared to Nikon D3400 DSLR however. The small size and low-weight thus makes the GoPro preferable over Nikon D3400.

Portability

The GoPro is more portable than Nikon D3400. You do not even require accessories to carry a GoPro Hero 5 Black. You can even carry the GoPro in your pocket (seriously, I am not kidding).

Easy placement

You can place the GoPro anywhere you want – selfie stick, monopod, tripod, etc. There are no weight issues to balance the product.

The size difference between GoPro Hero 5 Black and Nikon D3400 is massive, and so is the weight.

WINNERGoPro

GoPro vs DSLR – Video stabilization

If you’re planning to shoot a video while traveling or perhaps capture your road trip, you thus need a camera that provides optimum video stabilization. You don’t want noisy, shaky videos, right?

This is where GoPro comes into the picture. The GoPro Hero 5 Black model comes with built-in stabilization that is supported by software. With the Go Pro in your hand, you can capture smooth videos even on the jerkiest motions. However, the videos are not perfect. DSLRs stand no where near GoPro in terms of video stabilization.

WINNERGoPro

GoPro vs DSLR – Accessories and versatility

When it comes to accessories, Go Pro is all about mounts. You can install the GoPro on anything that moves or can easily carry it around with you as you travel. You can buy special mount kits for GoPro Hero 5 Black online. The mount kit will include a head mount, a chest mount, a swivel mount, a tripod, a three-part hand grip, and lot of stickers for mounting the camera anywhere you want.

On the other hand, Nikon D3400 DSLR is best suited for traditional tripods and monopods. Or, you can just hand the camera around your neck or carry it on your shoulders.

Since DSLRs focus more on the image quality, thus the most common accessories that are included are a broad range of lens filters to provide you with better results. From polarizers to simple UV filters, lens filters can enhance your pictures a great deal. While the GoPro also has lens filters, the versatility, ease of use, and impact is not the same as the DSLR lens filters.

As far as external audio is concerned, you can easily find external audio gear for DSLRs. Few options such as lapel-mics and mini-boom mics are also available for the GoPro.

WINNERTie

GoPro vs DSLR – Lenses

Next, another very important discussion area – the camera lenses.

The GoPro comes with a small lens that is fixed, so you cannot expect the same quality of images as provided by the DSLR.

The lens of Nikon D3400 or any other DSLR is larger and permits more light to enter. You can also add a zoom lens to capture compelling details or long shots (mountain-peaks, sunset, sunrise, etc.). If you want to capture vast landscapes, you can add a wide-angle lens.

Unfortunately, you cannot add a zoom lens to GoPro to capture far away shots. Nevertheless, GoPro comes with a built-in wide-angle lens to help you capture beautiful wide-angle shots.

In addition DSLRs comes with another incredible feature that allows you to blur the background and focus on the object – lenses with lower F-stops. The same is not possible with GoPro.

WINNERDSLR

GoPro vs DSLR – Waterproof

The GoPro Hero 5 Black camera has been designed as a waterproof camera. There is no separate waterproof casing to guard the camera from water. GoPro Hero 5 Black is waterproof up to 33 ft. If you want to go deeper, you can purchase a separate waterproof casing provided by GoPro to go down to up to 60 ft.

On the other hand, DSLRs were never designed to be subjected to water. They are made of complex electronic parts. So, DSLRs are not waterproof. However, you can use a waterproof cover to keep your DSLR safe from water. Personally, if you ask me, I would never be willing to take that risk. Even if the brands claim that the DSLR covers are waterproof, I find it hard to believe.

WINNERGoPro

GoPro vs DSLR – Ease of use

Both of the cameras come with a wide range of settings and controls you can use by the way. However, they are not so easy to learn. I mean, you can’t just buy a DSLR camera like the Nikon D3400 and start using it immediately. However, in the case of GoPro, you don’t need a lot of time to begin using the product.

You can besides take out the GoPro camera from the package and start using it. There is a clear, big, round red button on the camera. All you need to do is hit the button and start recording. But you need to check if you’re in the photo or video mode. The new screen at the back side allows you to easily control the camera. So, GoPro Hero 5 Black can be easily used by beginners.

DSLRs cameras on the other hand are more complex to understand and operate. However, there’s one positive thing about DSLRs – the Auto mode. However that does not mean you don’t need to understand the button and settings. It’ll take you quite some time to become familiar with your new DSLR.

Putting it in simple words, GoPro is in short simpler to use. Thus the look of the product is less intimidating for first-time users.

WINNERGoPro

GoPro vs DSLR – Controls and settings

This next section in particular is important for professionals such as professional travel photographers.

GoPro comes with a variety of settings, including a special space known as ProTune where you can experiment with more advanced settings by the way. You can thus change the wide-angle limit, adjust frames, correct audio, correct colors, and namely do a lot more. However, at the end of it all, the camera is only good for shooting videos with a plethora of frame rates and resolutions. In short it’s all about capturing motion using time-lapses and different burst modes.

Conversely, as compared to a DSLR, the controls and settings are limited.

With a DSLR, you can thus:

  • Change the shutter and lens options.
  • Fine-tune the camera’s focus.
  • Change the camera’s settings and modes.
  • Add filters and improve the quality of images.

Furthermore, with a GoPro, it is not easy to change the settings as you shoot a video as it involves using the screen to change the settings. The only place where a DSLR lacks as far as settings and controls are concerned is the video settings.

WINNERDSLR

Field of view

The field of view from the fish eye lens in case of GoPro is extremely wide. Conversely, on the other hand, the field of view of a DSLR will depend on the sensor size and lens. Unless the DSLR comes with a fish eye lens, the field of view will be narrower as compared to Go Pro however.

WINNERGoPro

Price

First of all, I will not talk about the prices here as they change every now and then, especially if you are purchasing the products online. Instead, I’ll hence talk about the price range.

The GoPro Hero 5 Black lies towards the lower-end of the price range. Conversely, in the case of DSLRs, the prices can spike depending upon the advanced settings and features, especially if you are planning to buy additional filters, lenses, and accessories.

Pros and cons

GoPro Hero 5 Black

Pros

  • Waterproof without a separate case
  • Effective video stabilization
  • Exceptional video quality
  • Can also be used to capture images
  • Easy to carry
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to use for beginners

Cons

  • Battery drains very quickly
  • Missing EIS in 4k
  • Touchscreen responsiveness is a bit slow

Nikon D3400 DSLR

Pros

  • Excellent battery life
  • Superior picture quality
  • Comes with a wide-range of accessories
  • Suitable for single-shot
  • Variety of lens options available
  • Highly configurable image settings
  • Optical viewfinder does not allow 100% coverage

Cons

  • Heavier as compared to Go Pro
  • Difficult to carry
  • No Wi-Fi 
  • No 4k video
  • Touchscreen option not available
  • Not waterproof

A quick comparison table

Next, here’s a quick comparison table to help you pick the best production for your next travel diary.

Nike D3400 DSLRGoPro Hero 5 Black
WaterproofX
Image qualityX
Video formatX
WeightX
SizeX
Video stabilizationX
Accessories
Versatility
Lensesx
Ease of useX
Controls and settingsX
Field of viewX
PriceX

Common questions

Furthermore, let’s now look at some common questions that GoPro and DSLR users across the globe come up with every now and then.

Can GoPro capture pictures like DSLR?

In short, yes, it can. However, the picture quality is low as compared to the picture quality provided by a DSLR.

Which camera is suitable for diving?

Here, when it comes to any water-related activity, GoPro Hero 5 Black emerges as an undisputed champion. It is waterproof and can be carried up to 33ft deep.

Can I use my DSLR to capture videos?

In brief, all DSLRs do not come with the video capturing feature. However, you can use Nikon D3400 to capture videos with low-quality. If you want to capture high-quality video, we recommend you use GoPro.

Which camera is best for traveling?

In this case, both the cameras listed in this articles are ideal for traveling however. In this case, while GoPro is a great choice for video-related stuff also, DSLRs are ideal for still photography.

So, what do you think?

Next, now that you know almost everything about GoPro vs DSLR, which product do you think best suits your requirement? While GoPro is much easier to use, carry, and learn, it is not a professional level camera. Moreover, it is only good for capturing videos as opposed to images. However, the GoPro is cheaper and more suitable for beginners. You can use GoPro as you travel, even during a bumpy ride.

On the other hand, a DSLR like Nikon 3400 is more professional-grade and great for capturing high-quality images. The lenses are better, the sensors are larger, and the additional filters are perfect for capturing stunning views while you travel. However, it may take up to a week to completely understand the product and use it in full swing.

So to summarize, the choice here will be completely based on the usage. Thus if you want to capture videos, GoPro is undoubtedly the leader, and if you are more interested in high-quality images, then the DSLR remains unbeatable. Everything trickles down to your personal preference.

Ordinarily, from what I have seen during the research, travelers these days are more inclined towards videos than photos. So, under the the GoPro vs DSLR comparison, GoPro Hero 5 has emerged as a winner. Travelers are finding it easier to carry a GoPro as opposed to heavyweight DSLRs. I hope you agree with me.

In summary, if you have any other products in mind that you would want me to review, you can drop me a note, and I’ll get back to you with a detailed product comparison.

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