Kit Setup

Setting it up, what goes where...

The Camera

Basics

After inserting the battery and SD card into the camera, turn the camera on by pressing the power button on the side of the camera.

If you forget to insert the battery, the camera will not turn on.

If you forget to insert the micro SD card, you’ll see a warning message on the camera's LCD screen.

You will be guided through the setup process, including pairing the camera to your smartphone (downloading the GoPro app).

Shooting Modes

The GoPro MAX supports both video and still image photography.

At present we use still imagery to create panoramic tours (versus video).

This is for 2 reasons;

  1. Video is energy intensive and quickly drains the battery

  2. Video files are large and are hard to edit without professional equipment (and the required GoPro Player app only supports GPS on Mac)

  3. Video files produce lower quality images (.mp4 video = 8.5MP // .jpg photo = 16.6 megapixels)

The GoPro MAX’s time-lapse mode can be used in two different modes:

  • Timewarp (video timelapse output)

  • Photo (series of individual photo outputs) [select this mode]

You can also select between:

  • Single lens HERO capture (photo icon)

  • 360 capture (globe icon) [select this mode]

360 timelapse photo mode allows you to capture photos at either 2, 5, 10, 30 or 60 second intervals.

This means you can start the time-lapse and let the camera capture photos at the designated intervals automatically.

As a rough guide, set to a 5 second interval on a mild day (16°C), a fully charged battery can support up to 2.5 hours of shooting.

Ideally to create a tour that’s easy to navigate virtually, you want to capture photos no more than 5 metres apart.

Below are recommendations, based on our experience, for the best timelapse setting for the mode of transport you’ll be using.

Timelapse setting (secs)

Sport

2

Downhill sports (skiing, MTB, etc), cycling, kayaking (downstream), walking, paddleboarding

5

Hiking (uphill)

Generally it’s better to capture at a higher setting (you can always remove unnecessary photos later) -- the trade-off is battery. More photos = the faster the battery drains.

Once set as described, the screen on the camera should show something similar to that shown below:

You should see the globe icon, “360 time lapse”, and the correct time interval you’ve chosen.

A Note on ProTune

You can play around with the ProTune settings -- they’re particularly useful in low light settings.

Usually the default settings will suffice for most environments.

Beware of over stylising photos if you plan to upload the images to online services. For example, the Google Street View policy states:

Stylistic adjustments (such as applied filters) are acceptable, provided that these stylistic changes are minimal and are not appended elements such as borders, text, collaged images, etc.

GPS

Make sure the camera has GPS turned on so that your photos can be automatically positioned on a map.

It is also important that the camera time matches the local time. Using the GoPro app you can configure this under the camera setting by clicking “Set Date and Time”.

Before shooting, make sure the GPS is locked on (this can take a few minutes, depending on your location). You can check GPS has locked on using the GoPro app, checking for a solid pin icon shown at the top of the screen, as shown below:

Useful (but non-essential) features

Voice Control

You can enable the GoPro MAX’s voice control (think Siri, Google Assistant, etc.). This allows you to start capturing time-lapses by saying, “GoPro Start Time Lapse”. A full list of voice commands can be viewed here.

We set voice commands to off by default. If you can easily reach the start or stop button on the camera, it’s a more foolproof way of starting or stopping capture. The voice commands can be temperamental and in loud areas (or on windy days) voice commands might not work at all.

If you do opt to use the voice commands, don’t forget to set the timelapse settings correctly first because you can’t do this using voice control.

Oh and, “GoPro That Was Sick”, is also useful for keeping a personal record of interesting things you see on your journey.

Beeps

You can turn on sound (beep) to indicate key actions on the camera (when a tour is started or stopped, the camera is turned on or off, etc.).

This is a particularly useful setting when not using the phone to control the camera mounted on your pack (especially when the battery runs out -- so you don’t continue trekking, to realise the camera ran out of battery -- lesson learned).

Limitations

High-speeds

Travelling at over 20 km/h (5.5 metres /s) is about the recommended top end speed for the 2 second timelapse mode. You can still use it for tour photography (and the shutter speed will support it) but your photos will be more than 11 metres apart (above the recommended Street View distance).

Waterproofing (rain)

Whilst the GoPro MAX is waterproof, rain poses a problem. It won’t damage the camera, however, even in light rain showers droplets will form on the lens. Not only are these visible in the photos, raindrops also cause issues with the camera's ability to focus correctly leading to blurred photos.

If you want to use the camera underwater, see the Dive Pack.

Storage

This is less of a concern, but I’ll point it out anyway. The 64GB memory card should hold around 23,000 photos / 2.5 hours of video. You shouldn’t need to worry about space running out if you’re shooting photos alone (the battery will be more of an issue).

You can upgrade to any micro SD labeled as microSDXC.128GB, 256GB, 400GB, and 512GB cards are all available. We recommend using SanDisk Extreme cards. At a minimum the card should support a read/write speed of at least 90 Mbps (Max is limited to 78Mbps).

You’ll be able to see the available photo capacity on the LCD screen on the camera or in the app. If you have more than 1000 photos worth of space left you’ll see 999+.

One word of warning though; just deleting photos from the SD cards will not delete them entirely. The SD cards have a hidden .trashes folder which stores a copy of the deleted photos (useful for recovery).

To permanently delete the .trashes folder and free up the space, you can insert the SD cards into your computer (using the USB adaptor supplied) and selecting “Empty trash” on your computer (the same “Empty trash” function you would use to delete files locally).

Setting up the Hike Pack

Securing the Monopod

You’ll notice on the left side of the backpack (if looking from the non-strap side) there are two elasticated hooks.

Release both of these.

Place the monopod into the elasticated side pouch with the flat side facing inwards toward the pack. Place some padding material (a pair of sports socks are perfect) to fill out the elasticated pouch and keep the monopod from moving around when moving around whilst shooting.

Now secure both of the straps around the monopod, ensuring that the top two release clasps on the monopod are above the top strap (so both can be extended).

Now tighten both straps.

Fill the bag

Usually I go out with a packed lunch and some drinks which fill the bag and give it extra rigidness which helps keep the camera in place.

If you plan to go out for a short period, and don’t intend on carrying anything in the bag, add an empty lunchbox or some lightweight material to pad the bag out.

This will help stabilise the camera and stop it moving around when you’re walking.

Check the Shooting Angle

Now, extend the monopod to it’s full extension.

Attach the camera to the monopod, ensuring the pole is as close to vertical (in line with the pole) as possible. It doesn’t need to be perfect, you can always adjust when processing the images.

You’ll notice an adjustable wheel that loosens the mount that attaches the GoPro mount to the monopod. Loosen this slightly so you can rotate the GoPro MAX to line up parallel to the back of the pack. That is, the camera should face straight ahead of the pack.

It’s a good idea to keep the GoPro mount screw on the side opposite the battery and SD card door. That way you can open and close the door without removing the camera from the monopod.

For reference, the back of the camera is the side with the LCD screen (this should be facing behind you).

Tighten the camera into position. Just twist until it feels secure. Don’t be tempted to overtighten as doing so will eventually break the nut securing the screw.

Try to get the pitch (up / down) or yaw (left / right) of the camera facing straight ahead, but don’t worry too much about making this perfect -- it’ll never be perfect when moving around anyway.

Multi-day Pack (add-ons)

If you have a multi-day hike pack, you will have also received a 26800Mah portable battery pack (the equivalent of about 17 GoPro 1600MaH MAX batteries) and a USB-C to USB-A cable.

You can remove the door on the side of the camera (it is designed to clip off) and plug the USB-C cable end into the camera, and the USB-A into the battery pack.

Place the battery into the elasticated side pocket of the Pack (where the monopod is also situated) and run the cable down the monopod.

It’s a good idea to use some velcro ties to keep the table flush with the monopod -- when on the move, the cable could enter the camera's field of view if left to swing freely.

Mounted on the camera it looks like this:

The MAX’s field of view does not usually pick up the cable even if it hangs slightly loose -- even though you might think it will at first (though be sure to test it).

Setting up the Bike Pack

Attach the adhesive and mount to your helmet

Apply the 3M Adhesive Pad to the bottom of the curved mount, then apply to the top of the helmet being sure to center it facing forward vertically and horizontally.

We find it is better to slightly warm the adhesive with a lighter to improve the bond.

After 5 minutes, giving the adhesive time to set, clip in the mount point and attach the camera.

Check the shooting angle

For reference, the back of the camera is the side with the LCD screen (this should be facing behind you).

Tighten the camera into position. Just twist until it feels secure. Don’t be tempted to overtighten as doing so will eventually break the nut securing the screw.

Setting up the Scuba Dive Pack

The Dive Pack poses unique limitations. Therefore it requires some additional kit for your shoot.

Set up a GPS logger

Firstly, GPS won’t work underwater. Therefore you need to use the standalone GPS tracker to do this.

To set up the GPS tracker, turn it on by holding the power button (top arrow on right hand side of watch).

You must first make sure it is configured correctly.

To record GPS points you will need to use a custom profile.

Go to: settings > track log > by time > and select 1 second.

Now ensure the output is set to CSV (the filetype the GPS points will be saved in). To do this;

Go to: settings > track log > formats > and select CSV.

When on the boat, or about to enter the water, make sure the GPS signal is locked on.

The first photo below shows the watch searching for the GPS (see the satellite icon with the magnifying glass). The second photo below shows the GPS locked on (see the satellite icon with the graph).

You can see the signal strength by moving to the next view on the watch (by clicking the top button on the right hand side of the watch).

Once locked onto GPS, to start the capture, navigate to the custom profile screen (shown below) and hold down the middle button for 2 seconds (on the right hand side of the watch). You should see the points value increase as GPS telemetry is recorded.

To stop the capture once you’re back on the surface, again, hold down the middle button for 2 seconds (on the right hand side of the watch).

Note for those building their own Trek Pack

You do have the option, if you don’t want to invest in a GPS logger and are not worried about taking your phone out onto the water, to use it as a GPS logger.

Mobile phones on land generally offer better positional accuracy where mobile signal is available.

Out on the water (away from onshore mobile signal) they generally rely on the same technology as GPS loggers to record location.

There are lots of apps that can perform GPS logging functions (search GPS logger). Ideally what you want is a tracker that will log telemetry (at a minimum; time, latitude, longitude, and altitude) to a CSV file.

I have tested the two below which, from my own usage, seem to perform well and meet the above requirements:

Set up surface buoy

The orange surface buoy is inflatable. Blow it up by opening the blue valve and blowing until it is fully inflated, then close the valve.

Once blown up you can place your GPS tracker into the buoy. Make sure it’s locked onto a signal and you’ve started recording telemetry. Don’t worry about placing the GPS tracker in the dry buoy – GPS will work through plastic.

Roll up the end of the buoy to create a watertight seal and lock using the clip-strap.

When you’re ready to get in the water, wrap the end of the dive rope around your torso and roll it neatly so it does not tangle. Once in the water, the aim is to keep the dive rope between you and the buoy as tight as possible so that the surface buoy records your position in the water as accurately as possible.

One limitation of this approach is that the surface buoy will only record horizontal position, and not depth.

Note for those with dive computers

We have omitted dive computers from this documentation simply because of their cost.

If you do have a dive computer that can record time, position in the water (latitude and longitude) and depth, you can avoid having to use a separate GPS logger and surface buoy.

The only requirements is that the recorded track can be exported from the dive computer onto your computer once out of the water.

Insert the camera into the bubble

Remove the base mount from the Bubble housing and attach the camera to it making sure the camera is as close to vertical as possible.

Now, carefully insert the camera into the Bubble (it is a tight fit) making sure to lock the base into the housing (using the locking mechanism).

For reference, the back of the camera is the side with the LCD screen (this should be facing behind you).

Once inside the housing bubble and submerged, it cannot be controlled in the usual way (app, sound, or touch).

Therefore you must start the timelapse in advance.

Before you secure the camera in the 360bubble housing, just before diving, start the timelapse. This will mean the timelapse starts before you enter the water, however, these photos simply be discarded on your machine.

Attach the dive weights to the camera

The bubble will need about 4.5 kg of dive weights (you will need to supply these) to be neutrally buoyant in the water.

Attach the weights to the dive strap and then attach the strap to the 360bubble housing using the carabiners supplied.

You can not use the weight strap to hold the 360bubble. Alternatively, you can secure the monopod to the base of the 360bubble when shooting with it above you.

Note, the 360bubble is rated to a depth of 10m.

A note on snorkelling

Due to the way the weights are mounted to the bottom of the 360bubble and the volume of air inside it, the 360bubble must be used in the upright position (with mount at base). You will quickly realise this when in the water.

This is less important when using for scuba diving when you will be at some depth in the water and can hold the 360bubble above your body. For snorkelling on the surface, this becomes more problematic as you have to hold the 360bubble beneath than your body in the water.

For snorkelling we recommend a more agile case (with minimal air volume, hence lower buoyancy, and no weights needed). The trade-off being; lower perceived image quality, lighting issues, and a noticeably increased size of stitching lines in photos/video.

These cases can be picked up on eBay and Amazon fairly cheaply. Here is one I have used before: GoPro MAX Tempered Glass Underwater Waterproof Protective Case. It has a rating to 45m.