DashCams are becoming more common for drivers all over the world, whether you’re a taxi driver, long haul trucker, or merely a member of the public. They are vital for offering you extra protection and evidence should you be involved in a car accident or experience road rage. Even if you are not involved in the incident, dashcam footage can prove highly beneficial for assisting witness testimonies. While there are dedicated DashCam products, you can also use your GoPro as a DashCam. In this guide, we will outline why you can use a GoPro, the advantages, disadvantages, and the overall setup to get you started.
Why Use a DashCam?
DashCams are a useful addition to install on your car either at the front, back or both. Taxi drivers and long haul vehicle operators use them as part of the job, but you don’t need to drive professionally to need to use one. Some of the benefits of using a DashCam include:
- Evidence for car accidents
- Capturing crime
- Prevent insurance fraud
- Creates evidence of bad driving
- Gives parents peace of mind
- Record road trips
- Captures unique and unusual moments
- Better insurance deals
Why Use a GoPro?
While regular DashCams and GoPros bear a lot of similarities, there are also differences that you can find between them. If you do not want to use a DashCam and instead prefer using a disused GoPro you have tucked away in a drawer, you can affix it in your car to record your driving.
GoPros are most commonly associated with extreme sports such as surfing, snowboarding, or rock climbing, as well as backpackers using them to document their worldwide travels to capture scenery, wildlife, and unique locations all over the globe.
However, a GoPro can be more than a tool to create a record of your heart-stopping adventures. You can also use it as a security camera for your home or as a DashCam.
If you’ve ever used a GoPro, you know that it offers high-def video recording and image capturing, which is vital for capturing the finer details of traffic. At the same time, the fish-eye lens removes blind spots, which is highly beneficial for avoiding accidents while driving but also displaying evidence following a collision.
These are not the only advantages, though, and you’ll find that GoPros offer a wide range of benefits for you should you choose to install one in your car. These advantages include:
If you already own a GoPro, you do not have to spend more money on purchasing a regular DashCam. While these cameras are not too expensive, it’s still money that you could put elsewhere, like vehicle repairs, if you’re involved in an accident not covered by your insurance.
Most DashCams offer high-quality video. However, a GoPro, especially the most recent models (Hero7, Hero8), provides 4K video resolution and the GPS tracking functions make it easily identifiable. It can back up any claims about where you were during the time of the accident should you need to prove that.
Because of the design of GoPros both in a protective case or bracket mount, you can trust that they are capable of surviving rough and extreme conditions. This feature is useful should you be involved in a significant traffic accident or are driving through an area with extremely low temperatures.
Unlike most DashCam alternatives, a GoPro comes with a wide variety of functions that make it highly user-friendly. You can operate it remotely using the GoPro app, which allows you to edit and alter settings without removing it from the mount. You can also set up and Auto Upload function that will upload footage directly to the cloud (if connected to wifi), which will be useful for long car journeys to ensure you capture everything.
Despite these advantages, it’s essential to understand the disadvantages associated with using a GoPro as a DashCam.
DashCams are frequently designed to withstand overheating because their primary purpose is to record while on the road. A GoPro is supposed to be used more infrequently, capturing short bursts of video, and be on stand-by in between. Because of this, prolonged use could cause the camera to overheat, and if you are driving through countries or locations with extremely high temperatures, it could cause the GoPro to malfunction.
Any DashCam is at risk of being stolen, but GoPros, with their higher price and greater resale value, pose a more significant threat of theft. You can work around this by removing the GoPro from your car when not using it, but it will be inconvenient to disconnect and reconnect every time you go for a drive. Alternatively, you can position it at the sunshade on the windshield, which will mask it somewhat from view and also offer extra protection against the sun, avoiding the chance of overheating.
Automatic Switch On
If there’s one thing that a regular DashCam can do better than a GoPro, it’s the automatic switch on functionality. With DashCams, you can hook the device up to the ignition so that it turns out as soon as you start the car. With a GoPro, you must remember to switch it on every time you go somewhere, and Sod’s Law suggests that the one time you forget to do so will be the one time you get into an accident.
Now you have an idea of the advantages and disadvantages of using your GoPros as a DashCam, you need to know how to set it up. Before you get started, you need to know what you need to put everything together and install it successfully.
If you have an old one lying around that still works, this would be useful. Otherwise, you can use your current GoPro if your travelling and snowboarding days are over (for now).
We recommend purchasing a MicroSD card that’s at least 64GB, as this will give you 4 hours and 22 minutes of footage recording with 720p at 60fps.
GoPro frame with side access
This connects the GoPro to the car charger.
12V car charger
To power the GoPro without relying on the battery (although you can use the battery if you want).
Suction cup GoPro mount
To secure the GoPro to the windshield. Look for a mount that provides 180-degree manoeuvrability to angle the GoPro correctly.
Now you have all the necessary accessories you can start thinking about setting up the proper functions to ensure your GoPro operates appropriately to be a DashCam.
The first thing you need to do is make sure the Loop Recording feature is enabled. This allows for continuous recording in intervals that will record footage until the memory card runs out of available space. You can also choose to record in intervals of 5, 10, or 30 minutes, but these are not much use in the context of using a DashCam.
If you want to record for longer, invest in a larger MicroSD. Some GoPros will support 128GB options, and these can record for 8 hours and 44 minutes.
If you’re using your GoPro as a DashCam for regular drives to work, the store, or leisure activities, it’s unlikely you’ll need such a large memory card, but the choice is up to you. To get the most footage possible from your camera while still ensuring quality video clarity, 720p at 60fps is the best option.
When setting up your GoPro to use as a DashCam, you’ll find the camera is mounted upside down. This isn’t something you need to worry about, as you can change the orientation in settings to ensure it records all videos the right way up, although it will be easier to do this before mounting the camera to the setup.
If you select the Auto setting, it will flip the orientation automatically depending on which way the camera is positioned.
As for setting up the Loop recording function, you can do this by finding the ‘Settings’ option and select ‘Looping’ and then choose your desired Interval time beneath that.
Finally, you need to decide which resolution you want to film in. As 720p at 60fps is the most suitable option, it’s best to select that under the ‘Resolution’ section of the settings.
With that completed, you’re now ready to connect the GoPro to your car to start using it as a DashCam.
To begin, fit the GoPro into the frame and then attach this to the suction cup mount in the car. Be careful not to dislodge the mount from the windscreen, and wipe down the windshield beforehand to ensure it sticks properly.
For extra peace of mind, you can wriggle the mount slightly to ensure it is adequately secured. Wiggling the mount can help mimic the condition of a bumpy road, and if it survives this, you should be fine regardless of what terrain you drive across.
Plug the 12V charger into the cigarette lighter port in your car and then connect the other end of this cable to the USB cable.
Because you’ve used a frame to mount the GoPro, you should be able to easily plug the Micro USB into the correct port on the side of the GoPro. This might be a little fiddly when attached to the mount, so feel free to loosen the angling arms if you need to and then reposition and retighten after you have plugged everything in.
Once the GoPro is connected, check that it is powered by the vehicle and press the shutter button to start recording. Alternatively, you can use the GoPro mobile app to begin recording footage. As it records, you can adjust the mount to get the best view of the road.
And that’s all you need to do. We recommend using the app over starting the GoPro manually, as you may accidentally shift the mount and ruin your recording angle.
Tips and Tricks
For greater peace and mind and confidence in your filming, you can also activate the GPS settings if your GoPro has this feature. That way, you can be sure where you were at the time of an accident and can provide further evidence if there is a disagreement about what happened and where.
You should also have the time stamp on the footage too, so if you have disabled that from previous uses, enable it again before you start driving. The timestamp is not a fashionable thing for recreational activities. For driving, however, it is a crucial component that will provide further support should you ever need to use the footage for insurance claims or to backup witness testimonies.
Do I Need Audio?
Some users choose to use audio for their Dashcams while others do not; it all depends on the person. For us, the sound is an essential component of using a Dash Camera, whether it’s a standard model or a GoPro.
Audio can be highly beneficial for you in the event of road rage, and traffic collision incidents as it can help capture what could be crucial soundbites that can be used to support your case should things escalate.
However, while it is better than it was, GoPro audio still has some way to go, especially when compared to regular DashCams. With so much ambient noise surrounding you while on the road, you could find any dialogue drowned out by passing traffic and other noise.
To overcome this, you can attach an external microphone, which will enhance the sound quality by capturing sound better by removing background noise, wind, and other issues that could affect the audio.
Installing a microphone will, however, mean you need to stop singing along to your favourite driving songs on your travels.
- Can you use a GoPro as a dash camera? Absolutely. We hope from reading our article, you now know how!
- How does looping work on GoPro? Fortunately, Just like any other camera that writes to an SD card and overwrites on looping.
- Does GoPro have loop recording? Yes
- Can you leave dash cameras on all the time? You can, but the GoPros tend to get heated so not really recommended. Even the traditional ones are not recommended to be kept on forever...
It’s up to you whether you decide to use an old GoPro or stick with a regular, dedicated DashCam. However, the GoPro does offer enough advantages over disadvantages to make it an enticing option.
Regardless of which action camera you choose, you’ll enjoy peace of mind, security, and the opportunity to capture memorable footage from road trips with friends, family, or both.