There's a good reason why GoPro's tagline is "the world's most versatile camera."
With their supercompact design and point-and-shoot operation, it's a device that anyone can set up and use. And with its waterproof housing, you can use it in the snow or rain, in or out of the water, or really anywhere you want to go.
But to get the most from a GoPro -- or any action cam for that matter -- you need to go beyond the adhesive helmet mount.
What follows are accessories to help you do just that. However, while there is a lot here, it just scratches the surface of what's available. Keep an eye on this list if you're looking to get more out of your action cam.
Also, if you have a favorite action cam accessory, please let me know in the comments.
Delkin makes a lot of camera accessories and also had an action cam called the Wingman HD. I haven't tested the camera, but this mount is a great cheap-and-easy option for GoPros as well as any camera with a standard 1/4-20 tripod mount.
Basically, if you want to buy or use something other than a GoPro housing with a GoPro mount, this is an inexpensive solution.
When GoPro released the Hero3+, it also started selling several new mounts. The Jaws flex clamp was one of them and has become a favorite of mine because it allows for quick and secure repositioning of the camera. It's a simple tension clamp with a diameter of 0.25 to 2 inches, but the tips of the clamp move slightly so it can grab onto irregular shapes securely. There's a GoPro quick-release base on top of the clamp, so you can attach a camera right to it. Or, you can use the adjustable neck if you need more height to your shot. It works really well, but it also costs about $50 (£50/AU$89).
Camera accessory maker Joby also has a couple of clamps as part of its Action series. On the left is the $30 Action Clamp and GorillaPod arm, and on the right is the Action Clamp and Locking Arm for $40.
The action clamps take a bit more effort than the flex clamp since you have to turn a knob to tighten them, but they can clamp down on something as thin as a stop sign, or anything thicker up to 2 inches. The Locking and GorillaPod arms are attached to the clamp by a 1/4-20 screw. The clamp has a mount on each end, so if you want to move the camera to the other side, it's as easy as unscrewing the arm and screwing it on the opposite end.
The $40 Action Tripod is pretty much the same as a regular ballhead GorillaPod, but it comes with a GoPro mount quick-release clip as well as a standard 1/4-20 quick-release clip. What's nice is the bottom of the GoPro mount clip is threaded for use on a tripod. It goes for about £24 in the UK and AU$30 in Australia.
If you want a suction cup mount to use inside or outside your car, you want the Panavise 809. The locking mechanism can be done with one hand: push down on the big button on top and pull up the handle. As long as it's on a smooth, flat, non-porous surface, it'll stay put -- even at high speeds. If the mechanism looks or sounds familiar, it's because several accessory manufacturers license Panavise's design.
On top is a 1/4-20 stud, so anything with a tripod mount can be attached. The ratcheted metal arm has 140-degree vertical movement and a single knob allows you to tilt the camera 210 degrees as well as turn and rotate it 360 degrees.
It's the best-quality suction-cup mount you can get and well worth the $30 (£25, AU$33).
Camera accessory maker Fotodiox took its WonderPana filter system designed for wide-angle lenses and adapted them to use on GoPro housings. You can check out videos on the company's YouTube channel to see them in action. To go along with the WonderPana Go system, Fotodiox also makes metal thumbscrews, extenders, and tripod mounts as well as a wrench called the SharkBite for getting your thumbscrews supertight and opening bottles.
GoPro accessory maker Polar Pro got its start in 2011 making a simple polarizer filter for Hero cams.
It didn't stop there, though, and the company now has the Venture3+ combo pack that includes polarizer and neutral density (ND) filters and a 3.8x macro lens.
The most important filter in the pack for most people will be that original fixed horizontal polarizer. It helps tame glare off of water or snow or really any reflective surface. It will also make your blue skies pop a bit more.
The ND filter basically slows down the shutter speed of the Hero3+. By doing this you can create motion blur in clips where you're traveling at high speeds. An ND filter will also help cut down on wobble from rolling shutter and with blown-out highlights in really bright scenes.
If you're not familiar with UKPro, you really should be. It is the largest manufacturer of GoPro third-party accessories and the quality is fantastic. For example, UKPro's camera poles make it easy to get great POV video. The tough, but lightweight anodized aluminum poles are tipped with a GoPro mount and have supergrippy handles, so they stay in your hand in the water or with gloves on. And if you do drop one, the brightly colored handles are easy to spot. The $30 8-inch Pole 8 is a good size for tossing in a backpack, while the Pole 22 at $35 gives you a little more reach to get more in the shot. Check out the company's blog if you want to see the poles in action.
UKPro will release the $50 SeaDog, a floating pole with bite tabs allowing you to start shooting hands-free at any time. The bite tabs position your camera off to either the right or left side and out of the users field of view -- perfect for paddling out while surfing. And should you drop the SeaDog in the surf, it'll float with its easy to spot handle pointed up.
If you're looking to make your handheld GoPro video look more professional or just eliminate shake, you'll want to consider a $150 Steadicam Smoothee or $100 Curve. While I preferred using the larger Smoothee, the Curve is small enough to drop in your backpack, which is really what you want for shooting with the GoPro. Unfortunately, both require you to have the LCD back for the GoPro for the camera to balance properly.
A skate dolly allows you to get smooth tracking or panning shots with your action camera. They can be expensive, though, which is where Monoprice comes in. Its dolly only costs about $20, but is solidly built and rolls smoothly. The base plate has markings so you can precisely angle the axles to turn a full circle in as small as a 7-inch radius.
Though the iOgrapher's primary purpose is to help steady video shot with your iPhone 5/5S, it can also be used as a mount for a GoPro or other action cam with wireless capabilities.
There are two accessory shoes on top giving you a place to mount a mic or an LED light panel. But, mount a GoPro into one of these shoes and you can use your iPhone as a remote viewfinder and controller when shooting handheld video. Or simply put the whole setup onto a tripod so you can get in the shot.