The Bottom Line: The GoPole Dome is a bubble-shaped accessory for a GoPro camera created to allow for underwater, as well as half-under, half-above water shots. Built by GoPole, a company that specializes in GoPro accessories while maintaining a third-party price point consistently a fraction of GoPro brand products, the dome fits GoPro models HERO7/6/5 and HERO 2018. Made of acrylic, the company says that the dome is sized to compensate for lens distortion and allow for a variety of new underwater options. Included in the box are the dome, a waterproof plastic case, an accessory attachment thumbscrew, a soft carrying bag, and small adhesive strips to prevent GoPro shake while in the waterproof case.
The GoPole Dome makes easily accessible the possibility of taking better underwater and half-in, half-out of water photographs. While newer GoPro action camera models are waterproof on their own, GoPole's Dome includes a waterproof hardcase (just the GoPro brand accessory alone costs nearly as much as GoPole's case and dome package) and a dome port with a larger surface area that gives underwater shots a better quality.
At first the GoPole Dome seemed to be the opposite of user friendly. The box contains no instructions or diagrams, nor are there instructional videos to be found on the GoPole website. If the dome were a simple snap-into-place unit, that would be fine, but due to the multiple hinges - requiring screwing, buckling, and sliding just to make sure the GoPro unit is locked into place and dome is watertight - it took some trial and error. (Pro tip: Stick the black adhesive strips into the waterproof hardcase; otherwise, you'll end up with video where the only audio is the incessant rattling of the camera unit inside the case.)
Screwing the unit tightly into place requires nimble fingers, though the hard part comes when trying to unscrew the latch to remove the camera. Best if the screws are tight, but not too tight.
But once you get past the actual assembly, which all makes sense once you've done it once or twice, them massive improvement in the quality of images you capture with the dome is unbeatable. At $64.99, the GoPole Dome provides a similar effect as a DSLR underwater housing with dome port that can easily run over $1,000, even if the GoPro photo quality is significantly lower in resolution and lacks the sense of control that a quality DSLR housing unit offers.
The larger surface area of the dome allows for shots that are partially above water while simultaneously being partially below. Swimming in a clear river or spring lake? Want photos of your children in the swimming pool? Snorkling on a tropical beach with clear water? The dome can easily capture far more creative and cinematic looking photos than attempting the same with only the GoPro.
One of the benefits of using a GoPro is the option to control it through a smartphone app. While this app maintains functionality with the GoPro when it attached to the dome, once submerged, the GoPro loses connectivity to remote-operated apps, meaning you won't be able to control your camera unit with your phone once it is deeper than a couple of inches in the water. Instead, there are two metal buttons that let you manually operate through the GoPro menu while submerged.
The waterproof case also has the standard GoPro attachment at the bottom, allowing you to attach a selfie stick or floating hand grip. Due to the Dome being filled with air, it floats if dropped or let go, even if attached to a non-buoyant selfie stick. It should be noted that the dimensions of the dome port do limit the angle of movement of an attached selfie stick, though using a stick or a grip definitely makes use in the water easier.
There are a few things worth noting that the user must be careful of: The Dome's acrylic surface is easily susceptible to scratching, so it does require some care when handling and being set down. Second, when the waterproof case is removed from the dome, it leaves a square opening that water and dust can easily get into, leaving surface marks on the inside of the dome. We've found it best to just allow it to dry after use before opening it up.
The Dome fits the GoPro HERO 5/6/7 and HERO 2018 models, all of which have the same physical body.
Overall, though it is a bit of a drawback that there are no instructions with this surprisingly complex accessory, once figured out, the GoPole Dome opens up many different options in capturing photos. While not a professional piece of gear at all, it does allow the GoPro shooter to explore different types of image-taking and we found it well worth it to get one of these to play around with.