How to choose a video camera for filming sports
Filming Sports is tricky. One of the most challenging tasks when using a camcorder is shooting sports videos and sporting events. Many outdoor action sports are fast moving (football, lacrosse, soccer). Most outdoor sports are in good lighting conditions, although bright sun can cause challenges. Indoor sports, such as basketball are also fast moving, but lighting can be poor depending on the location. In this article we will attempt to guide you through the different conditions that you may encounter, how to shoot video in those conditions, and which camcorder is best suited for the sport(s) you are going to shoot. For all sports, we recommend a high definition or a 4K Ultra HD camcorder, as this is now the standard in camcorders now and into the future.
Which sport(s)? Although we review the video cameras in more detail below, here’s a list of our immediate picks based on popular sports. Keep in mind these are for those looking for an exact answer. A lot of these cameras can overlap many different sports (such as DSLR’s being great for pretty much anything besides extreme sports). If the price range isn’t what you were hoping for and want something either a bit cheaper or merely different type, continue reading on or click here to jump to our list of 10. Your highlight video is the first step, you need to take in the sport recruitment process, so let’s try to make the best of it by recording the footage the best possible way.
This is one of the most least stressful sports to film since you’ll most likely be stationary a lot of the time (but probably needing to zoom in and out here and there). Grabbing most of the cameras below will suffice, but if you wanted our top pick, we like the Canon EOS Rebel T5 matched up with a solid tripod since it has great optical zoom.
This sport is pretty uptempo, so we recommend a solid DSLR camera with some auto-focus tech. The Nikon D3300 is great, highly rated by many and pretty affordable.
This all depends on if you’ll be filming yourself in a point-of-view fashion or from afar. Scroll down for some options for stationary filming with a top-rated DSLR, otherwise you can never go wrong with the famous GoPro HERO.
It can go either way here — you’ll either want to keep it stationary (grab either of the previous DSLR’s listed for baseball or basketball) or a camcorder such as the Canon VIXIA HF R700 to keep in your hands for some versatility while you’re in the stands or on the sideline.
Since you’ll be lugging it around from hole to hole, we like a lightweight camera on a tripod (recommended previously) with some great detail since you want to try and grab the ball in your shot (and then probably zoom in when it lands). We do know some who merely like to film their swing so that will entail some simple stationary filming. We like the Sony Alpha a6000 since the mirrorless technology is great for capturing detail to snag that small ball into the picture.
The puck is pretty small, so it really depends on the distance you’ll be filming. Grabbing a recommended DSLR or mirrorless model and a tripod will do well, otherwise the previously listed R700 camcorder is solid, too. Since its a faster paced game, look for autofocus, such as in the Olympus OM-D E-M10.
We recommend the same options as football since it’s around the same pace\size of ball. Plus you’ll most likely be outside.
This is just like football since the field is a bit larger and although you may be able to get away with keeping your video camera stationary (such as others outside with DSLR’s or a mirrorless model), you’ll only be able to capture it from a specific distance that may make the players appear too small. In that case, we like camcorders to help with zooming and surveying the field at a closer view. Check out our article on detailed tips about filming soccer.
Track & Field
Sunlight sensitivity is key here since a majority of track and other athletics competitions\practices are outside (if inside, we recommend our few DSLR’s listed). It’s also important to find a camera with autofocus if the individuals\teams will be running super fast — in that case, the mirrorless camera we list is perfect if you have the cash.
Typically filmed stationary, we also recommend a solid DSLR camera (the Nikon or few Canon’s below) that was also previously listed in basketball or a solid mirrorless camera will be more than enough. You won’t be needing to move the camera back and forth, although you’ll want some great zoom in at times during breaks and a camera to be able to capture that small green ball they play with.
We’d recommend the same cameras as basketball if you’re indoors, otherwise an outdoor camera would be the baseball camera we list.
Although you probably won’t be in the water alongside the race, game, or practice going on, it may be wise to grab a waterproof camera. We also recommend a great auto-focus feature since pinpointing swimmers and being able to decipher them from the splashes may be tough. We really like the Olympus TG-4 due to the environment and harsh-weather friendly features it has.
Type of camera
As one of the most popular video cameras in the market right now, grabbing one of these regardless of sport won’t ever be a bad thing. They’re also great if you intend on taking pictures with it. They’re by far the most versatile video cameras out there for filming a wide array of sports, although you may start to have some trouble if you plan on having to move the camera a lot with your hands.
These are pretty fresh right now, but are continuing to become more popular as the technology and affordability grow. We have a few in here, and recommend them for their capture of detail for sports with smaller balls or objects you’ll want in your videos.
These have been popular for the past half-decade and are amazing when it comes to filming point-of-view videos for a wide variety of sports that prefer this camera angle.
These are easier to hold than DSLR, and although continue to drop in popularity in terms of comparison to the past decade, we list a few to give you some options.
For the pros and even semi-pros — these fit on your shoulder and offer amazing, cinematic quality, albeit for a price.
They look like traditional digital cameras and are a bit more rare than the previously listed video camera types. Not many film video, and if they do, don’t go up to 1080p. We did however find a few and listed them in here that provide not only 1080p video quality but great additional features as well. It may be the perfect fit for your sport.
Additional accessories needed?
Do you plan on filming sport with a tripod and leaving it alone to film the whole game\practice in a stationary manner? You’ll have to buy a solid one. Will you be travelling with it frequently? You’ll have to buy a sturdy case. Other than those popular accessories, the type of camera may entail which additional gear you’ll need as well, such as lenses for DSLR and mirrorless, mounts for action cams, external microphones if audio is important to you, etc.
If you have sport videos, that need editing, we can help you bring the best out of your footage: