With the prevalence of youtube and cell phone cameras, more people than ever before are filming their hunts. There are many reasons to film your hunts: The ability to share them with friends and family, the ability to create content for social media or a website, and the ability to go back and review footage to improve your hunting technique.
While everyone has a phone they can record video on, I am going to break down some of the options for filming that can produce higher quality content.
- Action Cams – Action cameras such as the GoPro are a relatively affordable option to use. You can purchase one with the batteries and mounts for just a couple of hundred dollars. They feature a rugged construction, are typically waterproof, and most of them are now capable of 4k video. However, the durability and convenience comes at a cost. Action cams generally have very poor battery life (30 mins in 1080p, less if filming in 4k). The sound quality is usually not much better than a cell phone. Also, they lack advanced image features such as manual focus, f-stop, and manual zoom. For the cost, action cams can be a small investment to find out if you enjoy filming your hunts. Later on if you upgrade your camera you can still use them for a second angle or for filming in rain. A good tool for filming, but someone looking for high-quality images and sounds should have a more professional camera as well.
- Camcorders – There is a sense that camcorders are becoming obsolete, but for a filmmaker looking for professional video they can be a great tool. A good camera is going to typically run about $1000 or up. Compared to an action cam the sound quality will be improved and most of the higher quality camcorders will accept an input from at least one external microphone. Battery life is greatly improved from the action cameras, with batteries able to record up to 6 hours at a time or more. Most professional-quality camcorders feature advanced features that allow the user to manually focus and adjust image parameters. Some also allow the filmmaker to change out lenses. Another feature of camcorders is the ability to record continuously. The only limit to the length of a video is the size of your memory card. There are some drawbacks to a camcorder, however. They cannot be used in wet weather without some kind of protective cover. They are not known for being drop proof—if you drop one it will likely break. Also they can be heavier than action cams and add weight to a hunter’s pack.
- DSLR/Mirrorless Cameras – Originally the camera was only a device for taking pictures. This changed with the advent of digital camera technology. Most DSLR or Mirrorless cameras can now record video in up to 4k quality in 30-minute segments. In addition, the operator gains great features like the ability to take high-quality pictures, easily swap out lenses, and the ability to adjust many image parameters. Sound on modern cameras is equal to sound from a camcorder and most accept external microphones. Costs for a professional quality camera can add up quickly, especially if you count the price of extra lenses. You could easily spend several thousand dollars on a camera and several lenses. Weather resistance and durability is similar to camcorders. They cannot function while wet unless housed in a protective cover and do not do well with being dropped. One major advantage of a camera is they usually feature a larger sensor than camcorders at the same price point. This can produce a better-looking image.
Which one is best for me?
If you are just starting filming hunts, I recommend picking up an action camera and seeing how you like it. If you are looking for a more professional image then you will want to upgrade to a DSLR/Mirrorless camera or camcorder. Each has its advantages, but generally cameras tend to be the better choice unless you are only interested in filming and not photography. Whatever you choose, self filming hunts is an awesome way to document your adventures and have something great to look back on.