Hunting is an activity that is deer to many, which is why catching the excitement of a hunt on video has become something that many hunters are after; not only to share their adventures, but to also add another level of difficulty to the challenge of hunting. Before a hunter can get good hunting video footage though, they need to choose the best video camera for hunting for their situation. Here we will discuss the best video camera for hunting, what to look for in a hunting video camera, as well as some tips on capturing a hunt of a lifetime.
Price and Quality
The first thing to remember when looking for the best video camera for hunting is that you get what you pay for. One way to make sure you get the best video camera for hunting for you is to go with the best video camera you can afford. Luckily for most of us, quality video cameras have become much more affordable lately. Even a tight budget will allow you to buy a video camera that can capture quality videos, even when conditions are not perfect.
For the most part, to get good quality outdoor footage, you will want to make sure to spend enough money to get a video camera that features high definition recording. High Definition (HD) video cameras for hunting start at around $300, and then go up from there. There is a big difference between standard definition video cameras and HD video cameras. HD video cameras will capture your hunting footage in 1080p format (or some form with 1080 pixels) which will look good even on a large screen HD television.
Video Cameras come with an array of video storage capabilities and methods. For hunting situations, and different individuals, there are some that are better than others. Here is a list of the options to choose from as well as what I suggest you go with (internal memory / SD Card combination).
- Mini DVs: These are small discs that the video camera records footage to. Each one can capture about an hour of HD video, and are good if you plan on giving them to people so they can keep the hard file. That is why Mini DV camcorders are often used by videographers who specialize in events such as weddings. They are not necessarily good for hunting though as you have to change out discs every hour of record time, which might not be a good time at all. Most cameras over $2,000 record to Mini DV, so keep this in mind. Many manufactures are switching to the methods below though, so it is getting easier to find high quality cameras with the storage methods better equipped for hunting.
- Internal Memory: Most cameras under $2,000 and a few above will come with an internal memory where the footage is stored, to be later moved to a computer via a USB port. As technology has improves digital space efficiency, more and more video can be stored in these compact video cameras.
- SD Card Storage: Many of the less expensive video cameras on the market will have the ability to store to an SD card, or other similar storage card. These cards make things very convenient as they allow you to capture hunting video and transfer it to your computer by simply putting the card in your computer, or anything that will read an SD card and the format of the video. Sd cards can now hold an enormous amount of data now. I have two SD cards that can hold up to 128 GB each, which comes out to be 17 hours of HD video, each. The main down fall is that you have to have the card to record your hunts. Forget the card in your computer, you are screwed.
- Internal Memory / SD Card: This is by far the best combination for hunting. You get the convenience of the SD card, but also the back up of the internal memory if you forget the SD card.
Size and Weight
It is amazing the video quality manufactures have packed into small packages. The average hunter that wants good footage to watch on their computer, T.V. or to upload onto video sharing sights such as YouTube and Facebook can get away with an exceptionally small hunting video camera for a fairly reasonable price. As with price though, the higher the quality video camera, the larger it will be. The professional video cameras that are used for the majority of the hunting videos you see on TV are quite large and expensive; 10 to 20 lbs and from $5,000 to $100,000.
If you are the average hunter that wants to capture some quality video to share with friends and the internet, you will be looking at a camera that ranges from 8 – 15 0z. If you want a more professional grade video camera, you can go with one that is 1 to 2 lbs and $1,000-$2,000.
Once you have experimented with videoing hunts and learned the techniques that it takes to capture some high quality hunting footage, then you might want to think about investing in some higher quality, larger and more expensive hunting video camera gear. In this case, expect to be lugging around at least 5lbs of camera, with another several pounds of other gear such as tripods and audio equipment.
One thing you need to pay attention to is the amount of zoom a hunting video camera has, and more particularly, how much optical zoom it has as optical zoom will keep the quality of the video high. Digital zoom, which is misleading to many, just magnifies the pixels, thus decreasing the quality of the video the more you zoom in, kind of like zooming in on a picture on a computer.
One strange thing about zoom is that the less expensive video cameras generally have both a higher optical and digital zoom. On higher grade cameras, 10 – 20 power optical zoom is about the most you will get. For video cameras under $500, it is not uncommon to get one that has an optical zoom of more than 40 power.
Obviously, the higher the optical zoom the better, but unfortunately you have to sacrifice zoom for quality; why, I do not know, it is just a fact. There is a way around this though, as one can buy a doubler (or even a Tripler or more) to fit on the end of the video camera of their choice. The down falls to this are the facts that it is another expense, as well as another piece of equipment to lug around.
The Need for Zoom: Depending on where you plan to do the majority of your hunting, high power zoom may or may not be that important. If much of your hunting takes place in open areas, then the need for a high power zoom will be more than if you tend to hunt forested where when you see an animal, they are usually not much more than 100 yards.
Field of View
How wide of angle a video camera records is called field of view. When choosing a video camera for hunting, or anything for that matter, the wider the angle the better. The downfall to a wide angle is the fact that things are further away; a nice zoom will take care of that. With a wide angle video camera for hunting, you will be sure to get all of what you want in the frame.
The way to tell how wide the angle is, is by looking at the lens diameter; the smaller the number, the wider the angle, or field of view. A good diameter to look for is 30mm, plus or minus 3. It is possible to go too wide of an angle. Super wide angle video cameras are typically used for point of view footage, as this looks the best when there is a lot of action. Most point of view video cameras that are made for hunting will result in prey that looks far away, even though it might only be 30 yards.
There are several other items that one needs to evaluate before they choose the best video camera for hunting. For instance, most inexpensive video cameras do not have a viewfinder; they only have the LCD screen for which to view what you are filming. The LCD screen will do fine in most hunting situations, but in high lighting, the screen can be hard to see. Likewise in low light, the screen might put off a glow and light up everything around you, which is not good for hunting as it might give away your location as a huge buck is making its way into your ambush. Video Cameras with viewfinders start at around $600. Above that price, most will come standard with one; still be sure to check before dropping a paycheck when choosing the best video camera for hunting.
Filming a Hunt
If you have not already, you will find that filming a hunt can be just as fun as hunting its self. It is a lot easier to get good footage of a hunt then it is to make the shot count at the moment when things go down. That being said, you have to keep your cool and be sure to get clear, steady footage regardless of what happens. Your first priority should be to get good footage. It is so easy to get caught up in a moment and miss important material that should be included in you video.
Use a tripod or some sort of stabilizer when ever possible. It makes a huge difference and will allow you to zoom in more for the kill shot, as well as make for a much cleaner video as it will limit the speed in which you move the camera around.
There is much more to learn about filming a hunt than what you can learn from endless reading on the internet. The only way to learn is to to get out and film some hunts. Before you film hunts, it might be wise to spend some time in the outdoors filming wildlife. This will prepare you for the elements, but cannot prepare you for the suspense and adrenaline rush that will come as you film some of the best moment you will ever be a part of. Stay tuned to this blog for more information on both filming your hunts and hunting in general.
To choose the best video camera for hunting for you and your situation, go to this page: Best Video Camera for Hunting