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Camera Recommendations: Fall 2013

Alt textI’ve filmed high school football for many seasons and, in looking over opposing schools’ equipment, I’ve noticed most schools opt for cheaper cameras. It’s no surprise that these usually give mediocre results. You don’t need to spend a bundle, but when buying a camera, you can follow a few guidelines and end up with much better video.

Wide Angle

When it comes to shooting the wide angle, your main focus is getting all 22 players on the field in the starting frame of each clip. Because you’re not zooming all the way in, a camera with 10X optical zoom works great.

Make sure your camera choice has a large enough battery to last the entire game. A camera with 8 gigabytes of storage - internal or external - should be big enough. If you’re fine with shooting in standard definition, an SSD card of 4-8 gigabytes is plenty. Too often, people run out and purchase 16, 32 or 64-gigabyte cards when that much space isn’t needed. Just make sure you have enough cards if you plan to upload after each quarter or half.

Good: Sony HDR-CX230/B - Amazon has some listed around $200.

Tight Angle

If you shoot both a wide and tight angle every Friday, you can use a dual bracket for both cameras and only need one tripod. Your tight angle is different from the wide in that it shows only ‘the box’: tight end to tight, end and backfield personnel.

You’ll want a camera that can adjust to any lighting conditions and shoot in higher resolution to allow for more detail. Filming in HD requires more space, so try to look for at least 16 GB of internal storage. (A full game filmed in high resolution usually takes about 7.5-10 GB.)

The tight angle camera should have a minimum of a 10X optical zoom. Make sure the camera you’re considering says ‘optical’ and not ‘digital’.

Good: Canon HF M500 – around $500 retail
Better: Canon HF G20 – around $1100
Best: Canon HF G30 – around $1700

End Zone Angle

Buying an end zone setup with a built in camera that you can’t easily upgrade in the future isn’t a good idea. Look for a system that allows you to change your camera at anytime. It’s highly suggested you shoot end zone video in hi-def, so at least 16GB of storage is a must. (Remember a larger battery, too.)

The camera should have at least 15X optical zoom. Too often, people set up their camera right behind the goal post even if their setup can’t see over it. Don’t hesitate to set up off to the side to avoid having the post in most of your shots.

Good: Sony HDR-CX380/B – around $350 retail
Better: Canon HF G30 (also listed for tight) – around $1700

There’s obviously a little Canon bias in my recommendations – they’re much better ‘pro-consumer’ cameras. The average consumer will get a camera that provides professional quality but is still very easy to use.

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