Growth

The 8 Best Cameras for Filming Sport and Exercise

Eamonn_Curley
Eamonn Curley
07 February 21
11 min read
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2020 was definitely the year of the screen. With the majority of us confined to our homes for the past 12 months, phones, tablets, laptops, and TVs became the main source of entertainment for a lot of people around the world – more so than usual. But not everyone was content to sit on the couch all the way through the lockdown. The astonishing rise of at-home workouts was evidence of this and gyms and studios found out very quickly that providing an online offering to their members was the only way to survive.

Unsurprisingly, there was a 515% increase in the number of searches on Youtube for the term “online workouts” in 2020, according to statistics gathered by Hootsuite. The source of this statistic is the Culture & Trends section of Youtube and they had a few more interesting statistics around fitness. As you can see in the graph below, there was a spike in the number of searches for “jump rope” and a decrease and leveling off for the search term “bench press” 

In the early part of this year, gyms and studios needed to react to this. As this CNN article from April of last year notes, the $94 billion industry had to move online to survive. What this meant was those studio owners and their staff had to train themselves up quickly on everything digital. And while are living in an increasingly digital world anyway, even prior to COVID-19, a lot of people in the industry may not be totally familiar with how to use technology like a camera. 

Filming workouts for live broadcast and/or on-demand has become an absolutely essential skill in today’s industry. So in this article, we want to break down the basics of filming, explore some top tips from a range of experts and then list 10 cameras that we recommend you use to create crystal clear online classes. 

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Why Filming Workouts Has Become Necessary

As we have briefly looked at in the intro its become so important to be able to film and broadcast your online classes. For long stretches of 2020, this was the only way for gyms and studios to reach their members. However, outside that, it’s also vital that gyms and studios create video content to use on their social media platforms and for wider marketing activities. In terms of return on investment(ROI) 88% of marketers are satisfied with the ROI of their video marketing efforts. 

In recent years the practice of filming workouts has become way more normal in the fitness world. As this 2019 article from Vox explains, there has been a rise in the popularity of “doing it for the gram” which simply put is showing off your workout routines and habits on your social media pages. Instagram, in particular, has become a hotbed of fitness inspiration or #fitspo. As the article notes, Crunch Fitness encourages its members to upload pictures and videos of their workouts for prizes. This is a great example of using member-generated content to create a sense of community.

In truth though, the one sector of the industry that was ready for the enforced digital revolution were online fitness businesses and influencers. Already well versed in how to connect with an audience online and deliver results, they definitely had a headstart and crucially occupied a large part of the market. Coupled with non-fitness influencers suddenly deciding they actually were fitness influencers and you find yourself in a  highly competitive market. But all is not lost. Let’s talk a look at the key things you need to know about filming and camera to give to you a leg up on the competition. 

How Do You Film a Workout Video? 

In recent years it’s become more and more popular to become a Youtube vlogger. Once seen as a niche hobby, it has now exploded into the mainstream. In fact, it was reported by Insider that a survey of 3000 children found that the most sought after future career was Youtuber – make of that what you will. 

The increased interest in vlogging has made camera equipment more widely available at more reasonable prices. In the past decade, well-known brands like Canon and Nikon began releasing affordable cameras to the consumer market. In this section of the article, we will look at what kind of camera you should choose and some best practice tips for filming workouts. 

What Kind of Camera Should You Choose? 

There are two main types of cameras you can use for filming workouts – DSLRS and “point and shoot” action cameras. Let’s take a closer look at each type. 

DSLR: A popular camera choice that can be used for taking pictures, as well as filming, is a DSLR camera. Able to film a wide variety of different sports and activities, it’s easy to see why this is a top contender for camera choices. Although the DSLR cameras can be cumbersome if you need to readjust the camera to different angles, you can get much more use out of this camera due to the interchangeable lenses – and therefore leading to several different options in terms of image variation.

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Action Camera: Another popular option is an action camera. Ever heard of a Go Pro? This is an action camera! These devices are perfect if you’re looking to film things from your point of view – think of a skier that wants to demo just how great the runs are on the mountain. Strapping on a Go-Pro to the chest and hitting the slopes will not only show what the user sees but also gives a pretty decent camera angle and footage to the end-user who’s watching the video. Again, not a camera type that everyone is looking for…. but, if your sport or activity is best viewed from the person /athlete themselves, then an action camera is an excellent option!

What Is the Best Practice for Filming Workouts?

If you look at some of the best digital fitness platforms, you will notice that the entire experience is smooth and polished. The video quality, sound, and lighting are all fantastic. There is nothing distracting you from the workout like poor sound or a rubbish internet connection. Although a good smartphone is suitable for streaming on Facebook and Instagram Live, you will want to invest in your set-up as a hybrid fitness business. Think about your camera, lighting, microphones, monitors, and tripods.

If you don’t have access to lighting equipment, natural lighting can work as long as it turns out bright and balanced on camera. Test this out before you go ahead with filming to ensure you have no harsh shadows or dark spots. Prices for professional filming lights online vary, but a quick Amazon search shows options starting from around $40 – a worthwhile investment going forward with your workouts.

8 Best Cameras for Filming Workouts

1. Go Pro Hero 8 Black

The Go Pro Hero 8 Black is built for ultimate stabilization and is one of the best cameras for all the action. With four different lenses to choose from to capture the adventures (SuperView, Wide Angle, Linear, and Narrow), you can pick what works best to see what you’re doing. This Go Pro is also extremely smooth with full HD and enhanced with horizon leveling – so from running, to skiing, to biking, you’ll get a smooth video quality without all the bumpy mess!

2. DJI Osmo Action

This camera has a unique characteristic – dual screens. Perfect for those extreme sports where you want to stay within the frame and autofocus when needed, the DJI Osmo Action camera can help you capture your adventurous moments on-screen while keeping you in the frame. This is perfect for sports like diving or mountain biking. Not only that, but the DJI Osmo also provides extreme stability while filming, so your shots stay clear and precise while recording high-quality videos during your most extreme moments!

3. Go Pro Hero 7 Silver

Perfect for extreme sports, the Go Pro Hero 7 Silver is the camera you didn’t know you needed. Along with those high-powered activities, the Go Pro 7 is on point when shooting anything outside, in the water, or on the side of a mountain. With a 4K video that will capture all the epic moments, this Go Pro camera is for those who want a camera angle taken from their point of view – leading to crisp, quality videos and photos, even at night or in dark environments. With a built-in time-lapse mode that allows you to capture adventure and see it over time, the Go Pro 7 is perfect for those with a more rugged camera need!

4. Tom Tom Bandit

A company typically known for its services regarding navigation and GPS has jumped into the camera game with the Tom Tom Bandit. A small hand-held action camera with a full-frame displaying the settings (no live view on this camera), the Tom Tom Bandit allows you to attach it to a bike, helmet, or anywhere else you can fit the attachment. Even though there is no display for you to see the action on with this particular camera, it does have a highlight button for you to capture moments as the camera is taping, and is easily handled and utilized. With over 3 hours of battery life, Tom Tom is perfect for those who don’t have much space and aren’t concerned with a live view during filming, while still having superb image quality.

5. Sony RXO II

A fantastic tiny camera for those on the go, the Sony RXO fits perfectly in your gym bag and provides high-quality video and photos. With a durable exterior but light in weight, the Sony RXO can zoom up to two times. It will still maintain crystal clear photo and film quality for those adventurous moments. Even though this camera is smaller than most, it can record 4K videos at up to 30 fps, giving you the most bang for your buck if you’re traveling light and need a small, unobtrusive camera to capture those most pivotal moments!

6. Olympus TG-4

The stability and ruggedness of this camera are hard to beat; not only is it waterproof, shockproof, and freezeproof, but if you drop your gym bag on it, it’ll most likely survive – its crush-proof as well! Along with its physical capabilities, you’re also going to get high definition video and photos taken with a high-speed lens, and can be used in low light situations. Even though the Olympus TG-4 doesn’t have a touchscreen, this camera features built-in WiFi to share action shots instantly.

7. Canon VIXIA HF R700

A super easy to use and budget-conscious choice from Canon, the Vixia HF R700 camcorder is perfect for filming all types of action. One of the best video cameras on the market today for shooting multiple different sports. It gives you the ability to zoom quickly and isn’t bulky – making it easy to carry around and maneuver. Another bonus with the Canon Vixia HF R700 is that it can shoot in full HD – ensuring that you won’t miss a moment of the big game with stunning image quality. 

8. Garmin VIRB XE

A video camera for those who love action, the Garmin VIRB XE is perfect for capturing professional style video and pictures of your most significant sports achievements. The bonus about the Garmin cameras such as this one is that there is a built-in GPS sensor within the camera – this helps to not only put your movement into charts and graphs that you can review later, but also helps to show movements in real-time…enabling photos and video quality that is crystal clear. The Garmin VIRB XE is a great camera that is also waterproof down to 50 meters and allows for maximum auditory functioning without a protective case. 

In Summary

When it comes to determining the best camera for you and your sport, you’ll have to figure out what works best in terms of achieving high-quality photos and exceptional video quality. Many of these cameras you can find on Amazon, or you can go to your local camera store for more help. From Canon and Go Pro to Sony, Nikon, and other high-end DSLR cameras and camcorders, you’re sure to find one that will give you the best bang for your buck!

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