I started filming hunts back in 2004, and have been having fun doing amateur video ever since. I get it, I’m not George Lucas and never will be…but I like having decent video cameras to capture memories as I get older.
Nowadays, I like to have the camera rolling whenever I’m out hunting or fishing. You just never know when something BIG is going to happen…like my personal best walleye that I caught on film years back. A worst case scenario is you acquire no decent footage, which takes about 10 seconds to reformat your SD card and delete it all.
This article is really for those interested in self-filming of your hunts. The best video camera for hunting can be quite vague really, as there are so many types of cameras that can be used to film your hunting and fishing experiences. So I will break it down by the 4 various types, and what I consider the best hunting video cameras.
- DSLR Video Cameras – Your traditional digital camera style.
- Camcorders – The traditional video camera.
- Action Cameras – The small cameras that are used to be mounted to your head.
- Live Streaming Cameras – Video cameras used for streaming live video to the web.
So out of these 4 types, what do I feel is the best hunting video camera? Probably an SLR and I will explain why below.
Best DSLR Video Camera for Filming Hunts
A lot of people forget to realize that Digital SLRs can take amazing video. In fact, you’d be surprised to know that many, many of today’s hunting shows and fishing shows are filmed with an SLR. Let’s face it, we were raised with point and shoot cameras and that’s what most people see when they look at a standard camera. But the Nikon D850 IS NOT your ordinary camera.
I’ve always been “techy”, and as a nerd of technology, I about lost my coffee on the screen when this bad boy came out. I’ve always been a Canon guy, owned 4 Canon SLRs and have nothing bad to say about any of them. But for photography AND creating amazing video, the Nikon D850 is the cream of the crop when it comes to using video cameras for hunting or fishing. I will skip the fine details of this superb camera, you can find that online at various review sites. I will focus more on what it can do for filming outdoor experiences.
Why do I love the Nikon D850 for filming hunts and fishing trips?
8K Video with Interval Time Lapse – That is mind-boggling but you knew it was coming. There is a setting that makes things HUGE for a lack of a better word. Imagine the clarity and details for editing…
Filming at Night or Low Light – As an avid hunter and angler who likes to self-film, this is where this camera really shines. Historically, filming in low light can be difficult, but not really anymore. It has a setting called Silent Live View Mode, which produces 4K UHD video and basically “slows” the camera down. This allows it to not only take crisp, beautiful shots with minimal light, but it saves a TON on your battery. And the autofocus in low-light is solid, so it’s easier than ever to create low-light masterpieces.
45.7 Megapixel Camera – This is almost laughable. I mean seriously, I thought 20mp was huge back in the day. The resolution on this SLR camera is simply amazing. If you want to take shots for the wall, with big frames, this is the best camera.
Slow Motion – Want to do some fancy editing? What if I told you this can do slow motion at around 120 FPS and at 1080p? Smooth.
I could write an entire article on the Nikon D850, and it still wouldn’t do this camera justice. But with a price tag out right now, it prices out a lot of amateurs.
If you’re looking for quality without breaking the bank, then I give the Nikon D7500 the nod. Yes, again, I came from a long line of Canon’s…but I didn’t use them a lot for filming (just photography). In the same priceline, I want to have 4K recording abilities, and you need it from Nikon.
Here are the things that I like about filming hunting and fishing videos with this DSLR…
4K Ultra-HD Quality – As I stated earlier, this is about what you’re spending for 4K quality out of a DSLR. Do you NEED 4K? No, not as much TODAY…but it’s coming, so it’s good to have high-quality originals. 1080p is what you’re aiming for on the Web anyways for a final product (if that’s your sole intention).
20.9 Megapixel Camera – This is still very high quality, just not groundbreaking anymore. But it’s perfect for amateur point and shooting.
Connect to your Phone – This was one of the earlier models for this capability and is standard with pretty much all DSLRs today. No more cords or pulling SD cards…simply connect and share on the fly.
Still Relatively Fast – This camera can capture 8 frames per second, which is pretty fast for shooting wildlife photography and moving objects.
The main thing to keep in mind is what are you shooting for? The web? Galleries? If you’re shooting for online then you’ll be just fine with the D7500 over spending 3x as much on the D850 (unless $$$ isn’t an issue then it’s a no-brainer). They’re just making it easier it seems to make amateurs get professional results on newer cameras. But you’re going to have a learning curve if you step in either way.
Best Video Camcorders for Filming Hunting and Fishing
This is where it can get REALLY expensive. Camcorders are in a breed of their own. Don’t get me wrong, I spent many years back in the day with my Canon GL2 filming waterfowl hunts. What’s funny is I still have it, logged many hours on that thing so it was hard to get rid of.
Camcorders are bigger and bulkier, for the most part, not making them ideal for self-filming hunts. You really need a cameraman for this, and so keep that in mind before you shell out thousands on one of the bigger-sized models. This alone is why I don’t use a camcorder for filming hunting and fishing trips. I like to do a lot of self-filming myself.
I’m not going to include any of the little units that fit in the palm of your hand. I don’t like these unless I’m using a tripod. It’s hard to keep steady. So I am going to review the shoulder mounted camcorders. So if you DO want to use an extra person to film, or you just want to have a camcorder…these are the models I would choose from.
If money isn’t an option, this is one that’s worth a solid look. It has everything, literally, that you need to film outdoors. It is setup with plenty of outputs for everything from external sound to even dual SD card slots for filming over longer periods of time. Solid 4K at 60 fps, and slow motion up to 120 fps in full HD.
It has a 15x optical zoom so you can get in close out of the box. I never use digital zoom, ever, so optical zoom is literally what you need.
It is pretty spendy, and I could go on and on and on about the features…so this is really for the serious videographers.
This is really more my style. Maybe because it more resembles a DSLR than a camcorder, but don’t let the size fool you. This is another 4K UHD option, like all the rest I review. This video camera also has an amazing image sensor, and bolsters a 10x optical, wide angle zoom lense. This gives you a lot of options both in the field and in the boat, especially if you need to cover a wider viewing area.
Again, the price tag is a bit high but this video camera is quite impressive for all the features. It has plenty of inputs, an adjustable viewing window, everything you need to make professional quality hunting videos.
Best Action Camera for Hunting
When people think of action cameras, they immediately think of GoPro. They have dominated the market since the beginning, and have done one heck of a job of branding. But if you do your homework, you’ll find that there are A LOT of action cameras for hunting on the market.
I wanted to have a handful of cheap video cameras for fishing in my boat, while also being able to use them in the field.
Well, what if I told you that you can purchase a sweet action camera for hunting that’s under $100. Trust me, I was skeptical too until I bought one and fell in love. Welcome to the Akaso line of action cameras.
Akaso is an action camera company that makes a variety of models. The one I use is the Akaso Brave 6. Not only can you film in 4k, but you can take 20-megapixel photos too!
It comes with a ton of accessories, including a waterproof case (for those sweet catch and release clips). I purchased a handful of spare batteries and off I went (and haven’t looked back). It has a lot of settings to change the angle of the camera on the fly which I really like as well.
Having action cameras for hunting and fishing is nice as they’re small and can be out of the way. Whether you use a short tripod or a clamp on the rail of your boat; either way it’ll catch the action without being in the way.
Another nice feature is the camera has built-in wireless capability, so you can connect to your camera via your smartphone. You can transfer files on the fly, and quick edit on the phone and upload to wherever you’d like.
If you look at all the models by Akaso, they’re all very similar with various bells and whistles. I’m personally going to acquire a couple more of the new Akaso V50 models this spring. What makes this action camera better is the superb 4k/60fps resolution. It also has voice control and you can change angles quicker than the older models. I already know where these are going on my boat, and tripods while hunting.
Yes, this is one of the better brands of action cameras for hunting you’ll find, and at great prices in comparison to name brands.
Best Live Camera for Self Filming Hunts
I stumbled upon a piece of technology that I feel will be a game changer in filming hunts as well as fishing. The camera is called a MEVO, and the latest version is a Mevo Plus model. I’ve been testing and recording with this live streaming camera for over a year, and I like it’s potential. It was a bit buggy out of the gate, but most issues are resolved by app and firmware updates that are frequent (I set mine to auto-update).
What I like about this camera is it streams to the web, LIVE, to almost any social media. It has built-in wifi that connects to the web through your phone and streams instantaneously. Want to stream live to places like Facebook and Youtube? No problem! The traditional, crappy cell phone footage is now replaced by smooth streaming video. And the best part is it’s easy to use (I think anyway).
So what do I like most about this live stream camera for hunting and fishing?
Record in 4K / Live Stream up to 1080p – If you just want to record your hunting or fishing trips, this video camera can go up to 4K quality. And live streaming is currently set at 1080p. High quality streaming at an affordable price.
Live Editing – ALL of the live editing for this video camera is done on your phone. After connecting to the Mevo Plus via wifi, you can control just about anything going on during your stream. You can shrink, crop, zoom in, zoom out, and another camera angle, etc. all LIVE FROM YOUR PHONE (apps for both IOS and Android). As a techy nerd, when this came in the mail I played with it for HOURS. It’s really easy and fun to use.
Mevo Boost – The catch to this camera, is you need the Boost (sold separately) for a lot of reasons. First, it has a 10-hour battery (the Mevo alone is only around an hour). Second, it has a USB port for Audio. You can use an external mic instead of the built-in one. And finally, it has an ethernet port to stream through a wired Internet connection.
I tested the Mevo in my boat last summer on Lake Sakakawea. For those that don’t know the area, it’s kind of in the middle of nowhere. But with a 4G signal, I was still able to stream at 720p resolution to Facebook (Facebook maximum). This is something I personally have never seen before, and you know darn well I’ll be doing it more this year now that I worked the kinks out.
This is really a “set it and forget it” type of camera for filming fishing and hunting trips. If you’re on your boat, mount it to the front or back (depending on what you’re trying to accomplish). You’ll be able to capture everything going on in your boat. If you’re hunting in the woods or the field, you can mount it or use a tripod to capture everything in wide-angle HD.
And did I mention how easy the Mevo is to use? Just a few button pushes on your phone and you’re off and running LIVE, online, every time.
So basically, these are the 4 basic types of video cameras that are used to film hunting and fishing experiences. They all have their time and place to be used, and each shine at the right moment.
This was a complete guide to what I think works best for making hunting videos, fishing videos, or anything really in the outdoors. The old days of point and shoot are sadly fading, with new age technology making it easy to be a “natural”. Just look locally how many photographers there are, everyone is claiming it nowadays. But like mentioned, with the right camera ALMOST anyone can shoot pro photography. It all comes down to what you’re intention is and what the videos are going to be used for.
I use a combination of all of these types myself, and this year I’m literally documenting EVERY outdoor experience here on Review Your Gear. I’ve always wanted to do as much live streaming as possible, which can be hard as Internet coverage isn’t the best in the Upper Midwest. But when I know we’ll have consistent 4G coverage, we’ll be streaming on a regular basis.
The RYG Youtube Channel will grow fast this year as it’ll be the home of all recent outings via video. I would like to post at least a video a week when the season allows. Keep your eye out for A LOT of tips, tutorials, commentary, and of course reviews for everything hunting and fishing.
Good luck filming this year! If you want to share some of your results with me, I will check it out. Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.