5 Best Video Cameras for Sports
Editor’s choice — Sony Alpha 7III
When we’re talking about sports filming, we often talk about long-distance, fast-paced, detail-oriented recording, which is done in a rowdy area. All of these are not easy to pull off with just any camera. So you have to look beyond aesthetics to find yourself a machine that does the job.
And that’s how the Sony α7III features atop our list of best video cameras for shooting sports. This mirrorless camera comes with a 24.2 MP full-frame CMOS sensor which captures clear feed from a long distance.
Adding incredible light sensitivity and very sharp autofocus makes this gadget a prime piece for capturing live action in diverse sporting events. This is one of the best value cameras as it has better features than most cameras in its price range.
Best video resolution for sports — Panasonic Lumix GH5
- The 20.3MP MOS sensor is high-performance and captures sharp images without filters.
- Improved in-body stabilization with the 5-Axis Dual I.S 2.0 to eliminate lens shake during 4K recording.
- Double card slots for simultaneous backup recording plus efficient relay mode allow swapping a full card while recording.
Next up on our list of five best video cameras for sports is Panasonic’s Lumix GH5. It’s a mirrorless camera with a micro four-thirds sensor designed to record 4K videos up to 60fps. And for a faster frame rate, you can shoot at 1080p.
As a sports video camera, this device checks almost every box with a strong autofocus system, good in-body stabilization, and impressive ergonomics for the camera body. It also records well in low-light, although not as strong as the Sony Alpha 7.
The controls for the Lumix GH5 are easy to use. You have a flip touch screen that articulates in all directions. On the connectivity front, the camera is WiFi and Bluetooth enabled.
Best stabilization for sports — Fujifilm X-T4
- The 5-axis IBIS technology allows you to record smoothly even with a vigorous shake on the camera, often associated with handheld filming.
- Up to 240fps at 1080p, best quality for slow-mo recording, excellent for high-speed games.
- Control buttons are easy to find, and the whole camera body is ergonomically designed.
When it comes to sports recording, stabilization is critical. As you’ll be covering live events where the environment isn’t set up or controlled, and things would almost always get rowdy. Getting a camera with good in-body stabilization is a no-brainer.
The Fujifilm X-T4 is a game-changer when it comes to stabilization. The camera is built for shooting videos in an uncontrolled environment. Made with the 5-axis In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS), which provides up to 6.5 stops of image stabilization.
The camera records beautifully with 4K resolution at a high frame rate of 60fps. Although it only records 20 minutes of 4K at a go. With the X-T4, you also get sixteen Fujifilm stock simulation modes to finesse your video.
Best zoom for sports — Sony RX10 IV
The Sony RX10 IV is a bridge camera. It’s a hybrid device between a compact camera and a mirrorless camera. The design is a mirrorless camera with an electronic viewfinder, but the lens isn’t interchangeable, making it more like a point-and-shoot device.
What makes this gadget stand out is the telephoto lens it comes with. The 24 – 600mm superzoom lens can deliver up to 25x zoom in on an image. That’s quite an impressive distance. And at such focal length, the picture delivered is still very clear.
You can shoot 4K on this camera at up to 60fps, while 1080p goes up to 960fps. The only flipside to this device is the 1-inch sensor with below-average performance in low light settings. And the battery capacity also isn’t as strong as other devices on this list.
Best camera for action sports — GoPro Hero 9
The last camera on our top five list is the best video camera for action sports. The GoPro Hero 9 is made for extreme conditions like underwater, super cold regions, and high elevations.
As an action cam, this gadget is made for durability. In extreme sports like mountain biking, surfboarding, or skydiving, recording is usually done in the first person. That means the camera is going through the rigors of the game, which is why durability is very vital.
Yet, GoPro’s Hero 9 action cam delivers quality video recording. With a capacity to take 5k videos at 30fps. And features like internal stabilization technology combined with time-lapse and night-lapse modes – recording on action has never been more smooth.
What to consider when buying a video camera for sports
Before you can say you’ve selected the best video camera for sports, there are a few factors that you must have considered.
There are several great sports cameras, but not all of them would work in the same conditions. Therefore, you need to consider the peculiarity of your situation and choose a camera that meets that need.
Here are essential factors in choosing the best video camera for shooting sports games:
1. Type of sports
The first thing you should consider before buying a sports camera is the type of game you’ll mostly cover. If it’s one sports type you’ll be shooting, then the choice is more straightforward.
When it’s a range of sports, you have to look for a device that best suits the games combined. And if yours is the case where you’ll be covering entirely different types of sports, you would likely need more than one type of sports camera.
The price of cameras differs, and that should inform your budget. You have to plan the price range for the camera you want to get. What should also influence your budget is why you want a sports camera.
If you need a sports camera for leisure or just personal use, a camera within the budget range, usually under $1000, would suffice. But if you’re looking to go into professional sportscasting, you need a professional gadget that would cost above $2000.
Also read: Cheapest Full-frame Cameras for Video
Camera resolution is the crucial feature that indicates the video quality you’ll get. Nowadays, more devices are being made to stream 4K. So, getting a camera that shoots 4K resolution would be a good investment. Furthermore, with such a high-quality recording, you have more angles to explore when editing.
4. Frame rate
Most sports games are fast-paced. And there are times you just won’t be able to catch the action. So, having a camera with a high frame rate allows you to edit your recording to get quality slow-motion footage. Anything above 60fps would deliver sound results (1).
Filming a live event means you’ll be working in an uncontrolled environment. Often, you might not even get to set up a tripod or gimbal, and you have to record handheld. That means you’ll likely have tilting and shaking in your video. But with good in-body stabilization, you can record rest assured of no hassles.
Choosing a suitable camera based on the sport type
There are so many sports games played worldwide, with each game as thrilling as it gets for the players and fans. As it’s not practical to go through all the games in the world, we’ve selected a common few to make recommendations. For games not mentioned, you’ll find something similar among the ones picked.
For outdoor sports, a good AF system (object tracking and real-time eye-tracking) (2) and in-body stabilization are prominent features. While for indoor sports, you need a sensor with high ISO rating for low-light conditions and high frame rate.
Football is about the most popular games in the US, with thousands crowded up in large stadiums for live games. As a result, recording is often tedious as the action is often meters away. This warrants a camera with a long lens for great zoom, a sensor with a fair ISO rating, excellent autofocus, and good in-body stabilization.
A high-end mirrorless camera like the Lumix GH5 would work here or a superzoom device like the Sony RX10 IV.
The game of basketball is an action-packed indoor game; the players move fast, the ball moves fast, and the crowd is almost always on their feet. Therefore, filming a live basketball game requires a camera with very sharp autofocus and a sensor (preferably Full Frame) with a high ISO rating due to the low light environment.
The Sony α7III is a perfect camera for recording a basketball game.
A baseball field is quite large, and the players on the pitch are not much, unlike a football match. Also, the turbulence isn’t as much, which means you can set up a tripod. What you need the most are an effective zoom and fast autofocus.
Soccer is a game similar to football; large stadiums, a teeming and distant crowd, and fast-paced action. You need a wide-angle lens to capture the field of play and effective zoom for detail. Good AF system and in-body stabilization are of advantage as well. Again, a high-end mirrorless camera or DSLR would do.
Boxing is an indoor sport with all the action taking place in a closed ring. This makes the work of a videographer much easier. You can set it up on a tripod to record. As the action can be a bit far away, a reliable zoom lens, very high ISO for extreme low-light conditions, and good in-body stabilization are the camera features that matter most.
Golf is a gentleman’s game with a calm environment and large expanse to cover. Recording from hole to hole with your camera handheld, what matters most is good stabilization—all in a compact camera with good autofocus.
You can catch a tennis game during the day or at dusk. It could also be outdoors or indoors. That means a camera that functions well in any light setting would be great. Best to go for high ISO cameras with wide focal length and an object-tracking AF system.
Extreme sports – mountain biking, snowboarding, skydiving, skiing, etc.
There’s no better gadget to cover extreme sports like skydiving, snowboarding, mountain biking, etc., than the best video camera for action sports, GoPro Hero 9. If you’re not able to get this exact, any other good action cam will suffice. The crucial features are weather-proof, shock-resistant, remarkable stabilization, and excellent autofocus.
Also read: Best Video Camera for Beginners
For live streaming youth sports, you need a camera that’s WiFI enabled and can upload to a streaming platform directly. With GoPro Hero 9, you can live stream and record simultaneously. If you have a system, you can use any other camera of choice and upload it on PC.
Accessories like a tripod, extra compatible lens, external mic, extra memory cards, and battery are often needed when using video cameras for sports.
You can do sports analysis live at a game or in a studio. You have to set up your recording and streaming devices beforehand, a PC, and a camera for both instances. That means any camera that can connect to WiFi or transmits feed via HDMI would do.
Both high resolution and high frame rates are essential for sport cameras. But when push comes to shove, a high frame rate, at least 50fps, is best for recording to have good slow-motion replays.
For action sports happening in extreme conditions, a top action camera is best for video recording. The GoPro Hero 9 would be a great choice.
Several factors influence which camera stands as the best video camera for sports. Majorly depending on which sports you’re talking about. However, some video cameras tick the significant boxes for most sport types.
A gadget like the Sony Alpha 7 III has an impressive sensor with a high ISO rating, an excellent lens with high resolution and frame rate, good in-body stabilization, ergonomic build, and zoom that works. This camera would work well in covering a lot of sports games.
- Holmes, T. (2019, February 15). What is frame rate? Retrieved from https://wistia.com/learn/production/what-is-frame-rate
- Sanyal, R. (2019, February 12). Sony’s ‘Real-time tracking’ is a big leap forward for autofocus. Retrieved from https://www.dpreview.com/articles/0650136683/sony-s-real-time-tracking-is-a-big-leap-forward-for-autofocus