Words: Nick Apicella
Filming. Without it, snowboarding wouldn’t be what it is today, as watching yourself and others do tricks is how much progression and inspiration occurs. And filming wouldn’t be possible without the proper equipment, so this article is to provide you some insight on how to get started or where to look when buying a video camera. Just like anything else on the Internet, take this with a grain of salt. I cannot stress that enough. If you really want to start filming, or step up from your typical GoPro-mounted-to-your-head videos, do more research than reading one Yobeat article. Watch more videos. Ask other users. Or, go out and get your hands on some of these suggestions yourself. See if you can rent one at your local camera store, or if you don’t have a local store, you can also look up demo and comparison videos. Remember though, videos uploaded to the Internet get compressed and you have no idea if the person uploading them has any idea what they’re doing. I’ve personally been filming for three years and once I get into something I tend to spend way to much time looking into details and specs of different products, and how/why they work. Some of these cameras I have owned or used. Others, I have trustworthy peers that own them and gathered some of their thoughts.
Before we get into the cameras themselves, we need to consider a few things. First thing, do you want a DSLR or a camcorder? There are a few reasons for wanting either. For DSLR’s you can also use them for photography, which is nice. You can also USUALLY get a shallower depth of field which opens up some possibilities. This is due to a larger sensor, and the wide variety of lenses available for DSLRs. They’re also much easier to carry around since they’re small and light weight. ENG style camcorders on the other hand are, in my opinion, better for filming snowboarding. A better form factor (built in handle and good center of gravity) is nice for filming fisheye, and is great for handheld long lens shots. They also have some useful features that DSLR’s dont. Powered zoom, and continuous auto focus. Both of these arent necessary, but are nice to have. Each camera will have it’s own individual pros and cons depending on what you want and your style. Everything below is just my personal opinions on them. Nothing more.
Another thing to consider is resolution. I got bit by the 4k craze bug when purchasing my last camera. Truth is.. it’s almost useless at this time. I’m willing to bet 99.9% of you reading this don’t even have a 4k playback capable monitor. Even if you do, theres not much of a difference between a good 1080p codec, and 4k. I sometimes use it when filming long lens and I want to do the zooming/cropping while editing. Other than that, I just use 1080p. The next spec to look out for is frame rate capabilities. If you want to do any sort of slow motion, you’re going to want something that does at least 60fps. Most of the time videos are exported in 30 or 24 frames per second anyway. Vimeo actually JUST started supporting 60fps a few days ago. So if you don’t want to do any sort of slow mo, I guess you can settle with something that does 30fps, but with how technology is now, I see no excuse. Here’s an example.
Here’s a clip that I filmed in 60fps. I took that clip into premiere pro, and exported it out to 30fps. Then took both equal clips aside from the different frame rates, put them in the same sequence, set their speed to 50%, and exported that video. Here’s what you would get.
For DSLR’s you also have to worry about buying different lenses and switching said lenses on hill. Some of the more expensive lenses have image stabilization which is nice, but the DSLR bodies dont have that built in. DSLR’s also don’t have as good of battery life as most camcorders. With my t3i, I could go through 3 or 4 batteries in a day. With my new HC-X1000, I don’t think I’ve ever had to use a second battery in one day. Low light performance might also be a factor in choosing your camera, especially if your resort is open or ride in the streets at night.
When you get up to higher end cameras, the price to performance ratio isn’t always apparent. Good cameras stock, untouched footage can actually look pretty strange. This is due to their higher dynamic range and how our eyes vs cameras work. The magic for them is in post production color correcting/grading. This brings us to file formats, codecs, and compression methods. These all have an effect on how the overall image can look, and how manipulable it is in post production. These are just some of the things you will need to consider when choosing what camera is right for you.
Click the links below to read about each camera.