Published Aug 11, 2022 12:00 PM
There are plenty of reasons why you may be considering video cameras for sports. Maybe you want to highlight talent for recruiting purposes, or you just want to show off some action. And although a modern smartphone is certainly capable of filming sports, having a dedicated camera for the job will elevate the professional quality of your footage. So keep reading for some of the best video cameras for sports that will fit a variety of budgets and needs.
Things to consider before buying a video camera for sports
Before purchasing a camera to film sports, it’s important to consider the particular nuances of the specific sport (or sports) you will be filming and where your footage will end up. It’s also important to assess if you are filming a professional-level sporting event, a mid-level event, or something more casual. These will also influence what type of camera makes the most sense to bring along. For example, if you are looking to cover an event end to end, you will want a camera without recording limits. This feature will be less critical if you only want to create a highlights reel from the footage.
In this buying guide, we explore a few different styles of cameras for filming sports that fit various budgets. At the high end is cine cameras. A cine camera will allow you to shoot at very high resolutions and also give you the ability to swap lenses based on what you might be shooting—making it the tool of choice for many professional-level shooters.
If you don’t need something quite so advanced, there are other options. For example, a small action cam will be better for capturing unique angles or POV shoots. They’re also great for filming action sports because they are typically rugged and waterproof. Finally, a mirrorless camera can be a great choice if you want something to film 4K video but wouldn’t mind having the ability to shoot high-quality stills as well.
Our picks for the best video cameras for sports
Best professional video camera for sports: Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro G2
Why it made the cut: This versatile cine camera offers 15 stops of dynamic range, can record up to 300fps (great for capturing slow motion footage), and its external controls make it easy to switch settings while the camera is rolling.
- 11.9 megapixel Super 35 HDR CMOS sensor
- 4.6K up to 120fps
- 12-bit internal recording
- Built-in ND filters
- USB-C port means you can record to external drives
- Compatible with Canon EF lenses
- Must be built out with accessories
If you’ve used a DSLR camera before, you will have no trouble getting comfortable with this Black Magic cine camera. Although it seems like a pricey option for filming sports, it’s a fraction of the price of the gear that most broadcast stations use. But it will still get you high-quality footage of the big game. Plus, it has ATEM switch integration, which means that this is an excellent choice for multi-cam live streaming.
The Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro G2 can shoot 120fps in 4.6K and up to 300fps at 1080p for dramatic slow-motion shots. It offers 15 stops of dynamic range at ISO 3200 and has a USB-C expansion port for recording directly to external drives. Lastly, the Blackmagic RAW capture is stunning, and its external controls make it much easier to change settings on the fly.
Best video camera for action sports: GoPro Hero10
Why it made the cut: The best choice for capturing extreme sports from unique perspectives, the Hero10 has class-leading image stabilization, can shoot 5.3K video, and has a durable, waterproof build. It’s great for filming action sports like snowboarding and surfing.
- 23 megapixel CMOS sensor
- 5.3K 60fps and 4K 120fps
- Built-in stabilization
- Rugged and durable
- Easy to use
- Compact size
- Impressive video stabilization
- Low light performance could be better
GoPro’s Hero10 is a step above the crowded field of action cameras. Built around a brand new G2 processor, you’ll get increased resolution and HyperSmooth 4.0 digital image stabilization. The image stabilization results in smooth footage without a gimbal, even when moving around a lot. And it can shoot 5.3K video at 60fps or 4K at up to 120fps.
The camera quality isn’t the only useful feature for action sports. It is waterproof without housing up to 33 feet, and if you pair it with an underwater housing accessory, it will be protected down to 196 feet. In addition, it has a built-in 2-prong mount that makes it easy to attach to a variety of accessories and mounts. It’s an excellent choice for capturing unique perspectives of a sporting event by mounting it to a hoop or goal post. And with the right accessories, it will capture riveting POV footage.
If you’d like to invest in a GoPro but don’t have the budget for the Hero10, the Hero9 is still a more than capable camera. Read our full review here.
Best camera with built-in stabilization: DJI Pocket 2
Why it made the cut: This pocket-sized all-in-one gimbal and 4K camera gives sports shooters beautiful stabilized footage in a tiny, affordable package.
- 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor
- 4K video 60fps
- Built-in 3-axis gimbal
- Extremely compact
- 140 minutes of record time on a full charge
- Variety of shooting modes
- Difficult to operate when smartphone is attached
- Zoom quality deteriorates after 4x
This all-in-one gimbal/camera combo makes shooting stabilized sports footage a breeze. And as the name suggests, it is compact enough to fit in your pocket comfortably. It’s built around a 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor and has a fast f/1.8 lens with a 20mm equivalent field of view.
Despite the small size, you’ll be able to get plenty of quality from it, as it can shoot 4K video up to 60 fps. In addition, the tracking mode can follow faces—making this an exciting choice for capturing a solo athlete like a gymnast or skater.
Best camera for sports videography: Fujifilm X-T4
Why it made the cut: This hybrid mirrorless camera is an excellent choice for shooting video as well as stills because of its superb in-body image stabilization system and powerful 10-bit 4K internal recording capabilities.
- 26 megapixel CMOS APS-C sensor
- 4K at 60fps
- 10-bit internal recording
- Beautiful film presets
- Internal 10-bit recording
- In-body image stabilization
- No headphone input for monitoring audio
- No subject tracking for video
The video capabilities of the Fujifilm X-T4 make it an excellent choice for the amateur sports shooter who would also benefit from a stills camera. The in-body image stabilization paired with 10-bit 4K video capabilities makes this a great tool for sports filmers looking for a lightweight option to bring to the game.
It can shoot 4K at 60 fps and can keep rolling for approximately 30 minutes. That limit should cover most of the action. Although it lacks subject tracking when shooting video, it can still track faces while recording, which is good if you will be pairing the body with a long lens to capture the details of the game.
Best budget camera for filming sports: Sony HDRCX405 Handycam
Why it made the cut: It’s a budget-friendly option for shooting sports that doesn’t skimp on features like face detection and image stabilization.
- 1/5.8″-Type CMOS Sensor
- 1080p video capture
- 60x image zoom
- Easy to operate
- Face detection and image stabilization
If your budget is tight, Sony’s entry-level Handycam can be a great low-cost option for filming sports. Although it lacks 4K capture, the 60x zoom found on this camera will be superior to the zoom quality you get from your smartphone. Plus, there are additional features like face detection and image stabilization. Don’t expect the highest quality video footage, but this camera is definitely capable of capturing sports, especially at the amateur level.
What is the best video camera for sports?
Plenty of cameras currently on the market can keep up with the fast pace of filming sports. When selecting the best camera for the job, you should consider the sport you are trying to film, where your footage will end up, and your budget. The best camera for a broadcast professional will be very different than the best camera for someone looking to film their kid’s little league game.
Which GoPro is best for filming sports?
The GoPro Hero10 is best for filming sports. That’s because of its high-quality build, excellent image quality, electronic image stabilization, and the brand new GP 2 processor. Although it’s pricier than other action cameras on the market, its high-end features put it above the rest.
How do you film a sporting event?
Techniques for filming a sporting event will change drastically depending on the sport. As a general rule of thumb, it’s essential to stay out of the way of the athletes who are competing and any officials at the game. If you are an amateur capturing the game, it’s also important to stay out of the way of the professional camera operators and photographers.
What makes a camera good for sports?
A good camera for filming sports depends on what sport you are trying to film. If you are looking to film something end to end, you will want a camera that doesn’t have recording limits. If you are capturing a field sport, you will likely need a long lens to capture the details. Indoor sports will need a camera that works well in low light. If the sport takes place outside, having a setup that has a rugged, weather-resistant build will also be valuable.
How do I choose a sports camera?
Choosing the right camera for filming sports has a lot to do with what sport you are filming. Before purchasing a camera for the job, it can be helpful to make a list of the sports that you are most likely going to be filming. A camera that is good for capturing action sports might not be the best choice for recording a baseball game or football game.
Is a GoPro good for recording basketball games?
While you certainly could rig a GoPro near the hoop for some interesting angles, filming a basketball game end to end from the bleachers with a GoPro might not make for the most interesting footage. Its extreme wide-angle will make players look further away, making it hard to make out specifics of the game when rewatching it. But rigging something near the hoop would require permission, and there is always a chance that your GoPro will get knocked down during the action. Selecting the best gear for the job has a lot to do with your relationship with the players and where the footage will end up.
Final thoughts on the best video cameras for sports
Choosing the best camera for filming sports ultimately depends greatly on what sport you will be shooting. Sometimes the most expensive high-end option won’t make the most sense for capturing the action. So instead, consider the sports you will be shooting, where the footage will be going, and ultimately what kind of shots you are interested in capturing when deciding what camera is best for you.
Methodology: How we picked the best video cameras for sports
When selecting the cameras that appear in this buying guide, we considered cameras that would be acceptable for a wide variety of budgets and experience levels. We evaluated cameras that one might use to record a professional-level sporting event and cameras that would be suitable for capturing recreational sporting events or kids’ games.
We selected the cameras featured in this guide through a mix of hands-on experience, user feedback, and editorial reviews.