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Ultimate Guide: 10 Best Video Cameras for Sports

by Tom Shu

Last Updated on October 25, 2020 by Tom Shu

If you are in a hurry and just want to find out what the best video camera for sports is, then I’d recommend the Sony a7III, Sony a6600, or Panasonic S5!

If you have ever tried to film a fast-paced sport, you’ll realize that it isn’t just ‘point-and-shoot.’ It’s harder than it looks on TV! You’ll need the appropriate camera gear to get the shots you want.

The good thing is that now a day, there is an abundance of different cameras available at all budgets that can shoot great video. Today, we’re going to cover my favorite 10 cameras specifically for shooting sports. This includes full-frame, APS-C, Micro Four Thirds, compact point and shoots, and action cameras.

Here are the cameras we will be reviewing:

How to Choose the Best Video Camera for Filming Each Sport

illustration of a person recording sports

The key features you will be looking at are autofocus speed, autofocus tracking, and in-body image stabilization which is key for capturing fast-moving sports. Any sport that takes place indoors or at night needs a higher ISO and better than average low-light performance.

A good zoom or the ability to change lenses is necessary to shoot action across the playing field or when the players have great freedom of movement too.

If you want to dig deeper into the technical video specs, some cameras will also be able to shoot at a higher bit depth which will allow you to capture more color information in your footage. This really won’t matter too much unless you plan to color correct and color grade your footage, but it’s nice to have in case you want it.

Here are some other things in you should keep in mind when choosing the best video camera for recording sports with:

  • Speed of play.
  • Lighting conditions.
  • Your position relative to the action.
  • Can you move with the game or are you stuck in your seat?
  • Duration of game.
  • Resolution of the footage that you want (For example 4k, 1080p, video bit depths available).
  • Total budget.



Baseball

image of baseball field at night

You will mainly remain in one location when watching baseball, so the camera will be doing all the work for you. A mirrorless camera with good in-body image stabilization will give you the ability to swap between a longer lens, invaluable for capturing that perfect catch.

Basketball

silhouette of basketball hoop with palm trees

A different ball game here! Although you will still be in your seat, the game will most likely be indoors, so low-light ability will be key. This, coupled with the fast pace of the game, will make fast autofocus and tracking far more important than needing extra length on your glass.

Football

A bigger playing field means a long lens with a camera with in-body image stabilization again. Since football is mainly played during the day time, under floodlights at night, or in a well lit indoor stadium, it means good low light performance is not as important. What you will need is a camera with good autofocus and tracking to keep up with the action.

Soccer

The size of a soccer field is similar to Football. It’s another sport that can be played outside, under floodlights at night or indoors. You may, or not be mobile and able to travel a little with the action, but the sheer size of the pitch means the best video camera for soccer is one with a good zoom range and a camera with good in-body image stabilization.

Hockey and Field Hockey

photo of people playing hockey in front of a mountain

Both Hockey and Field Hockey is played indoors and outdoors, so you may have to think about the low-light performance of your camera. Similar to basketball, Hockey / Field Hockey is extremely fast-paced so you’ll want a camera with above-average autofocus and tracking.

Volleyball

Volleyball is usually played indoors so you’ll first want to look for a camera with good low-light performance. You will likely be able to sit closer to the court of play and the action is not as fast as football, hockey or basketball so the autofocus does not have to be as good.

Golf

photo of trees at sunset on a golf course

For the most part, you’re going to be walking around the course with one or two of your favorite players. A lens with a good zoom will help on the tee and green, so that’s something to consider. Low-light shouldn’t be an issue, so the ability to autofocus or focus track under difficult low-light conditions will be lower on your priority.

Track and Field

wide angle shot of a track and field stadium

You’ll probably be shooting outside for a large part of a track and field event, so low-light performance isn’t going to be a factor in your choice unless it’s a cloudy day or you’re shooting an indoor track event. You will most likely be following a single individual at a distance, so a long lens or an outstanding optical zoom and in-body image stabilization are going to be critical here.

Tennis

This is another sport where you will be closer to the action and you will be focusing only on a couple of players at a time. You may want the flexibility to zoom in closer to capture serves, but other than that, it is a simple two-way action. You should be close enough that an extremely long zoom won’t be necessary, or as fast of autofocus as other sports like basketball or football.

Extreme Sports and Watersports: Snowboarding, Skiing, Skydiving, Surfing

person stopping on a snowboard

For extreme sports like these, you’ll have to first decide if you want to capture the action from a first-person or third-person point of view. Obviously, if you want to capture the action from the first-person point of view, an action camera will be your best bet. On the other hand, if you’re shooting the action from a third-person perspective, you’ll probably need a wide zoom range to get close enough to the action with in-body image stabilization to keep your footage stable.

Rugby

The criteria that apply to soccer and football also apply here. Long lens or very, very good optical zoom with in-body image stabilization.

Cricket

What you need for baseball is similar to Cricket. A long lens with good in-body image stabilization is the most important. The action happens in small bursts of play at an individual level, so simply following one person shouldn’t cause most cameras a real problem.

Wrestling and Boxing

photo of boxing ring from a wide angle

Indoors and much more up close and personal. You will want good low-light ability here, or perhaps an in-camera zoom. Since you’re closer to the action, in-body image stabilization won’t be AS important, but still nice to have.

Table Tennis and Badminton

photo of empty ping pong tables

Two indoor fast-paced sports, so as before a good low-light performance and fast, accurate autofocus. Depending on how you will want to shoot the action, you may or may not need a wider zoom range.

Car Racing

photo of two cars racing on a race track

An outdoor sport and a fast one. You could be shooting at night too; however, unlike most other sports (floodlights notwithstanding), the lighting conditions will change rapidly. The key here is fast, accurate, tracking autofocus and excellent performance in low-light conditions.

Pro Tip: When shooting a range of these sports, particularly from a distance, a monopod can be a great accessory to have. Lightweight, easy to break down and carry, and excellent for providing the extra bit of stability that using a long lens needs. It is far more versatile than a tripod when filming action sports and far less intrusive and space-hungry.

Reviews of the Best Video Cameras for Sports Recording

1. Sony a6600

The first camera in this article is the mirrorless a6600, an APS-C (Advanced Photo System type-C). First things first, we have UHD 4k at 30fps and 1080p at a very useful 120fps. We have no time limit for recording, so your footage is really only limited by the memory card capacity you have.

On the subject of battery, we have a very handy 2280 mAh battery, which is a step up from the frankly poor offering in the a6600 with its 1080 mAh battery. To accommodate the larger battery, the overall thickness of the grip is also larger now which gives it better ergonomics compared to the a6600.

It also has the space for an extra custom button next to the menu button and a flip, touch screen for shooting in those awkward places.

It means the weather-sealed alloy body is comfortable and easy to shoot with. Even with longer lenses, it doesn’t feel as unbalanced as some other mirrorless cameras can.

The ISO range is 100 to 32,000 and is extendable to 50-102,400, which, when paired with the five-axis, in-camera stabilization (up to 5-stop), makes it perform very well in low-light.

When shooting in low-light situations, I find that autofocus on other cameras can sometimes hunt excessively or lose the target.

However, with the Sony a6600’s phase-detection and contrast-detection autofocus system, it allows for crisp low-light performance and lock and tracking of moving subjects. These are both especially important for capturing a wide range of sports.

PROS:

  • Improved battery life over the a6400.
  • Better ergonomics.
  • Great low-light performance.
  • Faster and more accurate autofocus with real-time tracking and eye autofocus when shooting video.
  • No limit on record time.
  • Addition of a headphone output so you can monitor the sound easier.
  • Has 5-axis in-body image stabilization which is equivalent to a 5 stop faster shutter speed.

CONS:

  • It still records in 8-bit which is not as good as the 10-bit you can record at on the Panasonic GH5, Panasonic S5, and Fuji X-T4.
  • There is an additional crop when shooting in 4K (~1.05x in 24 FPS and ~1.2x in 30 FPS).
  • It still has a rolling shutter issue.


illustration of box which links to amazon


2. Sony a6400

sony-a6500-with-zeiss-16-70-f4

If you like what you see with the Sony a6600 or Sony a7III, but want to save a considerable amount of money, the Sony a6400 could be a good choice depending on how you plan to use it. The two biggest downsides with this camera when compared to the a6600 and the a7III is much shorter battery life and the lack of built-in image stabilization.

Let’s take a closer look at the battery life difference as I think it’s important to point out for a dedicated sports camera.

The Sony a6400 uses the Sony NP-FW50 battery. Based on my experience you should be able to get just over an hour of continuous 4k video shooting with this battery. On the other hand, the Sony NP-FV100 which the Sony a6600 and Sony a7III use is a larger battery and will double your battery life.

Both batteries will work, but for some of you, having a longer battery life will make it much easier and more convenient to focus on recording the game.

If you can get over these two big negatives, the Sony a6400 is an awesome camera. It uses the same sensor as the more expensive Sony a6600, so you’ll get the same image quality and incredible autofocus features using the classic Sony combination of 425 phase-detection and 425 contrast-detection points. 

The a6400 also features the improved addition of real-time autofocus tracking in video mode, which will help you focus on the player you want to.

On the video side, it also has the same 4k and 1080p frame rates that you’ll find in the Sony a6600 and Sony a7III. It can shoot in 4k at up to 30 FPS (frames per second) and up to 120 FPS in 1080p. The best part is that it doesn’t have the 30-minute 4k recording limit which you’ll find on the Sony a7III

Overall, if you don’t care about switching batteries during the game and plan to use a tripod, the Sony a6400 could be a great fit.

PROS:

  • Great value camera at a reasonable price point.
  • Good selection of 4k and 1080p frame rates including up to 120 FPS (frames per second) in case you want to capture slow-motion footage.
  • Uses the same sensor as the more expensive Sony a6600 so you’ll get the same image quality and autofocus performance. 
  • Excellent autofocus with the 425 phase-detection and contrast-detection autofocus points that cover most of the frame. Also, get real-time tracking when shooting video.
  • No 4k recording limit.

CONS:

  • No built-in image stabilization versus the 5-axis image stabilization in the Sony a6600 and Sony a7III.
  • There is an additional crop when shooting in 4K (~1.05x in 24 FPS and ~1.2x in 30 FPS)
  • Still uses the Sony NP-FW50 battery which doesn’t give you the best battery life.


illustration of box which links to amazon

3. Sony a7III

photo of black sony camera held in hand

Notes From The Field: Sony just announced the release of the Sony a7C with an estimated release date of October 29, 2020. The camera is a more compact and simplified version of the Sony a7III and comes with nearly identical technical specs as the Sony a7III. There are a few upgrades including better color science, a fully articulating flip out screen, and no 4k recording limit. On the other hand, there are some negatives with the Sony a7C to keep in mind too including lack of dual card slots, less customizable buttons, no joystick to move the autofocus point, and it may be harder to hold if you have bigger hands. Additionally, the current list price puts it only slightly cheaper than the a7III. With that said, if you like what you see with the Sony a7III, and  would benefit from no 4k recording limit and a fully articulating screen, it may be worth looking into the Sony a7C.

This Sony A7 III is a full-frame mirrorless camera that packs an impressive punch. The step-up in quality when compared to the Sony a6600 and Sony a6400 is easy to see.

The full-frame sensor provides, better depth of field (DOF), low-light performance (the sensor is x2.5 bigger than the Sony a6400 and Sony a6600, meaning larger and more sensitive pixels), and wider dynamic range.

So, aside from these more obvious differences, what else does the A7 III offer above and beyond the Sony a6400 and a6600?

First, let’s dig a little deeper into the improved autofocus and low-light performance. The Sony a7 III has an excellent standard ISO range of 100 – 51,200 versus 100 – 32,000 on the Sony a6600.

The contrast-detection and phase-detection autofocus have been improved to 425/693 points spread across the sensor, which cover 93% of the frame. This is compared to the 84% of coverage on the Sony a6600. If you want to capture fast-moving sports, in low-light, then this is tailor-made for you.

The impressive 5-axis in-body image stabilization in the a6600 is also in this camera which will allow you to shoot smoother footage at longer focal lengths.

Honestly, I did have to work hard to find any negatives with this camera performance-wise. Out of everything, I would have to say the 30 minutes recording limit is the biggest let-down.

This would be enough for many shooting scenarios but it might be difficult if you want to continuously shoot a sporting event.

The second issue isn’t related to the camera specs itself but seems so avoidable. An external battery charger is not included, which is a pretty big bummer considering the camera is at the higher end in our price range.

PROS:

  • Very excellent low-light performance.
  • Improved battery life over the Sony a6400 and has the same battery as the Sony a6600.
  • Impressive autofocus that is inherited from Sony’s top of the line Sony a9.
  • Dual media card slots. This means you can simultaneously record to two different SD cards providing a backup to your footage or you can use it for extra memory capacity.
  • Bigger body, more customizable buttons, and a joystick to move the focus which all lead to better handling.

CONS:

  • An external battery charger is not supplied.
  • 30 minutes recording limit.


illustration of box which links to amazon


4. Panasonic S5 (Coming Very Soon)

The Panasonic S5 is the newest full-frame camera from Panasonic that takes all the goodness from the Panasonic GH5 which made it so popular with video shooters and makes it even better in all aspects. 

At its current price point (which is at about the same level as the Sony a7III), you get a much better value when considering its video and slow-motion video capabilities. These extra frame rate choices can be nice to have especially if you want to capture high-quality slow-motion footage. 

Most importantly the autofocus system in the S5 is the newest and best offering from Panasonic to date and is better than what you find in the Panasonic GH5 and Panasonic G9. With that said, it’s depth from defocus autofocus system is still not as good as the Sony autofocus system. This is unfortunate as autofocus performance is one of the most important features when it comes to shooting sports. 

For the video specs, you’re able to shoot in 4K UHD at up to 60 FPS in 10 bit (4k UHD 10 bit 4:2:2 if shooting up to 30 FPS) and in Full HD at up to 180 FPS in 10 bit as well. Just to give you a quick comparison, the Sony a7III can only shoot in 4k at up to 30 FPS in 8 bit and in 1080p up to 120 FPS in 8 bit as well. 

Also, If you ever want the flexibility to output your video to an external recorder for the highest quality video codecs possible you also have the option too. For example, if you record externally, the S5 can shoot at an unreal RAW 5.9k in 12 bit 4:2:2 at up to 30 FPS. Of course, this would take more memory and you would have to edit the video footage before being able to use it.

Similar to the other Panasonic cameras, you also get a fully articulating screen that is crisp and clear even in daylight conditions, and the S5 also has of the best IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization) systems that you will find.

It’s unfortunate that there is a record limit when shooting in 4K at 60 FPS or if you want to shoot 4K in 10-bit bit depth, but the video features that you find in this camera are hard to compete with at its price point. 

PROS:

  • You have the flexibility to shoot at a wide range of high-quality video frame rates such as 4K UHD up to 60 FPS and 1080p up to 180 FPS.
  • There is no record limit when you’re shooting in 4K with an 8-bit bit depth.
  • The S5 is a full-frame camera which means it has better low light performance and you have more flexibility when cropping in (for example the camera has an APS-C size crop when shooting in 4k 60 FPS.
  • Very good IBIS system.
  • You have the ability to record in 4k 10-bit 4:2:2 which will give you better video quality than the 8-bit codec found in other cameras such as the Sony a7III. 
  • Has Panasonic’s newest autofocus offering and is improved when compared to the GH5 or G9.
  • Impressive ergonomics with a bunch of customizable buttons and a joystick-like the Sony a7III
  • A flip touch screen that fully articulates in all directions that is similar to the Panasonic GH5 and Panasonic G9.
  • Dual media card slots. This means you can simultaneously record to two different SD cards providing a backup to your footage or you can use it for extra memory capacity.
  • Very good value at its current price point considering all of its video-specific features.

CONS:

  • Panasonic’s Depth from Defocus (DFD) autofocus system still doesn’t work as well as the contrast-detect and phase-detect autofocus system on the Sony a7III.


illustration of box which links to amazon

5. Panasonic GH5

photo of black panasonic camera with white background

Panasonic’s GH5 is a mirrorless Micro Four Thirds that is the biggest competitor to the Sony a7 III in this article and is jam-packed full of video features.

It shoots 4k up to 60 FPS and 1080p at 180 FPS which blows the Sony a7 III away. You also have the ability to record the 4k footage in 10-bit 4:2:2 either internally or externally which is crazy considering the price point it’s at.

When shooting outdoors in the daytime, the flip touch screen is easy to use and is crisp and clear, no matter how bright the conditions were. The best part is that the screen fully articulates so it makes it easy to shoot with it at any angle.

HOWEVER, the low-light ability and autofocus on the Panasonic GH5 are not as good as the contrast-detect and phase-detect system on the Sony A7 III.

This is probably the biggest downside of the camera especially when low-light ability and autofocus are two of the most important features to have when shooting sports.

PROS:

  • The image quality is one of the best and you can shoot at crazy flexible high-resolution frame rates like 60 FPS at 4k and 180 FPS in 1080p.
  • You can record in high-quality 10-bit 4:2:2 which will give you increased flexibility in post-production.
  • Impressive ergonomics with a bunch of customizable buttons and a joystick-like the Sony a7 III
  • A flip touch screen that fully articulates in all directions. The only other camera in this article with a fully articulating touch screen is the Panasonic Lumix G9.
  • Dual media card slots. This means you can simultaneously record to two different SD cards providing a backup to your footage or you can use it for extra memory capacity.
  • Good value as range of features would be expected on a much more expensive camera.

CONS:

  • Low-light performance is not as good as the Sony A7 III.
  • Panasonic’s Depth from Defocus (DFD) autofocus system does not work as well as the contrast-detect and phase-detect autofocus system on the Sony a7 III.
  • It is a Micro Four Thirds sensor versus the APS-C sensor on the Sony a6400, Sony a6600, and Fujifilm X-T4 and the full-frame sensor on the Sony a7 III and Canon EOS R.


illustration of box which links to amazon


6. Panasonic Lumix G9

The Panasonic Lumix G9 is a Micro Four Thirds camera that was, in truth, more focused on the photography market than the videography market until the most recent firmware update in 2019.

At the end of 2019, Panasonic released a firmware update that gave this camera many of the same video features found in the Panasonic GH5, and now its also a video powerhouse.

With the firmware update, the Panasonic Lumix G9 can now record 4k 30 FPS at 10-bit 4:2:2 in camera. You also get the same crazy good flexible frame rates of 60 FPS at 4k and 180 FPS at 1080p on this camera now too.

The best part is that since the Lumix G9 is a newer model than the Panasonic GH5, you get improved autofocus, all the photography features that the Lumix G9 was originally known for, and the video-friendly ergonomics of the Panasonic cameras.

On the downside, even though the Lumix G9 has faster autofocus than the Panasonic GH5 it still does not compete with the contrast-detect and phase-detect autofocus system on the Sony cameras.

Also, even though the latest firmware update gave this camera some unbelievable video features, there is still a 10 minute record time limit when shooting 4k at 60fps and 30 minute record time limit when using 4k at 30fps.

When looking at a camera specifically for sports videography, this could be an issue.

PROS:

  • With the 2019 firmware update, you get the same flexible high-resolution frame rates like 60 FPS at 4k and 180 FPS in 1080p as found in the Panasonic GH5.
  • You can record in high-quality 10-bit 4:2:2 which will give you increased flexibility in post-production.
  • Impressive ergonomics with a bunch of customizable buttons and a joystick to move the focus like the Sony a7 III
  • A flip touch screen that fully articulates in all directions.
  • Dual media card slots like the Panasonic GH5 and Sony a7 III.
  • Good value as you would expect this range of features to be on a much more expensive camera.

CONS:

  • Limited 10-minute recording limit when shooting 4k at 60 FPS and 30-minute recording limit when using 4k at 30 FPS.
  • The autofocus and low-light capability are not as good as the Sony cameras.


illustration of box which links to amazon


7. Fujifilm X-T4

The Fujifilm X-T4 is an APS-C that builds upon the best functionalities of the X-T3 and makes it an even better camera for video including increased battery life and the addition of in-body image stabilization.

Like the Panasonic cameras, the Fujifilm X-T4 comes with some awesome frame rates and resolutions to choose from. On the 4k side, it can shoot up to 60 FPS in 4k and record internally at 10-bit 4:2:0, which is better than the 8-bit bit depth found on the Sony cameras.

On the high frame rate recording side, the X-T4 can shoot at an impressive 240 FPS at 1080 which is better than the maximum of 120 FPS in 1080 with the Sony a6400, a6600, and a7III. This is also an improvement from the 120 FPS found in the previous generation X-T3.

Of course, you also get the classic Fujifilm ergonomic design which means plenty of buttons and dials that you can customize in a variety of ways. This makes it much easier as you won’t have to dig through a menu system to find what you need when you’re out shooting.

My favorite part about this camera is the 16 different film simulation modes which include some famous Fuji film stock like Provia, Velvia, and Eterna. This will allow you to easily get some unique looking footage without the need for video editing software.

PROS:

  • 16 different film simulation modes that allow you to give your footage a unique look straight in-camera.
  • A wide variety of flexible resolutions and frame rates to shoot in.
  • A large variety of native Fuji lenses and third-party lenses available.
  • Really good design ergonomics with a variety of customizable buttons and dials.
  • The price is very reasonable considering what features you get.
  • Has in-body image stabilization which the Fujifilm X-T3 didn’t have.
  • A flip screen that fully articulates in all directions.

CONS:

  • 30 minutes recording time limit when shooting at 4k 30 FPS and 20 minute recording time limit with 4k 60 FPS.
  • The autofocus is not as good as the Sony cameras.
  • There have been reports of overheating when shooting in 4k/60 FPS.


illustration of box which links to amazon

8. Canon EOS R

Next up is the Canon EOS R which is Canon’s first mirrorless camera. It takes all the incredible color science that made the Canon DSLR cameras famous and puts it in a much smaller package.

The camera has a full-frame high-resolution 30.3-megapixel sensor and uses Canon’s new RF Lens Mount system

I’m going to mostly compare this camera to the Sony a7 III since it is the only other full-frame camera in this article. Overall, they are both great cameras to have, but when it comes down to video recording for sports I will have to give the edge to the Sony a7 III.

In short, the Sony a7 III has better autofocus, low-light ability, and no crop factor when shooting 4k.

On the Canon EOS R side, it doesn’t have in-body image stabilization and it has a 1.8x crop factor when you shoot in 4k. This means that if you use a 24mm lens with the Canon EOS R, your equivalent focal length is actually more like a 43mm lens.

The 1.8x crop factor could be an issue if you are trying to capture wide-angle shots of the action on the playing field.

Yes, you can use a wider angle lens to compensate for this, but since it is cropped, it means you are not using the entire sensor. In addition, the EOS R can only shoot in a 720p resolution when you record at 120 FPS compared to the 1080p on the Sony, Panasonic, and Fuji cameras.

On the positive side, even though the specs of the camera are kind of underwhelming, there are many things going for it. As I mentioned already, since it is a Canon camera, you get the Canon color science. This means that you’ll have no problem capturing gorgeous footage.

In addition, the EOS R shoots in incredibly high bitrates when recording in 4k, 1080p, or 720p, which means you will get better quality footage when compared to a camera that shoots at a lower bitrate.

I’m not going into the details of bitrate in this article, but at the basic level bitrate is the amount of data recorded at any given second.

Just to give you an idea, the EOS R shoots 4k at a bitrate of 480Mbps and 1080p at a bitrate of 180Mpbs compared to the 4k 100Mbps on the Sony a7 III.

What this means for the Canon EOS R is that you will still be able to shoot high-quality footage in 1080p or even 720p resolution.

PROS:

  • It’s a Canon camera so you get the world-famous Canon color science.
  • The dual pixel autofocus system is still very good.
  • You can record at very high bitrates, which means better quality footage.
  • There is a fully articulating flip out touch screen.

CONS:

  • 1.8x Crop in 4k video.
  • There is no in-camera image stabilization.
  • 120 FPS is only available in 720p resolution and you are not able to use autofocus.


illustration of box which links to amazon


9. GoPro Hero8

image of compact camera with buildings in the background

GoPro is undoubtedly the go-to action camera with the best quality in its category. If you’re going to film on or in the water, or want to capture an action sport like mountain biking or snowboarding from the first-person perspective, then a GoPro is certainly one of the best options.

The GoPro Hero8 is a nice upgrade to the GoPro Hero7 and improves on many of the features that made the GoPro Hero7 popular.

With the GoPro Hero8, you get improved stabilization, built-in folding mounting fingers, the new Timewarp 2.0 functionality, a new range of mods that clip onto the camera, and a front-facing mic which sounds much better.

The video quality is pretty much the same as the older GoPro Hero7 as both shoot an insane 60 FPS at 4k and 120 FPS in 2.7k. However, since the GoPro Hero8 has improved stabilization your footage will probably end up looking better.

Obviously, this is more of a specialized camera and won’t be everyone’s go-to camera for a wide range of sports.

The field of view and zoom options are limited, the low-light capabilities are good for an action camera but does not really compare to what a mirrorless camera can offer, and the battery life will be shorter.

With that said, if you’re looking for the best action camera money can buy, this is the one.

PROS:

  • Has GoPro’s new and improved HyperSmooth 2.0 which is an improvement to the already good stabilization of older GoPro models.
  • Timewarp 2.0 allows you to capture cool hyperlapse style videos. The camera will automatically sense and adjust the speed and stabilization needed based on what you’re shooting.
  • A new range of mods available like a front-facing light, display screen or attachable mic.
  • Incredible frame rates in such a small package with 60 FPS at 4k and up to 120 FPS at 2.7k.

CONS:

  • Still an action camera so there is a lack of effective zoom for capturing other sports.
  • For just a little more money you could purchase a mirrorless camera which would give you more flexibility when shooting.
  • Battery life is shorter but makes sense for its size.


illustration of box which links to amazon


10. AKASO V50 Elite 4K Action Camera

The AKASO V50 is one of my favorite budget action cameras in the market right now. You can usually find it at about 1/4 the price of the Hero8, so the amount of money you can save by getting the AKASO is significant.

Don’t be fooled by this being a budget camera, though. The video quality and frame rates offered in this action camera still hold their own when comparing to the much more expensive GoPro Hero8

The AKASO V50 can shoot 30 and 60 FPS at 4k, 60 FPS at 2k, and 120 FPS at 1080p.

It also comes with a bunch of additional accessories including different mounts, a couple of batteries, and a waterproof case.

Obviously, when money isn’t an issue, the GoPro Hero8 is the action camera to go with. However, if you’re on a tight budget or just want a side camera to shoot action sports every so often with, the AKASO V50 is a great choice.

In many ways, this has similar pitfalls and positives of the Hero8. It’s an action camera at heart, so there is no additional zoom range, it does not perform very well in low-light and the battery life is shorter.

PROS:

  • A very reasonable price for a budget action camera that shoots in 4k.
  • 131 feet waterproof depth rating with the waterproof case.
  • Decent built-in image stabilization.
  • A wide selection of flexible frame rates at the price with 30 and 60 FPS at 4k, and 120 FPS at 1080p.

CONS:

  • No sound if it’s in a waterproof case unlike the GoPro Hero8
  • Still an action camera so there is a lack of effective zoom for capturing other sports.
  • The GoPro Hero8 still offers the best features and best video quality in the action camera category.


illustration of box which links to amazon


The Results

illustration of podium with camera in first, second, and third place

Overall Winner – Sony a7III and Panasonic S5

If you’re looking for the best overall video camera for sports, I think the Sony a7III or the Panasonic S5  is a great choice. They have everything you need in a camera to capture some great sports footage and if you want to switch to photographs, they can both do it very well too.

The Panasonic S5 has some incredible video specs such as 4k in 60 FPS in a 10-bit video codec that you won’t find in any other camera in its price range. Unfortunately, it’s depth from defocus autofocus system isn’t as good as the Sony a7III, but the additional video-specific features more than makeup for it. 

On the other hand, the Sony a7III isn’t a camera to overlook either. Yes, it doesn’t have as good of video specs as the Panasonic S5, but its phase-detect and contrast-detect autofocus system is one of the best in the industry and has been praised for how fast and accurate it is. Add in the enhanced autofocus tracking, the awesome low-light abilities, and the weatherproofing and you have a powerful camera capable of capturing sports in many different situations.

Again both cameras are good. 

If you’re looking for the best autofocus system possible in combination with video specs that are good enough for most situations, the Sony a7III would be a great choice. 

However, if you’re looking for the most technologically advanced video specs and would benefit from higher resolution slow motion frame rates, the Panasonic S5 would be a nice fit.

Budget Winner – Sony a6600

If you’re on a budget and don’t necessarily need a full-frame camera, then the Sony a6600 might be a better fit for you.

The Sony a6600 is Sony’s best APS-C sensor camera that they offer and it does share a lot of similarities with the Sony a7 III. It has the same video resolution and frame rates, the same battery, the same phase-detect, and contrast-detect autofocus system, and in-body image stabilization.

What the Sony a6600 has going for it is the lower price of the camera body, lower price of native and third-party APS-C lenses, and no 4k record limit (there is a 30-minute record limit on the Sony a7 III).

You also get a flip-up screen so if you end up doing interviews with the athletes or need to be in front of the camera, you can see what you’re shooting without using an external monitor.

Yes, you will have to keep in mind that the APS-C sensor has a 1.5x crop factor. Yes, you won’t get the benefits of a full-frame sensor like better low-light performance and greater depth of field, but the difference is pretty minor.


illustration of box which links to amazon


Bumped Out of Top 10

Think of this section as a sort of archive for this Ultimate Guide. These cameras were at some point on my top 10 list but were removed as I found a better value video camera for recording sports.

That’s not to say these aren’t good cameras. It’s just that camera technology keeps advancing so it’s only natural to find more feature-rich cameras for a better value as time goes on.

  • Sony RX100 VII (Removed on September 30, 2020): The reason it was removed – at its current price point, there are better cameras for recording sports with longer battery life and bigger sensors.

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6 comments

Sara Bingham October 4, 2020 - 7:21 am

What is your recommendation of camera for recording Soccer so I can make highlight videos for my kids? I want quality footage but also don’t really want to break the bank too much.

Reply
Tom Shu October 4, 2020 - 9:25 pm

Hi Sara,

Thanks for your question! I think for soccer, two of the best value cameras are the Sony a6600 and Sony a6500.

I think these two cameras would be a good fit because Sony cameras have extremely fast continuous autofocus which would be helpful in filming soccer since the action doesn’t stop. Additionally, there are some pretty well-priced zoom lenses for Sony APS-C cameras like the Sony 18-105 f/4 and the 18-200 f/3.5-6.3 that will give you a wide focal range to zoom in and out during a soccer match.

If you want to save the most money, the a6500 would work, but its biggest downside is much shorter battery life and a 4k record limit of 30 mins. The a6600 is more expensive, but the battery lasts 2x as long, there is no record limit, and an improved autofocus system. Both cameras are also able to record slow-motion footage at 60 and 120 frames per second which might be cool to add to your highlight videos too.

Let me know if this helps and if you have any more questions!

Reply
Raju October 22, 2020 - 1:38 pm

Hi, I need to video record tennis matches (maximum 3 sets), outdoors/indoors, without much hassle, and quite discreetly (as I wouldn’t want to be distracting the players) to be able to watch back later and analyse the games. What would you recommend? Thanks

Reply
Tom Shu October 23, 2020 - 12:33 am

Hi Raju, thanks for your question! I think for tennis one of the better camera choices is the Sony a6600. I think this camera might be a good fit because most importantly, it doesn’t have a record limit and has longer battery life. Since you will be recording tennis matches up to a maximum of 3 sets, this camera will give you the ability to keep the video recording until either the battery runs out or memory is full. This might be more convenient compared to cameras with 30 min record limits as you will have to keep an eye on your camera and start it again after it has stopped. Also, the camera form factor is pretty small and there is a variety of different lenses at fair price points. This should allow you to keep a discreet set up while giving you the flexibility to pick a lens that works for you. Lastly, the camera also features good slow motion frame rates up to 120 FPS in 1080p, so you could also capture some footage in slow motion to analyze too.

I hope this helps and please let me know if you have any additional questions!
Tom

Reply
Raju October 24, 2020 - 10:35 am

Many thanks Tom. That’s great. I may or may not have to get back to you. Cheers!

Reply
Tom Shu October 24, 2020 - 10:47 pm

You’re welcome, Raju!

Reply

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