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Best Video Camera/Camcorder for Ski Racing

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

My kids have started racing and I would like to start recording the races.  I'm looking for something that can zoom in and still have nice clarity.  I'm not sure if a DSLR would be the best or a camcorder.  I'd like to keep the cost under $2000, under $1000 would be even better.  



Thanks in advance.

post #2 of 13

Try sending a PM to Bob Barnes, he uses a Sony or something like that as do other instructors in Aspen-Snowmass, it's very good, but they film when stationary - i.e. the cameraman is stationary. They can zoom and do all kinds of things.


If you want to be skiing in motion, side-by-side if possible with your child, then an IPhone in the hand or a GoPro with appropriate mount will do it, but zooming will have to be done while processing the clip - image stabilization is essentially zooming give or take. 

post #3 of 13

A record to SD with view finder and image stabilization I find to be very important. Get a dedicated camcorder and skip the DSLR if your primary thing is video for Movement analysis.


I use a Sony HDR-CX550V. It has 64Gb of internal storage and can handle a 64g sd card as well. Battery life is good. stabilization is good. If you get an extra Tele lens you can stand at the bottom of the race course and still get good video from a long way's away.


For good control and framing of skiers a viewfinder is a must in bright sun.



This video has NO post processing other than being trimmed to remove me turning the camera to view the next skier and  used the youtube "image stabilization and auto color contrast" but the framing and zooming was all done real time.


If I had to replace my current Sony, I'd probably be looking at the PJ650V or the even newer FDR-AX series camcorders. All have view finders and output to HDMI (great for plugging into flat panels in the bar or at the house), Sony's award winning image stabilization and manual focus ability (with a focus ring not touch screen) which comes in very handy on those real foggy or snowy days where the autofocus is useless.



post #4 of 13

dchan is right about getting a dedicated video camera for this application.  In the above video he does a nice job of slowly zooming out to keep the first skier a fairly consistent size in the frame.  You can't do this with a DSLR as it will not have a motor driven zoom.  

post #5 of 13
I have the Sony handy cam WITH a view finder. Because of visibility conditions of skiing, using a viewfinder instead of an lcd screen is much better. The one I have has an adjustable viewfinder so I can adjust it for my vision. Mine is a view years older. The newer ones can be used as a projector as well and I believe they are still right at $1k.
post #6 of 13
I will tell you that getting smooth video where the skier is framed well takes practice. It's not easy at first. Don't expect great results the first several times. I have been taking video of skiers over the past 15-20 years and every year it still takes a couple days at the beginning of the year to get back in practice.

Your first attempts are bound to look more like this.
post #7 of 13
Something else to keep in mind. If you're skiing down to point and then going to video, catch your breath first. If not, this will show up in shaky video and everyone listening to your panting. It is amplified if you zoom in.

If your videoing kids (more than just your own) and are going to share with other parents, watch your mouth. You might want to leave any commentary out.

You can't always get the whole race course and often there are two racers on course at once. Pick your area of videoing. You might want to position yourself across from a gate on the side they will be on when going around that gate. This way you get a good video of them and their position. Sometimes I pick a location based on what is going to happen, hairpin turns in SL, delay gates, tight turns etc.

Get a good pair of glove liners as your hands will be out of you gloves quite a bit. When you take your hands out of your gloves, put the gloves inside your jacket. Hand warmers will help here too.

You also need to find a good place to be able to stand and probably out of your skis so you can get coming and going. Standing on ski's will keep your feet warmer than on snow, but on ski's can limit maneuverability.

post #8 of 13

If you really want good, watchable video when zoomed in - get a tripod.  A tripod with a good, fluid head will do more for your shooting than just about anything.  Of course it will cost almost as much as the camera itself.


Also, you can practice following and zooming with subjects just about anywhere.  Cars and bikes and kids and dogs...anything that moves.

post #9 of 13

While a fluid head tripod will help, it's just another thing to carry around and they are pretty heavy(yes I have one for when I need to video shows or long events). If you try to go that route, you will probably get frustrated with having to carry that thing around and just not use it or the camera. It's real nice having a small lightweight camera available at the ready to catch video anytime it strikes you to do so.


I have to disagree that you need something like that to get watchable video even at the longest zoom these camera's offer. (don't bother with digital zoom however) I shoot all the time at max zoom even with a 1.7x telephoto attached lens and generally get very usable video. Practice (lots of it) will be your biggest ally.


Another thing is placement.. select your location standing for video well. If the skier (or any subject) doesn't come straight towards the camera but slightly away from the camera, then passes with quite a bit of room from your location, you will not need to zoom in real quick and then reverse zooming out as they pass you.

post #10 of 13

I was assuming OP would be shooting from bottom of the hill.  I agree it would be a PITA to haul around on a hill.  I have done so but only for work.  


You can also get a fairly light and compact rig that will work well enough, so long as the camera is not too heavy.

post #11 of 13

I am getting a sony a7! I freestyle though.

post #12 of 13

While sony makes fantastic Alpha cameras (A7 and A7!!) the one thing these DON'T do, and almost all still camera's being used for video fall in this category, is power zoom.. You have to manually zoom the system. Keeping someone in the frame while filling the full frame and trying to keep them centered is tough. I've tried both and keep going back to a dedicated Camcorder for video of skiing.

post #13 of 13

If I had to try to get the guy in that first video with a manual ring zoom It would take me a lot longer to get setup. It would also probably not be as smooth. Both hands out of the gloves, Probably take my skis off (for better stability) so I could turn my whole body (need to use both hands to aim, zoom and steady and loose the sun glasses. Many of the still camera view finders don't have diopters to adjust for having the eye further away from the camera. On a spring day, the gloves off might not be an issue. On a cold snowy/windy day. If I can get away with only one hand in a liner and the other fully insulated, I'll take it. With the diopter corrected view finder, I can keep my googles or sun glasses on and still see the image in the view finder.. Something I can't do without custom diopters on my Nikon. I don't know about the A7II.



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