Self filming has become more and more popular over the last decade than ever before. With cameras getting smaller and more powerful it has become easier than ever to film your hunts. Most of us have very capable cameras right in our pocket — our cell phone. A lot of people don’t realize how inexpensive it now is to start filming their hunts. In this article we’ll go over the basics of filming hunts on a budget.
Capture Those Special Moments
Everyone has their own reasons why they want to film their hunts. For me personally, it is so much fun to be able to capture what happens in the woods so I can share it with others. Even if a shot doesn’t happen, just being able to show people what happened during your hunt is so much fun. When the hunt does come together and you fill a tag, being able to share that with family and friends is awesome. When I’m not self filming, I love filming others. There are so many priceless memories that you can capture with family and friends when you film their hunts. Another huge benefit of filming is being able to review your shot placement. Whether you are gun hunting or archery hunting, the the moment of that shot happens so fast its hard to always know exactly where you hit the animal. Being able to watch the shot back frame by frame can be super helpful in knowing when to start tracking an animal. Filming is a ton of fun for a lot of reasons and once you start, you won’t want to stop.
Use Your Cell Phone
The most important thing you need to start filming your hunts is obviously a camera. Cell phone cameras have gotten better and better over the years and have become a viable option for filming hunts. One disadvantage of using cell phones is they have limited zoom. A lot of recent phones that have been released actually have a lens for anything from 2x to 4x optical zoom which helps a lot. When you want to zoom in even farther, there are a lot of options out there for zoom lenses you can attached to your phone. Companies like Moment make zoom lenses that mounts right to a phone case. You can also get cheap clamp on zoom lenses that will help get you a little extra zoom. If you do film your hunt with a phone, shooting in 4k is a great option. Shooting in 4k allows you to zoom in during the editing process as most people export videos that are 1080p. If a cell phone is all you can afford to start filming, definitely give it a shot. You will find it has some limitations, but you can really get some great quality footage out of phone cameras these days especially for archery hunting where the action happens relatively close to you.
Buy A Used Or Refurbished Handycam
For anyone wanting to step up their game from a cell phone, you can get inexpensive used or refurbished handycams. The main advantage of a handycam over a cell phone is you get better zoom and a little better low light performance. If you do a lot of rifle hunting then a handycam is definitely for you. There are a lot of great handycams options out there that might be a little older but will still be sufficient for filming hunts. Some of the more popular cameras for filming hunts are the Canon G series cameras and the Sony AX Series. One spec to look for is sensor size. If you want good low light performance, get a camera with a larger sensor. Do your research when shopping for used or refurbished cameras. There are plenty out there on sites like Craigslist and eBay. Sites like BH Photo also sometimes have a decent selection of refurbished cameras.
Get An Inexpensive But Functional Camera Arm
The camera arm you use is a crucial part of your filming setup. No matter what camera or phone you use, you need something that will hold your camera steady. Fourth Arrow Camera Arms offers a great budget camera arm option. That arm is called the Baton Arm. The Baton is specifically designed to hold cell phones and small handycams. The arm itself is super easy to set up and easy to level. It is also very lightweight and packable. It extends out to 25” of reach but yet it collapses down to a 15.5” for easy carrying. The whole setup only weighs a little over 2 lbs. Fourth Arrow also offers a mini video head that is a great entry level head. For anyone looking to film with a cell phone, you have the option of including a phone holder with the head. With the Baton Arm coming in at $99.99, it is a very affordable yet capable arm for anyone looking to start filming their hunts.
Get A Used GoPro
Second angle cameras really help you tell the story of your hunt. I like to mount my second angle camera facing back at me when hunting. Being able to show people what happens in the tree makes the hunt so much more engaging and really makes people feel like they are right there with you. If you can afford it, a second angle camera is definitely a must for self filming. There are several great options for inexpensive second angle cams. The used second angle cam market is flooded because companies like GoPro are always coming out with new cameras. You can get cheap used GoPros or Tactacams off Ebay all the time. A second angle camera can really help elevate your video and the small amount you spend on one will be well worth it.
A Mic Helps
External mics for your camera really help you produce video with cleaner audio. My favorite inexpensive mic is the Rode VideoMicro. It runs off phantom power so you don’t have to remember to turn it on. It comes with a great wind screen for those windy days as well. A cool feature of that mic is you can use it with either your handycam or your cell phone. An external mic isn’t absolutely necessary, but it really does help make your videos much more enjoyable to watch.
To put everything together, below is a breakdown of a the different things you will need to start filming your hunts and the prices for them.
• $0 if you use a phone you already have
• Around $200-300 for a used or refurbished camera
• $99.99 for the Baton Arm
• $39.99 for the mini head and $10 upgrade to include phone holder
Second Angle Camera
• $49-$149 for a used Second Angle Cam
• $59 for a Rode VideoMicro - Additional $10 to include cable for cell phone
Filming your hunts is becoming more popular for a reason. If budget is your barrier for getting into filming, it shouldn’t be any longer. You can start filming for as little as $150 if you use your phone. You won’t regret starting to film your hunts.