Hunting is a about much more than just killing game; it’s about the memories. I love having conversations with my old hunting buddies about a specific hunt we shared together. By sharing our memories, we are brought back to that magical feeling we experience on that special day. However, as we get old, our memories start to fade. Whether that’s due to the cumulative stresses we endure or just plain old age, we forget details of special memories if not the entire memory itself. One way to ensure we can refreshen our recollection of a special memory is to have it recorded.
What should we use to record our hunts? In today’s camera world there are many choices. There are not only different types of cameras on the market, but they may specialize in a feature that may be important to you such as:
- Filming in low light conditions
- Capturing hunts in the highest resolution possible
- High Frame Rate or Slow Motion capabilities
- High quality optical zoom
The list goes on and on. We did thorough research to bring you what we consider the best of the various different camera categories available. Enjoy!
The Top DSLR Cameras for Filming Hunts
DSLR cameras used to be only considered excellent still photography cameras, but the game has changed. Most of your serious videographers will use DSLRs due to their excellent sensors and their ability to use different lenses, which gives the hunters the ability to deliver professional looking videos. Let’s have a look at some of the best DSLR hunting cameras you can use!
The Best 4K DSLR Camera for Less Than $2,000
If you’re looking for arguably the best 4K DSLR camera for hunting, look no further than Panasonic’s Lumix GH5. This mirrorless interchangeable lens camera offers plenty of power and features for photographers of any type, but it’s especially well-suited for hunters. The body is made of a durable magnesium alloy, and the whole camera is built like a tank. It will withstand temperatures down to –10º F, and weather sealing at every joint, dial, button, and seam makes it dustproof and splashproof. It’s lightweight and compact, but still durable enough to withstand the harshest treatment a hunter can inflict upon it.
Features of the Panasonic Lumix GH5
The Lumix GH5 uses the Venus engine processor, with an advanced Digital Live MOS sensor for outstanding color detail and natural texture expression. It shoots 4K video at a maximum of 60fps, with 10-bit internal recording to capture all of the subtleties of graduated skies and sunsets without banding.
A 6K photo mode at 30 frames per second allows you to capture the perfect moment with a stunning 18MP resolution, and 4K photo mode freezes even faster motion.
With the Lumix GH5, you can benefit from an outstanding post-focus function, allowing you to shoot first and worry about focusing later. Just capture your scene, review the image, and touch the part of the photo you want pin-sharp. The camera engine does the rest, and you can even use focus stacking to blend multiple images from different focal distances to capture an amazing depth of field that isn’t possible with other DSLR cameras.
To get the images off your camera, you’ll enjoy dual SD card slots, as well as Bluetooth 4.2 and 5Ghz Wi-Fi connectivity to your computer or smartphone.
Specifications of the Panasonic Lumix GH5
- Image Sensor Type: Live MOS Sensor
- Image Sensor Size: 17.x x 13.0mm (in 4:3 aspect ratio)
- Effective Pixels: 20.33 megapixels
- Recording Media: SD, SDHC, SDXC
- Weight (Body, SD Card, and Battery Only): 1.6lbs.
Final Verdict on the Panasonic Lumix GH5
If you’re looking for the best of the best in DSLR cameras for hunters, this is it. The Lumix GH5 is light enough that it won’t weigh you down too much, but it offers the durability and features you need for stellar photography and videography in the bush.
For a Great 4K DSLR Camera Under $1,000
If you’re on a slightly tighter budget, FujiFilm’s X-T20 is an excellent choice for capturing your hunt. This is a more traditional-looking DSLR camera, but it’s packed with modern features. The X-Trans CMOS III APS-C sensor is renowned for outstanding image quality, cutting out moiré and false colors without the need for an optical low-pass filter. The sensor delivers noise reduction up to ISO 12800, and the response in burst-mode is quite good. The downfall with this camera is that it isn’t so forgiving of harsher weather conditions; it can handle the cold just fine, but it isn’t splash proof.
Features of the FujiFilm X-T20
This DSLR camera offers a 24.3MP sensor for capturing outstanding detail in your images. The burst mode allows you to ensure you capture just the right millisecond of that perfect shot, and the camera also supports 4K video recording. You can apply film simulation modes, like monochrome video or documentary-themed tones, right in-camera. The Fujifilm X-T20 also supports multiple exposures, for artistic effects.
When recording in 4K video mode, you’re limited to 29.97fps, unfortunately. On the other hand, if you’re willing to shoot your video in 1080p, you can record at up to 59.94fps. The X-T20 is lightweight, at under a pound for the battery, SD card, and body, and can withstand temperatures as low as 32º F. It isn’t as rugged as the Panasonic Lumix GH5, but it’s half the price.
Specifications of the FujiFilm X-T20
- Image Sensor Type: X-Trans CMOS III
- Image Sensor Size: 23.6 x 15.6mm (APS-C format)
- Effective Pixels: 24.3 megapixels
- Recording Media: SD, SDHC, SDXC
- Weight (Body, SD Card, and Battery Only): 13.5 ounces
Final Verdict on the FujiFilm X-T20
If you don’t plan on using the camera in below-freezing weather conditions and can live with 29.97fps 4K video recording, FujiFilm’s X-T20 is one of the best choices you can make. It offers almost unparalleled quality and features, it just isn’t as rugged and winter-friendly as more expensive options.
The Top Lowlight 4K DSLR
If your aim is to capture stellar low-light images, you want Sony’s a7s II in your camera bag. This camera is sensitive to ISO 409600, and captures very wide dynamic range stills and movies in even the dimmest lighting conditions. It also provides professional-level movie functions in-camera, such as S-Gamut3.CIne/S-Log3 and 120 FPS full HD recording support.
Features of the Sony a7S II
In addition to its amazing light sensitivity, the a7s is capable of recording high quality 4K movies, will a full pixel readout and no binning in full-frame format. The camera also ensures stable stills and movies, with five-axis optical image stabilization. When the times comes to focus your shot, you can utilize manual focus or the 169-point fast, intelligent autofocus mechanism. The autofocus ensures subject detection accuracy even in low-light conditions, with support for lighting as low as EV –4.
In addition to 120fps full HD recording, you can also capture slow motion movies of 4X or 5X, with the frame rate set to 30p or 24p.
Specifications of the Sony a7S II
- Image Sensor Type: 35mm full frame Exmor CMOS Sensor
- Image Sensor Size: 35.6 x 23.8 mm
- Effective Pixels: 12.2 megapixels
- Recording Media: Memory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo, Memory Stick Micro, SD, SDHC, SDXC, microSD, microSDHC, microSDXC
- Weight (Body and Battery Only): 22.12 ounces
Final Verdict on the Sony a7S II
This is an excellent camera for recording in low-light conditions, but it’s another example of more of a fair-weather friend. It isn’t designed to handle freezing temperatures, and isn’t splashproof. If you live in southern climates where freezing temperatures aren’t a problem, this will suit you just fine.
Best Camcorders for Filming Hunts
While a DSLR is a dual purpose device that knocks out still images as well as videos, the camcorder focuses solely on capturing amazing videos. Yes they can snatch great still images, but the ergonomical design of a camcorder makes recording high quality video extremely easy. Let’s take a look at some of the best hunting camcorders on the market today.
The Best 4K Camcorders for Under $3,000
If you’re in need of a professional-grade camcorder with an outstanding combination of 4K UHD image quality, features, and functionality in a portable design, take a gander at the Canon XF400 4K UHD Camcorder. It provides just about everything you can ask for in the field, including an LCD monitor and electronic viewfinder along with XLR inputs for connecting a pair of microphones.
Features of the Canon XF400 4K UHD
The XF400 is capable of recording 4K UHD video at a smooth 60p, and can also capture slow motion recording at up to 120fps in full HD. It offers a 15X optical zoom lens for getting up close and personal, and provides an HDMI 2.0 terminal with 4K UHD output support. There are also two XLR terminals with independent audio level control. Rounding it off, you get a 3.5-inch touch panel LCD monitor along with a built-in 0.24-inch electronic viewfinder, and a detachable handle.
Specifications of the Canon XF400 4K UHD
- Image Sensor Type: 1.0-inch Canon 4K UHD CMOS
- Effective Pixels: 8.29 megapixels
- Recording Media: SD, SDHC, SDXC
- Weight (Body Only): 2.5 pounds
For a compact solution that’s still feature-packed, check out the Panasonic HC-X1000. It’s one of the most compact camcorders I’ve seen with its feature set, and is definitely worth a second (or third, or fourth) look.
Features of the Panasonic HC-X1000
This camcorder provides you the flexibility to shoot in 4K Ultra HD with either 24p Cinema or 60p video quality. You can even record night scenes confidently, with a 0 lux night mode that’s terrific for observing wildlife in the dark using infrared rays and IR-LED lighting. Neutral Denisty filters are built into the 20X optical zoom Leica lens, allowing you a distinct advantage when you’re shooting with slow shutter speeds in bright daylight. Dual XLR inputs allow you to connect external mics, or you can use the built-in stereo microphone.
Specifications of the Panasonic HC-X1000
- Image Sensor Type: 1/2.3-inch MOS Sensor
- Effective Pixels: 8.85 megapixels
- Recording Media: SDHC, SDXC
- Weight (Body Only): 3.42 pounds
For a consumer-grade camcorder where size is of the essence, you should check out the Canon Vixia GX10. This offers plenty of features and functionality, but in a very compact and portable design.
Features of the Canon Vixia GX10
The Vixia is able to record 4K UHD video in MP4 format to dual SD card slots, at 60p. It offers a 15X optical zoom lens, and dual-pixel CMOS autofocus to give you quick, accurate clarity in your footage. There’s a 3.5mm stereo mini-jack for connecting an external mic, but no XLR terminal.
Specifications of the Canon Vixia GX10
- Image Sensor Type: 1-inch CMOS
- Effective Pixels: 8.29 megapixels
- Recording Media: SD, SDHC, SDXC (two slots)
- Weight (Body Only): 2.5 pounds
Final Verdict on The Best 4K Camcorders for Under $3,000
I have to say, I’m more impressed with the Panasonic HC-X1000. While the Canon XF400 and Vixia are good to –5º Celsius at 60 percent relative humidity), compared to the stated operating temperature of 0º to 40º Celsius for the Panasonic, the feature set of Panasonic’s offering is much better (and five degrees doesn’t really make much of a difference). None of these will be terrific in extremely cold temperatures, but that can always be offset with custom-sewn jackets and covers.
Best Hunting Camcorder for Less Than $2,000
For a lesser budget but equivalent needs, you can give the Sony FDR-AX700 a spin. While it lacks some of the bells and whistles of more expensive camcorders, it still offers some great features including 4K UHD recording and optical zoom. You won’t find an XLR input at this price point, but the camcorder does have a stereo minijack for plugging in a compatible microphone.
Features of the Sony FDR-AX700
The FDR-AX700 offers a fast hybrid autofocus system using the BIONIZ X Imaging engine to efficiently process data to snap focus even onto fast-moving subjects. Capture footage with 4K High Dynamic Range technology, giving you a dramatically wider color and brightness range even when compared with more expensive competitors. To get up close and personal, the integrated Zeiss lens offers 12X optical zoom. The camcorder provides you with a 3.5-type LCD touch screen display, but no electronic viewfinder.
Specifications of the Sony FDR-AX700
- Image Sensor Type: 1.0-type stacked Exmor RS CMOS
- Effective Pixels: 14.2 megapixels
- Recording Media: Memory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo, Memory Stick XC-HG Duo, SD, SDHC, SDXC
- Weight (Body and Battery Only): 2 pounds, 1 ounce
Final Verdict on the Sony FDR-AX700
This is an excellent choice for either a limited budget or a desire to keep your kit size small. Sony doesn’t specify the operating temperature for this model, but I wouldn’t recommend it for outdoors shooting in below-freezing conditions. However, in milder climates, it’s an excellent beginner’s choice for recording your hunting adventures.
The Best 4K Hunting Camcorder for Under a Grand
So, you want to get started recording your hunts, but don’t want to spend more than a grand in the process. The Panasonic HC-WXF991K will get you going, offering a terrific consumer recording experience that almost rivals what the pros can pull off.
Features of the Panasonic HC-WXF991K
The HC-WXF991K shoots in 4K Ultra HD, and offers in-camera editing for 1080p displays. It even supports recording HDR (High Dynamic Range) movies, utilizing a secondary camera sensor to simultaneously record two movies and different exposures, then combine them to eliminate blown highlights and blocked shadows. A large three-inch LCD monitor is supplemented by an electronic viewfinder to emulate a semiprofessional recording experience. This camcorder uses a Leica 20X optical zoom lens, and offers a five-axis hybrid optical image stabilization system.
Specifications of the Panasonic HC-WXF991K
- Image Sensor Type: 1/2.3-inch BSI MOS Sensor (main), 1/4-inch MOS (sub)
- Effective Pixels: 8.29 megapixels (main), 5.27 megapixels (sub)
- Recording Media: SD, SDHC, SDXC
- Weight (Body and Battery Only): 0.888 pound
Final Verdict on the Panasonic HC-WXF991K
If you’re just getting started in video recording your hunts, this is a good choice. It’s not going to fare very well in northern winter climates, but it should perform adequately just about anywhere else. Heck, if you want to use it in the cold, just leave it outside for an hour or two to eliminate condensation and carry an extra battery.
The Best 4K Bridge Camera for Filming Hunts
This is probably my favorite type of photography equipment to carry, simply because of its versatility. A bridge camera fills the role of both camcorder and outstanding camera, and few can rival the Sony RX10 M4 in such a dual role.
Features of the Sony RX10 M4
The RX10 IV is a solid, smart all-in-one compact with innovations that make even the pros marvel. It offers a 25X optical zoom range, very precise, powerful image processing, and perhaps the fastest autofocus system of its kind. What’s more, with continuous shooting up to 24fps, you won’t miss that perfect shot even with the fastest action.
Now, let’s talk about movies. The RX10 IV allows you to capture 4K Ultra HD footage with full pixel readout and absolutely no pixel binning. That’s a full 20.1 effective megapixels of 4K Ultra HD beauty, at your fingertips.
For slow motion shooting, you can easily capture amazing footage with an anti-distortion shutter that operates at up to 1/32000 second. Think up to 40X slower than natural motion, all the way out to 20X zoom range. The High Frame Rate settings are 240 FPS, 480 FPS, and 960 FPS. At 480 FPS, you can watch the fletchings spin as your arrow penetrates that trophy buck!
Specifications of the Sony RX10 M4
- Image Sensor Type: 1.0-type Exmor RS CMOS Sensor (3:2 aspect ratio)
- Image Sensor Size: 13.21 x 8.89 mm
- Effective Pixels: 20.1 megapixels
- Recording Media: Memory Stick Duo, Memory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PRO Duo (High Speed), Memory Stick PRO-HD Duo, Memory Stick Micro, Memory Stick Micro (Mark2), SD, SDHC, SDXC, microSD, microSDHC, microSDXC
- Weight (Body and Battery Only): 2 pounds 5.1 ounces
Final Verdict on the Sony RX10 M4
If you want one camera that can do just about everything you can imagine, you want a bridge camera. And if you want a high quality bridge camera, you’re looking for Sony’s RX10 IV. If offers versatility, performance, and a small form factor. The only drawback is that it doesn’t fare quite as well in below-freezing temperatures.
Here is some slow motion footage we took of an arrow being shot at 960 FPS.
The Best Mini Video Hunting Camera
So you want a video camera you can wear to capture your hunts with minimal effort and setup? The GoPro Hero6 may be the right camera for you.
Features of the GoPro Hero6
The GoPro Hero6 is a small powerhouse that can deliver high quality videos with the press of one button. Although it lacks features like powerful zooming and top of the line audio, the GoPro Hero6 does capture 4K video at a very respectable 60 FPS. Once you’re done filming your hunt, you can send the hunting video straight to you smart phone. Its size allows it to be mounted to your bow, your arm, your hat, your dog, and even your gun. The GoPro Hero6’s versatility makes it a powerful addition to you filming arsenal.
Specifications of the GoPro Hero6
- 4K at 60 FPS
- 1080P at 240 FPS
- Waterproof down to 33 ft.
- Voice command ready
- Touch zoom
- Smartphone compatible
Final Verdict on the GoPro Hero6
This little hunting camera is worth having in your arsenal. It makes self filming effortless and provides an excellent “camera 2” in a multi-camera setup. If the GoPro Hero6 is too expensive, there are other models in the GoPro lineup that could fit the role. Here is some footage we took with our GoPro Hero last year.
Conclusion on the Best Video Camera for Hunting
Ultimately, your situation will dictate which video camera will be best for your hunting needs. Going at it solo? Maybe a simple GoPro with a hat mount will do the job. Do you have a buddy who wants to help you capture high quality 4K video on a sensor that will deliver great colors even during low light condition? Maybe the Sony a7S II is the choice for you. Want to record stunning slow motion while having the ability to capture 4K video through a 600 MM lens? Then try out the all around powerhouse of the Sony RX10 iv. Love the feel and user friendliness of a high quality camcorder? Get yourself the Canon XF400 4K UHD.
Whichever route you choose in your quest to capture you hunts for memories that will last a lifetime, we hope we helped to make your choice an easier one. Good luck in the field! If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below.