What is the best camera for filming hunts? Well that’s a loaded question. There’s plenty of rigs out there that will get the job done, but much like a mechanic’s toolbox, most cameras have a specific purpose and excel in one way or another.
Most of the time I try to treat my camera equipment with care – but that’s not always the case when you find yourself a few thousand feet up a mountain in pursuit of a critter smack dab in the middle of a nasty ass storm – the winds howl and the precipitation falls – but the show must go on. That’s probably the reason we rattle through multiple cameras per season – we just plain beat them up. We’ve taken Arri Amira’s to the peaks of the Yukon and we’ve drowned Red Camera’s in raging rivers – everytime we ask ourselves “was it worth it”? The answer is undoubtedly yes, but it’s also expensive! The following rig is not cheap – but in my opinion it’s worth every penny. It’s adaptable as hell and it goes in and out of a pack in a flash – so hopefully I can keep her running – time will tell.
1. What to Look For:
What I look for is a camera that offers compromise – quality, adaptability, accessories and size are all factors to consider. The same goes for various other equipment – lenses, audio, lights, tree arms and the list goes on.
2. The Brains:
Currently I’m running a Canon EOS R5 Mirrorless Digital Camera. If you’re after resolution, speed and video capabilities, the R5 is setting a new standard for all those features in a versatile full-frame mirrorless camera. The R5 offers 8K raw video recording and a 5-axis sensor-shift image stabilization – which is a huge bonus when we hit the rough stuff. Speaking of rough stuff, don’t forget to add a solid cage like this lightweight aluminum one from SmallRig. You can deck it out with handles, rails, lens supports and everything else you need to mount to all while protecting your main camera body. The R5 sports a nice rotating touchscreen LCD, which is great, but I highly recommend adding an external monitor like this SmallHD 502. Use this Manfrotto244 Friction arm to attach it to your cheeseplate.
3. The Eyes:
Much like a rifle scope, your camera is only as good as then lens you put on it. I run multiple lenses for different purposes, but my go to lens so far with this rig is the Canon RF 15-35mm f/2.8. It’s not a lens that’s going to reach out and touch something – but it’s an awesome all around lens for everything else. Need to vlog? Check. Need to get some beauty shots? Check. Need to grab some cuts? Check. It’s got the ability to go low – keeping it bright – without sacrificing quality and it gives you a ton of control over depth of field. Auto focus is spot on and probably the best I’ve used yet. Oh, and do you need to take badass stills? Check and double check. Don’t forget to run some quality filters like these.
4. The Ears:
Let’s face it – audio in the field is a nightmare no matter what. About the best possible solution is to run lav mics like these and a shotgun mic simultaneously – enter the Rode VideoMic NTG Hybrid. This tiny little thing is a beast. It’s perfect for run-and-gun in the field but it also works for voiceover and podcasting – as a matter of fact it doesn’t just work – it excels. It’s aerospace-grade aluminum housing is strong and protective but it’s also incredibly lightweight. And thank the Almighty Rode has finally come up with a mic mounting system that doesn’t click, shake and pop with every movement – so kudos to them.
5. The Rest:
All of the rest is up for debate. There’s plenty of different sticks and fluid heads out there in all various shapes and sizes and we have too many of them to list. They’re all fit for a specific purpose. If we need to shave weight we go super lightweight in the mountains – if we’re in the midwest we don’t mind the bulk – it gives all of us matching bruises on our shoulders. Lighting is too specific to dive into and there’s plenty of affordable on camera lights that adjust temperature and brightness just fine.
At the end of it all, filming your own hunts can be pricey if you’re after quality and flexibility. It all boils down to how much you’re willing to spend to capture what could be the memory of a lifetime – to me it’s worth it, but it’s also what I do for a living. If you’re not up for dropping money in the thousands just go ahead and get yourself a GoPro and rock it out!