There’s nothing quite like a good highlight reel. As an athlete, I know how frustrating it is to feel great after an amazing performance and then realize that you don’t have any footage of your latest feat. Access to game-tape is important for an athlete to be able to analyze their game, and besides, it’s nice to show off for a second and show your friends the game-changing play or incredible trick you pulled off when nobody was watching. Or maybe you’re an aspiring sports videographer, and you need a good piece of equipment to bring your work to life.
Either way, we want you to be able to record all of the action, and we don’t want you to have to do it on an unstable smartphone camera that can’t handle that kind of constant movement. That’s why we’ve written this list of the best camcorders for sports – so you can find the perfect camcorder to get your highlight reel together and improve your game while also impressing your friends and catching the eyes of recruiting coaches.
Carry on reading to see our full list of the best camcorders for sports followed by a breakdown recapping what makes each camcorder standout, or jump straight to our number #1 pick here.
- What Should You Look For in a Camcorder for Sports?
- Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Camcorders for Sports
- #1: Canon Vixia HF R800 Portable Video Camera Camcorder (Best Value – All-Purpose)
- #2: Sony FDRAX53/B 4K HD Video Recording Camcorder (Best Camcorder)
- #3: GoPro Hero8 (Best For Extreme Sports and Self-Filming)
- #4: Actinow Camcorder (Best Low Cost)
- #5: Panasonic Lumix G85 4K Digital Camera (Best for Stills While Filming)
- Verdict: Your Best Camcorder for Sports
What Should You Look For in a Camcorder for Sports?
So what separates the good sports video cameras from the bad ones? Sometimes when we’re looking for a product, we don’t always know exactly what we’re looking for in the product. We’ve listed the important criteria to focus on in your camcorder for sports so you can understand how we compiled our list, and so you can know what to look for in the best camcorders for sports. By the time you’re down with our criteria, we hope that you feel ready to do your own research and find the best camcorder for you.
Criteria #1: Image Quality- Whether you’re filming baseball, football, basketball, boxing, or swimming, you obviously want your final product to look crisp and clear. That means you’ll need a video camera that delivers the best quality. We’re only looking for high-resolution video cameras and camcorders, so you can have nothing but the best video quality for all of your sports games. The main factors to look for to assess image quality in a sports camcorder are resolution and frames per second. The higher, the better for both.
Criteria #2: Stability – Obviously, there’s a lot of action to keep up with during a sports game. And a lot of action means your hand is going to move a lot while filming, both on purpose and by accident. Even if you have a tripod, all of that swiveling can cause some blur, if you don’t have a camcorder that’s designed to keep upwith a lot of movement. We want a camcorder with built-in image stabilization to follow the action without any blur. The main aspect to look for in your camcorder for sports to help with image stabilization is good autofocus that will let you keep up with moving targets.
Criteria #3: Design – Having a good design can really separate a good camcorder from a great one. We want the video cameras on this list to have a simple design that’s easy for you to hold and to be one that has an intuitive user interface as well. We’ll also look for all those extra features that can elevate your videography to a professional level. Especially if you’re filming longer sports games, you’ll need a camcorder with long battery life. We also want features like a good zoom and the ability to use different lenses. We want you to be able to use your video camera in the exact way that matches your artistic flair, so that you can be ready for any sport or any occasion and get the best shots and videos to create a SportsCenter-worthy highlight reel.
Criteria #4: Price – We’re not here to make you spend a ton of money for no reason. Meeting this criterion is less about being cheap and more about justifying your price. We’d rather buy an expensive product that’s cheaper than it should be than waste money on a cheaper product that isn’t worth the money and that will just break on you or not perform well.
Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Camcorders for Sports
We measured the specs of the top products on the market against our listed criteria to see how they held up and if they’re worth buying. We then checked customer reviews, blog posts, and “best camcorder for sports” articles to see if the products on our list performed as advertised.
And without further ado, here is our list – tailored to your specific needs – of the best camcorder for sports.
#1: Canon Vixia HF R800 Portable Video Camera Camcorder (Best Value – All-Purpose)
Whether you’re a hardcore camera junky or you’ve never taken a picture on anything other than your smartphone, you’ve almost certainly heard of Canon. That should make it no surprise that Canon earned the first spot on our list of the best sports video cameras with the Canon Vixia HF R800 Portable Video Camera Camcorder.
To start things off, this video camera comes with SuperRange Optical Image Stabilizer to make sure that even the slightest shakes are quickly corrected. You’ll be able to run down the sidelines to follow all the action and not have to worry about a shaky video. Next, this Canon camcorder has a high-resolution HD CMOS Image Sensor that gives you 3.28 megapixels. Not only will your video be stable – no matter what, you’ll have the absolute best video quality available. Finally, we have the Vixia HF R800’s claim to fame – its zoom. This amazing camcorder can zoom in up to 57 times its standard setting, with 32 times optical zoom and everything past that being digital zoom. That means you can be all the way in the back of the bleachers and still get a great view of all the action.
On top of all these amazing features, the Canon Vixia HF R800 Portable Video Camera Camcorder offers a solid battery life and has a sleek touch-screen LCD screen to help you navigate the settings. Plus, as a nice little bonus, this camcorder can be connected to your computer and double as your webcam so you can have the perfect quality you’re used to during your video calls. This all comes in at an amazing, competitive, price, and a slim and compact design. This Canon camcorder can easily fit into one hand.
Over 1000 customers reviewed this video camera on Amazon, and the consensus on Vixia is deafening. Customers praised its affordable price, amazing picture quality, powerful optical zoom and digital zoom, and compact and easy-to-set-up design. The only common complaints about this camcorder were that the battery life is “just” decent and that the battery itself is a little bulky. But in terms of performance, this camcorder exceeds the standard no matter what the occasion, and it’s surprisingly affordable. That’s why we’ve named the Canon Vixia HF R800 Portable Video Camera Camcorder as our number one camcorder for sports.
#2: Sony FDRAX53/B 4K HD Video Recording Camcorder (Best Camcorder)
The affordable price of our Canon camcorder is what set it over the edge and helped it earn our number one spot, but our number two video camera, the Sony FDRAX53/B 4K HD Video Recording Camcorder is overall probably the best camcorder for sports on our list. The catch is that it’s much more expensive. I’m talking more than double the price of the Canon Vixia. But if money is no object for you and you’re willing to spend top-dollar for a top-dollar product, you’ll definitely want to consider the Sony FDRAX53/B 4K HD Video Recording Camcorder. Here are some of the key selling points of this Sony HD camcorder that might earn your extra money.
Reason #1 to Choose This Product: The Best Image Around
There’s almost nothing to write about here, but sometimes less is better. And while our Canon offers you a very impressive 3.28 megapixels, the Sony FDRAX53/B 4K HD Video Recording Camcorder brings an incredible 16.6 megapixels that will give you the most dazzling HD video every single time. To put that number into perspective, the ratio of the Sony camcorder’s megapixels to that of the Canon video camera is bigger than the ratio of the prices of the two camcorders. If you’ll pay the big bucks to make sure that all of your sports footage looks like it’s on ESPN, this Sony HD camcorder is the best camcorder for you.
Reason #2 to Choose This Product: Built-in Zoom Microphone
It’s becoming more and more popular among sports broadcasting stations to mic up the coaches and the players. As a fan, nothing will make you feel more a part of the action than hearing exactly how the coaches come to their decisions and exactly how amped up the players are after that big play. If you want to bring your sports footage to the professional level and begin to implement this feature, the built-in zoom microphone on this Sony camcorder is exactly what you need. It works by automatically matching the zoom on the microphone to the zoom on the camera lens, so you can hear everything happening on the field just as well as you can see it.
In addition to the amazing video quality and the zoom microphone, this HD camcorder offers you fantastic 4-hour battery life, and there’s no limit on how long you can record as long as you have memory. That means you can capture an entire overtime football game all in one take if you desire.
The camera itself is nice and small, and reviewers loved so many different aspects of it I’ll have trouble listing it all. They touted its easy-to-use design, the amazing image quality, the built-in image stabilization, and the fact that you can manually adjust almost all of the settings. The only area where this camera falls short of the Canon camcorder is in its zoom, though the Sony camera still offers a very solid 20x optical zoom.
If the price is holding you back, or you really want that long-distance zoom, you should go with the Canon Vixia HF R800 Portable Video Camera Camcorder. But if you don’t need the zoom and you’re willing to pay for everything else, the Sony FDRAX53/B 4K HD Video Recording Camcorder might be the best camcorder out there – for sports or anything else.
#3: GoPro Hero8 (Best For Extreme Sports and Self-Filming)
Almost no company has cornered a market the way GoPro has cornered the action camera market. GoPro has become so thoroughly synonymous with action cameras that I bet you hadn’t even heard of the generic term until right now. If you’re an athlete who wants footage of your performance without hiring a videographer or bothering a friend to do you a favor, there’s no camera to help you film yourself like the GoPro Hero8. This action camera is as pocket-sized as it gets. You’ll have no problem bringing it on your weekend getaway ski trip, to the skate park, or anywhere else you’ll need it for your amazing extreme sports action shots.
On top of its sleek design, the GoPro Hero really does everything for you. This automatic strap-on camcorder boasts the Hypersmooth 2.0 image stabilization that has three settings – on, high, and boost. That means that, no matter how fast you’re zooming down the slopes, this camera for sports will give you crisp and clear footage so you can upload the perfect YouTube video or have good footage of that double black diamond run to showoff to your friends.
The GoPro also features Timewarp 2.0, GoPro’s signature timelapse feature that adjusts all of the settings automatically, adjusting speed based on motion, scene detection, and lighting. GoPro focuses on the technical details so you can focus on your sports. Finally, the leading action camera is wi-fi compatible, so you can live-stream on the go and have all of your footage straight online to give your viewers a more intimate experience.
The GoPro brand name basically speaks for itself at this point, but if you needed any more confirmation, the Amazon reviewers raved about the insane image stabilization of this action camera, as well as the beautiful 4k resolution. The Timewarp feature and other editing options allow you to easily fine-tune your footage to give you amazing action shots, slow-motion highlights, and breathtaking burst sequences and timelapse shots. If you want to be able to film yourself surfing, skiing, biking, or snowboarding and you want to be able to easily share the footage online, the GoPro Hero8 is one of the best cameras available for recording sports. As the cherry on top, it’s pretty reasonably priced.
#4: Actinow Camcorder (Best Low Cost)
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Even our more reasonable cameras on this list have been a little pricey so far, so we’re going to give you all a budget option, for those of you who don’t want to pay with an arm and a leg. Maybe you’re buying your first camera and don’t want to spend a ton on something that may not develop past a hobby, or maybe you don’t have the money to spend, or maybe you just don’t want to. No matter what the reason, it’s perfectly valid to not want to drop hundreds of dollars, and you shouldn’t feel like you have to spend the big bucks to keep up with the crowd. There are affordable, quality camcorders out there.
One such option is the Actinow Camcorder, which is amazingly cheap but still delivers a high-quality performance. This video camera has a slightly sub-par, but still solid, 1080p resolution and a very respectable 16x optical zoom. It also has a convenient remote control and an external microphone that helps enhance sound recording volume and reduces noise.
If you have a tripod, the remote makes for a very comfy experience filming that high school basketball game. This budget camera also has a pause feature so you can pause and continue recording without starting a new file. This is great for saving memory and keeping sports games in one file without filming an empty court, field, or mat in between periods.
The Actinow Camcorder also features solid battery life that lasts up to two hours and change, and if the price wasn’t enticing enough, this camera comes with three batteries, making the value of this buy even greater. Plus, the camera can film while charging. So, if you have a tripod and conveniently placed outlet, you won’t even have to worry about the battery at all. You’ll be able to go straight into double or even triple overtime without looking at the battery indicator.
There aren’t a whole lot of fancy features to write home about with this camera, but customers didn’t mind. Reviewers loved its cheap price and praised it for still delivering great video quality. You don’t always need to buy the most expensive HD camcorder on the market. This video camera is as cheap as they come, and with its tripod, solid battery, and good zoom, it’s still one of the best camcorders for sports games out there.
#5: Panasonic Lumix G85 4K Digital Camera (Best for Stills While Filming)
Sometimes you need still pictures to go with your film. Whether you plan on publishing your pictures or just want another way to remember the big game, there’s just something quick and simple about pictures that a video can’t always accomplish. If you want to quickly take pictures while you’re filming, you’ll need the mirrorless Panasonic Lumix G85 4K Digital Camera.
The Panasonic Lumix is splashproof and dustproof, and it has a nice, durable casing that will keep it safe from those accidental collisions with a stray running back. This camera is about as expensive as our Sony FDRAX53/B 4K HD Video Recording Camcorder, but it’s so durable it might just be the last camera you ever buy. It can even compete with the Sony camera in terms of quality, as it offers the same 16-megapixel images and offers 4k video recording at 30 fps.
This Panasonic is the only mirrorless camera on our list, so if you want to take a lot of stills while filming for the photo album, newspaper, or yearbook, you’ll need to splurge for this video camera. The mirrorless design lets you take pictures as quickly as possible, so you can just spam that capture button and always get the perfect shot. You don’t need to stop filming for a second. Plus, this camera five-axis, in-body, dual image stabilization to make sure your photos and videos are completely clear and free of any blur.
Along with the Sony video camera, the Panasonic Lumix G85 4K Digital Camera is one of the two luxury cameras on our list, but one look at the reviews may well have you convinced that this Panasonic camera merits its price. Reviewers were crazy about the picture quality and made it abundantly clear that the video is even better! They also loved the weather-resistant casing and mentioned that, even though it’s expensive, this camera is more than worth it. If you’re looking for a camera that can provide amazing still photos mid-game and that can take a bit of a beating from Mother Nature, look no further than the Panasonic Lumix G85 4K Digital Camera.
Verdict: Your Best Camcorder for Sports
I know from experience how exhausting choice paralysis can be. We’ve just shown you five amazing cameras and camcorders for sports and general use, so it might still be hard to make your decision. Don’t worry though – we’re here to help. We’ve provided a recap below that will highlight the incredible features that make all of your cameras so amazing, so you can focus on the trait that’s most important to you and buy the best camcorder for sports for you.
If you want the best value for money, pick the Canon Vixia HF R800 Portable Video Camera Camcorder.
It’s our number one pick. This camera really has something for everyone. It offers beautiful 3.6 megapixel-images, stunning video, and boasts Canon’s SuperRange Optical Image Stabilizer to give you the best shot even when you’re running down the sidelines trying to keep up with all the fast-paced sports action. Its shining feature though is the incredible zoom. This camera has an amazing 32x optical zoom and 57x digital zoom. So if you really want that zoom to help you get amazing footage from the other side of the field or court, or if you just want the best overall camcorder with a solid price tag, then this amazing Canon camera is your best choice.
If you need to record extreme sports, pick the GoPro Hero8.
What is there to say about GoPro that hasn’t already been said? These amazing strap-on cameras are an absolute necessity if you want to do your own filming and get that amazing POV angle during your extreme sports. With the three-tiered image stabilization, it’s timelapse setting, and all of its amazing editing capabilities, this action camera is the best way to board, surf, ski, or even skydive without losing a second of the action. It’s also wifi compatible and designed to help you share all of your footage, so you’ll be a YouTube star in no time with this camera.
If you want to keep the spending cheap, pick the Actinow Camcorder.
Sometimes you just need the cheapest option. Luckily for you, the Actinow Camcorder proves that you don’t always get what you pay for. Sometimes you get way more! WIth a solid 1080p, great zoom, and a strong battery (of which you’ll receive three) this camera is one of the best budget-buys out there. It can hang with plenty of the more expensive products. Don’t let anyone tell you that there’s a paywall around photography and video shooting.
If our three highlighted cameras aren’t what you’re looking for, you might be more interested in our luxury options. The Sony FDRAX53/B 4K HD Video Recording Camcorder (our pick as the best camcorder for sports) is perfect for anyone who wants to capture the sounds just as well as the sights, and the Panasonic Lumix G85 4K Digital Camera is the best durable option, if you want to add to your photo album and video collection at the same time.
Remember to think about your priorities while making your purchase. Even though there are pros and cons to every camera, if you boil it down to the one or two traits that you just won’t compromise on, you’ll find that the options are narrowed down, and the decision becomes much easier. We hope you’ve found the camera you’re looking for, and I’m looking forward to seeing your amazing sports footage on YouTube!