5 Best Video Camera for Hunting Filming (2019 Reviews)
Today I’ll share with you 5 best video camera for hunting filming with detailed reviews. If you’re wondering “what specs should my camera have for filming hunts?”, then the second part will tell you.
The best part? I compare DSLR and camcorder for hunting in the last section which helps you have better reference if you’re in the middle. Let dive into it:
Best Camcorder for Hunting:
Best Video Camera For Hunting Filming Reviews:
1. Canon XA11 Professional Camcorder
Full HD 1080p
Dimension (W x H x D)
4.3 x 3.3 x 7.2"
High optical zoom
What makes this camcorder pretty useful for filming hunts is the 20x optical zoom as this enables it to get clear shots in wooded or open areas. The zoom has several speeds: fast, normal, slow, variable and constant.
Low Lux (1.2)
Low-light filming is something that this product is exceptionally good at. It has a 1.2 lux which captures very clear shots when filming in dark conditions. An infrared emitter is also there to assist, especially when shooting at night.
Records in two formats
Its resolution is 1920x1080 which falls into the HD category. This isn’t much compared to some other cameras in this list, but it can be considered ok.
Regarding formats, XA11 records MP4 and AVCHD simultaneously - one is good for HD reproduction while the other gives you a web version of the video. This is very useful as it gives you more post-capture options. There are dual memory card slots for storing your footage.
XLR input for microphone
The camera has an integrated microphone, and on the handle, there are two XLR/Mic inputs for connecting higher quality sound capturing devices. Not so many camcorders have XLR input.
A headphone jack is available is built into it, too. The volume controls can also be found on the same handle which, by the way, can be detached for easier storage.
Medium Battery Life (2.5 h)
XA11 is powered by a lithium-ion battery, and the display will show you exact (to the minute) remaining time before it shuts down. The battery can last somewhere around 2 and a half hours, which is a solid score.
Auto / Manual Focus
Autofocus and manual focus are both included, as well as the ability to adjust white balance, gain, shutter speed, etc. You can remotely control the camcorder through the LANC terminal, and it works very well.
Not big nor small size
Regarding size, this camera for filming hunts isn’t exactly big or small; it’s somewhere in between. The dimensions are 4.3 x 3.3 x 7.2 inches, and its weight is around 1.6 pounds. All in all, it could be lighter, but it is still relatively easy to maneuver and carry. As mentioned before, the handle can be removed for more compact and convenient storage.
- Suitable for low light conditions (1.2 lux)
- High optical zoom
- Has a LANC terminal
- Dual Card Slots
- Records in MP4 and AVCHD simultaneously
- XLR microphone inputs
- No WiFi support; can only be controlled remotely with NFC and LANC
2. Sony FDR-AX100/B 4K Video Camera with 3.5-Inch LCD (Black)
The FDR-AX100 is able to capture 4K videos at the frame rate of 30p, which is pretty decent. Many other cameras can do this too, so why is this one so interesting and in our list of top hunting video cameras? The reason is that very few ultra HD cameras come at size this small, and this is a significant benefit for hunters.
Dimension (W x H x D)
3.25 x 3.375 x 7.75"
Medium Optical Zoom
When it comes to filming long distance hunts, the 12x optical zoom will probably be more than enough for those who hunt in the woods. The relatively large screen size of 3.5 inches lets you see what you’re shooting very clearly.
Microphone cancels out your voice.
A microphone jack allows you to connect a shotgun microphone to the camera and capture high-quality audio. Along with this, there is a built-in 5.1 channel surround microphone with manual settings which enable you to cancel out the voice of the operator, lower wind noise on a treestand, and focus on the elk or deer sounds only.
Multi Interface Shoe on top
Other connectivity features include a USB port, a headphone jack, and a multi-functional shoe which can hold accessories such as flashlights viewfinders, auto-lock accessories, and even advanced gears.
Several charging options
The camera can be charged through a standard DC charger or a USB cable. The latter can be connected to a solar power charger which is ideal for long hunting days where you don’t have many charging options.
AX100/B includes a WiFi remote control option that enables the user to connect their phone or tablet with the camera through NFC. You’ll also need Sony’s PlayMemories app which is available for Android and iOS.
You can also control it through a small infrared controller that comes with the camera, so you don’t need to spend extra money on external remote control devices.
Night or low-light filming is not the strong point of this device, especially when capturing 4K as the lux rating is 6. In this case, you would be better off filming in HD as lux drops down to only 3, which is still not great but will capture solid footage.
In addition, this remote hunting camera is not good for filming fast moving objects at close range such as running deer.
The camera’s small size is a plus, and it amounts to 3.25 x 3.35 x 7.72 inches. Its weight is 1.11 lbs, but at its size, one would expect it to be even lighter.
- Big screen size (3.5”)
- Microphone cancels out your voice
- Various charging options ( DC input, battery charger, USB)
- WiFi and infrared remote control
- Headphone jack
- Multi-interface shoe
- Not good at shooting fast objects at close range
- High lux rating (6) at 4K
- Moderate weight
- Only one external card slot
3. Panasonic HC-X1000 4K Ultra HD 60p/50p Professional Camcorder, 20x Optical Zoom
Dimension (W x H x D)
6.3 x 6.69 x 12.4"
As you may have guessed, this camcorder captures both 4K and full-HD images with 60p/50p frame rates.
It has an optical zoom of 20x which is a minimum requirement for long-range video recording, and it is controlled by triple lens rings for smooth operation. The latter allows you to shoot at high zoom rates while keeping the high image resolution.
Records extremely great in low light
A huge benefit of the HC-X1000 is the 0 LUX mode which is much better than that of most other video cameras (3-4 lux on average). Elk and deer hunters will absolutely need good low light filming capabilities as these animals are most active at dawn or dusk.
Later in this guide, I'll tell you how to choose a good hunting video camera after this review section. So keep reading:
Two remote control options
The remote control can be done in two ways.
- First, there is the wifi option which works through NFC connection. All you need to do is download the Panasonic Image app, sync the camera with your phone or tablet, and you are ready to film from a distance.
- Second, the camcorder also has a LANC terminal which lets you control the cam from the fluid head handle.
Support shotgun and wireless mic
The camcorder includes 2-channel input terminals to which a high-end, shotgun microphone can be attached, which is necessary for capturing good audio on a stand in windy days. Besides this, you can also connect a wireless microphone to it.
Headphone Jack Available
To make sure that the sound-recording goes smoothly, the device features a headphone jack.
Dual Card Slots
The recordings are saved on SD memory cards, and there are dual card slots so you can put in two at the same time. This will provide you with a lot of memory so you can record freely without worrying about running out of storage space.
The HC-X1000 has both autofocus and manual focus with the latter being more important for hunters. The independent focus ring is easy to reach and operate, so there aren’t any issues with this characteristic.
Size is a potential problem with this product as its dimensions are 6.3 x 6.69 x 12.4 inches. On top of this, the camera weighs 3.42 lbs which are pretty heavy considering that you have to carry it around.
Besides this, it is also very expensive so it’s suitable only for those with a deep pocket. Any way, it's worthy in the list of best video camera for deer hunting.
- Good for low-light filming
- Has a LANC terminal
- High optical zoom
- 4K resolution
- Headphone and mic inputs
- Dual card slots
- Big and heavy
4. Canon VIXIA HF G20 HD Camcorder with HD CMOS Pro and 32GB Internal Flash Memory
This camera’s resolution is 1920x1080, so yes, this is another HD camera. Again, this might sound disappointing knowing that there are camcorders with 4K available, but the G20s sensor is finely tuned specifically for HD filming, and it captures excellent footage.
Full HD 1080p
Dimension (W x H x D)
3 x 3.1 x 6.3"
Large Internal Memory
The footage is stored on either the 32GB internal memory or external cards for which there are two slots. If you prefer the latter, make sure to buy cards that are class 4 or above as the camera tends to work best with those.
Solid zoom for filming hunts
As far as optical zoom goes, this camera is not revolutionary (10x), but this should be enough to film a hunt. Same as other Canon models, this one has customizable zoom speeds too, which is indeed a plus.
Those concerned about audio quality will be pleased to find out that the camera has an external microphone terminal as well as manual audio level control for optimized sound. As you could have guessed, there is a headphone jack too.
Battery Life (above 2 hours)
When it comes to recording time, this camera can continuously film for around 2 hours before it runs out of battery. However, when filming in shorter bursts, the battery will last up to 12 hours, which is very good.
For people who are interested in filming from a distance, a LANC remote control terminal is built into this device.
Superb Low Light Performance
Filming in minimal illumination conditions will not be a problem with G20 as this camera has a lux rate of 1.2. Another point that improves its low-light filming capability is the HD CMOS Pro Image Sensor which is highly sensitive and about 20% better than its predecessor, G10.
Speaking about size, this camcorder’s dimensions amount to 3.0 x 3.1 x 6.3 inches which makes it one of the smaller products in this roundup. It is also very light with the weight of 1.3 lbs.
The trouble with this device is that it can only be used in wooded areas as it has a pretty low zoom (10x). Also, there is no WiFi connectivity which eliminates the possibility for smartphone control and live streaming. However, you could connect it to another video capturing device and then stream, but with some delay.
- Manual focus easy to operate (even with gloves on)
- Good at low light filming (1.2 lux)
- Battery lasts for a long time
- Solid optical zoom
- LANC terminal
- Headphone and microphone inputs
- Large internal memory plus dual card slots
- No WiFi connectivity
5. Sony Handycam HDR-CX440 8GB
Full HD 1080p
Dimension (W x H x D)
2.25 x 2.375 x 5.125"
Resolution-wise, the HDR-CX440 packs 1920x1080 with a frame rate of 60p. The video is recorded in MP4 and AVCHD formats, so you can play it on the big screen or upload it to a website.
It even gives you an option of live streaming through Ustream which is something that only a few camcorders have.
Super Compact and Lightweight
Size and weight are the biggest benefits of this camera as it is small and light. Its dimensions are 2.25 × 2.35 × 5.12 inches, so it is the most compact device of this roundup. With the weight of only 7.6 ounces, it is very easy to carry and handle.
Highest optical zoom
Now, the top feature of this camera is its optical zoom which is 30x. To help capture more quality footage, there is the SteadyShot Image Stabilization technology which can be very useful when recording in full zoom.
Short Battery Life
The battery can last for around two hours when recording continuously and a bit longer if filming shorter segments. It takes about 60 to 90 minutes to recharge, and that can be done through a USB cable.
Manual focus is available, but it isn’t very precise at times which might cause a bit of frustration for some. Also, focusing at close range is not exactly great.
Remote Control with Wifi/ NFC
The remote control is available through WiFi and NFC so you can connect the camera with your phone or tablet. As with the previous Sony model, you will have to install the PlayMemories app to use this feature.
A major downside of HDR-CX440 is its lack of external microphone input so you cannot connect any higher quality mics to it. To make things worse, a headphone input is also missing so those who need to check the audio before shooting will probably not like this product.
Another weak point of this device is its poor low light filming capability with a lux rate of 6. This means that it will not capture clear footage at night or in dark environments.
There is not LANC terminal so the camera can be remotely controlled only with WiFi and NFC.
No separated remote controller.
- Very high optical zoom (30x)
- Lightweight (7.6 oz)
- USB charging
- You can live stream
- Records in both MP4 and AVCHD simultaneously
- No external microphone input
- No headphones input
- Not good for low light filming (6 lux)
How To Choose The Best Camera to Film Your Own Hunts:
In this section, you're going to find out specs of a best camcorder for filming hunts. So check it out:
The first thing that you need to consider is how much money are you willing to spend on a hunting camera. The prices of these products vary from several hundred to several thousand dollars, so make sure to determine your budget before you start browsing.
In my opinion, you should get the right stuff (even with a little bit higher budget), and they can save you in a couple of years without worrying upgrading soon.
2. Low Light Capability
Many game animals tend to be most active either at dawn or sunset, so if you don’t want shots that are too dark, you’ll need a camera that’s able to record in low light conditions. This ability is determined by the size of the sensor, and bigger ones will capture better footage in dark environments.
You can check this characteristic by looking at the minimum illumination number found on the camera’s specifications sheet. The term ‘lux’ is used to describe the latter feature and the lower its value (4 or less), the better the camera is at low light filming. Some manufacturers will label this feature as “low light mode,” so don’t be confused if you encounter this term.
When it comes to the recording media, most cameras have either internal hard drives, internal solid-state drives, removable memory cards, or a mix of these features. My advice to you would be to steer away from internal hard disks and go for a camera which has a solid state drive or removable card slots.
Also, make sure to buy fast memory cards from reputable companies such as Kingston, Sandisk, Lexar, and so on.
Even though many of today’s cameras have very good built-in microphones, it would be wise to add a shotgun microphone as it can capture much higher-quality audio and reduce wind noise, especially if you’re shooting from a treestand.
With that being said, check whether the camera you want to buy has an accessory shoe that will allow for the mounting of such microphone.
If it doesn’t, don’t worry; there are some brackets to be found online that will enable you to do this.
5. Remote Control
Remote control allows you to zoom in/out, or start/stop filming from a fluid head handle. It is a very practical feature and is especially useful for those who like to self-film their hunts. To see whether a camera can do this, see whether it has a LANC output or WiFI/NFC connectivity. If yes, you’ll be able to control the device from a remote controller.
However, some newer cameras, such as Sony’s models made after 2015 do not include LANC, so you will have to settle for other remote control options.
6. Headphone jack
Not having this characteristic is definitely not a deal breaker, but cameras with a headphone jack will undoubtedly be of interest to self-filmers. Headphones enable the user to adjust the audio input to the environment and monitor the recording to get the best possible sound right there, on the spot without having to wait to get home and edit the footage.
7. Size and Weight
This may seem like common sense, but I’d like to point it out anyway - look for a small and light camera. Hunters already know how much heavy equipment they have to drag around, and one certainly wouldn’t want to add more weight to that. Try to find a camera that is compact, easy to pack, and carry.
The optical zoom is where the money is; don’t look at anything else. I go by the rule - the higher the zoom, the better, but this also depends on how you like to hunt.
- Bowhunters will probably not need an optical zoom greater than 10x, especially if hunting in the woods.
- Rifle hunters in open areas and great distances should look for 20x or more.
This is a crucial characteristic which might determine if you’ll get the shot nor no, so pay close attention to it when buying the camera.
Different cameras have different battery lives, and these go from an hour to more than ten. Now, it’s good to always bring a spare battery with you just in case something goes wrong. This is crucial if hunting in freezing temperatures as the batteries do not like this and will likely last for a shorter time.
If you find yourself in cold temperatures, keep the spare battery in your pocket, or wear a heated vest to keep it warm.
As far as resolution goes, today’s cameras offer SD, HD, Full HD, Quad HD, and 4K/2K. I’d recommend going for at least Full HD as anything below that will give you significantly lower quality footage.
DSLR vs. Camcorder for Hunting:
DSLRs and camcorders have different features, and they both have their pros and cons when it comes to recording hunts. Now, the big question is, which one is best camera for self filming hunts? Please read the following paragraphs and find out.
Excellent for B-roll and pictures
Need huge and expensive lense
Need small sensor only and lense not huge
Usually under 10x
One of the benefits of DSLRs is that they are good for doing B-rolls, in case you need that option.
When speaking of user-friendliness, especially in case of self-filming, this is where camcorder comes out as a winner. DSLRs are more complicated to use and you will need to acquire some skills in order to capture quality footage. Keep in mind that the DSLR is optimized for taking photos, while camcorders are used solely for capturing video.
Camcorders operate more silently than DSLRs because the latter usually have lenses which create some noise while zooming and focusing. This is something that you want to avoid when hunting as any sudden noise could spook the deer or elk.
If you want to capture a decent hunting video with a DSLR, you will have to move around a lot as these devices do not offer good remote control. A camcorder with LANC input is easy to find and operate so you can film everything you need from the fluid head handle.
Manual focus is recommended for best results and the clearest shots, and it’s good news that both DSLRs and camcorders have this feature. DSLRs also have autofocus, but they are usually not so good, and the footage may come out blurry.
Camcorders easily win this category as they are designed for capturing video and are commonly capable of filming until their batteries run out. This is not the case with DSLR as their batteries often last half as long as those of camcorders since recording videos is not their main purpose.
For a DSLR camera to be able to provide quality long-range zoom, it will need to have a large, expensive lens which is often bought separately. Camcorders do not have this problem as their built-in zoom capabilities are usually outstanding.
As I’ve already mentioned, optical the higher the optical zoom, the better. Most DSLR cameras optical zoom is x10 or less, while that of camcorders is well above x10. Again, how much optical zoom you need depends on the type of hunting you do.
Camcorders are more compact and lighter than DSLR cameras, which gives them a significant advantage when it comes to handling as well as packing.
Last but not least, ergonomics are an essential characteristic that is sometimes neglected. All in all, since camcorders are built explicitly for shooting video, their shape is optimized for this purpose, and they sit in one’s hand much better than a DSLR camera.
The latter is primarily made for photography, so it needs to be held with both hands which are sometimes a disadvantage.
In my opinion, a camcorder is better choice for self filming hunts.
The Bottom Line:
If you're still wondering what is the best video camera for hunting filming, then my answer is Sony FDR-AX100/B due to its combination of reasonable price and high quality. It is an excellent choice for any hunter who wishes to start self-filming as it is simple to use and has the ability to record clear footage.
Its big screen is easy to navigate, the remote control will give you the freedom to move, and it has several charging options.
I’ve given you the reasons why I chose this product as the winner, and now I’d like to ask for your opinion. Do you agree with me or not?
Please leave some feedback in the comments section below, and I will be more than happy to answer.