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Richard Playfair

Richard Playfair

Video Producer - Sweatlife Films

How to film fitness video with your phone

Chosing the best camera to film your workouts videos can be overwhelming and no one wants to invest in the wrong equipment.

If you’re looking to buy your first camera or upgrade from a webcam your shortlist by category includes: 

  • Action cameras like GoPros
  • DSLR or mirroless cameras
  • Dedicated video camera 

Before we go any futher you should know that the perfect camera doesnt exist, so I can’t tell you which one to buy. However I can make some suggestions based upon features that will narrow your choice and hopefully make it easier for you to choose.

There are 3 important features to get right if you’re looking for the best camera for your fitness videos, so lets cover those first.

 

Camera recording resolution and output resolution

 

Most cameras nowadays will record in Full HD (1920×1080) and more can even record in 4K!

As a minimum requirement pay attention to only cameras that record in full HD and also output in full HD (via HDMI) if you’re planning to use one for streaming your fitness workouts.

I wouldn’t recommend filming or streaming in 4K, but lets dicuss that another day. But buying a camera with 4K capability will certainly increase it’s life span.

So check that the camera films in Full HD and out puts in Full HD by HDMI is you’re planning to use it as a streaming device aswell.

 

Clean HDMI
 

If you’re planning to stream workouts then you want a camera that has a clean HDMI out via HDMI.

This means there’s no on screen camera information (like settings timecode, ISO, shtter speed, picture profiles) sent from the camera via HDMI cable to your computer or streaming device.

A clean HDMI output will only show the video that you’re recording.

For a list of cameras that provide clean HDMI out follow this link to the Elgato Website

Record duration

If you’re planning to but a camera to only pre-record your workouts, be aware that some cameras won’t record to their memory cards indefinately and stop recording after 30 minutes. This is a common issue with consumer DSLR and mirrorless cameras in Europe. Witout going into detail, it’s to do with tax banding of products. Dedicated video cameras are subject to higher tax from manufacturers, so by limiting the record duration they avoid higher taxes. Cameras bought in America and Autralia often dont have this restriction.

Of course if you’re only filming workouts that a less than 30 minutes you have a wider selection of models to choose from.

Be aware however that some cameras also have a limited run time for streaming as well. So they’ll actually shut off after a certain amount of time. Once again check the Elgato Website for more information on models you decide to shortlist.

Lastly, record duration can be limited by battery life too so make sure that the camera you choose has a decent battery life or buy a dummy battery that plugs into the mains if one exists for the model you choose.

 

Some suggestions and direction to help you choose

Dedicated video cameras

Pros:

User firendly and inexpensive, with unlimited record duration but you will need to check that the HDMI output is clean. The simplest solution for technophobes but and easy to use on auto. Easily be powered by the mains with supplied power packs so no need for extra batteries.

Cons:

The image quality of cheaper models is not always great. Cheaper models won’t film in 4K.

 

Action Cameras

Pros:

Action cameras are often cheap, siple to use and double nicely as a recording or streaming device to replace a webcam. Their record duration is only limited by battery life. Some even film in 4K.

Cons:

They’re designed for outdoor use so need a lot of light for the best image quality, batteries run out quickly though many can also be powered coninuoulsy via usb and extra batteries are cheap.

 

DSLR, mirroless cameras and compact cameras

Pros:

Excellent video quality and the widest choice of models for all budgets. 4K feature means that you can step up your quality if you’re prepared to learn more about video.

Cons:

Not all models provide clean HDMI out. You will need to spend more money if you want to a model (in Europe) that doesnt have a record limit of 30 mins. Lenses can be expensive

 

Congratulations! You made it to the end. if you made it this far, you deserve a cup of tea and biscuit. Now you can sit down and watch this video from Sean Cannell where he explains more about camera features for some of the most popular models for streaming content. It might help you choose your new camera!

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