Skateboarding cinematography has been around for as long as the sport has existed. And we’re not just talking about professional TV and movie crews here. Amateurs have dipped their toes into filming the sport as well. Imagine skateboarders and their friends in the ‘60s brandishing a handheld camera the size of a sensible toaster oven, which weighed twice as much.

Action cameras in the early days were DIY efforts mostly. To get convincing and immersive first-person footage of extreme activities, such as skydiving and Formula One races, athletes taped bulky cameras onto their helmets literally. Sometimes battery packs heavier than the cameras were part of the package. Yes, we do live in more fortunate times because we now have cameras made especially for fast-paced filmmaking. And most of them can fit in something as small as a coin purse.

Of course, there are phone cameras, which are the go-to for on-the-spot filmmaking. The video quality we get from most mid-tier and premium phone brands isn’t bad. But if you’re serious about putting out top-shelf footage, you’d want a proper video capture device. We’re spoiled for choices of standalone cameras. There’s a rabbit hole for every category, even for something as niche as skateboarding videos.

But what makes a good camera for taking skateboarding videos? Each model has its own set of bells and whistles. It’s a challenge, especially for first-time purchasers, to wade through and scrutinize specs sheets. Good quality action cameras usually don’t come cheap, too. You’re expected to have done your research and be sure that what you’re getting will fit your requirements. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a very expensive paperweight.

That’s what this post is all about. We’re here to help explain the factors that should affect your skateboarding camera purchasing decisions. Along the way, we’ll also give a few of our camera recommendations.

Factors To Consider When Shopping for Skateboarding Cameras

Here is our practical shopper’s guide to finding the best video cameras for filming skateboarding.

Sensor/Video Quality Specifications

A camera’s sensor is tied to most, if not all the factors that determine video quality. These include resolution, light, frame rate, and so on. The topic of sensors is a bit on the technical side. There are different types, such as CMOS, APS-C, CCD, etc. Then each type has its own set of sizes. Different sensor aspects offer different results and have a bearing on the camera’s price. If you’re coming from point-and-shoot cameras and can’t be bothered with decrypting the advanced nuances of sensors, you can just consider the individual elements that make up a camera’s video output.

One such element is resolution. It determines the clarity and level of detail in the recorded video as well as the output size. In filming skateboarding sequences, it’s recommended to use a camera that can record natively in 2K or 4K. Not only does it allow you to capture more defined images, which is crucial for letting viewers see action-packed scenes in greater definition, it also grants you more flexibility when editing your video clips. In post-editing, you can crop and zoom into raw footage shot in higher definition without turning the selected area into a pixelated mess.

You don’t always have to render the end-product in ultra-high definition (UHD). Output it to 1080p, and it will still look great because of the high-resolution raw materials you used. Of course, there’s nothing that stops you from using the UHD video that you shot with your expensive camera as your end product. After all, there are video-sharing platforms, like YouTube, that support 4K videos.

Then there’s frame rate, which is measured in frames per second or fps. Resolution deals with overall definition but frame rate defines the detail in movement, particularly the fast ones. If you’ve seen the Will Smith movie Gemini Man (2019) and thought there’s something different or even odd about the video quality, it’s because the entire film was shot and outputted at 120fps. The high-speed scenes in Gemini Man don’t look like blurry and nauseating wrecks because of the high frame rate. More frames per second mean smoother videos even when slowed down.

If you want slow-motion shots to better showcase those fraction-of-a-second skateboarding tricks, you may want to look into getting a camera that can record at 60fps at the very least with the option to go as high as 120. However, you will come to an impasse with frame rate and resolution. Most budget-friendly cameras don’t shoot in 4K at 120fps. Their 4K recording capability is capped at 30 or 60fps usually. The ones that house the option to shoot at 60 or 120fps will scale the resolution down to 1080p or lower.

Consumer-grade 4K/120fps cameras are in the $1000 to $5000 price range. If you have the resources, then by all means get one. But if you’re not keen on making such a significant investment, then a 60fps max camera should tide you over. Slo-mo videos from 60fps clips still look impressive. Look into 120fps-capable UHD cameras when you’re ready to make those kickflips look substantially more dramatic.

The current television standard ranges from 30 to 60 frames per second. But with displays having larger and larger resolutions and higher refresh rates, that range will eventually give way to better video quality standards. Consumer-level recording hardware should catch up soon and prices will hopefully go down.

We should note that editing UHD videos with very high frame rates is resource-intensive. You’ll need a pretty beefy computer system for the job.

How a camera handles light is also vital. Skateboarding is a flexible sport in that people do it day or night, indoor or outdoor so long as there’s enough light to keep things safe. Shooting when and where there’s ample lighting is optimal but you won’t always have that luxury. You should look into a camera that offers a well-rounded performance in handling various lighting conditions.

For example, Sony has the majority market share—about 40%—in image sensors because they perform very well in low-light situations. They put a lot of work into developing better and better versions of the hardware year after year. If you’re going to shoot videos at night, then you should perhaps start by looking into Sony cameras or brands that use their sensors.

Of course, Sony isn’t the final word in cameras that do well when there’s inadequate lighting. There are other brands, like Samsung, that are successfully challenging the tech giant’s reach in the image sensor space.

Size, Weight, and Form Factor

A camera’s dimensions and overall mass play a huge role in sports cinematography. In the old days, we may take pride in owning consumer electronics that are bulky and heavy as we associate them with durability and being thick with features. But today, manufacturers can pack tons of functionalities in cameras at a small fraction of the size and weight of their predecessors. They may not be made from tough, weighty metals but, depending on the maker, they can still take a good beating.

Sports cameras should not encumber the user. They should be light and compact enough for you to hardly notice they’re there when fixed to mounting accessories, such as chest harnesses or helmet mounts. This is important because you should be able to maintain a full range of movement and not feel awkward about having additional equipment on your person as you perform. Both hands must always be free. Having any sort of recording hardware attached to you will always add more volume and weight. But attaching smaller and lighter things to yourself is easier to get used to and minimizes the risk of personal injury.

There’s also the matter of who’s filming. Light and compact are the ways to go if you’re the skateboarder and will shoot from a first-person point-of-view (POV). For this purpose, you basically have the choice between two camera form factors: box and cube. Box-style cameras are your GoPros and standard point-and-shoot digital cameras. Cubes are exactly what they sound like. They’re incredibly small for what they are capable of. Polaroid and DJI are the top names in cube cameras.

If you’re the dedicated cameraperson filming from a third-person perspective, then you have a bit more flexibility when it comes to choosing a camera’s form factor and weight. You can use more traditional handheld camcorders or even DSLRs. You’re not performing the tricks but you will have to be able to keep up with all the action. To this end, some consideration should still go to weight and ease-of-handling. “Tube-type” cameras that have side straps or removable handles can make things easier for you as you chase your subject or shoot from low or high angles. A DSLR camera might pose a challenge in handling but they’re not impossible to get accustomed to, especially if you’re after the features that only that type of camera can offer.

Interchangeable Lenses and Other Accessories

Shooting skateboarding scenes doesn’t just involve getting great shots of the activity itself but also the surroundings. Capturing large parts of the background gives more weight to the high-octane actions. It makes them more interesting and helps viewers appreciate the skills that go into mastering the sport better.

Wide and ultra-wide-angle cameras are perfect for this purpose. Using a fisheye lens has also become the sort of standard in skateboarding cinematography as it gives a wider view without making the output size too large. Most action cameras use digital lenses to minimize bulk. But that hasn’t stopped third-party manufacturers from putting out accessories that allow users to attach different kinds of lenses to compact sports cameras.

Other than interchangeable lenses, you should also factor in the kinds of aftermarket add-ons you’d need for filming skateboarding scenes. When shooting in first-person, you’d want to invest in a model that accommodates on-body mounts. We mentioned chest harnesses and helmet mounts, but there are also mouth mounts. Yes, you’re literally biting on your camera while skating. This kind of mount uses a soft mouthpiece that works like a mouthguard. It’s not the most comfortable of accessories but it does offer an interesting POV.

For the cameraperson, you may want to consider a camera that you can use with external stabilization equipment, like a gimbal. This brings us to our next point.

Image Stabilization

Skateboarding is a shaky affair. Wobbly footage is off-putting and can even cause physical discomfort to viewers. You’d want a camera that offers excellent image stabilization, especially when shooting from a first-person perspective or at lower frame rates. Stabilization doesn’t merely minimize shaking. It also improves image quality by reducing blurring and noise.

Most decent digital cameras today have digital stabilization, which steadies shots in real-time through software. If you want a lens-ready camera, you should get lenses that offer optical stabilization, which is hardware-based. Motors within the lens compensate for sudden movements, eliminating shakiness. Digital or electronic image stabilization technology has improved vastly over the years. However, optical reigns supreme since it produces more natural-looking results.

You can use a camera with digital stabilization with a lens that has optical but this results in a bulky setup. Ultra-compact hybrid systems exist today but the tech is used largely in phone cameras. If you’re a cameraperson and want to add an extra layer of stabilization, you can rig your camera to a gimbal. Just like with optical, gimbals use physical stabilization. While optical shifts the lens glass, gimbals stabilize the entire camera.

And then there are compact, all-in-one solutions that bundle the action camera and physical stabilizer in one tiny package. We’ll get into that later.

Microphone

Most cameras come with a built-in mono microphone. For skateboarding videos, it’s fine as it is. But you can always do better with an external mic. The soundscape of skateboarding, to a lot of people, has a touch of ASMR to it. The clattering of the wheels as they streak over concrete, that satisfying buzz of grinding on pipes, the general ambient sound of skateparks and streets—these add a lot of flavor to videos.

An external microphone doesn’t just pick up these sounds better. It’s also better at minimizing unwanted ones, such as wind and noise coming from directions that aren’t at the front of the camera. If you want to up the quality of your videos, then get a camera model that accommodates an external mic.

Onboard Features and Shooting Modes

Many camera manufacturers today make things easier for users by including features that aren’t that crucial to filming but are still nice to have. For example, if you’re keener on controlling your camera through your mobile device, then some cameras are WiFi or Bluetooth-enabled. More often than not, it’s more convenient to navigate through the functionalities of modern cameras through a companion mobile app than to dig for them on the recording device’s interface.

Some camera models offer onboard editing. You can apply awesome effects, like slo-mo, hyper-lapse, timelapse, color modes, and more, right on the device. Some even allow shooting videos in those modes—no need for post-editing.

The purpose of a camera is to capture moving images. As long as it does that, then it’s a safe bet. But quality-of-life features are always welcome, especially if you’re not too adept at dealing with the intricacies of photography and video editing. Get a camera that restricts those stresses and you’ll thank yourself for it in the long run.

Battery and Storage

Taking videos of any kind often involves being away from any immediate electrical source. Sure, we have power banks now. But you don’t want a brick dangling from your camera via a USB cable as you shoot.

It’s always better to have a camera that has a high-capacity battery, so you don’t have to worry too much about running out of juice in remote locations. Better yet, get one that has a removable battery pack from a manufacturer that sells spares.

The same goes for storage. Digital videos are dense with data. You’d want a camera with outstanding onboard and supplementary storage capacity.

Build and Durability

If you’re both the skateboarder and cameraperson, you always run the risk of losing control of your camera since you’re focused on the more pressing matters. Your mounting mechanism might fail as you do your mid-air spins, sending your camera flying into the ether.

To prepare for such an unfortunate circumstance, consider going for an impact-proof camera. Most action models boast this quality but some are always better than others when it comes to taking abuse. Look for something that has a shatter-proof body and shock-proof internals. Getting something that takes on first or third-party protective cases won’t hurt as well.

Having a waterproof action camera is always good. But skateboarding in the rain or when it’s wet is very ill-advised. It’s bad for your skateboard and the bits in your body that keep you alive. Do not tempt fate.

The Best Camera for Skateboarding Videos

To make things easier for you, we’ve done the legwork and boiled down the long list of best skateboarding cameras into several categories. We picked what we think is the most viable choice for each class. So submitted for your approval, here are Livestream Studio’s top picks for the best skate cameras.

Canon VIXIA HF R800: Best Multi-Purpose Camera for Skateboarding

Canon solidifies its position as one of the best camera producers year on year. The Canon VIXIA HF R800 strengthens that point for being a massive favorite among filming enthusiasts.

The R800 has a maximum resolution of 1080p at 60fps. The 3-inch touchscreen display has a 270° rotation range, which makes selfies and monitoring a breeze. It’s not technically a sports camera but the excellent stabilization would have us fooled. It uses a five-axis optical image stabilization system, which dramatically improves jerky footage. This feature is why we consider it a good choice for filming skateboarding videos.

The 57x Advanced Zoom sounds a bit extreme but it surprisingly produces excellent image quality. You can take really wide shots of yourself and your crew from great distances with little effect to picture quality. It excels in daylight but performance in low-light conditions is mixed.

You can record in slow-motion down to 0.5x speed. Want things to move a lot faster? The fast motion recording mode will speed things up to 1200x. In theory, you can condense 20 hours of footage down to just a minute. There are some on-device video-editing features but don’t expect anything too advanced.

This HD camera has a more traditional handycam form factor. You’ll be comfortable using it as a regular camera for documenting your vacations as much as an alternative action camera. Play videos straight from the R800 to your TV or use it as a webcam through an HDMI cable. If you want a well-rounded camcorder for various filming purposes, then the Canon VIXIA HF R800 is for you.

Pros:

  • Excellent zoom range and stabilization
  • Fairly priced

Cons:

  • No 4K and frame rate above 60fps
  • Not compact

Sony Alpha 7S III: Best 4K/120fps Camera for Skateboarding Videos

The Sony Alpha 7S III will set you back at least $4000 for just the camera unit. When you’re done clutching your pearls, please continue reading.

There are cheaper 4K cameras that can shoot at 120fps right now but the 7S III blows them out of the water in terms of overall quality. It has a full-frame 12.1-Megapixel CMOS image sensor, which is highly sensitive. This being a Sony camera, it handles low-light conditions extremely well. Your nighttime skate videos will look great even if you just have a few lamp posts illuminating the venue. Expect your clips to be virtually noise and grain-free.

Of course, we’re here for the 4K/120fps feature. It does what it says on the box wonderfully. Slow-motion videos are buttery smooth and crystal clear. Pair it with a wide-angle lens or the much-beloved fisheye and your skateboarding videos will be the talk of the town. The hybrid stabilization system allows for steady shots through and through. And yes, this also takes photos with amazing picture quality.

It also has long battery life. Real-world tests have shown that the 7S III can record over three hours’ worth of 4K/120fps video clips on a single charge. That’s more than 100GB worth of footage. Its overheating countermeasures are notable as well. You’d have no problem using it under direct sunlight for extended periods.

It’s not a tiny camera by any measure, especially with massive lenses installed. But it has all the features you’ll need if you’re looking for a camera that will put out spectacular quality videos. As far as ports are concerned, you get a full-sized HDMI, USB-C, external mic jack, headphone jack, and micro-USB. You also get two memory card slots.

Owning a Sony Alpha 7S III, if you’re not in the profession of filmmaking, is a titanic flex. This high-quality camera is expensive and requires pretty advanced knowledge of photography. But if you can afford it, the Alpha 7S III will serve you well for a long time.

Pros:

  • Professional-grade photo and video quality
  • Excellent low-light compensation
  • Great battery life

Cons:

  • Very pricey
  • Bulky
  • Steep learning curve

Akaso EK7000: Best Budget Skateboarding Camera

When it comes to budget action cameras, cheap ones are a dime a dozen. You’ll trip on one that goes for under $50 every five seconds on Amazon or eBay. These no-name cameras are quite risky. You might get one and discover that your old point-and-shoot Panasonic camera fares better in every way.

There are exceptions, though, like Akaso cameras. The Akaso EK7000, in particular, is a serviceable model if you’re new to sports cameras and want to try one out without making a substantial financial investment.

The EK7000 is pretty robust for a $70 camera. It shoots in 2K and 4K, albeit capped at 25fps. The 170° wide-angle lens allows you to capture videos of broad landscapes or the entire skate park from the right distance. The waterproofing makes it a great indoor and outdoor camera.

It comes as a kit as well, which adds to the value. You get various mounting accessories, two batteries, a dual charger, a shock-proof protective case, and best of all, a nifty wrist remote control. It’s WiFi-enabled up to 10 meters and has a companion mobile app. The AKASO GO app lets you edit videos, blast content to your socials, and many more.

The Akaso EK7000 may not have the horsepower of more renowned action camera brands, but it checks a lot of boxes. It’s a great budget-friendly choice for sports videography newbies.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Comes with a lot of accessories

Cons:

  • 4K resolution limited to 25fps
  • No electronic image stabilization

DJI Pocket 2: Best Camera for Solo Skateboarders

The DJI Pocket 2 has the most unusual form factor among the cameras in this list. It’s a gimbal-stabilized miniature camera that’s about the size and shape of a candy bar. It’s lightweight and has no problem fitting in, you guessed it, your pocket.

Max resolution and frame rate are 4K and 60fps respectively. It has several video modes: HDR, time-lapse, motion-lapse, and slow-motion. You can record in slow-motion in 1080p at 120 or 240fps, which is a game-changer if you want to showcase those amazing jumps.

The main camera unit is fixed on a 3-axis physical stabilizer, which smooths shaky first-person skateboarding videos. The body houses a small touchscreen display and your usual camera buttons as well as the gimbal control stick. It records audio in stereo via four microphones and a host of ports for official aftermarket accessories.

Several features are locked behind a paywall, i.e., you have to buy the necessary accessories to access them. For example, you need the Do-It-All handle attachment for wireless connection, the external mic jack, the wireless mic receiver, etc. You also need the phone adapter if you want a larger display.

The unconventional shape and the constantly moving gimbal of the Pocket 2 make it difficult to mount on your body. It should work great if you’re using it when you have at least one free hand and not doing tricks, like when you’re skating downhill and just cruising, occasionally showing your board and feet but mostly shooting scenery.

What makes this camera a good option for solo skateboarders is its subject tracking feature. Set it down, enable tracking, give it a moment to lock in as the target, and skate on. The camera will follow you. It’s an excellent tool for when you’re practicing tricks and want to monitor your progress.

Pros:

  • Great slow-motion frame rate
  • Gimbal-based stabilization
  • Subject tracking

Cons:

  • Not hands-free when used in first-person
  • Delicate external moving parts

GoPro Hero 10: Best Overall Skateboarding Video Camera

Our top pick is a GoPro. What a surprise.

The Hero 9 was the king of skate cameras. Then the GoPro Hero 10 came in and pushed it out of the hype train. The Hero 10 takes the top spot for several reasons. The 23-Megapixel sensor shoots in 4K/120fps and 5.3K/60fps. That’s more than the usual theater-level resolution. Slow-motion recording maxes out at 2.7K/240fps.

The rear display is touch-controlled. We have to qualify the screen’s position because the Hero 10 has a front display for more accurate selfies. GoPro brands its stabilization technology as HyperSmooth, and this has the fourth iteration. Your viewers may doubt that you’re actually skateboarding when they see how steady your clips are.

Have the itch to go live with your crew? You can stream directly from the GoPro Hero 10 on most major platforms, including Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch. Streaming resolution is capped at 1080p, which is plenty for live broadcasting on the go.

Durability and the GoPro brand go hand in hand. This camera, even without any supplementary protective measures, will brush off getting dropped, rained on, and tumbled around. The lens is also more robust than previous models.

As with the DJI Pocket 2, you need to pick up proprietary adapters to avail of additional features, such as the ability to use an external microphone, light, interchangeable lenses, and so on. As far as mounting options are concerned, it will readily take in most third-party fixing accessories.

The GoPro Hero 10 is as solid as it gets if we’re talking about cameras for filming skateboarding. It’s compact, hardy, and brimming with features. Consider the Hero 10 if you want to move up from basic action cameras. It will open up an entirely new world for you.

Pros:

  • Varied resolution and frame rate options
  • Feature-heavy
  • Great stabilization
  • Tough

Cons:

  • May be expensive for most people
  • Inconsistent low-light handling

Wrapping Up

Normal cameras today are pretty impressive as long as they come from a manufacturer that knows what they’re doing. But look at the difference in quality between a good sports camera and one that’s more for vlogging, for example. You’ll realize what frame rates, stabilization, and so on mean to video recording quality from a technical standpoint. If you’re dedicated to producing high-quality videos, you need a high-quality camera.

We hope our buyer’s guide and shortlist of the best skateboard cameras have helped you decide which model to look into. At the very least, we hope it gives you a beginner’s idea of what to look for in a good action camera.

Remember that, if you’re filming while skateboarding, the latter should always come first. Everything else is secondary. Great skateboarding shots aren’t worth hurting yourself or others for.