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Extreme sports shooting. Are "GoPro" style cameras the only option?


Standard Member
Hey guys,

I work season to season in a ski village and, as much as i love snowboarding, there are people around me who do things a lot better than I do so I've got into the whole filming side of things.

I've got a Lumix GF3 for taking stills and, like seemingly everyone on the mountain nowadays, I've got a GoPro Hero3 Black for video footage. The quality and fps options on the Hero are pretty amazing: from SVGA @ 240fps to Cinema quality 2.7k @ 25fps and seemingly everything in between. The issue I've been having though is having to shoot in ultra-wide for the majority of shots. That coupled with an inability to zoom make it hard to make a subject fill the shot unless you ride on top of them which is no good for a rider's confidence.

I'm looking for a camera with the High Speed capabilities of the Hero3 Black but with more professional features; mainly smooth zooms, a fast lense, easy WB, exposure, sharpness, contrast functions. I'm not looking for waterproof, shockproof etc as (hopefully) I'll be the one staying on my feet whilst everyone else is off theirs. Im fairly new to buying video cameras so please tell me if what I'm asking just doesn't exist (or costs the BBC's yearly natural history budget). The closest I've come is the Vixia HF G10 which seems decent but only shoots up to 60p. Is this as good as I'm going to get and are there any other options on the market? I'd say budget is under £1000?

Cheers for your help guys!

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Distinguished Member
£1k is a decent Budget, but for something better than a GoPro (ie with zoom) you may need to pay more. I'd be inclined to suggest you stick with GPblack for the fast-stuff and get a modest camera (OR - use the GF3 - does movie-mode OK?), for the fill-in string-along shots that might be loved by Holidaymakers, as I presume you want to sell them a DVD of their "best day out" (which will include celebrations afterwards, maybe in the Bar/hotel, etc. So, maybe treat the GF3 to a faster lens for those lower-light situations . . . although as always some fill-in light is so much easier, if say you can persuade the bar to have a "bright corner" (which should help their business early evening, perhaps).

I think for on the move you are likely to be disapointed - the WA of the GP is part of its strength: it avoids jerky movements, permits sharp focus and needs no viewfinder. As soon as you want to do frame-filling you really need to be stationary, but you can add background movement using green-screen and an electric fan to blow the hair . . . it will look a bit odd (in the Bar) but the customer will be very pleased with the result . . . . if done well.

Good luck.


Standard Member
Thanks for the response guys,

I dont actually try to sell the footage, it was originally a hobby of me going out with a few friends in the park and trekking into backcountry and then making a couple of edits out of whatever footage we got. I've got a bit more into it recently though and am just trying to make the edits looks a little more professional.

Basically, I'm trying to take my first steps into cinematography and dont want to spend ridiculous amounts on my first camera.

In terms of where I'll be shooting with the camera, I will be stationary. The GP3 I'll be using for moving shots but, as I've found out, edits made up of entirely travelling shots look amateurish even after postprocessing. Think of the shots you see in ski movies and you've got my inspiration.

In terms of editing software im using PowerDirector 11. Progression from photo editing has not been smooth and im still very much a beginner but is PD11 a good place to start?


Active Member
do you have a youtube channel so that we could have a wee look at your footage in order to get a better idea of your problems ?

also had a look at the specs of your video editor and on paper it looks very capable
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Well-known Member
Hi there,

Classically, a few years back it was the likes of the Canon GL2 and then the Canon XL1 that appealed to all the skateboard and snowboarding filmmakers. This was due to the (relative) ruggedness of them, the lens, zoom, controls, audio inputs, and crucially the handle on top! Sounds silly, but the moment you get out on the slopes with a camera, you realise how important that damn handle really is!

Of course they would be great, only they are SD, so have been left behind now. So, what were they replaced with? Well, the Sony Z1 is a pretty good budget camera ('budget' in its bracket, that is) which will do everything you need it to, and at HD (shoots HDV - so shoots to MiniDV tape). After that you can step up to something like the Sony PMW-EX1 (but this is getting rather expensive) and then onto things like the Sony PMW-200 (at which point your wallet is £6k lighter :thumbsup:).

I know these are all much bigger and more 'proper' cameras than the GF3, but if you want to set yourself up a bit (you say you want to get into cinematography) then these are a really great way to go.

The Sony Z1 is a great camera that film-makers (and film students) tend to start on. You can pick them up fairly in-expensively second hand, there are always a lot on sale second hand due to the fast that people start on them then move on up, plus they are nice and customisable.

It is slightly over budget, but there is one here for £1,300 - BB List - ITEM 28427, Sony HVR Z1

Sorry that may not be exactly what you want to hear, but if you are serious about getting into cinematography, then it would be a good investment.

Edit: Slightly cheaper (£1,194) one here from CVP (a little more worn too though, I imagine) - http://www.creativevideo.co.uk/index.php?t=product/used_sony_hvr-z1e
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Active Member
For a little more than the £1300 mark the Canon HF G30 or Panasonic AG AC90 would be worth a look at.
Both are latest models, record HD to SDHC and are larger than usual consumer cams. The G30 is physically the smaller of the two, so easier to cart around.


Distinguished Member
Unless you are following an approved Course and they suggest a Z1 - then don't touch it.
Whilst it can record to flash memory with an adaptor, that will nearly double your investment. . .and otherwise you are based on tape which is best avoided, IMHO.

As I read it, you have yr first camcorder - stick with it until you find the limitations. I use a stills camera the Sony NEX5 which is fab for films and considering it all done by me it shows up well against very expensive gear. What you lack in gear can be covered by a good story/script/etc.

Never used PD11, but many here like Vegas/Movie Studio . . . and v12 has animated text, 3D and so on. . . . try the free 30-day trial and go through the 20-odd Show Me How tutorials - these give a great insight to the best way of working.
But buy the Production suite version ( about £50 Amazon), but then maybe stick with PD11, - if it serves its purpose. The snag is that you are spending time learning software that isn't much used.
You can register with Sony Creative and get access to the Webinars on using their software.....well worth spending a hour or so.
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