Digital Camcorder Advice - Jonathan Fowke

Written by:
Jonathan Fowke

There is a wide range of Camcorders available today and a lot of good quality options that can be utilised for Sports Teams to record games and use for match analysis by your coaching staff.

I’ve been working for several rugby teams for the past six years, starting out with the Army’s Royal Engineers, recording games for the coaches to review on DVD as well as post match highlights on the teams website. I have since carried out work for many other teams including the American Eagles national team, organisations and sportswear companies such as Samurai Sportswear. You can see some of my work on my website.

I wanted to share some advice on the type of equipment that I have used and point teams in the right direction so that you can buy equipment that gets great results.

I’ve used a variety of camera models, from JVC, Panasonic and Canon and used both Mini DV tape and Hard Drive Camcorders. I personally prefer to use Hard Drive Camcorders as you can fit a large volume of footage on the camera and don’t have to replace tapes during games. I find it much quicker to connect up to a computer and import the footage as well.

Hard Drive Camcorders generally vary in size from 16GB Internal Memory up to 100+GB. Its worth noting that a lot of cameras have slots for SD Cards to add additional space so you don’t just have to look for one with a massive Hard Drive. Camcorders have come a long way over the past few years, despite the small size of most cameras they are very powerful and have considerably come down in price.

Currently I am using a Canon Legria Camcorder and find it a great camera to use. It has a 32GB Hard Drive, with two SD Card Slots and shoots HD Footage. I don’t tend to shoot in full HD just for ease and quickness when I’m uploading the footage onto my laptop; the footage is still great quality. It also shoots well in low light conditions – which I find ideal as I’ve filmed at many Rugby Clubs with poor floodlights! It has a 10x Optical Zoom, with further Digital Zoom ability so can cover a game of rugby well from the stands.

There are several good websites to visit to get a good look at the range of camcorders available. Jessops has a good range to browse through with prices ranging from around £300 through to £6,000. You don’t need to buy a top of the range Camera costing thousands to use for filming Rugby Games, anywhere from £400+ will get you a good camcorder that shoots HD footage and is easy to use.

It’s also worth noting that you should budget for a few extras to go with the camera, such as a good case to keep it protected, and it’s also worth buying at least one extra battery as most cameras will come with just a low capacity battery, so it will be worth buying one or two that gives you a few hours of recording time each.

Also a good quality Tripod is important, but often overlooked. I have been using a Manfrotto Tripod for a few years now and would definitely recommend their range. Again, Jessops have a good variety of Tripods on their website. This is the Tripod that I use;

If you are after SD Cards a good website that I use is Some websites charge quite a lot for SD Cards but ‘MyMemory’ have a good selection at very cheap prices.

It’s also worth visiting places such as Currys, PC World, Jessops, etc in store where the staff can give you more details and quite often demonstrations of different cameras so you can get a good idea of how to use it and its features, although Camcorders nowadays are very easy to pick up and start shooting with straight away.

This link is taken from the Gadget Shows Website covers some of the best Camcorder Models over a variety of Formats from Hard Drive, Flash Memory and High Definition covering different price ranges.

If you’re after buying an external mic to use with your Camera I would recommend ‘Rode’ Microphones. Most of the microphones built in to camcorders are ok but if you want a much better sounding recording then Rode Microphones offer excellent sound quality. I use the Rode Compact Shotgun Microphone, which is a great option with noticeably better sound quality. Amazon have a selection ranging in price on their website so it’s worth looking around a bit for the best price.

One more important piece of equipment that I would recommend purchasing is an External Hard Drive where you can store all of your Video Files. There are many Models available; I have a 2TB Western Digital External HD, which is one of the best brands available. It can be used with both Windows or Mac, with 2 TB’s offering you storage space up to 240 hours of High Definition footage. Here’s a link to the Hard Drive on Curry’s website;

Other useful links for browsing Camcorders are;;jessops_2

I use a Mac to edit all of my footage together, after initially using a PC a few years ago I switched to a MacBook Pro and find it excellent for dealing with video files. Software such as iMovie is an excellent but easy platform to use to clip up your footage and burn onto a DVD. It’s a cheap piece of Software as well costing £10.49 in the App Store. I find it quick and easy to clip up footage from a game to create highlights to upload online. I also use Final Cut for editing together Promotional and Motivational videos, it’s more expensive but another good editing program. For starting off though I would definitely recommend iMovie for its cost and ease of use.

Hope this helps out in finding a camcorder that you can use for your Sports Team. They have come down a lot in price whilst still offering you great quality footage and can be invaluable when using to capture games and reviewing on line to improve your team’s performance.

As always with posts on Coach Logic, if you have any digital areas you need covered please get in touch below and I'll be happy to help out.


Jonathan Fowke.

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