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Film Your Hunt: Equipment Suggestions and Tips from Zac Griffith
I grew up watching hunting videos on VHS. I remember more about those hunts than most
of my own because of how well they were captured, documented and shared with others on film. I knew from the start I would strive to
preserve my hunting experiences on film.
I am 100% self-taught
in film production. From camera
equipment to editing software to uploading online—I have learned it all as I
went. I tell you this because I know it seems overwhelming and
complicated to begin filming but there are tools and resources out there that make it completely possible to learn on your own over time. Just keep getting a bit better each time you go out.
This article will fill you in on some fundamental tips that will save you a lot of headache, and then outlines the equipment I use for filming and editing. Hopefully it works as a great starting point to getting your own hunts on film. Check out my example video at the bottom to see different filming and editing techniques in action.
Before we get into specific equipment, here are some basic but
critical tips that will improve your film quality:
yourself with you camera and its features at home (before going into the field)
• Use a
tripod for a stable image
your lens clean
• Record in short clips to make editing and retrieval simpler.
extra camera batteries
the camera on the tripod and easily accessible on your pack. (the moments you’ll want to film usually
happen unexpectedly and quickly!)
The following items are what I carry/use and why:
CANON VIXIA HF G30: $1,699
This camera is an awesome field camera. I leave it on the tripod, strapped to my
pack for quick
access. The camera is relatively small
but is capable of amazing things:
20x optical lens.
picture comparable to any high-end binoculars.
Up to 60 frames per second. High-speed cameras enhance clarity of moving
objects (especially vapor trails).
has resolution settings and can record up to 28 MB/s. This produces a crisp, bright, high-definition
The zoom and ease of use make
this an excellent all-around camera to film the majority of your hunts and
It holds 2 memory cards
you can purchase extra batteries for long-life in the field.
The downsides are few but also need to be addressed.
The camera is expensive. It retails for around $1,700. However, for the film-maker that wants the quality and
frame rate, it’s a steal. Guys that may
want to simplify things can save a ton of money by buying a smaller hand-held
with a lower frame rate. Just keep in
mind that the Optical Zoom is the most important feature.
Digital zoom is very low-resolution and grainy; optical is true magnification, and will
produce an un-enhanced image—notably clearer than a digital image. All good cameras use SD cards now instead
of tapes, which is great for file storage and retrieval.
CANON REBEL T3i: $499
The Canon Rebel is an awesome camera for two reasons:
First, this camera takes awesome photos. Auto-settings and adjustable settings enable
the photographer to fine-tune and capture excellent quality stills. This camera accepts a wide range of
different lenses that differ in clarity, zoom range, focus etc. I
recommend starting with the included kit lenses to get
started. In addition to this kit, I use a 1.4f 50mm that enables both artistic and cinematic focusing along with cool depth of field techniques. Again, don’t get over-whelmed. Start with the basics and learn as you
go. You can get a lot of great results
with just the kit lenses. After you have enough experience to appreciate the value and benefit of the lens upgrades you’ll make a more educated
Secondly, this is a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex camera) which
means it also records HD video! The
look of DSLR footage is different than high-speed cameras; it’s more cinematic. Variations of lenses and techniques
enable these cameras to capture engaging and interesting footage. They do take practice, but are capable of awesome
film. Much of the new artistic and
cinematic hunting films are made with DSLRs.
Have fun learning what they are capable of!
GO PRO HERO, HERO 2-4: $199-399
The GoPro has revolutionized consumer film. These tiny little cameras are water-proof,
impact resistant and capture 1080p HD video at up to 60 frames per second!
(Hero 3). They are an excellent way to effortlessly capture emotion, movement, action etc.
These cameras have a unique convex lens that creates a slightly distorted
image at a distance, however, from 3-5 ft or so, clarity is
unbelievable. Keep in mind that because they are not designed for
filming at a distance, mounting
them to your bow or rifle will not track or capture much of the arrow flight or the animal, these cameras are meant for capturing you!
Go-Pro makes tons
of different mounts, brackets, harnesses etc. that can be used to customize
your GoPro footage. Use this camera to capture your
movement and reaction in the field, but use the other cameras, listed above, to film the
animals and scenery. I like to carry my
GoPro in my pocket and pull it out whenever I see unique or cool shots. They’re convenient and add a ton of character
PHONE SKOPE: $75
Used in conjuction with the iPhone 6 and Swarovski STS HD 20-60 65mm Spotting Scope
The Phone Skope has revolutionized the hunting industry. Couple the awesome HD video capacity of the
new smart phones with the clarity of your high-end spotting scope and you have
the simplest, most effective means of capturing footage in the
field. Using this system is easy, you simply twist the Phone Skope into the included scope adapter and
capture the scope’s image through the camera on your phone! You dont have to worry about relocating the animal in your camera, because your scope is already locked on. Its super simple, ultra-clear and very easy to
upload and share with others!
Mac products come with iMovie and PC usually have
Windows Movie Maker software, which are both great for beginners. These two
programs are simple and easy to use.
You’ll learn how to upload your footage to the program and drag and cut
the clips into meaningful sequences. The
programs include basic text, transition, and audio effects.
Once you graduate from the basics and want to
venture into more advanced edits, I recommend Final Cut Pro X. It is available on iTunes for about
$300. For 99% of amateur film makers
this program is all you will ever need. Even with all my experience, I have only begun to understand all of the capabilities this program
has! It’s exciting to experiment with
different effects and learn what they do!
Tripod and plates:
To capture quality footage your camera must be mounted to a tripod. The adapter plates that come with the tripod
head can be attached quickly to your camera.
I leave my plates on my cameras at all times for easy interchange. This time-saving tactic does require you to buy more plates from the
manufacturer, but the convenience is well worth it.
Use the tripod to center your image, but take your hands off once it’s
recording– Especially if it is a kill shot sequence, otherwise the camera will jump when the shot is fired. If left alone, however, the tripod will
capture the scene without bumps or shakes. Just center the image and lock
it into place before firing.
you keep a camera on the tripod at all times—whether you carry it or have it in
your pack. You are more likely to film
events when the camera is ready and available.
Trust me, most of the shots you want to capture will be gone before you
know it so be prepared!
Filming your hunt is invaluable. What better way to honor the animal and engrave the experience than to film it? There are infinite ways, methods, and techniques to film and edit your hunts. I hope the basic tips and gear info I have provided help you on your hunts, but remember that these are far from being the only way!
What matters most is you jump in and start figuring out what works for you. It can be frustrating, filming as you stalk and harvest is tricky, but don’t get discouraged. The filmed memories are priceless, and well worth it in the end!
You owe it to yourself to take the time to film your experiences. Do your research, practice with your cameras
and software before going into the field, and have fun with it!
Check out a film I made previously, taking the big buck pictured above, for ideas on filming and editing techniques. Pay attention to what parts of the hunt you find most interesting. (The hunt starts at 2:27)