Filming your concert can be incredibly important, especially if you’re seeing one of your favorite bands and want to capture the memories you’ll be reminiscing about forever. I’ve been to more concerts than I can count, and have attempted to film merely every single one with a different approach. This has enabled me to have some field testing under my belt in order to determine which video camera works best for live concert conditions. As far as sound goes, any internal microphone can suffice; however, for filming, it really depends on a few aspects: your budget, the exact shot you want, and any accessories you may want to supplement the filming. Sound is very hard to achieve when it comes to shooting live concerts — the bass is almost always distorted and if you want top notch quality, you’re going to need a cinema grade camera for that. The best type of camera to buy would be one that is great in lower light conditions. Point-and-shoot cameras are stated to be mediocre when it comes to this, although all of them typically come with a low light condition capability. We’ve found a few gems. Let’s get into it.
The best method for audio quality when filming concerts
If you’re concerned about audio, the best option you have is using an external audio recorder. Most built-in video cameras in our experience do not cut it. The best external audio recorder we’ve found is the Zoom H1 Handle Portable Digital Recorder or if you want even better audio quality, the Zoom H4N.
You can shop around Amazon for external audio recorders to see what is out there. These devices allow you to record audio externally from your video camcorder (as we’ve said, the audio quality for point-and-shoots are subject to distortion easily). The only downside you have to this is syncing up your audio and video in a software program after the show. This shouldn’t take too long though and can be worth it if you’re really concerned with audio quality. We don’t recommend a point-and-shoot or flip camera if you want better-than-average sound quality.
If you do end up going with a DSLR camera like we recommend, we absolutely love the Rode VideoMic, a shotgun microphone which attaches to the top of your DSLR.
Here’s a sample video of the H4N in action. This audio quality is great:
Our top 10 best video cameras for concerts
To give you a definite answer on the best camera for concerts in terms of video quality, it really depends on how much you want to spend. Another element you may want to take into consideration is the camera’s optical zoom capabilities: will you be filming from afar and need to zoom in frequently? DSLR cameras recommended if you can afford them: the video quality in these are a lot better than point-and-shoot or flip cameras.
We list from each range: $0-200, $300-500, and $600+ but we’ve kept in more on the cheaper side. If you’re thinking about going below $100, even using your iPhone or smart phone/device may suffice. The list includes video camera devices we’ve found to have good reviews for concert conditions.
- Canon EOS Rebel T3
- Zoom Q2HD
- Panasonic Lumix ZS20
- Sony HDR-CX230/B
- Flip UltraHD
- Canon EOS M (DSLR)
- GoPro Hero 5
- Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5
- Nikon D5200 (DSLR)
- Kodak PlaySport
This is an awesome camera recommended by many who film concerts because it’s low-light quality. The 12.2 MP sensor is exceptional for image quality and it has a dual-layer metering system for exposure purposes. In terms of concerts, it has a broad range of ISO settings for fine detail, specifically for adjusting to light conditions. This is very beneficial for concerts as well know, and the highly sensitive sensor helps for optimization. There is no dark filter needed.
The movie mode is great for high definition starting at 1280 x 720 at 30 fps. Just put it around your neck with a strap and you can carry it around any festival or show. What’s cool about the digital cameras is taking pictures, so you can take a break during sets to take photographs with friends. It’s DSLR, so the quality is extremely high if you have the money
This is one of the cheapest options you have if you aren’t planning on using your smart phone or device. Some key features of the Zoom Q2HD are the built-in condenser microphone (not too bad for a cheaper camera and you aren’t using an external mic), video resolution capabilities of 1080p at 30fps or 720p at 60 fps (top notch quality), can accept 64GB SDXC cards, and is powered by two AA batteries or an AC adapter/USB.
It’s pretty tiny so is great for portability. The sound has been stated by most users to be relatively acceptable in lower-bass environments (vocals or acousitc guitars). The quality video is a lot better than an iPhone. If you’re looking at a camera for $100 or less, this is the one to go with if you’re filming concerts and you aren’t using an external mic and need something plausible. Here’s a video of it in action.
We have the better Lumix listed later in the list because it’s more expensive, but if you’re still looking at a camera for under $200, this is a great step above the Q2HD. Some main features of the camera include a 24mm ultra wide angle lens, 20x optical zoom (great if you’re concerned with zoom capability), full HD with stereo microphone (an OK mic), 12MB built-in memory, and it supports SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards (serparately).
Users around the net have stated that this camera is great because of the burst shooting mode, 1080p ability as well as the 20x zoom. Low light capture is stated to be better than a lot of cameras within the $200 range. We recommend it if you want a cheaper option. Here’s a sample video.
As we continue up the price ladder, this camcorder has the typical hand strap but stands out from most of it’s kind due to the low-light capabilities for concerts. It’s got a 27x optical zoom, 2.7″ wide LCD display, 1920×1080 full HD 60fps (this is amazing video quality), and supports up to 3 hours of filming. Built-in stabilization helps for shaky concerts.
The internal microphone isn’t ‘top notch’, so be wary of this. You’re able to hook up an external audio recorder if that’s what you’re doing. Again, low light conditions are suitable for this camera without much graininess. The Carl Zeiss tech for the lens is also a huge plus. In terms of video quality, this blows the prior cameras out of the water.
Here’s another pocket-sized HD video camera for filming at concerts. We love this because of it’s portability but it has some crazy tech for being so small. It records up to 2 hours of video of 8GB built-in memory. No additional cards are required and it has a convenient flip out USB arm plug to go into your PC for easy transfering. There’s an interface screen which allows you for some easy navigation…the built-in software isn’t too bad either if you’re looking to edit and share via the camcorder itself. Standard video quality here, and the microphone isn’t too bad either. Nothing completely professional but it does the trick and is a lot better than most all-in-one video camcorders out there.
We mentioned this in our best video camera for YouTube post, and this again is one of the best DSLR cameras in terms of affordability and quality we could find on the net. It’s DSLR, so you know it’s coming with some of the best quality available. Some features of the EOS M include an 18.0 MP sensor, compatibility with SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards, record in Full HD (1920 x 1080) at 30 fps, 1280 x 720 at 60 fps, or even standard definition if you wish. The full HD recording time is pretty low (22 min), so be careful if you’re looking to record an entire performance.
Again, the DSLR cameras are top-notch when it comes to video quality. If you want that absolute best you can get, try pairing a DSLR camera like this with an external recording device as we mentioned above. The internal microphone of the DLSR is average — it won’t necessarily distort, but it’s not going to be professional grade, especially in a loud, perhaps over-bassed environment.
Here’s a different little spin on recording video at concerts: how about a point-of-view camera? The Hero3+ Black Edition specifically has an auto low-light environment setting, which is perfect for filming at a darker live performance.
Not to mention the cinema-potential 4K video quality it has (can only record it for a small amount of time, however — otherwise you can still record at 1080p for an hour or so at a show). We love how it looks with the wide angeled lens as well, kind of like a fish eye. You can also use it for portable purposes or hands-free but purchasing a mount to put it on your head or chest (they have way too many to count types of mounts and harnesses you can buy to mount it somewhere on your body — we’ve seen this a lot around festivals). The sound quality isn’t recommended at all, and you’ll most likely have to use an external recording device if you want professional grade (it’ll still get the job done if you’re not concerned with it). Take this into consideration if you’re looking for convenience and some really nice quality for lower light shows indoors with a lot of light tricks.
The LX5 is stated to be more sufficient than it’s LX7 older sister and has a bright lens for low light shots/videos (typical conditions for concerts). The mic (mono) is also stated to be pretty good and can handle most shows unless it’s very bass heavy.
Some highlight features include a 10.1 MP CCD for great quality, an ultra-wide-angle 24mm lens, 3.0 LCD screen, records video in HD, and uses an SD/SDHC memory card. It’ll fit in your pocket for excellent portability, and a plus with digital cameras is obviously the capability to take photographs if you don’t feel like filming video at all times. Well worth it if you have the money.
Here’s the Lumix DMC-LX5 in low-light:
This is one of the most expensive cameras we have found for filming concerts, but if you can afford it, you definitely won’t be let down. The 24.1 MP camera is excellent in terms of quality and it supports 5 fps of continuous shooting with 16 scene modes. The vari-angle monitor is surpreme for lenses, and it supports full HD (1080p) recording. The low-light has been stated to be great around the net, and it’s built-in stereo microphone is decent enough to be a standalone.
Users around the net talk about the light sensitivity, something we wanted to research when looking for camera for filming concerts. Not only do you get this feature to ensure a peace of mind when you’re sometimes in the dark, but the HD and high video resolution can’t be stopped. It’s a bit pricey, but worth it if you want a safe bet in terms of a picture taker as well as video recorder for light-sensitive activities such as concerts or fesitvals.
We decided to list this because of it’s different spin on filming and portability purposes. It is very nimble and is shockproof, dustproof and waterproof of up to 10 feet. Full 1080p HD videos or 7020p at 60 or 30fps. with a 5MP camera built-in (auto focus). It also has a built-in image stabilization if you’re planning to get a little rowdy in the crowd. It’s awesome in terms of pocket-friendly camcorders.
It also comes with a wrist strap for festivals or concerts you’ll be walking around at frequently. I’d go with this if you’re looking for an all-in-one, portable and convenient camera that shoots in high resolution that is the standard among videos around the net. The Kodak PlaySport is great in terms of video quality because it is capable of 720p with 60fps (some argue is better than 1080p). The only downside it has is only a 4x digital zoom, but that is still enough unless you’re completely worried about having a crazy optical zoom. We’ve heard and experienced that up to 20x zoom is pretty unnecessary and that 10x is just fine.