I’ve spent countless hours searching the interwebs, messaging people on YouTube, and sending out emails to try to figure out what cameras and lenses filmers use for skateboarding. To help you avoid the same frustration I went through, I’ve compiled this short list of cameras and lenses that ive found are the best to use for skateboarding.
If you own a skate vid, chances are it was filmed with this camera. The Sony VX1000 was produced in 1995 and almost 17 years later filmers still use it for skating. Because of the clarity, color, and sound it’s been the Go-to camera for skating. The camera has even been featured on the cover of DVS’ “Skate More” DVD and The Berrics’ Shirt “Shoot All Skaters”. The camera can shoot both 4:3 and 16:9 but only 480p resolution, which is low for today’s standards. Even though it’s not HD, the camera is still preferred by some skaters over HD cams. Sony did produce the VX2000 and the VX2100 that had some improvements, such as the addition of a LCD screen. Which some filmers do use, but most still stuck with the VX1000. It is an old camera so the chances of you finding one brand new in box are slim to none. So your best bet is to check eBay and craigslist. And if you find one it will still run around $1000, usually coming with a ton of extra stuff like multiple batteries.
Now if you’re going with the VX1000, you’ll want the proper fisheye lens to go with it! So you’ll want to get the Century Optics .3x Ultra fisheye Lens MK1. A.K.A. Death lens. They call it the death lens because of how close you can get to the skater, that it seems like it’s going to get hit. (Which there is a good chance it will.) You can find it on eBay as well for around $500-800.
If you’re looking to go HD. Then this is the best you can get! The PANASONIC HVX-200 has been main transition camera from SD to HD. It has the ability of shooting in 24p, so it looks like a real movie. This camera is definitely a solid investment if you’re looking to produce your own skate video. The only complaint for filmers about this camera is that it’s much heavier then the Sony VX1000. It can run anywhere from $2500 all the way up to $4500.
Now the fisheye to get for this camera is the Century Precision Optics Xtreme Fisheye 0.55x. This lens can cost close to $3000.
Now if you’re like me and don’t have an extra $6000 laying around for a HD camera and fisheye, then here are some reasonable alternatives.
Since the PANASONIC HVX-200 is so heavy and can cost so much a lot of filmers are going towards DSLRs with Video capture. Mostly Canon DSLRs to be exact. Canon offers quite a few to choose from, at different price ranges. The top choices seem to be the 7d for its quality or the 60d for the quality and the Articulating LCD screen. They also offer the t3i and the yet to be released t4i, also with an Articulating screen. All have amazing quality shooting up to 1080p. and since they’re basically digital cameras you can use all the interchangeable lenses for different quality and style of shooting. The only suggestion for shooting with these is to get some sort of CamCaddie or XGrip for shooting lines. You can usually find some for under $40.
The prices are as followed. All including the standard kit lens.
Canon t3i - $750
Canon t4i - $950
Canon 60d - $1200
Canon 7d - $1750
Now DSLRs offer such a wide variety of fisheye and wide angle lenses. But it seems that most people like to use any 8mm fisheye from companies such as Rokinon, Bower, and others. And they run around $290
If you're looking for cheaper solution for fisheye lenses, then i would highly recommend checking out Opteka. They offer lenses for all sorts of cameras. You just need to find out what filter size you need. Depending on the size they can be from $100-300.
So I hope this helped you out and also helped you figure out which is the best to get for your price range. Now Go Skate!!!
Bj on February 10, 2013:
Hay mate I live in australia and having the same problem. Wondering what the best lens for my new Sony HDR Ax2000 I'm after the best death lens for filming skating, what do u think?
Trevor Basile from Rockaway, NJ on July 11, 2012:
Great info not knowing a lot about camera's this would help anyone who is looking to buy a nice camera make a great choice!