You can use almost any video camera to record your golf swing, including most modern camera phones.
If you are on a budget, even the cheapest webcams will produce useable results, but for optimal performance there are a few features that we feel make it worth investing in a special camera.
Buying a camera just to record your golf swing may seem like an expensive option, but you wouldn’t play your best golf by using just any old driver, and the right camera, together with the right instruction, will do far more to improve your golf than any golf club ever could.
In choosing a camera for recording your golf swing, you should consider the following:
- The recorded video should be of a high enough resolution for you to be able to clearly see the position of the club face in each frame.
- Higher frame rates are extremely useful. Most cameras record at 30fps, which is fine for home videos, but the golf swing happens very quickly — the downswing takes about 0.3 seconds, so that’s only 9 frames — so a higher frame rate will give you more frames and thus a better chance of capturing a frame that shows a specific position — for example 300fps would give you 90 frames of the downswing, so you know that you’ll have a frame that shows the close to position of the hands when the club reaches parallel to the ground.
- Shutter speed is important for a clear, crisp image of the club in each frame. If the maximum shutter speed of the camera is slower that 1/1000th of a second, the club head will be very blurred coming into impact. Most good cameras offer shutter speeds of 1/2000th of a second or better, and many have a “sport” mode for this. Ideally, the camera will give you manual control over the shutter speed, so that even in less than perfect lighting conditions you can set it to 1/2000th. Without a manual shutter speed, the camera will choose shutter speed for you based on the ambient light, which may not be high enough on a dull day or when working indoors.
- High Definition (HD) video is great, but can be expensive at high speed — you’d much rather have a very high frame rate and shutter speed at the much lower VGA (640×480) quality.
- The camera should record video in a format and on a medium (e.g. AVI format on an SDHC card) that is easily transferable to your computer for analysis, archiving and emailing to your coach.
- For tape-based camcorders, it’s important that they record digital video, and miniDV is the highest consumer quality here. Although perhaps not as convenient at using SDHC cards, some swing analysis software supports transfer from miniDV cameras to your computer very well.
- A wide angle lens, or availability of a suitable adapter, is important for indoor use if space is limited — without this some cameras need at least 20 feet of space to fit your whole swing in the frame. Note however that some high-speed cameras have a fixed wide angle lens which limits their effectiveness since they must be used close-up, and so distort your positions in the golf swing, or don’t show enough detail from the optimal distance – see How to Record Your Golf Swing with a Video Camera.
- The camera should be able to be fixed to a tripod, or otherwise secured on a stable platform whilst recording.
- A LCD screen on your camera is very useful for framing the shot and for checking the success of your recording by playing it back on the camera. This is also very useful when doing drill work, as the feedback that the recording provides is most effective about 8 seconds after you perform the drill (see How to Learn a Great Golf Swing).
- A camera remote control is useful, so that you can start and pause recording without going back and forth to the camera.
- Some cameras, with the right software, will enable you to capture video to your computer in real-time, which can be useful.
- It’s sometimes useful to be able to take the camera out on the course with you, so size and weight matter.
- Make sure that you have spare batteries and storage media (tapes or SD cards), and a bag to keep everything together — you’ll be using your camera a lot, and running out of juice on the range is frustrating.
- Be aware of the constraints of your chosen swing analysis software, these vary.
- There are a number of apps for swing analysis on your smart phone or tablet. These are good, especially for analysing your full swing when on the range, but much more useful is transferring your swing video onto a computer for detailed analysis with a large screen and using powerful swing analysis software.
Our Favourite Camera
Our all-time favourite camera for recording the golf swing is the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 IV. All of the Golf Loopy team now use this wonderful little camera for their personal use, and for using with students when out on the course or range.
If you’re a keen photographer, or a golfer with the cash, the DSC-RX100 IV is absolutely magical — it’s capable of professional-quality images, it can shoot 4K video, and slow motion 1080p at 960fps! In bright light, this camera can shoot video with shutter speeds of up to 1/32,000th second, ensuring that you get every frame that you need for analysis, and a clear, crisp image of the club in each frame.
You’re obviously a keen golfer, if you also enjoy photography, and if you’re lucky enough to have $1,000 or so to spend, just get it!
If you can’t afford to spend quite that much, then the Casio Exilim EX-ZR family of high-speed video cameras, or their predecessor, the EX-FH family, are great little cameras for recoding your golf swing. Their high speed recording is excellent — up to 1000fps, but we like 240fps at 432×320 (the EX-FH100 also has a very useful 120fps at 640×480). They also have a shutter speed of up to 1/40,000th second. These cameras also shoot in HD at the standard 30fps when required.
The Exilim EX-ZR100 can be bought new for reasonable value, or you can often find the older but excellent EX-FH100 on the used market. Note that not all Casio Exilim models offer high speed video, be sure to look for the ZR or FH models.
These may represent a significant investment, but in our opinion they are worth every penny. As stated above, a good camera will help to improve your golf far more than any other piece of kit, such as the latest driver.
If you have any questions or comments about this or other articles on Golf Loopy, please send us an email.
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For more information on how augmented feedback works, see How to Learn a Great Golf Swing.
Coming next: Which is the Best Software for Analysing Your Golf Swing?