Gear To Improve Your Boat Videos

By Paul Cronin

Taking a boat video

Many people take videos on a phone. But buying dedicated equipment will improve the quality of both your video and audio. Ready to step up? Here are some options.

HD Handycam:

Improved optics, higher bit rate, loads of memory, and better audio. $400-$700

4K Handycam:

4K is quickly becoming a standard resolution for TV sets and online video players. More pixels, even higher bit rate, and loads of memory. $900-$1,500

External microphone:

Good-quality audio is critical, especially if you need to filter out wind or other background noise. Depending on your situation and budget, choose between a wired lavalier (lapel mic), shotgun (on-camera mic), or a wireless system. Don't forget to include a wind screen.

Good UV filter:

It's like putting sunglasses on your camera — it will reduce glare, sharpen the picture in bright conditions, and protect the lens from damage. Once it's installed, you never have to remove it.

Camera mount:

No one likes shaky video, and a solid attachment to the boat will make more of your footage useable. There are many small spider-style tripods with suction cups that work well on irregular surfaces.

What not to use:

I wouldn't recommend a point-of-view camera for anything but very close action shots. Point-of-view cameras, such as GoPro, aren't up to the quality of a low-price handycam; you're paying for the small size. And don't try to use the audio from a POV camera.


Many computers come with basic editing software preinstalled, such as iMovie on Mac, or are available as a free download, such as Windows Movie Maker or Movica for PC. It's a good idea to work in these simple programs to gain some experience before laying out the dollars for more complicated and costly software.

A bit more about bit rate:

Calling a camera "HD" or "4K" doesn't establish the quality of the video, only the quantity of pixels within the frame. Bit rate is the quality measurement: the amount of data recorded in one second, expressed in megabits per second (e.g., 35 mbps). Always try and shoot at the highest bit rate possible. For a handycam, 25 mbps is minimum; 50 mbps to 100 mbps is preferred. I try never to shoot under 200 mbps for HD and 400 mbps for 4K. 

Paul Cronin includes filming, directing, and editing video in his skill set, which is built around the marine industry. See some of his productions at

— Published: June/July 2016

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