Using Video Cameras In Paintball
To get video footage in the early days of paintball meant that someone had to stand off to the side with a bulky handheld camera, drawing attention and getting shot in the crossfire. While it certainly did record what happened in a game, it didn’t really capture the intensity and immersion of what it was like to play. Now, modern technology has reduced paintball video cameras to a manageable size, allowing more and more players to record their personal exploits on the playing field. This is great to show your friends to encourage them to play, or watch the replay to see where you make mistakes and need to improve.
It is beyond the scope of this article to go into many of the technical stats of current cameras due to ever increasing advances, but there are some general points to consider when choosing a camera. First, look at the storage capacity and typical battery life of different models. Will you be able to get enough footage between downloads or charges? Do you have a charging source at the field? Watch sample videos to determine if the resolution is satisfactory. Does it have an anti-shake or image stability setting? Paintball is a physical activity, and watching a jarring and shaky image can be hard to watch. How big or accessible are the various On/ Off and other functions buttons and controls? Is it easy to manipulate them in-game, or can you do so while wearing full finger gloves?
No matter how careful you are, the camera is going to take a lot of abuse. It is going to get bumped, slammed and poked into all sorts of things. Direct hits from paintballs will take their toll. Even if it never sustains a direct hit, the camera will get covered in paint spray that will seep into every seam and be near impossible to completely clean from the lens. Look for a camera that can accept a clear shield case to cover the entire camera including the lens, or an underwater diving case. You may need to replace the case every season or so, but it is a lot cheaper than having to buy a new camera!
Once you have chosen a suitable camera, now there is the question of where to mount it. You have several options, mostly depending on your gear. The most common method is to mount it to the barrel or body of the marker. One of the various handlebar mounts made for cameras will usually work great for this, and paintball companies are beginning to catch on and produce mounts as well. Several adapters to mount a camera to a 7/8” picatinny or similar tactical rail are available, letting you securely mount a camera to a milsim marker body. A camera mounted toward the breech end of the barrel captures your paintballs flying downrange and gives the viewer the idea of the action. The downside to a barrel or body mount is that many don’t realize how often their marker is pointed at the ground, towards the sky or otherwise away from the action. Unless you plan on doing a lot of editing, several minutes alternating between a close-up of the back of the bunker and the grass as you crawl up the snake is not very exciting to watch.
Several manufacturers offer a headband or helmet mount. This points the camera everywhere you are looking, giving viewers a more immersive show. These are usually a harness that slips over the head, have straps to secure it to a helmet, or clip onto a device for night vision or other helmet accessories. Head mounted cameras tend to provide a great point of view and capture the action well, but their downside is they can stick out in the open. This makes them easy to get knocked out of alignment, snagged or shot. A camera mounted to the side of the head or helmet is not as exposed but can be blocked by the hopper or bunker.
To get video footage in the early days of paintball meant that someone had to stand off to the side with a bulky handheld camera, drawing attention and getting shot in the crossfire. While it certainly did record what happened in a game, it didn’t really capture the intensity and immersion of what it was like to play. Now, modern technology has reduced video cameras to a manageable size, allowing more and more players to record their personal exploits on the playing field.