You’re going to need to do some thinking and experimentation with your action camera – whether it’s a GoPro or something else – if you want to get the best shots without interrupting your surfing too much.
The first few time surfing with a camera can feel really weird, especially if you have to hold onto it.
What works best for you comes down to trial and error and personal preference, but some of the tips below will help you figure out how to get the best shots.
First things first, you’re going to want to either get some sort of wrist leash or floaty attachment for your action camera – they sink like a stone, which is not ideal when you’re using it to surf.
There are plenty of attachments you can buy that will strap the camera to you or keep it above water.
Or, you can make your own pretty easily.
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Cameras for Surfing
If you’re looking for the best action camera to capture your surfing, GoPro is the way to go.
The Hero 8 is the ultimate choice for good surfing videos.
With built-in mounting tabs, waterproof as-is, video stabilization and leveling, and all sorts of floating mounts and accessories you can’t go wrong.
Whether you’re capturing sequences for your next edit or live streaming to all your YouTube fans, the Hero 8 is the way to go.
GoPro for Surfing
The Hero 8 is a powerful action camera in a compact, mod-able package.
For surfing videos, it’s got everything you’ll need.
The GoPro Hero 8 surfing camera features:
- 4k video resolution.
- Bluetooth capabilities.
- 3 levels of video stabilization for super smooth playback.
- Compact design with built-in mounting tabs.
- Removable batteries.
- Slow-mo capture capabilities.
- Touch screen controls.
- Media Mods to extend the camera’s functionality out of the water.
- Digital lens setting to change how your video gets captured.
The biggest drawback to the GoPro is the price point. It’s going to be at the higher end of action cameras, and when you’re surfing with the potential to lose it to the bottom of the ocean, you’re putting your pockets at risk.
However, there are plenty of straps, mounts, and accessories designed to keep your camera safe while you surf and floating if you drop it or it comes loose.
If you’re new to surfing with a GoPro or you just want to test the waters, a cheap action camera might be a good entry level choice.
You can find options at under $100 that still feature 4k video capture, image stabilization, and waterproof housing.
They won’t be as good or as easy to use as the GoPro, but they certainly exceed expectations for an entry level action camera that’s this cheap.
How to Film Yourself Surfing
Filming yourself surfing with a GoPro comes down to the mounts you’ve got.
With some backup plan equipment sorted out, you’re ready to experiment with some different mount methods to get the best shots.
- Sticky board mounts.
- Screw-in board mounts.
- Wrist strap mounts.
- Head strap mounts.
- Mouth-guard bite mounts.
- Handheld camera sticks.
It’s really going to come down to personal preference, but the mounts that keep both of your hands and arms free are going to allow you to surf the most naturally without worrying about the camera.
The downside being that you don’t have 100% control of where the camera is pointed.
1. Sticky Board Mounts
These mounts use adhesive tape to stick to the top of your surfboard.
These can be a good handsfree option for both POV & shots of you, but just make sure the tape is strong enough to stand up to the salt water.
Wait at least 24 hours after sticking it to your board before surfing.
2. Screw-in Board Mounts
Similar set up to the sticky mounts, but these are fixed more permanently to your board.
I’m not a fan of the idea of screwing into glass and foam or installing a plug.
3. Wrist Strap Mounts
These strap to your wrist like a watch, which allows you to still use both hands.
The draw back is that you’ll loose the full use of the camera arm when you’re up and surfing if you’re trying to get a steady shot.
4. Head Strap Mounts
These strap to your head like a miner’s light.
Hands free, gets your point of view, and will hopefully stay strapped to your noggin when you fall.
The head strap is one of the easiest and cleanest ways to capture POV shots of your surfing.
Your camera clips onto the strap and can also be mounted to hats, belts, helmets, or your wetsuit if you get creative.
5. Mouth-guard Bite Mounts
You bite down on these with a mouthguard attachment.
You get the same point-of-view shot as the head mount without something strapped to your head.
You’ll want to make sure it’s floaty of has some sort of leash attachment though.
Word of warning – these are not the most comfortable thing to surf with.
I also don’t think they’re dentist recommended.
6. Handheld Camera Sticks
f you want a little more flexibility in the types of shots you can get, a handheld grip is the way to go.
This one has a built-in wrist strap and it floats.
If you drop it, the orange tip helps with spotting it in the water.
These take various forms, but are essentially a selfie-stick that you hang onto while you surf.
This allows you to get a variety of different camera angles, like the behind you point of view, but requires you to figure out how to paddle with it and how to manage it while you’re surfing.
How to Get Good Surfing Videos
If you’re not used to surfing with a GoPro, it’s going to take a little getting used to.
Multitasking is difficult.
Multitasking while surfing tends to feel even more difficult.
If you’re using a handheld GoPro mount, you’re going to need to practice where to keep it while you’re paddling into the wave and how you’ll hold it when you surf.
There’s really no right way to do it, but it will take some getting used to.
The best advice for getting good shots of your surfing is to plan them out.
Try to avoid moving the camera around too much, and try to visualize what you want the playback to look like.
If the camera is mounted, you’ll have it a little easy.
You’ll just need to tweak the mounting angle and video settings to get what you need.
After that, you’re just surfing.
With a handheld camera, you’ll need to experiment with using your trailing hand or leading hand to film.
While the built-in video stabilization and leveling will improve your captures, it can help to hold the camera steady and keep movements slow and smooth.