This is a review of the best cameras for surfing in 2022.
I am Miguel, and I am running a water sports school providing lessons in surfing, kayaking, wakeboarding, and wake surfing. Today, I will work with a professional photographer, Kan, to help you choose the very best surfing cameras in the current market.
Surfing is one of the mainstays of any adventurous beachgoer. The thrill of riding the waves, the warmth of the sun against your back, and the cool water below your board.
What better way to capture the moment than by reliving them time and again in high definition? With top-of-the-line cameras, like the ones we’ve got waiting for you on our list, you can look back on these moments as vividly as on the day you experienced them.
So, we’ve got a handpicked list of what we think are the best-equipped cameras to handle the demands of a surfer. Let’s get to it.
- Best Overall: GoPro HD Hero10 Black
- Best Performance: Sony Alpha a6500
- Best for Professional: Canon EOS-1DX Mark II
- Best Budget: Cooau 4K 60fps
Best Cameras for Surfing in 2022: Top Picks
Here are our most recommended cameras for surfing.
GoPro HD Hero10 Black
- Key Features: 5k Resolution, Waterproof, HyperSmooth 4.0 Image Stabilization, USB Connectivity, Quik app compatibility
- Resolution: 5.3K at 60fps
- Weight: 15.8 ounces
- Best for: Overall
With the GoPro Hero10 Black, you’re sure to catch all of the excitement in the heat of the moment. Featuring 23 megapixels at 5.3K resolution, you’ll be able to shoot videos, take pictures, and even take close-up shots without compromising quality when you zoom in.
This camera also features 60fps capabilities, allowing for smooth playback and slow-motion for up to 8x at 2K resolution, so there’s little you’ll miss with it. We believe this GoPro is great for all sorts of exciting sports like skiing, snowboarding, and even kayaking.
It can capture movement smoother than ever with the Hypersmooth 4.0 stabilization technology, and it’s just as easy to dial in. So whether it’s a low light shot or horizon leveling with a higher tilt limit, you’ll still get stable footage right when you want it.
You’re also able to transfer your photos from the camera straight to the cloud using the Quik app or the traditional USB charger.
This camera’s major perk from previous models is its backward compatibility, which means you can still use all your Hero 9 accessories on your new Hero 10.
The only issue we might have with the Hero 10 is its battery life. The battery doesn’t reach its max cap advertised battery life on a single charge, but that’s what spare batteries come in handy for. Also, if you’re shooting purely in 5.3K, expect a bigger drain on your single-cell battery.
Sony Alpha a6500
- Key Features: 5-axis in-body image stabilization. 24.2MP, 4D Focus
- Resolution: 4K movie recording
- Weight: 15.98 ounces
- Best for: Performance
The Sony Alpha a6500 is great for when you’re taking continuous action shots. With its 24 megapixels at 11fps continuous shooting capabilities, you can continuously take up to 307 shots.
The 5 Axis in-body image stabilization means its got its own built-in gyroscope, giving you stabilization on all 5 axis—horizontal, vertical, pitch, yaw, and roll. This means you’ll still get a balanced, stable image despite the rocky waves, and remain steady even during fast-paced moving shots.
With its 4k shooting capabilities and up to 120 fps Full HD details, you’ve got your money’s worth performance-wise. This added processing power gives you immediate image review, even when you’re shooting multiple batch photos. The tilting touch LCD screen is a nice feature too, making on-the-spot edits and adjustments easier than ever.
While the 5-axis stabilization is a nice touch, it’s actually made this model slightly heavier than its previous model, the A6300. The menu on this camera is also a lot denser than others similar to it, which means more features but it’s a little cluttered for us.
Canon EOS-1DX Mark II
- Key Features: Fastest shooting EOS-1D, 170 raws burst rate, 1080p video resolution
- Resolution: 4K at 60fps
- Weight: 10.56 ounces
- Best for: Professional
This camera is primarily designed for professionals with exceptional autofocus capabilities and performance. It is mainly used for wildlife photography and sports, so catching the waves should be right within its ballpark.
While its resolution isn’t as impressive as the others on our list, the Canon Mark II offers a nice, comfortable balance between high-quality image resolution and High ISO performance. You’ll still capture all the action in high definition, without some of the lag that often comes with the high ISO.
However, this camera isn’t for catching the action while you’re riding on the board. It’s better used for tracking a surfer on the waves, but you’ll still be able to get beautiful shots from the safety of the shore.
Cooau 4K 60fps
- Key Features: waterproof, native 4k 60FPS, slow motion, loop recording, time-lapse, car mode, distortion correction, diving mode, self-timer
- Resolution: 4k at 60fps
- Weight: 1.23 ounces
- Best for: Budget
The Cooau is one of our favorites for surfing as it sports a diving and an underwater mode. In other words, you won’t have to worry about the integrity of your camera once you’ve fallen off your board and into the deep blue. It’s also got a rugged case to keep it safe from rocks, dust, scratches, and whatever else it might bump into while you’re on vacation.
The external microphone and remote control let you capture audio loud and clear, along with its noise reduction feature. This is a solid spare camera that you want to bring for all different trips.
It also offers the best value at its price point, with multiple functions and modes for whatever you might need on the go. Slow-motion, loop recording, time-lapse, diving mode, and a whole lot of options are available for a camera at this price.
Best Cameras for Surfing – What to Consider
Consider the following factors to help you choose a camera that’s best for your needs.
In the camera world, resolution refers to quality, and different cameras offer different levels of resolution. The support for higher resolution allows your camera to capture crisp shots to the finest grained detail.
Usually, the higher the camera’s resolution, the lower the frames per second. Since surfing is a high-action sport, it’d be best to get a camera that has a good balance of the two.
When you’re surfing with high waves, your balance matters. Hence, it’s important to get a camera that would only have little to no effect on your overall balance.
And to be honest, if you enjoy surfing, very likely you are going to fall for skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, skating… just like we do. And you definitely want something lightweight so you can stick it on your helmet all day long.
A good sensor is crucial for any camera, and a full-frame sensor is best for activities like surfing. With sensors that size, you catch more light, which leads to a better quality shot. A crop sensor would also suffice, but buy one from a trusted brand and ensure that they’re fail-safe and durable considering the kind of activity you’ll use them for.
A good sensor alone won’t suffice, you’ll also need a camera with a good autofocus feature. Most newer cameras already have hybrid autofocus systems, but if you prefer doing it manually, that’s great too. However, the autofocus systems on many newer models are now super-fast, accurate, and perform well in a high-speed shot.