Cameras and steady(ish)shots

I often get asked about filming ....

Norfolk Sharpies959

so here are some hints

use the flip out viewfinder rather than the eye piece

hold the camera in the middle of your body - at the level of your solar plexus

wear dark clothes so that you can see the image and not the reflections

stand like a gorilla - legs apart - bent at the knees, elbows a bit bent - try to hold something steady in the frame - just concentrate ion the top of the sail of the boat you are filming

use the camera on top of folded tripod - it gives you a bigger thing to hold onto and makes the camera a bit heavier

never use the zoom - if the thing you are filming is too small in the viewfinder then get closer - or film something bigger

other things to try

bungee the camera and tripod to the stern rail - at least then the boat is still in the frame

bungee the tripod to a boat hook for some high shots

occasionally slow the film down to 80 per cent - you suddenly become 20 per cent more steady

crank up the contrast and brightness by ten per cent before uploading the film to youtube

wind noise is always a problem - so hold the camera down low in the cockpit for two minutes when you film where it will be out of the wind but will record the sound of the boat

then move that boat sound over the windy bits

film over the bow, film the stern, film the sails, film the penant, film the wash, film ropes moving, film sparkles on the water, don't be afraid to film into the sun, film bouys, passing trees, bits of crud in the water, sailing is about moving. Let each shot last for at least ten seconds - if the camera wobbles then start counting again


but remember that you need something moving - a bird flying across the horizon, a post passing, another boat

if you want to get some low shots of water then using the tripod hold the camera upside down near the water then flip the image in the edit

don't use a go pro


I am currently using three cameras and these are the latest versions of them


I always have one of these in my pocket



I always have one of these in my rucksack

I use one of these on the camera in the shoe


and I have one of these in the car or the boat for filming wildlife


I do have a big pro tripod that costs about £5,000 but that is not on the boat - I only use that for paid work

I buy cheapo cam tripods from maplins costing about £20 and kill at least one every year





This is about Dylan Winter's Blog.

44 Responses to “Cameras and steady(ish)shots”

  1. 31 May, 2013 at 3:35 pmChris Potter says:

    Rather off topic Dylan, but my Boxer, Gooch, sneaks onto a bed whenever he can – we have never caught him, we can even feel the warm spot where he has been, but there he is lying in his basket snoring!

    SO……I set up a webcam to catch him and it’s hilarious! the only problem is the video is over 1 hour long and nothing happens until the last 8 minutes or so!

    Do you know of free video editing software I could use to crop this episode? It is hardly worth paying for a full system just to do this one clip!

  2. 31 May, 2013 at 3:50 pmdylan winter says:

    microsoft does a free one

    although there are lots of free ones

    hang on – I think that adobe is now giving premiere 2 away for freemans

    I know nothing of mac products – other than the fact that they are used exclusively by wussy technophobes


  3. 31 May, 2013 at 4:08 pmGiles says:

    Surely that’s wussy technophiles?

  4. 31 May, 2013 at 4:42 pmdylan winter says:


  5. 4 June, 2013 at 2:31 amPaul says:

    Chris, if you have a Windows based PC, go to Start – Programs and look for “Windows live movie maker”. Once you have a play with it, its pretty simple to create some great home movies.

  6. 4 June, 2013 at 3:12 pmChris Potter says:

    Yes, I downloaded it and it is good

  7. 21 February, 2014 at 6:19 pmJ. Peter Haliburton says:

    Thanks for the expanded camera info, however, it is not looking good for me filming any sailing on the Bay of Exploits this summer. With current financial and time restrictions, Serenity will probably spend the summer in my driveway. Might get to crew for friends occasionally. Camera gear is still on my wish list.

  8. 21 February, 2014 at 7:03 pmdylan winter says:

    more sailing less work

    Mark twain

    “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

  9. 22 February, 2014 at 3:16 pmJ. Peter Haliburton says:

    If I were richer I could sail more, but there are things which need doing around the house and property this year which supersede even sailing. I also have to sell off some major assets to pay for the materials, and the sailboat itself is not totally safe. Once these projects are taken care of, however, boating can again take priority. In the meantime I have KTL to watch.

  10. 22 February, 2014 at 8:20 pmdylan winter says:

    lack of money is the curse of the sailing man

  11. 24 February, 2014 at 9:34 pmIanc1200 says:

    Why not the Go Pro?

  12. 24 February, 2014 at 9:44 pmdylan winter says:

    fish eye lens

    nothing is straight

    does not do sound worth a squit

    more expensive

    needs a waterproof housing

    no stills

    it is the ultimate one trick pony

    but I love the go pro because it does such a bad job that the films all look exactly the same


  13. 24 February, 2014 at 10:42 pmIanc1200 says:

    Sorry Dylan my apologies; have just spent the last hour reading yours and others thoughts on this on YBW.

  14. 24 February, 2014 at 11:29 pmdylan winter says:

    no worries

    v happy to answer here as elsewhere –

    the panasonic waterproof (nee Xacti) is a wonderful little camera – I never leave home without it

    thast is really true – even when I walk the dog

  15. 25 February, 2014 at 6:38 pmIan Clarke says:

    Thanks Dylan. Can the Panasonic be clamped to a transom, or fixed to a pole (my Crabber doesn’t have guardrails, & the new smacks boat will just have the timber boards where the outboard would be clamped. I was thinking of doing the sort of thing Lurch1e does so wonderfully with his Duck Punts at West Mersea)

  16. 25 February, 2014 at 7:10 pmdylan winter says:

    £15 tripod from maplins

    then you bungee it wherever you like

    you can bungee the tripod to the end of a paddle or to the ensign staff


  17. 25 February, 2014 at 8:50 pmIan Clarke says:

    Again thanks!

  18. 25 February, 2014 at 9:16 pmdylan winter says:

    you are welcome

    let me know what you decide and send me a link to the films


  19. 16 March, 2014 at 2:03 pmIan Clarke says:

    Got the Panasonic, hopefully be able to understand in time for the new boat launch later this week or next. Look forward to a poorly shot, edited & boring video!

  20. 16 April, 2014 at 6:11 amSimon Carter says:

    Hi, took your advice Dylan I bought a hx-wa-30 I have given a good work out and I am very impressed with the results. I have posted a few things on youtube, I bought a panasonic 720 blown over on the tripod on my last trip bugger the auto focus, in the end be for it fell over the side with the tripod.
    With the hx-wa-30 I have found a yellow dish washing sponge minus the scrubber up over the mic cuts out the wind noise even in 30kns I hold it on with two rubber bands.
    regards, Simon

  21. 16 April, 2014 at 6:50 pmdylan winter says:

    post the links then….

    wanna see them

  22. 21 April, 2014 at 1:14 pmSimon Carter says:

    I like the beaulieu river shots I lived in live in Lymington Sailed up the river alot in the late 70s I use to sail way past the boat yard and drop anchor dry out never got nabbed for a fees
    He are some shots HX-WA-30

  23. 21 April, 2014 at 9:21 pmBob says:

    How does the HX WA30 compare with your old camera the Sanjo Xacti HD

  24. 21 April, 2014 at 9:31 pmdylan winter says:

    I think it is more or less the same camera – although I have yet to wear out the xacti – if it does give up on me then I would just buy the WA. It can be used down to 9m I believe

  25. 23 April, 2014 at 10:33 amTyge says:

    hello dylan, I really like your work and and it made me want to make a small movie myself. here it is

  26. 25 April, 2014 at 12:12 pmdylan winter says:

    Good start Ian…. next you need to think about choosing a day with better light – early in the morning and late in the evening is often wonderful.

    If you want wind free sailing noises then hold the camera down low in the boat for two minutes – then put that sound over the images where the wind is getting to the mike

    or you can put a sock or a glove over the mike

    you need to think about a beginning, a middle and an end

    it does not have to be a complex story

    just a boat sliding into the water, a close up of the wake, a burgee waving in the wind

  27. 25 April, 2014 at 1:36 pmIan Clarke says:

    Thanks for your comments Dylan. Will try & add something about 3 storey boats and “private keep off signs” as well, although might have trouble finding either in the Walton Backwaters. The title of the video was a reference to a short story in Magic of The Swatchways, and I notice the boat it was written in, “Storm”, is now up for sale.

  28. 14 August, 2014 at 11:31 pmAndy Wild says:

    With a rather tiny budget I am looking to fit out a small yacht with some filming kit. So to this end I am opting for a SONY HDR-CX330 (£170 + £20 for 2 x 16GB SDHC Cards) as my main AVCHD camera to have in the rucksack and carry out pieces to camera. I have a Vivitar DVR783HD which is a rather naff action camera but does come with a waterproof housing and case (£40!) which means I can mount it on the pull-pit or mast with the supplied clamp and use in the foulest of weather.
    So with a little bargain hunting and a couple of extra batteries and a tripod I’m looking at about £250 all in.
    However I think the idea of the smaller pocket camera is great and will look into it.
    On another note what do you use for editing your material with? While I have shoddy camera kit and very little money, I do have access to Avid and ProTools.

  29. 14 August, 2014 at 11:37 pmdylan winter says:

    I use premiere – v easy

    what about audio

    an external mike really helps to kill the wind noise

    the sony has no mike input

    deal breaker for me


  30. 15 August, 2014 at 1:58 pmAndy Wild says:

    Agreed the audio is an issue, I have an old SD DVCam SONY PDX10 which has directional mic and is great quality and I was thinking of using this, my only concern with this is that its tape based and would be a beast to look after with the batteries etc. That said I will also still be able to get £250 for the rig on e-bay and so help fund the sailing project :o)
    I have previously retro fitted external mics such as the ever cheap SG-108 into cheap cameras via high jacking the built-in mics with a little creative soldering and careful opening, so I’m hoping to do this with the SONY too.
    I’ll let you know if I have any success

  31. 23 October, 2014 at 2:42 amSimon Carter says:

    Hi, took your advice Dylan I bought a hx-wa-30 I sailed 800nm up the eastcoast of Australia following your hints above had a stab at filming the trip it was blowing 25 knots at times I managed to get some reasonable results I have posted on youtube,
    There is a lot of guff thier I am particulary pleased with the sound this is a good example
    Into the wind in twenty knots a yellow dish washing sponge minus the scrubber up over the mic cuts out the wind, held on with two rubber bands.
    regards, Simon

  32. 23 October, 2014 at 9:21 amdylan winter says:

    simon – these are very good – that is marvelous to see such a lovely place. well filmed too – watch these lads

  33. 21 November, 2014 at 4:22 amJ. Peter Haliburton says:

    I’ve been looking for a video camera I can take boating for a while. Getting one that will produce good images and sound, while fitting the budget is challenging. What are your thoughts on this one? Better than a GoPro?

  34. 21 November, 2014 at 8:58 amdylan winter says:

    It looks pretty good – JVC have a great reputation – good lenses – no idea about the sound – can you charge it from a 12 volt socket – only an internal battery – which is bad for me – but it will run for 4.5 hours off the internal battery – that is fine until the battery gets old – batteries always wear out – good price too.


    PS – anything is better than a go pro – no sound, fishe eye lens, very expensive, not compatible with anything else

  35. 21 November, 2014 at 12:31 pmJ. Peter Haliburton says:

    Thanks. I didn’t notice about the battery. I’ll keep looking.

  36. 1 March, 2015 at 2:27 amRichard says:

    Dylan, your work and advice inspired me to fish out the Video Camera from a cupboard and try my hand at making a 10 minute video about the only boats available near our apartment in Bangkok! I read your advice and have tried to follow it. The camera is a Panasonic HC-V720 that we bought a couple of years ago and have rarely used. So now I’m looking for aN HX-WA30 for my next yacht delivery!

  37. 27 March, 2015 at 1:55 amTed B. (Charging Rhino) says:

    Great hints for camera work.

    I’ve tried using the “folded tripod as a camera handle” before, and it does wonders for steadying the camera, even just for taking stills. It both adds damping-mass to your hand, and extended but with the legs-folded the dampening-pendulum effect keeps it nice and level even if your tracking the target.

    It’s truly amazing how the price and size of cameras has gone down while the image-quality has improved. I take lots of still shots in the course of my work as an Architect documenting projects and construction details, and I clung to my Pentax-35mmSLR probably for too-long. Then I borrowed a pocket-sized digital camera for a road-trip, and was astonished at the quality images taken under challenging conditions…and with a tiny lens. I was convinced, plus here in the States there are few place to develop quality color print film anymore short of the high-cost commercial labs; you can’t even work in b/w-print without your own darkroom anymore. (I love and adore good b/w print-work.)

    I might just try that Panasonic pocket vid-camera for stills and vids, and experiment with some video editing this summer. It’s astonishing how much fits in a memory card these days at very little cost.

  38. 27 March, 2015 at 8:02 amdylan winter says:

    dead right Ted,

    filming this journey would not have been possible without the new gear. The tiny lenses are miracles of engineering – however, they do not capture as much light as a bigger one – smaller depth of field for video where you cannot play games with the shutter speed. I am very pleased to see the back of video tape – horrible stuff that picks up moisture and requires lots of little rust attracting wheels.

    the little waterproof camera has now been bought by panasonic –

    and is even better

    what I miss is the availability of old style emulsion to deal with bright skies and dark foregrounds.

    My hairy son is in his last year of architecture studies – five years studying – two years working. Goodness it goes on a long time.

  39. 21 January, 2017 at 2:26 pmPaul says:

    Hi D,

    My much loved HX-WA30 has died and Panasonic tells me they are no longer making them, and refuse to tell me if a replacement model is going to come out… I’v searched the net but nowhere has them anymore. Can you recommend any other video camera with at least HD 1080 that can handle rolling around in a cockpit or dinghy full of water, and doesn’t have one of those silly looking fisheye lenses that the kids seem to like?

  40. 22 January, 2017 at 4:48 pmdylan winter says:

    Paul, I am out of date on cameras

    I do know that the next one will have to be 4K



  41. 23 January, 2017 at 11:18 pmPaul says:

    Well I’v spent many hours researching this and there seems to be no waterproof video cameras (that take decent video) with normal people type lenses. They all seem to have those horrible fisheye lenses that make any video look horribly amateurish! Come on Panasonic, re-release the HW-WA30 in 4K for us normal people that want to take videos we can actually watch in 20 years without cringing… Meanwhile, if anyone hears of a Panasonic HX-WA30 second hand at a realistic price, please let me know!

  42. 24 January, 2017 at 8:15 amdylan winter says:

    now there is a phrase to play with

    “realistic price”

    If you find one…. let me know please

  43. 24 January, 2017 at 1:25 pmPaul says:

    Yes well I see what you mean by that “realistic price” thing being a bit hard to come by. Here are a couple I found second hand!

    I payed a third of that for one brand new!

    Here is a possible replacement, but it should be doing 4K for the price…
    Why do just about all of the underwater cams have those silly fisheye lenses?? I know thats what the action men want (although I’m buggered if I know why) but I’m no action man, I’m more of a “its 5 oclock somewhere” kind of man, and I just want a normal persons video camera that can handle a bit of water, sand, mud, and the odd knock. Why are the big manufacturers only catering to those action men types now (and why do those action men want to take wonky videos??)?

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