Any standard video camera can record a tennis match, but if you are going out to buy one specifically for tennis, there are a few things to look for:
Probably the most important feature is wifi capability which lets you view the picture and control the camera remotely from a smartphone. The most important use of this is so that you can check that the camera is positioned correctly without having to move it. Most of the modern sports cameras, including all of the GoPro cameras, have this feature built in now.
120 degree Field of View
The Field of View refers to how narrow or wide the picture is. The classic GoPro Fisheye view is a 170 degree field of view. This is not a good angle to record a tennis match, as the fisheye turns all the lines into curves and the court will appear far away. A standard camera angle is about 90 degrees, which is an ok view for watching the middle of the court and might work for singles, but will cut off the back of the doubles alleys.
So for recording tennis the goldilocks “just right” field of view is about 120 degrees, which lets you see the entire court, keeps the action close, and doesn’t have too much distortion.
The guidelines really apply for the standard case when you have a fence right at the back of the court. If it’s a really big court and the camera is really far behind the baseline, you will want to use a narrower field of view to hone in one the action.
If your camera doesn’t support a wide angle, then it’s possible to attach a wide angle lens to a standard camera using something like this.
For recording a two hour match, you’ll do great with standard video of 30 frames per second (fps), which any camera will do. However, if you’d also like to use the camera for detailed slow motion stroke analysis, then getting a camera that can go up to 120fps will be useful. Usually this will mean upgrading to a higher end, more expensive camera. That will give you really high quality slow motion.
Memory Card Capacity
Recording a two hour match in HD video will take somewhere around 10-15Gb of space on your card. If you end up recording warmups or run long you will need more than that, so I recommend at least a 32Gb memory card. Get a bigger card if you want to record mutliple matches in the same day.
You’ll also want to think about what accessories you need.
- If you have a QM-1 tennis mount, which I’d strongly recommend, then you will need to make sure you can attach your camera to a standard tripod.
- If you want to record multiple matches, or play long matches, then you shoudl look at getting extra batteries.