In the mountain biking industry, videography is one of the most practiced and promoted past times with this sport. There is nothing quite like watching quality footage of exhilarating leaps and nerve-wracking falls when out and about in pristine nature. But properly shooting mountain biking requires a range of comprehensive equipment that goes far beyond a mere cell phone camera. With this in mind, how do you shoot mountain biking video?
To shoot mountain biking video, a videographer should use a high-quality, outdoors camera such as a GoPro Hero 8 or a Sony a7III. Additionally, videographers should use a gimbal in order to film at different angles and from an underslung position based on the movements of the mountain bike.
Are you currently interested in filming mountain biking footage? Are you simply curious about the various equipment used in filming MTB? Whatever the reason, this article is for you. In this guide, we will take a look at the best way to video mountain biking across a range of different cameras and essential accessories. Read on to find out more about how to shoot mountain biking videos.
Video Credit: Nate Hills
Best Way To Video Mountain Biking
Shooting MTB video is all about proper positioning. The default camera mounting option for most people seems to be on the top of the helmet, facing forward, and as it happens, this is also the best way to film MTB. This is expected, as these types of point of view cameras are commonly referred to collectively as helmet cams. Unfortunately, this perspective can sometimes be the absolute worst choice for an interesting video.
If you are riding solo, this shot tends to create a flag pole-type perspective with nothing in the frame to add depth to the picture. It’s almost impossible to tell how steep the trail actually is or how large the obstacles are as there is nothing else to compare them to. Also, the bike is not in the picture at all, so the viewer has no idea how exactly the rider is handling his bike.
However, if you are filming a chase scene with another rider in front of you, this angle does an excellent job of capturing what the other rider is doing on the trail. This is the only instance when I would personally recommend this mount. Again, this angle is really only useful if you are shooting a chase scene. Obviously, it would capture the performance of the rider behind you. This is a pretty popular mount with gravity riders wearing full face helmets.
The angle inevitably captures part of the helmet in the picture, and that little section of helmet is usually enough to lend a little bit of perspective to the image. Also, you can usually see the bike a little bit in the bottom of the frame, which would be especially cool on jump lines, I imagine.
After the forward helmet mount, handlebar filming is probably the second most common mounting option. Because of the fact that the camera is mounted directly to the bars, it is constantly being jolted and shaken by the smallest bumps in the trail. When I watch videos shot from this perspective I can rarely make out what is going on, and most of the time my head starts hurting and I turn it off.
This is similar to the whole shaky cam effect that was featured in movies a lot during the 2000s. It’s also impossible to see how the rider is working the bike with this filming style.
The one thing that a bar mount does well is provide a good view of the trail surface, if it is relatively smooth. While at first glance you might think that the camera would suffer a lot of shaking when mounted in the rear seat position, the truth is that this is actually a very stable mount, especially on a full suspension bike.
This is a very unique perspective that I find is a lot of fun to watch. When you are riding a bike, you never get to see the trail disappearing behind your tires. But with your camera mounted like this, you can when you get home to your computer, and it is a thrilling experience to relive.
Also, the rear wheel provides a focal point for viewers to keep things interesting and to provide a little bit of depth to the picture. I also find it fun to watch how the suspension responds to changes in the terrain.
Ultimately, the way you film your MTB video is entirely up to you, but one thing that is certain with MTB video is the style of camera that you use.
GoPro For Mountain Biking
Sports enthusiasts, adventurers, and indeed everybody who can hold a camera relishes the opportunity to capture every moment using the GoPro camera.
This device is a sleek and compact camera that gives you good quality photos and videos. It’s also waterproof and durable due to its sturdy construction and design.
Additionally, the GoPro features an ultra-wide-angle lens, an image sensor as well as a processor. It also has three microphones inside the small cuboid for enhanced voicing during recording. Older models have buttons for easy control, while some offer touch screen and voice control.
GoPro cameras have impressive features and qualities that make them stand out among the market’s best brands. Let’s discuss a few of them.
The lens of the camera is a major determining factor for the GoPro photo prowess. It doesn’t use a standard lens but a wide lens like other action cameras.
So, you can frame anything you capture with much ease. All you need to do is mount it on a helmet or handlebars perfectly and grab every corner around you.
A Wide Variety of Mounting Options
One exciting thing about the GoPro action cameras is that they offer mounting equipment and other essential accessories that allow you to take a shot or video anywhere. The mounting accessories include helmet mount, bike mount, aerial mounts, suction cups, and many more.
Hence, you can attach it to drones for an aerial view or mountain bikes when riding through rough terrain. Aside from the mounting equipment, GoPro also offers waterproof casing in case you want to engage in watersports activities such as surfing and swimming.
A GoPro is the quintessential camera for shooting mountain biking video.
Best Way To Mount GoPro For Mountain Biking
The key to capturing the best images with a GoPro is found in the mounting. Each mounting position allows you to catch a different angle on the action, creating a more dynamic view and a more compelling story with your footage. For example, take a look at some of your favorite YouTube videos involving Mountain Biking. What do you notice about the POV shots?
While there’s definitely more to it, these few features give you a base understanding as to why the videos are so engaging.
For starters, having a subject (the rider) in frame gives us a reference point for the action. This allows us to relate to the scene and can almost feel like an immersive experience if edited correctly. In addition to the subject, you also get a great view of the trail around them. GoPro’s are great at taking wide-framed videos, which helps riders capture the environment around them.
And the beauty of nature when mountain biking is one of the top reasons to ride in the first place. This is why GoPro’s are so important to a rider’s MTB camera setup. Lastly, you can get a better sense for the rider’s speed on videos where the camera angle is lower to the ground, as opposed to higher.
A good way to imagine this is to imagine a jet flying in front of you and in the skyline, although a jet is flying hundreds of miles per hour, the fact that it’s so far away makes it look like it’s moving at a crawl. Compare that to a hand waving in front of your face, which seems like it’s moving a lot faster than the jet. This is simply due to the fact that your hand is closer to your view, although it’s a lot slower than the jet. Keep this in mind when you start filming.
Best GoPro Mount For Mountain Biking
A great GoPro mount to consider is the 3-Way 2.0. This incredible camera mount is 2.0 is three essential mounts in one. It’s an ergonomic camera grip that transforms into a tripod, plus an extension arm for selfies or follow shots. A built-in ball joint even lets you tilt your camera or swivel 360 degrees, and an integrated ball joint lets you change your camera angle without having to reposition the mount.
Some key standout features of the 3-Way 2.0 are:
- Built-in tripod quickly folds out to provide a stable shooting platform for time lapse shots, group photos and more
- Ergonomic design makes the grip comfortable to use even during all-day adventures
- Folding extension arm acts as a handheld boom for selfies, overhead shots, follow-cam footage and getting closer to the action
- Captive hardware makes it impossible to lose individual pieces
- Standard GoPro mounting base makes it easy to switch your camera between mounts
- Waterproof construction for use in and out of the water
- Measures 19.5in (49.53cm) when fully extended and collapses to 8in (20.32cm)
How To Use Chest Mount GoPro For Mountain Biking
The padded, flexible Chest Mount GoPro makes it easy to capture immersive hands-free shots from your chest. Made from breathable, lightweight materials, it can easily be adjusted to comfortably fit a wide range of body types. It’s perfect for biking, hiking, skiing or any adventure where you want amazing POV footage. Lightweight, flexible construction balances comfort and performance, all while sitting snugly onto your chest.
Key features of the Chest Mount GoPro are:
- Padded and breathable materials to keep you comfortable during any activity
- Fully adjustable to fit a wide range of body types and over heavy winter jackets
- Specially designed quick-release buckle lets you get in and out easily—even with gloves on
- Stable platform for capturing incredibly immersive hands-free footage with GoPro cameras and Karma Grip
To use the Chest Mount, simply strap the camera into the locking mechanism on the mount and then buckle the mount around your chest to lock it in place.
Best GoPro Hero 8 Settings For Mountain Biking
The GoPro Hero 8 is arguably the most popular GoPro on the market right now. This is because there are so many available settings to conform to your filming style. Here are some of the most innovative settings of this model to consider.
- LIVEBURST – Record the moments 1.5 seconds before and after your shot
- SUPERPHOTO + HDR – Capture killer 12-MP photos with improved HDR with reduced blur and serious detail, even in low-light areas.
- NIGHT LAPSE VIDEO – Capture amazing time lapse videos at night in 4K, 2.7K 4:3, 1440p or 1080p, all processed in-camera.
- DIGITAL LENSES – Now you can toggle between Narrow, Linear, Wide and SuperView.
- LIVE STREAMING IN 1080P
- VOICE CONTROL – Go hands-free with 14 voice commands
- ADVANCED WIND-NOISE REDUCTION – New front mic location and improved algorithms that actively filter out wind noise.
- RAW IN ALL PHOTO MODES – now available for time lapse and burst photos.
- PRESETS – Presets for Standard, Activity, Cinematic and Slo-Mo shots.
- PORTRAIT ORIENTATION – Capture photos and videos in portrait orientation – perfect for your Snapchat and Instagram Stories.
- RUGGED + WATERPROOF – Share experiences you can’t capture with your phone. HERO8 Black is rugged, waterproof to 10 m and down for adventure.
- PRO-QUALITY 4K60 + 1080P240 VIDEO – Stunning video resolution, impressive frame rates and super slo-mo combine with HyperSmooth stabilization.
- 8X SLO-MO – Ultra-high frame rate 1080p240 video – with HyperSmooth 2.0 stabilisation – allows up to 8x slow motion to relive epic moments in all their glory.
- 100-MBPS BIT RATE – Record studio-quality footage with bit rate options of up to 100 Mbps.
- GPS + MOTION SENSORS – GPS captures your location, altitude and speed.
- FACE, SMILE, BLINK + SCENE DETECTION – HERO8 Black knows when you face the camera, smile, blink and more.
Best Camera For Mountain Biking
If you just want to use a camera for filming MTB, there are many to choose from. First up is the Feiyu Tech WG 2 X, which is a wearable gimbal that is most suited for shooting when your hands are not free to hold the gimbal. You can just attach it to your chest strap or on the helmet to get the smooth and balanced footage even in hyper action situations.
This gimbal is made to hold small-sized action cameras like GoPro Hero 8/7/6/5/4 and DJI Osmo Action. These types of sports cameras can be directly mounted onto the gimbal. You can also mount the GoPro Hero 8 but not without the adapter, and note that it doesn’t support the GoPro Hero 9.
Now, if you want to change the lock position of the camera, then hold it in a new position for two seconds, and the camera will get locked at that angle. The 1500 mAh battery powers the gimbal for 2.5 hours and takes 2 hours to get fully charged.
The design of the unit is simple and ergonomic. On one side, it has a mode button and the charging port on the other. With the press of a mode button, you can select any one mode from the pan mode, pan and tilt mode, and inversion mode, and if you click one more time, then the gimbal will reset.
Additionally, the wireless connection with the smartphone, a splash-proof design, a thread-hole at the bottom, and the ability to rotate 360 degrees from the base, adds more value to the product. There is no doubt that this gimbal is built to provide uncompromised performance at an affordable price.
Also, the GoPro Hero 9 is the finest camera from GoPro till now. It really shines with its improved 23.6 MP sensor that can capture crisp, clear, and color-accurate 20 MP stills and videos up to 5K resolution. The front-facing display gives the utmost convenience to the vloggers.
With the latest Hypersmooth 3.0, the GoPro Hero 9 captures the video with phenomenal stabilization, and with this camera in action, the gimbal feels outdated. The improved Timewarp 3.0 can introduce an impressive time-lapse effect in the footage, which will be really eye-pleasing to watch.
Also, scheduled capture and duration capture are worth noticing and useful to capture the footage when you are not around. The GoPro Hero 9 with the supreme horizon leveling and very practical hindsight feature packs a punch and provides excellent value for money.
Best Action Camera For Mountain Biking
Action cameras have become a staple of the mountain bike community in the past decade. There’s barely a rider who doesn’t have one strapped to their helmet or handlebars at this point and contrary to what some may think, there are actually plenty of companies producing cameras at varying prices and with various levels of tech.
Of course, GoPro is still by far the best-known brand in the action camera world, responsible for the boom and still at the forefront of the industry, but there are also many other options. But in all honesty, only the GoPro Hero 8 is worth considering since this model is good for beginners and advanced videographers alike.
The release of the GoPro Hero 8 sees the already awesome tech that put GoPro and the Hero7 at the front of the market tweaked slightly, while some tasty new features have been added for good measure.
Perhaps the most notable improvement on the Hero 8 is the changes to the HyperSmooth stabilisation function, which was already a real game changer back in 2018. Now polished, re-written and re-packaged as HyperSmooth 2.0, the software offers some of the best built-in stabilisation on the action camera market.
If you’re going to be using it for mountain biking, the importance of that stabilization cannot be overstated. One of the hardest parts of getting usable footage from an action cam has long been finding a way to eliminate the shake while going over roots, rocks, and drops – particularly for filmmakers who don’t have much camera experience.
There are three modes of stabilization available too, which each provide various options on how you want the footage to look. Gone are the days of showing your friends footage from your latest trip to the trails that looks like it was filmed inside a washing machine.
Elsewhere, there’s a new function that lets you livestream footage, an improved microphone and an accompanying app that is a lot slicker. Extra display, lighting and sound ‘mod’ add-ons are available too. They attach right onto the GoPro Hero8 Black, and look super slick. Of course, it’s got all the usual 4K recording and touch screen goodness in there too, while the built-in mounting remains a benefit.
Best Video Cameras For Mountain Biking
If mounts and GoPros are not compatible with your set up or purview, the best type of cameras to consider are high quality video cameras. DJI, the name known for its world-class video camera drones, puts their fit in the action camera market with the release of DJI Osmo action. The back screen is highly responsive, and the user interface is as simple as it can get. If you are a vlogger, then the front-facing screen is certainly going to make your life easier.
It also offers advanced electronic stabilization, which is really good, and it keeps the frame smooth and jerk-free. The 1/2.3” 12MP CMOS sensor captures the 4K HDR videos and takes the best stills with a good amount of details. Want to shoot underwater? No worries there as it will keep working perfectly fine up to the depth of 11 meters even without the cover, and a waterproof design is also included in the deal.
Finally, the Canon EOS 5D has to be mentioned. In order to deliver detailed images quickly and effectively the 5D Mark IV leverages the power of the DIGIC 6+ image processor, which can handle up to 7 frames per second during continuous shooting. It also uses a 150,000-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor to evaluate the scene and subjects for accurate exposures under a variety of different lighting conditions.
An improved 61-point High Density Reticular AF furthers the camera’s speed by tracking and locking onto subjects quickly and accurately for tack sharp photos. The Canon 5D Mark IV offers a newly developed 30.4MP full-frame CMOS sensor paired with the DIGIC 6+ image processor in order to balance fine detail and resolution with low-light performance and sensitivity.