Nothing is more exciting than planning your next trip to the latest music festival. But what about being able to capture those everlasting memories to replay later? Cue the best cameras for music festivals. Although the very best for you will depend on a factors that we’ll go over, it all depends on the person and how exactly you want to save those amazing sets by your favorite artists in some of the most ecstatic environments ever. Do you want only a digital camera, or a video camera as well? What size? What’s your budget? We’ll go over these before we give you our picks, so let’s get the ball rolling.
Selecting the best camera for your festival
- Budget – This is a definite first to keep in mind since cameras come in not only different shapes, sizes, but price-ranges as well. For those who don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on their festival camera, we’ve some decently priced models at $300 and under. However, there are of course higher-priced that models that really up the ante when it comes to overall picture and video quality, extra features, and more. Perhaps you’d like to save a few more bucks after this guide? Are you only going to Coachella, or are you a multiple festival-goer?
- Camera type? Aside from deciding on either a digital camera or a video camera, what exact type do you have in mind? When camera type, is stated, we mean by the camera’s overall size, capability, internal functions, specialty in certain areas (such as environment or application) and more. Here’s a little get-down of the different types we recommend for festivals:
- Action cameras: You know those point-of-view videos you often see around Facebook and other social media sites? Such as snowboarders, moto and cyclists? These particular cameras are the smallest you can find, and they typically fit on either your body with different straps and mounts, on a piece of equipment, or selfie sticks to film you and your surrounding. They’re a great option for festivals since they’re so small and you can carry them around easily — just make sure you don’t lose it.
- Point-and-Shoot cameras: Many would consider this to look like a ‘classic digital camera’ — these are a bit bigger than action cams but are still able to fit in our pockets, purses and backpacks to avoid being stolen or hassle us when moving it around. They’re a bit better in terms of video and picture quality if you can afford the bigger size.
- DSLR cameras: Considering these are the most popular types of cameras in the world at the moment, we wouldn’t necessarily consider them ideal for festivals since they’re so big. However, we’ve seen many people using DSLRs at festivals and it all depends on the person. You’ll have to carry these with two hands or keep them around your neck with a strap. However, if you’re OK with this, these are unmatched when it comes to overall quality and clarity.
- Mirrorless cameras: Slightly smaller than DSLRs and becoming more popular as time goes on, mirrorless cameras are a bit more expensive than others but specialize in autofocus video shooting. Their picture quality is also amazing if you can afford it. They’re just lower in this list since they’re so expensive but give us some technically advanced features due to this.
- Camcorders: These are still relevant today — we promise! They fit around your hand with a strap and have that pop out viewfinder we’ve all become accustomed to since the 90’s. We found a few that are great (film in 1080p and 4K but just aren’t very good for still images).
- Lighting – Music festivals come in different times, seasons and environments. We remember going to Nocturnal a few years ago and the light shows at night were amazing; however, a camera without some low-light specialties wouldn’t have been able to fully capture the essence we were experiencing. Most festivals go both day and night, so just keep in mind the light sensitivity the camera you’re getting has — especially if you plan on doing a lot of night shooting.
- Camera features – When we say extra features, we mean: waterproof protection, freeze proof, shock proof, WiFi connectivity, panorama shots (these are awesome for festivals), low-light sensitivity, straps and mounts, optical zoom, 4K video resolution, and more. Which terms seem worth the money?
The best camera for music festivals
GoPro HERO 5
To start off our list, we’ll go with one of the most popular picks out right now. If you’re looking for one of the best cameras for music festivals the GoPro HERO 5 is the camera many consider for quite a few reasons. I’m sure most of you have heard of GoPro by now, however if not, this camera can withstand any conditions and is extremely durable. It can take on water, mud, heat, cold, and decent impacts. For video quality, you can go from 720p all the way to 4K (it’ll drain some battery but may be worth it) and you’re able to preview and playback your images and videos on your smart phone with their GoPro app. Another one of the biggest reasons we love this one for festivals is due to the smaller size and versatility. For those that have a tendency to lose their cameras during festivals, the HERO 5 camera is built to be mounted on your head or strapped on to your body to give you less hassle as well as security (won’t be getting it stolen if it’s on your chest, right?). There are hundreds of different mounts and straps you can buy, so this will help even further with what exactly you’re looking for. We just hope you’re OK with their fish eye lens as well as their relatively low-quality audio (as compared to other cameras, at least). If you want to be able to relive the experience of the festival through the clearest footage the GoPro 5 is the camera you want to get.
Canon PowerShot G9 X
Up next we have the Canon PowerShot G9 X. This is a very highly rated point-and-shoot camera that’s a bit bigger than the GoPro but still offers us some great versatile size (small and easily fits in a pocket or purse). Although amazing as a digital camera, you’re able to video in 1080p HD and the videos look clear and crisp. The zoom is also excellent, allowing you to zoom in on those bands and artists pretty well (the GoPro doesn’t have much zoom). This festival camera also has a great flash, which comes in handy for shots at night of you and your crew. The pricing for this camera is on the lower-end of the video and digital camera spectrum (even a bit lower than the HERO 5 depending on where you look), so if you’re also in need of something that won’t break the bank, here’s a good one. Many would certainly consider the Canon PowerShot G9 X one of the best music festival cameras on the market. This camera will capture all the moments of the festival in such clear quality that you’ll feel like you’re back in that moment every time you look at one of the pictures or watch one of the videos.
This Nikon D3300 is the first DSLR camera we’ll recommend that is excellent for capturing any kind of images but it will serve you well for your festival needs. The first and foremost main concern with DSLRs for festivals is of course the size — however, if you can stomach keeping this on or around your neck with a strap all day and night (taking some breaks here and there of course — but where are you going to put it?), you won’t be disappointed in the quality you’ll be getting here. It captures incredibly sharp images and has a setting for motion shots. Even if the crowd is jumping up and down when you shoot with this D3300, the image will turn out clear. You are able to capture 1080p HD video and 5 frames per second with this model which allows you to capture any motion shots that would come out blurry with lesser models. This camera also allows you to view and make edits to your images on the device before uploading them to your computer or personal device. As compared to other DSLRs in the market, it’s considered to be one of the cheapest but is still higher than the previous few picks. As stated previously, if you’re cool with the size, this thing elevates quality regardless of the lighting. With all the capabilities this camera provides (the interchangeable lenses are awesome, too), it is without a doubt the best cameras for music festivals if you want a DSLR.
Stated by many to be the GoPro HERO’s rivals, this camera was also built with festivals in mind if you wanted something small and sleek. The Sony HDR-AS100V is splash proof, allowing it to withstand the worst of conditions. It easily fits in your hand with its rounded design making it simple to use and easy to shoot great footage (you’re also getting some mount and strap capability as well). It is made for action shots and captures some super clear videos even when there is a lot of motion in the shot. The technology built into this camera will steady your shot even if your hand is moving or vibrating from the bass. When it comes to night filming, you’ll be well covered as well. Regardless of the lighting, temperature, moisture, etc. this camera will take sharp images and videos. If you are looking for a camera that was designed with the festival goer in mind this camera is the choice you want to make. In my opinion, it is one of the best music festival cameras. It’s also a lot cheaper than many GoPros so it’ll save you some money if you still want an action cam, too.
This little beauty takes pictures and films HD videos with impressive precision. For a camera that is so small you may be surprised, you’ll still find that your images and videos couldn’t come out any better. This Sony a5100 mirrorless camera is one of our favorites in the game at the moment. In regards to size, you’re finding yourself in the middle of both the point-and-shoots (they’re a bit bigger) and DSLRs (quite smaller). The autofocus is one of the best in this entire list and ensures that even when quickly drawing the camera out for a spur of the moment shot you’ll get excellent clarity without having to waste time focusing yourself. Although not many sets at festivals entail needing to film fast-moving individuals (I guess it depends who you’re seeing), you can also capture the light shows a lot better than others. You’re also getting 24.3 MP photos, some WiFi capability to easily sync your photos and videos instead of having to mess around with memory cards, and the sensor it has is a lot more advanced than others. If you want something a bit more technically advanced with a decent size on top of it, this is the best camera for music festivals.
Canon VIXIA HF R700
This camcorder is an excellent option for festival goers, especially those looking to shoot great video with some versatility when carrying it. The Canon VIXIA HF R700, especially in terms of its video quality, is in our opinion one of the best cameras for music festivals when it comes to camcorders. The video quality that this model provides is unparalleled among similarly priced models. The zoom is smooth resulting in some great video (other models zooms can be glitchy and cause the video to seem choppy). The structural design of this camera makes it fit nicely in your hand and shooting great video will never be more comfortable. Shoot in 1080p HD with AVCHD, MPEG-4 quality, and you can use SD cards to store your clips easily. In terms of extra features, we especially recommend this one for music festivals because of its night mode and image stabilization function. Not to mention the price is typically under three bills, this thing is awesome.
Canon EOS Rebel T5
The Canon EOS Rebel T5 is a DSLR camera that never disappoints when it comes to numerous uses and environments. Although a bit large, it is light making it easy to pack and carry around at a music festival if you have somewhere to store it. One of the best aspects of this camera is the large HD screen that allows you to view your images and videos on the device itself. There’s 18 MP, full HD 1080p at 30 fps (you’re going to need to make sure you have a big memory card here — in the highest HD resolution, you get about 44 minutes of video on 16GB cards), continuous shooting, some scene intelligent auto mode (it automatically adapts, or at least tries, to the current lighting you’re in), and an on-camera feature guide to help you out in the moment. Although again it’s a bit chunky vs. other festival cameras out there, for a DSLR that’s pretty cheap, you can’t go wrong with the Rebel T5.
Nikon 1 AW1
This one is perfect for music festivals if you have a higher budget than others. It’s more of an accessory to your outfit than a camera you’re lugging around with you. The Nikon 1 AW1 is rated well by camera enthusiasts and captures excellent footage and images. One of the biggest reasons we have this in our list is the protection you’re getting (which in our opinion, is one of the most important factors aside from lighting and price). It is waterproof, freeze proof, and shock proof. Whether jumping up and down in the rain, sweating in the heat, or falling in the mud, this camera will survive and ensure that all the moments you’ve captured on it along the way stay put as well. For specs, we have a decent 14.2 megapixels, a mirrorless system, wifi capability, built-in flash, GPS (not a must, but certainly nifty to geotag your pictures and videos), and full HD 1080p at 60fps video resolution. Here’s one of the best festival cameras out there if you wanted some security when it comes to your protection, not to mention a decent size while you’re at it.
Garmin Virb XE
Coming at you with another action camera here, we have some more advanced technical features that may peak your interest. This Garmin Virb XE is up there in the GoPro HERO 5 price-range, but may actually be a better fit for you. It was built for photographers and videographers of all styles, so if you’re planning on using your camera for more than festivals it will be a great long-term investment as well. This camera has some of the clearest audio receptors making video sound quality clear as can be, even underwater. It is extremely tough and water proof up to 50 meters without a camera case. You can shoot excellent footage at a festival and then take this camera on your next scuba trip as well. The built-in Garmin location technology allows you to track exactly where you were in terms of location and elevation when you took each incredible shot (G-Metrix — their GPS sensors track your movements and graph the data in some nifty gauges and graphs). The audio is pretty solid as well (better than the GoPro), and the 12 MP with 30 fps burst is awesome for time-lapse pictures. Lastly, in regards to video quality, you can go all the way up to 1440p in 30fps, albeit draining your battery pretty quickly. This thing is the best festival camera if you’re into action cameras with side features that aren’t musts but quite nifty to mess around with.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS50
We finish up with another excellent point-and-shoot, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS50. This is a great pick with one of the best zooms for the price out there. It has a built-in eye viewfinder as well which reduces glare on sunny days. For other lighting, it takes excellent low light shots and will be sure to impress with the great outcome of the images. What stands out the most here is the 30X zoom — definitely important since we can’t always get those close-ups for every set. The High Sensitivity MOS Sensor is what makes this low-light friendly, and the standard full HD (100fps in HD or 200fps in VGA) lets you film some clips if you want. One of the more advanced point-and-shoot cameras we’ve seen in the market today, here’s our last but certainly not least pick for the best camera for festivals.