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Cameras updated

by BASEwiki

Love it or hate it, video is an important part of BASE for many jumpers. Most jumpers have used only one or two types of cameras, so that opinions are as varied as those on canopies or containers. Below, we provide some general information and a few opinions on specific models.

General Considerations

Image stabilization

Perhaps the most important consideration when buying a digital video camera for the BASE environment is the type of image stabilization used. Especially when it is not mounted on a tripod, some shaking of a camera is unavoidable; image stabilization aims to mitigate this effect.

Electronic image stabilization, generally found in cheaper cameras, achieves this through software. Though it is not as effective as optical image stabilization, it can be turned off.

Optical image stabilization, found on more expensive cameras, uses a floating lens. It better stabilizes the image, but also results in a blurry image when the camera is shaken (during openings, for instance, and for several seconds afterward). Cameras with optical image stabilization should be avoided.

One CCD or three?

Digital cameras record the image using a light-sensitive device called a CCD which records the brightness (but not the colour) of the light that hits it. CCD’s are expensive; low-end cameras therefore have only a single CCD, and use a Bayer filter to interpolate colours. However, the interpolation process results in less vibrant colours. More expensive cameras and commercial units therefore split the light into its colours using a dichroic prism and record each of three primary colours on a separate CCD.

Although 3CCD cameras have recently entered the consumer market, they remain considerably more expensive than 1CCD models. Though the improvement in colour is unmistakeable, the BASE environment can be hard on cameras; jumpers should weigh these considerations before buying a camera.

Wide-angle adapters

Stock cameras are intended to be used while looking through the viewfinder, pointed at some particular scene. In BASE, however, the camera is generally head-mounted. Furthermore, the use of a sight (as in skydiving) can be dangerous both for the snag potential and the distraction. Wide-angle adapters are therefore generally used to help capture the jump.

Wide-angle adapters are assigned a number such as .45, .30, or even .20 which describes the factor by which the focal length of the lens is reduced by using the adapter — .45 is a moderate wide angle, while a .20 captures nearly 180 degrees of video. Most jumpers use a .30 or .45.

Wide-angle adapters used in BASE should be low-profile so that they do not present too great a snag hazard. Royal Lens sells adapters which are popular among skydivers and BASE jumpers.


It has happend, that the lens of the cam got caught by one of the risers during opening, causing the lens to be slapped away from the cam. This might lead to a pullout of the yellow cable on that side and then you loose one of your risers. To prevent this, a rigger can attach a second part of yellow cable with a velcrohandle, running from the top to the bottom. With this, the three-ring-release is still secure, even if the regular yellow cable was pulled out.

Submitted by BASEwiki on 2007-06-08 | Last Modified on 2010-04-16

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