Through the Lens – Getting ready to jump again

The skydiving season is starting and we should use the time to prepare ourselves so that we don’t have a complete cold start after such a long break. While there is a lot of advice out there on how to prepare yourself and your rig, I want to focus on camera gear today.
After all, nowadays a camera is almost as much a part of the equipment as the parachute itself.
Whether you’re filming the jump just for fun with a buddy or filming a world record attempt, the camera needs to be prepared.

Fuel for your cameras

First thing we should think about is the battery. In many cases the camera was lying in some corner or closet since the last jump of last season. Nowadays Lithium based rechargeable batteries hold their voltage for quite a long time. However, loading them completely and then let them film out of your window for at least half of the regular battery run time, is a good test for the battery. Some cameras have a software built in to check the charge condition, that gives you the remaining run time of the battery (I don’t mean the little battery icon).

Setting for success

In the non-skydiving time I “misuse” my video and my photo camera. The little GoPro is the perfect tool to be hidden somewhere in order to film a prank on a friend. I use the Sony 6300 to take pictures in the studio or while traveling and hiking. In all of these cases, I – of course – use different settings than for skydiving. So set your cameras back to your skydiving setting now. The idea to do this in the morning at the DZ turned out to be a stupid one at least once to me, as things might get hectic faster than you think and all of a sudden you are in the first load.

Test, test, test

Test your whole setup. Put your helmet on and film something.
Test all your cables and indicators by shooting some footage. Does the bite switch still work or did some humidity that go in through a small damage spot, cause some corrosion over the long layoff?

Hit the road helmet

Check your helmets cutaway system for correct operation. Because a camera helmet without a cutaway system is almost as stupid as skydiving rig without an AAD. Train to cutaway your helmet. We (hopefully) all do handle checks in the plane in order to train our haptic memory. Include your helmets cutaway system in the handle check.


Having 6000+ jumps, I am still nervous if I jump after a longer break. So revise you camera procedures and try them a view times. Build up haptic memory on finding the switches and other controls. If you have done this on the ground several times, there is one less point to be nervous or worried about on your “first” jump.

Dress for success

I can tell you, the call of the fridge was loud in winter…and I was weak.
Does you camera suit still fit you? Do you still have the full range of motion in a tighter suit? Is it in perfect condition or does it need some stitching? Do the quick releases for the wings work smoothly?

I hear voices

Check your ditters. The non-rechargeable batteries may have died during the long layoff. Good ditters like the ones from L&B I use, give you a waring tone on startup if the batterie is low. A battery you don’t have to check is the one of your Cypres. However just for my peace of mind I start it ones during my season preparations and watch it counting down. Mostly to see, if the Cypres informs me about the next service, so I can plan ahead.

Last but not least: format all memory cards before you go to the DZ. Some of the non skydiving winter footage might end up in the wrong hands. 😉

Be safe and have fun.


BY RALPH WILHELM (Camera Flyer / Keynote Speaker)

Get in touch: Ralph on Instagram


Author Ralph Wilhelm