Let’s talk video equipment! In the first edition of this series, I walked you through how to plan a successful video shoot. Now, I’ll share tips for new video creators when it comes to selecting cameras, stands, lighting, and microphones.
Equipment for your video
Anyone who has typed something like ‘best camera for vlogging‘ or ‘simple video set-up‘ into Google will know how many amazing, affordable equipment options there are available to budding content creators. Most of the larger online retailers offer great recommendations and there are hundreds of blogs & videos comparing different options depending on your budget and desired effect.
So, I’m not going to give you a comparison list ranking the different cameras and microphones out there. I will, however, give you a list of the types of equipment worth considering when you’re getting started.
Cameras and camera types
As someone starting out with video, your smartphone is one of the best resources likely already at your disposal. Almost all smartphones from the last few years have excellent, hi-resolution cameras and decent built-in audio. If you’re creating an on-the-go video, your phone is a great option. For straight-to-camera interviews, just be conscious of your surroundings since smartphones tend to pick up a lot of background noise. I’ve made plenty of vlogs where I was already out and about and my camera battery died out on me. No fuss; I simply pulled out my iPhone and continued the vlog from there.
In my own kit, I have a Canon EOS 650D DSLR and a Canon PowerShot ELPH 330 hs point & shoot (in bright pink!). A DSLR camera makes beautiful images and provides more options, but you honestly don’t need all of this if you’re just starting out. Pick up a compact camera and the automatic settings will generally be enough to get you by while you still familiarize yourself with the settings. Some aspects worth considering in a camera: silent shutter and focusing in playback, a viewfinder you can flip towards yourself for vlogging, good image stabilization, decent built-in audio, and maybe wifi for easy transfer to your smartphone. Some other brands and models to consider are Canon PowerShot (G7 X), Panasonic Lumix, Canon Powershot S120, or even a GoPro (especially for rugged, outdoor shoots).
Tripods and grips
If you’re shooting indoors or in a smaller space, you’ll probably be fine with a simple set-up. A stack of sturdy books could save you from investing in a tripod. One handy trick is to utilize a camera neck strap to stabilize your video; just loop it over your head or shoulder and pull the camera tight away from you to stabilize while shooting.
Another nice item is a handheld tripod grip or GorillaPod. They are pretty sturdy, handheld tripods which you can set-up on a surface somewhere and then pick-up, straighten the legs, and hold out in front of you for a more stable and easy to hold shot. And, they fit easily in your bag or pocket. I use a light GorillaPod for my compact camera and the sturdier iGadgitz PT310 grip for my DSLR.
A traditional tripod has come in handy for me when I need to find good natural light and I’m at the mercy of my space. I don’t have to move furniture or build precarious stacks of furniture with my beautiful camera perched on top. I use the Hama Tripod Star 61.
I have yet to have had to invest in lighting. Almost always, I’ve planned or tinkered with my cameras settings to find the best natural lighting. Shooting at night can be tougher, but it really depends on what you need to record and the effect you want. A strategically placed desk lamp can often be enough to brighten up your scene. And, depending on your editing software you can work some magic in post.
When you’re just getting started, simply be prepared to think on your feet and move around to get the best light in that particular setting.
As I mentioned earlier, most cameras and even smartphones offer decent built-in audio for you to work with. If you plan ahead, you’ll be able to test out the audio in your setting and work around this. However, if it looks like you’re going to need a little support with audio, there are almost as many microphone options as there are cameras.
For a starter, I’d recommend looking into the RODE line of microphones. The RODE Videomic Go is a super-light, affordable option you can plug directly into your smartphone, point and shoot, or DSLR for an already crisper and more direct sound. Any microphone like this will give you that bit of extra control
Another option many people like is recording sound with your original device and using a portable audio recorder at the same time. You will need to learn a bit more about mixing and working with two audio tracks in your editing software, but having the extra security and options might be worth it for you.
I recommend watching this video from Sara Dietschy (she puts out tons of informative videos on vlogging and video creation) if you’re looking for even more options:
Up next – Part 3: Editing
So, by now you’ve got your plan in place and you’re making decisions about what video equipment you’re going to need to make that a reality. Again, if you have any questions, feel free to shoot them my way. In the third and final part of this series, I share tips on learning to edit and work with your footage.
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