My Top Picks
What do you need to make high quality videos? A lot less than most people think. Good audio quality and lighting can significantly improve the quality of your YouTube video. Below you’ll find my favorite products with some context for beginners.
If you are looking to improve your WFH set-up, go to the section, Zoom Set-Up for some ideas. Some of the links below are affiliate links, but I only recommend products that I personally use and support.
Logitech HD Pro Webcam c920x
Inexpensive, easy set-up. This is a great beginner option. If you are just getting started on YouTube and want to keep things simple, start here. For a webcam, it records high quality video, but if you have a newer laptop (esp. Macs), your laptop camera might be just as good. I recently purchased the Logitech Brio, a newer webcam which offers 4K resolution and also 3 fields of view (wide/less wide angles). Can’t go wrong with either one.
Canon EOS M50 Mark II
I upgraded to this camera (after 1 year on YouTube). This is by no means a necessity, but it will improve your video quality significantly and is a great investment. The lens out of the box will work great, but for the blurry background look, get this wide angle lens. It is great for talking head videos!
Boya Lavalier Mic
This mic works with smartphones and cameras. I used this $20 mic for my first 40 videos. If using with an iPhone you will need a lightning to headphone adapter. If you go with a webcam, I recommend the Blue Yeti mic.
RODE VideoMic Pro+
After a year, I upgraded to this higher quality mic. This is not a necessity, but the audio quality is significantly better with this mic. I use it with a boom stand, a screw adapter and 25 ft extension cable. A less expensive option is the Rode VideoMic Compact Microphone.
Mount Dog Softbox Lighting Kit
I discovered these lights after I had purchased my Fovitec lights, but if you are looking for an inexpensive light that doesn’t take up half your room, start with 1 of these. For $50, you get one softbox light with 3 color temperatures & a remote. If you don’t know where to start, start here!
SanDisk Extreme PRO 128 GB
I highly recommend a SD card like this for your camera so you don’t run out of space while filming. At the very minimum I would get 64 GB.
Basic Tripod for Camera
I have been using this inexpensive tripod for a few years and it’s still holding up. I also have the Joby compact tripod (the 3K kit) which I love. It sits on my desk and I can attach my phone or camera and start talking!
From team calls to presentations, we spend a lot of time on Zoom. Video streaming for work is here to stay and your home set-up probably needs an upgrade. Before you even think of buying an expensive camera, fix your audio and lighting set-up. That alone can improve your video quality significantly.
Then, look at your video streaming options. Did you know $7 software can turn your smartphone into a webcam? Today’s smartphones have high quality cameras so if you want to try that first, simply download the EpocCam app to your phone and laptop. You can use your regular charging cable to connect your phone to your laptop and stream with your front or rear facing camera.
Next, consider a webcam. Webcams are an inexpensive way to improve video quality, but newer laptops sometimes have better cameras than even a good webcam. For many people, a webcam is still an upgrade and I’d go with the Logitech c920x.
Finally, nothing will give you better video quality than a good camera. Here you’ll have to decide between “Full HD 1080p” vs. “4K” and DSLR vs. mirrorless cameras. Simply put, 4K is ultra high definition, but remember you are not a professional filmmaker and full HD 1080p is incredibly high definition already. Outside of Zoom, perhaps you will use video for marketing / YouTube / live streaming. 4K files are huge and need a lot of computer power – if you ever intend on uploading video files to YouTube or LinkedIn, working with 4K files is a pain. You also don’t necessarily have to pick between one or the other. 4K cameras are capable of filming in 1080p.
My recommendation: Mirrorless over DSLR as they are lighter and more compact, but incredible quality. Sony cameras are amazing, but quite expensive and not as intuitive out of the box as Canon. For this reason, I use the Canon camera above. It’s great for YouTube videos, live streaming and out of all the cameras out there, probably the best value for money. While this one shoots in both 4K and 1080p, I wouldn’t buy this camera for the 4K, as there are better cameras out there for 4K.
Blue Yeti USB Mic
You can spend hundreds of dollars on a fancy mic, but I find the Blue Yeti is great bang for your buck. Just plug in to your laptop and you’ll level up your audio quality instantly.
Mount Dog Softbox Lighting Kit
I discovered these lights after I had purchased my Fovitec lights, so I started out with 2 lights, but you can also start with 1. At $50, you get one softbox light with 3 color temperatures & a remote. More than enough for Zoom!
HDMI Capture Card
This tiny device will convert your camera into a webcam. A cheaper alternative to the Cam Link card is this capture card. You simply hook up your camera to the card using an HDMI cable. A free way to do this – connect your camera directly to your laptop with a micro USB cable and download Canon’s Webcam Utility software online. It will allow you to use USB to access your camera as a webcam.
Phone Tripod Stand
If you are using your smartphone as your webcam, you’ll need a tripod on your desk right behind your laptop. Any $20-something tripod on Amazon with good reviews will do – this is one of them. Another option is this tripod. And of course, the compact Joby tripod I mentioned above.