YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world with 5 billion videos viewed every day! Whether you’re looking to be a full-time YouTuber or leverage the platform for your business, the right YouTube video equipment can make all the difference in the world. So whether you are just getting started or ready to take your channel to the next level, here’s what you need to know.
What equipment do you need to start a YouTube channel?
What do you need to produce a high quality video? A lot less than most people think. You do not need an expensive camera. Or a professional video editor. Or a studio. As their channels grow, many content creators upgrade their equipment, but don’t let the equipment be the reason you don’t get started.
Let’s get into the essential YouTube equipment you need to create a good video.
- Accessories (E.g. Tripod)
- Video Editing Software
What cameras do YouTubers use?
The best camera for YouTube or vlogging largely depends on what type of content you are producing – a travel vlogger will invest in a different camera than a lawyer or entrepreneur. Many content creators start with their smartphones or webcams and upgrade to a higher quality camera once they gain some traction. Just make sure whatever you choose can record video in 1080p resolution.
If you are curious about what I use /have used, download this video equipment guide – it includes the inexpensive gear that got me to almost 10K subscribers / 500,000 views and the upgrades I made once I hit this milestone.
The Logitech HD Pro C920 is one of the most popular webcams for content creation and for good reason. For a webcam, it records very high quality video. For less than $100, this is a great place to start. From gamers to coaches to entrepreneurs, you’ll find a lot of content out there shot with this webcam!
For those ready to invest in a camera, there are several types of cameras to consider – DSLRs, mirrorless cameras and action cameras.
DSLR cameras are high quality cameras that have been around for a lot longer than mirrorless cameras. As a result, they have a wider selection of lenses and accessories and a much better battery life, but they tend to be bigger/heavier. I currently use a Nikon DSLR for my YouTube channel’s video production, but that’s because I’ve had this camera for years. When I am ready for an upgrade, I intend to switch to a mirrorless camera that is less bulky.
Mirrorless cameras are becoming increasingly popular with YouTubers as they are lighter/more compact than DSLRs, but still generate high quality video. I am personally planning to phase out my Nikon DSLR (which is 10 years old and bulky) and switch to the Sony Alpha a6600 (or a6400 which is the prior version), which many successful YouTubers use. There are less expensive mirrorless cameras to consider such as the Canon EOS M50 (I have not used it myself). Whichever camera you choose, make sure it has a screen that flips up or out (so you can see yourself while filming).
Camera tip: If you are wondering how YouTubers get the blurry background in their videos, this is a function of the lenses. You typically buy cameras with a basic lens (called the kit lens), but for the blurry background, you’ll need to purchase an additional lens, so be sure to factor that in to your camera budget! A great lens for educational/talking head videos (very wide) that is compatible with most cameras in the Sony Alpha line is the Sigma 16 mm 1.4 Lens. The number “1.4” is known as the f-stop or f-number and the lower this number is, the bigger the aperture and the more the blur.
If you are an aspiring travel vlogger or want to document extreme adventures, you need a camera that is durable without compromising video quality. This is not my area of expertise, but I do know that GoPro is the go-to brand for most folks in this category. I’ve also seen on-the-go vloggers use the DJI Osmo Pocket. This handheld camera shoots in both HD and 4k resolution and has a stabilized gimbal for smooth footage while walking. It’s a handy little on-the-move camera, but not waterproof.
Other vlogging cameras
Now, I am not a vlogger, but here’s what big social media influencers are using. Many lifestyle vloggers with millions of followers use the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II Camera. Alfie Deyes, a well-known influencer, is one of them. You will find rave reviews of this camera online, with cool features like time-lapse and the ability to record slo-mo video. You’ll also find some vloggers using camcorders (a type of video camera) for video recording. They aren’t great for low light conditions, but PewDiePie’s choice is a Canon camcorder! Another brand to consider for an affordable camcorder is Panasonic.
Do you need a mic for YouTube?
Yes! No matter how amazing your camera is, you still need a microphone. Built in mics on cameras or any other device do not have the best audio quality. If you’re on a budget, start with the BOYA BY-M1 Lavalier Microphone ($20), which has a clip on lapel mic for smartphones, DSLRs and other devices. This is the best of inexpensive microphones (I started with this). If you are connecting it to an iPhone, you’ll also need this adapter: Apple Lightning to 3.5 mm Headphone Jack Adapter.
If you are using a webcam and/or considering podcasting someday, check out the Blue Yeti microphone. This is a condenser microphone with a USB connection that will capture your voice clearly. This is a great mic for both amateurs and professionals.
If you have a camera and are ready for next level growth, consider a shotgun microphone like the Rode Microphone VideoMic Pro+ You can either attach it to your camera or use it with a boom stand. If you are seated, a boom stand allows the mic to get closer to your face (without getting in the shot). I now use this Rode mic with a boom stand.
How do you get good lighting for YouTube videos?
Good audio quality and lighting can significantly improve the quality of your YouTube video. While you can use natural light from a window, it can be somewhat limiting if you want to film at various times of the day (such as the evening). If budget is a constraint, it’s certainly doable, just be sure to face the window (you don’t want the light behind you, you want it in front of you). The first two things I invested in when I was starting out was a $20 mic and $100 soft box lights.
Here are 3 great lighting options for every budget:
Soft box Lighting Kit
I started with Fovitec’s Fluorescent Lighting Kit, which contain 2 lights with built-in soft boxes. They pack down pretty compactly, but when assembled, they do take a bit of space. I film in a 10 X 12 room and I leave them out most of the time. I used these lights for my first 30 videos and 400,000 views. They are a great budget option and my videos turned out great. I have now upgraded to LED light panels which I talk about below.
Ring lights make people look great! As the name suggests, the light is in the form of a circle and lights up the face really well (and gives people a glowy appearance). They are especially popular with beauty and make-up vloggers. As it’s one light, it takes up less space than a soft box or LED light panel kit.
Some people don’t like the ring light because you can see the reflection of the light in the eyes (a small circle around the pupil which can look quite freaky). I personally don’t use ring lights as I wear glasses, which reflect the light and create a terrible glare. With soft box lights or LED light panels, you have two lights and can arrange them such that there is no glare on your glasses.
The Diva Ring Light with a dimming knob is a popular light amongst YouTubers. This is the most expensive option on this list.
LED Light Panels
LED light panels emit a lot less heat than the fluorescent lights I mention above and are more energy efficient. You can add a soft box to them to diffuse the light (so the light doesn’t look harsh). I now use Neewer’s Bi-Color LED Light Panel Kit, which comes with 2 lights that are dimmable and allow you to adjust the color anywhere between warm (3200K) and cool (5600K).
You can find the full list of all the gear I’ve talked about in this guide, but I only list the equipment that I’ve actually used myself to grow my channel.
What about tripods & other accessories?
For those starting with their iPhones (or other smartphones), simply invest in an selfie stick tripod (with or without an attached ring light). There are many options online.
You do not need to break the bank for a tripod. I’ve been using the AmazonBasics Tripod with my DSLR for a couple of years and it works great. When I need a new one, I am going to upgrade to the higher quality, Manfrotto Compact DSLR Tripod ($60).
Videos take up a lot of space and I use the SanDisk Extreme PRO 128GB so I never run out of space in the middle of filming!
Wireless remote for your camera
I highly recommend a wireless remote for your camera so that you can start and stop recording while seated instead of constantly getting up in between clips. For any brand, simply go to Amazon and type in “wireless remote + brand” and you’ll find a cheap, wireless remote that is compatible with your camera.
Which video software should I use?
Ok, now that you are all set on the best equipment, don’t forget the video editing software to piece together all your video clips into one smashing video. For Mac users, iMovie is free and a great place to start! For Mac users looking for a little more than just basic editing, Final Cut Pro is the way to go (paid). The PC equivalent to that is Adobe Premiere Pro. Video editing is not my zone of genius, but I picked up Adobe Premiere Pro pretty easily. It runs me $23 a month.
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