I’ve been making YouTube videos since 2009 and I have to tell you – those early videos are NOT pretty. In fact, I’d like to share my very first video on YouTube.
This is what it looks like when you use your computer webcam. The video is grainy. The sound is questionable. And the lighting is blue screen at its best.
In the nine years since that video was published, things have changed! I’ve gotten older, changed houses, upgraded my computer, and improved my video techniques. But the biggest change has been the change in technology. Better video technology is available and I’m taking full advantage of it without breaking the bank.
If you want to get started in video or just improve what you’ve got, I’m sharing everything you need in terms of video equipment to get starting producing videos for YouTube or any other platform. Affiliate links to follow.
Shooting Videos with your iPhone
What about an Android phone? By all means, YES! In fact, I think Samsung has some of the most amazing phone cameras out there! But… I’m still an iPhone girl so that’s what I’m going to talk about.
If you’re an iPhone user, ask yourself this: how old is your phone? If it’s older than an iPhone 7, it’s time to upgrade. Seriously. In fact, I had an iPhone 7 and I upgraded to the iPhone XS specifically for the camera.
Yes, it’s expensive to upgrade. And it may seem like a luxury if you don’t feel like you need an upgrade. But your phone is one of the best tools for getting started with making YouTube videos. Think of it as a business expense. And when you go to upgrade your iPhone, make sure you do your research so you understand the difference between the cameras on an iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus (they’re very different) and well as the differences between the camera on the iPhone XR and iPhone XS.
So, once you’ve got your favorite iPhone, it’s time to accessorize. Here are the key video accessories I use when shooting video with my iPhone.
JOBY GripTight GorillaPod Stand
This tiny little tripod is perfect for tabletop shots, for Facebook Live videos, or even as a selfie stick when you’re doing videos in motion. Find it on Amazon: JOBY GripTight GorillaPod Stand
DJI Osmo Mobile 2
If image stability it really important to you (and it should be for video), the iPhone XS has come a long way. But if you don’t have the latest iPhone or you just want better stability, you need a gimbal. It uses gyroscopic motion to keep movements with your phone very smooth. Find it on Amazon: DJI Osmo Mobile 2
Rode SmartLav+ Lavalier Microphone
When you start studying video production, you’ll hear every expert drill into your head that sound matters way more than video quality. I aim for both so this is a quick and easy way to ensure you’re getting good sound whether you’re in front of the camera or narrating the shot.
The items above are the basics I use for iPhone videography but there are a few extras you might need to make it all work seamlessly.
You’ll also need the Apple Lightning to 3.5 mm Headphone Adapter to be able to connect your lavalier mic to your phone. You probably have one already but if you’re constantly losing yours, it might be worth picking an extra one or two.
The other little gadget I like is the Lightning Splitter Adapter. It may not seem necessary until you put your iPhone on the Osmo Mobile and the port for the microphone is covered by the phone holder. This little adapter will allow you to fit the phone in the Osmo without bending the microphone cord.
The other option that eliminates all of this is a wireless lavalier mic. It’s on my list but I haven’t made the purchase yet. If you have one you love, I’d love to hear what you’re using.
Shooting Videos with a Digital Camera
If you only ever use your phone for shooting your videos, you’ll probably be totally fine. But if you want to up your game, there are a lot of quality cameras out there. But how in the world to begin to figure out which camera?
Keep in mind that a camera for quality photographs may not necessarily be the best camera for quality video. I personally own the Sony A6000 which I adore. It’s a mirrorless camera (which is all that I use) and the photos are fantastic. And even thought the quality of the video produced by this camera is excellent, it doesn’t meet the three features I think are a must for a video/vlogging camera.
- You need good image stabilization, unless you only ever plan to shoot video using a tripod. Image stabilization is a system that helps reduces the blur causes by camera shakiness. Look for a camera with image stabilization in the camera body, in the lens, or, ideally, both.
- You need a external audio jack. If you’re camera doesn’t have an external audio jack (like my Sony A6000), you’re relying on the camera’s internal microphone which is fine, indoors, at close range. Outside of those conditions, you’ll need an external mic.
- You might want (I do) a flip up or flip out screen so that you can see yourself as you’re setting up the shot. My Sony has a movable screen but it doesn’t flip up. And I’ve cut off my head more times than I can count!
So even though I love my Sony, I recently decided it was time to find a new camera to meet all of these requirements and here’s what I can up with.
Canon EOS M50
I’ve been a devout Sony fan for years so I was terrified to make the shift. I researched, I read, I watched YouTube reviews on this camera. And after several agonizing months, for price and features, I landed on the Canon EOS M50. It had all three of my required features and the price was much lower than the Sony equivalent I was looking at (the Sony 6500, in case you were wondering). Find it on Amazon: Canon EOS M50
Rode VideoMicro Compact Video Microphone
For my first external mic, I again went with Rode, a trusted name in microphones. This one is small and fits in the shoe on top of the camera body. It’s considered a shotgun or direction mic so you’ll want to change how it sits on the camera depending on the direction of your subject. I’ve tried this with a few videos (and did some video samples with and without the microphone) and I’m pretty shocked at what a difference it makes. Find it on Amazon: Rode VideoMicro
iGadgitz PT310 Mini Tripod and Grip Stabilizer
My last must-have piece of equipment is this mini-tripod. I looked at more expensive models including Manfrotto and Joby. And I read a lot of reviews. It wasn’t so much a price issue as a functionality issue. This mini tripod is super lightweight, work well as a tabletop tripod, and works as a stable way to how your video camera, especially if you’re vlogging and pointing the camera at yourself. It allows to keep the camera far enough away so that your head doesn’t take up the entire frame. Find it on Amazon: iGadgitz PT310 Mini Lightweight Table Top Stand Tripod and Grip Stabilizer
Everything is optional but I have a few other things that I recommend for your blossoming video career.
I prefer to use outdoor or natural lighting as much as possible but when that just doesn’t work, you’ll need a lighting kit to make your light both bright and even. For standing shot videos, I like to use a ring light, like the Neewer Ring Light Kit. I’ve tried the umbrella lights and they work for some shots but the ring light is great for face shots.
I also use my tripod pretty frequently. There are about a million different tripods out there but I’ve been using this Velbon Compact Tripod for over 7 years. It’s lightweight, compact, and super adjustable.
Is that all I need?
Yes and no. If you’re like me, you always are looking at the next gadget. Some pan out and some end up on eBay. If you’re looking for something beyond this list, please let me know and I’ll share my thoughts. And when you’re out and about and see other video professionals, ask them about their equipment. They love to talk about it!
Finally, I thought I’d share one of my latest talking head videos. In this video, I’m using my Canon M50, the Rode VideoMicro microphone, and my ring light. And if you like it, you know what they always say. Don’t forget to like and subscribe!