Dan got his start on YouTube in August of 2011, recording gameplay videos as a fun hobby while attending school for video production. Joining the vidIQ team in 2020 allowed Dan to combine his hobby and professional talents to now help others grow their own YouTube channels.
The Best YouTube Video Equipment to Upgrade Your Content
When you’re just starting out on YouTube, you shouldn’t have to spend thousands of dollars on video equipment. You can shoot great footage for a lot less. Depending on the content, some creators can get away with spending $100. Others might use a smartphone, which means they’ll pay nothing in the beginning.
But let’s say you’re past the smartphone stage of your journey. What should you buy to upgrade your YouTube production? Which cameras or microphones will do the job?
“When I started my business, I had a budget DSLR,” photographer and filmmaker Ben Johnson says. “That’s what I built my business on. It was a $300 camera, and it got me in the door to start doing some stuff.”
In this episode of TubeTalk, we speak to creative couple Ben and Mikayla Johnson about how to upgrade your equipment. Ben teaches creators how to make better content on his tech YouTube channel, and he and Mikayla run three businesses together. Their main message to creators is that affordable gear can create good videos.
Need some purchasing advice? Here are the items Ben and Mikayla suggest for beginner YouTube equipment.
Upgrade Your YouTube Audio With an External Microphone
Before you buy a new camera, consider upgrading your audio equipment. This is the first purchase Ben recommends to new and intermediate creators.
“At the end of the day, video is half audio, so that’s an instant upgrade to 50% of your content,” Ben says. “Upgrade your audio so people can clearly understand if you’re teaching or showing them information.”
4 Microphones That Work Well for YouTube
- Blue Yeti USB microphone: $129.99
- RODE VideoMicro: $59.99
- RODE NT-USB: $169.99
- UHURU condenser microphone: $59.99
You don’t need the most expensive mic on the market to get better sound. It’s nice to be able to say you have a $700 Sennheiser mic, but do you really need it? For YouTube videos, the microphones listed above will work fine.
Camera Shopping: Do You Really Need the Shiniest One?
In some cases, it doesn’t make sense to buy a traditional camera. When you have a smartphone that shoots quality video, it's smart to keep doing that. People love to buy expensive DSLR and mirrorless cameras because they think they need them. But what do you need? Unless you’re really advanced, Mikayla recommends a simple YouTube setup.
Our biggest thing we tell people all the time is just to start – to not let your gear or your lack of gear limit you,” Mikayla says. “Learn what you can about the equipment you have. The lighting you currently have accessible to you, your phone, your camera, your audio.”
Then there’s the issue of price. When is it OK to pay $700 to get better footage than that of a smartphone? Every year, iPhone and Android cameras get more megapixels and shoot better videos. And then there’s the budgeting aspect. You’re already paying or have finished paying for your smartphone. If you purchase a new camera, that’s an extra $300 to $1,000 you’ll have to part with.
“To me, the margin between getting a sub-$500 camera versus using a phone makes me wonder, ‘Is it enough?’" Ben asks. “Is it enough of a change to get into that versus having the convenience of a phone?”
2 Cameras to Purchase When You’re Upgrading From a Smartphone
It's OK to invest in a new camera. But before you do, make sure it's worth the money. You should buy a camera that captures superior footage – something more clear and crisp than your smartphone could ever shoot.
Ben says the Sony ZV-1 ($699.99) is one of the better options. In terms of quality, it’s a big enough leap from a smartphone to be considered a worthy investment. For $700, you get a multipurpose camera with 4K video, a flip-out screen, and lots of custom features. Ben says the Canon EOS M50 ($499.99) is another great option but not as good as the Sony ZV-1.
2 More Cameras You’ll Love
Need more options for your first camera? Here's one budget camera plus a pricier option for superb video quality.
- Panasonic LUMIX G7 ($597.99): 4K video, great for live streams, adequate battery life
- Canon EOS 90D ($1,119): pricey, but versatile. 4K video, good for live streaming, action shooting, and filming at home
No matter what, make sure your first camera is flexible enough for your filming needs.
“What are your needs currently?” Ben asks of creators. “Then think over the course of the next year. What do you anticipate your needs being? You can get the best camera for live streaming but if you also want to vlog, maybe it’s not going to be the best solution for that.”
Don't forget to SUBSCRIBE to TubeTalk on your favorite podcast app so you never miss an episode! Listen along on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, and Spotify. You can also find the complete list of all the TubeTalk podcast episodes here!