To begin vlogging, you'll need a few basics. In this post, I share the vlogging equipment you should consider. Of course, you don't need all this gear on day one. But the more you have, the better quality your videos will be. And the easier it will be to create and edit them.
Essential Vlog Equipment: Starter Kit
It doesn't take much to start blogging. You could just shoot videos with your phone and upload directly to YouTube. And this works for many new vloggers.
But this probably isn't the setup you have in mind. Getting a few essential items for your vlog kit will improve your video quality. And make it so much easier to shoot and edit your videos.
I'm a big believer in buying the best quality gear that I can afford. When I buy a piece of gear, I like to get 3 to 5 years out of it. For that reason, I try not to buy older tech – which will need to be replaced sooner. And give less than ideal results.
There are exceptions, of course. And it depends on what you can afford at the time. But if you have the money, try to plan ahead and avoid having to replace something after 6 months.
Small Camera: Canon G7
This could be either your phone or a small point and shoot style camera. Here's my recommendation for each style.
Why do you need a small camera for vlogging? Below my recommendations, I share three reasons you need one of these.
For vlogging, I recommend the Canon Powershot G7 (X Mark II). It features a 1 inch CMOS sensor and WiFi / NFC connectivity. It also comes with a 3-inch tiltable LCD monitor that allows you to see the composition while shooting solo. Monitor is a touch-panel.
If the G7 is a little beyond your budget, you should check out the SX740 (also by Canon). It is less expensive, still shoots in 4K and has the tiltable LCD screen. I own an older model of this series and love it. It's a solid option.
One drawback to a point and shoot camera is that they almost never come with an external mic jack. This means that you'll only be able to shoot at arms length – or else the audio quality will be very poor.
They have a long-lasting and fast-charging battery. And the video quality is the best I've seen on a phone.
Your small camera serves a few purposes. Here are three reasons to have a small camera on your shoot:
- Short, self filmed video: Perfect for a quick video or for when you're on the move. Your small camera is easy to setup and lightweight.
- Backup: You'll need at least one backup camera when you're filming. Especially if you're filming offsite.
- Broll: You could setup this camera on a tripod or hand it to a friend for some secondary footage.
Big Camera: 90D (DSLR) or M50 (Mirrorless)
There are basically two options for your big camera: DSLR or mirrorless.
Which you choose depends much on personal preference. I'm a long-time DSLR guy – I think we own 4 or 5. While they are similar, there are a few differences. Mirrorless are lighter and have less lens options compared to DSLR cameras. The biggest difference is the absence of a reflex mirror in a mirrorless.
Here are our recommendations for both DSLR and mirrorless cameras for vlogging.
From my research, one of the most popular DSLR cameras for vlogging is the Canon 90D. It is lower-mid range in price.
The 90D shoots 4K at 30P and full HD at 120P (for some impressive slo-mo shots). It has external mic jack and adjustable LCD screen.
Premium option: If you want to just go straight to the best, you should consider the Canon 5D Mark IV. It is an impressive (and expensive) unit. And your subscribers will thank you.
We recommend the Canon M50. It comes with a 15-45mm lens, adjustable touchscreen LCD monitor, and mic jack.
The Canon M50 is popular among creators – and they even have a Video Creator Kit. It comes with Rode mic and memory card.
You might wonder what all the fuss is about. Why should you use a big camera in addition to your smaller one?
Here are three reasons to use either a DSLR or mirrorless camera for vlogging:
- Interchangeable lenses: These higher end cameras allow you to quickly swap lenses to go from your vlogging lens to a telephoto or product lens in seconds. No need to buy (and haul) multiple cameras – just bring an extra lens or two and you're good.
- Audio input: Having an external mic jack is pretty important. And these cameras have these by default. If you're serious about audio quality, you'll need one of these cameras.
- Image quality: While point and shoot cameras are good, they can't really compare to these larger cameras. This is thanks, in part, to the ability to change lenses.
Something else to consider is that you may be able to use your DSLR as a webcam if you choose.
Wide Lens: 16mm Focal Length
Now with your camera chosen, you'll need to decide on your lens.
For vlogging, you'll want a wide angle lens. This means a low number like 15 to 18 mm. This will capture lots of background and requires very little space.
Remember: the wider the focal length (lower number) – the closer you need to be to the camera.
- 16mm: Camera is closer to you – a good distance would be about 12-16 inches from your face. This can improve audio pickup. You might not need an external mic, depending on background noise. This is a popular focal length.
- 50mm: Camera needs to be further away. This affects audio pickup and how much background you capture.
Depending on the camera you purchase, sometimes it will just be the camera body. Other times you'll get a lens as part of the kit. If you need a separate lens, you might consider one like this which has a 10-18mm focal length.
My personal favorite is my Tamron 16-300mm lens. It goes from very wide (16mm) to telephoto (300mm). Perfect for everything from talking head to b-roll footage. This walk-around lens is an all-in-one giving you many focal lengths without having to change (or buy) lenses.
The lenses that come with the 90D and the M50 will both work great for vlogging.
Here is how focal length affects image with talking head videos. The reason I prefer the Tamron lens (see above) is because it gives all these focal lengths – and even more.
Watch on YouTube
Microphone: Rode VideoMicPro
I'm sure you've heard it before. People will watch shaky video but won't tolerate fuzzy audio.
Don't overlook the importance of good audio in your videos. The easier way to capture crisp audio is with a quality mic.
Rode VideoMicPro: This is a quality mic and is the easiest way to improve your videos. Just mount it on your DSLR or mirrorless camera, plug into the mic jack and start recording.
The VideoMicPro has the Rycote Lyre shock mounting – to keep away distracting rumble and vibrations. The connector is a standard 3.5mm jack.
According to our research, the Rode VideoMicPro is the most popular mic for YouTubers.
Premium option: If cost isn't a huge factor, you might want to just go directly to the best option- the VideoMic Pro+. The biggest difference in the mics is that the Pro Plus has automatic power switching – automatically turning itself on and off when plugged in and unplugged.
Tripod: Joby Gorillapod 3K Pro
A good tripod is probably second only to a quality mic. Filming from a stable position immediately improves your video quality.
The quality and features of the tripod aren't as important as just using one. Of course, it'll need to hold your camera steady. But you don't need to use a super high end tripod.
I favor a small, flexible tripod – like the GorillaPod. We have 3 of these – in varying sizes.
If you don't want to purchase multiple tripods, this is the one I recommend. It's a stable mount for tables, counters, and benches – and it also mounts nicely on tree branches and sign posts. Plus, it can also double as a short selfie stick.
Joby GorillaPod 3K: For cameras up to 6.6 lbs (3kg) including compact DSLR and mirrorless. Comes with a 360 degree panning ballhead and bubble level.
So while this tripod works well with large cameras, it isn't really meant to work with telephoto lenses. They are heavy and long – which will offset the center of balance on these. It will likely cause the tripod to either tip over (flat surfaces) or rotate (on a branch).
We've been trialing a new tripod by Spivo which looks promising. Their flexible tripod comes with a solid phone mount and an adjustable ball head.
The legs are similar to the GorillaPod – can mount to almost anything and they also double as a short selfie stick.
Selfie Stick: Spivo 360
For your small camera (phone or action camera) Spivo makes a sweet selfie stick. At first, the Spivo 360 looks pretty standard. But press the button and the camera rotates 180 degrees. Press it again and it goes back to the other direction. This is perfect for giving viewers a taste of your surroundings.
For your large camera, traditional selfie sticks won't work well. It's just to heavy to work well at the end of a skinny stick. The best option is to use either the large GorillaPod or Spivo tripods.
Backpack mount: Capture Clip
This capture clip by Peak Design is a nice addition to your vlogging gear kit. With this mount, you can easily shoot your own b-roll footage with your small camera.
The camera clip attaches to any strap or belt up to 2.5″ wide. You can mount your small camera on it – and film while walking.
Or you can securely mount your DSLR on it when you aren't shooting. I used this on a recent trip to Miami – and captured footage that wouldn't have been possible without it.
I set my GoPro to a shooting interval – shooting one photo every 5 seconds. I created a couple of time lapses – and took some stills from it. I love this clip!
Drone: DJI Mavic 2 Pro
So this is probably the one optional piece of gear in the list. If you are in the travel or lifestyle niches, you're going to want a drone.
But if you are in food, personal development, or finance type categories, a drone probably won't serve you.
Over the years, many brands have come and gone. The leader in consumer level drones is DJI. And they make two models you should consider.
Mavic 2 Pro: Shoots 4K video and 20MP photos. Has 31 minute flight time and 3-axis gimbal.
- Mavic Mini: Shoots 2.7K video and 12MP photos. Has 30 minute flight time with 3-axis gimbal.
A note about drones: Many states and provinces have very specific rules about usage. Some require licensing and others require that you notify the governing transportation authority before usage. Drone popularity has decreased because of these tightening regulations.
Editing Software: Vegas Movie Studio
So you've shot your footage and now it's time to put it all together.
There are countless programs to edit videos. They range from free to a subscription of $20.99/mo.
Here are a couple of programs to consider.
- Vegas Movie Studio Platinum: This is the best combination of power and simplicity. I've been using Vegas for many years and it's super intuitive. Has great transitions, text editor. And the ability to correct color and audio if you wish.
- Adobe Premiere Pro: This is the most expensive option and costs USD$20.99/mo ($239.88/yr). It is super powerful and can produce amazing results. I found the interface not very intuitive – and I'm a long time Photoshop and Illustrator user. Expect a steep learning curve – but with amazing results.
- Final Cut Pro X: This program is for Apple devices and costs USD$399.99. I haven't used it, but it is popular among Apple users.
Need help outputting your video? Spivo offers a professional editing service.
Other Vlogging Gear (7 Items)
Here are a few other considerations for your vlog kit.
- Extra batteries: We always travel with 2 or 3 spare batteries for each camera. I can't think of anything more frustrating than running out of juice part way through the day.
- Power bank: With a fully charged power bank, you can charge your phone and some camera batteries in your backpack. Here's one that our readers are loving: Anker Power Bank 20,000mAh
- SD cards: It's a good idea to spread out your shoot across more than one card. We like to have two or three spare cards (empty and ready to go).
- Waterproof bag: Keep your vlogging equipment safe from the rain. It cold be as simple as a plastic bag in your backpack. Or maybe an actual waterproof bag. But give some thought to keeping your gear dry if the heavens open up and you can't get cover. A dry bag like this will fit in your backpack – and you could quickly put your gear inside in case of a rainstorm.
- Wind shield: If you're filming outside, a basic wind muffler will reduce wind noise while remaining acoustically transparent. Rode makes a series of windshields called DeadKitten and DeadCat because of their artificial fur.
- Gear backpack: When we first started travel blogging, we just had all our gear tossed into a standard backpack. And everything ended up getting lost in a pile at the bottom of the back. Even if you only film from a set location, it's a good idea to have everything all in one place. We're big fans of Lowepro bags – likes this FastPack that should hold all your gear.
- Webcam: This shouldn't be overlooked. It's super simple to create a short video update or tutorial while sitting at your desk. Here are the best webcams for YouTube.
There you have it. Our vlogging equipment list. What do you think? Did I miss something? Let me know if you have any questions and I'll do my best to answer them.