Sarah A., most specifically, asked me about equipment for YouTube, but I have received these sorts of questions before, so it's about time I answer them ;)
After writing this, it turned out to be quite long, so I decided to release it in 5 parts:
- And software
So stay tuned for parts 2 through 5 in the coming weeks!
A little bit about my experience
To say that all the variables, in equipment choices, are innumerable, would be hyperbole, but it often feels like the case. Making good YouTube videos, from a technical perspective, involves not only choosing a good camera, but a good lens, a good microphone, good lights, and good editing software.
Please note that, when I say good, I don't always mean expensive, but all in all, multimedia creation, of any kind, tends to be an expensive hobby, so be forewarned price tags may be large.
As an aside, prices listed throughout this article are in Canadian dollars (CAD). Due to the constant flucuation of exchange rates, I won't be listing any other currencies, you will have to check exchange rates on your own.
Now, if you are like me, you don't always film your vlogs in the same location, so your needs are similar to the drama and skit creators' needs.
For more simple vlogs, a decent cell phone, iPod, or point and shoot camera, will do the trick visually, but not likely audibly. We'll get to this in part 4 when we talk about audio.
Myself, I've only ever used three different cameras for my YouTube videos. Of these three, my laptop webcam, is the only one I don't recommend you use. Built in webcams are notoriously poor quality. In fact, my first digital camera (from 2007) and my phone (which is probably even older) both film at the very low resolution of 640 by 480 pixels, and both film better than my webcam.
The two cameras I use, that I do recommend, are the Nikon D5000 and the Sony A7S. The A7s films as high as 1920 by 1080 pixels (which is called 1080p for short), right out of the box, but can be upgraded to film at the ridiculously high quality of 4K. We'll skip talking about 4K in this post, because in my opinion, it's overkill for us YouTubers. The Nikon D5000, films at 1280 by 720 pixels (which is called 720p for short).
THe Sony A7s and the Nikon D5000
In case you are wondering, the reason I use two cameras is because the A7S belongs to The Standard News, and so I very rarely take it home. Outside of the office, I use the D5000. To compare the video quality, check out my video “If You're Creatively Discouraged, This might be Why” which was filmed using the D5000, and contrast it with, “Lake Scugog is Artificial” which was filmed on the A7S.
The second video, is clearly better, in terms of video quality, but still, the D5000 is not a bad camera, and works great for me in a pinch. I've found that past a certain video quality threshold (namely 720p and up) people stop caring about video quality, and are more likely to think your video looks bad, if it has bad audio. We'll get to audio in part 4, but first here's my short recommendation for camera choices.
I personally recommend getting a DSLR or mirrorless camera, for YouTube. Why? DSLRs not only take great video, but can take great photographs too. But obviously, cam-corder and movie type cameras, are well suited for this as well, probably better, but I have a lot less experience with them, so I'll just stick to talking about what I know for now.
In my opinion, any Cannon or Nikon camera that films at 720p or a higher resolution, will be great for YouTube, if you handle it right. 1080p, is even better, but if it comes down to price, a 720p camera will be more than a great starter camera. For a Cannon example, Blimey Cow uses a Cannon. If you are familiar with Say Goodnight Kevin, you might be interested to know he uses a Nikon model which is basically the big brother of the D5000. I've always had good experiences with any Cannon camera I have used, though I must admit I mostly used them only for photography, not film. But if you are leaning towards a Nikon, make sure you read part 2 (on lenses) next week, before making any purchases!
THe Sony A6000
To see some examples of video filmed on the A6000, check out my sister Tamara's videos on her blog, Life After Gluten.
Conclusion of part 1
Stay tuned for part 2, next week, when I share about the very important step of picking a lens for your camera (spoiler alert, high end cameras don't come with lenses).
See ya next time!