Video Gear for YouTube
In 2020, I received a good amount of messages about the video gear I use for YouTube. I've also been talking with a few of my patrons about starting their own YouTube channels. I've learned a lot about video production since 2016; I hope you find this information useful!
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Since 2016, most of the videos on the channel have been shot with the Canon T5i. The T8i is the most recent version. Canon cameras are great and super easy to use. Lately, I've been using my iPhone to shoot the videos due to the lack of 4K on the T5i. There is some debate as to whether DSLRs are past their prime in terms of video production. If you're serious about getting a camera, you'll want to look into mirrorless cameras as well.
This is my favorite lens to use with the T5i. It's the Casey Neistat special, or at least he used it for a while. It's a great wide angle lens for vlogging outside. Indoors, you can sit close to the camera, and capture everything behind you. There's something about the look of wide angle lenses. The kit lens that comes with the T8i is solid, too, and is really all you need unless you want to go w i d e.
Your video is only as good as your audio (and your lighting). Most camera preamps are low-quality. It's assumed you'll be using dedicated audio gear to capture the audio. I've been happy with this mic. It's another Casey Neistat recommendation. The only thing is, if your room is echoey, you'll definitely hear it in this mic. While I still use this, I've been recording audio into a dynamic mic lately with the Model 12. I like the way a close mic sounds better but it's subjective. The LensHopper is perfect for run-and-gun situations, if you're outside, or if you don't feel like worrying about syncing audio with your video from another source in post.
Windjammer, windsock, windshield, windscreen, deadcat: it goes by a lot of names. It's one of those things if you don't have, you'll miss. You really only need it if you're going to be filming outside, though. Maybe this is obvious, but it goes over the LensHopper and kills any wind sound.
I think SanDisk makes the best SD cards. This is one of those items where it pays to spend a couple extra bucks. You don't want an SD failure, especially as the storage capacity for these goes up, a corrupted or damaged card could mean the loss of weeks or months of filming and/or audio. There's a few different types and the SanDisk naming convention is bonkers: Extreme Pro, Extreme Plus, Extreme, Ultra, etc. When in doubt, max it out with the Extreme Pro. It may be overkill if your gear doesn't need to write data as fast as the top speed of the card, but you definitely don't want the write speed of these to be underkill. The 32 GB or 64 GB does the trick for 1080p; 128 GB and above I'd say for 4K. The newer Extreme Pros have a write speed of 170 MB/S.
This is one of those small things you'll want to get when you get a camera. You can use the battery that comes with the camera, but you need to make sure you have a few batteries and that one is charged at all times. Otherwise, your workflow can be ruined if you have to stop filming mid-shoot or if your camera powers down and footage is lost during a recording. If you're making videos at home, an AC adapter is the way to go. I can't remember the last time I used my camera batteries. Just make sure to get the right adapter for your camera. If you type, '[your camera model] ac adapter' into Amazon, you'll find one.
Since most YouTube channels start out with a one-person crew, you're going to need a camera tripod. I've been mostly happy with this Amazon Basics one. The crank handle is definitely wearing out but it's been solid. I'll probably upgrade to a more robust one at some point.
Another crucial part of the video kit is a white balance card. Why is a white balance card gray? I have no idea, but this thing is awesome. You set up your shot, take a photo of the card in the shot, set the camera to set white balance based on the photo, and you're ready to film. This card vastly improved the white balance and color quality of the videos since I started using it.
These are the small lights I used in the early days of the channel. It's probably a three-way tie between video, audio, and lighting as to what makes great video quality. A bright pixel is a sharp pixel and lighting can make or break a video. These also have AC adapters you can get so you don't have to charge the batteries.
I upgraded to these bigger lights a couple years ago. They make a big difference, especially when filming at night or indoors. These lights and the lights above are also great for working on other projects. Sometimes, I just turn them on and bask in the glow.
I've been using a SM58 with a windscreen for voice overs lately. I used the Beta 58A below for a while, too, but I decided to mix it up the other day. My only complaint with the Beta 58A is that it seems to pick up more mouth noise. The mic everyone seems to want these days is the SM7B. I find the SM58 does the trick.
This is the mic I use for recording vocals, podcasting, and voice overs. I've since switched back to the regular SM58 for voice overs. It seems like the SM58 picks up less mouth noise (though it could also be bad technique on my part). I think either the SM58 or Beta 58A are great mics for voice overs, with very little, if anything, needed to be done in post.
The Model 12 is great for all sorts of content creation. I primarily use it as a home studio hub and multitrack recorder. Lately, I've been using the Model 12 to record voice over for the videos. With the right SD card, the Model 12 can record for a long time. I do miss using my computer for voice overs, as it was a bit more streamlined, but since I'm moving away from the computer for audio production, this works well, too.
Jay and I livestreamed a lot a couple years ago. We used my iPhone and then I later decided to get a dedicated camera because data is expensive if you're not on WiFi. With a hardwired camera into a computer, you have a lot more flexibility, too. This was also before the pandemic when livestreaming was not as popular. Since more people use video chat and livestreaming these days, Canon released a webcam utility that allows you to use DSLRs for video chat and livestreaming. It's all about that clean HDMI out (it's a rabbit hole, trust me). Personally, I think camcorders make the most sense for video in general, but DSLRs have much better lenses, and hence, look much sharper for better overall video quality.
For a while, the Elgato Cam Link 4K seemed to be the industry standard for livestreaming. A lot of gamers use Elgato. Elgato is basically the Apple of streaming gear. When the pandemic hit, Cam Links were like gold, and the prices skyrocketed. Things have since leveled out, with a lot of other companies producing similar, cheaper devices. This has always worked extremely well. Just make sure you have USB 3.0. Mine used to freeze when plugged into USB 2.0.
The Behringer UMC404HD interface is what I use for audio when livestreaming on my PC. I needed a dedicated interface for my PC, as I didn't have one at the time. I wanted something cheap and cost effective that also sounded great. Ben brought over a smaller version one day for a livestream performance and I was blown away by the quality. So I gave it a shot and never looked back. Now that I have the Model 12, though, I'll probably just use that if I ever get back into livestreaming (although this is much more mobile if you plan to stream from various locations).
This mic is probably overkill for livestream audio. I got it for general recording a few years back. It turned out to be a great mic for livestreaming because of the various pickup patterns. Jay and I used the Figure 8 pattern, as it picks up from both the front and the back of the mic. We could sit on opposite sides at about the same distance, and the audio would be well balanced and good quality. Good audio is probably the most important aspect of livestreaming right now, as it takes a lot to stream high quality video so audiences are more forgiving when it comes to video quality. But the lights above come in handy for livestreaming, too!