I thought this would be a particularly helpful post to write as it was one of the most helpful types of post I read when I was considering starting YouTube in particular. The main thing that putting me off starting my own channel, was the worry that I would need to invest in lots of fancy equipment to create a video worth watching!
Now I’m not going to say that an investment of sorts is not required to begin blogging or YouTube, both in terms of time and equipment. However, it doesn’t need to break the bank, particularly if you are just starting out in this area. I began my YouTube channel in July 2016, and have been at it for 4 months. I have invested in only a few pieces of equipment that in my opinion enable me to create decent videos and blog content whilst I’m learning more about photography, videography and editing. In this post I will share these with you! The items I use are a DSLR camera, tripod, mini tripod, remote control, ring light and a portable recording device.
This is the item that has cost me the most and will probably be the item that you will want to invest most in. These days there are so many reasonably priced cameras on the market, that you can find a good beginner DSLR for less than £500. I use Canon 700D which is perfect for what I use it for (mainly to press record) when filming my videos! I don’t pretend to be an expert on cameras and lenses, this camera came with a standard 18-55mm IS STM Lens and I picked it in particular because it comes with a View LCD touch screen that flips out from the side of the camera so I can see myself when filming.
I’ve been using it for about 3 months now and have no complaints! My first couple of YouTube videos were filmed a Nikon D90, as this was the camera we had lying around in the house, but this is not the best camera for filming videos as the focus is awful and the highest quality I was able to record in was 720p (I now record in 1080p and can go up to 4K). That said, the Nikon is fantastic for photos. If you check out my channel, you’ll see the video quality has improved from my 4th video onwards. I think I’ll start using the Nikon for blog posts instead of my phone as it’s really great at taking sharp, detailed images. I use a 64MB memory card for filming, as videos take up a lot of space. In the beginning I only had a small memory card, which kept filling up after about 2 minutes of filming which was beyond annoying! So I’d definitely recommend getting a large capacity memory card. I also bought a remote control so that I’m able to take photos of myself without having to set an automatic timer. I haven’t had to use this much as luckily Niklas takes my blog photos for me, but if I do venture outside on my own with my tripod, I can take photos of myself easily. This was an inexpensive item, costing £5.99 as I bought a Polaroid control that is compatible with my Canon 700D.
I have not invested much in these at all because at present all my filming takes place at home. Once I start filming lookbooks etc outside I will need to invest in a more robust tripod. However, for the moment to get my channel up and running, my £14.99 portable lightweight aluminium tripod works a treat! It is adjustable in height and can go right down small enough to film videos where I just want my feet in view for example (like my sandal collection lookbook), and extends high enough to film me when seated or standing. It’s a little flimsy, probably not suitable for filming outdoors, but for home it’s just perfect!
I also invested in a cheap and cheerful table tripod to enable me to film beauty videos. As I’m not predominantly a beauty blogger, again my intention was not to spend too much money here on my beauty set up. This Rollei Flexible Mini Tripod I picked up from Amazon for £9.99 is the perfect flexible table tripod for me to pop on my table or dresser and film beauty videos. It’s the tripod I used to film my favourite nude lipsticks for darker skin video. It’s sturdy and can be adjusted due to it’s flexible legs, to many different positions and heights. It’s much better than a stack of books which was my initial option!
3) Sound and Lighting
Most of the time when I’m filming I use the sound straight from the video recording and don’t sync a sound file that I’ve recorded on my portable device, as the sound from my camera is fine. However, when I am adding a voice over to a video for example in my nail tutorial, I will then use my portable voice recorder to record my dialogue and then add this to the video in iMovie. The recorder I use is the Zoom H2n Handy Recorder, which is fantastic as it has 5 built in condenser mics within making the sound quality pretty amazing! It’s really easy to use, and I am lucky enough to have a musician fiancee, so I just borrow this from him! There are some good, affordable options out there so check out Olympus, Philips or Sony for options.
Now we all know that decent lighting can make or break a video! I’ve struggled with this in the past, and still do actually! My first ever video was made using natural light to the back of me, and room lights which were extremely yellow toned. You can see the result of that here! After watching endless filming set up videos on YouTube and reading countless blog posts, I realised I needed to purchase a ring light at the very least to help me with my lighting issues! I purchased this £59.99 (price has now increased) Neewer® Photographic Lamp Ring Fluorescent Flash Light Kit with 6ft Light Stand and £5.99 Neewer® Collapsible Softbox Diffuser to help improve the lighting in my videos. Living in the UK, I really can’t depend on natural light, especially as we’re now entering the darker months. This is enough to provide enough forward facing light to my face whilst filming, and I’m looking to invest in this Continuous Lighting Studio Softbox Kit in the near future to provide more coverage.
I did not buy my MacBook Air specifically for blogging, I had this already for general use. It’s helpful because iMovie (video editing software) is already installed on the machine. If you have a Windows laptop, I believe Windows Movie Maker is a good editing program to use. I had seen a lot of my favourite YouTubers use Final Cut Pro software for editing, but it’s quite expensive at £229, so until I’ve established myself a bit more, and understand more about editing, photography etc, I will continue on with iMovie. For the moment it provides me with all I need for editing my YouTube videos. You do not need to go out and spend thousands on a Mac or similar, laptops are pretty affordable these days and if you’re new to blogging and YouTube and not sure if you’ll continue for the long run, invest in good but cheaper options first. You can always sell up and upgrade once you know this is what you want to do, or have outgrown your current equipment.
Finally, I know some people do film videos on their phones, particularly iPhones, but I have not tried this just yet! I have an iPhone 6S Plus, so know the video capability is pretty good. There are lots of apps you can download for editing videos on your phone, and adding text, effects etc. I’m no expert in this, so I will refer you here. House of Aesthetics, is one of my favourite YouTubers both for style and editing. In this video she explains beautifully and clearly how she edits her YouTube videos on her phone. When I watched this video, I realised there is so much that can be done on one’s phone! I need to get involved!
I hope you’ve found this post helpful, any questions do feel free to ask and I’ll reply in the comments. I do need to invest in a decent hard drive to back up videos and photos (again I share with Niklas), and a spare camera battery as I find mine drains quickly after a few hours of filming, but other than that I’m pretty happy with my set up for the moment. In the future I’ll also invest in some different camera lenses to add a different dimension to my videos, but I have a lot of reading up and learning to do before then! Hopefully this helps you, as much as much as similar blog posts helped me on my journey into the YouTube/bloggersphere!
Until next time!