Vlogging is getting more popular by the day thanks to famous vloggers like Casey Neistat, Ben Brown, FunForLouis, Zoe, Alfie, The Pointless Blog and many others. If you want to start your own vlog but are curious what kind of equipment you need to get up and running, I’ve got you covered. It can be a little intimidating setting out on a new adventure like this, so hopefully this post acts as a bit of a roadmap to help you hit the ground running. If you’ve had questions like, “What is the best camera for vlogging?” or “What computer or editing software is best for vloggers?” then you’re in the right place. And hey, if you’re bored you can always stop by my YouTube channel to see what I’ve been up to lately.
Update: check out my new list of the top 100 YouTube channels you probably haven’t heard of yet!
You can’t vlog without a camera, obviously. But picking the right camera for getting started can seem a bit daunting. But with vlogging, as with most things, the hardest part is just getting started. And the good news is that you can get started with just about any camera you can access — seriously! You can always upgrade as you go (in fact you definitely will if you stick with it). I’ve written a helpful list of the best vlogging cameras (which needs to be updated one of these days) but if you just want my top recommendation I’d say get the Zoom Q8 ($399 right now) — it was designed specifically with YouTuber creators in mind! Disclaimer: my mind/recommendation on the best camera for vlogging changes all the time… but I really like the features of the Q8.
If you’re going to be a vlogger you need to get some lighting. In the world of vlogging there is actually quite a gap between professional and amateur vloggers. The professional vloggers — the ones who make a living in front of the camera — know the tips and tricks of producing the best vlog content. And one of the most obvious things you can control is the lighting in your videos: especially the lighting of you (since you’ll be the main subject of your videos). You can, of course, make the best use of natural lighting as you can (from windows and, for a more dramatic effect, the light surrounding sunrise and sunset — aka Golden Hour) but there are some great lighting kits you can pick up which contain everything you’ll need for indoor shoots (like in your room). I’d recommend something like the StudioPRO 3200 Watt Double 24″x36″ Softbox kit which can be had for under $399. But check out the other softboxes out there to see what fits your budget.
Audio is the next obvious thing to upgrade. There’s a massive difference in sound quality if you use the built in audio-capture from your camera vs using an external mic. Personally I really love Rode products: especially the Rode VideoMic Pro. With it you don’t have to mess around with XLR cables and boxes; it’s uncomplicated, works really well and Rode has amazing customer service. They once sent me a free windscreen replacement when my kid ripped up the original that came with the mic brand new. If you’re going to be shooting outside very often I’d recommend grabbing the Rode Dead Cat accessory which will totally cut out even the strongest wind noise. If you’re going to be doing any voiceover work, I’d recommend the Blue Yeti.
You’re going to need a computer to edit footage on. And I use the term “computer” loosely. True, it’s probably still easiest (and best) to edit your vlog on a laptop or desktop computer. The absolute best experience (in my opinion) will be had on an Apple laptop like the MacBook Pro or on an Apple desktop like the iMac. Why? Apple has been supporting creative people for decades. It’s what they do and they’re the best at it (although Microsoft is playing catchup quick). Note: the ultimate setup, in my opinion, is a laptop that you can take with you (like to the coffee shop) paired with an external monitor for editing on a bigger screen when at home (or the office). Here’s a list I made awhile back of the 5 best 27″ monitors. Alternatively, you COULD use an iPad Pro if that fits your life better. Or you could even use your phone. I’ve edited a few vlogs on my iPhone using iMovie and you know what? It’s not that bad. But here’s the hierarchy/order I’d recommend for vlogging computers you would want to edit on: laptop/desktop, tablet, phone. All are usable, but to varying degrees.
5.) Editing Software
And finally you’re going to need some editing software. For professional editing there are really only two options: Apple’s Final Cut Pro X (that’s the latest version) and Adobe’s Premiere Pro. There are lots of opinions out there as to which interface and workflow is the best. You’ll have to do your own research there. But one note on pricing: you’ll only need to buy Final Cut once whereas you’ll have to pay for Premiere monthly or annually (either as a standalone app or as part of a multi-app package). For beginning vloggers I’d personally say go with Final Cut. As mentioned previously, you definitely CAN get started with your tablet or phone using something like iMovie and work your way up to “the big leagues” — there’s nothing wrong with that.
Alright! So there you have it: that’s everything you really need to get started vlogging (aside from some killer adventures and content ideas). There is more equipment that you could definitely buy to help you make your videos even better, but the items I’ve listed here are sort of a baseline starter package. If you want to know about more vlogging equipment, let me know in the comments and I’d be happy to write a follow-up post if there’s enough interest.