I figured it would make a good resource to be able to have a side-by-side comparison of the different options for video blogging, as well as some recommendations for some specialty-type effects that can add value and distinguish your blog as a professional presentation vs an average computer/PC user.
To start off, we’ll introduce the most cost-effective & ease-of-use options:
1. On-board computer camera/web camera.
Advantages: The video is already loaded on your computer when done, no additional expenditure on equipment. If you’re on a budget and don’t have much time to spend loading/editing video – this is a cost efficient & quick option.
Disadvantages: Lacking quality & versatility. Your videos will have a level of quality anyone can achieve – no distinguishable difference than the average person. Also isn’t convenient to travel, pack, or use in an outdoor or rugged environment.
Cost: No additional purchase required
2. iPhone. (I’d include android phones, but I’d suggest using a webcam/computer video over an android device – my experience with those phones have proved to be some of the worst quality videos I’ve seen)
Advantages: Extremely portable, no additional cost if you already own, and easy to email/upload. Take it on the go, record video while walking or in between appointments. Immediately upload to your YouTube or Vimeo account straight from your phone with no processing – quickest amount of time from record -> vlog post.
Disadvantages: Same as above, with additional limitation of difficulty to set up to do a self-recording session. You’ll often have to hold at arm’s length and might not be able to get the frame you want without additional help from others.
Cost: No additional purchase required
Advantages: Extremely portable, easy to use. Fits in your pocket, upload straight from the device.
Disadvantages: Quality isn’t the best or the worst, many average consumers own one for personal use. Additional cost & investment, reported issues with inconsistency in recharging.
Advantages: Very portable & small, obtains a fish-eye perspective which includes more of the settings/background in the video. Has the ability to capture extreme clips, such as underwater, attached to helmet/car/cycle etc. Simply designed camera with less than a handful of buttons.
Disadvantages: No viewing of screen capture without an additional extension purchase. Quality isn’t amazing, sound quality can be extremely sensitive to wind. Better for catching action shots than someone talking straight to the camera. The HD Hero 2 is much better quality than the original.
5. Canon 60D [RECOMMENDED FOR PROFESSIONAL ON SOMEWHAT OF A BUDGET]
Advantages: Pro-sumer SLR quality video. With a great lens, you can have a professional appearance that stands out above the average consumer/technology user. Rotating viewing monitor so you can see yourself while you are filming, ability to film at lower light than cameras listed above. Sound quality isn’t the best, but much improved from options above. Ideal for the individual business owner looking to make their own high quality video blogs. (Also great to have for personal vacations) Significantly lower cost than professional SLR. Would recommend pairing with a Sigma 30mm 1.4 – which would give a similar look & feel to the 50mm 1.4 shown in the video above.
Disadvantages: Cropped sensor, which means you only get a portion of the frame that you would get from a full frame camera such as the 5D. To read more about what this means, check out this article. Will not fit in your pocket. Adventure/outdoor rigs are considerably more expensive than the GoPro.
Cost: $900 new, $800 used on ebay
6. Canon 5D mk ii
Advantages: Professional level SLR. Many commercial videographers use this for high quality production, quality is outstanding paired with top-level editing software (final cut, premier) Sharp imagery, several options of focal length and aperture, excellent in low-light. Full utility of lenses compared to the crop sensor of the 60D
Disadvantages: High cost, will not fit in your pocket. Adventure/outdoor rigs are considerably more expensive than the GoPro. No flip monitor to see yourself while filming.
Sigma 30mm 1.4: Great to pair with the 60D to achieve the shallow depth of field, low-light availability, and accurate portrayal of appearance with no distortion.
Cost: $490 new.
Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II : Awesome landscape lens. Captures the most amount of your atmosphere/environment around you in your frame. Significant distortion towards the sides of the frame at 16mm. Has the ability to zoom to 35mm. Easy to use in a tight space.
Canon EF 24mm 1.4: Great at capturing a wide frame/environment & setting of the background. Ability to have a shallow depth of field and concentrate on the subject. Easy to use in a tight space.
Sigma 50mm 1.4: Great lens for a great price. Works great with the 5D mk ii (shown in video above), great shallow depth of field, low light capabilities. Will be a bit tight of a frame on a 60D camera, would need more space between camera & subject. I actually prefer this lens over the canon version – much sharper & great value for the cost.
As for the other lenses I demonstrated in the video, I wouldn’t recommend them for video blogging as they would only really be used for very specific needs which aren’t exactly the most practical for vlogging. If you have any questions about them, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. To give you the technical info so you can research them, they were the Canon 85mm 1.8 and Canon 100mm 2.8 macro.
1. Audio Technica Wireless Lavalier System: What Jason was using in the video with the waterfall. I prefer the quality, super targeted and clear even in harsh conditions. Limited a bit in terms of interviews as the mic is set up for one person initially – needs to clip on to belt and has a lavalier attached on the collar, appears in video if not covert. Good value for the price.
2. Sennheiser Shotgun Microphone: Minimal set-up on camera, no lavalier appearing in the frame. Directed towards the individual, can be useful for interviews as opposed to a single lavalier. Picks up ambient noise more than the lavalier. Ideal for interviews.
So that’s everything I have for you guys as far as my experience with vlogging gear. If it came down to it – what I would strongly suggest for the best investment for your video blogs – get the 60D camera used on ebay or craigslist (if you get it from Craigslist, have a photographer check it out with you to make sure it’s legit). Use the Sigma 30mm 1.4 lens to pair with it – versatile lens that will get you great quality and allow you to take some awesome personal/travel photos if you’re considering that as an additional incentive. Add on one of the audio set-ups mentioned above (depending if you’re planning on doing interviews or vlogging from loud environments) and you’ll be all set with a top-notch vlog system that will cost you around a grand.
I’d love to hear any of your favorite set-ups or additional tips from you guys in the comments – I always welcome alternative perspectives and different preferences :)
PS – stay tuned for a lightroom 4 video editing tutorial come Tuesday. I’m planning on video taping a April fool’s prank for tomorrow’s vlog. Let’s hope it all goes according to plan :)