What You Need for a Home Vlogging Kit
Stuck in the old days of blogging with only text? If you haven’t been paying attention, everybody is vlogging now. Since a whole new generation is living their lives online through video streams, vlogs, TikToks, YouTubes, Twitches, and Snapchats, let’s look at a few holiday gift options that can offer your favorite vlogger the best video gear.
While some kits are compact enough to take your home studio with you, some vloggers may want to keep their home kit setup and add an ultra-lightweight action kit for when they’re out in the field for easy setup and portability. Adding an action camera or rig to your repertoire is so easy and inexpensive these days if you want to make sure your videos are stable, high resolution, and ready for editing, uploading, or even livestreaming.
While it is easy and handy to just walk around talking to your smartphone, phones and tablets often have limitations to their performance, such as lens quality, lighting issues, multiple camera integration, editing and effects options, and adding quality audio. Purpose-built vlogging kits are more versatile and expandable than a smartphone, static PTZ, or expensive cinema camera setup, and can be used either in your home studio/office or in the field.
Find Yourself a Great Camera (or Cameras)
When working with your vlogging at home, small cameras are likely the best remedy, and there are many different camcorders, mirrorless cameras, and DSLR cameras that you can choose from for high-quality audio and video recording. Note that some cameras like DSLRs were originally designed for photography, so their video recording features may have some limitations, such as recording time limits and limited audio support. These camera options can suit a variety of needs.
- The Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K is a highly versatile, high-resolution camera that is as compact as a DSLR but designed for 6K/4K/HD cinema-quality video with HDMI output and audio input.
- The Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 is a compact mirrorless camera that captures high-quality 6K stills as well as 4K video with HDMI output and audio input.
- Another great compact mirrorless camera is the Sony a7S III, which has more video features than its photography-focused siblings, including 5-axis internal stabilization, 4K video recording, and a variety of output options.
- The Sony ZV-1 is a great compact choice for lower budgets that sits easily on a desk, shoots 4K video, as well as features a built-in zoom lens and microphone. It also comes in a handy kit with a mini tripod and an SD card.
- For an all-in-one recording/streaming solution, the Sony PXW-Z90V camcorder records 4K video, has a built-in ZEISS lens with 12x optical zoom, quality autofocus, and it even features built-in Wi-Fi connectivity that allows you to stream video directly from the camera without a hard-wired connection to a computer.
- For moving shots, add a compact gimbal camera such as the DJI Pocket 2 that you can put in your pocket and shoot steady 4K footage with anywhere you go.
- Mobile action cameras, such as the GoPro HERO9 or DJI Osmo Action, can be mounted just about anywhere—on your head, body, bike, or car—and record high-quality video and audio that is easy to transfer to your computer for editing and uploading.
Most streaming services will cap your video resolution at either 1080p or 720p, which is considered “HD” (high-definition) video and has a resolution that will look great on any TV or computer screen. For those who want more color-correction choices, or if you like to do effects or even want to zoom in on your subjects, a 4K camera might be more up your alley. 4K images are four times as large as your HD footage, so you can easily crop your images in post-production when you want to remove messy room shots or hanging mics, or zoom in on your shot to a close-up for without losing much, or any, image quality.
You’re Going to Need Some Accessories
Accessories are a big part of producing your content and connecting to your audience. To capture quality vlogs, you’ll need a variety of accessories depending on what your goals are, to capture high-quality video with lighting, audio, power, and connectivity to the Internet.
Especially if you’re at home or in an indoor location, lighting is important. Light from natural sources isn’t a bad option, but often can cause color issues and may not be enough to clearly present yourself or your surroundings. Video, in particular, often requires more light than you may think. In addition to basic lighting, there are also lighting options available to add some creative effects and colors, so it helps to shop around.
- For compact units that pack a lot of light and color options, and are also easy to mount and carry with you, LED lights from Godox, LITRA’s LitraTorch, and Lume Cube are versatile mini lights.
- Try a ring “beauty” light or soft light to cover a wider area and to show flattering reflections in your eyes, such as the Rotolight NEO 2, a Genaray 2-Light Mini Kit, or the multi-color Angler Ring Light with stand.
- You can also use a small camera or smartphone with the Phottix Nuada Kit that has a camera mount in the middle of the ring light.
- For a lighting kit with creative RGB color options, as well as numerous lighting effects, kits like the Falcon Eyes PockeLite F7 Kit or Vidpro RGB-152 Kit can offer a compact solution.
When audio is poor, you really notice it. Your audience wants to hear you clearly if you’re speaking or presenting audio in your vlog, and built-in mics are rarely good enough, so a quality microphone is a must.
- A versatile shotgun microphone for on top of your camera or mount is the RØDE VideoMic that plugs into a standard 3.5mm audio jack and provides crisp directional sound pickup.
- Some compact Sony cameras require a proprietary microphone connection in the multi-interface hot shoe, so the Sony ECM-GZ1M Zoom Microphone is a solid solution.
- For an even more compact shotgun mic with 3.5mm jack for tiny, mobile kits, the compact RØDE VideoMic won’t add too much weight.
- If you are using a smartphone, it’s infinitely better to utilize an audio kit for sound such as the RØDE VideoMic Facebook Starter kit or the Shure MOTIV digital video mic kit.
- For a wireless, wired, and/or hidden option, lavalier microphones such as the RØDE Wireless Go, the Sennheiser Portable Lavalier Kit, or the Saramonic Mic System are great choices to hide when you want to be farther away from the camera.
Keep It Steady with Mounts and Stabilizers
Mounts such as tripods, handheld mounts, and stabilizers are important to keep your camera steady and stable, especially when you are filming a vlog in selfie mode.
- Small, light tripods from Oben, Joby, and Manfrotto are great to support tabletop cameras, mics, and lights.
- Grips such as the convertible GoPro Shorty and the Kupo Tripod Mount allow you to handhold and mount your action camera using a variety of different gear.
- Shoe mounts such as the Vello Triple Shoe mount and Shoe Extension, or SmallRig Shoe adapter set are great to mount accessories on your camera’s top shoe, making your rig more compact.
- Handheld camera/smartphone gimbals like the Osmo Mobile 3, Feiyu G6, Zhiyun CRANE 3S, and DJI Ronin-SC can hold your compact camera or smartphone steady when adding mobile action shots.
Cables and Adapters
Make sure you’re aware of the different video and audio outputs that your camera has so you can easily send the video to your computer. Cameras feature a variety of outputs such as HDMI, mini-HDMI, USB 3.1 Gen 1 (aka 3.0) Type-A, Type-B, Type-C, or BNC/SDI that is mostly used with professional and broadcast cameras. Note what cables come with your camera, because you may need a video capture device/converter or a different cable than what comes in the box to make sure your video can be offloaded.
A Good Place to Start: Vlog Production Kits
Sometimes a preconfigured kit is a great place to start when you aren’t sure of all the elements you need.
- The Canon EOS 80D DSLR Camera with 18-135mm Lens Video Creator Kit with Accessories Kit provides a Canon EOS 80D camera, lens, zoom adapter, microphone, memory card, and carry bag.
- The DJI Vlogging/Online Video Kit #2 includes the DJI Osmo Pocket gimbal camera, memory card, microphone, power bank, and hard carry case.
- The Sony ZV-1 Digital Camera with Home Streaming Kit includes the camera, battery, cables, built-in mic windscreen, HDMI-to-USB capture device, handheld grip, and memory card.
- Incorporating green or blue screen into your vlog, such as with the Smith-Victor Expert Smartphone/Ring Light Desktop Work-From-Home AV Kit, will allow you to add different virtual backgrounds.
Some more enhanced starter kits are available if you want your vlogs to expand into larger productions.
- The Sony ENG Video Production Kit provides the Sony PXW-Z280 4K 3-CMOS 1/2" Sensor XDCAM Camcorder, memory card, wireless microphone, headphones, and tripod system.
- The Blackmagic Design Film/Music Video Production Starter Kit provides a camera, lenses, monitor, mounts, and cables to get you set up and running right away.
- The Sony Wedding Video Production Kit is great for mobile events with AC and battery power options, a wireless remote, a shotgun microphone, an on-camera LED light, tons of mounting accessories and cables, and a carry case.
There are so many choices available for expansion, be sure to make your choices for compatibility and expandability, as well as for price. Can this camera work with the accessories I need? Is that rig light enough for handheld shots? Be sure to ask yourself not only what you need right now, but also what you might need to upgrade in the future, so your rig will continue to expand along with your creativity. Keep checking back with the B&H Photo Website for more vlogging kits, cameras, and accessories, as B&H and more manufacturers continue to put together kits and solutions, or visit the B&H SuperStore when you’re in New York City. Good luck with your vlogs! We hope to be seeing you soon, loud and clear.