People are visual creatures by nature, so it is no wonder that choosing the right video equipment can be a critical undertaking. Whether you are doing video captures for TikTok or YouTube, recording important family moments, or creating your own independent films, you are going to need video equipment that is right for the job. Not all video equipment is the same, not only because of the price point and quality of the video you get, but simply because of choosing the appropriate type of equipment for what you are trying to accomplish.
The importance of quality video equipment
An old expression says, "Go cheap and cry twice." Video equipment can be challenging when trying to fit your budget, match functionality, and hitting that sweet spot of getting what you pay for when it comes to quality and performance. Higher quality video equipment usually has the benefit of being at the crest of that wave when it comes to technology, function, ease of use, and durability. But that isn't to say that buying the most expensive equipment at the time is going to be worth the expense. Research is important when you are shopping, and in many cases, buying the right video equipment isn't necessarily the same as buying the best.
Your content might be great, but it can be even better, attract more views, support more resolution, and make your life easier as a videographer, Vlogger, or even editor depending on the kind of equipment you are using.
Various types of video equipment
Whether you are building a social media channel, making documentaries, a podcast, or are an aspiring videographer, there are many different types of video equipment that are available to you. Digital video and audio equipment enable users to implement a large variety of editing software which through practice, gaining familiarity with your equipment, and the level of quality, creating quality content with that look of high production value is at your disposal. Here are some of the basics as far as what is out there for video production and the kinds of videos you can create.
Sound is nearly as crucial to good video quality as the images you are capturing. Depending on what you are shooting, here are some different types of audio equipment to consider.
- Built in mic: Most video cameras come with a built in mic. Though the quality is not usually as good as an external device, they do work well in close proximity, and without background noise or wind interference.
- Shotgun mic: This external mic is a unidirectional mic that pics up a specific area of sound. They work best from about 6 inches to 4 feet away with minimal interference.
- Binaural mic: Typical of ASMR and podcasts, binaural mics are multidirectional, omnidirectional, and some can be adjusted to unidirectional function. Great for picking up voice and stereophonic sound.
- Digital Voice Recorder: Available in unidirectional and binaural mic functions, this device is very portable and is often used in podcasting and voice recording outside of a controlled studio environment.
- Wireless lavalier (lav): This mic can be attached to clothing and the wireless capability lets the wearer have good sound quality even at a distance from the camera.
- Boom mic: If you have the resources for a sound person, a boom mic allows you to record sound outside of the frame of the shot without being seen, but still allowing for good sound quality.
- Headphones: When recording as well as editing sound, headphones allow you to focus on the recordings without interference.
Many different types of cameras can be used to record quality video. From the incorporated digital camera on your Smartphone to a high megapixel camcorder, to studio broadcast cameras, cine cameras, and even drones, video cameras each fill a different niche for video production.
Point and shoot camera
Perhaps the simplest of the video cameras, these are at the lowest price point, starting at as low as $100. A good entry level camera for vloggers, social media video, and just starting out, you can shoot your footage and upload the video to your computer for editing. The drawback is usually picture and audio quality.
Smart phones are now being built with some very sophisticated and functional video cameras. Many TikTok, YouTube channels, and even independent films have been recorded using cell phones. These devices work great for live streaming through apps, since the footage is uploaded directly into the app without having to transfer to another device first. You also have the advantage of your camera being with you at all times, ready to go.
DSLR or HD
A higher end digital camera gives you more technical functionality than a smart phone, with the ability to control ISO, aperture, and shutter speed for recording in different conditions. These cameras give your video a more controlled and professional look, as well as the ability to record at higher megapixels and incorporate other lighting options, as well as having interchangeable lenses. The drawback is that these cameras are bulkier, and require the footage to be transferred onto another device before uploading to apps, so live streaming is very impractical.
These video cameras have even more functionality than a DSLR/HD digital camera, since video is their primary function. With more storage, adjustable frames per second, and other settings such as zoom and motion stabilizers, camcorders are larger and often more comfortable to use for longer periods of time. Good for better quality production such as weddings, events, and even recording vlogs and podcasts for better production value, a camcorder might be overkill for some applications, but provides better control than lower end cameras. They are very portable and robust when it comes to shooting outside of a controlled environment.
You've seen these cameras being used on the news, television shows, and other media. Generally you will need other equipment such as stabilizer rigs, power supplies, and lenses to get the best performance.
Movie cameras are among the most expensive and would be overkill for most beginners. A price point of tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars for some rigs, movie cameras are precision devices which require training, special equipment, and controlled environments to operate well.
Most mid to upper-range cameras (from DSLR on up) have the capability to use interchangeable lenses. From wide angle to telephoto, larger aperture, and faster shutter speeds, each lens provides more precision and depth of use.
You are probably familiar with using a flash on your camera, but when shooting video, you need a continual source of light. Controlling light is the heart of any kind of photography, and doing it well can make all the difference in your videography. Generally two light sources allow you to contour shadows and bright areas to change the tone and composition of your shot. Here are some ways to achieve that:
- Lighting boxes and softboxes: These boxes, umbrellas, and other shaded light sources allow you to have an off-rig setup that gives you control over the lighting. Much like a flash, the area is broader and diffused than the sharpness of a flash.
- Gels: Used with off-camera lighting boxes and hand-held rigs, gels allow you to change up the color to affect mood and tones in a shot.
- Ring lights: Very popular among social media videographers, ring lights help saturate the subject and allow you to shoot through the middle of this light, creating some great effects, especially with facial features and eyes.
- Natural light: Perhaps the most desired and sometimes fickle light source. The good news is when it is perfect, the light saturation cannot be beat, but you are often at the mercy of weather, being outside, and it is difficult to control.
- Bounce lighting: An effective method of using umbrellas, reflectors, and even the walls and other surfaces to control natural and artificial lighting. AI-based on-camera lighting can even determine what angle your flash can get optimum bounce lighting and adjust automatically.
Sports-specific video equipment
Sports videography is very kinetic and requires equipment that is portable, able to be moved quickly and withstand some punishment.
- GoPro or other POV camera: These are incredibly durable cameras that can attach to a jacket, helmet, or even handlebars for shooting in extreme conditions.
- Waterproof DSLR: Upper end DSLR cameras can be weatherized to protect against moisture and even pressure from underwater. These work great for wildlife photography, diving, and other outdoor sports.
- Drone cameras: You might have already seen drones at work in NFL football games. Drones are great for getting close to the action without having to be there physically yourself.
Music video-specific equipment
When shooting in a more controlled environment for music video production, a professional grade camera such as a camcorder or studio camera are very useful, but your creativity can also be captured with a DSLR/HD, drone camera, or even a smartphone. Editing will play a huge role in bringing it all together.
Video podcast-specific equipmentPopular podcasts involve a lot of high-end equipment, but if you are getting started you will discover that the fundamentals of gear will get you a lot of miles. You can create quality video with a smartphone or DSLR camera which can be uploaded to your editing software for post-production.
- Tripods and other stabilizers: Keeping your shots steady and focused on the subject is critical. With a pair of cameras, you can get different angles and perspective shots between those speaking in the podcast. If you are running a solo operation one or two cameras will probably suffice.
- Lighting: Ring lights, light boxes, and other stationary lighting devices will help you control the light in the area and make for higher, more professional looking production value.
- Microphones: Binaural mics and shotgun mics are becoming the industry standard, with adjustable booms that eliminate noise interference from subjects tapping on tables or other background noise.
- Other equipment: SSD cards, removable hard drives, external hard drives, and extra batteries will help you reduce downtime during production, so you can focus on your podcast. The storage devices will ensure your footage is backed up and ready for editing in your post-production editing software.
YouTube video equipment
All sorts of different YouTube channels require different videography techniques. If you are doing unboxings or how-to videos, or documenting your trip to the Maldives, you will need to adjust your video equipment needs accordingly. Many YouTubers got started with using a webcam. Others have achieved success through just using their smartphone on a small tripod, or a 4K DSLR camera. Some channels have used drones to capture landscape shots and make for dramatic shots. POV cameras are also very effective on action/adventure type channels. You don't need a camcorder or a high-end studio camera to get good results. In many ways, simpler can be preferable.
Livestream video equipment
For a livestream you won't need a device that you have to upload a file to, so going with a smartphone directly into the app is preferable. Webcams are still useful in livestreaming video as well and won't require the stabilizing devices such as tripods to get the job done. Good light sources, tripods for stability, and good audio are still important, but less so because of the spontaneous nature of livestreaming.
Video editing equipment
Most computers come with some sort of entry-level packaged software, free programs, or the ability to install professional grade editing software. Pinnacle Studio allows you to edit video to professional quality, quickly and easily. You won't need mixer boards, pre-amps, or editing interfaces. With Pinnacle Studio, everything you need is built into the application. Produce high-quality video for your home movies, podcast, wedding videos, music videos, TikTok page, and YouTube channel. A quality editing program gives you the control to bring your images to life.
What to look for when choosing video equipment
When choosing video equipment, you need to keep a few things in mind. Compatibility from device to device is key, as is your Return of Investment. Buying a less-expensive device might save you money now, but if you need to replace it or upgrade in the near future, you are wasting your money and likely producing sub-par images. On the other hand, springing for more expensive equipment usually means a steeper learning curve when it comes to mastery of the equipment, which can be very frustrating.
Buying the off-brand product, cheaper alternative, or used equipment can actually work better for your budget and the project you are working on. Taking chances such as buying used equipment through an off-shore company, or those too good to be true deals usually are. In many cases, new, in box video equipment purchased overseas at a huge discount might not even be covered under factory warranties outside of that country.
Putting it all together
Getting started with videography for your podcast, photography business, YouTube channel, or even aspirations in filmmaking can be an exciting and anxiety-inducing experience. Just remember to keep things small and grow as your work your way up. With a good editing software such as Pinnacle Studio, you can vastly improve your production quality and create professional looking video, audio, and keep your viewers interests to get all those hits and subscriptions. Starting off small and developing a mastery of your equipment will let you evolve and expand your skills.