YouTube gear Tipps from a professional perspective

Published 17th May 2020

Since I found out, that many YouTubers big and small visit my site I thought, I may use this, to give you some advice from my experience as a professional and someone who works together with some big YouTubers.

Camera

Don't buy a camera!

Cameras are way overrated. If you want to improve your video quality it is likely, that there are other things you could change like lightning, better sound, a new lens, or post-processing. It is really important to understand, that the camera is only a part of the gear.

If you are staring YouTube you shouldn’t buy a Camera use your smartphone. I don’t want to discourage anyone, but I heard about many people, who bought expensive gear and then stopped making Videos. To underline this the Oscar-nominated director Steven Soderbergh shot a whole Movie called “Unsane” only with an iPhone which also ran in cinemas.

Yes, Yes, just tell me which camera is good!

I think the biggest mistake people make is, that they buy a photo camera for making Videos. I believe the reason for this is, that Photo cameras are much more popular and if you type in camera on Amazon this is, what pops up first.

But you definitely should prefer a video camera for video over a photo camera.

The reason for this is video cameras are able, to capture videos with a higher bit rate. This results in more details, fewer artifacts, and a wider range of colors especially very bright and very dark parts are problematic. It is a bit like making a RAW Photo and making a JPEG.

My recommendation is the Black Magic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K. Yes, what a name ;p that’s the reason most people cal it BMPCC4K. It is the cheapest cinema camera from a well-known Brand. And I think most people aren’t able, to see the difference between this camera and a $50000 ARRI Camera. In the professional industry, you primarily pay such a surcharge for more reliability or better Service because a production day of Commercial or Movie productions can cost multiple hundred thousand of dollars. And if the camera isn’t working that’s a problem.

Lens

The lens is responsible, for how the Image looks and how sharp it is so you definitely shouldn’t cheap out too much there.

Don't buy a Kit Lens

Kit Lenses are those, you can buy in a bundle with a camera. They are most of the time not that great and really overpriced in the aftermarket to make the bundle seem like a good deal.

Get a nifty fifty

A nifty fifty is a cheap 50 mm lens. Most good photographers and cinematographers own one. The reason for that is, that good 50 mm lenses can be very cheap. You can also look at the used market. Overall it is the best cheap lens you can get.

Helios 44mm lens

Don't care about the aperture number.

The Aperture Number F1.8, for example, says how wide the aperture can be opened which affects your Image in two ways.

A lower Aperture number makes your Image brighter. This can be good, in darker situations cause it allows you to use a lower ISO so you have less noise. But it can also make your Image to bright so you probably have to use an ND filter if you want to shoot with a wide Aperture.

A lower Aperture number also makes the Background of the Image more blurry. But this also means that it is way harder to focus. Which is the reason, F 4.0 or high is being used.

So you shouldn’t care if the lens has F1.8 or only F3.5.

My recommendations

There isn’t really the lens or the Brand to Recommend. Of course, a $5000 Zeiss Lens makes wonderful Images But I guess that’s not really relevant.

I recommend, to do your research and look and footage of different lenses. And also look for more unknown Brand. Like Voigtländer for example. Or take a look at the used market.

One really affordable line of lenses which also gets used by MKBHD and Corridor Digital is the Art Series by Sigma.

Lights

In my opinion, lightning is, what makes the biggest difference in the Image most people don’t use lights or reflector for their Photos and Videos at all. But the things is equipment for good light can be really cheap and it can make such a big difference.

Light Set-Ups:

Ring light

The Ring light is just a Light in a Shape of a Ring usually made out of a Neon Tube. It really has a distinctive look to it and was really hyped, when it was new. But now it seems like everyone is doing it, so I am not quite sure if it is cool anymore. but personally I like the look, that it has to it.

Image of black men with ring light

Two Light set up

To create a less stylized look I think the two light set up is ideal for something with minimum expenditure and cost.

Just two lamps one on the front left and one on the front right of the person. Sometimes the right light is bigger or stronger.

The reason for that is, that we culturally learned, that the light comes from the top left corner. You can also observe this in most Hollywood movies.

Sound

I think especially beginners make the mistake to underestimate how important Sound is. George Lucas (The director of Star Wars, Indianer Jones, and other Movies) once said:

"Sound is 50 percent of the movie going experience, and I've always believed audiences are moved and excited by what they hear in my movies at least as much as by what they see."

Also, if the Camera or Phone has a built-in microphone it is more like the salad on the burger. You don’t buy the Burger cause of the salad.

Hardware recommendations

The cheapest method is, to use the headset, that comes with your Phone. The Advantage here is, that the microphone is much closer to your mouth so there are much less other sound and much less noise.

Other popular solutions are Lavaliere microphone which are the things you see most of the time used in TV Shows. Which is more or less the premium version of the just use headphones idea.

A shotgun microphone is good at capturing sound which comes from one direction without capturing much sound from other directions. The problem is, that they are the most pricey ones. They usually start at $250 The most popular one is the Sennheiser MKH series.

If you just want to make a voice over it is really simple since you don’t have to hide the microphone from the camera.

The two most popular ones are the Rode NT1A and the Shure SM7B. But don’t forget you need an Audio Interface for them too. Just make sure you buy one from a well-known brand such as Behringer or Yamaha. They start at about $30

Don't forget to sync your Sound!

If you ever asked yourself for what these clapboards are useful this is one of the reasons. If you use one device to capture the Video and one, to capture the sound you somehow have to synchronize them.

By clapping no matter if you use a clapboard or just your hands you can synchronize the clapping sound with the frame, in which both hands are together.

film set with clappboard

Tripod

I think the only thing you should know is, don’t cheap out at things like Tripods, SD Cards and Filters Don’t put your $2000 camera on a $10 Tripod. It is important, that the Tripod is well-built and that the mechanics work as they supposed to be. Maybe go to the store and try some of them out. Just not buy a $10 thing on Ali express or so.

Editing Software

To everyone who wants to start video making, I recommend Davinci Resolve.

The reason for that is, That there is a free version without any time restrictions and more features than most people will ever need. And no, it is not a crappy buggy piece of garbage like Nero or Pinnacle or whatever there is. It is the standard color grading Software in Hollywood and it now develops into a Video Editing Software. It is really intuitive, It is the fastest video editing software on the market and for most people there is no reason, not to use it.

And No, I don’t get pays to say that ;p

The only reason I use Adobe Premiere Pro is, cause the integration with After Effects, Photoshop, and Illustrator is excellent. And since all these programs are made by Adobe I think there will never be an alternative for Premiere Pro. But I think if I would primarily Edit and Grade Videos I would also use Davinci Resolve.

You also get a license for the Studio version of Davinci Resolve if you buy a Blackmagic Camera which I recommended.

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