Choosing your equipment
Curious about what equipment to get for your YouTube channel? Learn about camera, sound, and lighting options so that you can get started.
Being a YouTube creator requires at least a foundational knowledge of video equipment. You might be asking yourself: What type of camera will I use? How will I handle sound and lighting?
If you have a lot of questions, go slowly and try researching one subject at a time. Keep in mind your production style and goals. Some creators aim for a highly polished video, while others are OK with something casual and authentic.
If you don’t want to spend a lot of money up-front, you could start with buying the most affordable equipment, then upgrade later based on your video making needs.
Below you’ll find an overview of some common production equipment choices that can help you get started on your YouTube channel.
- Use your smartphone to get started making videos quickly.
One of the most important choices to make is your camera. There’s no “one size fits all”—consider what you want to achieve with your videos. Here are two common types:
- Point-and-shoot cameras are simple, all-in-one devices that are great for frequent vlogging in almost any setting. Some models have a reversible LCD screen so you can see your shot. These no-fuss cameras (around $500 US) can deliver full HD (1080) image quality, and many creators use them in their everyday videos.
- DSLR cameras can deliver a more cinematic look, but may require a learning curve to operate. They use interchangeable lenses, are much heavier, and are sometimes trickier to focus. These cameras cost more ($500-$2,500 US), and they are typically used by creators who want a more artistic or professional look.
You can always start with your mobile device’s camera. This won’t give you the same quality, but it’s a great option before you invest in a standalone camera.
- Check out camera reviews from other YouTube creators to find out what brands and models they recommend.
See it in action
Shooting on a Mobile Phone: Best PracticesGet quick tips for shooting awesome videos with the camera in your pocket—your smartphone.
Good sound is a must. Viewers often don’t mind imperfect lighting, but they usually can’t stand poor sound. We’ll go over some mic options here and share tips to improve the sound quality of your videos.
First, if you’re using your camera’s onboard mic, you may need to stay within three to four feet from the camera for the best audio. If you opt for an external mic, your setup will depend on your location and other factors.
Some creators purchase a “shotgun” mic ($150-$250 US); since these have directional recording, they can be effective at picking up natural sound from a longer range.
When you need to record someone at a farther distance from the camera, you may look into a wireless lavalier mic ($200-$600 US), which can be attached to a person’s clothing. For example, a lav mic might be appropriate for the instructor in a fitness video.
- Confirm whether your camera has a port for an external mic.
Many creators use a “two-point” lighting system. This involves lighting your main subject from two light sources at opposing directions. In this setup, the “key light” provides the primary lighting, while the “fill light” balances out the shadows. Read more about lighting techniques.
Another option would be “soft lights,” which sometimes cost less, consume less power, and are more flattering. A single soft light can be great for close-up shots. You can add lights to illuminate the background or other parts of the scene, as needed.
Don’t forget about one of the brightest lights in existence—the sun! Try recording outside or using natural daylight through a window. Some creators even choose to shoot at certain times of day because they prefer using natural light. Plus, it’s a lot easier and cheaper!
- For shooting on-the-go, consider camera-mounted lights.
- LED or fluorescent bulbs typically produce less heat than incandescent bulbs.
In addition to physical equipment, creators have a range of options for editing software. You may have simple editing programs already on your computer, or you can access free online editors.
Once you go beyond the basics, you can consider advanced editing software for more intricate edits and effects. These programs run from $100-$1,000 US. You can learn more about selecting and using editing tools in this lesson.
Remember, other creators are passionate about sharing their experiences, so search on YouTube for recommendations on cameras, sound, lighting, and more. And when you’re all up and running with your equipment, you can share your perspective too!
- Don’t wait for perfection—practice with what you have and improve over time.