After nearly 2 years of filming on my cell phone and with webcam's I've stepped up my game...
Honestly, it is because my nearly $800 phone I bought 2 years ago is dying on me!? The battery is shot and it started turning off mid-recording even when it had 80%+ battery life left. #Fail
So I had a choice... Buy another flagship phone to the tune of $700-$800 or more that probably will die on me in a couple years again (it is almost like they are designed to do that...) or spend a little more and get 10x better video quality.
You probably guessed that I opted for video quality.
Now when shopping for DSLR or Mirrorless cameras there are two key components that need to be overcome for great video...
#1 - Microphone input - This is not optional... The stock microphone on any DSLR, mirrorless or point and shoot camera is terrible. Especially with any environmental noise, like a truck driving by, a slight breeze, noisy neighbors, etc.
#2 - 30 minute recording limit - Now there is some random tax in Europe on cameras that record over 30 minutes. They get classified as 'camcorders' when they record more than 30 minutes and most camera manufacturers (Sony, Canon, etc) simply STOP recording at 29min and 59 seconds.
Beyond these two oddities, I wanted the camera to be under $1000, light weight and as compact as possible, with the ability to give me focal length so I can get those 'blurry background' shots where I'm bright and crisp in the forefront.
One more note before we start... I spent over 30 hours researching this exact product list in addition to my years as a paid photographer (did you know I was a pro photographer back in the day?) and these are affiliate links...
If you want to rely on (or give back for) my time, energy and research when you buy your setup... by clicking on these links and checking out within 24 hours, I get a little kick-back for the recommendation and you pay the same price...
Ok, enough of the backstory already! Let's get to the gear, shall we!?
The camera: Panasonic Lumix G85
First off, this camera has the external microphone input and allows me to record videos over that rediculous 30 minute limit.
It may need to be in 4k mode for an hour long video to be all in one file, but in 1080p mode it will break it up into different files that can be stitched together. This may cause a 300 milisecond hiccup on audio, so I'll be recording my long videos in 4k mode! (will test this to confirm here, soon!)
This is a "mirrorless 4/3" camera which is a slightly scaled down size of a DSLR camera. by removing the mirror (DSLR's use a mirror, these don't) to get the image from the lens to the CCD chip that captures the image, the camera is able to be smaller, lighter but still wicked-crisp.
You can also get additional lenses for this that will give you all kinds of flexibility with the camera, but that is more for photography, like big zoom lenses or super low light lenses for shooting stars, etc.
This is a 'pro-sumer' level camera... Pro quality, consumer priced... If you are an absolute photog who shoots weddings professionally, you may step up from this... But for video marketers and vloggers, it is EPIC.
Also, there are two types of stabilization with the right lens... So you can walk and talk and get really smooth shots!
The full kit: Now, on Amazon you can get this camera a 'kit' for about $1 more than the price of the camera... It comes with all kinds of goodies...
For video marketers, this kit lens is great! It will do WAY better in low light than your phone, so it requires less lighting and gives you some zoom so you can blur out the background and get those awesome shots where you, the subject is all crisp and the background is all blurry.
If you aren't familiar with the effect I'm talking about, click here and check this video out to see it in action.
You simply can't do that on a phone... It requires a fancy lens.
You also get an extra battery and an SD card, a SD card reader, some lens add-ons like a wide angle, a bag, a (kinda whack) tripod...
All for literally $1 more than the camera itself... Sweet.
NOTE: This SD card is not fast enough to record 4k video, so I bought this one. The included SD card is fine for 1080p or 720p high def videos, tho! ...And I'm currently shooting in 720p to make smaller files, so my 4k card was overkill for now but sets me up to go to 4k in the future!
Totally optional for you!
Then onto the external microphone.
I went in a direction that most vloggers don't when it comes to the microphone... Mine was a bit more expensive (about $50 more) but made by a mic brand I trust.
Most vloggers choose the Rode mic like this one (click here). And for under $120 to get the mic and the windjammer fuzzy cover to minimize wind noise, it is a pretty good deal.
But honestly, audio quality is a make or break for video... And I went with the same brand that makes my home podcast studio mic for this one.
The brand is Shure and the mic is a Shur VP83 Lenshopper
The mic runs just under $199 and honestly, it is worth every penny more than the Rode in my somewhat professional opinion.
It has three audio level settings (increase volume, no increase, decrease volume) and it slides into the 'shoe mount' on the top of the camera.
I'm able to get amazing audio quality even when I'm several feet from the camera, using the zoom to tighten up my shot and blur out the background...
And I got the fuzzy wind cover here because I want to do more outdoor videos and wind noise is a deal-breaker.
For lights I've been using two of my Yongnuo YN360 LED light wands
And I put the two light wands on these lightweight Amazon Basics 60 tripods.
Actually... one light goes on the tripod that came with the kit because it is less sturdy than those amazon basics ones... I put the camera on the Amazon Basics tripod because it is a little better build quality.
That is it... Now, Melanie and I are set to take our video game to the next level!
You definitely don't need all this gear... remember that for almost 2 years and 375 videos I went with the cellphone I already had and webcams...
The only reason I'm committing to this $1200+ in new gear is because I know that making more videos for you is a part of my life now and I'm stoked to take my level to the next level.
But I proved to myself that I was in it for the long run, FIRST with the gear I already had and I recommend you start on a budget with what you have already, too!