A lot of people who are interested in recording YouTube videos or being contributors for Doberman Planet have asked me about my personal recommendations for video gear. Really, the best advice I can give is to worry about audio quality and having a stable cell phone FIRST. Those two things will make the biggest difference in the quality of your videos.
That means using a cheap lav microphone, tripod, and cell phone mount for the tripod. These things are inexpensive and will make the biggest difference in the quality of the video you make, by far. Don’t jump straight to the $600 camera when it’ll only marginally improve your video quality. In general, just use what you have!
Below are my specific recommendations for those of you who like specifics. Click on the images below to see the product on Amazon.
If you are going to spend money on ONE item below to improve the quality of your videos, PLEASE consider making it the “High-End Lav Mic” below (the Tascam mic)! Having clear audio makes a world of difference in the quality of your videos!
Option 1: Lav Mic for Cell Phone
A cheap lav mic like this one that plugs directly into your cell phone can make a HUGE difference in your video quality. Even if the video quality isn’t the best, if the audience can hear you, then the video is usually still engaging enough to watch. I really believe that a lav mic is incredibly important. This is your cheapest option, plugs into your cell phone, and you’ll be attached to your phone by a long wire but at least you’ll get clear audio. Make sure it’s compatible with your phone before you buy it.
Option 2: High-End Lav Mic
This is the lav mic that I use in all my YouTube videos. I spent some money early on to get really good quality audio and it has REALLY paid off. The only downside to this is it records the audio as a separate file from the video on your camera. But as a result, it won’t have a wire running to your camera and is very reliable. If you’re sending someone your video, you must send both the audio from this microphone AND the video file. Or sync up the audio from both the camera and this lav mic yourself in some sort of editing program. Doberman Planet video editors do this for me and our guests hosts so we don’t have to worry about that part.
I used this VERY basic tripod for a long time and it worked great. It was super cheap too. Really though, anything that you can do to stabilize your cell phone or camera while recording will make a huge difference.
Cell Phone Mount for Tripod
If you plan to use your cell phone to record video, make sure you have a way to mount it onto a tripod so it remains stable while you are speaking and interacting on video. This cell phone mount is basic, cheap, and does the job. And yes, it’ll mount onto the tripod recommended above.
Option 1: Cell Phone
Most modern cell phones are capable of recording very clear video and will work just fine! Just make sure your lens is clean, the lighting is good, and the phone is stabilized somehow in landscape mode (such as by using a tripod).
Option 2: Digital Video Camera
I would really discourage most people from spending big bucks on a digital camera when the quality difference from your cell phone to something like this DSLR is fairly small. Lighting and audio quality is much more important. But for those of you who are curious, this is the camera that I use for my videos. Another option if you want something that’s a bit better quality than a cell phone but easier to use and less expensive is a Sony Handycam like this one.
Option 1: Natural Light
Natural light is usually the BEST light to use. It’s also free. Just open up a window while you’re recording (the bigger the window the better). It’s best if the light isn’t direct light from the sun, since that can be too intense at times. Cloudy days are great, or at least as long as the sun isn’t beating directly into your window, you should be fine. Also, if you’re able to have the window on the SIDE of you (so roughly half of your face is lighted slightly more than the other half), then that tends to look pretty good on video too!
Option 2: Soft Box
You can choose to invest in a “softbox” setup like this one if you want. It’ll help get more light on you and I’ve found it does help me when I record with a dark black Doberman, for example. But it’s not always necessary as natural light is really one of the best options anyway. Honestly, if you were going to spend some money in one place to improve your videos, I’d always say to make it on getting clear audio since great lighting can be free.