Do I need to upgrade my equipment?
‘Do I need to upgrade my equipment?’ This is a very vague and common question plastered all over the web. If you’re making YouTube videos, there is more to consider than just the perfect tool for each job whether it’s for vlogging, gaming videos or any kind of social media video. You could easily spend your time looking at the myriad of lists all over the internet that outline the perfect setup for video creation. It’s good fun to window shop and if you’re in a position to just go out and spend the money for you’re dream setup then congratulations. However, if you’re not in a position to buy everything under the sun, this guide to upgrading uquipment for YouTubers should help you going forward.
What do I actually need for quality YouTube content creation?
Most people can’t just go out and buy the perfect setup and in most cases you probably shouldn’t. This post is outlining the items that will help you in your content creation and why they are important. Then, once you know why some of these items are important, you can justify it in your head to go out and break the bank. But be warned, there is more to content creation and working from home than finding the perfect equipment.
Where to start with video equipment
Your first instinct may be to buy a new camera or a fancy top of the range lens. Don’t do it. Truth be told, most peoples phones have a perfectly good camera on them 24/7. It might not be the best quality in the world, however, it is not bad either, especially under good circumstances. How a half-decent camera is used is far more important than it being top of the range. You could spend £ 1,199.99 on Canons’ flagship EOS 850D and still record rubbish content so it won’t help if you’re doing everything else wrong.
This advice I am about to describe assumes that you have access to a camera in the shape of a smart phone as the problem is not in the camera gear. It’s is everything else around it.
So, where do your put the money to get the most out it?
Use a tripod
Just get a tripod. No one wants to see your shaky footage. No one. The Blair witch Project was a freak accident that has long made people believe they can film shaky migraine inducing rubbish and think its artistic. It’s not. Stop it. You don’t need spend a ton, just make sure the camera is stable! If you’re on the move, a gimble can be fun. I’ve had fun using a Vimble 2 with a phone attached while out and about and it doesn’t break the bank.
Use good audio
I always recommend that audio is the best place to improve the quality of your content. A quick demo of audio comparison can be seen here to really drive home the point. People will most likely forgive bad video quality. However, if your audience can’t hear anything… that’s bad news.
This is further confirmed by the current trend of content getting longer and longer, partially due to the boom in podcasting and other audio only content.
Improving audio can be as complex as setting up a professional studio or getting some expensive microphones. However, the changes can be a relatively cheap mic and moving it closer to your mouth. We will be writing a guide specifically to audio equipment so stay tuned.
Change the microphone or add one. If you are using a mobile phone, you can attach a lapel mic to it and record clean, clear audio straight onto your device. If you work from a desk, you can add a USB microphone into your computer and record using some free software.
Fix your lighting
Cameras operate in a way that artificially cleans up video signal if the amount of light into the camera is low. This is known as ISO, but we don’t need to worry about that. The main message is that the more light you have on your subject (you), the cleaner the image is.
Your mobile phone that you think is awful for video recording may just need a better source of light to operate at a better capacity. Like the guide for audio, we will also be making an in-depth guide to lighting.
With lighting there are two main takeaways. If you have bright light behind you, your face will be dark as your camera is basically freaking out with the polar opposite light and dark aspects. This freak-out capacity is known as Dynamic Range. Really expensive cameras have a better dynamic range, meaning that they can see both the shadowy parts and the bright parts of an image more easily.
Mobile phones have a less than average dynamic range. Easy fix. Face the light. Put the camera at a 45-degree angle between you and the light and you’re done.
You can make a lighting setup very complex and expensive or incredibly cheap. My brother has an extremely cheap fix. He bounces light off a wall and onto his face using tin foil. It looks very strange, but it works on camera.
Be very careful that you don’t buy equipment because it is flashy. Most content consumed is done so on a mobile device which means that features like 4K resolution are currently irrelevant. Also recording in 60fps (frames per second) is not need either as Films in the cinema are shot in 24fps and they look great!
If you want to upgrade from a mobile phone to a proper camera, my experience of DSLRs have been superb. A full guide to DSLRs is also coming soon.
If you have a DSLR and want to upgrade it, your money is WAY better spent upgrading the Lens. Do that. It’s better to have a subpar camera body and a great lens than the other way round. I personally use a Canon 80D and have done for years. It’s a great camera and does exactly what I need.
Equipment means nothing if you have no ‘story’ to tell. If you have decent equipment but your content is gaining no traction, it could mean one of two things. Your content is not compelling enough to stick consumers onto your sites or your SEO and social media strategies are weaker than you need them to be.
It is important to remember that you should only upgrade your equipment if you need to. If you get stuck in the mindset that you have to have all the perfect gear to suite you needs, that’s a never ending journey from which there is no escape. There will always be a slightly better tool and despite what you may have heard, it is not the answer to all of your content creation problems. It is unlikely to be that one thing that will make you more productive. If you can do what you need with the equipment you have, then you’re on the right track. Upgrades should only really be made if the process has barriers such as dodgy equipment or slow speeds etc. For example, I used a really really old PC to edit my content on. I only upgraded the 15 year-old work horse as the amount of content I was producing was too much for my poor ancient PC to handle. Even when I upgraded, I didn’t spend a lot. It just wasn’t necessary for the purposes I needed and the content I made would have been no better.
Use what you have to make great content and upgrade later.