I hate it to break it to you, but I believe you really don't need a ton of gear to get started. In fact when I first started back in 2015, all I had was a smartphone. I then gradually bought more gear over the years to increase the production value.
The content and the stories that you share are always more important than what they look or sound like. That said, if you want to step up your production quality, especially how you sound, here's a shortlist of everything I've used to launch my YouTube channel and my podcast over the last few years.
Let me know if it was helpful by connecting with me over on Instagram @markleruste
(or Twitter @markleruste).
BONUS: CHOOSING THE BEST MICROPHONE FOR YOUR PODCAST (VIDEO)
THE STARTER KIT
Although it may not seem like the sexiest piece of equipment, this is by far one of the most versatile cameras you'll get. Not only does it film in HD it also allows you to make phones calls, check your social media and browse internet. Need more convincing? You can easily take selfies...
Oh, and it’s got 8 megapixels, ƒ/2.2 aperture, flash, autofocus and exposure control. This is what I started doing my very first vlogs with. Holding it at arm lengths. Nothing else. But if you want to up your game, check out the gear below.
GLIF iPHONE TRIPOD MOUNT
The Glif iPhone tripod mount is the brain child of two designers from New York, who thanks to a few thousands backers on Kickstarter, was made possible. Their customer service is great (they replaced mine almost a year later because of a faulty problem) and it's a reliable + sturdy iPod mount.
JOBY GORILLAPOD ORIGINAL
It's not the most stable tripod on the market, I'll admit to that. But it does the job. It's small and super light. So I can carry it around with me all the time. Plus, as it's a gorilla tripod, you can wrap it around pretty much anything or balance it on awkward surfaces.
This was the first tripod I bought to mount my iPhone using the Gilf tripod mount mentioned above. Which I also used as a selfie stick (although if you're walking it will shake.)
Rode Smartlav+ Lavalier Microphone (for Smartphone)
Although I believe the quality of your videos isn't as important as the content of them, I do believe that in the realm of content creation, audio is king. I'll forgive a dodgy video but my patience wears very thin when the audio of a video is horrible. This super lightweight mic plugs in directly into your smartphone meaning you don't have to mess about with post-production.
THE INTERMEDIATE KIT
It's almost as if Canon created this compact camera for vloggers. Not only does it film in full HD, you can also flip the screen vertically, which comes in handy when you're trying to make sure your face is actually in the frame. It's small enough to carry around although if you wear tight fitted jeans, you'll struggle to fit the camera in your front pockets. I believe it only films in chunks of 30min at a time. So if you're looking to film for hours, this probably isn't your camera. The two things to watch out for are the noise of the auto focus (a simple external mic plugged into your smartphone to record the audio can fix the problem (see above)), and the shutter on the lens is sensitive, meaning it can get jammed. By far one of the most used small compact cameras by vloggers word-wide. (Close second is the Canon Powershot S120 or Canon PowershotS200.)
EXTRA BATTERY FOR CANON G7X
This is without a doubt one of the best investment I've made. When I'm out and about filming, and depending on the weather, my battery seems to run out pretty fast. So having a spare battery is really handy when you don't want to have to wait for your "one" battery to charge up. Make sure to always have a back up battery charged up and you'll be good to go.
SCANDISK extreme pro SD Memory Card
You probably don't need such a high end SD memory card, but it was recommended to me by a friend who's a professional photographer and video blogger, so it's since become my go-to memory card for all things digital. You can also get it in 64GB or 128GB
JOBY GorillaPod ZOOM (with Ballhead X Bundle)
This has quickly become the go-to tripod for vloggers as it has a level on it to help you see if you're shooting straight or not. It's slightly lighter than the FOCUS version (see below) but it's small enough to carry around in a backpack. A solid choice if you're looking to up your "selfie-stick" game...
BLUE YETI USB MICrophone (BLACKout edition)
This is one of the most versatile and used microphones for both podcasters and vloggers alike. The sound quality is pretty amazing for a USB microphone. It's not flawless but it does the job. I haven't tried it for interviews but there is an option to record 360 or bi-directional, meaning you could potentially use for interviews. Although I've never tried... This is the microphone I use for all my solo-round podcast episodes (and what I use to record my intros and outros on most of my episodes).
THE ADVANCED KIT
CANON EOS 70D
The Canon 70D has quickly become a cult camera in the world of vloggers as it is the go-to camera of YouTube sensation Casey Neistat. It's a DSLR camera with a screen that flips horizontally and its autofocus makes your job as a vlogger, very easy. Probably the best bang for your buck at the moment. Depending on what lens you get though you'll want to make sure you have an external audio recording device as the auto-focus can be quite noisy.
RODE VIDEOMIC PRO
This is a directional mic that mounts on top of the Canon 70D and is plugged into the main camera body. Meaning you won't have to spend time syncing up the external volume in post production. It basically makes it sound much better than with just the mic on the actual camera itself. That being said, I find that a lapel mic plugged in a Zoom H4N for example is still better quality, but takes a lot more time to sync up.
RØDE Deadcat Furry Windshield Microphone
If you are planning on filming outdoors, you're going to want to get yourself this gem. It doesn't get rid completely of the wind noises but it definitely helps!
JOBY GorillaPod FOCUS (with Ballhead X Bundle)
This is by far the most reliable and sturdy tripod of the entire Joby family (at least as far as I'm concerned). It's also the same "selfie stick" that Casey Neistat uses. Make sure to get the bullhead bundle too as it enables you to pivot the camera in multiple directions as well as quickly dismounting the camera if you need to change batteries.
ZOOM H4N Handy Recorder
I bought this 2nd hand bad boy off my childhood friend Mickey, who is a film maker. Fun fact, this is the same Zoom H4N we used to film my video CV back in 2011 that went viral in 2012. In short, this is the business. Tim Ferriss used it to interview Arnold Schwarzenegger and my film-maker friend still uses it. You can plug in two XLR microphones or remote wireless lapel microphones. Meaning you could use it both for your podcast or/and your vlogs.
Behringer XM8500 Microphone
This is a really cheap microphone that has worked for me like a treat. Sure, it's not a premium microphone and if you're an audio snob you may thrown upon it, and, I think it's the best microphone money can buy.
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (2nd Gen) USB Audio Interface
This is the latest addition to the family, so I'm still getting to know its full potential. Lewis Howes, the host of The School of Greatness (one of iTunes's top podcast), uses this USB amplifier as part of his set up. I'm still struggling to figure out how to make the volume sound as crisp as Lewis, but I'll get there!
Audio-Technica BPHS1 Broadcast Series Broadcast Stereo Headset
If you can get over the fact that these look totally ridiculous, I've started using these more and more in my interviews. And I'm loving them. You can focus on the conversation rather than how close the mic is from your mouth. The cable seems to knock about when you move, making an impact on the quality of the audio, but it's just a matter of figuring out how to avoid that. Again, this is the same set up that Lewis Howes uses on his podcast and vlogs.
Zoom H1 Handy Recorder
This is another new piece of gear I've added to my kit bag. When I was Country Manager at Movember I used to get interviewed by journalist quite a lot. And I first came across the Zoom1 when a radio journalist interviewed me with it. And I was impressed by how small it was and how good the quality was. What I love about it is how light it is. I can literally take it in my coat pocket and forget it's there. The quality is good too.
Logitech C920 HD Pro USB 1080p Webcam
When I interviewed Philip McKernan, I noticed that his video on my screen looked 10x crisper than mine. So it was no surprise that when I published the interview with him a client of mine suggested I buy a higher grade webcam to improve the visual quality of my web interviews. And she was right! Although it's not built for Apple it does work with my MacBook. The only problem I've had with it is that the little screw base at the bottom to mount the tripod broke pretty quickly. Which sucks... But, as you can clip it to your screen you don't need the tripod mount.
LaCie Rugged 2TB Thunderbolt & USB 3.0 Portable
Video files take up a LOT of space. Before you know it, you're out of memory on your laptop. That's why I absolutely love this battle-ready external hard drive as I travel a lot. So when I'm on the road I need to make sure it won't break and I throw it in my backpack everywhere I go.
JOBY GORILLAPOD MINI MAGNET
The cheapest and cutest member of the Joby Gorillapod family. The great thing about it is that it's tiny, fits pretty much anywhere and is magnetic! Meaning you can stick it on anything metally. Magic.