Best Vlog Camera and Setup for Under $1,000
We get it, you want to be like Casey Neistat, Peter Mckinnon, Matti Haapoja, or any of the countless other YouTube vlogging stars. You’re going to need a camera to start vlogging, along with a handful of other accessories.
Today I’ll be showing you what to buy for the ultimate vlogging setup under $1,000. Let’s get started!
Best Vlog Camera
You’re going to need a camera if you want to vlog. It’s the most important part, and you can’t really vlog without one. We’ve previously covered the best DSLRs for your money, but buying a vlog camera is slightly less straightforward.
One of the most important things for vlogging is autofocus. While a flip-out LCD screen is pretty handy, having pin sharp video is quite crucial to making a good looking vlog.
The Canon 70D (and the later 80D) has historically been a firm favorite for YouTube filmmaking, but its list price of over $1,000 makes it too expensive for this setup. The Panasonic GH5 and Canon 1DX Mk II are currently used by Casey, Peter, and Matti respectively, but those cameras also cost well over $2,000 each!
Fortunately, there’s an affordable vlog camera well within budget; the Panasonic Lumix G7. Priced at $500 with a lens, the G7 is the little brother to the Panasonic G80/G85, but it lacks little in terms of features.
Sporting 4K video capture, excellent autofocus, great battery life, and many more features, the Panasonic G7 is an excellent camera for the budget conscious vlogger.
The included 14-42mm lens covers wide-angle to general focal lengths, and mega optical image stabilization (Mega OIS) helps to smooth out any shakes from you walking around.
The Micro Four-Thirds (M4/3) lens mount system is compatible with a huge range of lenses, so you have room to expand as your skills improve.
Once you’ve settled on a vlog camera, a good tripod is next. Just like the camera choice, a vloggers’ tripod requirements are very different to a corporate video producer or travel photographer. You could go out and spend loads of money on something like a Manfrotto 504 546B tripod, but something like that easily blows your budget out the water, and at nearly 7kg, it’s hardly practical for traveling!
Even travel tripods can sometimes be too big to carry all day, and have you ever tried holding one up? You better be hitting the gym every day, because even a lightweight tripod will get heavy after a whole day of vlogging.
The absolute best vlogging tripod is the tried and tested GorillaPod by Joby — specifically the GorillaPod Focus. Priced between $90 and $100, this mini tripod can handle up to 5kg. Not only that, but it only weighs ~750g and comes with a ball head, making it easy to adjust the angle of your camera for that perfect shot.
What makes the GorillaPod so special, is its unique flexible leg design. You can freely twist, turn, or otherwise manipulate the legs into almost any configuration you can imagine. This makes it easy to set up on the ground, wrap around a sign, or hold at an arm’s length.
All the YouTubers listed above use a GorillaPod for their everyday vlogging tripod, alongside hundreds of other YouTubers. Its flexibility has cemented its place in history as the vlogging tripod.
Now that you’ve got the essentials down, it’s time to look at microphones. While the G7 does have a built-in microphone, like all vlog cameras, it’s not very good. The Rode VideoMic is a solid choice, with an excellent reputation. It sits on top of your camera and connects with the included cable. This bundle includes a windjammer, or “deadcat,” which helps to drastically reduce noise in high winds. Priced around $150, this microphone is a solid investment.
If you feel like splashing out, the Rode VideoMic Pro or Pro Plus is the top of the line on-camera microphone, but the basic model is more than sufficient for now.
You should by now have a solid vlogging kit. You’ve got the camera, lens, tripod, and microphone, and all for only $750 dollars. I recommend you spend the remaining $250 on a variety of accessories.
First up is a decent camera bag. Your preferences may vary, but the Lowepro Flipside 400AW Pro is once again a solid choice. Priced around $150, it’s not the cheapest of bags around. What you do get, however, is a waterproof anti-theft bag, with enough room for all your current equipment, plus room for future expansion. Bags are one area that you don’t want to cut corners on — after all, and this is bag is one of the best.
The reason I recommend two cards instead of one larger card is simple: backup. If you shoot all your footage onto a single gigantic card, that’s a single point of failure. What if someone steals your camera, or you drop it, or accidentally delete the footage? It happens to Casey Neistat all the time. If you switch your cards regularly, any accident reduces the chances of you losing all of your footage for the day.
Finally, you’ll want to stock up on batteries. While the G7 has a pretty good battery life, you can never have enough batteries. A two pack of batteries with charger will set you back about $20, so go ahead and buy two, or three, or four sets.
Skills to Pay the Bills
Now that you have your ultimate vlogging setup, it’s time to go out there and make some vlogs! Just because you have the best vlog camera, though, doesn’t mean you’re going to be a star. Be sure you take a look at our tutorials for shooting and editing video, along with how to start your own YouTube channel.
Have you built a vlogging setup like this? What do you think is the best vlog camera? Let us know in the comments below, and don’t forget to share the link to your YouTube channel!