If you’re planning to start your own YouTube channel, it’s easy to get intimidated by gear. Fear not, you don’t need a $3,000 4K camera and an $800 Manfrotto tripod. Here are my recommendations for affordable gear to get you started fast.
Believe it or not, I started my channel using my good ol’ iPhone 4s…and that’s perfectly fine! You can (and probably should) use your smartphone until you can afford to invest in a more advanced camera. Many flagship phones, such as the iPhone 6s and Samsung Galaxy S7, come with a very respectable 4K camera. The iPhone 6s can even do killer slo-mo. Combine that with an inexpensive tripod smartphone mount and tripod for a low cost way to be quickly up and running.
When you’re ready to invest in your first ‘real’ camera, the Canon T6i is a great option. It’s a 24MP, 1080p camera that offers some crispy footage for the price. If you’re on a tighter budget, search for a new or used T5i or T4i on eBay, you’ll definitely find some deals.
The included kit lens with the T6i will be good enough for some basic shots, but to really bump up your b-roll on the cheap, the Canon 50mm STM f/1.8 lens is a must have. For only $110 it makes your footage instantly look 2x sharper. For a budget wide option that will offer better quality, check out their 24mm STM f/2.8 lens.
You don’t need a super expensive tripod to start out on YouTube. If you have one lying around that will support the weight of your camera, it’ll do! When you’re ready to upgrade, there are two very good choices. For smooth pans, try the Magnus VT-4000 tripod, but if you want to go the extra mile (and can afford it), this Manfrotto 502HD head with i90go! legs is an amazing package. Remember, smooth b-roll is essential to an impressive channel.
Starting off with the stock camera mic is a budget-friendly way to get going. However, if you can afford it, I would recommend that you upgrade your audio. Buying the Canon T6i? Consider getting this Video Creator Kit (for only $50 more), which comes with a Rode VIDEOMIC GO and a 32GB Sandisk SD card. If you’re buying audio gear separately, consider the Rode VIDEOMIC GO (or other Rode products). Lastly, If you want to go the lavalier route, try the Rode smartLav+.
Natural light is free and it’s great, so don’t forget to use it! Yet, whatever lighting you have in your room is also a good start. When you’re ready to upgrade, add some soft boxes for more balanced lighting and to reduce shadows.
Don’t let all of this fancy gear intimidate you though! Use whatever you can get your hands on and just get started. After all, ‘content’ and ‘consistency’ are what’s most importance in a Youtube channel.