The following paragraphs are filled with information that is useful for the posts published here. You can come back here at any time to learn the concepts that you might not understand clearly.
Use the Table of Contents to navigate through these resources.
DSLR, Camcorder, Compact or Mirrorless? Which One is Better?
There are basically 4 types of camera you will be able to choose from:
- DSLRs (digital single-lens reflex camera)
These cameras are the main choice of professional photographers because of their quality and adaptability. It is really hard to achieve the best picture without one of these, just like it’s difficult if you have this camera but not the knowledge to handle it. They are great for vlogging because they will let you record videos with the setup you need for your work and their high quality image and better performance in low-light.
These are the ones you will want if you take vlogging really serious and want a professional-looking channel in YouTube, Vimeo or any other social video network.
While DSLRs were made for photography and recording, camcorders were built for the sole purpose of recording. This is why they are used a lot for certain types of vlogs and channels.These are much easier to use than DSLRs; auto-focus is usually better, they have large zooms and they are plug & play. They are great for people that don’t want to spend so much time learning how to properly use a DSLR.
However, they got much smaller sensors than DSLRs and compact cameras, so watching a video recorded with a camcorder looks a lot less professional, unless you spend a lot of money on getting a really high-end one. Basically, Camcorders record broadcast video, while DSLRs record a more cinema-like video.
- Point & Shoot Cameras
These are also an option if you just want to take your camera around and record vlogs; they’re generally enough to record your days out. Their a lot easier to carry around when compared to DSLRs, and some of them come with the same manual options DSLRs offer. However, they have small sensors and aren’t nearly as good as DSLRs for night shooting, and their lenses can’t reach the same speeds.
These are like the child between a compact camera and a DSLR. They offer the good of both worlds with a few downsides: they are basically a small DSLR. They have sensors of the same size in a small body that sacrifices the size of the battery and are completely digital (DSLRs have a lot of mechanical parts working). They give you a live view of what you’re going to shoot and have lots of perks to assist you while shooting. They’re perfect for vloggers because they’re easy to carry around while keeping the good cinematic quality of DSLRs. You just nee to take care of their battery like you would with any other compact camera.
So, Which One is the Best for Me?
Many people will tell you to get a camcorder if you just want to record video. Camcorders are a good choice for video, but they’re more useful for home or travel kind of video. If you’re a YouTuber, you might not need to use zoom at all. Most vlogging channels are all about speaking in front of the camera. Why would you want a camera with 200x zoom for this?
Also, camcorders have smaller lens aperture and smaller sensors. This translates into worse performance in low light and not being able to achieve the blurry background effect so many people like. Also, you can’t upgrade camcorders by simply buying a much better lens, which is probably the most important factor for image quality.
DSLRs have deeper colors and you can use them for amazing photos too. They give a much better look for your video thanks to their bigger sensor.
Mirrorless offer the good thing about a camcorder (easy to carry around) and a DSLR (good quality, interchangeable lens). The problem is that they are as expensive as any DSLR.
Camcorders are the way to go if you want to start with a really small budget, which is not a bad idea at all, since the most important thing is to start recording right away.
This is the order of importance I’d give to each type if you are a vlogger:
- Go for a mirrorless if you need to take the camera out and want to also record indoors
You want to record in low light and want to take the camera to a lot of places. They are good for traveling and are highly customizable, so having basic camera knowledge will let you get the most out of them.
They are more expensive than compacts as you will need to invest in a good lens, but if you buy a prime lens you will get the best quality for the lowest price.
You also get the possibility of upgrading your camera in the future just by buying better lenses that you will be able to use when you upgrade the body.
- Go for a compact if you are going to travel a lot or record mostly outside
Compact cameras are the most newbie friendly. They are not so good in low light but they come with an extremely good lens for the price since it’s non-interchangeable.
They are more pocketable than mirrorless cameras and offer the same quality if you have good lighting. You don’t need to worry about lenses and they are basically point & shoot.
They are the most popular between vloggers.
- Go for a DSLR when you want to record mostly from home
If you are the kind of Youtuber that has a show that you record from home, a DSLR is the one for you.
They have much more battery life and are really good in low light (aka indoors).
They are highly customizable and you can upgrade them with better lenses.
- Go for a camcorder when you need to record something for hours, or if you’re on an extremely tight budget.
The only way I’m going to let you go for a camcorder instead of any other type of camera is if for some reason you need to keep recording non-stop for many hours.
Camcorders are common between top streamers that need their camera to record for hours without failure. Also, you can get full HD video from them for a low price.
But be aware: they are the worst for low light and indoors recording. If you get one, you will need to use a lighting kit and have your own mini studio at home to use it inside.
Types of Lenses
When you get a camera with interchangeable lenses (be it a DSLR, Compact or Mirrorless), you will have to choose the right lens for your vlogging.
Different lenses will have a different impact on the image your camera captures. Each kind of lens will have some advantages and disadvantages and you will have to decide which one to use in each situation.
There are only two types of lenses that you will be interested in: wide-angle and telephoto.
After quickly explaining you their differences, I will show a couple of images to compare their results.
This type of lenses is all about capturing a lot of space. They make wide shots possible and are useful when capturing landscapes.
In other words, they will help you fully capturing something without having to get farther away from it.
The downside to them is that they produce something called perspective distortion, which makes objects look abnormally larger, mostly around the image’s edges.
Telephotos are basically what camcorders manufacturers call optical zoom.
They’re just lenses that are good to take closer shots of objects from far away.
When a lens is at 50mm the perspective distortion is neutralized, so if you don’t want your face to look unnatural, this is the best kind of lens. Your camera won’t lose image quality so easily with a fixed 50mm lens because they capture more light to work with than a wide angle.
Having a telephoto lens larger than 50mm is usually not useful for vlogging. 50mm is enough to get rid of perspective distortion and to allow a lot of light. More zoom is not what you’ll need for vlogging.
The following pictures were taken with a DSLR standing on a tripod on the same spot but with different lenses. The right side is the wide angle and the left one is a fixed 50mm lens.
Which One to Get for Vlogging?
To keep things as natural as possible, you will want to go for a 50mm lens if possible. However, if you are going to do handheld vlogging—as it’s usual—, aim for something around 24mm. This focal length is a wide-angle that still looks pretty natural.
You will need a wide-angle since you will have to record pretty close to the camera. Getting a fixed 50mm lens is the best idea, but you can only do it if you are goint to put your camera on a tripod an stay far from it.
Even with a 24mm lens you will probably want a tabletop tripod that you can use as a selfie stick to give you the best stability and get your camera away from your face so you can record more space around you.
Getting a larger zoom than 50mm is usually not worth for vlogging and Youtube.
Whichever is the right fo you, make sure you go for a prime lens. These will give you the best quality for an extremely low price. If you want more information on this, visit this post about what lens to buy.
My Favorite Informative Articles
Here is my list of the best resources for knowing more about cameras, filmmaking and photography. There is a lot to learn about them, and I recommend vloggers to start reading about them as soon as they got time to do so.
Make sure to only check the basic concepts about shutter speed, ISO, lens aperture and lighting control (including exposure) in the following links; that is what you need to know for vlogging with a DSLR camera.
Courses I Recommend
One of the main issues with vloggers that want to start their own YouTube channel is thinking that they can just let things roll and everything will work out without any clue of what their doing. This is the way most people start out, and the main reason why most fail. What they need to realize is that success can be planned —at least sometimes.
The YouTube Masterclass from Phil, Mike and Lauren is probably the most complete YouTube marketing course there is. It is a 6.5 hours course divided in short lectures that will give you the mindset, tricks and tips you need to run a successful channel, coming from people that has been in the business for years.
And the best part is that they give a 30-day 100% money back guarantee. That’s why I don’t think there’s reason not to give it a try if you’re planning to open and sustain a successful YouTube channel.