You noticed I added the “for me” in the title? Yeah, no one can pick the best equipment for you. But I can tell you what has worked well for me. My budget wasn’t minimal, but it also didn’t allow for a lot of high end gear. There are compromises, but I think overall this is a great versatile setup that allows me to record on the go or in my home office.

Cameras

There are three cameras that I use to record on a regular basis: a Canon M50, a GoPro Hero 7, and my Google Pixel 4 XL. The cameras are very different of course and each has particular situations where it is the preferred option.

Canon M50

Canon M50

Let’s start with the Canon M50. It is a mirrorless camera that many vloggers use. One great feature is the flip out screen so it can face you while you are recording. I bought mine with the typical kit lens and use it for vlogging on the go and 99% of my recording at home. It has great image quality for my needs. It also provides great flexibility with a lot of lens options and the ability to add an external mic or other accessories.

GoPro Hero 7 Black

GoPro Hero 7 Black

For sports activities or other “action” shots (like going down a 5 story slide), I will use my GoPro Hero 7 Black. It is very durable and with the image stabilization, you can get some amazing footage. It is widely used, so you can get all sorts of mounts — tripod, helmet, handlerbar, etc. It is also waterproof for those shots in the rain or even water.

Of course, there is a newer version of the GoPro. I would recommend going for a GoPro Hero 8 Black now.

Google Pixel 4 XL

I bought a Google Pixel 4 XL on Black Friday in 2019 and I love it. The Google Pixel phones are known for having great cameras for still photos. While some have criticized the quality of videos made with the Pixel 4 XL, I have found that it is great for my needs. It does well in low light situations, the stabilization is great, and I like having a 2x zoom lens.

There are other advantages to buying a Pixel phone. They are “clean” versions of Android and are the first to get any software upgrades. They also usually have some unique features like enhanced version of the Google Assistant and a “radar” chip that can detect and use hand gestures to control the phone.

Accessories

In addition to the cameras, I have also bought some accessories to round out my video making gear. There are a lot of options available, and you should choose what meets your needs. For me, I wanted stuff that was inexpensive and that would improve my sound quality and lighting.

Sound

For the M50 and GoPro, I bought simple mics that I could mount on the cameras. The Comica mic is very cheap as far as microphones go, but delivers good quality. It comes with two cables for either TRS or TRRS connections. Many cameras use the TRS connection, while your smartphone will use the TRRS connection. On many new phones, you will need an adapter if it does not have a headphone jack.

TRS vs TRRS connector
TRS vs TRRS

Of course, the GoPro Hero 7 or 8 Black, you will also need an adapter to use any external mic. The 7 can use the simple GoPro Mic Adapter. For the 8, it is recommended to use the Media Mod which is more expensive but has a built in mic. I have not tested this, but it may meet your needs without having to also buy a microphone.

Lighting

Another area where you can greatly improve the quality of your videos is by using better lighting. For the main light, I use a ring light from Neewer. This kit is a game changer. It provides bright, even light even in the poorly lit room I normally record in.

Since the ring light mostly just illuminates the subject (me), I use this umbrella light setup to fill in the shadows that surround me.

Conclusion

Of course, there are some more items I use, but they are either non-critical or I am not completely satisfied with what I have. The list above is truly stuff that I use and can recommend. As I come across new stuff that I find useful, I will add to this list. If you have any recommendations of stuff or if you have had any issues with the recommendations above, please let me know. You can email me at patrick@pganderson.com.