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A cam­era is enough to start shoot­ing your blog, but to get a high-qual­i­ty pic­ture, you need a few more devices. What? Read our arti­cle. Pho­to: Karoli­na Grabowska/pexels.com

If the answer to the ques­tion “how to become a blog­ger” is “of course, cre­ate a home video stu­dio”, then this text is for you. Home video stu­dio will pro­vide you with high qual­i­ty videos. With it, both the pic­ture and the sound will be of a high lev­el.

At first, cre­at­ing your own video stu­dio seems like an almost over­whelm­ing task, but in fact, every­thing is not so dif­fi­cult! Today we will walk you through step by step how to get start­ed and what set of equip­ment you will need to shoot cool videos.

Camera

We recent­ly talked about the most rel­e­vant cam­eras for vlog­gers. There we looked at cam­eras that are equal­ly suit­able for dif­fer­ent shoot­ings: both “sit­ting” in a home stu­dio, and “on the go” on the street. In gen­er­al, any mod­el from this list will be suit­able for our pur­pos­es. The excep­tion is action cam­eras — usu­al­ly they do not have enough aper­ture for high-qual­i­ty shoot­ing indoors.

In this text, we will nar­row down and con­cretize a lit­tle, and also tell you what is impor­tant to pay atten­tion to when choos­ing a par­tic­u­lar mod­el.

If you already have a cam­era, then start shoot­ing with it. The cam­era is not a deci­sive ele­ment on which the qual­i­ty of pro­duc­tion depends. Solves a com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors and equip­ment, and not each indi­vid­ual ele­ment.

Let’s see what we need from the cam­era:

Swiv­el touch dis­play. Very con­ve­nient when shoot­ing a self­ie blog, but you can get by with the appli­ca­tion. The prob­lem is that not all appli­ca­tions for remote shoot­ing are con­ve­nient — for exam­ple, the appli­ca­tion may not sup­port the desired for­mat or crash.

Exter­nal micro­phone port. If you don’t have an exter­nal audio recorder (more on that below), being able to use a sep­a­rate micro­phone instead of the built-in one is crit­i­cal.

4K video record­ing avail­able. Res­o­lu­tion is not the main char­ac­ter­is­tic of video, and even shoot­ing in 4K is not nec­es­sary (for now it is quite pos­si­ble to lim­it your­self to 1080p), but hav­ing 4K video in your cam­era is a guar­an­tee that the pic­ture, in gen­er­al, will be accept­able. Of course, there are excep­tions here too (like cheap Chi­nese fakes, on which the cov­et­ed 4K is drawn), but they are extreme­ly rare.

The next ques­tion is the for­mat of the matrix (and the cam­era itself, respec­tive­ly). Of course, the small­er the cam­era, the more con­ve­nient, but since you work at home, this point is not fun­da­men­tal.

Full frame mirrorless cameras

If you can, get a full frame cam­era. I repeat, this is not a pre­req­ui­site, buy­ing a full frame will just make your life a lit­tle eas­i­er. Let’s see why.

First­ly, full-frame cam­eras have a wider field of view than com­pact 1‑inch and crop cam­eras (APS‑C, Micro 4:3). This can be impor­tant when work­ing in con­fined spaces. Let’s say you have a rather small room, and it is phys­i­cal­ly impos­si­ble to move the cam­era away from you. But at the same time, you need to cap­ture your­self and the whole table in the frame. In this case, the com­bi­na­tion of a full frame and a wide-angle lens (more on that lat­er) can help you out.

Sec­ond­ly, full-frame cam­eras are bet­ter in aper­ture ratio — you can get the pic­ture you need in dark­er light­ing. This will come in handy if you don’t have very bright lights. Also, this way you can shoot at a suit­able shut­ter speed to cre­ate a “cine blur” when mov­ing (if you want this effect). On the one hand, any prob­lems with light­ing need to be solved by buy­ing illu­mi­na­tors, on the oth­er hand, you def­i­nite­ly won’t get worse from expand­ing shoot­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties.

Which full-frame cam­eras are suit­able for a home stu­dio? There are tons of options, but if you’re look­ing for spe­cif­ic advice, you can’t go wrong with the Canon EOS R6, Sony A7 III, or Nikon Z6 II.

We will not dwell on pro­fes­sion­al video cam­eras, as this is a top­ic for a sep­a­rate long con­ver­sa­tion. And this is def­i­nite­ly not an option for begin­ners. Full-frame mir­ror­less cam­eras, which we talked about above, although they can be clas­si­fied as pro­fes­sion­al cam­eras, are much more user-friend­ly.

Compact cameras

If full frame isn’t your thing, here are some small­er cam­era options that you can’t go wrong with either.

If your cam­era screen can do this, your blog­ging life will be much eas­i­er. Pho­to: amateurphotographer.co.uk

The one-inch Sony ZV‑1 is spe­cial­ly designed for begin­ner blog­gers, it has many con­ve­nient auto­mat­ic modes. Sony ZV-E10 is essen­tial­ly the same Sony ZV‑1, but with a larg­er APS‑C sen­sor and the abil­i­ty to change lens­es. This becomes an indis­putable plus, because you can put a fast lens on it and get a cool blur­ry back­ground that Youtube loves so much (the Sony ZV‑1 has this effect much less pro­nounced).

For peo­ple more immersed in video, there is a ded­i­cat­ed Micro 4:3 for­mat cam­era (slight­ly small­er than APS‑C, but larg­er than 1 inch): the Pana­son­ic Lumix DC-GH5. Take it if you want to immerse your­self in the won­der­ful world of col­or cor­rec­tion and col­or grad­ing, and then, with­out chang­ing cam­eras, start mak­ing inde­pen­dent films.

Per­son­al­ly, I shoot with a cropped Fuji­film X‑T30. In gen­er­al, the mod­el suits me, but it has a cou­ple of objec­tive dis­ad­van­tages. First­ly, the audio jack is only 2.5 mm, which means that a stan­dard micro­phone with a 3.5 mm plug must be con­nect­ed through an adapter.

Sec­ond­ly, Fuji­film has a seri­ous prob­lem with the app. At the same time, the screen of the X‑T30 is inclined — it will not work for a self­ie vlog. So, the appli­ca­tion peri­od­i­cal­ly crash­es, and the cam­era itself hangs, and tight­ly, so to reboot you have to remove it from the tri­pod and pull out the bat­tery. The video you were shoot­ing at that moment is not saved.

But that’s not the only odd­i­ty of Fuji­film’s “leg­endary” app. It also does not sup­port video record­ing in 4K for­mat (max­i­mum Full HD), and you can shoot only at 29.97p (this is a big draw­back for fans of the “cine pic­ture” at 24 fps).

NB! These restric­tions apply only when shoot­ing remote­ly through the appli­ca­tion; in nor­mal mode, the cam­era can do every­thing.

There­fore, if you do not have an oper­a­tor, and the screen is not swiv­el, read reviews in advance about how sta­ble and con­ve­nient the appli­ca­tion is.

Today, you can shoot not with a tra­di­tion­al cam­era, but with a smart­phone with good video capa­bil­i­ties. For exam­ple, the iPhone 13 Pro has a spe­cial soft­ware mode to auto­mat­i­cal­ly blur the back­ground dur­ing video record­ing. Smart­phones are much eas­i­er to use than most cam­eras (except that the blog­ger Sony ZV‑1 can argue with them), so shoot­ing video on them is very con­ve­nient. Shoot­ing on a smart­phone lim­its your cre­ative deci­sions — the smart­phone decides for you the para­me­ters of col­ors, bright­ness, blur. And shoot­ing in poor light with a smart­phone is much worse than shoot­ing in poor light with a full-frame cam­era.

Lens

In con­fined spaces, a wide-angle lens is use­ful. In addi­tion to a suit­able view­ing angle, the wide one visu­al­ly adds depth to the pic­ture — unlike tele­pho­to lens­es, which “com­press” space. The back­ground will appear to be fur­ther away than it real­ly is. To enhance this effect, try to move away from the back­ground as much as pos­si­ble, so the pic­ture will be more inter­est­ing.

The focal length of a wide-angle lens is less than 50mm for full-frame lens­es or less than 35mm for crop lens­es.

For begin­ners, I advise you to use a zoom lens. This will make it eas­i­er to find the right focal length for you and your room in prac­tice. I have an 18–55mm lens and shoot for a blog at 20–30mm.

But if you know exact­ly what focal length you need, or you can freely move the cam­era, choos­ing the dis­tance, then a lens with a fixed focal length, all oth­er things being equal, will cre­ate a more beau­ti­ful pic­ture than a zoom.

“Shirik” will solve many prob­lems with lim­it­ed space. Pho­to: Ter­je Sollie/pexels.com

Giv­en that we are talk­ing about shoot­ing indoors (even with stu­dio light­ing), faster lens­es are a pri­or­i­ty. With them, it is eas­i­er to get back­ground blur and achieve the desired expo­sure.

My lens has a max­i­mum aper­ture of f/2.8, which is very good for a zoom, but even with that in mind, I would­n’t mind a lighter lens like f/1.4.

Tripod

For a home blog, a tri­pod first of all requires the abil­i­ty to adjust the height and tilt of the cam­era. If you can put a tri­pod on a table, go for a more com­pact mod­el like the Goril­la­Pod. If you are going to put the tri­pod on the floor, then you need a high­er mod­el, for exam­ple, Ray­lab Trav­el 63.

At the same time, you can save mon­ey and instead of a tri­pod, buy a reg­u­lar stu­dio stand of a suit­able size. But the stand does not allow you to adjust the tilt of the cam­era, so it will be more con­ve­nient with a tri­pod. Yes, and remov­ing the cam­era from the quick-release plate is much eas­i­er than twist­ing it from the stand every time.

Shoot­ing video at the table? You can get by with a mini tri­pod, such as the Goril­la­Pod. Pho­to: Anete Lusina/pexels.com

If you are going to shoot not only sta­tion­ary self­ie vlogs, but also cutscenes with shoot­ing on the move or shots with move­ment, then a steadicam is a good option. Choose a steadicam depend­ing on the weight of your equip­ment. Con­sid­er the weight of not only the cam­era, but also the lens and the micro­phone.

And if you plan to dive deep into video pro­duc­tion, then with a reserve for the future, you can pur­chase a video tri­pod with a smooth turn of the “head”.

Lighting

Good vlog cov­er­age is a must-have giv­en how much pro­duc­tion has risen on Youtube.

You can shoot just by the win­dow, if you cov­er it with cur­tains or tulle — they will help scat­ter the bright day­light. But be pre­pared that the light­ing will con­stant­ly change (even if you have a cloud­less or even­ly over­cast sky) — on the cuts dur­ing edit­ing, the pic­ture can jump around the expo­sure. But if you shoot in one take, the change in light­ing will not be very notice­able. You will depend on the weath­er — on cloudy days there will be not enough light, and on a sun­ny day it may even be too bright. Shoot­ing will be affect­ed by day­light hours.

Ordi­nary home lamps will not work as video light. House­hold light­ing lacks bright­ness, light bulbs have a poor col­or ren­der­ing index (CRI). On video with such light there will be an unaes­thet­ic pic­ture and flick­er­ing.

For video film­ing, con­stant light sources are used. The best option would be an LED illu­mi­na­tor and a soft­box.

LED illu­mi­na­tors are very con­ve­nient: they do not over­heat, they are more dif­fi­cult to break if acci­den­tal­ly dropped, con­sume less elec­tric­i­ty and, on aver­age, are more com­pact than halo­gen or flu­o­res­cent illu­mi­na­tors. There­fore, for a home stu­dio, it is bet­ter to choose them. As the main light source, I rec­om­mend tak­ing a lamp with a pow­er of 50 watts or more. For exam­ple, Godox SL-60W would be a good val­ue for mon­ey option.

Whether it is worth tak­ing a bi-col­or illu­mi­na­tor with the abil­i­ty to change the col­or tem­per­a­ture (cold / warm light) is a more indi­vid­ual ques­tion. I use a Ray­lab RL-60 Sun­light with the abil­i­ty to adjust the col­or tem­per­a­ture from 3200 to 6500K, but in the end I end­ed up shoot­ing at the stan­dard 5600K all the time. In gen­er­al, the pow­er of this lamp is enough for a self­ie blog, but you have to put it quite close to your face.

A stu­dio light needs a light mod­i­fi­er that will dif­fuse hard light, mak­ing it soft­er and more beau­ti­ful. Soft­box­es are suit­able for this task — a clas­sic rec­tan­gu­lar or octo­box. The big­ger the soft­box, the bet­ter. For myself, I con­sid­er the 90 cm octo­box to be opti­mal, but be pre­pared that this is an over­all acces­so­ry.

When buy­ing a mod­i­fi­er, you need to find out in advance whether it is com­pat­i­ble with the mount (bay­o­net) of your illu­mi­na­tor. At the moment, the most ver­sa­tile mount is the Bowens mount.

Light cre­ates atmos­phere in the frame — this is equal­ly true for pho­tos and video. Pho­to: Vitaly Gorbachev/pexels.com

The num­ber of light sources depends on what kind of pic­ture you want to get. Here in this arti­cle we ana­lyze in detail the pop­u­lar schemes. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the­o­ry often does­n’t agree with prac­tice, so it’s a good idea to rent a few sources and see right at home which scheme is right for you. It can be dif­fi­cult to take into account all the nuances in advance. Per­son­al­ly, the scheme with one source did not suit me because of too sharp shad­ows.

I myself use anoth­er clas­sic scheme — with three sources. I put the main large source a lit­tle to the side — harsh shad­ows form from the oth­er side, which I fill with the sec­ond source. Here it is no longer nec­es­sary to take a large stu­dio illu­mi­na­tor, even a small LED pan­el will suf­fice. I use a Bol­ing BL-P1 (it has a handy brack­et with which you can eas­i­ly adjust the angle of illu­mi­na­tion), which I addi­tion­al­ly pass through a dif­fuser (for exam­ple, a translu­cent dif­fuser from the kit will do).

The third light helps sep­a­rate the sub­ject from the back­ground. There are sev­er­al options here — you can high­light the hair from above, you can shine on your back from behind, or you can tint the back­ground with a col­or RGB pan­el. For such a task, a medi­um-sized LED pan­el is bet­ter suit­ed. I use a Neew­er 590 Pro and light up the back­ground in dif­fer­ent col­ors, but I used to have a cheap ring light that I placed high behind the back­ground and illu­mi­nat­ed my hair and shoul­ders. There is a prob­lem with the ring light — it is dif­fi­cult to zone it and direct it where it is need­ed.

But if all of the above seems too com­pli­cat­ed, but you want a sim­ple and quick solu­tion with a sin­gle light source, rent a ring light and see if this pic­ture will be enough for you.

All fix­tures require stands, which are usu­al­ly pur­chased sep­a­rate­ly! For heavy illu­mi­na­tors, it is bet­ter to take a stand with depre­ci­a­tion — air or spring, so you will pro­tect the light source from pos­si­ble dam­age.

The background

The choice of back­ground depends sole­ly on your taste. If you want, shoot against the back­ground of an exist­ing inte­ri­or or an ordi­nary wall. If you want — spe­cial­ly orga­nize the space by plac­ing suit­able fur­ni­ture or inter­est­ing acces­sories. If you want, buy a spe­cial pho­to­phone or a chro­ma key.

If you decide to shoot against the back­drop of an inte­ri­or, it is best if there is a min­i­mum of things in the back­ground — shelves with books, for exam­ple, will be enough. To make the back­ground more inter­est­ing, you can use col­ored light­ing with RGB illu­mi­na­tors, or sim­ply add light accents using any sources — ordi­nary lamps, gar­lands, and so on. Any addi­tion­al light­ing in the back­ground will add depth to the scene.

If you want to use a spe­cial back­ground, the first thing you need to decide is how you will attach it.

Usu­al­ly this requires a sep­a­rate back­ground mount­ing sys­tem — sta­tion­ary wall or col­lapsi­ble. The advan­tage of wall mount­ing (in this case, a back­ground wrapped in a roll is used) is that you can always quick­ly low­er the back­ground for shoot­ing, and then raise it back.

With a gate-style col­lapsi­ble sys­tem, things are a lit­tle more com­pli­cat­ed. It needs to be assem­bled and dis­as­sem­bled every time. The prob­lem can be par­tial­ly solved with a tele­scop­ic cross­bar, with which the gate can be quick­ly reduced in size and placed some­where in the cor­ner. Anoth­er solu­tion is a T‑shaped sys­tem, on which a not very wide one and a half meter back­ground is attached. This impos­es restric­tions on the width of the frame.

Before buy­ing a mount­ing sys­tem, you need to mea­sure the width of the room in advance so that every­thing fits (at the legs of the racks in the “gates”, for exam­ple, they have a rather large span — add about a meter to the width of the cross­bar).

Anoth­er option is to drape the wall or fur­ni­ture with a fab­ric back­drop. Per­son­al­ly, at some point, I sim­ply removed the “gate” away and attached the back­ground right on top of the clas­sic Sovi­et car­pet so as not to con­stant­ly assem­ble and dis­as­sem­ble the back­ground.

Shoot­ing against the back­drop of a home inte­ri­or, a spe­cial pho­to­phone or a chro­makey is a pure­ly indi­vid­ual mat­ter. What blog are you going to shoot? — The answer to this ques­tion will most like­ly deter­mine what kind of back­ground you need. Pho­to: CoWomen/pexels.com

Paper back­grounds can be used almost like dis­pos­able ones: unwound, filmed, torn off, rewound again. Fab­ric back­drops are more durable, but heavy and also wrin­kle (although this is usu­al­ly not notice­able on the video). There are also vinyl ones, but I did not deal with them.

You can use chro­makey — a green (or blue) screen. When processed in the edit­ing pro­gram, it is easy to replace it with any­thing — even for the star­ry sky, even for the Her­mitage hall.

Sound recording

The human brain has an inter­est­ing fea­ture: when watch­ing a video, a bad pic­ture with good sound seems to be of bet­ter qual­i­ty, while a good pic­ture with bad sound, on the con­trary, is sub­jec­tive­ly per­ceived worse. So the micro­phone is an impor­tant aspect of the home stu­dio.

At the very begin­ning, we already not­ed that the built-in micro­phones in most cam­eras are no good. There is an excep­tion — in spe­cial­ized Sony blog­ging cam­eras, they are of rel­a­tive­ly high qual­i­ty. How­ev­er, even for Sony, this is a com­pro­mise solu­tion. This scheme can be used for self­ie vlogs, which are tak­en on the go. In a home envi­ron­ment, a sep­a­rate micro­phone will be a more com­pe­tent solu­tion.

There are sev­er­al options: install the direc­tion­al micro­phone on the cam­er­a’s hot shoe, mount the direc­tion­al micro­phone on a stand on the table, or hang the omni­di­rec­tion­al lava­lier on your clothes. Wire­less radio loops are pop­u­lar now, but at home you can get by with a loop with a long wire. A direc­tion­al micro­phone, by the way, can be replaced with an audio recorder.

Beau­ti­ful­ly fix­ing the but­ton­hole is a sep­a­rate genre of art. Pho­to: rode.com

If you have a con­ver­sa­tion­al video blog, you should not chase super qual­i­ty and buy expen­sive vocal micro­phones, but I would not advise tak­ing frankly cheap mod­els from Chi­nese non­ames either.

Per­son­al­ly, I use an inex­pen­sive Sara­mon­ic SR-XLM1 lava­lier with a six-meter cable con­nect­ed to a Zoom H5 recorder. The recorder in this case improves the sound qual­i­ty com­pared to direct­ly con­nect­ing the micro­phone to the cam­era.

Additional accessories

In order to sim­pli­fy the cre­ation of videos, there are many use­ful devices.

For those who can­not remem­ber the text with­out hes­i­ta­tion, as well as for those who have com­plex and long scripts, there is a teleprompter — a device that allows you to read the text and at the same time look direct­ly into the lens. Read­ing from a prompter also requires skill. Take a clos­er look at how the pre­sen­ters of the news pro­grams behave — they com­pen­sate with the move­ments of the head for the move­ments of the eyes run­ning along the lines.

Anoth­er option­al but use­ful acces­so­ry is the gray card. With its help, you can cor­rect­ly adjust the white bal­ance on your cam­era, if sud­den­ly the auto­mat­ic bal­ance ugly tones the skin.

Results

Start film­ing your blog with what you already have. And buy every­thing you need as need­ed. Pho­to: Karoli­na Grabowska/pexels.com

In order to orga­nize a blog­ger’s home video stu­dio and shoot high-qual­i­ty con­tent, you will need the fol­low­ing ele­ments:

  • Cam­era. Ide­al­ly, full-frame, but you can shoot on a good cam­era phone.
  • Lens. It is bet­ter to choose wide-angle.
  • Tri­pod. The sim­plest, should be suit­able in height. A stu­dio stand would work too.
  • Light­ing. Per­ma­nent LED light + soft­box is a great start, but there are alter­na­tives.
  • Back­ground. You can shoot against the back­drop of a home inte­ri­or or pur­chase a pho­to­phone with a mount­ing sys­tem.
  • Sound. An inex­pen­sive (but not the cheap­est!) But­ton­hole will do.
  • Addi­tion­al acces­sories. If you are going to read the text, you will need a teleprompter. If there are prob­lems with set­ting the white bal­ance — a gray card.

Most impor­tant tip: start shoot­ing. Shoot with what you already have. If you want to add some­thing, look for rental options to see if this thing suits you or not. Only by prac­tice will you get a feel for what equip­ment you need, and post­pon­ing shoot­ing until you buy the per­fect set­up is the biggest mis­take you can make at the ini­tial stage.

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