Are you looking to create professional-quality videos at home, but don’t want to spend a fortune on equipment? Here is what I use to create my short and long-form content for TikTok, YouTube, product reviews, and course creation. With just a few simple pieces of gear, you can start shooting high-quality videos in no time!
Get a High-Quality Microphone
Clear sound is key. While the professionals will create recording studios with acoustic panels, you can do a lot with a small room (closet anyone?) and a decent microphone. I wanted microphones that could move with me and could block out some of the sounds that I couldn’t control (neighbors, loud trucks, humming fridge, HVAC, etc). Here are the two microphones I use regularly.
Power DeWise Lavalier Clip-On Microphone
This microphone delivers great quality at a competitive price. I clip it on my collar and get clean audio while walking around my space. When I first started, this is the only microphone I used and it is still my favorite.
It is super easy to use. I simply plug it into my computer’s headphone jack for computer recording. Or I use the Apple Lightning to 3.5 mm Headphone Jack Adapter to plug it into my iPhone. My devices automatically recognize and use it as the microphone when I plug it in!
Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB Dynamic Microphone
As I kept creating video content, I decided I wanted to level up my sound quality. After a great deal of research and talking with other content creators, I ended up going with the Audio-Technica ATR2100x. Why? Four reasons:
- I wanted a dynamic microphone to cut down on background noise. This microphone does an excellent job of only recording my voice when I’m speaking close to it.
- It is a well-loved microphone with a proven track record. As long as you aren’t touching it, the sound is exceptional.
- I wanted something that would plug right into my computer so I didn’t need to buy additional equipment.
- The price is excellent! This microphone gives me professional sound without breaking the bank.
To use, I simply plug it into my computer! I often record using Quicktime and, before I start recording, I double-check that the ATR2100x is my microphone source. My one frustration is that this high-quality microphone comes with the most low-quality tripod stand. I still make it work with some masking tape to keep the stand in place, but I would recommend getting a boom arm if you want to avoid the frustrations.
Lighting Can Make All The Difference
Good lighting can make your videos look polished and professional. Of course, you don’t need to spend a fortune on lights. My preferred light source will always be a sunny day. Unfortunately, I live in the Pacific Northwest and grey rainy days don’t make for great video footage. Here are some of the lights I use regularly.
UBeesize LED Video Light Kit
This 2 piece set is excellent! Especially for the price!
The tripods are solid and go up to almost 5ft. They can go from extremely bright to a low glow for background ambience. And I greatly appreciate how easy it is to change the color with the filters that just slide in and out.
The moment I got these, they went into daily rotation. I usually use them at a low light with the white filter so I can have them close up without causing shadows. They give me that diffuse light I need. I also appreciate that they aren’t ring lights as you never want more than one ring light in a shot.
LIPETY 13-inch Ring Light with Floor Tripod
You don’t need to go with this ring light as there are MANY comparable ring lights. They aren’t the most durable so go for the best deal. That said, I have abused this ring light and stand regularly and it is still going strong! I’m also tall and this is one of the few stands that went as tall as I needed. I use it in a variety of ways:
Camera stand – I’ll often just use this floor tripod to hold my camera without the light on.
Direct light – Choose your color and brightness and get that ring glow as you record.
Diffuse light – Grab an old white pillow case to cover this light and you suddenly have another diffuse light source.
While the floor tripod is good quality, the desk tripod is terrible. Don’t expect to get much use out of that piece. I’ve found that a lot of these tech accessories come with trash add-ons. I focus on the quality of the main component for the price.
Xeneo 10-Inch Desktop Selfie Ring Light
I wanted a dedicated ring light for my desk. So I could record myself at my desk and be well-lit for video chats. This ring light meets all of my needs. It has an exceptionally sturdy base, 3 light modes, and is dimmable. The smaller ring makes for a more obvious eye halo so I usually keep this on a dimmer setting. That said, I always use it for video chats and other videos as well.
Step Up Your Camera Game
When I was just getting started, I was using my 5-year-old iPhone and I knew the quality was lacking. I couldn’t rationalize a DSLR camera (and still can’t) so I spent a great deal of time researching the best camera for the cost. In the end, I went with the newest iPhone and I cannot tell you the number of compliments I get on my video footage! I went from getting very few views on my TikTok videos to having multiple videos go over 100K views within days of me getting a new iPhone. I couldn’t believe it! You can see the difference between my first 10 or so TikTok videos and every video I took after.
Apple iPhone 13 Pro
There are many write-ups on how the new iPhone cameras are comparable to DSLR footage. I couldn’t agree more. These cameras are incredible and it’s my favorite smartphone. It is still expensive, but I appreciate that it is not a single-use device and that I can use it for all of my personal and professional daily needs. I got the iPhone 13 Pro and it is insane. I know the 14 Pro recently came out as well. They are only getting better!
Here are some tricks to get the most out of your iPhone:
Shoot in Cinematic Mode – If you’re looking for film-quality footage where you are in focus and the background is blurred, the cinematic mode is your best friend. I prefer this for static recordings, like when I’m at my desk.
Use the Back Camera – While the screen camera is solid, the back camera has the most bells and whistles. It also has a stabilizer so your recordings will be smoother if you are walking while recording. If you prefer to see yourself while recording, you can plug your iPhone into your computer and use something like Camo to see yourself on your computer screen while recording.
Enhance Away! – The iPhone is so smart that it will provide excellent footage without any edits. But you can focus on particular items by tapping on the screen during recording and you can enhance your footage after shooting as well.
To Sum It Up
You don’t need to spend a fortune on professional-grade equipment to create high-quality videos. Use what I use or do your research to get a decent microphone, lighting, and a great camera. The abundance of options can get overwhelming fast so remember that you don’t need the absolute top products, focus on the best quality for your budget. Start filming today!