Video Blogging – What’s the Best Camera to Use?

What the heck does it mean to vlog anyway?

Blogging, as you know, is expressing your thoughts via text.  If you’re a natural writer and words flow from you easily then blogging can be fun. For someone like my husband who is NOT a natural writer, blogging is a challenge.

Something that is not a challenge for him…talking. Which is why he has a new found love for this little thing they call vlogging.

For those of you who are not familiar with the term “vlog”, the only difference is that instead of expressing your thoughts via text, you express your thoughts via video.

That’s right.

Sitting in front of a camera and letting the whole world see you talk.

video blogging

It can be a little frightening at first, but once you get the hang of it it’s actually a lot of fun.  If any of you despise writing as much as my husband does, then I promise you will truly love vlogging.

One of the biggest obstacles preventing people from getting started with vlogging is they don’t know which camera to use.

How do you get started?

There are a lot of obstacles that he encountered whenever he first wanted to dabble into vlogging. The first video that he ever filmed was done using a flip camera that we borrowed from my parents. It wasn’t HD, but it did the trick.

Nowadays almost every camera that you get is going to be some form of HD so you don’t have to worry about that.  When he realized that he wanted to really get serious into video blogging, he set out on acquiring camera after camera after camera until he  found the one that he wanted.

*Insert snide comment: Wife does not always agree with the camera after camera after camera purchase. Of course unless husband is okay with the handbag after handbag after handbag purchase? Just sayin’.

The camera we use now is on the pricier side, but you can’t deny the quality.  It’s slightly amazing. And by slightly, I mean extremely. However; you don’t need an amazingly expense camera to shoot video.

The purpose of this post is to show you all of the different cameras you can use to film your vlog and let you compare the quality of each. I went through a lot of our old videos so that I could show you what it looks like when you are filming with each one.

So…let’s take a look.

1. The webcam

The first HD camera he bought was the Logitech Quick Cam Pro 9000.  We bought this one on Amazon for around $65.

 As you can see by the video below {How Do You Define Success}, it has really good video quality and it also has a built-in mic so that as long as you’re fairly close to it, the audio is really good.

He used this both on our home and work PC, but unfortunately it’s not compatible with the Mac and right now we are operating on all Apple products.  If your comfortable sitting in front of your computer and shooting a quick vlog (and you use a PC), this is a great choice.

2.  Webcams built in to your computer

If you have a laptop that has a built-in webcam or if you’re an Apple lover like us and have an iMac at home, you can always utilize the web camera there.

The video below {Thursday Latelies – Sleepy Momma Style} will show you what it looks like when you shoot with the webcam built in to the iMac. If you’re a stickler for video quality like my husband, then you’ll appreciate that the webcam is HD quality.

We also use the webcam on our MacBook Pro’s; however, his MacBook Pro webcam is not HD (mine is) and I do think you can tell a significant difference. If you have the choice, I would highly recommend sticking with the HD quality webcams.

3.  The camera in your pocket

The iPhone has become more and more popular as a video camera. It’s amazing what you can do with it. I’ve seen professional video shots using this small device.

Jeff and I both have the iPhone 4 and the video quality is very very good. I’ve heard even better things about the iPhone 4S and if you’re a video junkie like my hubby, he’s been salivating over that thing for months. I’m making him be patient and trying to make him realize that the iPhone 5 will probably have even better upgrades, so he needs to wait.

Below you can see one video {Financial Rant – Department Store Card Offers} that was shot in a mall in Chicago while the other video {Bottle Rant} was shot at our home.

The one thing I would say about shooting with your iPhone is that my husband was holding his phone horizontally, where I was holding it vertically. It looks much better when you don’t have the black space on the sides (lesson learned for me) so try and shoot with it horizontally if you can.


4.  Flip it up

The HD flip cam was a very popular camera at the time he shot this video. Unfortunately, Cisco has discontinued them, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t get one at an affordable price.

This video {How to Make Videos} is actually at our home when he was showing people how he films his videos and he used the flip cam to demonstrate. The flip cams have great video quality.

If I had to say anything negative about them, is that it does not have an external mic jack. Depending on where you’re filming, you’ll see what I mean when you don’t have the ability to have an external mic jack because the audio can be poor. Audio is everything.

The video quality can be subpar, but if they can’t hear you then the video is worthless.

5.  Easy to use & offers it all

Realizing that we needed better audio, he was able to get his hands on a Kodak zi8.  Both the Kodak and the flip cameras video quality are almost identical, but the big key difference is an external mic jack which the Kodak zi8 offers and the flip cam does not.  We bought a $9 Lavalier microphone on Amazon and it has made all the difference in our videos.

The first video {Financial Blogger Conference} below was shot at the financial blogger conference in Schaumberg, Illinois, in conjunction with the external mic jack.

As you can see the video quality is awesome and the audio quality is just as good. Keep in mind that this was in a hotel lobby that was very crowded.  I’m pretty confident if he had used the flip cam, it would have been very hard to hear the people he was interviewing.

The second video {Financial Rant – Making Pennies into Millions} is one of my financial rant videos that I shot at my house.  The one thing I love about both the flip and the Kodak is that no matter what happens, you’re always in focus.  So whether you’re three feet in front of the camera or five feet in front of the camera, you don’t have to worry about looking being blurry.

6.  Canon – the mother of all cameras

If you’re just getting started into video blogging, then all the methods I listed before will work just fine. Trust me.

If you’re a stickler for top-notch quality, which unfortunately my husband is, then you may want to dig a little deeper in your pockets because top notch quality does not come cheap.

We had a Canon T1i that took great pictures and also had video capabilities, but the only downside was it did not have an external mic jack.  As you can imagine, whenever he saw that the Canon T3i had both an external mic jack and a view screen that would flip to the side so that he could see himself when he was recording, he was sold instantly.

We were able to get an awesome deal on the Canon T3i so we decided to upgrade.

Below are three examples of shooting with the Canon all using different lenses.

Let me explain.

The first video {Mutual Fund Explained} was shot with two different lenses. The first one is the 50mm lens which I strongly recommend.  The lens itself is only about $100 and it does an awesome job of bringing the subject (in this case my husband) extremely in focus and blurring out the background. It really makes the video quality pop.

At the 1:10 mark of this video, he switched to the standard 18-55 mm lens which is still good quality so you can see the difference.

The second video {Week 6 of the 90 Day Video Blogging Challenge} he is also using the 50mm lens. Once again, you can see how he’s in focus and how the lamp and the curtains behind him are blurred.  What can we say?  We love this look.

The last video {Stop and Smell the Roses} is one that I filmed recently using the Canon, but I went with the 18-55 mm lens.  I  am still in focus and there is a slight blur in the background.

As you can see, all three qualities are phenomenal.

Quick note, when my husband first told me that he had to have the T3i, I laughed and told him he always has to have the best of the best.  After I just shot my last video, I confessed to him that I would never shoot another video using the webcam or the Kodak.

So now, of course, he loves to tease me about how he is always right. Pssst. I hate admitting that.

Just in case you’re not completely comfortable putting your yourself on the big screen, another option you have is purchasing a screen-capturing software such as Camtasia or ScreenFlow.

This gives you the ability to film what is on your screen, which is what we  have used to film some of the tutorials that you see here on this blog.  You don’t have to include your face in the bottom, but it is an option.

If you want to do a recording of just your screen, that is an option too.

Note that all our videos are currently edited in iMovie which comes standard on any Apple computer.  That’s a common question that we get.  If you don’t have iMovie and you’re running on a PC, I’ve heard decent things about Windows Movie Maker.  I don’t think it has all the bells and whistles of iMovie, but it will still get the job done.

Although I haven’t experimented with it yet, once you upload your videos to YouTube, it also has editing capabilities.  They are limited, but it does allow you to add a little bit of flare to your videos.

I think the most important thing for you to realize…you don’t have to have the BEST camera on the market. Any of these cameras will work just fine. The key is to just get behind the camera and press record.

Are you considering getting started video vlogging?  If not, what’s holding you back?  Share any comments below.

Comments

  1. Good info. I do a vlog now, but primarily use my iPhone to do it. I need to invest in a decent camera. These are some great ideas. Thanks for the post. I will check these out.

  2. Back when I was only using PC’s I would use Adobe Premier Elements for editing… While it would work, iMove is much slicker and easier to manage. I’ve even knocked down shots and edits (and uploads!) using my iPhone and iMovie for the iPhone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFttEz0hIoQ

    Great post – I’ll pass this along to my friends who ask about video. Thanks to you I’m also thinking about a new dSLR…

  3. Darlene says:

    When I first started taking photographs, I used a Canon Rebel Tii2 DSLR. It also takes HD video! It is an easy and affordable camera to learn how to master using the lens and the settings, and takes great photos and videos. Take a trip to your local store (I went to Best Buy) and shop around/test the ones you like; then search for a deal online for the best price. :)

  4. Hi! I’m so glad I found you. I was visiting Susan @ Living Rich on Less and saw her video for your new vlog link party. What a great idea. I’m so encouraged by your tips and reviews about cameras, and video editing….I’m inspired and you’ve convinced me that I can do this. I’m really looking forward to playing around with editing since I do have a Mac with imovie. I’d been wondering how to go about editing..which is what has kept me from making more videos.
    Thanks for getting this vlog party started. I will certainly join in and will also put this party on my blog.
    Sharon @ mrs. hines class

  5. Nichelle says:

    So glad I found this site. Awesome! I will come back regularly and definitely tell my networking partners to subscribe and visit often. Thanks for the camera information, I was wondering if the Flip offered external mic option and now I know. Thanks, Thanks and Thanks again!

  6. Thank you! I only got to skim this article because I’m headed out to buy a camera but now I have a much better idea what to get and I look forward to returning to the page to learn more! Thanks!

  7. Hi, great post!

    Just a quick question, what version of iMovie are you using? Whenever I export videos I have edited in imovie the quality is always really poor :( I am using my macbook pro webcam to film.

    • @ Jon We’re on iMovie ’11 Version 9.0.6. It might be the webcam. Do you have the HD camera in your Macbook? I filmed one video with my Macbook camera (non HD) and told myself I would never use it again. Our iMac at home as the HD camera and the quality is MUCH better.

  8. thank u so much for d info, u just validated my believe that canon t3i shoots awesome videos, i should def lay my hands on one..

  9. Hi there – Great info and think we’re going to take your recommendation and go for the Canon T3i. Is it necessary to have an external mic? We are just getting started with video blogging and it appears a mic would be $300 so would like to spare this expense.

    Thanks, Kate

  10. Hi Dollars & Roses, This is one cool vlog. I googled best video camera and found ya. I own 2 macs, an iphone 4s, 3 cameras including a sony, jvc, and cannon – all are older models – and none seem to “talk” to one another. Can you enlighten me. Why can’t I import what jvc calls a movie file into camtasia? Looks to me like the audio and video files are split. Same with Sony’s files. I have Camtasia, imovie, final cut express hd software I’m confused and frustrated that I can’t piece something together. My iphone 4s is glitchy when I upload it too. I’m considering selling everything I own at an upcoming garage sale and buying all new equipment. Would you recommend that? If so, are all macs created equal. Mine are older models, something like g3s – about 5 years old I guess … but I’m feeling fly like a G6 right about now!

  11. Aaron Thompson says:

    Hey Jeff, good to see you guys being so active in the online community. I was just doing a search for a good video blogging camera and there you two were. Great to see that you’re moving up. Good advice and I love that you’ve experimented with different lenses to help find your desired effect. I hope things only get better for you and yours. God bless!

  12. I was in analysis paralysis until I read this awesome post! After reading this I was leaning towards the Kodak Zi8 because I wasn’t looking to spend too much, but the feedback about it not having a front facing viewfinder (something I didn’t even think about) had me hesitating. I ended up searching Amazon for a camera similar to the Kodak Zi8 specs, but with a viewfinder and I landed on the Canon Vixia HF M301. To save on cost I purchased a refurb from Ebay and got it for $199 – I don’t have the camera yet I just ordered it, but based off this review http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQ0xUgLHWhA I think I’m going to like it. Wish I could hug you guys cause its been over 6 weeks I’ve been trying to decide on a camera and your insights were awesome. You helped me figure out what functional features to look for. I’m sharing this post with everyone.

  13. Thanks for writing this article. I’m looking to expand my site into vlogging and this has definitely given me some food for thought. :)

  14. Thanks a lot for this post. I would also like to know how to trim videos. I am still learning and would like to know more about it. Your post is the best from what I have read to understand the vlogging.
    Love from India.

  15. Hi guys, thanks for the great tips. Will purchase the t3i – Which is the Kiss X5 here in Japan and unfortunately a bit pricier it would seem! Market segmentation.
    Anyway, love the advice on the cheap external mic also, but I do have question regarding the lens. You mentioned the 50mm lens is great (and it appears so what a great smooth cozy feel it creates), but when I searched I found tons of different ones! What’s the one you have? For example there’s a
    Canon 50mm f/1.4 USM and a Canon 50mm f/2.5 Macro ?
    (sorry i really have no idea about this stuff!)
    Thanks Roses! :)

  16. Good stuff. I will definitely be keeping an eye on you folks. One question, would you still recommend the Kodak Zi8? It’s been over a year since you first wrote this post so I was wondering if you have new info. Please email me a response.

  17. Thanks for replying so quickly and on a holiday. It shows a dedication that I don’t see much these days. I would like to pick your brain a bit more however.

    I will be filming indoors and outdoors for my blog. I want good quality video but am not financially capable of going crazy. If you were me, would you go with a used Zi8 or something else? What would you do if you were like me and just starting out?

    Thank you,

    Chris Furtado

    • @ Chris Just starting out, I would definitely use the Zi8 or something comparable. The key is audio (especially outdoors). Whatever camera you buy makes sure it has an external mic jack. I still have my original Flip Camera which works decent in a small closed room. Outdoors the audio was often horrible.

  18. Hi Jeff!

    Probably a stupid question… but the mic you use… it plugs into the camera? Why does it say headphone? I don’t want to buy it if its not what I need, thought I would double check. Thanks for all the great info! I will be sure to pass your blog onto my network. :)

    “Here’s what I use currently: http://www.amazon.com/Zalman-Zm-Mic1-Sensitivity-Headphone-Microphone/dp/B00029MTMQ

  19. Hey Guys,

    So before even starting my blog I wanted to ask a quick question. I already have a Canon EOS Rebel T3. Now I only really see two differences in it, they do sound big though. Do you think HD is good enough quality or would Full HD be better.

    Thanks,
    Jim

  20. Terrance says:

    I still love the old power shot, they are bang for your buck. And I always use amazon for my purchase. If your interested http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006UMM1UO/ref=as_li_tf_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B006UMM1UO&linkCode=as2&tag=aquaponicstar-20

  21. Hi,

    I would like to start vlogging on a small scale to try it out. I currently have a Canon 650D (T4i for you in the states). Do you know if you can buy a power kit for these cameras as the battery is somewhat insufficient. Also, can you link the microphone you mentioned and/or recommend a budge microphone that would be good for quiet room in most instances.

    Thanks

  22. Hello to the Roses!

    Had a quick question: are y’all still currently using the canon t3i?! I’m thinking about making a switch from canon.

    Any & all suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks so much & God bless!!

    • @ Brittany

      Yup, still using and loving the T3i. The T4i is out and I think the T5i is almost out, fyi. I haven’t seen much difference though other than the price tag.

  23. Trying to find exactly that, a compact camera that I can do video interviews with that has an external mic jack, was thinking the Kodak Zi8 sounded great, but then noticed it came out in 2009. Is it still a good purchase? Are there other ones I should consider?

    I’m not filming in the rain or any extreme sports, so don’t really need that type of equipment. I guess most people with my need these days are just filming on their phones, so maybe that’s why not a lot of new options…

    • @ Jessica

      I just took a poll in a community of video bloggers that I’m in and all say 1. The Zi8 is still a good camera BUT 2. You can get the same amount of video quality with an iPhone.

      The big disadvantages of the iPhone vs. Zi8

      1. Battery life – Zi8 lasts much longer
      2. External audio jack – you can buy a cable to attach an external mic to your iPhone though. Go here: http://www.kvconnection.com/
      3. Mount to tripod – you’ll have to buy a special mount so that you mount your iPhone to a tripod.

      • Thank you so much for your reply – and for investigating it with the other ‘vloggers’! No iphone, and video quality on my Samsung is a joke, so maybe will go for the Zi8 anyways. Thanks!

  24. Thanks for the informative post and videos, guys. This is actually the post that I found when I Google searched “best webcam for blogging” and I enjoyed it so much that I’ve bookmarked your site. I’m just getting started in vblogging but based on what I see here and have read elsewhere I am going to begin with with a Logitech HD camera for my PC and go from there. Thanks again!

  25. Hi

    I found this helpful as I have been vlogging on youtube for about a month now I need to invest in a camera and I have asked my mother and brother to go halves on one for my birthday and Christmas main present so I get a decent one and they are happy knowing they got me something I need and that I will love. Thanks for the great tips and ideas I will be buying a Lavalier mic I think :)

    Hayleythrils

  26. Great post! I use also the Canon for my beauty and fashion posts at http://www.theholywall.com. Love that camera!

  27. Thank you so much for this info, I am an upcoming blogger/vlogger with so many ideas and I want to make the best out of this and I believe that this camera could be the next thing for me haha.
    I love you guys, u seem so down to earth and friendly ! Thanks /Sweden

  28. Thank you for the info on these cameras. My daughter wants to start vlogging so I am def going with the canon t31. :) will let u know when we get our first video up. Ty

  29. Hey There

    I have a Canon T3i camera and am trying to figure out how to use it with Camtasia. My computer is only 2 years old. I can view it fine on windows live movie maker, but not in Camtasia. I can’t for the life of me figure out why.

    I’m not sure how you edit your videos, but if you use Camtasia I’d love some tips.

  30. I am starting a video blog for both my websites and was so excited to read the information above on the camera. I am often alone and outside so do any of the camera’s above have a self timer and the type I can use on a tripod? Will send you an update on how it goes.

Speak Your Mind

*