Team PolarPro's Vlogging Gear
Vlogging, or video blogging, has risen to be one of the top forms of media consumed on the internet and is a way for people to share with their followers and subscribers what is going on in their day to day lives. Everyone has the ability to be a social media or YouTube star, but the creatives who seem to succeed above the rest are the ones that produce the most high-quality cinematic footage. As a result of this phenomenon, our team here at PolarPro sat down and discussed what the best vlogging setup would be for the creative that wants to make sure their footage stands out. We covered everything from our favorite mirrorless cameras to what filters we would use on our camera, to what filming accessories we would use when recording an epic vlog.
How to Make Your Footage More Cinematic
Vloggers take their cameras everywhere with them, which can cause for them to encounter unexpected lighting conditions when filming. In order to mend the frustration of this issue, a ND filter is the perfect solution when trying to flush out bright environments and give your video the proper exposure. A Variable ND filter is one of the most favored types of filters to use for bloggers, because it allows you to make exposure adjustments on the fly. At PolarPro, we recently partnered with Peter McKinnon to create a Variable ND filter which would be the perfect addition to any vlogger’s camera gear. Our Peter McKinnon Variable ND filter is available in a variety of thread sizes: 67, 77, and 82 mm and can be purchased in either a 2-5 stop or 6-9 stop model. Our VND filter allows you to utilize a wider aperture, which in turn will give you a shallow depth of field. In short, a Variable ND filter is a must-needed accessory when trying to capture professional, cinematic footage.
Our Favorite Mirrorless Cameras
Full frame cameras are the leading camera type when it comes to what works best for vloggers of this day and age. Our favorite mirrorless cameras were determined by breaking down which cameras encompass all the qualities we look for most in a vlogging camera: video, audio, and screen performance capabilities.
The Sony a7iii is a household favorite over here at the PolarPro offices, with pretty much half of the office using it as their go-to camera. Although most of us consider ourselves landscape or street photographers that own this camera, and not necessarily vloggers-- we wanted to put it to the test and see how it would rank on our list.
Video - Sony is known for being one of the leading camera companies in the industry when it comes to their video capabilities, and the a7iii is no different. It shoots 4K video in full frame format, as well as takes excellent slow motion video at 120fps in 1080p. The a7iii performs well in low light situations and has amazing autofocus capabilities, however it does not allow you to use their Eye-Match technology when in video format. The a7iii also has a feature known as IBIS, or in-body image stabilization, which helps prevent motion blur in your images by moving the sensor to compensate for unintentional vibrations and movements. The benefit to having the stabilization located on the sensor, is that it remains effective on pretty much any lens that you put on the camera.
Audio - The Sony a7iii has two built in mics, along with a microphone jack available for an external mic to be attached. If you are planning on being a full time vlogger, investing in an external mic would always be the best bet in order for your audio quality to match your footage.
Screen - This camera does have a few small drawbacks that you should keep in mind before dedicating the a7iii as your sole vlogging camera. One of the main cons to this camera is that it does not have a flip around screen, making it impossible for vloggers to see themselves as they are filming. This can prove to be a major problem for some vloggers, due to the fact that they are almost shooting blind and would need to make sure they are framed properly prior to starting their filming. In order to mend this issue, you could attach a monitor to your gimbal so you are able to see what you're filming. A monitor would allow you to see yourself as you are vlogging, but one thing to keep in mind is that you will not be able to use the face tracking feature while it is connected.
Canon EOS R
Canon has a few cameras that are popular in the vlog community, but one of the most popular options for professional vloggers is the Canon EOS R.
Video - Upon the EOS R’s release, it got a lot of heat for not being as good as Sony when it came to its video capabilities. Of course it can shoot in 4K, but instead of staying in full frame like the Sony, the EOS R changes to a 1.75x crop sensor at this resolution. The Canon EOS R has exceptional autofocus in video mode, and like the Sony it is slightly on the heavier side in terms of its weight. However, one area where we believe the Canon EOS R reigns supreme is in the color science of the camera. Canon’s have a way of accomplishing more accurate colors and producing natural looking skin tones, which is important for vloggers since the primary subject of most of their videos are going to be themselves. Although Sony improved their color science with the a7iii, it does not compare to the rich hues the Canon is able to capture. In terms of stabilization for Canon, they do not offer any sensor stabilization. Their reasoning for this is because they believe that having stabilization in the lens is far more effective.
Audio - The EOS R has two built in microphones, as well as a microphone jack to connect an external mic to. This camera also has a headphone jack which allows you to plug in your headphones and listen back to your video to ensure you have acquired the right footage.
Screen - One of the main appealing characteristics of this camera is the flip screen which gives you the ability to swing your screen out from your camera to have it fully front facing. This feature streamlines a vloggers ability to film themselves, without worrying if they are in frame or not. This is why Canon is one of the top competitors when it comes to vlogging, as they tend to keep the user in mind.
Panasonic Lumix GH5
Unlike the Sony a7iii and the Canon EOS R, the Lumix GH5 is not a full frame camera. Instead it has a micro Four Thirds Live MOS sensor, and although this may seem like something to dwell on, it has actually allowed Panasonic to cram extra features into the camera.
Video - Prior to the Sony a7iii, the Lumix GH5 was the only camera on the market able to shoot 4K video at 60 fps-- the EOS R can’t even do that. One of the downsides to this camera however, is that the autofocus features are seriously lacking especially when compared to the Sony and Canon. The Panasonic however does have Focus Peaking technology, which is a feature that assists you when manual focusing. As a result, the lack of reliance on autofocus can teach you to be more creative and breakaway from the dependency of auto settings. However, if you are a vlogger that likes to move quickly and doesn’t want to have to worry about manually focusing your videos, this may not be the camera for you. Where the Lumix GH5 makes up for this though is through their stabilization feature called I.S. Lock. This setting harnesses the stability of the IOS hardware in the camera, as well as utilizes image details to calculate the best method of stabilization. This combined use of hardware and software achieves an image that looks as if the camera is mounted on a tripod or mount while filming.
Audio - The audio on the Lumix GH5 is pretty decent, even without an external mic present. Of course, we always recommend that one is used in order to record superior audio, but the audio preamps in this camera are pretty exceptional as they eliminate any hiss or hum sound that is usually found.
Screen - The Panasonic Lumix GH5 has an amazing fully articulating screen, which allows you as a vlogger to see yourself when filming your footage. It is a touch screen as well, which helps when you want to bring your film into focus, as you can just tap the screen to do it for you. Having touch screen capabilities makes the Lumix GH5 extremely user-friendly, and takes away the difficulties of toggling through extensive menu settings much like in Sony’s a7iii model.
Although these cameras are not the most compact cameras, they are considered total beasts when capturing epic videos. These mirrorless camera options are suited for the vlogger that doesn’t mind a higher price point or compromising the size and weight of a camera for solid footage. Although it may not seem like one camera is the end all be all option, the choice depends on what characteristics are most important to you as the user. Each camera has its own pros and cons, but the next time we go out and film a vlog there is no way we’re picking up any other camera besides the Sony a7iii, Canon EOS R, or the Panasonic Lumix GH5.
Our Favorite Vlogging Lights
Neewer Ring Light:
Ring lights have grown to be one of the most popular lighting setups for vloggers in today’s day and age. Ring Lights are usually set up in studio and located behind your camera during filming, in order to expose the proper amount of light when recording. The Neewer Ring Light is one of our top recommendations for vloggers due to the affordability and quality of the product. This light consumes a lot less energy than its competitors, which in turn, makes it extremely economical in the long run. The most important feature however, is how bright the light is. It can light up an entire room, but also has the ability to be dimmed down if you prefer an exposure that isn’t as intense and want your video to look “moody”.
GVB Gear Compact Daylight On-Camera Light:
For vloggers that like to film at night and want to take their camera set up with them everywhere, the GVB Gear Compact Daylight On-Camera Light is the ideal option. This light attaches to the hotshoe of your favorite vlogging camera camera, and is a very light-weight option for those that like to walk and talk while filming. The GVB Light, like the Neewer Ring Light, is dimmable but where the two differ is that the GVB model is battery operated and usually only lasts for approximately 2 hours of filming.
Aputure Amaran H198C On-Camera LED Light:
This on-camera light by Aperture is the one we use here at PolarPro for our in house productions, so of course we had to add it to our list of our favorite vlogging gear. First of all, it is extremely bright and can illuminate any dimly lit setting. In addition, this light is a Bi-Color LED light, rather than a Daylight on-camera light like the last model. Where the two differ is that the Bi-Color LED light offers multiple color temperatures, allowing you to have more a more advanced and flexible lighting system. For example, Bi-Color lights will transition from from one end of the spectrum to the other, which in turn, offers a whole variety of Kelvin color temperatures.
Our Favorite Microphones
The Blue Yeti microphone is for the vlogger than remains in studio and wants crisp, clean audio to match their cinematic footage. On this microphone you can choose from recording in unidirectional, bidirectional, omnidirectional, and stereo modes which will help you isolate the sound you want your microphone to pick up. The Blue Yeti is also a plug n’ play type microphone, which means that no software needs to be downloaded in order to play back your audio.
RODE VideoMic Pro:
RODE is one of the leading competitors in the portable external microphone industry. Our favorite model of theirs for vlogging is the VideoMic Pro, which is a professional grade shotgun microphone. This external mic is battery powered, making it an easy addition to your vlogging setup without having to worry about unnecessary cables. It also includes a good shock mount to lessen the noise from the camera, when it is attached to one. The RODE VideoMic Pro, is what we think the perfect microphone would be for the vlogger that is constantly in transit or traveling.
Sennheiser MKE 400 Shotgun Microphone:
The Sennheiser microphones are one of RODE’s direct competitors when it comes to the best on-camera microphones. This Sennheiser mic is a supercardioid model, which means that it does an excellent job of isolating the sound, by only recording what is directly in front of the microphone itself. This can be a good and bad thing for vloggers, because it can capture your voice extremely well; however, if you are a run and gun type of vlogger and are not pointing it directly at your mouth you could be caught capturing surrounding noise instead. Although this may be considered a minor issue for some vloggers, the quality of this microphone is where it reigns supreme. The Sennheiser’s main popular features include: all-metal housing, a wind noise filter, 300 hours of operating time, and a built-in shock mount.
For the Experienced Cinematic Vlogger:
- Sony a7iii
- Neewer Ring Light
- Blue Yeti
- PolarPro Peter McKinnon VND 77mm
This kit is for the experienced vlogger, whose main goal is to capture the highest cinematic level of footage for their blog. With this set up, they are mainly located in studio and do not want to spare any expense on their vlogging gear.
For the Career On-the-Go Vlogger:
- Aperture Amaran H198C On-Camera LED Light
- Sennheiser MKE 400 Shotgun Microphone
- PolarPro Peter McKinnon VND 82mm
This kit is for the run and gun vlogger, who strives to pursue this as a career or produces content regularly. This vlogger can take all their gear on the go and out in the field with them, as well as thinks of the quality of their gear as a superior priority over what the cost of each product is.
For the Breakthrough Vlogger:- Panasonic Lumix GH5
- GVB Gear Compact Daylight On-Camera Light
- RODE VideoMic Pro
- PolarPro Peter McKinnon VND 67mm
This kit is for the breakthrough vlogger, or someone who wants a user-friendly set up that is easily transportable. From the camera choice, to the light and mic setup, this gear is best for someone who wants to be able to travel on the go without having to worry about the complexity of heavy vlogging equipment. Although the camera price is comparable to the EOS R and a7iii, these accessories are a more budget friendly option for someone who doesn’t want to break the bank.
Our recommended vlogging kits can be mixed and matched in any way that you see fit, as each vlogger’s setup is going to be different and cater to what would best suit their workflow. For our Peter McKinnon VND filters, they are offered in both 2-5 and 6-9 stops so depending on what outdoor setting you are recording in, you can determine which model will work best for your production. Also if you have a lens with a smaller thread size, we have step-up rings to make sure your filter fits on your device properly with either a VND in 67, 77, or 82 mm. With the help of this vlogging setup-- no matter which one you choose-- you will be sure to capture high-quality vlogging footage and make your videos stand out from the rest.
Carly San Filippo
Copywriter at PolarPro