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I get asked all the time what camera gear is Collin Abroadcast using? They say that you don’t need anything but a phone that can shoot video to get started with vlogging. “It’s not about the gear, it’s about the content you’re making.” And this is absolutely true!  It’s more important to just get started and shoot with whatever you have rather than saving up for the more expensive gear. Getting started making videos is the biggest obstacle.

Collin Abroadcast’s Camera Gear for 2020

Look at some of your favorite YouTubers and filter their video page from oldest to newest. Notice how a lot of them aren’t that good (including My Videos) in comparison to what they’re creating now. It’s because at this stage, just learning about making videos is the most important thing. Your first 10/20/30 videos will suck.  And you’ll feel underwhelmed.

But that IS OK, because you are just learning and closing that GAP from the image you have in your head to what you can actually create. And the sooner you just get started, the faster that gap will close.

Start With What You Have Until You Outgrow It

So start with what you have now and upgrade once you feel like you have outgrown whatever you are using. Now, this IS where I think upgrading your gear can make you better and just as importantly, more efficient. But only when YOU feel ready to do so.

What Video Camera Did I Start With?

For example, when I first started shooting and making YouTube videos, I used an entry-level Canon DSLR. I HATED shaky camera footage, so I also bought a stabilizer in the form of a Glidecam XR-2000. This was perfect for me (and really still could be) but a massive downside is that IF I didn’t want any shaky footage while walking, I would ALWAYS be attached at the hip to that Glidecam. And so I was.

But I didn’t care because the shot to me was and still is more important than the uncomfortable-ness of shooting. Then I upgraded to a camera with internal stabilization. And HOLY HELL. What a difference that made. I didn’t even know I NEEDED this feature until I had it. Although I still do use a stabilizer majority of the time today, getting a camera with internal stabilization really freed me up in the shooting process, which allowed me to become WAAY more efficient and to get WAAY more creative!

What’s in Collin Abroadcast’s Camera Bag for 2020? 

There’s actually quite a lot in my current camera bag. Some people like to travel light when it comes to filming, however, I like to do the opposite. I would rather skimp on other stuff in order to have all my gear with me and at my disposal! With that being said, I did make sure to get a smaller camera with smaller lenses in order to get more “bang for my buck” when it comes to backpack weight.
Previously, I had a camera that was double the size and by upgrading my gear to something smaller, it has helped my efficiency enormously!
There is no wrong way to travel. If you want to use less gear to have a lighter backpack, that’s totally fine too! You can always adapt as you become a more seasoned traveler in order to find the perfect setup for yourself!

collin riding on a train with headphones

Main Camera

Panasonic GH5

Like I stated earlier, you don’t really understand what you need until you actually have it. Internal Image Stabilization (IBIS) has really freed up my creative process and made me more efficient while shooting. This is the PERFECT vlogging camera on the market, for me. What could be the perfect camera for me could be the worst camera for someone else, but it is great for my style of shooting. 

Pros 

The User Interface (Menu) – This has been the biggest upside for me on this camera. It may not seem like a big issue “because it’s just software” but it is so intuitive that I am able to find and utilize items in a breeze WITHOUT having to search Google for it. Seriously, 3 years later, this still blows my mind. Let’s face it, you have your usual workflow and probably will only utilize 20% of the features on a daily basis. But for the other 80% that you’ve used once or maybe even never, it’s really easy to find and saves a ton of time. Which means I’m (and you are) less frustrated and in a better mood to be on camera!

Compact, weathertight body (and yes, flip-out screen) – The camera feels sturdy and grippy. You can tell it’s a high-quality camera with good ergonomics. A major plus is you can literally shoot out in the rain (just don’t try changing lenses, batteries, or cards while doing so) and it will withstand a lot of the elements to get the perfect shot. The flip-screen, although a basic feature of today’s cameras, was a huge upgrade from my previous non-flip-out.

Battery Life and Dual Slot SD cards – Incredible. I can get a whole day’s shooting with just one battery (although I carry 3-4 just to be safe) I do have third party batteries that are far cheaper than OEM. But the life of them is shorter over time and could possibly damage your camera, so beware. With the dual-slot, you can have two memory cards in and shoot a number of ways. You can shoot to both SD cards at once so you have a backup. You can shoot to one and then to the other once the first one is full. Or you can shoot all videos to one while all photos go to the other. Super useful and I switch it up from time-to-time

Specs – I’m not going to go all camera nerd here but the specs are more than enough than what you’ll need to make YouTube videos. In fact, I’ve had this for 3 years already and still feel ahead of the game. This will easily last another 5 years and still be up to market standards.  

Cons:

Low Light performance – This one is pretty big. It IS useable, however, if low light is crucial for you, this isn’t the camera for you. There are way better on the market, incredibly better. For me, most of my videos are shot during the day time (market hours) or inside so it’s not THAT big of a deal for me. But when I do shoot outside at night, there has to be a lot more planning to go into the shoot rather than just runnin’ n  gunnin’ it.

Camera Lenses

Camera lenses are extremely important. You can have a high-end camera but if the lens is, for a lack of a better word, trash, then it’ll really restrict the camera’s capabilities. To start out, I’d recommend getting at least 2 lenses. One wide lens for walking and talking and another zoom lens for Broll shots (think cinematic shots) With two in your arsenal, it’ll make your videos more dynamic and it’ll help you learn how to work a camera a lot quicker than just using one lens.
Personally, I have about 6 or 7 lenses that I’ve accumulated over the years. Why so many you ask? Because once you hone in your skill/video format, you can begin to understand the different nuances that each lens has to offer and can be used in different situations. Now I’m not saying you HAVE to get that many lenses, most cases 2 will be just fine. Just know it is OK to spend a little more to get that creative vision you have in your head, onto the computer screen.

Wide Angle Lens: Laowa 7.5mm f/2

I use this lens 90% of the time. This is the lens I use to talk into the camera and keep just about everything in focus. It is a manual focus lens though, so you’ll have to set it up yourself. I prefer this as I can’t stand when auto-focus goes out of focus for no reason. Better to control it myself

Mid-Range Zoom Lens: Panasonic Lumix 20mm f/1.7 and Olympus 25mm f/1.8

I use both of these lenses to get more shallow and zoomed-in shots. These are sharp and the bokeh (blur) is great. The difference here really is the focal length. The 25mm is zoomed in just a tad bit more. I feel like the 20mm feels more natural as it feels like it’s what I am seeing when I look out of my eye. For this reason, I like using it to capture people, whereas the 25mm to capture sights, buildings, products, whatever else that isn’t human. Just a personal preference.

Long Zoom Lens: Panasonic 35-100mm f/2.8

Now, this is a lens that can zoom in far! What I love about this is that since there is a stabilization mechanism in the lens (as well in-camera) you can handhold this bad boy zoomed in all the way and it won’t be shaky! It’s amazing!

Creative Lens: Lensbaby Trio 28mm f/3.5

This lens is more an experimental lens and is used only for the purposed of seeing what kind of cool shots I can get with it. It has 3 modes which all have their unique blur effect. If you have some extra cash, I’d say go for it!

Audio Gear

Rode Smart Lav+ connected to a Zoom H1 Audio Recorder

 


IF YOU’RE SCROLLING — STOP HERE!!!

This will be the most important advice I can give is “AUDIO IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN IMAGE QUALITY!” Read that again and remember this.

Why is audio more important than image quality you ask? Just think of any video you have ever watched and turned off because it physically hurt to watch. It wasn’t because of the image quality. It was because of the audio.

Why is audio more important than image quality?

People will put up with sub-par image quality, but they WILL NOT put up with terrible audio. It can physically make you uncomfortable. If you have to rewind to understand what someone is saying because the audio is too quiet etc. good luck trying to get them to watch the whole video. Audio will make your video seem more professional as well. For these reasons, I use a lavalier mic connected to an audio recorder. You could also connect it to a phone but I prefer to keep those two separate.

If you’re not the type to want to have a mic on your shirt, a Rode Shotgun mic that plugs into your camera will work as well. They both will provide awesome quality. Just understand with the shotgun mic, it’s directional, meaning you’ll get the best audio standing straight in front of it.


 

Lighting Video Gear

What lighting gear do I use?  None because I shoot outside BUT time of day is important.  If you’re planning on shooting indoors, there’s a plethora of options to use, from softboxes to ring lights, etc. Just search up how to use the 3-point lighting technique.

When is the best light for shoot video outside?

If you’re planning on shooting outdoors, I HIGHLY recommend either shooting early morning or late afternoon if possible. The reason being is that the overhead sun is ugly. Not even talking about shooting, I just mean midday to me is very “blah” and everything seems drab. I feel happiest in the late afternoon/evening.

Maybe I’m just sensitive but my point is, having that nice warm glow from a rising or setting sun will make the video far more aesthetically pleasing. This is a mood in itself. This glow magnifies the mood if you’re especially shooting travel content! As an exercise, go out and shoot yourself walking and talking at the same place at two different times of day. Noon and 4/5 pm. Try telling me you like the noon look better! 😛

Gimbal

Glidecam XR-2000 & Zhiyun Crane 2

Ok now THIS is what I like to discuss and at surface value, they’re both gimbals that will make your footage stable. However, there are slight nuances in each gimbal that I like, which is the reason I keep AND travel with 2.

Glidecam XR-2000 – Ok this is probably my favorite thing in the world to use. No electronics on this, this is a weighted system. This means once you have your camera on top, it’s going to take you 20 minutes to balance it perfectly with weights at the bottom and the camera position at the top. But once you have it balanced, OH MAN! (I’m actually probably overhyping this by the way) but you have so much more freedom and control to run around the city all ‘ninja-like.’

Zhiyun Crane 2 – These days, when people think gimbals, they think these. The electronic kind that moves the camera around all “robotic-like.” Super easy and fun to use once your camera is set up on it. I probably use this 80% of the time when using gimbals. This is probably the kind you’re looking for as well. So figure out the weight of your camera and decide which model is best based upon that!

Collin Abroadcast Gimbal Pros & Cons:

The difference between a weighted system like this and an electronic system like the Crane is that the weighted system has a more natural motion. For instance, going around the corner of a building can get more of a swaying motion, whereas the electronic one will be in a more flat and level turn. Make sense? It’s a small nuance but I do love the Glidecam for this reason alone. And it will always remain in my camera bag.

My Travel Camera Backpack

G-raphy Fly Leaf Backpack

This bag I’ve been using for the past 4 years and still is holding up. I use this bag for actual travel (meaning not going out for a day shooting) as it holds SO MUCH. 17” laptop, camera, 6 lenses, and a plethora of other random stuff that I probably don’t use nearly as much. I also attached each gimbal to the side. It can hold so much stuff, that I worry about not being able to carry-on because it gets up to about 50lbs. Luckily, I’ve never NOT been able to carry on with it and it fits in overhead compartments fairly easily.

What do you take with you when going out to shoot video at a market?

As far as going out shooting a video. I literally just use a thin clothed North Face bag and make sure to wrap anything that isn’t in a protective case, in a t-shirt. Don’t over complicate your day shooting bag, unless you actually are going more of the “planned” route rather than a run ’n gun shooting style. Remember, these are tools to get the job done, don’t over-worry about breaking something. Wrapping in a t-shirt does the trick.

Camera Gear Extras

Insta360 One X Awesome little camera to capture 360 videos. Fun to experiment with

GoPro Hero 7/8 Perfect for action shots, or if you need a second camera to capture another angle

DJI Mavic Air Nice compact drone to capture aerial shots. Can hang with the best of them!

ND Filters These are the “sunglasses” for your camera lens. Super important if shooting out in the sun as these will lessen the amount of light coming into your camera. Meaning, you’ll get a WAAAY better picture during the day.

 

Remember What’s Most Important!

Alright, guys, those are the main things that I use on a day-to-day shoot! Remember, camera gear isn’t everything but it is SOMETHING. If you feel like you’re outgrowing your current gear, you probably are and is a nice time to upgrade.

Also, what’s more important than image quality?

That’s right audio quality! I hope you guys got a little more insight into my shooting habits and helped with your decision on which gear to get. Hope to catch you again soon. Later!

 

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