This September marks 4 years since I started vlogging for my YouTube channel — woah. In that time, my vlog setup has changed dramatically, both in quality and also the physical size and weight. The audience expectation of quality content and my perception of the best vlog setup has also changed immensely. My setup initially started with a old Canon S95 (limited to 720p) whilst I got the hang of talking to a camera, before quickly moving onto the Canon G7 X. The G7 X was a strong staple to my setup for a solid couple of years, however, it eventually paved a way to my Sony A7R II for superior picture quality and the ability for external audio.
Fast-forward to October 2017 and I switched to the Panasonic Lumix GH5, giving me a return to vlogging with a flip-out screen and even more video-focused controls. Over the last 12 months, my GH5 setup has evolved and been customised to give me the best vlog setup, focusing on 4k picture quality and more importantly, superior audio control.
I posted a video detailing my best vlog setup on my YouTube channel, breaking down each aspect and offering some more insight into how I use it. The setup is of course based around my Panasonic GH5, but there is no reason not to take the main principles of this setup and apply them to your own camera setup.
Make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel to get notified of future videos and see the style of content I make with this setup.
A Focus on Audio
As you may know from my vlogs over the past year and through my decision to change my vlogging camera from the G7 X; a big factor for me has been to garner greater audio control and quality. A key requirement for the best vlog setup is an audio input jack, for an external mic. These tend to only really be available on larger mirrorless or DSLR cameras, hence the jump from small point and shoots.
To me, vlogging is all about narrative and chronological stories. Until you’ve tried it yourself, you may not appreciate the technical aspect and finesse required to successfully document a day into a cohesive and sizeable vlog, all-the-while making sure the footage you’re capturing is actually usable with decent visuals and clear sound.
To break this down to the core principles, I don’t think you can simplify narrative any more, than down to the spoken word. This of course makes audio of paramount importance.
It’s long been said that you can tolerate a poor image, if the sound is good, but rarely is it comfortable to watch a beautiful image with terrible audio.
You’d be surprised how accustomed your ears can become, the moment you try to film in specific locations. It could be, to the majority of people, they don’t realise or notice the difference, but for myself and others who care for the details, this is why I have deemed this the best vlog setup, especially for 4k outputs.
My dual audio configuration is probably what I’m most proud of with this setup. It enables me to have great forward facing audio, as well as clear spoken word from behind the camera. When I want to step further away from the camera, I can still have clear audio due to the wireless connectivity of the lav mic.
This setup essentially exploits the camera’s stereo mic input via the use of two mono mics to record to separate channels on the same audio track. With a quick bit of post-production, I’m able to split the audio and choose which option I’d prefer.
The use of a cage adds extra possibilities for attaching more accessories. One of my favourite additions is the extra cold shoe adapters that enable me to position the mount for the mic further forward. This prevents it from touching my forehead when using the viewfinder and protects the cable input if placed flat on the ground.
The custom design and build quality from SmallRig is exceptionally great value. The film industry is notoriously bad when it comes to inflated pricing. SmallRig definitely appeal to the consumer market but with professional grade products.
The Best Vlog Setup — Panasonic GH5
I’m not kidding anyone if I was to say this is a compact setup. However, it is only marginally larger than if you were to vlog using just the GH5 and RØDE VideoMic Pro in basic form. Of course, there are times when a vlog will benefit from having a discrete setup within a pocket size. For those occasions, I use my iPhone X to fill in the gaps, but you could quite easily use something like a Sony RX100 VI if you prefer to separate out to a physical camera. The main sacrifices to this will most notably be the audio quality, followed by the lens limitations.
So let’s break-down the setup to its individual components. Each product should link to a local Amazon store for your convenience. If you were to purchase any items, I should mention these links are uniquely affiliated to me. I sometimes receive a small commission for purchases through these links, however, there is absolutely no extra cost to you, so it’s a win-win!
If you like these kinds of gear collections, I’d strongly recommend following me on Kit, where I post multiple setups related to different projects I’m working on!
Possibly the best 4K mirrorless camera available and the brain of my best vlog setup! I chose this camera, not just because of the high-end filmmaking options, such as 10-bit 422 4K recording, but because of the flip-out screen! An added bonus for this camera is the impeccable image stabilisation. Downsides to this camera are the poor performance in low-light conditions and sub-par auto-focus, which requires a bit more attention and patience. You could opt for the GH5s (which came out after I purchased this) if you’d prefer better low-light, at the loss of an inbuilt image stabiliser.
This lens offers a great focal range for vlogging and impressive image stabilisation. An enjoyable aspect of this lens is the feel of the focal rings, which are smooth and easy to adjust. A downside to this lens is that the focus is driven by wire, rather than linear. That allows fast focus changes for longer distances (the faster you turn, the greater the focus change), but lowered accuracy and consistency (not an absolute focus position no matter the speed).
Possibly the greatest on-camera shotgun mic available. Slightly larger than the predecessor, the plus version includes a rechargeable battery solution and automatic power on/off via the 3.5mm cable.
I use this coiled cable with the VideoMic Pro+ instead of the standard cable because it’s way more compact and easily gets out of the way.
The compact size and professional quality microphone make this a robust solution for vocal audio.
Easily hide a lav mic underneath clothing using these discrete mounts.
A small and affordable omnidirectional microphone for close audio in front of or behind the camera. Works well as an alternative to the lav mic setup as shown in the video.
Hands down, the best handheld stabiliser available. It offers great options for getting stable, cinematic shots with ease. The added controls linked directly to the GH5 for pull focus and recording control, make the Ronin-S a perfect match!
This small and compact tripod doubles as a great selfie grip for added stability and comfort when vlogging.
This cage (with added removable top handle) allows multiple accessories to be mounted to the GH5 with ease. I love the side-mounted camera strap that doesn’t interfere with the mounted microphone. It also adds an extra layer of protection when carrying the camera all day long. The top handle is removable.
Additional cold shoe mounts for the GH5 cage to add extra accessories and re-position the mounted microphone.
Tidily keep the audio cables flush against the side of the GH5 body with this L-mount.
Enable a dual mic setup by merging two mono sources to a single stereo track with this splitter.
One of the fastest, largest and most reliable SD cards for video use. The UHS-II format allows the highest bit-rate of 4K video to be captured with the GH5 effortlessly with no lag or delay.
A strong, sturdy and stylish camera strap that offers a solid base to carry the GH5. With an added bonus of quick release clips, this strap can be removed quickly for when the camera is required on a gimbal.
Adjust the amount of light entering the lens for more control over wider apertures in brighter conditions.
Magnetic adapter for the lens, to be used in conjunction with magnetic adapters on filters.
Magnetic adapter for the filter, to be used in conjunction with magnetic adapters on lenses.
I should reiterate, this is by no means the only rig you can use. Of course, this isn’t for everyone, but it’s definitely the best vlog setup for me. Sometimes the true nature of vlogging is exceptionally raw. A small and discrete point and shoot camera may actually tell better stories than a large camera such as this. If you’re familiar with my content you’ll know I like to learn and apply the very best technical output possible. It’s a passion of mine and the process itself is an interesting and exciting part for me.
I’m keen to see how September 2018 plays out in the camera industry, as we have a lot of exciting rumours and announcements being made already! I’ll be at Photokina next week, so let me know what you’d like me to cover and I’ll see what I can do!
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I’m looking to start posting more on this blog again, having had a bit of a hiatus for the past year, whilst I focused on my YouTube channel. Take catch all updates, make sure to follow me across all social media!
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