Every now and again, I get questions from readers about what kind of camera gear I use to make videos for the REtipster Blog, how to make instructional videos for virtual assistants and/or how to make video advertisements for the properties I'm selling.
For the most part, I don't think videos will make or break the success of your businesses, but I do think it can have a MAJOR impact on:
- How customers perceive you and your company.
- How prospects respond to your marketing efforts.
- How readers and viewers engage with your content.
- Whether or not people end up doing business with you.
In case you haven't noticed… we're living in an age of painfully impersonal emails and boring, done-to-death advertising with ZERO originality. In this environment, video can be an incredibly powerful communication tool that will make you stand out from all the other noise out there, and you can do it all by simply being who you are.
The Gear I Use
I've invested a lot of time and a fair amount of money into the videos I make, because I think videos are a lot of fun to produce, and I know how powerful a well-done video can be.
That being said, let me be clear about one thing…
You do NOT need to spend thousands in order to make great videos.
If you know to explain things clearly and present yourself in a relatable, semi-polished way that resonates with people, you can EASILY get the job done with nothing more than an iPhone camera. It really can be that simple.
However, if you're primarily concerned with achieving a higher production quality (i.e. – videos that look better than most), I'll give you a quick tour of the camera gear and software I use to put mine together…
Disclaimer: I have used all of the items listed below and have had great experiences with each of them, but your experience may vary. Several of these items contain affiliate links and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you purchase them. I recommend these resources because they have been extremely useful to me, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend your money on these things unless you feel they will help you achieve your goals.
These are probably the most commonly used video media on the internet because frankly – they're really easy to make. All you need is a webcam & microphone (both of which are built into most computers & devices these days). I've found that these videos can be quite effective, but ONLY IF the content of the video (i.e. – the message you're delivering) is compelling, relevant to the viewer, and communicated clearly.
The problem I consistently see with “talking head” videos is that the vast majority of them are painfully boring. It takes a gifted communicator to create videos like this that people will actually want to watch… so just be aware, if you're going to rely on this type of video medium, PLEASE make sure your message is compelling, relevant, and communicated well (and don't be afraid to have your friends or family critique your work before you upload it for the world to see).
As I mentioned, most of us already have access to a basic stock webcam and mic (because they're built into most computers and handheld devices) – but if you don't have access to these tools, or if you want a higher quality webcam with HD resolution and a built-in microphone, I recommend the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920. This is the webcam used for a few years and I have absolutely no complaints about it. It's a great camera at a great price, and is great for just about any practical purpose. It also comes with Logitech's Webcam Software, so you can record videos with the click of a button and have them ready to go in a flash.
Screen Capture Videos
If your business is one that includes teaching, lessons, tutorials or examples of how to do things, screen capture videos can be an incredibly powerful communication tool in your business.
There are several different software options that will allow you to record video right from your computer screen. These videos can be extremely helpful to your prospects and/or existing clients. Some of the most popular videos I've ever made for this blog have been screen capture videos like this, this and this.
I've been using Camtasia to record videos like this since 2010 and it's a GREAT way to get the job done. There are several other options out there too (some of which are free)… but as with anything, you get what you pay for.
If you're going to talk along with your videos (which I've found can add a lot to the viewer experience) – you'll want to have a nice microphone to narrate your videos. I've tested several mics over the years and I think the Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB is the best option for under $100 (note: this is the exact mic I used for all of the screen capture videos on my YouTube Channel prior to 2015).
The Rode NTG3 is what I use now and it's awesome, but it's also quite a bit more expensive – and in my opinion, for most purposes, the quality isn't that much better than the ATR2100.
High-End DSLR Videos
Producing videos with a DSLR or Mirrorless camera is a completely different ballgame from webcam and screen shot videos.
It requires a significantly higher level of knowledge, more expensive equipment, and a more sophisticated understanding of how the final product comes together. That being said… if you have the patience and desire to make these kinds of videos, your end product can look significantly more professional than all the other run-of-the-mill videos all over the internet.
From my own experience, I can tell you that the high-end videos I've made have paid off in a huge way for my business – earning me significantly more credibility as a real estate professional (and believe me, this can come in handy).Here's one example of a video I made using the tools listed below:
Here is my full list of DSLR Camera equipment as of December 2016:
- Like most DSLR cameras, this is a pretty sophisticated little machine (and it takes a bit of education to use it). I like this camera because it has very good autofocus (probably the best available for the price). Canon has also released the next generation of this camera as well (the Canon 80D), if you're looking for a more current version of it.
- This is an amazing little lens that gives great depth of field and works very well in low-light situations. If you've got a Canon DSLR Camera, this is a great add-on to have.
- This is a wide-angle lens that works very well with the Canon 70D. It's not the best lens for low-light situations, but otherwise – I think it's great for taking photos & videos in virtual property tours and other tight spaces (you can see a compilation of shots I took with this lens in this video). If I could only use one lens in my business right now, it would probably be this one.
- This is a great lens for “run and gun” shooting. If you only have room to take one lens, and you want one with the most flexibility (for both wide shots AND close ups), this is an awesome option to rely on. It also has great built-in image stabilization, so if you're shooting hand-held video, it will be one of the most forgiving options you can use with any additional stabilizing equipment.
- I originally decided to use this combination when I saw Casey Neistat using it in his daily vlogs. It's a very versatile tool that allows you to mount your camera just about anywhere (on the ground, from tree branches, desktops, from the floor – you name it). If you ever find yourself shooting videos is strange places and you want a lot of options, this will definitely come in handy!
- This is another incredibly versatile, professional-grade tripod. The price tag is a little hefty, but it's a great all-around place to mount your camera. If I was starting from scratch – I would probably get the Joby GorillaPod (above) first, and then move to this one… but I think both are great all-around options.
- This is another item that falls into the “nice to have” category. A fluid head is great for giving you smooth panning shots of whatever environment you're shooting in. If you need a fluid head to give your videos an extra professional look, this is (in my opinion) the best one for the price. There are several other options with similar performance, but their price tag is several times more than this one.
- This is another “nice to have” item. If you have the money, this is an amazing piece of equipment that will add a new dimension of “awesome” to your videos. See the Konova Slider in action.
- As I explain in this blog post, this piece of equipment isn't cheap – but it's still an incredible value. It's truly a game changer when it comes to getting smooth, moving shots of the properties you're marketing. If you can find a way to justify the price, I would highly recommend it.
- Audio is often overlooked in the creation of videos, but it is a very important aspect of the final product. This mic will do an outstanding job of providing high-quality audio for your videos (Note: there's also a cheaper version of this mic that will serve most purposes quite well, you can find it here).
- Arguably the most important element of a great video is the lighting. If you're shooting video outdoors, this issue often takes care of itself – but if you're shooting indoors, away from any natural sunlight, or in areas with harsh shadows that need even lighting, this is the lighting kit I use in my office studio and it does a great job. I won't say it's the highest quality lighting kit available (because it's not), but with such a low price tag, it does a great job for the money.
- Along the same lines as audio – background music can do an awesome job of enhancing the production quality of your videos. There are a lot of places where you can buy royalty-free music for your videos, but this option offers the best quality-to-cost ratio. This is where I get all of the royalty-free music for my videos.
- Final Cut Pro X is a very powerful editing tool (think of it like iMovie on steroids) and relatively speaking, I think it's fairly easy to use, though it does take some learning if you've never edited videos before. The only down side is that it's only available to use on Apple devices – so if you're using a PC, the next best option would most likely be Adobe Premiere Pro. In my opinion, Adobe Premiere isn't nearly as easy to use, but it's just as powerful (if not more so) as Final Cut Pro.
Again – shooting higher-end videos isn't for everyone. You can blow through a TON of cash on this equipment if you're not careful – so if you want to go this route, I'd suggest that you start with the most essential items, one at a time (camera & lens, tripod, mic). Make sure you know how to use each item thoroughly before you proceed to purchasing the next item on your list. This will ensure you aren't getting ahead of yourself.