I'm not a vlogger, although I've done a few over the years, but only for big things like NAB. That being said, I often film myself and keeping a camera vlogging style for my reviews. I've used all kinds of cameras, from a GoPros to a Sony A7III, but I've never been entirely happy with them. I personally think this setup in this post is currently the best setup for vlogging types, and this post will explain why.
Last year I made a video about the Sony RX100 VII and how it was a fantastic vlogging camera, but I wish it had this F1.8 lens like the RX100 V (see my epic video about this camera at the end of this post) and of course the battery life is shocking. It's still a great camera and not just for vlogging!
So this is the setup that I think is the best you can get right now. the Sony A6600, Sigma 16mm F1.4, RIDE Video Mic NTG and the SmallRig Cold shoe conversion plate, which is essential so that the microphone can be mounted and not stand in the way of the flip-up screen, as well as a new thing that came out this week …
This is the new Bluetooth handle from Sony, which is catchily referred to as "Sony GP-VPT2BT Wireless Shooting Grip". It can also be used as a mini tripod. What does it do other than holding the camera to vlog? First of all there is a zoom rocker for the right optical zoom. You need a Sony servo lens, of which there are not many. The 18-105mm lens is the only APS-C I can think of BUT if you have it, if the image zoom is activated it will be activated. I love the clear image zoom, the digital zoom, which, depending on the camera and recording mode, can enlarge up to 2x without losing quality. It is such a very useful function.
There is of course a record button if you want to record videos. I bet that surprises you! There is also one Photo button (for taking still pictures!), Which only works when you are not in film mode, an annoying feature of the Sony. You can be in photo mode and click Capture and it will switch to video, but not the other way around. In addition, there is a custom C1 button that I have set to AF / MF switching so that I can switch between auto focus and manual focus. I prefer the focus hold function because you have to keep pressing it to hold the AF where it is while this is one tap and the AF stops, another tap and it restarts. This function is probably more useful on a tripod or in normal operation. If you are new to autofocus, it is important that you can hold your focus sometimes because it will no longer change focus when you don't want to. To be honest, I don't think there will be many occasions when I would use it for vlog filming, but you never know.
You can also use a remote control that is just separate from the camera, so you can film yourself on a suitable tripod or control the camera remotely. It's not as good as the Sony RMT-P1BT, the standalone Bluetooth remote control that I think is brilliant. This has a switch to turn the zoom rocker into a focus rocker so you can remotely change focus in manual focus mode as long as you're not using a fully manual lens! It also has an AF ON button that I set to the AF / MF switch I talked about above, so my C1 can be set as an FF / S35 (APS-C) switch for my full-frame cameras, one Function I use a lot when recording video. I wish there was a quick way to do this with the Sony FX9 camera, but there are none. With an APS-C camera like this, for some reason you cannot switch between full screen and APS-C. I ask myself why!? Then you would just set it to another function that is useful for you, maybe change the focus modes?
The other really important feature of this remote is that it has a red indicator light so you know when to shoot. It may not sound like much, but it's really nice. Imagine you've set up the camera so that you can film yourself, and you have a screen without a flip. The only way you know you are recording is by the camera beeping. I use it a lot. I wish the handle had that.
The handle allows you to tilt it slightly while pressing a button, and there is another to turn it. This way, the controls can always be aimed at you instead of fumbling around to press the right button!
If I used this regularly, I would probably attach a small Arca-Swiss QR clip like I have in the photo below. It's a thin peak design plate and something I found on Amazon is called Andaer CL-50LS. This way I can leave my plate on the camera and do not have to screw and unscrew constantly when switching between tripod shots and this style. It adds a little weight, but not much. The only other thing I want is that the handle is a little longer.
Why in my opinion is this the best vlogging setup? Let's compare it to the camera that seems to be the most popular for vloggers, the Canon EOS-R (which I have).
I shoot in 4K, yes, that's not a full frame, it's APS-C, so the 4K is cropped, but Sony APS-C is a 1.5x crop. The full screen EOS-R in 4K is a massive 1.8x crop. Just put on a wider lens that you say. Yes, you could, but it increases the depth of field. If you switch to still mode, the field of view is either so different or you set the still mode to correspond to the 4K crop, then you will lose a lot of megapixels. From 30mp to 8mp. I take still pictures and videos and I want my field of vision to match. Record HD, say what I'm going to answer, no … it's 2020. The A600 is APS-C in stills and videos, whether HD or 4K.
The screen of the Sony A6600 is folded up, the Canon is of course folded up. I think a flip-up screen is much better for filming yourself. If you look at a flip-out screen to check the composition, you're looking out of the camera. It's distracting. A flip-up is much more natural since your eye line barely notices when you look at it.
The autofocus of the A6600 is absolutely superior to that of the EOS-R. Canon pioneered video auto focus with its dual pixel system, but it has now been surpassed. It's still great, BUT it's often disappointed with older lenses that weren't designed for smooth, continuous autofocus changes like those designed for still images. Sony lenses are usually newer because it is a much newer system. That doesn't mean every lens is great, but most are. I think the Sony AF goes out much less than the Canon when the background is brighter. What really helps is the incredible eye autofocus system the A6600 has, just like the A7RIV, the A9II and the little RX100 VII. It's so accurate and with this little flip screen you can see how the little box is yours Eyes tracked so well. It is not foolproof and can sometimes be triggered. However, if you have something that will cause the AF to go out, the AF / MF switch is helpful. When you hold your camera in front of you, your distance doesn't change that much. It is better to switch to MF quickly than to focus the whole part on the background. I often see this SOOOOO in YouTube videos. There was no way I could put that in one of my videos.
The A6600 also has IBIS, the EOS-R does not. Now Sony IBIS is no longer brilliant, there are much better systems, such as those from Panasonic and Olympus. You can go with it, but it can look a bit jerky at times. Of course, this is better than micro vibrations from roller shutters. When you run, it's great. The EOS-R has an electronic stabilization system OK. It can be shaky at times and harvest fairly quickly when used. Not good if you already have a 1.8 times harvest.
The Sony has really nice 50p / 60p / 100p / 120p everything without additional cropping everything in Full HD in contrast to the EOS-R, which is 720p at 100p / 120p. It is also HD, which means full screen. So when you shoot 4K, you suddenly want slow motion and you're much wider. With the Sony, the field of vision remains the same.
The Sony A6600 has very similar video quality to the A6500 and A6400, which is not a bad thing. The 4K is very nice, as is the slow motion. It can record S-LOG 2 and 3, but avoid S-LOG 3 as it is only 8-bit. I think the picture is beautiful, as is the still picture. The EOS-R has a nice picture despite the cut, the dynamic range is not that good, but the colors are nice and it has C-LOG and the codec is superior with a much higher bit rate and the ability to get 10-bit out of the HDMI . It's a really nice camera, I just wish it didn't have this abysmal 4K crop! In this article, however, not all functions are compared, but rather the vlogging attributes are dealt with.
You may be wondering why I didn't mention using a Panasonic camera like the GH5 for vlogging as it has some really fantastic specs. The problem is that the AF sucks. Also with the new improved AF with the new firmware. I installed it and it sucked. If Panasonic can achieve great AF, they are almost unstoppable. No Fuji camera has a fold-out or fold-up screen, so I didn't mention it.
You ideally need a great AF and a funky screen, that is Canon or Sony … for now.
The other equipment I have here is the excellent new RØDE Video Mic NTG. It's such a great microphone. Nice sound, fantastic functions like a security channel, so that the right one is 20 dB lower when overloaded, many roll-off modes, + 20 dB boost for cameras with weak preamplifiers (like the Canon cameras) a fantastic dial on the back to change the level of the microphone. This is far more convenient for adjusting your audio levels than opening a menu on the camera. It can be connected to your computer via USB-C and works as a USB microphone. It also has a rechargeable battery and turns off when the camera is turned off or when you unplug it, and then turns on when you turn your camera on again.
Sony has an excellent top microphone called ECM-B1m. It's the smartest microphone I've ever encountered. It has the ability to switch polar patterns from directional to omnidirectional. So when you speak behind the camera, the microphone points to the front, but in Omni mode you sound good! It's a switch on the back that makes it easy to change modes. It also has noise reduction, which is useful for filming in cars or planes.
It has an audio level pot on the back, an automatic level switch that Sony cameras do not have internally, and can be switched between analog and digital. However, only a few cameras can support digitally, and the A6600 is not one of them. The disadvantage is that it only applies to Sony cameras, while the RØDE is suitable for everything and has to be plugged into the MI hot shoe, which is of course in the dead center of the camera and directly in the way of the screen. The small rig plate doesn't help because you need the MI shoe connector. Sony makes an extension cord for the MI Show, but only as part of its XLR module, and even then it hides the screen, as you can see below. It's a shame, I can only see that this is used for vlogging by not using the screen or by either Sony bringing out a flip-out camera or putting the MI shoe aside.
The lens I use here is the Sigma 16mm F1.4, which corresponds to 24mm in full screen format. This may be a little too narrow for some people to log, but I prefer a wide-angle lens. It looks good, gives you a flatter background and is of course better with the large aperture in low light. I sometimes use the 10-18mm F4. I can of course adjust the Sigma's 16mm field of view, but it's a slow lens in comparison, but a lot of people use it to log. Does it bother me to use only a prime number instead of a zoom for this shoot? Not at all. It's all handheld. When I have to change my field of vision, I zoom with my feet. It's that simple. It's a pretty little lens, yes, a sigma lens can be small!
16 mm field of view with the A660 with normal arm extension with the handle
I would love a full screen Sony flip-up screen, but I doubt we'll see it. I am absolutely certain that one day we will see a mirrorless Canon without crop in full screen and IBIS, after all the new Canon 1DX III has no 4K full screen crop and crazy good specifications. It is of course not a camera for vlogging, no flip screen and of course no EVF. It's also big and heavy! Maybe one day we will see Panasonic sort out their AF? At the moment this seems to be the best option … in my opinion, of course!
Check out the equipment I mentioned in this blog below. Since these are affiliate links, it helps me a little without costing you a little more. So thanks if you do that. If you don't do whatever! 🙂