- Sony A6400 ($800)
- Sigma 16mm f/1.4 Lens ($350)
- Aputure Amaran 100x (2x - $500)
- Godox 32x48in Softbox Lighting with Grid Beehive ($68)
- Aputure Space Light Softbox ($50)
- Foam Board ($3)
- A Window ($0)
- Blue Yeti ($100)
Sony A6400 ($800)
This camera will use the same E-mount lenses as the A5100 before it, making it a great upgrade and why I recommend buying cameras within the same ecosystem, but it comes with two main advantages over the A5100:
- It will shoot in 4k - If you're just making 1-to-1 videos this probably isn't a big deal yet, but 4k video gives you much greater control in post-production to rotate your video if it isn't square, and crop in on the video when necessary. It also just looks a lot better. Phone & tablet screens are all higher resolution than 1080p now.
- Great color profile control - This seems trivial, but it's actually a massive deal. Take a look at this video with my A5100, and this video with my A6400 to get an idea of the difference color profiles make in your video. It's the reason my videos have a signature look. I did not figure any of this out on my own, I used this video setting guide.
I'd recommend picking up this camera used. For the $200-$400 you'll save, you can buy an alternative lens that will give your video a different look, and give you more flexibility for different shots.
Sigma 16mm f/1.4 Lens ($350)
My go-to lens for close-format shooting, this will give you a great shallow depth of field look if you like soft backgrounds. I chose this one because it'll work well for close shooting, like if your camera is on the edge of your desk, but if you're looking for something with a narrower frame check out the 30mm version.
Beyond a certain camera quality, lighting becomes the most important part of getting a great shot, and many aspects of lighting you don't always have control over. The better your lights (and the more you have), the easier it is to take control of the situation if you need more key, fill, or background light.
This is the light I'm currently using - the main difference to the 100d is you have additional control over the light temperature. Shooting next to a large window? You'll likely want your light source to be warmer.
You've got a sweet light - now get everything you can out of it with a sweet modifier. This big guy will give you an incredible, smooth light that will completely change the way your videos look.
This style of softbox is still relatively shallow so it doesn't take up a massive amount of space. If this is going to be too big for your setup, check out the Aputure Space Light.
The swiss army knife of modifiers - this one you can remove the reflector from (the black bit) and light an entire room with a soft diffused light, or put the reflector on the back and use it as a low-profile key light. This is my favorite modifier for office setups where you can afford to have an absurdly large light in your workspace.
Foam Board ($3)
Head down to the local craft store and pick up a 36"x36" foam board. You won't believe me until you try it, but a foam board makes for a great reflector on the cheap. Remember most photographers & videographers rely heavily on reflected light. My main set currently uses a reflector, and a foam board is a nearly-free way to get better light control. My favorite YouTuber DSLR Video Shooter uses foam boards in his videos to nail the fill light.
A Window ($0)
Get creative & shooting from different locations relative to the window. Think of positioning a window the same way you would your key light: not directly head-on, but from the front, 20-30 degrees off-center. Regardless of your budget & other equipment, the light you're letting in (or not letting in) from your window can make your break your shot!
At this budget, you're able to make your first 'lifetime buy'. The Yeti is good enough that you may never have to replace it. If each of these budgets are stepping stones, there's value in having something you can keep using well into the future.
This is the mic I'm currently using, and it offers a good amount of flexibility for the money. Audio quality is decent, though it has always struggled a bit with picking up background noise. The microphone has 4 modes meant to isolate sound around the mic itself, omnidirectional, bidirectional, etc.
It comes with a stand, but as we touched on previously your best bet here is to get the microphone off the desk to prevent sound from being transferred from the desk to the mic. Your best bet is to pick up a boom arm ($15), and a shock mount ($24). People use pop filters, and this may be necessary depending on how close you are to the mic when you record.