“What is the perfect camera for making YouTube Videos?”
That’s a tough one.
Even though it may cause a revolt, I’ll go outside of the realm of guitar amps and pedals for a moment. Recently, I went through a roller coaster of an experience in trying to pick out the perfect camera upgrade.
But before we talk about the new stuff, let’s talk about the stuff that’s already put out over 900 videos on my own YouTube Channel.
Like most folks, it started with nothing more than a quick cam – a camera setting on an early digital camera and if you were really savvy – the USB port on the ol’ MiniDV camera.
Well, those times have come and gone.
My mainstay for the past 4 years has been a trusty and reliable Canon HG20. Works great, no issues, great video, but with all of the hype, I wanted an upgrade. And that’s where I wandered into line for a roller-coaster ride.
I was sold on the spec of the new Panasonic X920. This is their flagship model for 2013. It sported things like Ustream support (perfect for my live webcasts), iPhone control support (perfect to control your camera while it’s on a 10’ boom above the crowd), and 3 sensors for ultra low light conditions (perfect for The Tone Lounge & backstage interviews).
Here’s where things got tricky.
Like most old dogs, I don’t like new tricks. In order for me to use Ustream, I had to register with a Panasonic site that is used as a relay to get to Ustream.
Awkward. Confusing. An extra step.
Why couldn’t they do it like the old MiniDVs and set the camera to be recognized by your computer like your webcam?
iPhone support. Great! But what they don’t tell you is that once you use your iPhone, it shuts down the display on the camera’s LCD display and cuts off the HDMI, making your camera (and the 24” monitor behind your camera) useless. So, it’s a matter of choosing. Pick 1 or another. Meaning you can’t use your iPhone as a fast, simple remote control. It’s the iPhone or the camera – not both! Imaging having to connect your iphone to wifi, get an ip address, just to change channel on your TV. Seems kind of cumbersome, which tells me there’s still a place in everyone heart for a simple remote control.
Lastly, little things like the flip screen bothered me. YouTubers look at the camera and the flipped over viewer at the same time. Panasonic, why would you remove functionality from the viewer when it’s in a flipped position? That makes no sense at all.
Oh, then there’s “low light mode.” Check out (at :40 seconds in) this video where the white on my Orange Amp was flickering. And this was in Low Light mode!!!!
Getting back to the ‘old dogs don’t like new tricks,’ I returned the Panasonic and decided to upgrade to a Canon. Remember, I am already using a Canon. I figured I’d stay with a brand that has given me hundreds of great videos.
But this time, I went full bore. I probably spent more cashola than your average YouTuber, but let me tell you my wish list.
XLR inputs: Instead of a sensitive 3.5mm to XLR connector. Did I tell you I missed the entire audio of an Eric Johnson interview because of that cable?
Low light capability: for backstage footage, Tone Lounge stuff, etc.
Quality optical zoom: Because it’s cool
A real remote control: see above
This led me to the not so affordable, but fit for a King, XA20 by Canon. This bad boy has 20x optical zoom, dual XLR inputs, low light and infrared for extreme darkness, a real remote control and things like full control on the view finder when you flip it over! Plus it has redundant cards that can write the same video in hi res and low res at the same time. Perfect for even quicker NAMM coverage, as it cuts down on the render time! And, when recording dual res is not an issue, I can have instant backup by writing the same file across 2 cards for redundancy.
This is how I justified it to my wife.
I have over 900 videos online. I have over 13 million total views. I have over 14,000 views per day. I cover trade shows, I conduct interviews, and I am often in dark places where I’d like to see all of the gear to share with the world. So, 5 years in, I figured it was time to get the real deal, so I treated myself. And, this gives me a great b-roll camera, my trusty HG20, which isn’t going anywhere!
And, I’ll leave you all with this. When you’re shopping for the right camera for yourself, if the features all seem like they’re too good to be true, chances are, it’s too good to be true. Don’t get fooled by marketing & hype. Just like guitars, there are staple instruments, and there are reasons why there are staple instruments. There may be something shiny and new, but in reality most of those new gadgets don’t replace the staples. If you can live with them, embrace and benefit from them. But if you’re looking to accomplish a very particular goal, sometimes you have to stick with the basics.
Here are the video links to my roller-coaster ride:
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About the Author: The Tone King | TheToneKing.com | TTKRocks | REAL reviews for REAL players! ROCK hard, ROCK loud, ROCK ON!