Camera & Lens

Picking a camera will likely be your most expensive purchase and will take the most time to select. I know I poured over all the variables when I researched mine.

Here are a few of the factors to consider:

  • Lens selection: How many lenses are available by the maker and at what price points?
  • Quality of the sensor: Is it a full-frame or a crop sensor? How many megapixels can it shoot in?
  • Focus motor (for autofocusing): How well can it focus on subjects and keep them in focus while moving?
  • Flip out screen: Can the display screen flip out for you to see it while in a studio or while you filming yourself?
  • Ease of use: Spending extra time changing the settings of the camera is less time spent shooting and figuring out the creative element.
  • Battery life: Some cameras’ batteries are better than others.
  • Slow-motion features: The ability to capture footage at different frame rates can add more variety to your vlog or videos.
  • Image output (1080P, 4K, etc): This one is the least important to me as I output everything in 1080P, but some of you will want 4K.
  • Size: Some people prefer larger cameras for their professional look while others prefer smaller ones for easy carrying.
  • and price of course

Recommended Camera

After mulling around this decision for weeks I choose the Canon 80D and I am so glad I did. This camera is the Swiss Army knife of cameras and it’s not that much more expensive than the entry-level Canon Rebel.

Canon 90D Note: Since I have made this page, Canon release the 90D and it has improved on the 80D in every way. I would point you to that camera for all the same reasons, but I have not yet upgraded to it myself.

The most flexible camera I could find for under $1,000: Canon 80D.

It’s also just sophisticated enough and flexible enough that it will outperform your smartphone if you learn how to use it properly. The Canon 80D was $1,200 when it first came out but the price is dropping all the time, so check the price on Amazon to see where it is today.

One major consideration I made regarding this camera was the fact that Casey Neistat cranked a vlog for 534 days in a row on this camera (and it’s predecessor the Canon 70D). I figured, if it worked for him, it would work for me.

To date, Casey Neistat still uses the Canon 80D for most of his vlogging even after trying Sony and Panasonic cameras.

Here are some of the things I love about this camera.

  • Articulating Screen: This feature makes it easy to frame the scene whether you are behind the camera or in front of the camera recording yourself. It’s also great that it comes out to the side rather than the top where the shotgun microphone sits.
  • Dual Pixel Auto Focus: This camera does great at finding your face and keeping you in focus while vlogging.
  • Color: I rarely have to color correct the footage. Canons color technology is ahead of other manufacturers.
  • Lens Selection: Canon carries the widest array of lenses to choose from. It makes it easy to choose just the right lens that fits your budget and your specific needs.
  • Battery Life: We use a number of Sony mirrorless cameras for my employer and the battery life on them is poor. Canon’s handy LP-E6 batteries last much longer.
  • Great for Photography: I also like using this camera for photography when I am traveling or just spending time with my family.
  • The Price: The price was just within reach when I had my original budget of $2,000 so I could grab two lenses (below), a gorilla pod, and a shotgun mic to create the whole “Casey Neistat” rig.

There are a few things I wish this camera could do a little better. That being better low light performance and the ability to shoot 120 frames per second (slow motion). That is something that gives the comparable Sony a6400 a leg up in the best vlog camera contest.

If I was able to upgrade today and I had a larger budget, I would move to the Canon 6D II. It’s nearly identical to the 80D, but it is a full-frame sensor that yields a better image and improved low light performance. If you have a larger budget than I did, I would check that one out as well. Keep in mind though that the lenses for full-frame camera’s generally cost more.

Recommended Lenses

When I first bought my Canon I made the mistake of not buying the kit lens with it. I had heard that kit lenses were worthless, but that is not always the case.

I recommend the 18-135mm kit lens that comes with the Canon 80D. If I only had one lens (I have three), this is all I would need for vlogging, photography, or recording in my DIY studio.

This 18-135mm kit lens is a huge focal range! It’s also very quiet when it’s autofocus adjusts and has great stabilization built-in. The aperture size is not the best, but it’s not horrible either. You can still get some great bokeh if you zoom in far enough (80-135mm) on your subjects.

As of writing, this lens is also only $300 if you get it bundled with the Canon 80D. It’s $600 (and it’s worth that) if you buy it independently. Check the price of the lens independently here or of the camera/lens bundle here to see where they are now.

For the record, I do not recommend the Video Creator Kit bundle for the Canon 80D. The lens is great, but the Rode Shotgun Mic it comes with is a bad mic. Check out my mic recommendation before you consider this bundle.

Another Lens I recommend is the Canon 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5. This is the perfect lens for those wide-angle vlog shots.

Super wide angles with little distortion.

The first lens can get you there, but it is incredibility helpful to get even closer to the camera with this extremely wide lens. I use this lens for all my vlog shots when I am on the run or am talking to the camera outside of my studio.

Last I checked, this lens was selling for $500-600 on Amazon.

There is one last lens I would recommend for photographers. That is the 50mm prime lens with a 1.4 aperture.

If you want to get those shots where the background is blurry (bokeh), this is the lens you need to make that happen more easily. The wide aperture lets in way more light allowing for bokeh (blur) and great low light performance. I use this for most of my photography with my Canon 80D. I picked up this lens for about $350 on Amazon. Worth it.

The one downside to this lens is that it is made for full-frame cameras and has a crop factor on the 80D that will turn the 50mm framing into more like a 75mm frame.