Creative work

Do I need a good camera to start a YouTube channel?

One? Just one? Dude, you need an amazing camera and a second also pretty decent camera to film yourself while using that other camera. Are you kidding me… »Do I need a good camera?« If only it was just that. Saying you don’t need good gear—a decent camera, a nice microphone etc—to be successful on YouTube is the biggest hoax in that whole content creator bubble.

You need more than just a great camera to do well on YouTube

I know. Everyone out there makes these videos nowadays, how you can start a YouTube channel and just use whatever, as long as you start already. And I get where this »advice« is coming from. But that does not make it good advice.

Of course, a lot of people who want to become YouTubers struggle with just starting. But the cure to that is not to grab your phone and hit record. It is preparation. Not analysis paralysis, no, the good kind! The “now I know what I’m doing” kind. And I just find good technology a big help in that. An asset you can rely on to make better quality content.

Do you need a good camera for sit-down type of YouTube content though?

And I hear you. Maybe you are thinking: »But I only want to film indoor sit-down videos. I don’t want to do anything cinematic. This just doesn’t apply to me.« Trust me. It doesn’t matter.

Here is an example of a really nice channel I like to watch called »Days of Swedish and French«. He basically talks about language, sitting in his apartment. Still, those YouTube videos are filmed with good lighting, using a nice backdrop, and you bet your a$$, with a decent camera.

I am not saying that it is impossible to make okay-ish videos with a phone. But the effort you have to put in to do that is not worth it, in my opinion. If you film on your phone you will still have to

  • edit the sound
  • color-grade the video
  • cut the video and
  • add effects like sound, overlays and music

and none of those gets easier just because you used your phone instead of a real camera. On the contrary. The sound editing will be a pain of apocalyptic dimensions and you’ll probably be unable to recover the track and make all the high-pitching cracks go away. Especially if you are a beginner editor.

Do you need a good or professinal camera for YouTube? As a beginner? Unpopular opinion: I say yes.
A decent camera is by far not the only thing you need to start a YouTube channel. YouTube has become very competitive. While ten years ago, uploading just anything and being consistent was enough, it is considered standard today to include b-roll, vlog and have an overall dynamic style in your average video. People expect good quality, which comes with a lot of editing. And it does not get easier with bad gear like your average phone camera.

A good camera, amongst other equipment, makes your life as a YouTube creator easier, not more complicated.

If you are a beginner, you probably don’t even know how to use tools like Audacity. And you’ll end up having more trouble than if you’d just gotten semi-pro gear in the first place. A good mic with a speech-optimized recording spectrum will already take so much off your hands in terms of in-post-optimization. It simply worth it.

And the same goes for film, but I think it is more subtle here. If you are new to this, you will probably not notice most things that are annyoing about filming with a phone. Like:

  • bad stabilization
  • missing depth of field
  • missing zoom capacity

An example: Connectivity

Let alone all the annoying little things like transferring the footage to your computer to edit it fast etc. Because you don’t want to open your phone to get out the memory card, which is what you have to do with most phones. Alternatively, Bluetooth is not much better, because often crashes with big files. Same with USB, which from phone to PC is slow as f_ck. And let’s not get into the absurdity called Wifi…

All of these are slower than me taking my SD card out of my camera in less than a second, plus two more seconds to move (not copy) the file to my hard drive. It is literally the lamest thing to do that on a phone. And that connectivity problem is just one of a hundred little annoyances you can’t even fathom, because you don’t know anything about technology.

Anyway, here are my favorite advantages of using a camera:

  • separation of your YouTube content and your private content
  • fast access and moving of your files
  • better image and film quality
  • highly superior audio, because you can use a microphone
  • versatility in style due to manual and semi-manual settings
  • fast and intuitive access to important options, because of buttons and not endless clicking and wiping on your phone
I took this photo of my camera with my phone. The camera module is not bad. But it is not amazing. And it does not come close to what this 4K Sony Alpha can do, even under bad lighting conditions. When it gets dark, most phones are out. And a phone isn’t even a good addition to your semi-pro APS-C camera, because the file format will likely be incompatible and a pain in the a$$ to edit together.

Annotation: Touch screens are for incompetent little babies. Don’t be afraid of those buttons!

Lastly, I think that many people underestimate the disadvantage of a touch screen and the huge advantage of buttons and the »haptic« aspect of a real camera. Yeah, I said »real«. Your phone camera ain’t no real camera. It is just a camera module, you noob.

Anyway, my camera, the Sony A6600, actually has a touch screen. But I disabled it. Because I don’t need it. And neither do you.

After working with DSLRs for ~20 years, having had all different sorts of cameras, I live inside of that camera’s software. I don’t need some “mommy still washes my clothes” millennial-proof interface that reads my mind before I think, like a touch screen. It’s not faster. It’s slower for me.

Trust me, if it was the better option, I would have mastered it and used it to my advantage like every other technology I was not born into (which is basically all technology other than a keyboard and Windows 3.11). Because that is what my generation has always been doing—in contrast to today’s kids, who need Google to find their parent’s home.

So yeah, don’t tell me what’s superior technology. User tech (aka phones, tablets, everything »intuitively to use«) is the biggest curse of the century. Because now they all think they are hackers, when they really don’t know anything.

But hey, go on, you do you while I laugh at you. Go and feel superior cause you’ve been »helping« your 50-something professor »figure out« the beamer. A thing most of us would deal with in five minutes, if you we didn’t keep being interrupted by crying babies with an attention span and frustration tolerance formed on TikTok.

Interrupted and lectured by people who don’t even understand the geometric optics behind a beamer, but we are the ones who need help? Go, keep wiping your touch screen. The one you have not a clue about how it works, because you were sleeping all the way through 10th grade physics.

You don’t know technology. You know how to use a user interface that was made with the intention to be idiot-proof. Which is why most of you are afraid of using real technology and, for f_ck’s sake, pushing a button on a camera.

I know, this might offend some. But I don’t write this down for the idiots that care more about their pride than learning how to use real technology. You are literally the biggest boomers, if you think like that. And boomers are still way more intelligent and sophisticated than you. Suck it, embrace it, and rise, bi_ch. And buy a decent camera.

All amazing YouTubers are good with technology and have invested in good technology

This is something, you will probably not notice, so you just have to trust me on this one. But all good YouTubers have good cameras. Good gear in general. And they are doing well on the platform, because they are huge nerds and they figured out how to use all of this tech.

Take for example THAT ICELANDIC GUY. Sure, he might not build cameras for a living or be an optics expert like me, but he sure as hell knows his tech. He makes amazing videos mostly because of his awesome gear and technique.

And that goes for most great YouTubers. Even chicks from the elven world, like Jonna Jinton. You might look at her thinking: Oh, this is just a cute girl with a camera. Boy, she does all her editing herself. And I have the same gimbal as her. So if I’m telling you it is a pain in the ass to set that thing up, you can trust me that it is. And it isn’t even, but that is because I am good at tech. So just imagine how hard it would be for someone who thinks an APS-C camera is complicated!

All these people, in one way or another, know their tech and are huge nerds. They might not understand the science behind it, but they know how to use it. And that’s proof that everybody can learn it.

But after all, I would actually advocate for learning some of this science. Because (a) it is super interesting and (b) it separates you from the chaff and makes you a better filmmaker. Basically because if you know your tech, you will understand everything faster and that just saves you a lot of trouble.

The last and biggest hoax: Storytelling conquers all—no it doesn’t

Mind-blowing epic footage conquers all. That’s the reason why Jonna Jinton and Casey Neistat are popular as f_ck. Nothing happens in their videos. There rarely ever is a story. Jonna talks about how long and dark the nights are in the north of Sweden. Casey rolls through NYC on a skateboard. That’s not a plot, that’s a lifestyle.

By no means do I want to shit on these creators. I really like videos like those. But you and me, we are following them for two reasons: Great film-making and their personality. And trust me, they would not even have 10% of their following, if it was just for their personality.

You need a good camera for YouTube, but you don’t need the best

And that is the big secret about success on YouTube. Gear matters a lot, it’s at least 50% of your success. But it only works well if you know ow to use it and how to handle yourself. However, without amazing equipment (and that does not mean it has to be super expensive), you will never get as far as fast, compared to where you will be using your phone. So please, don’t do it. Allow yourself to get familiar with the amazing opportunities today’s cameras offer. It has never been that easy to learn how to use a camera, thanks to platforms like YouTube!

Buy a nice camera to start your YouTube, even as a beginner, and also get a good mic—you won’t regret it.

In my opinion, filming on a phone is a waste of time. You could do all of these videos in good quality from the start, instead of wasting your precious thoughts and ideas on crappy recordings, that you will never have the time to redo, if you’re being honest. So unless you’re broke, buy a nice camera. And if you are broke: Please don’t become a YouTuber, get a job first. To make money on YouTube takes years. Which is precisely why I have a job.

I do not depend on my blog, so this is 100% and independent opinion, unbiased by any affiliations or monetary interest. Believe it or not, do whatever you like with this information. I just think that telling people not to invest in amazing gear is the biggest scam in this whole creator community there is. And here’s one video that wraps it all up just perfectly. The whole godd_mn hypocrisy:

No YouTuber ever…

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