Creative work

Minimalist cheap & lightweight vlogging setup: camera, lenses and travel tripod

You’re a female content creator? Don’t want to use a heavy camera? Okay, go buy some Sony RX100. Yes, really, for most beginner creators that’s absolutely sufficient. However… I have personally used a Sony RX100 for my first 50 videos, because I wanted a really lightweight vlogging camera that would fit into my jacket’s inside pocket when I was hiking. I’ve learned how to fix my lighting, make use of manual and semi-manual settings on this camera. And then I switched to the Sony Alpha 6900, which was the best decision in my YouTube journey so far. So good in fact that I would recommend it to anyone who wants to–at some point–be able to film decent vlogs or cinematic videos even.

Which is the best minimal and lightweight vlogging camera?

The Sony Alpha 6900 has a few advantages that the RX100 does not have, including a better screen, better grip on the handle (if you’re right-handed, lol), and it’s just overall a high quality camera, the little sister so to say of the big pro cameras from Sony (being DSLRs).

The only sh_tty thing about it is it’s rolling shutter, but if you don’t know what I mean, you will probably not be able to tell the difference for the next two years, so don’t worry about it. It really doesn’t matter, and if you’re a broke beginner, there is no better option for you anyway. If you do want to worry though, here is a video on it.

Nobody tells you this, but a small camera can really be the better choice

The most convincing thing about the Sony Alpha 6900 as a vlogging camera, especially for women, is that it’s not as heavy as a DSLR. I was a big-time DSLR fan until I started vlogging. Because it hurts. And I lift weights. So please get this dumb noob idea out of your head. You are not going to be the one in a million female who will not have a sore arm. Let alone that my biceps on the arm that I hold my camera with (even with the tiny RX100) is bigger than on the other one–from all that vlogging. And it looks stupid. So you better get yourself some dumbbells to compensate that.

That’s the stuff nobody tells you, you know. They just all give you advice on gear, but if you come home from an amazing hike, just to find that your summit footage is shaky because your arm was tired, and your brain was too tired to notice, that just sucks! And that goes for dudes too. Because I bet they tend to buy even bigger cameras and lenses, so that advantage is gone with the wind… (Bro tip: Don’t do it. Get that lady camera, if you want to be a clever boy. I talked to your mom while she was doing your laundry, since you’re still working on not being a broke-ass wannabe YouTuber anymore, and she allows it.)

So unless you are really not vlogging in the classical sense (walking or standing and holding a camera), buy the lightest camera, but the one with the most technical options. In my case, that was the Alpha 6900, because I was just fed up with the RX100 at some point. I needed a power horse, and the RX100 is more like a pretty pony.

Vlogging is not “pointing and shooting” anymore

So are there lighter options than an APSC camera? Sure. But they will not be as enjoyable, offer as many options. Those are simply at semi-pro level nowadays and it’s worth the few hundred extra bucks. If I had to go back in time and meet my younger self, I’d go for a Sony Alpha right away. If you take vlogging seriously, it’s not really up for debate. Because vlogging is storytelling today, and not just “point and shoot” content. If you want to do that, sure, get an RX100 and make crappy videos. Everyone else will eventually notice the difference, have wasted 500 bucks and be annoyed.

Don’t buy the Sony Alpha 6400 as a vlogging camera

The next thing is the dumb idea of wanting to save a few hunderd by buying the 6400. Hahahaha, you dumb f_ck. Should I just leave you there to whine about this piece of sh_t? Or should I help you? Okay, fine, I’ll help you.

Look. I’ve been dumb like you and I’ve made that mistake myself. But I’m not that dumb, so I instantly regretted it and sent it back and got the A6900 asap. Becuase it has built-in stabilization. And it actually is that important to have. (Let me tell you why so you can see if you’re like me of if you’re willing to waste extra lifetime on this shitty brick.)

When you move from some Instagram Influencer baby camera like the RX100 to a mirrorless with exchangeable lenses, you might forget about the fact that those lenses most of the time don’t come with stabilization. And the 6400 has no stabilizer in the sensor.

You might not even know what that means, because every dumb phone has stabilization today, even my niche-ass Fairphone 3! And that footage looks shaky as f_ck anyway, but dude, you don’t want to know what comes out of it when I turn it off.

So I shot like one vlog in the kitchen with the A6400 and I’m telling you, I was done. I have no idea why this camera even has a movie option. It should be marketed as a photographers-only camera. Nobody needs this crap. It’s okay for photos, also every Fuji out there is better, and that’s it. The Sony Alpha 6400 is not a vlogging camera and if you bought it for that purpose, you better return it while you can.

Sony Alpha 6900 for stable vlogging

The A6900 on the other hand is a decent lightweight vlogging camera. The stabilization works just fine. And I only use the built-in stabilization to this day. Why? Because I don’t have anything else. I edit my footage in blender, which is pretty much the only open source option for debian. And no thanks, I don’t want to run some Windows crap in a virtual machine, I haven’t used that sh_t in ten years and I’m not going to relapse just because of one software in which the only feature I would need would be automatic stabilization (because I can totally stabilize footage in blender, but it’s just a lot of work and you would need to do it in 4K, which would also be necessary for all other unstable footage by the way, and I don’t need 4K because I am not interested in wasting a lot of disk space, so yeah, just no thanks.)

You don’t need a gimbal for vlogging

So, I hope this makes it perfectly clear why I need stabilization. And you need it too unless you want to use Premiere Pro. I don’t have Premiere Pro, I don’t need Premiere Pro. And apart from that I prefer to use good equipment and decent hardware over “fixing sh_t in post”. Because fixing sh_t in post is what people who are unable to shoot good video have to do. The real pros generate awesome footage in the first place, as in: they don’t have shaky hands, and they invest in a gimbal. Or why do you think, with all the awesome stuff like Warp Stabilizor, that Gimbals have never sold as good as in 2020-22? Huh?

I have a gimbal myself. And no, it’s not part of my recommendation here. But before you spam my comments, I have the DJI Ronin RSC2 of course. And it’s amazing and I would use it way more often if I wasn’t a weak b_tch biceps-wise.

So please do yourself and your bank account a favor and don’t buy a gimbal. You will not need it unless you want to make epic slo-mo or nature shots. And even less than a gimbal you need a drone. In fact, I’d just buy drone footage if I really needed some. But I don’t. And I actually like the whole reallife look without all these polished “in-between” shots of epic forests and cities from above. I can’t see any of that sh_t, and I want to show my audience the world through my eyes, not the eyes of a micro-helicopter.

Lenses for your lightweight vlogging camera setup

Anyway, back on topic. The next thing you need for vlogging are a bunch of lenses. I would always go with a wide-angle pancake lens. What you buy and from which company doesn’t matter. If you have a Sony A6900 like me, you can go for the only Sony lens that makes sense here, the f2.8, which you can check out in my gear list over here.

I like simple prime lenses, because (1) they don’t mess with my focus while shooting, I can’t accidentally make them zoom in or out. The zoom also gets lost every single f_cking time the camera goes into standby. I mean, sure, you can deactivate standby and rely on your brain, as if that ever worked… lol. As in: you can carry around 4 extra batteries at all times and make this whole article pointless, while I have my prime and I just need one. (2) It sucks donkey balls to go down five f-stops just because you zoomed in on some detail. Way less annoying than this is to just move closer to your object. I have literally never been in a situation where that was impossibe, and if it was I’d prefer to switch to another lens.

But essentially, if you want to suffer, go with the kit lens of the A6400. I have that one too, because it is a good portrait lense and pretty quiet. Something I can not say about my 50 mm lens. That thing does not work with autofocus. Don’t even try. It’s like a damn Kalashnikov.

Mini travel tripod as an alternative to almost anything

The last gear item I’m going to talk about is a tripod. Of course, if you want to take it seriously, at some point you will need a big tripod. I don’t challenge that at all. I have a big tripod. But for vlogging alone, you need no such thing. You need something small to hold your camera that otherwise does not get in your way. And a big tripod is not that. There are some foldable options.

Mayble, if you have hands like plates, like Peter McKinnon and Casey Neistat, you might be able to pull of a Gorillapod or some other “portable” option. But this is for men who work out. Not for women. You are small, you are not as strong as a man. You should not let your “I can do anything a man can do” ego bullsh_t allow to make the decisions for you. Get the lightest option there is. And come back to thank me when you did!

Again, my tripod can be found in the gear list. But you can also opt for the Manfrotto verion of this, that would be the Manfrotto PIXI Mini¹. If that name doesn’t cry “lady tripod” then I don’t know what does. I know, we all don’t want to hear it. But our strength is mostly not physical strength (unless you’re Stefi Cohen of course). And therefore we have to use our brains to overcome that disadvantage. And it is a disadvantage.

I would love to be able to carry heavy gear. I could do sooo much more if I was as strong as a dude. But I’m not. So I will have to suck it and do what I can without wasting my energy. This is why I prefer to keep my camera gear lightweight and my tool options minimal.

No camera bag, no gear case, no nothing

I also don’t have any kind of bag or special camera case. I only use so-called “camera cloth”, which is in my opinion the most minimalist and lightweight option. It’s from a brand called “Amolith”¹, and I’m very happy with the quality and design. But I’m pretty sure you could easily DIY / sew something like this in under an hour.

¹ Affiliate links.

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