Glossary & Resources

The following paragraphs are filled with information that is useful for the posts published here. You can come back here at any time to learn the concepts that you might not understand clearly.

Use the Table of Contents to navigate through these resources.

DSLR, Camcorder, Compact or Mirrorless? Which One is Better?

There are basically 4 types of camera you will be able to choose from:

    DSLR
    By MorioOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

  • DSLRs (digital single-lens reflex camera): These cameras are the main choice of professional photographers because of their quality and adaptability. It is really hard to achieve the best picture without one of these, just like it’s difficult if you have this camera but not the knowledge to handle it. They are great for vlogging because they will let you record videos with the setup you need for your work and their high quality image and better performance in low-light.
  • These are the ones you will want if you take vlogging really serious and want a professional-looking channel in YouTube, Vimeo or any other social video network.

    Camcorder
    By NebrotOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
  • Camcorders: While DSLRs were made for photography and recording, camcorders were built for the sole purpose of recording. This is why they are used a lot for certain types of vlogs and channels.
  • These are much easier to use than DSLRs; auto-focus is usually better, they have large zooms and they are plug & play. They are great for people that don’t want to spend so much time learning how to properly use a DSLR.

    However, they got much smaller sensors than DSLRs and compact cameras, so watching a video recorded with a camcorder looks a lot less professional, unless you spend a lot of money on getting a really high-end one. Basically, Camcorders record broadcast video, while DSLRs record a more cinema-like video.

    compact point & shoot camera
    By D-KuruOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0 at, Link
  • Point & Shoot Cameras are also an option if you just want to take your camera around and record vlogs; they’re generally enough to record your days out. Their a lot easier to carry around when compared to DSLRs, and some of them come with the same manual options DSLRs offer. However, they have small sensors and aren’t nearly as good as DSLRs for night shooting, and their lenses can’t reach the same speeds.
  • Mirrorless camera
    By Bengt Nyman from Vaxholm, Sweden – Sony A7R, CC BY 2.0, Link
  • Mirrorless: These are like the child between a compact camera and a DSLR. They offer the good of both worlds with a few downsides: they are basically a small DSLR. They have sensors of the same size in a small body that sacrifices the size of the battery and are completely digital (DSLRs have a lot of mechanical parts working). They give you a live view of what you’re going to shoot and have lots of perks to assist you while shooting. They’re perfect for vloggers because they’re easy to carry around while keeping the good cinematic quality of DSLRs. You just nee to take care of their battery like you would with any other compact camera.

So, Which One is the Best for Me?

Many people will tell you to get a camcorder if you just want to record video. Camcorders are a good choice for video, but they’re more useful for home or travel kind of video. If you’re a YouTuber, you might not need to use zoom at all. Most vlogging channels are all about speaking in front of the camera. Why would you want a camera with 200x zoom for this?

Mirrorless Pentax Camera
By 663highland663highland, CC BY 2.5, Link
Also, camcorders have smaller lens aperture and smaller sensors. This translates into worse performance in low light and not being able to achieve the blurry background effect so many people like. Also, you can’t upgrade camcorders by simply buying a much better lens, which is probably the most important factor for image quality.

DSLRs have deeper colors and you can use them for amazing photos too. They give a much better look for your video thanks to their bigger sensor.

Mirrorless offer the good thing about a camcorder (easy to carry around) and a DSLR (good quality, interchangeable lens). The problem is that they are as expensive as any DSLR.

Camcorders are the way to go if you want to start with a really small budget, which is not a bad idea at all, since the most important thing is to start recording right away.

The best way to put it is: camcorders for family videos, and the rest for when quality is more important to you.

Types of Lenses

DSLR Camera Lens
By fir0002 | flagstaffotos.com.au Canon 20D + Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8Own work, GFDL 1.2, Link
When you get a camera with interchangeable lenses (be it a DSLR, Compact or Mirrorless), you will have to choose the right lens for your vlogging.

Different lenses will have a different impact on the image your camera captures. Each kind of lens will have some advantages and disadvantages and you will have to decide which one to use in each situation.

There are only two types of lenses that you will be interested in: wide-angle and telephoto.

After quickly explaining you their differences, I will show a couple of images to compare their results.

Wide-Angles

This type of lenses is all about capturing a lot of space. They make wide shots possible and are useful when capturing landscapes.

In other words, they will help you fully capturing something without having to get farther away from it.

The downside to them is that they produce something called perspective distortion, which makes objects look abnormally larger, mostly around the image’s edges.

Telephotos

Telephotos are basically what camcorders manufacturers call optical zoom.

They’re just lenses that are good to take closer shots of objects from far away.

When a lens is at 50mm the perspective distortion is neutralized, so if you don’t want your face to look unnatural, this is the best kind of lens. Your camera won’t lose image quality so easily with a fixed 50mm lens because they capture more light to work with than a wide angle.

Having a telephoto lens larger than 50mm is usually not useful for vlogging. 50mm is enough to get rid of perspective distortion and to allow a lot of light. More zoom is not what you’ll need for vlogging.

The following pictures were taken with a DSLR standing on a tripod on the same spot but with different lenses. The right side is the wide angle and the left one is a fixed 50mm lens.

Differences between wide angle and 50mm for vlogging
Left: Tele 50mm / Right: Wide Angle 18mm

Which One to Get for Vlogging?

Well, for the most part, telephotos at a 50mm focal length are just right for vlogging. If you’re going to do a lot of talking to the camera, you will need a lens with a 50mm focal length. This is why I recommend getting a fixed 50mm lens with your DSLR for this kind of vlogging. Getting a larger zoom is usually not worth for vlogging.

Getting a fixed 50mm focal length is especially necessary for makeup tutorial vloggers.

At 50mm focal length you won’t be a victim of perspective distortion. This is why 50mm focal length is often called normal focal length; it is the closest to what the human eye captures.

Now, on the other hand, wide-angle are really useful when you are going to be outside filming different stuff: vacations, traveling and action vlogging are only possible with a wide-angle lens.

They’re also good for gameplays, as you will be sitting really close to the camera. It’ll be okay because your main product is the game you’re playing; you won’t need a normal focal length for this.

If you want more information on this, visit this post about what lens to buy.

My Favorite Informative Articles

Here is my list of the best resources for knowing more about cameras, filmmaking and photography. There is a lot to learn about them, and I recommend vloggers to start reading about them as soon as they got time to do so.

Make sure to only check the basic concepts about shutter speed, ISO, lens aperture and lighting control (including exposure) in the following links; that is what you need to know for vlogging with a DSLR camera.

Courses I Recommend

YouTube Masterclass – Your Complete Guide to YouTube

One of the main issues with vloggers that want to start their own YouTube channel is thinking that they can just let things roll and everything will work out without any clue of what their doing. This is the way most people start out, and the main reason why most fail. What they need to realize is that success can be planned —at least sometimes.

The YouTube Masterclass from Phil, Mike and Lauren is probably the most complete YouTube marketing course there is. It is a 6.5 hours course divided in short lectures that will give you the mindset, tricks and tips you need to run a successful channel, coming from people that has been in the business for years.

And the best part is that they give a 30-day 100% money back guarantee. That’s why I don’t think there’s reason not to give it a try if you’re planning to open and sustain a successful YouTube channel.

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