Share via Email The quality of YouTube videos ranges from execrable to professional. Can you recommend a decent camera? It will be used for taking videos of himself talking. Paula You can use any of a vast range of devices to make YouTube videos. A laptop with a built-in webcam is probably the easiest option, but the obvious alternative is a smartphone.
Most digital cameras can now shoot video as well. The fact that so many people have the equipment must be partly responsible for the huge number of videos uploaded to YouTube — hours-worth per minute. In fact, professional video makers can produce good videos with indifferent kit, while beginners can produce mediocre results even with the best equipment.
Doing it right Good YouTubers pay attention to things like image stability, lighting, picture composition and sound quality. They start by mounting the smartphone or camera on a tripod, because a stable image looks better than one created with an unsteady handheld camera.
They also struggle with high-contrast lighting, though experts can use manual controls to exploit that. Putting a desk lamp above and behind the camera is better than nothing.
If the result looks harsh, put some greaseproof paper or tissue paper in front to soften the light. Keep paper well away from incandescent bulbs: Neewer makes a range of dimmable, battery-powered LED light arrays that you can fit into a camera hot-shoe or mount on a tripod.
Batteries are usually not included: You can also use a camera, make a separate digital recording, and combine the sound and visuals later. Most video editing programs, including Windows Movie Maker, can do this. Use what you have Rather than buying a new camera, get your son to experiment with devices that you already own. Any laptop with a built-in HD webcam — one that shoots p video — should be good enough to start with.
When buying a webcam, look for Full HD resolution — one that shoots p video. Most smartphones can do the job, too, especially if you can add an external microphone. Amazon has lots of alternatives. Either way, it must be horizontal. On YouTube, vertical videos are an abomination. Moving up Digital cameras generally produce better-looking results, and from a photographic point of view, they are more versatile than smartphones. They have three drawbacks. Second, not many have microphone sockets, so you may have to record sound separately.
I asked Gordon Laing, of CameraLabs fame, for advice. The old Nikon Coolpix P looks ideal if you can find one second hand. The GoPro Hero 2 also had a microphone socket, and you can add an external mic to some of the Hero 4 cameras.
Most modern cameras have two out of three, but surprisingly few complete the hat trick. In both cases, think about buying an external light such as one of the Neewer models. Happily, successful YouTubers can earn enough to pay for it themselves. Have you got another question for Jack? Email it to Ask.