My friend is a professional photographer with tens of thousands of dollars worth of cameras.  But he’s always said the best camera is the one that’s in your hand.  The same is true for starting out on YouTube.  Below I compare three different types of cameras, so you can compare – and then decide when it’s time to upgrade.  But you should start now – with whatever camera you have.

Comparing the options:

There are three common camera types for recording online video: camera phones, web cams and DSLRs.  Of course there are other cameras, but these three groups make up the vast majority of what people are using to post in 2014.


Webcams vary widely.  They are built into most laptops and many desktops, and there are external webcams that you can add to your computer.  The external models typically have more features, and range in price from $15 to over $100.  There’s one thing they all have in common: a deep depth of field (DOF.)  DOF is the range of what’s in focus – and the more shallow the DOF, the more “professional” the video looks.  Film cameras usually allow shallow depth of field, so we are used to movies with this style.  If you are looking for a shallow DOF, a webcam isn’t gonna cut it.

UPDATE: I recently purchased a Logitech C920 Webcam and I’ve been quite happy with it.  It’s nowhere near the quality of my DSLR but it’s nice to record directly into my computer.

Smart Phone:

Phones have had cameras for years, but they recently improved to the point where Point and Shoot cameras are losing popularity.  Why would you want to buy a Point and Shoot camera when your smart phone shoots equally nice photos?  Similar to webcams, smart phones (and point and shoot cameras) suffer from a deep depth of field.  However, almost everyone has a phone in their pocket right now, and could start shooting video in the next 15 seconds.  And there are some ways to overcome the DOF problem (both with filters and white backgrounds.)  Here’s a great iPhone video training that I love!  And here’s a great Smartphone Tripod Adapter for $7 on Amazon.

The DSLR is what made beautiful video accessible to the masses.  DSLR stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex.  For less than $500, you can buy a camera that shoots video – and has a shallow depth of field.  Recently mirrorless compact cameras came to market, offering a more options for people that want the quality of a DSLR, but a bit smaller and often less expensive.  These cameras were designed during the digital age, making the mirror (necessary in a DSLR) unnecessary.

Let’s talk.

What are you using to shoot your online video?  What questions do you have?  Leave any comments below.