Beginner YouTube Setup: The Ultimate Guide 

If you know what you’re doing, making videos for YouTube can be a breeze, but for total beginners, it can be confusing trying to work out everything that you need. In this guide, I’ll break down exactly what you need for a beginner YouTube set-up.

First things first, let’s take a quick look at the kind of items you’ll need to buy to create the perfect beginner YouTube set-up. They are:

  • A Camera
  • Lighting
  • Backgrounds and/or set accessories

In addition to these essentials, you may also want to buy:

In this article, I’ll delve into each of these categories in more detail to bring you the ultimate guide for building an awesome beginner YouTube setup. So let’s get into it…

Cameras For YouTube

The first and most obvious thing you’re going to need to begin building your YouTube set-up is a camera. Here’s what you need to know about choosing a camera.

Types of cameras

There are lots of different cameras on the market to choose from. Some of the most popular types of camera for making YouTube Videos include:

The most common type of camera used for making YouTube videos is a DSLR camera. DSLR’s are designed to capture high-quality images and video footage and they are a firm favorite amongst popular YouTubers.

Some DSLR style cameras are famous for being perfect for vlogging and YouTube video-making because of features such as flip screens.

Another popular type of YouTube camera is webcams. Whilst they aren’t always as high quality as a DSLR, many YouTubers choose them.

The benefits of webcams are that they are usually inexpensive, and they are perfect for making videos like gaming tutorials, and anything where it’s OK for the camera to stay in one place.

Although it’s not the best option, you can also use iPhone and other smartphones. In some cases, this may be the only option, especially for beginners.

Vloggers such as Mr. Beast started out using an iPhone to record their videos, but getting a professional camera or webcam is much better. The quality of your videos will be much better and they are much easier to use.

Finally, if you plan on making action or sports videos for YouTube then you might want to consider an action camera. Popular action cameras like GoPros are able to capture smooth videos at high speeds and come with a protective waterproof housing to prevent damage.

Features to Look Out For

Now that we’ve covered the different types of cameras to choose from, let’s go over what you should be looking for when choosing a YouTube camera. There are many features that make a camera perfect for YouTube such as:

  • Resolution

If you want your videos to look awesome and professional, the resolution of your camera is important. On YouTube, you can upload videos in up to 4K quality, but most YouTubers upload in 720p or 1080p. When searching for a camera, it’s a good idea to ensure that your camera has at least 720p.

  • Flip Screens

Cameras that come with flip screens are also a good choice, as they are much easier to use when you are filming yourself without anyone else’s help. Since YouTube became more popular, more cameras with flip screens became available, and there are now tons of affordable flip screen cameras to choose from.

  • Microphones

Most DSLR and vlogging cameras will have some form of built-in microphone. If you don’t want to invest in a separate microphone, it’s a good idea to do some research about the quality of your chosen cameras mic. Some built-in mics are more than adequate, and some are really poor. As I mentioned already, most Youtuber will purchase a separate and better quality mic, and you can learn more about this in the microphone section.

Best Camera For YouTube Videos

Canon EOS M5 Mirrorless Camera Kit EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Kit - Wi-Fi Enabled & Bluetooth

There are tons of options to choose from, but my pick for the best YouTube camera is the Canon EOS M5. It’s a super high-quality camera with a flip screen and it’s perfect for vlogging and video making. You can also attach an external mic to this camera so that your audio is as crisp and clear as your video!

Lighting For YouTube

Lighting is another integral part of any YouTube set-up as lighting can really affect the quality of your videos. Good lighting can enhance the quality and make it look more professional, and bad lighting can cause your videos to look dingy and amateur.

Types of Lighting

Just like with cameras, there are many different lighting options to choose from the most common lighting options for YouTube videos are:

  • Ring Lights
  • Umbrella/Softbox Lights
  • Natural Lights

Ring lights are one of the least expensive lighting options, and one of the most popular among YouTube. With a ring light, you can easily brighten any type of room, and they can really help to illuminate the subject of your video. For this reason, they are extremely popular with vloggers and beauty creators.

For a more professional look, many people choose to use umbrella lights or softbox lights. These are used as part of a three-point set-up, and help to brighten the subject, and reduce shadows. If you have a lot of space for your lighting set-up, theses types of lights can be really effective, but they’re not the most compact pieces of equipment to work with.

The third, and by far the cheapest lighting option is natural lighting. Natural lighting can be really effective if you choose the right time of day and the right position for shooting. However, natural lighting can be unreliable, which is why most people opt for some form of artificial lighting.

Lighting Placement

When it comes to lighting, by far the most important thing to think about is the placement of the light. Depending on the type of light you choose, you will need to position the lights differently.

If you choose a ring light, things are pretty simple. All you need to do is place the light directly in front of your subject and turn it on. Although it can get a little hot and bright if you are the subject, it’s an effective way to illuminate a shot.

If you choose an umbrella or softbox lighting for your YouTube set-up, things get a little more complicated. This type of lighting relies on 3 different lights to effectively illuminate your set; A key light, fill light and a backlight.

The key light is used to light up the subject. However, the intensity of the key light can often cast shadows and therefore, the fill light will compensate for this.

You should place the fill light to the left of your subject and it will effectively ‘fill’ in the shadows. The backlight is then placed behind the subject to give your set some depth.

With natural lighting, things are much easier, all you have to do is rely on the sun. As a general rule of thumb, you should try to face the window where the light is coming in, as opposed to putting your back to it.

Best Lighting for YouTube Videos

LimoStudio 14 inch Diameter Dimmable Continuous Round LED Ring Light, Beauty Facial Shoot, Smartphone, Youtube, Vine Self-Portrait, Light Stand Tripod, Camera Mount Adapter, Photo Studio, AGG2203

For a beginner YouTube set-up, I would recommend using a ring light, as they’re simple to use and relatively inexpensive. In my opinion, the best YouTube ring light is the LimoStudio LED Ring Light.

What I like about this light is that you can control the temperature of the light, meaning you can use it to create the perfect aesthetic. In addition to this, it has an adjustable stand and isn’t too big, so you can position it however you like and it will fit into just about any space.

Sets and Backgrounds for YouTube

What the background of your videos looks like is just as important as your content, camera, and lighting. Youtube viewers are super perceptive (and critical) so it’s important to get your background right.

In addition to this, there may be times where you want to edit out your background completely and this is hard if you don’t have the right equipment. Let’s take a look at some common background solutions for YouTubers.

Set and Background Options

There are a lot of different ways that you can go about creating a good backdrop for your videos and what you choose will totally depend on what sort of channel you have.

For example, vloggers love creating highly decorated and exciting backdrops that reflect their character. To do this, they install shelving units and cram them with tons of collectibles, make-up or whatever their viewers want to see.

This is a relatively inexpensive way to create a backdrop that your viewers will be happy with, as you’re likely to have most of the components for you backdrop around your house anyway. If you do go down this road, then be sure to leave a spot for the YouTube play button you’ll receive when you’re super successful.

Another route to go down is buying a green screen or backdrop that you can use to help you to edit background effects in post.

YouTubers like PewDiePie do this often. If you think this tactic would be in-keeping with your channels aesthetic, it can be a really cheap and easy solution to your background woes. Green screens are really easy to use and can give you a lot of flexibility when you get to the editing stage of your production.

What to Think About

Backgrounds are actually one of the easiest things to sort out when you’re creating an awesome YouTube set-up. However, there are still some things you should consider before you start shooting.

First of all, if you decide to decorate your background instead of using a green screen, you should make sure not to cram too much stuff in there. Whilst viewers will like to see a few of your favorite items, too many will make it seem cluttered, and could become distracting.

As well as this, you should consider how close you are to the things in your background. If you sit too close to the backdrop, it can create shadows and cause lighting issues.

The best thing to do is set the camera and lighting up, and test it. Move the camera around, or move closer and further away from the camera until you find the right spot. Once you do, stick a piece of tape on the floor where you’re standing, and where the camera is located. This will help you to remember where that perfect spot is, and save you a lot of time.

Best Set/Background for YouTube Videos

For a beginner, I would recommend investing in a green screen kit. They’re not that expensive, and they offer a lot of flexibility while you’re still honing your own video style.

For me, the best green screen for YouTube is the Fotodiox Pro Collapsible 2-in-1 Green/Blue Background Kit. It’s really simple to use and can be folded away easily, making it perfect for a beginner YouTube studio.

Tripods For YouTube

Ok, so it is physically possible to film beginner YouTube videos without a Tripod, but if you don’t want to balance your brand new camera on a stack of books, you’re probably going to want to buy one. If you’ve never bought a tripod before, don’t worry! Keep reading to find out literally everything you need to know.

Types of Tripods

There are quite a few different types of tripods to choose from, but the most common ones used by YouTubers are:

  • Pocket Tripods
  • Tabletop Tripods
  • Travel Tripods

Pocket Tripods are the smallest of the bunch, hence the name, and are perfect if you need something lightweight to take on the go with you. For example, if you’re a travel vlogger, a pocket tripod will be sufficient in most situations.

Tabletop tripods are slightly bigger than pocket tripods, and, you guessed it… they tend to be used on tables.

If you’re going to be doing something like gaming or recording from one particular table then, they can be useful. Like pocket tripods, they’re quite small and don’t require too much space.

The third and final type of tripod for YouTube is the travel tripod. Travel tripods are my favorite type to use because they are much more versatile than the other two.

They have telescopic legs meaning they can stand alone and be high enough, but they can also collapse down to a smaller size and be portable and easily stored when necessary.

Although they take up a little more room, the fact that they don’t require a table, or something else to lean on, they make it much easier to find the perfect position for your shot.

Setting Up a Tripod

Setting up a tripod is really easy to do, and you can pretty much start using them right out of the box. Depending on the type of tripod you use, there may be some extra pieces to screw in place, but it’s all pretty straightforward.

Once the tripod is out of the box, you’ll need to fix your camera too it. Usually, this is done via a standard size screw mechanism.

However, some camera companies will try to sell their own tripods, and therefore the screw fitting on your camera may not be the same as the standard size. Although this is very rare, it’s worth double-checking the tripod description before you purchase it.

Once your camera is screwed in place, you can start deciding where to position the tripod. If you opted for a ring light, you should place the camera slightly in-front and below the light, so it doesn’t block it.

Best Tripod For YouTube Videos

GEEKOTO 79 inches Carbon Fiber Camera Tripod Monopod with 360 Degree Ball Head 1/4 inch Quick Shoe Plate Professional Tripod Load up to 26.5 pounds

When it comes to tripods, the price range really does vary. However, as with many things in the tech and accessories world, you get what you pay for.

For this reason, I think that the best tripod for YouTube is the GEEKOTO 77” Tripod. Although this isn’t the cheapest tripod of this kind available, it has superior build quality and features that make it worth the extra money. Tripods that are cheaper than this can often be bad quality, and break easily.

Microphones For YouTube

Ok, so if you’ve chosen to purchase all of the above, you’ll almost be ready to create awesome and professional-looking videos. However, something that may hold you back is your audio quality. Like I mentioned above, lots of cameras have built-in microphones, but that doesn’t mean that they offer great quality, so it could be worth investing in a separate mic.

Types of Microphones

There are a lot of different types of mics to choose from, but for YouTube videos, the most common types of mic are:

  • Lavalier Mics
  • Shotgun Mics
  • USB Mics

Lavalier mics are the small lapel mounted mics that you often see used on TV. They are tiny in size yet powerful and can help you to achieve clear sound in otherwise noisy surroundings. They are highly targeted meaning that they will only pick up sound from the person wearing the mic.

Shotgun mics are also great for picking up sound directly from your subject, and they are probably the most popular type of mic for YouTube.

Personally, I love shotgun mics and I find that they are easy to use, whether you’re filming out and about, or in your YouTube set-up. The reason for this is that they link directly to your camera, which means there is no audio syncing needed when you come to edit the video.

The third and final type of mic is a USB mic. These mics hook up directly to your USB and the sound files are transferred straight to your computer. USB mics are most popular with podcasters but can also be really useful for people who use their computers in their videos such as gamers and tutorial makers.

Understanding Microphone Terminology

When you first start searching for a mic, things can seem pretty complicated due to all the technical jargon. However, these terms actually aren’t that complicated and once you understand what they mean it can help you to choose the perfect microphone. Some terms you want to look out for include:

Pickup Pattern – Put simply, this is nothing more than the direction the mic picks up audio in. For example, an omnidirectional mic picks up audio from all directions, whereas a shotgun mic picks it up only from the front.

XLR/USB – These terms refer to the type of connections the microphone uses. XLRs won’t connect directly to your computer like USBs will. They have to go via a recording interface like a mixer. Mics that connect directly to your camera won’t have this sort of terminology.

Pop Filters and Windshields – Pop filters and windshields are additional accessories for your microphone. Pop filters are used to reduce the harshness of plosive sounds. Windshields are used to reduce excessive wind noise when filming outdoors

Best Microphone For YouTube Videos

Rode VideoMicPro Compact Directional On-Camera Microphone with Rycote Lyre Shockmount

For YouTube videos, I think that the best type of mic is a camera mounted shotgun mic like the Rode Videomic Pro. As long as your camera has a microphone input slot, they are by far the easiest type of external mics to use, and they offer really great sound quality.

Video Editing Software For YouTube

Now, this final section isn’t exactly part of a beginner YouTube set-up, but it’s absolutely imperative to making great YouTube videos. No matter how amazing your set-up is, you’ll definitely need to edit your videos to make them perfect, and that’s why choosing the right editing software is an absolute must for any YouTube beginner.

Editing Software For YouTube Videos – The Options

When it comes to editing videos, you’ll need to download a software program. There are free editing software programs such as iMovie, Videopad and splice. However, these programs are much less advanced than paid options and could limit your editing options.

If you have the budget to go for a paid software option, there are two main programs you’ll want to choose from – Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro and Sony Vegas Pro 17.

Final Cut Pro is a great piece of software, but it’s only available to Apple users, so you’ll need a mac computer to use it.

Adobe Premiere Pro is part of the Adobe creative cloud package and is an advanced and highly usable software product for video editing.

My personal favorite though is Sony Vegas Pro 17. Sony Vegas has existed since the good old days of YouTube and therefore, it’s what many YouTubers use to edit on. The software has undergone many updates and Vegas Pro 17 is the newest package available. If you’re new to editing, it’s worth taking a crash course online in how to use the different tools. Once you have a foundation, it’s pretty easy to learn as you go with video editing.

What to Consider When Choosing Editing Software

The software you choose is likely to depend on your budget and your past experience. If you have a little experience with any of the programs I mentioned above, I would advise you to stick with the same one.

This is because you’re more likely to learn quickly if you already have a foundation. As well as this, all three options are really great and produce awesome results.

Another thing to consider when choosing your software is the price. Unfortunately, some companies will want you to pay a year’s membership upfront to download the software, and this can be really expensive.

With that being said, a lot of them have free trials too, so be sure to check them out yourself before paying for anything. And if you don’t like them, remember to cancel your trial before you’re due to be charged the full amount.

Best Video Software For YouTube

Without wanting to sound too repetitive, I believe that the best editing software for YouTube videos is definitely Sony Vegas Pro 17. It’s a really great program and you’ll find that you can create just about any effect that you want using it.

However, as I know that not every beginner will be able to afford this software, I thought it would be a good idea to recommend a free option as well. The best free software I could find was Blender. For a free piece of software, it’s pretty extensive and has a lot of functions that you’ll need to edit great videos.

Beginner YouTube Set-Up: The Ultimate Shopping List

So, now you know more about exactly what you’re looking for to create an awesome YouTube set-up, all that’s left to do is buy it. If you want to keep things simple, and get recording as soon as possible, I’ve created a shopping list of my favorite products for creating your YouTube set-up. Happy Shopping!


Item What to Buy
Camera Canon EOS M5
Video Editing Software Sony Vegas Pro
Tripod GEEKOTO 77” Tripod
Microphone Rode Videomic
Set Fotodiox Pro Collapsible 2-in-1 Green/Blue Background Kit
Lighting LimoStudio LED Ring Light

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