Here is a list of items I both use and recommend for video, audio, podcasting, Skype, Google Hangouts, and more! I’ve omitted the prices on these items since prices tend to change often. Clicking on the product image or the blue underlined descriptions will take you to a page with today’s pricing.

Microphone Recommendations

3.5mm PC Computer Laptop Condenser Microphone Mic MSN Skype W/ Volume Ctrl
Here is a very, very low cost mic that works great for Skype, Google Hangouts, and recording audio directly into your computer. It has a 3.5mm jack and plugs into the mic input on your computer. If you want to use this with a smartphone or tablet, it will require an adapter.
Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone – Platinum
This is the mic to get if you’re looking for a USB (digital) mic that sounds as good as being in the studio! I recommend this mic to my clients for podcasts, voice-over work, Skype, Google Hangouts, webinars, and even video recording. This is a mic that will make you sound great! In other words, if you don’t like the way your voice sounds when it’s recorded, this mic will change your mind!
SIMPLE LAV- MOBILE Omnidirectional Lavalier-Lapel Condenser
This is a low-cost mic that is compatible with your iPhone, iPad, or Android phone or tablet too. If you’re ready to shoot video with your phone and want better sound, this mic is a must have! Small enough to fit in your pocket and the sound is a huge improvement over your smartphone or tablet mic.
Audio-Technica ATR-3350 Lavalier Omnidirectional Condenser Microphone
This is a nice mic for use with a video camera. It’s low-cost, and offers great sound. The mic is wired, but the wire is long so you can stand 15 to 20 feet in front of your video camera. I always have one of these in my camera bag just in case I have problems with my wireless system.

Video Camera Recommendations

Canon VIXIA HF G20 HD Camcorder with HD CMOS Pro and 32GB Internal Flash Memory
In the studio, or on location, this is the camera to beat! It’s easy to set up and use, and the video quality beats my much higher priced Sony professional video camera. It records to SD cards which allows you to easily move the video from the camera to your computer for editing. It has an external mic input, which is needed to get great sound using mics that are positioned close to the on camera talent.
Canon VIXIA HF G30 HD Camcorder with HD CMOS Pro
This video camera offers a few more bells and whistles than the HF G20 (above) and is suitable for you if you want a more professional camera. Excellent video quality and a mic input are what make this camera stand head and shoulders above the rest.
Nikon D7100 24.1 MP DX-Format CMOS Digital SLR with 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR AF-S DX NIKKOR Zoom Lens
I use a DSLR camera in the studio to shoot still photos of products and for on location photos at seminars and events. This Nikon is a great “mid-range” camera with excellent image quality at a reasonable price. There are cheaper editions of Nikon cameras on the market, but if you want one that will be useful in most any situation and give you the image quality that will make your photos really look great, even in large formats, this is my choice. Oh, you can shoot video with it as well!

Tripod Recommendations

Manfrotto MVK502AM-1 Professional Fluid Video System Aluminum Tripod with Telescop Twin Leg (Black)
In my studio, I only use Manfrotto tripods with fluid heads. These are not the cheapest on the market, but they are among the best. If you’re in this for the long-term, this is the brand to get. The fluid head is needed for video work so that you can pan and tilt the camera smoothly while shooting. If you want to get fancy, you can tilt and zoom or pan (moving the camera side to side) while zooming.
Ravelli AVTP Professional 75mm Video Camera Tripod with Fluid Drag Head This is a tripod with a fluid head that is cheaper than the Manfrotto (above) and from the reviews it gets, it’s a lower-priced winner!

Chroma Key (Green Screen) and Lighting Gear Recommendations

Polaroid Pro Studio Telescopic Background Stand Backdrop Support System Includes Deluxe Carrying Case
This is a very simple system for hanging your green background, or any other type of background. You can put a roll of white seamless paper on this stand to get that “Apple-like” white background, or you can hang a muslin backdrop of any kind (including Kelly green for chroma key work). I have one of these in my studio and use it for both video and photo shoots. It’s portable so you can bring the green screen with you on location too.
StudioFX 10×10 Chromakey Green Muslin Backdrop 100% Photography Photo Video Green Screen
Here is the “magic” green screen material that you will hang from your backdrop system (above). There is not much to this. It’s like bed sheet and must be either ironed out or steamed flat. (I use a steamer in my studio to get the wrinkles out, then leave this thing hanging for months!) When evenly lit (the secret to a great Chroma Key) you’ll have magic in your hands!
CN600SA Led Light Panel Led Video lighting Led Studio Lighting
I’m often asked about the lights I use in my studio. These are the ones I use. I have 6 of them in the studio and they work great! They are almost zero-heat producing LED lights in a lightweight enclosure with 4 barn doors for additional light control. You can adjust the light output from zero to 100% smoothly and easily with a knob on the back. They also come with a minus green filter that adds a touch of magenta to the color of the daylight balanced LED’s and it will help you to clean up a green screen that is bleeding too much green light onto your subject. It also includes a filter to soften the light, and one to change the color balance from daylight to tungsten (5400K to 3400K) in case you needed to use these indoors and needed to match the existing light on the set. The average studio will need 3 lights. Two lights will evenly light your green screen, and one can be used to light your on camera talent. If you have more than one person on camera, you’ll need 4 lights, total.
ILED 160 Daylight High Quality On-Camera Dimmable Super Bright LED Video Light
This LED light is used to light the subject’s hair, and is therefore referred to as a “hair light.” You would mount this light high above and behind your on camera talent and point the light at the top of their head. This accomplishes a couple of things. First, it gives the hair some additional light so you can see the texture in the hair. It also falls onto the subject’s shoulders giving you separation from the background. If you’re using a green screen, adding a minus green (magenta) filter to this will remove the annoying green glow that can be problematic on a subject’s hair and shoulders when placed in front of a green screen. This unit uses Sony NP-F Series Batteries, which are sold separately.
LIGHT STANDS PRO HEAVY DUTY 7’6″ SET OF TWO, WITH ALL METAL LOCKING COLLARS by PBL
In the studio, you need stands, often more than you think you’ll need. When it comes to stands, it’s fine to shop by price and get a decent quality stand. I’ve got a variety of brands in my studio, some lightweight, some much heavier. To get started, you’ll need one stand for each LED light (above). So if you have 4 lights, you’ll need 4 stands. As you do more in your studio, you’ll probably come back and get more light stands for holding things like reflectors, diffusers, gobos, and even cue cards!
Fotodiox Pro 32″ Premium Grade 5-in-1 Reflector Collapsible Disc
I can be a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to lighting. This comes from my background as a professional commercial photographer. You’ll want a few sets of these in the studio to help you modify your lighting. I use the diffuser most often to soften the light from my LED’s on my on-camera talent. This will help cover up blemishes by creating a light so soft it’s nearly shadowless! (Think of the classic “butterfly lighting” used in fashion photography). The gold will allow you to reflect back a warm glow on your subject’s face, while the silver, or silver/gold refectors will give you a hard light effect. The black is your gobo and is used to block light from hitting certain areas of your shot or to keep light from reflecting onto the camera lens.

 

 

Your comments are welcome!