One of the most common questions we get asked is ‘What vlog equipment do we use to film our Youtube channel Eat See RV?’ Our journey into filmmaking started with very limited knowledge of filming equipment. The vlogging gear we use today was purchased over time as our channel and income grew.
Below is a deeper dive into the equipment we use today, and some of the past vlogging setups we used as creators.
Feel free to jump around the guide to see what setup works for you. We have a table of contents below for easy discovery. Just remember, our current setup may not be right for you based on your skill set, experience, and budget. We recommend reading through the evolution of our vlogging setup to find out what might work best for you.
In each section, we list the pros and cons of that setup. Additionally, we’re including the wishlist gear we’re saving up for and alternative options in case one or more of the items is out of your price range.
Without further adieu, here is a guide to our 2023 vlog equipment.
Table of Contents
- Our starter vlogging gear
- Our second vlogging setup (ideal beginner kit)
- Our current vlog equipment (professional setup)
- Miscellaneous vlogging accessories
- Future vlog equipment wishlist
Our starter vlogging gear
For the first three years of travel vlogging (2018 – 2021), we used a GoPro with an external microphone. As well as our cell phones with an Osmo gimbal, Moment Lenses, and external microphone. The GoPro was our main vlogging camera or what we used for any talking head bits. Our cell phone setup was used to capture B-roll (secondary footage that often goes over talking head bits).
This vlogging setup was a super low-cost way to get started and helped us hone our videography and editing skills as creators. Cell phone video quality is constantly improving. If you’re just getting started this isn’t a bad option. However, there are a lot of limitations and you may outgrow it quickly as your video skills improve.
Limited storage space on our phones and overheating were just two common problems we dealt with. We also couldn’t get great long shots(wildlife close-ups, etc) even with the telephoto Moment lenses. Both the GoPro and our phones did terribly in low light and had no depth of field (when one object is in focus and the background is blurry).
- Affordable entry point (most people already have a smartphone)
- Phone vibration alerts shake the camera
- Constantly changing lenses
- Not able to capture long-distance detail well
- Poor image quality in low-light
- No depth-of-field
- Short battery life
- Lower-quality video image
- Limited storage space
This setup clearly works, as we used it for nearly 3 years. But as soon as we had the budget for it, we upgraded to a digital camera.
Shop our first vlogging setup
- GoPro (we used a GoPro 7, but the 11 Black is a far better camera and what we’d recommend today).
- Moment lenses for phones (use whatever smartphone you have already. Although the new iPhone’s seem to have the best cameras)
- Osmo gimbal
- External microphone (make sure you have a patch cable to connect to an iPhone or Android)
- Handle grip for GoPro
Our second vlogging setup (ideal beginner kit)
The second iteration of our vlogging setup happened in 2021 after purchasing the Sony ZV1 camera. This digital camera was a major upgrade from our original setup and allowed us to solve a lot of headaches we were experiencing.
To start, it allowed us to have depth-of-field (that blurry background with a crisp image in the foreground). It also gave us a better overall image quality. It was still extremely lightweight and compact making it easy to use in almost any setting, even low-light. Plus it has good built-in stabilization (no shaky footage as you walk and talk).
We used an external microphone with the camera to improve its audio and got this grip for holding it. But it’s worth mentioning that it is light enough to work with this compact gimbal to get extra smooth creative shots.
Its price point (around $750) at the time of this writing makes it a fairly affordable starter camera without compromising on quality.
Its price point, ease of use, and image quality are the reason the Sony ZV1 camera is our top pick for beginner vlogging cameras. However, it’s not without limitations.
The Sony ZV1 is a pocket camera. So you cannot change lenses to achieve that super wide shot or long zoom. With stabilization turned on it has a pretty narrow frame and often cuts our heads off in the shot even when extended to arm’s length with our grip. We had to purchase an adapter kit from Ulanzi to make the lens wider.
We’ve heard the new ZV1 II has a wider camera lens so you no longer need the Ulanzi kit. It also has a built-in microphone. You can still zoom with the lens and it seems to have addressed most of the issues vloggers found when using the original. However, we haven’t personally tried using the camera and cannot speak to its capabilities or ease of use. You can learn more about it here.
If you’re going to go this route we highly recommend buying variable ND filters. ND filters help filter out light so your shot isn’t too blown in outdoor settings.
- Non-intrusive and super small (can fit into your pocket)
- Auto focus and auto exposure
- A fairly affordable entry point
- Great video quality
- Depth of field
- Can use in lower-light settings (does okay but not great)
- Can easily adjust ISO
- Good built-in stabilizer
- Shoot 1080p footage up to 120p or UHD 4K footage up to 30p
- Not a mirrorless camera (meaning we cannot use separate lenses for wide or long shots)
- Narrow field of frame (had to adapt to make it wider)
- Not as crisp of video quality as a mirrorless full-frame camera can offer
We still used a Go Pro for action shots (think water activities or paragliding). Additionally, we also purchased our first drone the DJI Air 2. Drones really take storytelling to a new level and can add a cinematic element to your Youtube videos. If you aren’t able to spend the money on an Air 2 right now, we recommend the DJI mini. This drone does a great job despite its small size and doesn’t meet weight limitations for drone regulations in many countries.
We went with the bundle which includes extra batteries and blades. You’re going to want this anyways, and the bundle saves you money when purchasing it all at once.
Purchasing a drone is easy, but passing the test required for flying a drone in the United States legally isn’t as easy. Make sure you’re prepared to get the proper licensing if you’re going to invest in a drone.
Also if you need help setting up and understanding how to fly (and get cinematic shots) with your drone, you can purchase a guide here. Lastly, make sure to get replacement coverage for the drone. It’s not a matter of if the drone will crash, but when.
To give you a better idea of the difference in quality. You can see two vlogs we filmed below. One was filmed with our first vlogging setup (go pro and phones exclusively). The second video was filmed with our ZV1 setup combined with the Moment phone lenses for long shots.
Eventually, we felt the restrictions with this set up too. We wanted to be able to get long shots with the same crisp quality as our vlogging camera. And we were tired of having so many different setups (GoPro, Sony, and phones). This eventually led us to our current vlogging setup.
Shop our second vlogging kit (good beginner setup)
- Sony ZV1 Camera (best beginner vlogging camera) now offered in Sony ZV1 II
- Ulanzi adapter for the Sony ZV1 lens (only needed for original ZV1)
- ND filters (only work siwth ZV1 and Ulanzi kit)
- Rode VideoMic Go II
- Zhiyun Crane 2 Gimbal
- DJI Air 2 Kit (cheaper option: DJI Mini 2)
- 64GB Sandisk SD card
- GoPro (use for action activities)
- GoPro media mod (gives you better GoPro audio but cannot be submerged underwater)
- Handle grip for GoPro and ZV1 (can be interchangeable – see below)
Our current vlog equipment (professional setup)
Our third (and current) vlogging setup checks most boxes. There are still things we would love to purchase in the future (see our wish list below). But for now, we are happy with its abilities.
Why we chose the Sony A7 IV vlogging camera
We currently film all of our vlogs on our Sony A7iv mirrorless camera. This camera does an amazing job with both photos and video. It has a built-in stabilizer to give us fairly shake-free footage and does fantastic in low-light settings. Since this is a mirrorless camera you will need to purchase a lens in order to use the camera. Keep reading to see what lenses we use and recommend below.
There’s a slew of reasons we went with this camera over the Sony A7iii (another popular vlogging camera). But these videos will give a much better explanation as to why the Sony A7iv is the best vlogging camera than I could. If you’re more of a reader, you can check out this article too.
If these videos seem overwhelming to you and it’s features and selling points don’t seem applicable. We recommend starting with the beginner setup. The Sony ZV1 is still a great camera and then you can eventually upgrade to a professional camera like this in the future.
The Sony A7iv is a heavier camera. So, we aren’t able to use it with our current gimbal. There are gimbals that can handle their weight (like this gimbal), but it’s not a part of our kit currently.
After purchasing the Sony A7iv we decided to upgrade our external microphone to the Video Rode Mic NTG. We absolutely love the quality of the audio. It’s around $150 more than our previous microphone, but you can tell the difference. We personally think it’s worth the extra money.
We also invested in wireless microphones to get better audio in noisy/crowded places or when we’re far away from the camera. We don’t use these often but they are very helpful when we need them.
Our two lenses are a wide lens (16-35mm f/4) and a longer lens (24-105mm f/4). If lens mm depth makes no sense to you, here’s a breakdown. The smaller the number is, the wider the frame is. The larger the number, the longer the lens can go.
A normal vlogging camera (think talking to the camera as you hold it) is usually in the 16 – 24mm range. The f-number relates to the lens focal length i.e. the amount of blur you have in the background. The smaller the f-number the more blurry and thus cinematic the shot is. f/4 is the highest we’d recommend. We’d love a f/2.8 but they are much more expensive lenses.
We chose a longer range 24 – 105mm f/4 lens additionally to be able to zoom the lens out and capture things farther away. But also be able to bring it in and talk to the camera quickly. This has become the main lens that we use 80% of the time because of its ability to be close and far away.
This setup has been a game-changer for our videos and the filmmaking process. Filming is more enjoyable because we have less gear with us as we travel and we’re able to capture beautiful shots with ease. There are more settings to manipulate (and learn about) in this camera, but its increased capabilities allow for better footage.
- Mirrorless camera (we can use separate lenses for wide or long shots)
- Fantastic quality in both photo and video
- Easy to switch between the two settings
- Simple setup (can change lenses in seconds)
- Depth of field
- Does fantastic in lower-light settings
- Can adjust ISO easily
- Great built-in stabilizer
- Good autofocus but you can also control the focus manually
- 4K recording up to 60 frames per second
- Expensive entry point $3,500+ (with lenses)
- Heavier than Sony ZV1 and GoPro
- Larger rig (more intrusive)
- High demand, could be on backorder
Shop our current vlogging setup
- Sony A7iv (our main vlogging camera)
- Video Rode Mic NTG
- Rode Wireless ME Microphones
- Wide lens (Sony 16-35mm: our main vlogging lens)
- Long lens (Sony 24 – 105mm: our long lens but does it can work as a vlogging lens too)
- ND filters (2-5 stop 77mm lens signature edition) by Peter McKennon
- DJI Air 2 Kit
- Sony ZV1 Camera (we use this when we want a low profile or as a secondary vlogging camera so we can both capture footage)
- Camera easy clutch
- GoPro (use for action activities)
- GoPro media mod (gives you better GoPro audio but cannot be submerged underwater)
- Handle grip for cameras (can be interchangeable – see below)
Miscellaneous vlogging accessories
There are some random items you’ll need as a part of your vlogging kit. Starting with quality SD cards to store all of your epic footage. We use a 64GB Sandisk SD card for our ZV1 and (2) Ritz Gear 128GB V90 SD cards for our Sony A7iv.
Don’t forget to get the Apple USB-C card reader to transfer your footage to your hard drive faster. You need this special drive because it’s USH-II compatible. A regular SD card reader will work, it will just be a lot slower when transferring files.
A camera tripod is a must. We use our tripod constantly to get pictures or videos of the two of us. It’s also great for talking head bits (static shots of you talking) to get more stable footage. We currently use the Manfrotto aluminum tripod. It was an affordable entry point, but it’s honestly not as heavy-duty as we’d like. It can be blown over easily in high winds.
We also use the Pgytech Manitspod Pro Mini for our everyday handheld grip. This is what we use for talking head bits and as we explore the town. It’s really nice that it can be maneuvered into different positions with a hook for “mantis mode”. We have adapters for each of our cameras, so we can use one grip interchangeably with ease.
The last thing you’ll need is a hard drive. Dennis wishes we had the budget for a heavy-duty solid-state hard drive like this one from SanDisk but instead, we use a simple 5TB external hard drive to store our footage. The 5TB lasts us close to a year of footage.
Our favorite vlogging backpacks
Once you get all this gear, you’ll need a place to store, organize, and carry your vlog equipment. Our go-to travel backpack for vlogging is the WANDRD PRVKE 31 Liter. We got the bundle, which comes with the packing cube (great for holding our drone) and straps.
We can pack our vlogging camera, an extra lens, our microphone, wireless microphones, a drone, and backup batteries with room to spare. It’s also water resistant so we feel comfortable taking it with us on hikes.
Dennis recently purchased the EVOC Hip Pack Capture 7 Liter. This bag is great for hikes where we won’t be using all of our gear. Dennis has found a way to add a water bladder on the outside so he can carry water and has our extra batteries and lens while hiking. It’s lightweight and straps around his waist for maximum support.
Future vlog equipment wishlist
1. Long lens
As we continue to save money and invest in our vlog setup, we’ll eventually purchase more lenses. Our 24 – 105 lens is good, but it isn’t able to get super far shots. We would love a dedicated long lens like this Tamron 70 – 300 mm lens. This would help us capture nature in action and super dreamy details even if they are far away.
2. Mini drone
We’d also love to have a second drone – the DJI mini. Its compact size makes it that much easier to set up and fly. It’s quieter when it’s in the air and still gets fantastic footage. Not to mention, because it’s below the required weight restrictions for drones we can fly it in more places (without worry).
3. 360 camera
Lastly, we’d love to have a 360 camera. We tried the GoPro 360 during our float trip in Bend, Oregon. But we didn’t love it and have decided the Insta360 will be what we get instead.
4. Peak Design travel tripod
Our tripod works wonderfully (especially for those on a budget). But if money was no object, we would love the Peak Design travel tripod. This baby is made from carbon fiber and costs nearly $700! So it’s not a cheap purchase. But it’s a quality build that is made to last. Plus, it’s super lightweight.
As you can see there is a lot involved in our vlog setup. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all of the options and different gear we use remember that you can build your vlogging kit up as you grow your channel. Our camera bag is a constant evolution that grows as our budget and skills allow.
Let us know if you have any specific questions about our gear setup below.