Best camera for vlogging

The best camera for vlogging may be the one that you already own. Before you run out and purchase a new piece of equipment, look in your own pocket. Do you own an iPhone 4 up through 6? An Android? Most of these phone have two cameras positioned in two directions. The selfie cam is perfect for video blogging especially when combined with a selfie stick. Ditto with the new iPad. Otherwise, maybe you have a still camera that has a video feature? A laptop with a camera? (an especially good option for a sit-down vlog).

The important thing with vlogging, is to begin shooting. The best vlogs are created through practice. Most of the best vloggers didn’t just wake up one day and upchuck greatness onto YouTube. So if you do already have a vlog camera, dive right in.

Just shoot. The act of shooting itself will help you define the features that are most important to you in a camera.

Still want a brand new camera? Okay, I hear you. Once you are ready to purchase a camera, here are some tips to keep in mind.

Buy a camera that allows you to view yourself while you shoot. Popular cameras such as the Kodak zi8, Playtouch, Playfull and most of the Sony Bloggie line – while being good cameras otherwise – do not allow you to see yourself while shooting. Depending on the style of vlog you are planning this can be a huge issue. But there are notable exceptions. The best cameras for vlogging are below:

  • Panasonic HC-V770 Full HD w. WiFi. This is a sweet camera, well designed and wifi enabled for great connectivity. The camera features a 5 axis image optical stabilization which is heads above the electronic stabilization on other cameras. The image is great with nice noise reduction even in low light. A great flip screen rounds it out. Recommended!
  • Samsung HMX F90. Better made than the (discontinued) RCA EZ-1000 above, this SD card camera features one-touch upload, performs well in low-light. It has a 2.7″ flip screen and uses electronic image stabilization. They are solidly built and can take a beating (within reason of course).
  • Bell+Howell T100HD-BL Take 1. Bell+Howell made their name in the motion picture industry back in 1907 and continues to produce a variety of consumer and pro electronics. They drop the ball a little bit on the T100 but for the price (less than $30 as of this writing) this is a good blogging crash cam for days when you want to leave the iPhone or high end camera at home but still want to get some good video blogging and selfie shots.
  • Panasonic HX-DC2 Full HD Camcorder. Want to video blog in the pool or underwater? Well you can with this model (don’t go any deeper than 3 metres though). Panasonic has been quietly discontinuing/rebranding the Xacti since their purchase of Sanyo in 2009. The HX-WA2 is similar to the venerable Xacti but at a slightly lower price point (although the frequent discounts on the Xactis bring them closer together). Unfortunately this camera does not have external microphone ports. Shame on you for ditching this hard-to-find feature Panasonic.
  • RCA EZ-1000 & RCA Small Wonder EZ205. These budget models were recently discontinued and the upgraded models no longer have flip-out screens!

New camcorders are released nearly every month.  If you don’t find one that fits your needs right now, buy the cheapest one that seems the closest and wait half a year. Something new and better is sure to come along soon. Also note that if you are specifically seeking the best camera for YouTube videos, all of the above will work. YouTube is the most flexible online video service to be found – it can handle anything.

Panoramic Video Blogging

Video blogging is 100% about perspective. That could mean your perspective as a human living on this crazy planet. It could also be your shooting perspective – where you point the camera, for how long, at what moment, etc. But there are limits to the frame. The frame being the amount of image your camera can capture. Whatever your viewer sees is just a small window into what was actually happening all around you at that time. Sometimes that’s a good thing.:) Other times it’s not.

An NYC start-up called Kogeto is taking pre-orders through kickstarter for a cool new add-on that will turn your iPhone camera into a panoramic camera device that captures life in 360 degress. They call it ‘Dot’. This hyper-lens attachment snaps onto the camera (note that it won’t fit if you have a case – you’ll need to remove that) then get ready for an entirely different way of filming. There is no ‘framing’ involved. Everything around you will be captured in panaramic video. As the founders put it – because we’re lazy this allows you to ‘put down the camera and enjoy the party’. They also give examples of showing grandma the neighborhood you live in, shooting concerts and parties but in my opinion that’s just the beginning of cool video blogging opportunities this cool little panoramic device represents. The video can be uploaded to Facebook or Twitter and Kogeto provides special software that unfolds the panorama into an easily vieable format.

Check out the photo on your iPhone and you can shift perspectives by dragging your finger around the screen. Founder Jeff Glasse believes this new shooting format will revolutionize video blogging and I would tend to agree. Visit Kickstarter to pre-order and help these guys in their various cool camera endeavors. $98 will get you the Dot when it releases this summer and an invitations to their launch party in June in NYC. There is no other product like this out there so this is a steal imho.

What is Video Blogging?

The first question might be ‘what is a blog’? According to wikipedia, “a blog is a personal journal published on the World Wide Web consisting of discrete entries (i.e. posts) typically displayed in reverse chronological order so the most recent post appears first.” Expanding on that definition, the broad, simple (and relatively safe) answer is that video blogs (or vlogs) are any form of user created video regularly posted online. Then again, many large media companies post video content specifically created for the online world.

So aren’t they video bloggers too?

Passionate early video bloggers such as Adrian Miles remind us that video blogging is more than just video in a blog. It is a new mode of communication, a new means of self-expression. Video blogging is perhaps best compared to the early days of film. It is a period where we’re still playing with what it can be, could be, will be.

Zooming through the hundreds of thousands of personal YouTube videos posted since YouTube began in 2006 conveys part of the story, but just a slice. The best case scenario may be that the rapid evolution of video technology keeps us in this state of flux. A state where just as we define video blogging it changes and becomes something unexpected.

That’s my definition of sorts. Well, at least for now, as I sit writing in this little Brooklyn Cafe on a crisp, sunny winter day. By the time I get home my definition will probably be different. I’m sure I left at least a few thousand things out.

What’s your definition?

If you can’t explain it in words, post a v blog of your own – it could be one you created or one that defines it for you – even if it’s just a definition for this one moment in time.

Vlogging through fears

Heights are not my favorite thing. I’d stop well short of describing it as a phobia in the clinical sense, but they certainly can get my knees a knockin’!

Recently I was in Quito and had the chance to visit a cathedral with a series of catwalks and (at least to my mind) precarious ladders leading to a bell tower hundreds of feet above the ground. Video camera in hand I vlogged the entire experience.

Camera in hand I eventually made it to the top. I was in Quito on my own and for some reason there were NO other tourists at this location. Without my video blog as motivation I’m not sure I would have made it to the top!

Yet in the act of vlogging I gained some insight into the irrational nature of my fears and once again learned that I CAN push through the feelings…and do it anyway. I’m going to consider other areas of life where a vlog or journal could be used as a witness and a motivator. Maybe if I video blogged about my pile of laundry it will actually be a fun activity? Nah.:)

Are there areas of life you might put your video blog or journal to work? Here are some initial thoughts – please add some of your own. Remember to use your camera as a grounding force that brings you into the moment – don’t allow it to become a distraction.

– making a phone call to someone you are nervous to speak with

– committing to an exercise routine (make a video blog showing other people how to do your workout/take us on a tour of your walk, etc.)

– overcoming a phobia (water, dogs, spiders, clowns – whatever!)

– learning a new skill (probably best with something visual but could be just about anything – maybe I’ll dust off those juggling balls I got for Xmas last year).

If you incorporate any of these ideas into your vlogs, please let me know!

Video Blogging Limits?

Former beauty queen, Eva Markvoort, fought a long battle with cystic fibrosis that she ultimately lost. What is unique about her story is that her lengthy struggle with the devastating disease was captured through her very public video blog.

Recently I wrote a posting about Eva Markvoort on the Yahoo! Video Blogging group and I was intrigued by the reactions I received.  One user wrote:

“Hi I’m dying on the internet!! I want everyone to know I’m dying! I love anonymous internet people that post on my blog!!  Holy christ. Save something for only yourself and your close ones dammit. Not everything needs to be shared. Fuck. I’m not a heartless bastard. Give me a break though. There comes a point when you need to turn that shit off.”

Personally I found Markvoort’s vlogging inspiring. It takes courage to show weakness, pain and suffering publicly. What’s more, she initially started her vlog because she realized that patients with cystic fibrosis are often isolated. Her video blogging efforts helped connect people and gave them support in knowing that they weren’t alone in their struggle.

My opinion is that there is no subject that is taboo when it comes to video blogging. (UNLESS you are exploiting or including someone against his or her wishes of course.) Let’s face it. No one is is prying our eyelids open and inflicting our retinas with images against our wishes. You can always click on a different video.

But yet on some level I understand where the above commenter is coming from. To be honest, I don’t feel much like video blogging when I have so much as a bad head cold. In general I’m a pretty private person. If I were terminally ill, I might keep a video blog about it if I felt others would benefit, but it would be a very difficult choice to make. It certainly wouldn’t come naturally.

I do admire those who are able to let it all hang out though. No matter what. Markvoort was obviously one of those people. There are plenty of others videotaping ridiculous and/or disgusting things (I was recently shown a site featuring pudding farts – I’m not going to link to it – it’s just too gross! but you can find it if you want:)) who perhaps share “questionable” content. But even in these cases I don’t think there is any line to be drawn. Hey, they are making people laugh (or vomit as the case may be)! No judgments.

What do you think?

Is there a video blog that you despise? A video blog that challenged your definition of what should or should not be video blogged? Is there anything in life that should remain private?

If you’ve read my book you’ll know that I often recommend keeping a private video journal for some topics. But what remains private and what becomes public should be defined by each one of us. It’s going to be different for everyone.

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