My Best YouTube Camera Setup Ever

Last Updated: 30 September 2023

The gear I use to make my youtube videos @jamescross. This is my biased opinion. I purchased everything I talk about and have not received anything from any of the manufacturers mentioned.

2023 Ultimate Rolling Camera Setup For Content Creators

Is your YouTube camera setup as cool as this? I’ve built the perfect rolling camera setup for creating videos in a small space. To be honest, I’ve been burnt several times buying things recommended by YouTubers who pitch gear they received for free from companies.

I’ve bought and sold a ton of gear to find what will work best for my needs. Everything you’ll see in this video is what I actually use after all this trial and error. Oh, and I’ve purchased everything myself, so the only bias is my personal bias.

One of the advantages of a simpler setup is having less to worry about because recording a video of yourself is kind of like giving a speech in your underwear. You’re exposed… You’re vulnerable… and unsure where to look.

As Socrates once said, “The secret to happiness is not seeking more, but learning to enjoy less.”

  • Rolling stand with adjustable mounting arm → B&H
  • Extra arms → B&H
  • Sony A7S III → amazon
  • Sony A7R V camera → amazon
  • Sony G-Master 16-35 F2.8 lens → amazon
  • Sony G 24mm 1.4 prime lens → amazon
  • Sony XLR-K3M digital interface → amazon
  • Sennheiser MKH-50 microphone → amazon
  • K&M boom arm → amazon
  • Aputure 120D II key light → amazon
  • Aputure Light Dome Mini II softbox → amazon
  • Aputure PT4c tube lights (x2) → amazon
  • Aputure Quick Release Clamp → amazon
  • Tripp Lite Clamp → amazon
  • Dive Weights → amazon

The foundation of this amazingly practical and simple setup is a rolling stand with a cool mounting arm that is easy to adjust. The stand came with one, so I bought two more, one for the light and one for the mic boom arm.

I wanted a stable base without paying ridiculous prices from a camera store, so I swung by a local scuba diving shop and bought six 3lb diving weights and zip-tied them to each leg.

The key light is an Aputure 120d II with a Light Dome Mini II softbox that provides softer shadows on my face for a nice look. I was skeptical of the smaller softbox but having used it, I like it and it does a great job. Not as good as the larger Light Dome SE I own, but it works well in this room with low ceilings.

The 120D II is a keeper. I’ve tried a bunch of different light panels and smaller COB lights from Aputure, Nanlite, and other companies, and this is the one I have kept. It works well and, most importantly, it is super quiet compared to cheaper options.

The control box is mounted to Aputure’s quick-release clamp, and I added some Tripp-Lite clamps to store the extra power cable.

To help with lighting the room, I use two Aputure PT4c tube lights that I move around the studio as needed.

I mounted the camera using a Kupo baby pin to 3/8" adapter connected to a Manfrotto ballhead that uses the same quick-release plate as my tripods.

My main camera for creating YouTube videos is a Sony A7S III, which is what I am recording with right now. I’ve owned this since it was first released. It’s great in low light situations and is totally worth the price.

But that’s not what’s on the stand right now. I swap it out with this Sony A7R V depending on what I am doing. The A7R V is a cool camera too and is awesome for photos, and I really like its flip-out screen that tilts on multiple axes.

A camera is like a potato chip – you can never have just one, and they’re all slightly different.

For most talking head videos, I use the Sony G-Master 16-35 F2.8 lens and swap it out with a Sony G 24mm 1.8 prime lens for B-roll.

For audio, I’ve experimented with several mics. My previous favorites were the AT4053b pencil mic and the Shure SM7B mic. I finally caved and upgraded to the Sennheiser MKH-50 mic, which is awesome and lets me keep the mic out of the shot.

The mic is attached to a K&M boom arm that has an internally routed cable for a clean look. I had a hard time finding one locally, so I had it shipped from Germany. My only complaint is it would be nice to have an option for less XLR cable or to easily switch it out.

For most of last year, I recorded audio from a mic into a Sound Devices MixPre 3 II, which is a fantastic recorder. I decided to take a small hit to audio quality in exchange for space and convenience, so I am now recording directly into the camera using the Sony XLR-K3M digital interface that has some XLR inputs.

No more syncing in post, and while not as good as the MixPre, it’s still pretty darn good.

I can’t tell you how happy I am to have gotten rid of all the camera switchers, multiple lights with softboxes, and tons of cables taking up most of my office space.

The recording process is much simpler. It’s super flexible, and the room now feels so much more spacious and inviting. Check out my latest work from home office tour.

2022 YouTube Creator Recording Setup

I have bought and sold more video recording gear than I would like to admit. Much of it based on online reviews that ended up leaving me disappointed thanks to influencers leaving out important details or glossing over significant flaws. After a ton of trial and error, this is the setup I personally use.

Best Camera For Making YouTube Videos

I have tried several cameras from both Canon and Sony. Each one felt like it was missing something until I purchased the Sony A7S III (amazon). It is expensive, but is worth it for video. What I really like is that I can use this indoors in poor lighting and you can crank up the ISO and still get clean video without all that pixelated noise stuff. It also has dual memory card slots so I always have a backup and I can get good audio. It’s full-frame so I can also get a nice blurred background and can use nice wide angle lenses. I burned through several lesser cameras, but this is the first one that truly pleased me. I don’t feel a need to upgrade any time soon.

The next thing that we will talk about is nd filters which are like sunglasses for your camera lens in that they help cut down the amount of light that enters into the lens. Please subscribe if you are reading this. Thanks. You rock!

Best Microphone For Youtube

You can get away with lower quality video, but bad audio is almost unforgivable. It makes or breaks a video and is the first upgrade worth doing. There are a ton of microphones that can work and a lot are pretty good. My current microphone is probably out of reach for a lot of beginner youtubers, but I am at a place where it was worth the upgrade. The Sennheiser MKH 50 (amazon) is just amazing. On a lower budget, I also liked the Rode VideoMic NTG (amazon) and the more expensive AT4053 (amazon) Pencil Mic. If you don’t mind a mic in the shot, I like the Shure SM7B (amazon), but it requires a good audio interface and fethead (amazon) to get nice audio. The audio interface I use is the Sound Devices MixPre 3 II (B&H). Super crisp interface.

After getting the MKH 50, I decided to simply my whole process at the expense of a little drop in audio quality by connecting the MKH 50 directly to my Sony A7S3 using the Sony XLR-K3M (amazon) that attaches to the camera and lets me record the audio using a digital signal instead of analog. Loving it.

Best Camera Lens For Making YouTube Videos

I’ve tried a lot of different lenses and my two favorites are the Sony FE 16-35 mm 2.8 GM (amazon) professional lens. I can get some nice wide angle shots or punch in and get a nice blurred background. For BROLL, I also really like the Sony FE 24mm 1.4 G lens (amazon). Super small and nice image quality. On my list to try is the newer Sony FE PZ 16-35mm f4 G lens (amazon) as a lighter carry with me type lens.

Best Key Light For YouTube Videos

I’ve tried several of the affordable options from Godox, NanLite and Aputure, including light panels and cob style lights. I’ve even tried Aputure’s newer Amaran line amaran 100d (amazon). They also suffer in either consistent lighting or especially important, fan noise. I had high hopes for that amaran 100d as a smaller alternative to my Aputure 120d II (amazon). It would have been cool to use the sidus link since I have some other smaller lights like the Aputure MC RGB (amazon) and B7C (amazon) lights for accents in my backgrounds.

Light panels are just too harsh of light and the other cobs are too noisy for video. I’ve used the 120D for awhile now and it’s still my go too light. Great color, super silent and well built.

How To Get Better Looking Lighting

Direct light leaves harsh shadows and isn’t flattering. Sending the light through a diffuser softens the light for a nice look. I started with the Aputure Light Dome II (amazon) which was amazing and amazingly large for my small office space. They came out with the Light Dome SE (amazon) which is shallower but almost as wide as the Light Dome II. It is cheaper but not as well build as the Light Dome II. Keeping it set up in an indoor setting, the SE takes up less space. The Light Dome II would be better for someone who is taking it down and setting it up all the time. I also use the Light Dome Mini II (amazon), which is a lot smaller. The shadows aren’t as smooth as the larger light modifiers but it takes up hardly any space and is good enough that it is what I choose for my rolling recording setup.

The All-in-one Rolling YouTube Studio

To make life easier, in my most recent studio build, I mounted my camera, microphone and light to a rolling stand so I can quickly change up my camera angle or move everything out of sight. I tried using some of my other rolling stands and using friction arms and other things I had lying around, but it wasn’t going as planned. I ended up getting this stand (amazon) with a couple extra squeeze grips and now my setup is functional and looks really clean.