Upgrading your video conferencing setup is a great way to “wow” clients and coworkers. A high-end setup immediately communicates professionalism and sets expectations high. So, if you recognize the importance of first impressions, then you’ll want to read on.
In this article, I list and discuss the exact gear that I use to record videos, attend video meetings, and host live streams.
This setup has given me the confidence to do much more video work, and almost everyone that I virtually meet with for the first time comments on the crisp, impressive video quality.
Trust me — if video is an important part of your work and you have the budget for it, then this setup is one of the best investments you can make for your business or career.
Finally, here are two quick notes before we get started:
Okay, let’s dive in!
Let’s start with the camera, which is perhaps the most important piece in the entire setup. The camera has the biggest influence over how you appear to others. The crisper and more “true-to-life” that you are, the better impression that it will make.
You can view this quick comparison video below to see real video footage from the two cameras discussed. View it in 1080p to get the best idea of the potential quality.
The Canon EOS M50 is a mirrorless vlogging camera that’s perfect for live streaming, recording, and virtual meetings. These mirrorless cameras are a step between point-and-shoot cameras and fully fledged DSLRs, but trust me when I say that the quality of this camera is top notch.
Since the M50 is not a traditional webcam, you need a couple of accessories to make it function as such. First, you need an AC adapter so that you can plug the camera in. This frees you from having to rely on charging batteries and worrying about battery life during a meeting or recording session.
Also, since you cannot rest the camera at the top of your monitor like you can with most webcams, you need a mounting mechanism so that you can mount it to your desk (behind your monitor).
Finally, to ensure that you can use the mirrorless camera with your computer, you’ll need the completely free Canon EOS Webcam Utility software.
This is the exact setup that I use in my YouTube videos and live streams.
If you have a smaller budget or you’d prefer a more lightweight setup, then you cannot go wrong with this Logitech C920 HD Pro Webcam.
This is the webcam that I used before upgrading to the Canon EOS M50, and I was pleased with it compared to any other webcams that I had tried.
This all changed when I saw Cath Ellis’s amazing video quality when she purchased the M50, and it caused me to quickly follow suit.
However, if you would be happy with decent quality that’s a step above most built-in webcams, then you’ll want to check out the Logitech C920.
The EOS M50 comes with a 15-45mm stock lens, which is perfectly fine for high-end recording. It autofocuses quickly and gives a nice background blur effect. It’s also versatile — you can use it for photography outside of the office if you decide to do so.
However, I opted for a 22mm prime lens. This lens is faster, has a wider frame of view, and ramps up the background blur effect even further.
Again, this 22mm lens is not necessary, but if you want to push even more production value out of your setup, then this lens is a worthwhile investment.
Sound is another key aspect of any professional recording or streaming setup. If you’re using a stock webcam or laptop mic, then the sound quality is probably lacking.
To solve this problem, I purchased the Blue Yeti X Professional Condenser USB Microphone. Blue is a popular mic brand, and the Yeti X is where I arrived after hours of research. I coupled the mic with this foam windscreen to reduce popping and ambient background noise.
I’ve been very pleased with my purchase, and you can hear the sound quality for yourself in any of my videos.
I will put together a longer article with multiple microphone options at a later date.
To get the most out of your video setup, you want to make sure that your lighting is good. I recommend investing in two LED key lights that can mount to your desk.
I would have preferred the Elgato key lights, but due to COVID-19, they are nearly impossible to find at a reasonable price. I settled for an off-brand model (about $200 USD for two key lights) that has since went out of stock.
The important thing is to make sure that you have one or two lights to light the space in front of your camera. You can use standalone lights or tripod-like ring lights if mounting key lights to your desk is not an option.
Getting a high-quality recording setup is half of the battle. Once you can capture yourself in high quality, you need to make sure that you have a high-quality background.
There are two ways to do this:
Initially, I purchased an Elgato collapsible green screen and tried using that (since these are so hard to find now, here’s a possible alternative). While the quality of the greenscreen is superb, I still noticed a subtle blur in my hair and around my shoulders (likely due to my lighting).
If I were going to use a green screen, I wanted it to be impossible to tell that I was using a green screen. I couldn’t get that working as desired, so I decided to make a few purchases and rearrange my office furniture to create a more visually appealing background.
So, if you decide to go the “real background” route like I did, then I suggest filling the background with professional items that match your personality. Think art, plants, decorative items.
I like plants and greenery, so I purchased a monstera deliciosa and ficus tree. I also moved my color-adjustable smart table lamp into the frame to add some ambient lighting.
I still consider my backdrop a work in progress (I’d love to add some artwork), but I’m satisfied with how it has turned out so far.
And there we have it! If you’re looking to increase the production value of your videos or give off a more professional, high-end impression on your client calls and work meetings, then the recommendations in this article should help.
If you have any questions or would like to get opinions on possible alternative purchases, then feel free to join the instructional design community and ask away!