When I stumbled into vlogging, I quickly discovered how complex the whole process could be and I loved it! I loved to dive deep into the nitty-gritty details of the planning, process, techniques, and technical side of the video gear. In fact, researching, selecting, and purchasing the gear was one of the best parts!
After hundreds of hours and trying out dozens and dozens of products personally and with my media team I wanted to share what vlogging accessories were the most useful and a few to stay away from.
But first, it’s important to clarify what I won’t be covering what I consider to be “essential gear for vlogging” including a camera, lens, external microphone, memory card, and a gorilla pod (or similar). I will cover those at length in a future post on this site.
So, what are vlogging accessories? Vlogging accessories are unnecessary but highly useful pieces of gear that make vlogging easier or improve the quality of the videos.
So, without farther ado, here are my top 10 recommendations of for vlogging accessories.
1. Travel Tripod
There is a reason why I would include a gorilla pod in the essentials list of vlog gear rather than just an accessory: it can do just about everything. The problem, however, is that it doesn’t do any of those things very well.
There are many times where there simply are no substitutes for a proper travel tripod. It’s one of those things you don’t think you need until you do. Without it, you have to compromise on where you can get still footage. With the gorilla pod, you have to hunt for things you can wrap it around, but with a travel tripod, you can get that shot anywhere.
Travel tripods are also much better at staying stable, while the gorilla pod has a tendency to fall over if you’re not careful. This can be critical if you are a one-person crew filming yourself and can’t be there in time to catch the camera.
Lastly, one last benefit of the travel tripod is the fluid head (if it comes with one). This allows you to get smooth pans and tilts if the tripod allows for it. Not something that can be done well without one.
What’s Great About Travel Tripods:
- Solid and Steady
- They come at hundreds of price points to fit your budget
- They are simple and easy to use
- Some travel tripods double as a monopod
- Even the travel-sized ones take up a lot of space in your pack.
- They attract attention if you are trying to be covert
Recommended Travel Tripods
I personally use the TYCKA Ranger Travel Tripod since it came with most of the features I wanted (compact, fluid ball head, converts to a monopod, and has a counter-weight hook) for a solid price. You can check the price on Amazon, since it ranges from time to time.
The defacto travel tripod, however, is from Peak Design. Their tripod doesn’t have a fluid head but is practically perfect in every other way. Sadly the price point will set you back $350-$600.
2. Portable Lights
When I started vlogging I quickly became aware that poor lighting situations abounded. Most rooms were too dark, auditoriums were horrible, and recording night scenes were disasters.
Even with a camera that had good low light performance, it is a struggle to keep your ISO low enough to keep your footage from looking too grainy and my preferred camera doesn’t perform well in low light at all.
I’ve already written at length about how to vlog at night to you can capture the best shots, but one of those ways is to bring along some portable camera lights.
A single small light can make the difference of filming total darkness and seeing your beautiful face (even if you look like you came out of the Blair Witch Project). If you can mount a light to the top of your camera at least your viewers can somewhat see what you are referring too.
Having a portable light can also be used to enhance natural light. I will often use a small light to fill in a persons face when I window is acting as a key light.
What’s Great About Portable Lights:
- They are handy for a variety of situations (night, dark rooms, as fill lights)
- They are small and lightweight
- Require another battery you have to keep charged
- Requires a hot shoe mount extender for your camera to mount a light and mic.
- Makes your camera rig look ridiculous.
Recommended Portable Lights
I’ve worked with a dozen cheap lights off of Amazon and the best small light for your money is currently the Neewer On Camera Video Light (176 LED version). This light is dirt cheap but is well made and is very bright. It’s so bright that I often take advantage of the built-in dimming feature.
The best pocket light on the market is the Aputure AL-MX. It’s smaller and more durable but is six times the cost.
3. Remote Camera Shutter
If you’re like me, you are doing most of the camera work yourself and it can be a drag to start and stop the camera for every take when it’s out of reach. In my studio, my camera is seven feet away with a wire between me and the camera for the lav. Every time I have to turn it on and off and I have to carefully walk back and worth.
It’s not that it takes to much longer but saving time and making it easier to shoot with a cheap remote is easily justifiable.
The other upside of a remote is that it makes it easy to do portrait shots of yourself for all the thumbnail photos you will need to take.
What’s Great About Camera Remotes:
- They are very affordable.
- They are tiny.
- Make it easier to record and take photos of yourself
- They require batteries that are difficult to find in a pinch.
Recommended Camera Remotes
The only recommendation I can make here is to purchase the remote that is made by the same manufacturer as your camera. If you have a Canon camera, get the Canon remote. If you have a Sony camera, get the Sony remote. Etc. Also, double-check that your model works with the remote.
I thought I would save $10 by purchasing the Amazon Basics remote and that was a mistake. That cheap remote could only take photos and not stop and start videos. It’s better to pay extra for the brand name here.
4. Lavalier Microphone
I love shotgun mics that sit on top of the camera. They are convenient and usually capture great audio. If you are vlogging and keep the camera close to the subject than there’s no need for any other mic.
That being said, I often find that it’s nice to have the option of a lav (aka lapel, lavalier) microphone handy.
The camera might be just far enough back from the subject who talks a little too softly. Some times there is a little too much background noise.
These are both common situations that a lav can fix. The best part is that a wired lav is a simple piece of equipment that takes up very little space in your pack.
What’s Great About Lav’s:
- They are tiny
- They are a wide variety of price points
- Dealing with wires on a wired lav can be a pain.
- Dealing with radio signals on wireless versions can also be a pain.
If you are getting your first lav, I would look no farther than the Deity V.Lav. It’s very affordable and it sounds great as long as you aren’t singing or screaming into it. You can find more details on this mic and my other favorite mics on this gear recommendation page.
If you are looking for a great wireless option, the Sennheiser EW 112P G4 is the best I have used. I’ve always preferred the simplicity of wires to the more complex wireless versions though. They’re just more possible points of failure to deal with the wireless kits.
5. Extra Lenses
While the first lens every vlogger starts with is a wide-angle lens, that wide focal length can leave much to be desired. Don’t get me wrong, if I only had to pick one lens for vlogging, wide-angle would be it. There are certain situations that call for a little more though.
Wide-angle lenses tend to make it difficult to get close-ups of anything but yourself. They usually have smaller apertures as well, making it extra difficult to get that nice blurry background (bokeh) for b-roll or to isolate your subjects more from the background.
What’s Great About Extra Lenses:
- Drastically improve the variety of video shots.
- Improve the overall quality of the video
- Extra Lenses are the most expensive accessories out of this whole list
- They can be very heavy
It’s nice to have at least two other lenses. I generally recommend a simple telephoto lens that can cover a wide array of focal lengths for any situation. I also like to carry one prime lens with a large aperture for those times you need that blurry background or better low light performance.
There are far too many makes, models, and price points to make a specific recommendation. I do list the ones I use with my preferred camera here though.
I have sat through 30 minutes of recording rapid-fire testimony video with multiple students on our campus only to get back to my desk and realize the microphone was not turned on the whole time.
It’s one of those early mistakes I’ll never forget and now I always remember to bring headphones with me.
In a pinch, you can turn on your audio levels on your camera video monitor but I find its invaluable to monitor the audio of the video I am recording if I can. Listening to the audio the microphone is picking up allows you to hear what your microphone hears which is often different than what your ears hear. That way you can fix sound issues before you get to your editing suite.
What’s Great About Headphones:
- You probably already own a pair that will work
- They are affordable and/or easy to come by
- They are small and easy to throw in your pack
- Nothing, this is an easy win.
These simple Skullcandy Earbuds will get the job done. Earbuds do a good job of blocking out other sounds by plugging your ears enough to hear what the microphone hears.
I started using my Bose QC3’s for monitoring audio, but these are a little overkill in my opinion. I just usually have them on hand already.
7. Camera Hand Strap
On a day that I have decided to vlog or shoot photos, I try to always keep my camera on hand rather than in my camera bag. It is inconvenient and I risk dropping it throughout the day.
This seems to be an unpopular choice for vloggers but I always have a hand strap on my camera to make it easier to have that camera in my hand as long as possible. That way I am more likely to capture the unplanned moments throughout the day.
With the camera strap on I don’t have to worry as much about dropping the camera and be ok running or walking over uneven terrain.
What’s Great About Hand Straps:
- Protect your camera from being dropped
- Make it easier to carry the camera for longer periods
- Most models are a little bulky
Recommended Camera Hand Straps
I can only recommend one. The Clutch Camera Hand Strap by Peak Design. It’s by far the best designed and has a bottom plate that can mount on most travel tripods and other Peak Design gear.
8. Pocket Multi-tool
With a growing collection of camera gear and increasing sophistication in video production, you will find a growing need for tools. Things like screwdrivers, scissors, knives, plyers, and Allen wrenches.
Without them, you’re left with using your keys, hunting for the tools, or doing without some shot or other planned activity. It’s a huge bummer to be stuck because you didn’t have some kind of basic tool.
That’s why I recommend carrying some kind of multi-tool like a Swiss Army knife or a leatherman. One small multi-tool can save you from a thousand random scenarios.
What’s Great About Multi-tools:
- They are compact and light
- They have dozens of uses
- They are inexpensive
- The TSA will confiscate these things if you leave them in your bag
As a past Boy Scout, I’ve used and played with a variety of multi-tools. Most of them are great and will do the trick.
Currently, I keep a tiny Leatherman Style PS keychain multi-tool in my pack. It’s small but sturdy enough to do its job when you need it. It also does not have a blade and is designed to meet TSA security standards. That won’t necessarily stop them from confiscating it but it helps if you forget about it in your bag.
9. Travel Drone
Drones are so common in vlogs now that it can seem cliche but, like all tools, they have a purpose and can add a huge edge to your video footage if used well.
Drones have a way of providing context in a way that no other camera can. It allows your views to get a birds-eye view of your location helping them put your journey, the location you are visiting, or perhaps a place you are staying in context by showing the surroundings.
These days, drones are as affordable as a decent lens, small enough to throw in your bag, and a ton of fun to fly. So, why not add it to the arsenal if you are considering how to level up?
What’s Great About Drones:
- Cinematic footage
- Fun to fly
- Fairly expensive
- Complex airspace laws
We have used the original Mavic drone from DJI for a few years now. It’s a great drone and I’m sure the newer version is even better. If had had to choose again with the current offerings out there I would opt for DJI’s Mavic Air drone.
10. Camera Gimbal
Running and gunning for a vlog can often lead to some shaky results. It’s not uncommon to look down at your viewfinder thinking you had a great shot only to find that your footage was so shaky it’s unusable.
Some cameras and lenses have built-in stabilization, but this only eliminates the subtle shaking.
Having a full gimbal, whether mechanical or digital, fixes this issue and allows to get smooth and dynamic shots that were only available to Hollywood not long ago.
What’s Great About Gimbals:
- Stable footage
- More cinematic movement
- Good gimbals can be fairly expensive
- Some are difficult to balance
Our media team has used two very different gimbals. One was the Zhiyun-Tech Crane and the other was the Flycam Redking. Both work great, but if I could only choose one it would be the Flycam Redking. Not only is it more affordable, but it’s more reliable. The simple build makes it practically indestructible, it doesn’t require batteries, nor charging. You can use it all day without problems though your arm might be a bit sore from the weight.
What is the best camera for vlogging? While this depends on your budget, I would suggest that you could not go wrong with the Canon 80D (as of the time of this writing). For the price and performance of the camera, you are getting the Swiss Army knife of cameras. You can read a full review of my latest recommendation here.
Is there a vlogging kit for beginners? There are a few camera kits on the market and I would suggest the Canon 80D Creator Kit. It comes with what you need to get started: a camera, mic, memory card, and a great lens. It also comes with a bonus tool for smooth focus pulling.
How do you shoot a vlog? A vlog is a video you shoot and post online that pulls in personal elements from your life. To get started, think about what you might want to share or would want to show the world and simply use your smartphone to record a video of it. It can be as simple as you sharing a story or having somebody hold the phone as you perform in some way. You can use the YouTube smartphone app to set up an account and upload your first video.