I recently started setting up my computer for streaming so that i can record video tutorials and presentations with higher production value.
A terrible web camera can look surprisingly good with a great lighting setup, and a fantastic camera can look surprisingly terrible without one. Start with a basic lamp to either side of you beside your monitor, and diffuse it with whatever you can or bounce the light off the back wall, or sit with your desk pushed up against a window so natural light hits your face. You’ll be off to a great start.
Old Lamps ($0)
A decent image quality is important, and even more so if you plan to do any “talking head” style videos where you fill the whole frame. It’s not as important if you’ll be keeping your face tiny in the bottom corner all the time. Consider using the camera you already have if it supports live video-out and you can swap your lens. Consider upgrading the lens to a lower f-stop model within your price range. I have opted to use a $20 lens over my ‘real’ camera lenses, because it goes down to f1.4 and give me the softest background at this focal length. No autofocus, but that’s often better then your camera randomly “hunting” for focus unexpectedly.
(The one you may already have.)
Super Budget Lens ($22) – Fujian CCTV 35mm f1.4
(built for security cameras, but works on any cropped sensor)
Lens adapter (~ $7) – C-mount to [your mount]
(You need to convert c mount to your lens mount (ef, fx, micro 4/3 etc))
Video Capture ($25) – generic video capture card
(If your camera doesn’t support video out as a USB device)
Micro HDMI adapter cable ($5) – Micro HDMI to HDMI Adapter
(if your camera supports micro hdmi out but didnt come with a cable, you need one)
The next thing people will notice after image quality is audio quality. Even if you have a gorgeous image, if it sounds terrible you’ll come across as a novice. I set my budget for audio to a maximum of $100. I also wanted a mic i could use for both streaming, or on camera since this is my first real mic. The best value I could find is this newer alternative to the rode video micro.
You’ll probably want to have some control over your picture quality and color. Start by white balancing your camera. Then install a copy of OBS which lets you filter your image and apply LUTs. It’s free and has a built in “Virtual Camera” tool that lets you putput your color corrected picture as a device that can be seen in google meet, skype, zoom, or any other software that uses webcams.
Streaming Software ($0) – OBS Open Broadcast Software