If you’re thinking about putting on a virtual concert, you may be wondering what gear you need.  For example, do I need a nice camera, or will my phone be enough?  Do I need to use an audio interface and mics or will my phone be enough.

In the event that I decide to upgrade, what are my options?

What kind of return on investment can I expect?  How much better will my audio and video be if I upgrade my setup?

The camera options that I used were:

2010 MacBook Pro Built-In Camera – Your phone will likely have a better camera than this potato.  Apple computers have notoriously bad webcams and the quality hasn’t improved all that much in 10 years, unfortunately.

iPhone SE (1st gen) – You probably have a better phone than this, and it’s already much better than the MacBook Pro potato cam.  Plus you can position it easily, so there’s more flexibility with camera angles.

GoPro Hero 5 – The video quality of the GoPro Hero 5 is similar to the iPhone SE, but it has more views.  For example, you can go from a tight view (similar to the iPhone) to a super wide angle view.  This means you can shoot in a tight space and still get everyone in frame.

Canon EOS M50 – This is a popular entry-level camera among vloggers and YouTubers.  With a DSLR or mirrorless, you can dial in the look you want from your videos by switching out lenses, changing lighting conditions and adjusting the camera settings manually.  The Sony a6000 is a competitor that is also worth looking into.

The audio options that I used were:

iPhone SE (1st gen) – If you’ve ever tried recording instruments on a potato, you know it gets all distorted and should be avoided.  The iPhone SE is no exception and should only be used when there’s nothing else.

GoPro Hero 5 – How can something be worse than a potato?  I have no idea, ask GoPro.  The audio on the GoPro Hero 5 is arguably worse than the iPhone SE.

Rode VideoMicro – Again, not much better than the iPhone SE or GoPro Hero 5.  Not a bad option when talking though.

ZOOM LiveTrak L-8 with Shure SM57 – The raw recordings are not all that much better than the others.  But, you will have cleaner recordings that can be edited and mixed to sound much better.

Conclusion

In terms of video and audio quality, this is the ballpark you can expect when working on a shoestring budget.

Making an investment will give you more options and possibly better quality, but no camera or microphone will ever transform a mediocre performance into a great one.

My two cents is to put the most energy into making your performance great, and do what you can on the production end.  Please feel free to reach out if there’s anything I might be able to help you with.

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