Vlogging has become a big deal of late.
Casey Neistat, PewdiePie and others have made the (TV) news and becoming household names.
Acceptance of internet stars is now tangible by the established media.
Moreover, the term 'broadcast' is now one which most certainly includes internet services and sites like Amazon, Netflix and YouTube seem to dominate social media and our viewing schedules.
As a kind of extension of reality TV, Vlogging takes the audience on largely a first person journey in to quite often a myriad of previously niche activities, compared to those featured on broadcast TV. Video gaming, make up tutorials and filmmaking tips might never have gotten a look in on broadcast TV.
I digress, oh so slightly, because the real focus of this blog is to examine the technical side of Vlogging. It is important to set the scene though, as the concept of broadcasting changes through its production and distribution means yet at the same time, a large chunk of this new programming is often being made by individuals not crews hired by corporations
Unlike TV broadcast, where the Kardashians are being filmed by a crew, Vloggers by their nature are typically, one man bands. Peter Mckinnon seems to utilise a cameraman, opening himself up to be more of a 'typical tv' presenter from time to time.
So to the question on my mind, and no doubt many filmmakers and of course Vloggers,
to date it seems no camera manufacturer has really given Vloggers the time of day and created a unit for this purpose.
What would the perfect Vlogging camera be like?
As a point of reference, let’s start with the Sony A6500 - a well spec’ed capable camera
(as used by Casey Neistat); 4k video. Largish sensor, good in low light and very good autofocus/face detection. However, the Sony A6500 suffers from terrible rolling shutter, whereby panning left-to-right creates a jelly like effect on the image. The battery life is pretty poor, the screen is not flip around so you cannot frame yourself and the camera uses separate lenses. On the audio front, the A6500 whilst it can take a standard 3.5 mm mic, or Sonys XLR unit, doesn't have a head phone jack for monitoring.
In my mind, the perfect Vlogging camera has a fixed wide lens of around 15mm and a large-ish sensor such as micro four thirds or APSC with the ability to crop in on the sensor to act as a zoom. The camera should use Sony NPF batteries which could give very long record times and power peripheral devices. A 1080P flip screen of 7 inches would provide The detail to ensure perfect composition and focus. At either side of the FlipOut screen should be LED lights to perfectly expose the image and allow Vloggers to film day or night.
Focus should be able to be set on the flip out screen, at exactly arm's-length or a distance predetermined so that the camera does not hunt to find your face.
Audio is massively important, and the perfect Vlogging camera should have four assignable audio channels, stereo left, right, dual mono Centred and rear. Built in to the unit should be Bluetooth audio, to capture sound from a capsule mic/lavalier when the vlogger is more than arms length from the unit. Wireless Bluetooth earbuds should also be able to be in the audio back to the presenter for monitoring. As far as ergonomics go, the unit needs a handle, to be held at arms length, a tripod mount area that does not interfere with the battery door and flexible legs al a Joby to attach the unit when travelling without a tripod. Finally, the camera should have image stabilisation built in.
Interestingly, several manufacturers have tried to integrate good sound capture with 1080P video, such as the Canon Legria and Zoom with their Q8. However, these models both seem favour audio quality over video and seem like they don’t meet the total needs of a modern Vlogger, who should be able to shoot 4k video and time lapses, a large is sensor, have integrated lights and excellent battery life.
Vlogging is here to stay, so let’s just see what the main camera manufacturers come up with to fill this gap in the market.