Money may not buy you love, but does money buy you better video?
Creating high quality video and audio for your BLOG is essential in any content marketing strategy.
If you’re like me and you don’t have a background in audio and video, you will be anxious to get the best results.
Inevitably, your mind will turn to the hardware and it won’t take you long to discover there is a world of choice of equipment. Prices for video and audio equipment can easily reach thousands of dollars.
Does more money give you better results?
I decided to challenge myself to an exercise in 20/20 hindsight – to test the equipment I had already purchased and run a trial between my best equipment (more than $1,000) and an ultra-low cost configuration (less than $160). That’s more than a 600% difference in price!
In the interests of science, I decided to keep the lighting and the set identical and to make as faithful a comparison as possible. I have also been very restrained in the processing of the audio of this post.
High Cost Solution (+$1,000):
Canon Rebel T5i with a Canon EF 50 mm Lens
Audio Technica PRO 88W-R35 Wireless Lavalier System with ATR3350mW Omnidirectional Microphone
Manfrotto Tripod and Tripod Head
Low Cost Solution ($160):
You can be the judge! Check out the video above.
The “High Cost” Canon Rebel T5i with a Canon EF 50 mm Lens retails for just over $715.
The Cannon T5i is a very good quality SLR camera capable of excellent video.
Don’t be fooled by the size of the lens, it’s the size a pro would use for a portrait at this range. The lens is fast, so it will work in a wide range of lighting conditions.
The “High Cost” audio is achieved with an Audio Technica PRO 88W-R35 Wireless Lavalier System with ATR3350mW Omnidirectional Microphone, which retails for about $120.
And I am using a pricier Manfrotto Tripod and Tripod Head for approx. $300
For a total cost of – $1,135
You could elect to buy a cheaper Tripod, so let’s just say our “High Cost” solution will set you back more than $1,000.
The “Low Cost” Logitech HD Pro C920 1080p webcam retails for $70. This is a USB device that plugs directly into my PC. I recorded the video using Logitech’s free video recording tool.
The “Low Cost” audio is made possible by an Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB Microphone – which retails for $60. This also plugs directly into a USB port on my PC. I actually like this microphone better than the one I used in the “high cost” solution.
I’m also using a $30 low end tripod to hold the webcam at the right height.
There is nothing worse than a web video that looks like it’s shot from the angle of a PC’s webcam. A cheap tripod will do the job of raising the webcam to the level of a proper camera, just make sure the tripod has a level, so you can ensure your shots won’t be crooked.
The Low Cost solution costs less than $160.
It’s hardly a fair fight!
I uploaded both of these tests to my video editing software and I have not altered the video in any way. You’re seeing the raw footage. But I have normalized the audio, using the same function across all of the content – so all the audio was treated the same.
Ultimately, you need to be the judge. I would be interested in your feedback.
Before I render my non-expert opinion, these are my preliminary observations:
- The Rebel T5i or any other SLR camera has other uses. It has interchangeable lenses, a wide range of features and it can do things the webcam cannot do. But it’s more than 10 times the price of a high end webcam.
- Both solutions require a PC, but the Low Cost solution actually requires the PC to be on location to facilitate the recording. On the other hand, the Low Cost solution can actually deliver the content directly into your video editing software, eliminating a step in your process.
- It’s a lot quicker and easier to set up the Low Cost solution.
- You would need to spend even more money for the High Cost solution if you wanted to mic more than one presenter. The lavalier mic I demoed only supports one user and a multi-microphone solution could easily cost more than the camera.
No surprise, the High Cost solution was better:
- There was no distortion of the image.
- The background is pitch black (despite harsh lighting conditions in my office – NOT a studio).
- The color and focus are better.
- The audio is approximately the same, though I actually think the Low Cost audio was better. (This is particularly important if you plan on multi-purposing your content in a Podcast or audio file).
The Low Cost solution was not bad:
- The image was distorted, but you would not tend to notice most of this distortion if you didn’t have the other version to compare.
- The audio was excellent.
- It was much easier to set up. Not a trivial consideration if video production isn’t your day job.
- The content fed directly into my PC where it could immediately be previewed and edited.
I hope this was helpful. I genuinely want your feedback. Do you have any suggestions for me?
Also check out my post on making your own Demo Video for your App.