On Camera

Self Tape Tips: Best Cameras for Self Taping

Watch the whole video here 👆🏻 or read the transcript below!

Today I’m going to talk about self tape tips and camera options for self-tapes. This is if you’re getting set up for the very first time and you want to know what you can actually use to look professional enough.

Hi, everyone, and welcome back to the channel, or if this is your first time here, hello! My name is Kat Elizabeth. I am an actor, small business owner and online course creator and I’m really just here to give you all of the resources and confidence you need to create the career that you’re dreaming of.

Now, all of the products I recommend I’ve generally used myself, and that’s why I recommend them because there are so many out there and you can read all the reviews and get bogged down in five stars and one stars and get really overwhelmed. So, for me, I’ve done plenty of research and then I settled on something and if it’s working for me, I’m going to tell you that. And if I also know of a friend or something that is using something else, then I’ll also recommend that. But I’m not going to talk about products I don’t know about because there’s just no point.

So, the number one debate is what kind of camera, and your three main options when it comes to self-tapes are smartphones, DSLRs and the little mirrorless point and shoot cameras, and they’ve all got pros and cons to them.

First of all, let’s just talk about the good old smartphone. It will absolutely do the job. Okay? So if the occasional self-tape is all you’re using it for and you’ve got a great smartphone that already has a wonderful camera built in, don’t go spending anymore money on getting a another camera. I honestly don’t think it’s worth it.

The main thing you need to think about is, is the quality of the audio good enough, because that’s something that can let down the smartphone. And if so, you may want to buy yourself a separate microphone. So there are lapel mics that can connect to your phone and there are also little mini boom mics that you can attach to your phone, which are great as well.

I’m going to have a separate video on all of the audio recommendations that I have, so I’ll link to that as well. But yeah, if you’ve got a great smartphone, absolutely make sure that one works for you. And it’s all about just making sure you’ve got a tripod and the little attachment that you need for the tripod for the phone. So there’s those little phone clamps and they cost like a couple of dollars on eBay.

Compact mirrorless cameras: These are the much smaller cameras that you can use for traveling and everything. They usually do amazing, like so many of them do 4K video, a lot of them have the flip out screens, so there’s a ton of benefits to these, because generally the quality of the video and the lens is still going to be stepped up from a smartphone and also the battery life is fantastic.

It’s nice to have it separate. Like what if you need your phone for some reason in the scene and you need to have another camera? So it can be nice to have a separate camera and these are often, I mean, there’s some really expensive ones, but you’ll generally get one of these a fair bit cheaper than a DSLR, which is in the affordable range.

I did a ton of research and this was really winning out for the fact that it had the flip out screen, it was a touchscreen, the video quality was incredible and it was tiny and lightweight.

But the downfall to that one is that it doesn’t allow for an attached microphone, so you can use an audio recorder, but then you’re going to be recording the audio and then recording the video and you’re going to have to sync them up, which is just one extra step, where if you’ve got a really quick turnaround for a self-tape is probably not recommended.

So, my recommendation, I’ve done a little bit of research and some of the ones that do include mic input and still have the same kind of specs of what I have, the Canon M Series and the Panasonic Lumix G7 4K.

Don’t worry, I’m going to link them below so you can have a look. I checked these out and they just seem to tick all the boxes and they’re in the right price range, because trust me, if you pay way more, of course you can get everything you need, but as an actor you’re probably budget conscious and hoping to get one that is well under a thousand dollars.

Final option is a DSLR, which is what I am recording my YouTube videos on, and these are a bulkier, heavier, and generally more expensive option, although there are some really budget-friendly ones these days, which is pretty cool. And these are the best idea idea, I would say, if you’re also looking to dabble in a bit of filmmaking, because you are going to be able to do so much more with the video here.

You can obviously have the separate microphones, you can choose which lenses you want to get so you can change the entire look of your film or your self-tape, depending on what lens is attached. You’re less limited by how close or far away from the camera you are because depending on the lens, it’s going to work nice and close versus in a really large space. I absolutely adore mine and I use mine constantly, so therefore I was able to justify it.

To get specific, these days I’m shooting on a Canon 80D. All of my older videos are the ones from sort of mid last year. So mid-2018 and before were on a 60D. I’ve had the same microphone this entire time. They take the same SD cards and batteries and all of that, so it’s really easy to upgrade as you go along.

But there are also some lower end ones in the Canon range, the DSLR Canons that are so much cheaper and are a really good getting started point, because the cool thing is that you can buy the body of the camera quite cheaply and invest in a decent lens and down the track when you want to upgrade the camera, the lens is still going to work.

So the lens is a very long-term investment, whereas the body of the camera, you could always trade in, you can sell it on eBay and then buy yourself the next step up if you’ve proven to yourself that you’re using it enough to justify the cost.

So I guess in summary, you’ve got so many options because these days technology is so good that it’s almost impossible to get a bad video.

So what I really want you to focus on is what’s your budget right now? What have you already got that you can work with? How often are you actually doing the self-tapes? Are you going to be doing anything other than shooting self-tapes with this equipment?

And then really just work within those restraints knowing that creating a self-tape that at least has a clear video and clear audio is better than not creating a self-tape at all, or having to go into a studio and pay, for instance, $80 every single time you need to put down a tape, which sometimes if it’s a large enough role you can justify it because of the coaching you get, but other times it’s like a one-liner or you’re not even saying anything in the scene.

Do you really want to go spending money on coaching for that when you could just quickly throw up a tripod and your smartphone in your living area and just record it from there?

So, that’s enough ranting for me. As I said, all of the links to what I’ve mentioned as well as some other budget options are going to be below, and feel free to comment if you have any specific questions on the equipment I’m using and whatnot.

Keep an eye out for other videos coming out on microphones I recommend, tripods I recommend, backdrops I recommend and more. So obviously, please just subscribe if you don’t want to miss out on any of these.

If this was helpful, give it a thumbs up and I can’t wait to see you guys soon. Bye for now.


Kat is a copywriter, brand & messaging strategist personal branding coach and the founder of The Personal Branding Project whose mission is to help you go from best-kept secret to in-demand brand.


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