Curious about the best YouTube setup? If you’re anything like me, you probably spent hours on Amazon or YouTube videos reviews on the best camera gear only to find out that you:

  1. Are overwhelmed by all the options
  2. Spent hard earned cash on gear that sucked

As Gary Vee says – content is king. Part of content is making videos.

Most experts will say – you don’t need a camera to start a YouTube channel. You can just use your phone! While that is true, there’s no feeling like investing into your YouTube channel with a gear.

My readers and viewers ask me about my recommendations for my YouTube, live streams, and podcasts. So I created this article to put everything in one place to share my setup.

Whether it’s your first time creating content or you want to upgrade your YouTube studio gear, there’s four steps you need to consider before investing into any setup.

Keep in mind – I personally use all these products. Everything on here is solid. Also support Refugee Hustle by using my affiliate links. 

Step 1: Focus on your  the type of content You’re Creating

Don’t get lost with features and benefits. Stay focused on what you need by starting with the end in mind.

Before opening your wallet, ask – what type of content am I trying to make? 

If you’re going for a more personal, authentic, and relatable vibe, chances are you don’t need a cinematic movie camera. It makes more sense to shoot on a high end point and shoot or phone.

There’s a trend. “Amateur” ranked number 11 in 2018 on PornHub.  I call this the PornHub Amateur effect.

If you’re looking for a more professional or cinematic look, a full blown camera setup makes more sense.

Perception is everything.

After you know what kind of look you’re going for, there’s three choices of upgrades when improving your production quality. You can upgrade your:

  1. Audio
  2. Lighting
  3. Camera or lens

You might be surprised that camera is on the bottom, but most phones shoot 4K these days so a full blown camera isn’t as necessary anymore. 

Start upgrading your gear in that order. Move your way down.

Step 2: Upgrade your audio

You’re thinking… Kevin… you want me to upgrade my audio first?

There’s a good reason why. Recently I got my Samsung S10+. I was BLOWN away with the quality. Check out this picture I recently took with my phone.

The number one thing people can’t stand is shitty sound. Think about it. How many times have you tuned out to choppy or spotty audio? Audio is more important than video. 

There are three types of microphones that I’d recommend investing with: 

  • Shotgun
  • Lavalier 
  • Dynamic 

There’s condenser mics like the Blue Yeti and Blue Snowball, but I’m not a fan because they pick up ambient noise. No one wants to hear your neighbor mowing the lawn during your YouTube video.


Don’t know what to get as a starter? I recommend a shotgun mic. They are versatile. You can use them as a boom mic or attach them to your camera. Your preference. They are great for everything including talking head videos, vlogs, and skits. 

  • Rode VideoMic Pro+ – This classic YouTube microphone that Casey Neistat uses. Invest in the new version. The microphone will turn off automatically when the camera is not in use. Also don’t make the mistake of not charging your rechargeable batteries or keeping a spare. There’s nothing worse that video with NO audio. It won’t capture any if the battery dies.
  • Rode VideoMicro – This is the little brother of the Rode VideoMic Pro+. It’s not as great as the VideoMicPro+, but at least you don’t need to worry about batteries. Also it’s super small and a great “run and gun” mic.


AKA clip on mics and come in wired and wireless. Great for interviews or if you need to be hands free. You can hide these in your clothes. If you’re tight on a budget, this is the best bang for your buck.


These are great for any studio setup including podcasts, talking head videos, or live streams. The best part is that they cut out ambient noise. The downside is that the setup is bulky. You won’t be vlogging with these mics since you’ll need a XLR audio interface like a Zoom H5 (preferred) or FocusRite Scarlett.

  • SM58 – This is a great value XLR dynamic mic that’s built like a tank. Dynamic mics are great for blocking out the background noise. It’s so good that sometimes I use this mic for my sales calls or videos in a noisy coffeeshop. In fact the Zoom H5 and SM58 is my default setup whenever I’m traveling!
  • SM7B – This dynamic mic is a classic. Joe Rogan uses it on his podcast. Michael Jackson used it in Thriller. It’s not cheap. And you need a CloudLifter or DBX preamp in addition to a USB interface like the FocusRite Scarlett, Zoom H5 (Preferred), or Zoom H4. This is harder to use – but once setup, this is my FAVORITE microphone these will last you forever.

Step 3: Upgrade your lighting

The most underrated piece of equipment that can turn your mediocre video into a pro video is lighting. The right lighting can turn your phone into looking like a high end DSLR.

Don’t believe me? Here’s an example:

I’ve done the whole three point lighting setup and bought Limo Studio photography kits. But I prefer to keep things simple with a single light. In fact, the BEST results are with a single ring light. 

Ring lights diffuse light and give a soft box feel. Makeup gurus love these. You also get the rings effect in your eyes – which is a pretty cool.

Ring lights

  • SuperNova ring light – Hands down. Get the SuperNova ring. Don’t go cheap with Neewer. You’ll regret it. Yes – it’s more expensive, but this is ONLY light you’ll need and secret for my increasing my production value. The downside is that this is NOT portable.
  • QIAYA Selfie Light Ring – This is my traveling ring light. It’s just ok. It’s not THAT great because of the harsh lighting. So I’ll bounce the light off a white wall to give it a diffused look. But for last than $15, it’s better than nothing. When I find something better I’ll replace this item.

If you can’t afford either of these and alternative is to use your computer monitor and go to White Display as your light source.

Step 4: Upgrade your camera/lens

All right – so you’ve upgraded your audio and lighting. Time to invest into the sexy stuff… your camera!

If you have a modern day smartphone that’s a great start. For the longest time, I was rocking a OnePlus 3T and thought the camera was horrible

It wasn’t until I recently upgraded my phone to a Samsung S10+ when I was blown away. If you have a phone from 2019 or newer, you probably don’t need to upgrade. 

But if you want to take it a step further and setup a studio, no sweat.

If you don’t know anything about cameras, don’t sweat. To be honest, 99% of the time I shoot on automatic. No shame in that. At least it’s better than shooting out of focus.

I could go for days about cameras, but here are my personal recommendations from least to most expensive.


  • Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 If you’re looking to spend around $50 for a camera, this is your go to camera for streaming and talking head videos. Vlogging is out of the question because this is a webcam. This is the camera of choice for most Twitch streamers. It’s HIGH quality – especially if you pair it with the SuperNova ring light. And fun fact – this is THE camera that Nova Patra used to build her following.

Premium compact point and shoot

  • G7X Mark II – For any on the go videos, this is my FAVORITE go to camera. I use it for vlogs, Instagram, and talking head videos.

This is the most versatile camera because it fits in my pocket. The best part is the CRAZY low light quality because of the aperture – aka how much light the camera lets in. 

Also the brightness from the LCD screen provides a “softbox” effect when you flip up the screen. Half the time I don’t need my ring light.

Sony’s competitor the RX100 is a lot more expensive. I’ve used it before, but I still would go with the G7X. There’s a new G7X Mark III with clean HDMI output so you can connect it as a webcam or live stream with it. Wouldn’t recommend it for any 4K work.

Downside is that there’s no audio input. But you can always record externally with a Zoom recorder and the mic of your choice and sync in post editing.

Professional cameras

  • Canon T5i – This was my first camera. Fun fact – they were used on JK News. There’s no auto level on this camera, but a tripod with the bubble fixes this problem. Looking back at it, I probably would have bought more professional gear right off the bat like the 70D or 80D
  • Canon 70D or 80D These are the classic YouTube cameras with amazing autofocus. If this was Casey Neistat’s default camera, you can’t go wrong. It’s great for skits, vlogs, and talking head videos. I would not recommend this camera for stream because it’s lacking “clean” HDMI output, which basically means you can see all the settings on the screen.
  • Panasonic G7 – This camera is the best bang for your buck. Autofocus isn’t the best and the internal body stabilization, but that’s nothing that a tripod can’t fix. Also the clean HDMI output makes it great for streaming.
  • Panasonic G85 – This is my primary YouTube camera and fills in everything that the G7 doesn’t have, including weather proofing and internal body stabilization. When you pair this up with a Dual I.S. compatible lens, then you have a buttery smooth gimbal like effect. For most beginners this is probably overkill. Like the G7, the G85 has clean HDMI output makes it great for streaming. Autofocus can use some work though.


  • Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens – It’s also Casey Neistat’s lens of choice. It’s not the fastest lens or best in low light, but it’s an amazing wide angle lens and works well with the SuperNova ring light.
  • Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 Art DC HSM Lens by Sigma (CANON) – If you get this in focus, this is my FAVORITE lens. This is lens is clear AF and you get a nice bokeh effect. But the keyword is if. Autofocus is so noisy that it’s unusable. A cool trick that I use is to focus with the camera and then lock it in with manual focus. I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re a new. When I used this lens with my Panasonic G85 and Metabones speedbooster, I literally had one of the fastest lenses on the market with a 1.2 aperture.
  • Panasonic Lumix 12-35mm Lens Vario II – This is my favorite lens from the Panasonic line. This lens is everything that you could want from a lens. It’s a fast and wide angle lens that can literally fit in your pocket. This lens is Dual IS compatible so it looks like you’re running with a gimbal.
  • Canon lens converter – Canon is known for glass. It’s so good that people will use a Metabones speed booster for Panasonic or Sony.

How turn your camera into a webcam

Magewell USB Capture HDMI Video Capture Dongle – If you want to turn any professional camera into webcam, this is the BEST plug and play device. It’s pricey, but worth it and the secret to my high production value for my live streams. The camera MUST have a clean HDMI output capabilities. 


Here’s my current and best YouTube setup that I’m really happy with. Keep in mind I didn’t buy this all at once. But if you have the cash and you’re serious, this is the best setup right now for myself.

Studio and live stream setup:



So that’s all for my killer best YouTube setup. Feel free to copy my setup and model it for your use. 

Also share your best YouTube setup below with comments and photos. Also if you love killer tools and want to stay updated with what I’m using, sign up for my email list here

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