The Art of the Talking-Head Setup

What gear do top creators use?

Let’s Talk About Gear.

People always ask me what equipment they need to make videos.

In general, a modern smartphone is all you need.

Plenty ultra successful creators are iPhone only, like KarenX and Drexlee. My friend Dylan Page is approaching 10M followers on TikTok with an iPhone as his main camera. He even does all of his editing on his iPhone, using CapCut.

But if you want to output a high volume of consistent, visually aesthetic content – especially talking head content – a static setup is ideal. Which includes lighting and audio solutions.

Show & Tell

I thought the best way to offer gear recommendations, is by putting together a collection of creators with good-looking setups with what gear they use for the particular shot shown, and how much it all costs.

Also! Please feel free to reply to this email directly if you have any questions or comments. I love hearing from you directly.

Let’s get started.

Jeff puts out premium quality short-form and long-form videos, and always nails his lighting. He uses a smoke machine for the haze effect, which looks sick. Below is the gear used to nail this look.

Camera: Canon R6 ($2,000)

Lens: Canon 50mm 1.4 ($240)

Mic: Rode NTG3 ($700)

Audio Interface: Rodecaster Pro 2 ($700)

Lighting: (2) Godox SL60 ($140) and a Neewer MS60C ($170) and these Tube Lights ($100)

Total: $4,190+

Ben is an incredible follow for creators. His content revolves around helpful resources and tips to improve the quality of your videos. He has a really good looking setup, that doesn’t break the bank.

Camera: Sony A6400 ($715)

Lens: Sigma 16mm ($350)

Mic: Elgato Wave DX ($90)

Audio Interface: Elgato Wave XLR ($130)

Lighting: Godox SL60W ($165) with an Aputure Light Dome Mini ($130)

Total: $1,580+

Oliur is a popular YouTuber with two channels – one that covers tech and lifestyle, and the other covering business and finance.

He has a signature aesthetic powered by premium Sony photography gear paired with soft and muted tones.

Camera: Sony FX3 ($3,900)

Lens: Sony 24mm 1.4 ($1,400)

Mic: Logitech Blue Sona ($350) on an Elgato Wave Mic Arm ($80)

Lighting: Godox VL300 ($750) and Godox VL150 ($400)

Total: $6,680+

Lila is a YouTuber who shares filmmaking tips and editing tutorials for beginners. Her talking head setup is clean and sharp.

Camera: Sony A7S III ($3,000)

Lens: Sony 24mm f/1.4 ($1,400)

Lighting: Amaran 60D ($170) with Light Dome Mini ($70) a Godox SL-60W ($140) and an Amaran 150C ($360)

Microphone: Rode VideoMicro ($40)

Total: $5,180+

Keanu is an incredible VFX artist and educator. His setup is quite simple, clean and visually pleasing.

Camera: Sony A7III ($1480)

Lens: Tamron 2.8 28-75mm ($900)

Mic: Shure MV7 ($250)

Lighting: Neewer 700W Softboxes ($80)

Total: $2,710+

Anthony is a photography YouTuber with a straightforward setup for his talking head shots.

Camera: Canon EOS R10 ($1,100)

Lens: Canon RF 14—35mm f/4 ($1,200)

Microphone: Rode VideoMic NTG ($250)

Lighting: Amaran 100D ($160) and Amaran 60D ($170)

Total: $2,880+

Sara is one of my favorite YouTubers whose talking head setup is as clean and crisp as they come.

Camera: Sony FX6 ($6,000)

Microphone: Rode Lavalier GO ($75)

Lighting: Aputure 300D Mark II ($950) with an Aputure Lightdome II ($210) and an Aputure LS C120D ($810)

Total: $9,345+

I have a lot of gear for different styles and formats, but for go-to talking head shots (like the one show below) here is the gear I normally use.

Camera: Canon R5 ($3,600)

Lens: Canon 24mm f/1.4 ($1,550) - absolutely obsessed with this lens.

Microphone: Shure SM7B ($400)

Audio Interface: Rodecaster Pro (1st Gen) ($500)

Lighting: Aputure 300X ($1,000) with an Aputure Lightdome ($210), Aputure 120D ($800) with an Aputure Spotlight Mount ($500) and a Neewer SL-60W ($110). Do not emulate my lighting setup. It is complete overkill.

Total: $8,670+

Daniel is an epic director and filmmaker, who has a simple and attractive talking head setup.

Camera: Sony A7C ($2,000)

Lens: Zeiss Batis 25mm ($1,000)

Lighting: Aputure 300D ($900) with an Aputure Light Dome II ($210)

Microphone: Sennheiser MKH 416 ($990)

 Total: $5,100+

Brandon is a professional filmmaker who creates great educational content for YouTube.

Camera: Canon R5c ($4,000)

Lens: Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 ($2,100)

Microphone: Shure SM7B ($400)

Lighting: Amaran 200X ($300) and Amaran 100D ($160) with an Aputure Spotlight Mount ($500)

Total: $7,460+

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