Best Lens for YouTube Videos & Live Streaming
So what kind of lens do you need for YouTube and live streaming videos? Whether your camera has a built-in lens or accepts interchangeable lenses, the lens will determine:
- how close your camera can get to the subject
- how much of the background you’ll capture
- how good the image quality will look
- how much of the picture will appear in focus.
Wider angle lenses (24-35mm equivalent) are popular for vloggers and live streamers as they can capture a good deal of the scene. They’re ideal if you’re shooting in a tight space with the camera fairly close to you. (If you’re vlogging and holding the camera in your hand, you’ll likely need something around 24mm equivalent or wider.)
50mm equivalent lenses are also popular because they offer a ‘standard’, undistorted view close to natural vision – though they will need to be positioned a bit further from whatever or whoever you’re filming.
24-70mm or 24-105mm equivalent lenses are also great options, as they give you the flexibility to zoom from a wide angle to a closer crop if needed. If you want to capture a faraway subject, you’ll need more zoom, depending on the distance involved.
Unless you’re filming outdoors in good light or indoors with additional lighting, it’s worth choosing a lens with a large maximum aperture (i.e. a lower f-stop value) – e.g. an f/1.8 or f/1.4 prime lens. These lenses gather more light, so your video will look cleaner and less ‘noisy’ in dimmer lighting conditions. They’ll also help blur the background softly.
Just make sure that your chosen aperture setting doesn’t make your depth of field too shallow, as any movement of the camera or subject may cause your subject to slip out of focus.
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Unless you’re just using a smartphone or webcam to live stream, you’ll need an encoder. This is a type of hardware device or software application that converts video content for the web and sends it to the internet. (Smart devices can encode as well as record video content, but their live streaming capabilities are very limited.)
An encoder will also let you do things like use external audio or video equipment, use more than one camera, and broadcast gameplay.
If you’re planning to live stream video using a computer, you’ll also need encoder software and a capture card. A capture card connects to your camera on one side and to your computer via USB on the other.
Hardware encoders have built-in capture cards so can connect straight to a camera or other video source.