$800 vs. $8,000 YouTube Setup – Is There a Difference?4 min read

Published by Zach on

I recently made a YouTube Video (link coming Friday) where you can check out the side-by-side comparison.

Is an $8,000 YouTube Setup 10x better than an $800 YouTube Setup? I decided to run an experiment and find out.

Recently, I bought the a7S III. However, is it that much better than the cheaper Sony camera I have? The a6300? I wasn’t sure.

I wanted to test it. So for the sake of a nice title and a fun experiment, I aimed for $800 for setup #1 and $8,000 for setup #2.

This includes:

  • Camera
  • Lens
  • Lighting
  • Microphone
  • Editing Software

$800 Setup

The major fault in this setup is lighting. If you watch the video the light makes a huge difference; it takes it from a good setup, to a great setup.

The microphone is solid. The only thing I don’t like is that you can see it in videos. It does clip to the underside of my shirt, but every time I move it rustles and disrupts the audio, also it’s just recording straight into my phone which makes the workflow more difficult.

So if I only had $800 dollars and had to make a YouTube setup what would I do? Lighting is the most important, then audio. I would get this exact setup and invest in lighting as soon as possible.

So, overall, this setup is great. It’s a big step up from just recording from your phone. And with a good light? You start to struggle to differentiate this from professional setups.

$8,000 Setup

Now, this setup is amazing (and my current setup). No microphone hanging anywhere (it’s above me), the lighting is nice, and the camera is a beast!

Camera – a7S III ($3,500)

This is by no means an extensive review of this camera, there a people that have better reviews. The reasons I bought this camera are:

  • Rotating screen
  • Touch screen
  • Full-Frame
  • Eye autofocus
  • 10-Bit 4:2:2 Internal
  • Amazing autofocus – Sony does this really well
  • 120p 4k
  • No overheating during 24p 4k
  • The menu is much much better

Tripod – Sachtler Ace M System ($700)

The Sachtler tripod allows me to pan smoothly, it is sturdy, and has amazing tilting/balance control; it’s a professional tripod.

Lens – Sony FE 85mm ($600)

  • Bokeh! Now, this is actually cheap for a full-frame lens, honestly, after buying the Sony a7S III, I couldn’t afford anything more than this.
  • This lens is amazing, it’s sharp, it autofocuses amazingly well, and, I think, is the best full-frame lens you can get at this price point for the full-frame Sony camera.

Microphone – AT4053B-Hypercardioid Condenser Microphone ($900*)

  • A piece of professional recording equipment
  • Direct and clean signal, even in a noisy room
  • The sides and behind the microphone are silenced, so most of what is picked up are my voice (which is what I want!)
  • *I use this audio interface, stand, and cable in order for this microphone to work.

Lighting – 2x Neewer + Softbox + Stand ($600)

  • This would be my first serious upgrade on any YouTube setup.
  • Good lighting makes a huge difference in image quality, autofocus, and makes your videography much more error-friendly.

Gimbal and Drone – DJI Mavic Air 2 + Zhiyun Weebill S ($1,200)

  • Say I want to do some running shots and no shake? Gimbal!
  • I want some cool aerial shots to set the scene? Drone!
  • Side note: I think drones can VERY EASILY be overused and abused, especially in YouTube videos.

Software – Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro ($500)


What I found is the $800 setup is good, but can be great with good lighting.

The $8,000 dollar setup is fantastic, and what I will be using for my future YouTube videos, but, remember, content is king.

I wish I started making YouTube videos earlier but felt like I couldn’t because I didn’t have the proper camera setup… microphone… etc. Those things, really, don’t matter – there are a bunch of people making really cool things with just their iPhone. If I began making videos as an undergraduate or even a year ago when I only had the sony camera, I would have been so much better today.

All of this gear is fun is cool, I love learning about it, and that is the reason I made this video; because it would be fun. In the end, however, what I really need to improve is my story-telling ability and my content.



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