If you’re not already using Facebook live for your business then the time to start generating video content is now. In fact, Facebook's own data shows that live videos get 3x higher engagement than non-live video. But chances are that you’re already keen to how important this is for your brand, which is why you’re looking for the best camera and microphone for Facebook Live.
Fortunately, these days you can film from anywhere in the world as long as you have a cell phone with a camera and some headphones with a microphone. But if you desire more sophisticated videos for your Facebook business page, we have you covered. We’ve tried and tested many of the best products so keep reading for powerful tips and the best equipment to supercharge your live videos.
Tips for Using Facebook Live
When you’re using Facebook Live it's important to know that you don’t need the most polished videos. In fact, the raw and real videos that most people shoot on Facebook seem to perform better. But you might want to make sure that you’re not shooting your videos around loud people and there’s nothing inappropriate in the background.
Pick a spot in your house with good lighting (preferably natural lighting since it's a softer light) and a decent picture or painting in the background. Alternatively, you could also have a bookshelf or even a blank wall if that’s what you’re working with.
For the length of your videos, consider aiming for around 20 minute long videos you’re posting to the general public. According to data from Buzzsumo, interactions increase the longer a video lasts up to about 15-16 minutes when engagement plateaus.
After analyzing the top 10,000 Facebook Live videos, they discovered that 20 minutes was the average length for the best performers. This length gives you enough time to provide real value without being so long that people can’t get through it without the distractions of life.
However, if you’re using videos that are NOT live, the highest level of engagement is on videos between 60-90 seconds. Facebook gives higher priority to live video so non-live versions don’t get the same love and exposure.
What Kinds of Cameras Work Best for Facebook Live
When you’re choosing a camera for your Facebook videos, it's not necessary to buy the $5,000 Canon unless you’re using it for other things in your business like shooting commercials, photography, or you need a dedicated camera that you’re staff can use because they’re filming on their own and can’t use your phone. I wouldn’t buy it unless you really have the use for it and it makes sense in your business.
If you’re bootstrapping things, your phone probably has a high megapixel camera built in which can get the job done. You could also just start with your phone and expand later as your audience and budget grow. However, the one thing you can’t slouch on is lighting (we’ll cover that more in a minute).
How to Choose a Camera For Facebook Live and YouTube
Facebook and YouTube streaming are very similar so any camera you choose for one will definitely work for the other. For this reason, I grouped YouTube into this category just in case you want to start your own channel now or in the future.
Here’s a few things to consider when choosing your camera:
Resolution: resolution is measured in megapixels and most cameras are in the “teens” when it comes to megapixels. Higher resolution cameras are better for the most part but keep in mind that the device people are viewing on may not be as high as your camera. The most popular resolution on computers right now is 1366 x 768 which means they can only see about 2 megapixels. Some cameras use a progressive scanning system i.e. 720p, 1080p, etc. A 720p camera shoots in 1 megapixel and a 1080p shoots in 2.1 megapixels so opt for 720p and above if choosing a camera based on the progressive scanning scale.
Frame Rate: This simply refers to how many frames are shot per second. Basically, video is a bunch of still pictures shot very quickly to show motion. 30 frames per second (FPS) is the minimum you should go for and, for Facebook Live, it's really what you want. While you can go to 60 FPS, it's only going to make your video file larger than it needs to be. Further, you only need 60 FPS if you’re doing a lot of fast movements like running where you need the frames to be taken faster to prevent blur.
Compatibility: A great camera won’t help if you can’t use it with your system. If you’re using your phone or a separate camera, you don’t have to worry about compatibility since you’ll stream directly to Facebook. But with webcams, you’ll want to make sure it works on your system before you buy. If you use a mac computer, they usually have pretty decent cameras built in so you can film directly from there as well.
Sound: You may want to buy an external microphone since most cameras don’t have anything of quality built in. Different devices require varying connections so be aware of this when shopping around. For example, your iPhone uses a headphone jack while your computer can use a USB microphone. You can buy an adapter for most if you accidentally pick the wrong connection type but it's an added hassle you should be able to avoid with a quick search.
Zoom capabilities: This may or may not matter for you but I wanted to include it on here just in case you want to film outside or something like that. If you plan on standing back further from the camera, you’ll want the option to zoom in and capture a tighter frame so you don’t have random bystanders in your shot.
Lighting Tips for Your Facebook Videos
While you can get by with your iPhone camera, you can’t skimp on lighting. This is the one thing that really matters and it kicks up your video quality exponentially. Studying lighting is a science of it's own but here’s a few quick tips that will make a big difference for you right now.
Always use softer lighting. Rather than using the shop light you have in your garage, spring for something with a diffuser that can soften the light. Harsh lighting casts shadows, reflects and doesn’t look professional. You can also get by with a simple clamp light and wax paper clipped over the light to soften things up.
Use natural lighting whenever you can. Set up near a window in your house that gets good natural lighting and film during times of times day where the light isn’t coming directly through the windows. Morning and dusk are better times since the light tends to be softer.
If you’re using lighting kits, opt for a 3 light setup. Two of the lights will be used to light the subject from the front and the third can be used as a hair light to give contrast between the subject and the background. You may also want to consider getting a bright light for the background. This prevents shadows from appearing on the backdrop.
Here's a few comprehensive guides to help you with lighting your subjects and products (if you're shooting for your business).
Best DSLR Cameras for Facebook Live
Choosing a DSLR camera for your live streaming is a big decision and, depending on your budget, something to consider and research before settling on your final purchase. Fortunately, we’ve researched, bought and used lots of DSLR cameras so we can help you cut down on your search time.
We looked everywhere for the best DSLR cameras under $1,000 before deciding to buy the Rebel t6i. It was consistently rated as a top choice and made every list we saw so we eventually got it - and we’ve never regretted it. This has become our go-to camera for most things. We take product photography for clients and film videos all the time with it. Its easy to loan to the team because it's a relatively small investment so we don’t have to worry about anything happening to it. If it does break, we can pull out the SD card to get our footage and get another one. If you choose this camera, make sure to go with the t6i since the regular t6 doesn’t have a microphone port.
The Panasonic LUMIX GH5 is a larger investment but worth the money if it's in your budget. It shoots up to 4k video, 60 FPS, and 1080p with 180FPS, has twin SD card slots for extra footage, and it's compatible with all kinds of lenses. Overall, it's a solid camera for cinematic effects and features a deeper color depth. However, if you’re only shooting Facebook Live, YouTube videos or simple shoots for clients, save your money and buy the Canon t6i with a decent lens.
Best Webcams for Facebook Live
If you’re shooting your FB Lives from your laptop then a simple web cam can serve you well. They clip on to your laptop or desktop and then everything's controlled from the computer programs that come with the camera.
The C920 has over 9,085 reviews and it's still holding 4.5 stars on amazon.com. So that should give you some perspective on how well this thing works. Yes, it's a basic set up but it’s also inexpensive and works seamlessly with windows and mac computers. It shoots video in 720p, 1080p and it can be compressed in H.264 which means you can use it for more than just live videos since both Facebook and YouTube accept this video format for uploading videos.
The C922 Pro is a great webcam for professional quality streaming. It records in full HD 1080p video at 30 FPS and 720p at 60 FPS. You’ll probably want to stick with the 1080p at 30 Frames Per Second but it's nice to have options. One of the best features about this camera is the built in background replacement option. You can replace the background behind you with whatever you want and it keeps up with your live streaming video which gives you fun options to play with on your videos. It also has built in mics (but I would still consider getting an additional mic since most built ins aren’t very good), and has background light correction which helps correct some lighting issues.
Best Camcorders for Facebook Live
If you know you’ll shoot mostly video for your Facebook streaming and want a camcorder for other projects as well, there’s solid options that shoot great video and won’t break the bank.
The Mevo’s built specifically for live streaming. But you'll want to keep it mounted on a tripod most of the time since it's shape isn’t hand friendly. However, if you have a little money to spend, it's a really innovative option. It gives you the ability to stream by connecting over wi-fi, LTE hotspot (on your phone), and ethernet so you can plug it in through your wall. The Mevo also has an SD slot so you can record your live stream to upload to other platforms or quickly switch out cards if your video goes long.
They also have a plan that’s $10 per month that allows you to stream to YouTube, Twitter, Periscope, Facebook Live and Twitch all at the same time. This is a powerful feature that’s worth the upgrade because you can drastically increase exposure without connecting 5 more cameras and wiring setups. Additionally, the Mevo has an app for android and iPhone that allows you to edit in real time which can kick up your video production if you have a friend that can handle it while you’re streaming.
In short, the Mevo has a ton of useful features (way beyond what I just mentioned) which make live streaming super easy and efficient.
The Canon is a fully dedicated camcorder that (as of the time of this writing) is just shy of $1,000 making it an affordable option for a quality camcorder. It has a 20x high definition optical zoom lense, records in 1080p video in mp4 format (which works with Facebook and YouTube), has dual SD card slots, image stabilization and a high capacity battery. It's a great option if you know you’ll shoot only video and don’t need the option to take photos.
If you’re filming video and taking photos, I recommend one of the DSLR cameras we mentioned above. The downside of this camera is that it requires an external capture card for live streaming. This is another step but might be worth it if you’re streaming often. We like the Avermedia AVerCapture HD card for video capture. It's one of the more affordable options and it's simple to use.
Free Streaming for Facebook Live
With all the cameras and devices mentioned above you might feel overwhelmed by the cost and technology required. But you should know you can immediately start streaming for free - without anything extra. If you have a smartphone with a camera, just download the Facebook app and start your live streaming. It's really that simple.
You can do the same thing with the camera on your computer as well. If you have a mac, they have decent cameras and microphones built in which makes streaming simple. If you’re using a windows computer, you might want to test the camera and mic before going live. I haven’t had the best experience with PC cameras and microphones.
I do recommend you get a tripod for your phone if you’re going that route though. While it's not free, it's worth the money. Holding the phone with your hand not only results in shaky video but your arm will probably get tired which makes it harder to focus on your video content.
The cheapest and best tripod I’ve found for the budget conscious person is the Amazon Basics tripod and the DaVoice phone mount for the tripod. You can click the links below to get them.
Best Microphone for Facebook Live
The two things you don’t want to skimp on are sound quality and lighting. The good news is you can bootstrap both if you’re just starting out and grow your equipment as you need it. For microphones, we’ve tried many and here are our favorites:
The Rode Video Mic Go is a powerful and affordable microphone that connects to your DSLR, cell phone and most other cameras. What’s great about the Rode is that it's extremely lightweight so you barely notice when it's on top of your camera.
The connection on the bottom of the mic can easily be slipped into the track on the top of your camera or screwed onto a boom stick or tripod if you need it closer to the person being filmed. It doesn’t require an external battery, has a windscreen included and captures great sound. Plus, it's very affordable.
The Samson Go Mic performs surprisingly well considering how affordable it is. When I originally ordered it, I wasn’t expecting much but since it has almost 1,500 reviews and holds 4.5 stars on amazon.com I decided to give it a shot. It was more than worth the money. It plugs directly into your laptop or desktop through the usb port, doesn’t require any special software and works immediately out of the box. Additionally, you can clip it on the top of your screen or bring it closer to you for higher sound quality. I’ve also tried it with voice recognition typing and it worked really well for that as well.
The Blue Yeti is used by podcasters all over the place because it's cheap to buy and captures very high quality sound. If you have a little more money to spend and you’re filming from your laptop, spring for the Blue Yeti. You have options for cardioid, bidirectional, and omnidirectional stereo sound recording which you can play with to improve your sound quality. Overall it's a great option as a USB microphone for your live videos.
If you’re planning to film live streams from your smartphone, you’ll probably want an external microphone. While most Galaxy and iPhones have decent microphones built in, they won’t cut it if you’re in the wind or around noisy people. The Rode VideoMic Me is a directional shotgun style microphone that picks up sound from the direction you aim it and blocks sound from behind and around the mic. It's also small enough to toss in your pocket or purse and carry around for filming when inspiration strikes.
The PoP Voice Lavalier Lapel mic is a decent microphone for filming Facebook Lives from your phone or laptop. You can easily clip it on your shirt, it's relatively discrete and you can run the wire under your shirt to make this thing barely noticeable. The sound quality is good and it has a built in mini windscreen to keep popping and wind sounds minimal when you’re talking.
The cord is about 5 feet long which isn’t very long when you’re planning on standing back from the camera but you can always buy extensions if you really need the extra length. Overall, it's a good choice for an inexpensive lapel mic that records better sound quality than your typical built in microphone.
Additional Recommended Parts For Live Streaming
There’s a few things you may want to get now if you’re planning on full steam live streaming. We didn’t buy these things right away and had to figure it out as we went. And usually that looks like getting to a location or starting a stream only to find out the batteries dead or the storage cards full. It can be frustrating because you then have to figure things out on the fly, reschedule, and then piecemeal the parts and wait for them to arrive.
With that said, here’s the parts you may want to consider getting right away. However, if you’re using a webcam or your phone you won’t need extra batteries or SD cards.
SD Cards for storage
If you’re using a DSLR camera or camcorder, check to find out if it uses SD or microSD cards. Once you know the type, you may want to get a few extras. I always spring for the 32 GB or higher because video files are large so you can run through memory cards fast if you get anything less. The good news is that they’re relatively inexpensive to purchase.
Here’s a few we use:
A dead battery will instantly stop everything. Fortunately, you can get extra batteries for pretty cheap these days so it shouldn’t be an issue. Since we’ve recommended a number of different cameras, you’ll want to do a quick Google or Amazon search for your camera model and the batteries it uses. I recommend buying at least one extra battery (preferably two if you’re filming often).
External Charging Dock
An external charging dock allows you to charge several batteries at the same time. You camera will probably come with a single battery charger but, if you buy a few extras, it's worth getting the dock. This way you can charge all your batteries and keep batteries charging while you’re using your camera.
I mentioned an inexpensive tripod setup earlier in the post but I’ll say it again for emphasis. A tripod can change the game because you no longer have to hold your device or prop it up on tables and phone books. The most inexpensive setup we’ve used (that still works perfectly) is the Amazon Basics tripod and DaVoice phone holder.
This tripod also works for your camera but the head motion on the tripod is not fluid. If you plan on having someone move the camera while you’re filming your live videos, you may want to spring for a fluid head motion tripod. You can move these left to right without the jerky motion that comes with less expensive tripods like the Amazon Basics. However, if you’re filming videos straight on, the basic model should work perfectly fine for you.
When you’re searching for the best camera and microphone for Facebook Live (or any social media for that matter) try not to feel uber pressured to buy the most expensive setup. With live videos you can get away with a pretty minimal setup as long as your sound and lighting are on point. If you follow the recommendations above, you’ll be in great shape to explosively grow your personal brand or business and leverage these powerful social platforms.