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Best video equipment for your home studio: Rode lavalier mic, Logitech webcam, and more

Sometimes your laptop's camera and mic just won't cut it, but adding a few extra pieces of hardware will help take your video conference calls and at-home studio to the next level. We've rounded up some of the best (and still affordable) products for you to get the most bang for your buck.
Written by Elizabeth Mauder, Video Producer on

It's challenging to create quality video and audio with a basic computer -- which isn't surprising once you look at the built-in cameras and mic specs on most laptops.

If you need to ramp up your video efforts and increase the quality, all while working from home during the COVID-19 outbreak, whether it's because you create YouTube videos for a living or do a lot of video conferencing, you should consider getting additional hardware. 

Here are several budget-friendly options to help enhance your filming experience, from recording on your phone to using an external webcam or improving the lighting in your home studio. 

Disclosure: ZDNet may earn an affiliate commission from some of the products featured on this page. ZDNet and the author were not compensated for this independent review. 

This omnidirectional lavalier model works well with both iOS and Android smartphones. Because it's omnidirectional, clipping the mic on the subject's shirt collar will allow the sound to be picked up in any direction. Rode made this portable, convenient mic so that it'd be an ideal fit for individuals recording interviews at conferences or filming videos of their own. Simply plug the mic into the correct adapter (if necessary) for your mobile device, launch the Rode Rec application, and you're ready to go. 

Here's another omnidirectional lavalier mic, but this particular device has two ports available, allowing you to plug in a pair of headphones to monitor the subject's levels, or to conduct a two-person interview. The five-foot cable allows you to have enough distance between you and your interviewee so you can stand back to film with adequate headspace. The mic has the ability to pick up a 30Hz-16kHz frequency range of sound, drastically improving your audio recordings.

Because headphone jacks in phones seem to be disappearing, it's important to note that you'll more than likely need an adapter for a lavalier mic to work with your phone. 

When you think about a smartphone tripod, you probably think about a compact mounting device that you set on a table to record seated interviews. This particular option is multifunctional, making it well worth the purchase. It's sturdy enough to use with your cameras, but includes a universal smartphone mount as well. This Ravelli model spans 53 inches, includes a carrying case, and has the capability to tilt and pan in order to capture steady video.

Another multi-option, this tripod is smaller than the previous version, making travel a breeze. This UBeesize phone tripod offers bendable legs and a leveling bubble to ensure the perfect shot every time. The 360-degree adjustable ball head makes capturing photos/videos in landscape or portrait mode easy, along with a handy 90-degree tilt for capturing those hard-to-get shots. For its size and price, this tripod is a must-have.

If you're looking for a clear, crisp image that isn't going to break the bank, this is the webcam you need. Logitech has found a way to offer 1080p resolution and stereo sound for a reasonable price. Notably, a user-favorite feature is the camera's ability to record videos at 1080p using H.264 compression technology that is built directly into the camera. This means the camera is doing the compressing work rather than your CPU, ensuring you'll have quality video footage regardless of your computer's age. This particular model comes with a mount that will clip directly to your computer, or you can place the camera on a tripod if that angle isn't the shot you're looking for.

This webcam was designed specifically for business professionals working in an office environment who must have crisp video, clear audio, and reliable technology. The C930 offers a 90-degree extended view with tilt and zoom capabilities, making product demos and whiteboard presentations a breeze. The camera comes with 1080p HD video and H.264 encoding, meaning your image will come through crisp while the C930 takes on the legwork of video processing, as opposed to your computer.

This Blue Yeti mic will make recording a breeze, thanks to the software's "Plug and Play" technology. This mic is easy to monitor your levels, increase volume, mute, and most importantly, easy to switch between patterns. It offers four different patterns: Cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional, and stereo, making this your go-to device for any kind of audio recording you could think of doing. The audio from this mic comes through clear and crisp, making this device one piece of hardware you'll want to invest in.

Another USB "Plug and Play" option, the Blue Snowball offers crisp recording with minimal background noise. Looking for a mic that can record different styles of interviews? This device has three audio recording settings: Standard cardioid pattern, cardioid with a -10dB pad, or omnidirectional. The 40 –18 kHz frequency response comes out crisp, dramatically enhancing your audio in comparison to the built-in audio from your computer.

If you're just starting out recording your own videos and are new to lighting, this is the perfect setup for you. This is a deal you can't beat: Two 33-inch nylon umbrellas and an accent light, all equipped with tripods and carrying cases. It's everything amature photographers/videographers will need. The 86-inch aluminum alloy, adjustable strobe stands prove to be tall enough for various types of shoots, and everything is lightweight, allowing you to easily take your equipment outside of your studio.

Another lightweight-yet-durable option, the Neewer two-piece set has the capability to be adjusted for both cold and warm light adjustment. A knob on the back of the panels lets users choose from illuminating their subjects anywhere from pale white to a deep yellow, which is important for capturing human subjects. The panel's barn doors give the ability to either beam or cast a spread of light, and because the stands reach 75 inches, casting light is no issue for these panels. 

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