Researching cameras to purchase for recording your online course content at home can take weeks and months. (As any major purchase should.) Even after intensive research (and a bit of saving), you may have finally narrowed down your hunt to a few cameras that are ideal for helping you film your course videos.
But before you add one to your shopping cart, make sure you go through this checklist to help you purchase a camera that fits the needs of the unique content you have planned. Take out your pen and pad—it’s time to get down to business to make your camera shopping experience a no brainer.
The shopper’s guide to purchasing a camera
1. Get a clear idea of the content you plan to shoot
If you’re shopping for a camera to record content for your course, chances are you already have an idea or even a running list of the videos you need to shoot. If not, you should figure this out before clicking purchase. Simply put, you can’t decide on the perfect camera if you don’t have a clue as to the type of content you’re looking to produce. First, find a camera that fits your specific content goals.
Ask yourself questions like…
- What will be my primary subject? Myself, objects?
- What lighting conditions do I plan on shooting in?
- Will I be shooting outdoors? Will the camera size be an issue?
Consider all factors possible and look for cameras that perform well in the areas that mean most to you.
2. Tap into your peers
Besides needing a listening ear every now and again, it’s crucial to have a network of creatives when you run into pressing issues like choosing a camera to create business or course content. If you’re a paying Teachable customer, you already have access to our exclusive teachable:hq that allows you to connect with creators in your same tier.
But even outside of hq, connect with fellow entrepreneurs and content creators on social media or in your network. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to pick their brains about the cameras and gear they use to shoot content (especially if you admire their quality).
Take a shot at asking them about not only the camera they use but also what they like about that specific camera, what they dislike, and even other options they’ve been eyeing for themselves. It doesn’t hurt just to ask.
After all, creatives and business owners should uplift and guide one another. Remember: Community is key.
3. Watch and read as many reviews as possible
It’s common, if not expected, to first do a YouTube or Google search before purchasing anything costly. Buying a camera is no different. Take your time to see your potential type of camera in action before making your purchasing decision.
Even if you may not be able to go into a store to play with your camera at this time—reviews are beyond valuable so take full advantage of them.
Some great resources for camera reviews.
Need some help understanding the technical jargon? We’ve broken it all down for you in our handy buying guide. Learn the difference between mirrorless cameras, DSLRS, point and shoot cameras, and more.
4. Don’t feel committed
Never feel too proud to take advantage of that return policy. Cameras are an investment for your home studio, and creating high quality video content for your course is serious business. Take the time to test-drive your camera within the allotted timeframe for returns.
If it doesn’t meet your expectations, process a return, and start from scratch. It’s a part of the creative process and growing your business, so you want to make sure you get it right and spend your money wisely.
Pro-tip: Always check the returns pages on a retailer’s site before making a purchase. Some retailers may offer completely free returns, while others may require restocking fees for returns.
This, among other things, may be a determining factor of whether you’ll purchase from that specific retailer. It would be best to understand everything you need to know about a company’s return policy before placing an order.
5. Shop around for the best price
Naturally, retailers are always competing for your business, so make sure you compare prices between retailers before deciding to add anything to your cart. Here are some helpful tools to help you save on your camera and other business purchases.
- Honey: Use this handy extension to help find the lowest price for an item in your cart while you shop. No additional research is needed.
- Rakuten: Receiving cashback is almost as good as finding lower prices upfront. When you shop using the Rakuten app or extension, you get access to exclusive CashBack offers for retailers like Best Buy and Adorama, which of course, sell cameras and other gadgets creators like yourself may need.
- Consider buying refurbished: Renowned brands like Canon offer refurbished, certified cameras and equipment on their website at discounted prices. Don’t be afraid to peruse to see if you come across a camera that you may like. Remember to protect your investment by checking the warranty on refurbished products as well.
5. Don’t dismiss creator kits
While creator kits or bundles that include additional items such as mics, memory cards, extra lenses, zoom lenses, etc., may seem like ploys to make you dish out more dollars, they may actually save you money in the long run.
These sorts of kits typically include beginner-friendly add-on items that can drastically improve your video content and image quality and are priced much lower when bundled together versus when purchased separately.
But a word to the wise: Although bundle kits can sometimes be a great idea for entry level shoppers, don’t get lured into purchasing one with many items that you don’t need and will inevitably never use. Here are such examples of some great creator kits that include things you will most likely utilize from day one.
And once you’re ready to begin filming, we’ve created this guide to help you master the skills needed to record better video at home.
As with any purchase for your home studio, you want to be mindful and make sure you've done your proper homework. By understanding a few of the basics of filming video content at home and noting what it is you want to showcase in your content and yes, knowing your budget, you'll be able to make an informed decision and purchase the right gear for your filming needs.
What camera gear and equipment do you use? Share your top picks below in the comments.