Best Cameras and Lighting for YouTube Makeup Artists
Make-up and fashion blogs are big business. If you’ve been looking to expand your content creation into video as a YouTube beauty expert who creates helpful and insightful makeup tutorials, you’ll need a few things to get started on YouTube.
While we do have our dedicated “best vlogging cameras” guide aimed primarily at on the go daily vloggers; makeup artists do need gear that is a bit more industry specific. Depending on your style of shooting, you’re going to need two things: A good camera with interchangeable lenses and dedicated lighting for video.
As we’re creating makeup tutorials for YouTube, we don’t need a camera with stabilization (as we’re not moving the camera) or the ability to shoot as a high frame rate for slow motion.
One of the most important aspects of any camera you purchase is it’s ability to have reliable, accurate autofocus. This is because you’re able to show off the specific tools you’re using as well as how to apply them properly and have everything be in focus without you needing to stop and refocus the camera.
Otherwise, your video will be blurry and out of focus or worse, you’ll have to constantly stop and manually focus the camera yourself. Autofocus is essential in that can tell the difference between a face and an object. So your camera should focus on an object held up close to the lens, then refocus back on your face.
Ability to shoot in 4k
You’ll want a camera that can shoot in 4k because 4k is the most pixel rich, detailed format you can shoot in. You can also always downgrade 4k to 1080P if working with 4k files is too difficult for your laptop.
But to be competitive in the makeup artist YouTuber space, you’ll need the ability to record high quality 4k so you get the best picture quality possible.
LUTS and color profiles
Lookup tables or LUTS for short are a way to color grade your video. As a makeup artist you’ll appreciate a camera that has the ability to shoot at a flat profile that you can then color grade to look amazing.
This is a bit technical and advanced for complete beginners but long term this is a skill and a feature you’re going to want to take advantage of in order to make your content colorful and unique. Again, it’s not essential if you’re just starting out but long term be aware of color profiles and LUTS when you’re ready to level up the colors of your video clips.
The best cameras (and lenses) for makeup artists
So what are your best options for cameras and their respective lenses? We will do our best to cover different price points so no matter what your budget is, you’ll be able to create a solid collection of makeup artist tutorial videos that will help you grow an audience:
- Canon M50
- Fuji X-S10
- Canon 90D
- Olympus EM1
- Sony ZV1
- Sony A7S iii
iPhone – A great starter option
The iPhone is a video and photo-centric device and is a surprisingly good choice for beginner makeup artist YouTube vloggers. First, the iPhone has reliable autofocus and can shoot up to 4k. The video quality looks good and you can color grade slightly to your liking.
Next, as it’s an iPhone it automatically comes with iMovie. While we do suggest using a proper video editor for vlogging, iMovie is acceptable. The Macbook version of iMovie is much better than it’s mobile equivalent but again you can get by with an iPhone.
Last, there are numerous iPhone vlogging kits to take advantage of as well as external microphones you can use. Our favorite for the iPhone is the Joby Wavo which vastly improves an iPhone vlogs audio.
- If you’re an iPhone user, this is the most cost effective option.
- 4k video, good focus and the ability to add helpful low cost accessories.
- Comes with iMovie to help you edit your vlogs and videos.
- The Pro version allows you to switch to a wide angle easily.
- Limited ability to zoom in.
- Not a lot in the way of color grading with an iPhone and iMovie.
Canon M50 – The budget choice
We love the Canon M50 here at Website Creative Pro. It’s truly the most flexible, budget oriented but feature rich camera around. It’s small and light, the lenses for this camera body are equally small and light and it’s just simple to use.
With the M50, you get the ability to shot in 4k, good autofocus, digital stabilization and a wide range of lenses. As a mirrorless camera, you’re also able to use an external microphone. Last it has a useful flip out screen so you can frame yourself when filming.
Our favorite lenses for this system are the 11-22mm wide angle for vlogging portions of your makeup tutorial and the 32mm prime lens for closeup shots. The 15-55mm lens is also a good starter lens too.
- An overall great starter YouTube camera for vlogging and tutorials.
- Can record 4k video.
- Small, light and easy to use.
- Stabilization and a wide selection of lenses for different shots.
- 4k has a crop when shooting, that means your video is not going to be as wide as you think.
- This camera has digital stabilization which is good, but it’s not as good as IBIS.
Fuji X-S10 – The best all around mirrorless camera
If you’re wanting a mirrorless camera that is a step up from the Canon M50 we suggest looking at the Fuki X-S10. It has a CMOS 4 sensor and the X-Processor 4 which enables this camera to do slow motion, high quality 4k video and attractive still shots.
As a make-up artist YouTuber, what stands out is the lens selection for this camera body and the addition of F log included so you can color grade your videos to your liking. Like all mirrorless cameras at this price range it has a flip out screen for framing and you can attach an external microphone for that premium audio.
The lens of choice for this system would be the 15-45mm zoom lens. At 15mm it’s wide enough with some nice blurry background and you can zoom in as needed for different shots.
- 4k uncropped and a good selection of lenses.
- Attractive, out of camera colors.
- In body stabilization for the rare instances where you want to vlog.
- Most creators will find the poor battery life annoying.
Canon 90D – 4k uncropped
The Canon 90D is a classic DSLR for YouTube. While DSLR’s are being replaced by mirrorless cameras, the Canon 90D is still the best mid-range camera Canon makes. With excellent colors right out of the camera without any color grading, the ability to add an external microphone, flip out screen and 4k uncropped video, this is the camera to get if you need 4k at a reasonable price.
In addition, it is a DSLR and uses Canon’s wide range of EF mount lenses. Everything from the famous “nifty fifty” 50mm lens for close ups, to the 24mm pancake lens for mid shots and the amazing 10-18mm vlogging lens. The Canon 90D has something for everyone. The only drawback is that it has no stabilization.
- The best mid range camera Canon makes.
- 4K uncropped video is a big selling point.
- Excellent dual pixel autofocus.
- A wide range of lenses for different shots.
- No stabilization, not even digital stabilization.
- 1.6X crop sensor.
Olympus EM1 Mark iii – The beautiful camera
Olympus is not as popular as Canon or Sony when it comes to cameras, but wow does this EM1 mark iii camera produce some incredibly beautiful video. This is marketed as a sports and action camera but it a good choice for beauty vloggers and makeup artists.
It can shoot 4k video, 1080P video up to 120 frames per second. It has that ever important flip out screen so you can frame yourself, good autofocus and the ability to attach an external microphone. Last, there are numerous useful lenses for this system.
- The quality of video our of camera is our personal favorite.
- Wide selection of interesting lenses.
- The kit 12-100mm lens is quite good and for makeup tutorials. You may need to only get a 25mm or 45mm pancake lens depending on your filming style.
- This is an expensive system.
Sony ZV-1 – Skin smoothing feature
The Sony ZV-1 was created to be the go-to “YouTube vloggers” camera. Because the Canon G7X mark iii was such a disaster, the Sony ZV-1 was able to step in as a solid alternative with it’s ability to attach a microphone, flip out screen, high quality video and great autofocus. In addition, it has a skin smoothing feature that simply makes you look better and younger.
If you’ve been looking for a point and shoot style of camera where you don’t need to buy any additional lenses, this camera is a great choice. The only thing we don’t like about this camera is that the lens is set to 24mm as it’s lowest length. 24mm is a bit of a tight shot so if you’re wanting a wide angle, this is not it.
- 4K, high quality video.
- Flip out screen, external microphone port and autofocus.
- Point and shoot body, no additional lenses required.
- The zoom lens at it’s lowest length is 24mm which is tight on the face.
- If you want more flexibility with focal lengths then this is not a good choice as you can only use the built in zoom lens.
- Point and shoot cameras are poor in low light settings.
Sony A7S iii – The best professional camera for beauty creators
The Sony A7S iii is simply the best camera available on the market today. Great auto focus, can shoot in 4k, dual sim card slots, a wide range of lenses and a great flat color profile to color grade like a pro.
This is a professional videographers camera. It has all the advantages of other cameras with none of the limitations. Need stabilization? This body as 5 axis stabilization, steady shot, a fully articulating screen and the ability to shoot 4k video for an hour straight without over heating and turning off.
If you’re a professional makeup artist YouTuber, this is your camera as it allows you to vlog and get beautiful closeup shots for makeup tutorials. If you’re just starting out, this camera is way to expensive and complicated for a beginner. Our favorite lens is the 16-35mm. As a full frame camera, 16mm is quite wide.
- This is a professional creators camera.
- Feature rich – 4k uncropped with no over heating. Built in stabilization, flip out screen and more.
- Excellent selection of lenses.
- Expect to spend thousands of dollars on this camera body, lenses and accessories.
What cameras to avoid
In general, you’ll want to stay away from any type of point and shoot camera as they don’t allow for interchangeable lenses and perform poorly in low light. The Sony ZV-1 made the list because of it’s video quality, zoom lens and the fact that it can be paired with a quality microphone.
But in general, you’re going to want to get a mirrorless camera or a DSLR where you can buy different lenses as they can take both decent stills and record 4k video. With lenses, you’ll want a quite lens (some lenses make noise when autofocusing) that cover a wide range of focal lengths.
Anything under 18mm will be wide with everything in focus, good for presenting your video but not for makeup specific tutorials. 24mm to 35mm is the sweet spot where you’ll have a slightly blurry background while being clear and in-focus.
Lighting for beginner make-up artist content creators
Next for make-up artist content creators is the need for essential lighting for your video so you can have an image that has the proper white balance. White balance is something you can do in post production on video or images, but it’s best to get your lighting right to make things easy.
Below is the same picture but the image on the left has the proper white balance applied to it so skin tones and the overall color profile looks more natural:
Credit: Understanding white balance – Cambridge in Color
Much in the same way in body stabilization and good audio is the secret essential feature of any vlogger, lighting is that key additional feature that makes your make-up tutorial content a step up. Here are the different, affordable options we suggest.
Selfie Ring light – The iPhone option
This ring light is incredibly helpful for a variety of applications, everything from early morning Zoom calls where you need dedicated lighting on your face to look fresh, to standard talking head YouTube videos, to make-up tutorials.
What is great about this ring light is the fact that you can mount your phone right in the center for recording. This is why we suggest starting with an iPhone because there are useful tools to get the most out of it.
As for the ring light itself, it is small and can be positioned on a desk or table with ease. It plugs into any outlet via a USB so you may need an adapter. Also, the stand itself is not adjustable.
- Small, affordable and fits on your desk.
- The color of the light is a nice even tone, ideal for skin.
- No way to adjust the height of the tripod.
Standing ring light – The budget studio choice
The selfie ring light is great for putting on a desk or a table, but what if you want something a bit bigger with it’s own adjustable tripod? The standing ring light is a great choice if you want to setup a studio, use your phone for make-up beauty tutorials or you simply want to position the ring light off to the side.
It comes with the ring light, tripod, a bag, a wireless remote and an adapter to plug it in. It is adjustable in height and like the selfie ring light, you can mount a phone or a camera in the middle as well.
- Can mount a phone or a camera in the middle. Doubling as both a tripod and light source.
- Adjustable height.
- Useful accessories like a wireless remote and bag for storage.
- Not ideal for travel as it’s a bit bulky. You’ll need space in your recording area as well for this to fit.
- You may notice the ring light is visible if you’re looking directly into this.
Softbox lighting kit – The professional option
While a bit excessive for most beauty creators, a soft box is one last lighting tool to be aware of. What a softbox does is that is softens and shapes the direction of the lighting on you.
While used mostly by photographers for portraits and product photography, a softbox lighting kit is a great choice if you want to avoid ring lights in your eyes when recording and want an overall softer look.
If you get a softbox lighting kit, you won’t need a ring light as both serve the same purpose from a lighting perspective.
- Have more control over the shape and appearance of your lighting.
- A softer look, no ring lights in the eyes.
- You can take great product b-roll shots.
- Bulky setup, make sure you have the space in your recording area.
How to get good lighting for free
Use a window and the sun as a natural light source. It’s free and create a natural look for recording. You may need to use a curtain to adjust the brightness of the light and you’ll want to be careful the light is not being reflected off the floor and onto your face.
Another limitation is that you can only record during the day and at certain times. Also, if it’s cloudy or raining then you’ll have to postpone your content creation. But regardless, a simple free way to get good lighting is to record using a window as your main light source.
Best cameras for makeup artists conclusion
You have a lot of great choices in todays market for creating makeup tutorial videos for YouTube. If you’ve been thinking about getting started making beauty vlogs then go for it. You don’t need a big expensive camera, if you want to start a vlog, then start it and grow from there. You can source the gear you need later.
What’s important is to first learn and develop the skill of being a consistent content creator. We suggest starting with your phone and understanding the process. Once you have an idea for your style of filming, get a camera that is the best fit for you.