On the 12th episode of (Out of) Office Hours, Chris is super excited to invite Caleb Pike onto the show. Caleb is the DSLR Video Shooter on YouTube with over 505k subscribers. Basically, if you’ve been Googling anything about any piece of video gear in the past seven years, you’re probably hitting one of Caleb’s videos, making him the ultimate gear head in the game.
We’re joined by Caleb to dig into his popular camera desk setup (which is more relevant than ever) and shoot some rapid-fire questions about all things gear his way. Here’s a recap of what went down and some helpful links for you to dig deeper!
Before getting Caleb on the horn, Chris brought back another segment of “Here’s something…” Recently, our friends Adam Lisagor + co over at Sandwich in Los Angeles, California made an incredible video commercial for Slack, the well-loved business communications platform. The folks at Sandwich embraced the limitations of working from home and put together something special — take a look:
One thing Chris loves about Sandwich is their ability to make viewers feel something, whether that’s laughter or relief. And this time, Chris was left feeling a little emotional.
They’re also an open book! In addition to the ad, they made a behind-the-scenes look at how they created the commercial while working remotely, which was some pretty inspiring stuff.
Back in October, Caleb made an epic piece of content about how to make an awesome YouTube studio setup on your desk using a camera mount, lighting, and audio rigs. And as many of us are mainly at our desks right now, it’s even more relevant than before! Chris played a clip of it before diving into asking Caleb all kinds of questions.
Caleb’s desk setup video struck a chord with Chris when he first saw it. With it being extremely relevant now, Chris wanted Caleb to dig a little more into his decision-making process. So how much trial and error was there in trying to find the right mounting solution for the camera?
Caleb explained how he’s had multiple different setups when it comes to filming himself at his desk doing live streams, and it always seemed to involve a C-Stand. But when he made the video, Caleb felt like he couldn’t recommend a C-Stand because they’re so expensive. If you’re just getting started, a C-Stand is a huge part of your budget at about $150+. So he was trying to come up with alternatives and happened to have a VESA mount, which ended up working out.
Now that it’s been eight months since he made that video (pre-pandemic), he is planning to make a follow-up to it because he’s been inspired by something that’s come out recently! He’s found it interesting how fast things change especially when there’s demand. The original video completely changed his viewership. Before, it was mainly other YouTubers, content creators, and filmmakers, but now at least a third of his views are people who are educators, teachers, or people in corporate America trying to do meetings.
“The original video completely changed his viewership. Before, it was mainly other YouTubers, content creators, and filmmakers, but now at least a third of his views are people who are educators, teachers, or people in corporate America trying to do meetings.”
After all, people want to put their best foot forward especially if you’re on video the majority of your day. As Chris put it, your setup, image quality, and surroundings are part of what defines you on video, and if you aren’t putting your best foot forward, it’s kind of the equivalent of going into the office looking totally disheveled.
Chris was curious to know about Caleb’s choice on the Sony Alpha a6400 and Rode mic for his desk setup and if they still hold up as being the camera and microphone he’d use right now in July.
For streaming, Caleb says you could definitely do something more affordable. Again, when that video came out it was geared more toward YouTubers who’d want something that can do multiple things. The Sony Alpha a6400 is still the best if you want really good autofocus, 4k, and live streaming capability. But, if you don’t care about 4k, he thinks for around the same money, even less, the used Canon RP is killer with 1080p and nice color.
In terms of a microphone, Caleb is digging the newer Rode VideoMic NTG with a louder and hotter signal, which came out since the video.
What about any tips on cable management? Chris explained how without an Apple box his wires would look like a bowl of spaghetti on his desk.
Well, Caleb has a motto, and it’s, “Life’s too short for cable management.” He said, “If you’re a nerd like us, your setup is going to keep changing, and nothing’s worse than having the perfect cable management and then realizing you’re going to completely change everything.”
However, he does have a couple of things that have made a massive difference at the office. They have a ton of different desks where they’re always adding and removing gear. His first favorite is one of those absurdly long power strips with 16+ outlets, which he’ll screw to the bottom of a desk and run one cable to the wall. That immediately takes care of a lot of mess.
Second, those baskets you can buy that attach under your desk — those are great because you can stuff cables in there.
Lastly, he buys a huge roll of double-sided velcro and cuts it into strips to staple under the desk. He has “highway lanes” going in both directions x and y that allows him to really quickly run a bunch of cables and strap them down. If you ever need to remove it, you just tug on it and it’s done.
“Life’s too short for cable management.”
What is Caleb’s DSLR/mirrorless/cinema camera of choice if you’re going to be using an HDMI/USB converter to bump up your Zoom presence or your video creation skills at home?
Caleb says depending on your budget, if you’re around the $500 range, you’ve got the Canon M50 and some Sony options (especially used on eBay). Last year he made a video about 10 cameras under $300 in which he featured the Sony a5100.
Once you get up to $1000, that’s when you have some options and you can actually choose between many cameras. There’s the Sony a6400 and a6100, or you can dip your toes into the Fujifilm ecosystem. He says the Fujifilm X-A7 is a sleeper camera between $500–700. Up from there, the Canon RP is a great full-frame 1080p with good autofocus.
And, if you want to really throw some money at a camera, the new stuff from Canon is really exciting, but you’re looking at $2k-2.5k and up.
To chalk it all up, you should figure out your budget, but you should look for something that definitely has autofocus.
Chris was also wondering Caleb’s thoughts about how the pandemic and the production world has shifted. How might that shift affect product roadmaps in the future?
He thinks Apple should do something about the awful camera on their laptops and iMacs. Why can’t Apple take one of the lenses from their latest iPhones and put the wide-angle lens on the laptop? Apple does all sorts of incredible things like portrait mode, and he believes that’ll eventually come to video.
Additionally, someday he thinks we’ll be able to buy a camera and flip through a menu to choose different sensors, different lenses, and everything will be generated — it’ll just be a box you point at stuff, and Apple could be a huge part of that.
In this installment of (Out of) Office Hours, Chris had a couple of final questions for Caleb. Scrub to these timestamps to hear his responses and be sure to find him on his YouTube Channel, Twitter, and at dslrvideoshooter.com:
38:57 - Where are you getting inspired creatively, not just gear-related content, but where are you seeking out inspiration to keep pushing yourself creatively as a content creator?
40:38 - Regarding your team setup right now, how are you playing in this world of being remote and dealing with footage transfers? How were you able to adapt?
That about wraps up this episode recap! Enjoying the topics we’re covering? We want to know how we can be genuinely helpful moving forward. Let us know what challenges you’re struggling with when it comes to video lately by hitting up Chris on Twitter @crlvideo or emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also reach out to Wistia directly on Twitter @wistia. We hope to hear from you soon! See you next time.