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Building the Perfect Vlogging rig for under $400 / £300

I’ve travelled to almost fifty different countries (click here to see where I’ve been). I used to take lots of photos and blog about my experiences. What I should have been doing is making videos! Now that we’re slowly easing out of the pandemic lockdown, I’ve decided to start making travel Vlogs.

https://youtu.be/HTdqeuMqZPE

However, to do that properly, you will need the right equipment. I set out to build the perfect travel vlogging rig and do it for under £300 UK / $400 US. In this video I show you how I did it and how much it cost. I also give an explanation for why I chose to use a DJI Osmo Action instead of a GoPro or Akaso, and what accessories I needed to complete the Vlogging rig. Hopefully, this will inspire some of you to take the plunge too and start making your own videos.

TRANSCRIPT


0:00:00.640,0:00:04.940
Whatup nerds? I’m Jay Shareef.
I love technology and I love to travel.

0:00:04.940,0:00:09.200
That’s why I’m building the perfect vlogging rig.

0:00:18.720,0:00:23.680
So the lockdown is over.
The pandemic is a thing of the past.

0:00:23.680,0:00:26.800
And I’m keen to start traveling the world again.

0:00:26.800,0:00:29.720
As you might already know, I’m a marketing consultant.


0:00:29.720,0:00:33.420
Which has given me the
opportunity to travel far and wide.

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I’ve visited about 50 different countries so far.

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And you can read all about that on my website,

0:00:39.440,0:00:44.700
where I’ve posted lots of photos
and some useful travel advice too.

0:00:44.700,0:00:48.300
What I’ve realized, however, is the missed opportunity.

0:00:48.300,0:00:52.320
Instead of taking photographs,
I should have been making videos.

0:00:52.320,0:00:56.100
And, from now on, that’s exactly what I intend to do.

0:00:56.100,0:01:01.220
However, to create brilliant travel
vlogs you need the right equipment.

0:01:01.220,0:01:04.159
So I set myself the following challenge:

0:01:04.160,0:01:07.260
Build the perfect vlogging rig!

0:01:07.260,0:01:11.500
And do it for less than £300 GBP.
(That’s less than $400 US).

0:01:11.500,0:01:16.080
Today I’m going to show you how I did it,
and how much it actually cost me.

0:01:16.080,0:01:19.860
That way you can do exactly the same for yourself.

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By the way, I’ll do the numbers in British Pounds,
but I’ll keep a tally on the screen in US Dollars as well.

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Now, if you’ve seen my videos before you
already know I love to do my research.

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And I’ve done a hell of a lot of
research on this particular topic.

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And I’ve come to the conclusion
that what I need is the following:

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A high quality camera,

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a mini-tripod or monopod,

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a decent microphone,

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a portable light, and

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some way to connect all of that together.

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Another important consideration for me was practicality.

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I don’t want to carry multiple cameras and multiple accessories with me,

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in order to cope with different scenarios.

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I want to have just one compact setup to cover as many eventualities as possible.

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So let’s start with the most important feature of all.

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At the heart of any vlogging rig is the camera.

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If you get that right then you’re 90% there.

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I started with a list of features
that I wanted in my new camera,

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and then tried to work out if there
was any device that met my needs.

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I don’t think these requirements will surprise any of you.

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Firstly, I wanted it to be small,

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because even medium-sized
cameras attract unwanted attention.

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I’ve taken my Canon M6 out for filming
or photography quite a few times now.

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It’s not a big camera. But every time I
go out with it people come up to me,

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either to see what I’m doing or ask me what I’m up to.

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However, I have never had that
problem with my smaller cameras.

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Secondly, I need my camera to be lightweight,

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because if I’m taking it on my travels then
big cameras can start to weigh you down.

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And, after a day or two of using a larger camera,
you really do start to feel it in your arms.

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Next, I want good image quality.

0:02:58.920,0:03:02.680
If I’m going to be documenting
exciting and exotic locations,

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then it’s important to have a camera that
can capture the beauty of your surroundings.

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And, if that image can be stabilized
as well, that would be perfect.

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I also want it to be rugged and waterproof.

0:03:15.420,0:03:19.160
I’m not the kind of tourist who lounges
by the pool or sits on a beach.

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I’m a wanderer.

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Oftentimes, I’ll arrive in a new city and
will just pick a direction… and walk.

0:03:25.860,0:03:28.799
So, I never know what I’m getting into.

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I do also love heading out into the wild, and
I’m no stranger to mountains and jungles.

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I need a camera that can cope with all of that.

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Excellent sound quality is very important too. And, in a
lot of ways, it’s more important than the picture quality.

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If people can hear you and hear what’s going on,

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they’re often willing to forgive
some “ropey” video now and then.

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What this means is that ideally my travel camera
needs to have a great built-in microphone.

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And, if it’s possible to attach an
external mic, that would be a bonus.

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One last thing that’s nice to
have is a front-facing screen.

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Imagine filming yourself at an exotic location,

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and then getting home to realize that
you missed out something important,

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because you pointed your camera slightly wrong.

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So, being able to see yourself is really, really valuable.

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In terms of the other accessories,

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a small and simple wired microphone is useful.

0:04:23.960,0:04:26.740
But I think they can be overkill sometimes.

0:04:26.740,0:04:31.520
Also, a small portable light would
be great for some nighttime filming.

0:04:31.520,0:04:35.820
There are some great rechargeable ones available. Some of them are even waterproof.

0:04:35.820,0:04:39.740
But the waterproof ones are much more expensive.

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And, finally, I will need some protection.

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Not THAT kind, because I’m not THAT kind of tourist!

0:04:46.080,0:04:49.440
The kind of protection I need will
inevitably include lens protectors.

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But, I also need a camera cage, so it’s
easy to connect everything together.

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I already have a variety of mini-tripods and monopods.

0:04:58.479,0:05:04.860
So, I would prefer if the camera, or the camera cage
at least, has a quarter inch hole at the bottom.

0:05:04.860,0:05:09.680
But, if that’s not possible, then
a GoPro style mounting will do.

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So, let’s start with the camera itself.

0:05:15.400,0:05:22.460
If you want a small, lightweight, rugged, waterproof
device, it’s obvious you need an action camera.

0:05:22.460,0:05:25.199
There are plenty of cheap action cameras around.

0:05:25.199,0:05:30.980
But they always have awful picture quality,
and the sound quality is even worse.

0:05:30.980,0:05:34.400
The camera is basically the beating heart of your setup.

0:05:34.400,0:05:38.440
And choosing an inferior device would be
a terrible decision.

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So I decided I wanted the best action camera possible.

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And when it comes to action cameras,
the number one brand is GoPro.

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So, you might think the sensible choice would
be either the GoPro Hero7 or the GoPro Hero8.

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The Hero7 is obviously a fantastic little camera.

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And it has so many accessories available for it.

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But I decided against it because
it’s getting a little old now,

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and there’s no way you can see what you’re filming.

0:06:06.200,0:06:09.600
Unless, of course, you connect it
wirelessly to your smartphone.

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But that’s just complicating things
and I don’t want to do that.

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So what about the Hero8?
It promises to be better than the Hero7.

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And it has a Media Mod that’s
supposed to be perfect for vlogging.

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There’s a shotgun microphone built into it.

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Plus, you can connect a portable
light and a front-facing screen.

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There’s no doubt it’s the best camera
GoPro have ever made… on paper.

0:06:35.480,0:06:39.860
Unfortunately, there are YouTubers who
switched to the Hero8 as their main camera,

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and then very quickly switched to something else.

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Because the Hero8 is not reliable.

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It crashes regularly and you end up losing footage.

0:06:48.560,0:06:52.580
That’s just not acceptable.
Especially from the market leader.

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Also, the media mod turned out to be a massive scam.

0:06:56.260,0:06:59.860
Firstly, that shotgun microphone isn’t a shotgun mic.

0:06:59.860,0:07:03.040
People have taken the Media Mod
apart and confirmed that for us.

0:07:03.040,0:07:06.220
Secondly, it’s been almost a year
since the camera came out.

0:07:06.220,0:07:09.340
That front-facing screen still hasn’t been released.

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So no GoPros!

0:07:11.660,0:07:14.220
That left me with two realistic options:

0:07:14.220,0:07:17.120
The newly-released Akaso Brave 7 and

0:07:17.120,0:07:19.540
the DJI Osmo Action.

0:07:19.540,0:07:25.320
I looked into the Akaso Brave 7 and it’s
an amazing device for less than $150.

0:07:25.320,0:07:27.220
Waterproof straight out of the box,

0:07:27.220,0:07:30.480
a front-facing screen and built-in image stabilization.

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Again ,on paper, a very compelling device.

0:07:33.380,0:07:37.240
But, once the reviews came in, it
was obvious why it was so cheap.

0:07:37.240,0:07:41.940
It’s only waterproof to about three feet.
So, basically, it’s splashproof.

0:07:41.940,0:07:45.760
I would be very wary of putting it under a running tap.

0:07:45.760,0:07:49.360
What’s also disappointing is
the sound and image quality.

0:07:49.360,0:07:52.060
The sound, in particular, is atrocious.

0:07:52.060,0:07:58.319
And the image stabilization is basically on a par
with the Gopro Hero5 from a few years back.

0:07:58.319,0:08:04.180
So, by the process of elimination, that left
me with the most obvious starting point:

0:08:04.180,0:08:06.580
The DJI Osmo Action.

0:08:06.580,0:08:12.080
And, once I decided to get the Osmo Action,
I also ordered all the right accessories for it as well.

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So here we have a mountain of boxes.

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And it’s time to start the fun process of unboxing it all.

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Don’t look at my address.
It’s not for YOU, stalker!

0:08:34.000,0:08:38.000
“Thank you for your purchase
from London Camera Exchange.”

0:08:38.000,0:08:44.240
Who normally sell second second-hand cameras,
but this is brand new. Or so they told me.

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It’s always a joy opening a new camera.

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And here it is: The DJI Osmo Action.

0:08:53.080,0:08:55.280
OK, according to this…

0:08:55.280,0:08:59.040
Dual screen. HDR. 11 metres waterproof.

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Electronic image stabilization.
4K 60p. And 8 times 1080p.

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I’ve no idea what that bit means.
Eight times slow motion?

0:09:09.760,0:09:14.320
So this is very nicely packaged.
The Osmo Action by DJI.

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It cost me just £199 GBP.

0:09:16.959,0:09:20.560
That’s about $260 US.

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Let’s open it up!

0:09:24.400,0:09:27.680
If you’ve seen my videos before,
you know i hate this bit.

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If there was some way I could do this
without a knife, I would prefer that.

0:09:34.080,0:09:36.240
But anyway…

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Beautiful piece of kit.

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So first thing you get is the camera.

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In a DJI Osmo Action cage.

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Got screen protectors on both the front
and the back, and the lens protector.

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That looks very nice to hold.

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And it is tiny. It is tiny.

0:10:00.760,0:10:03.020
OK, what else do we get?

0:10:05.760,0:10:10.240
Well all you get is the camera and this additional box.

0:10:10.240,0:10:11.780
I wonder what’s in here.

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You get some manuals.

0:10:18.800,0:10:22.240
This must be the battery. Yes it is.

0:10:22.240,0:10:27.100
I have no idea what this thing is but it
must be some kind of way to mount it.

0:10:27.920,0:10:30.960
Oh, OK, it’ll be like a quick release thing.

0:10:30.960,0:10:33.200
I have no interest in that.

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Battery, camera and charging cable. And that’s it.

0:10:38.620,0:10:41.120
That’s a pretty minimalist setup.

0:10:41.120,0:10:44.600
Unfortunately, the camera doesn’t
work straight out of the box.

0:10:44.600,0:10:49.000
You have to activate it using the
DJI app on your smartphone first.

0:10:49.000,0:10:52.120
Normally, that would annoy me.
But I don’t really mind this time around,

0:10:52.120,0:10:55.080
as i need to update the camera’s firmware anyway.

0:10:55.080,0:10:58.540
DJI have been releasing regular updates
to improve the camera software,

0:10:58.540,0:11:02.780
and those have really made
a big difference over the last year.

0:11:06.080,0:11:09.720
Right, so I’ve got my camera and
that’s the most important part done.

0:11:09.720,0:11:15.880
It’s also the most expensive part too,
as it took up almost 70% of my budget.

0:11:15.880,0:11:18.560
So, what else did I buy?

0:11:18.560,0:11:22.200
Well, firstly, I got myself a protective carry case.

0:11:22.200,0:11:25.660
This is the standard case that you can buy online.

0:11:25.660,0:11:31.360
It costs about £10 GBP and it has cutouts
for your camera and various accessories.

0:11:31.360,0:11:34.480
However, the immediate problem
I can see with this one is that,

0:11:34.480,0:11:39.660
once I put the camera in the
camera cage, it might not fit.

0:11:39.660,0:11:42.480
However, we’ll have to check that out later.

0:11:42.480,0:11:45.340
Next, I’ve ordered myself a couple of spare batteries.

0:11:45.340,0:11:47.720
These are not DJI official.

0:11:47.720,0:11:51.400
And a battery charger that can
accommodate three batteries at once.

0:11:51.400,0:11:58.860
I’ll admit that was a bit unnecessary at this
stage, but it’s done and it cost me £29 GBP.

0:11:59.440,0:12:03.880
I’ve also picked up a portable LED light.

0:12:03.880,0:12:08.960
This one has a cold shoe mount at
the bottom and it charges via USB-C.

0:12:08.960,0:12:11.860
So it should charge reasonably quickly.

0:12:11.860,0:12:16.459
Unfortunately, it isn’t waterproof.
Those ones cost five times as much.

0:12:16.459,0:12:20.100
But, this one only set me back £12 GBP.

0:12:20.100,0:12:23.800
I’m now dangerously close to blowing my budget here.

0:12:23.800,0:12:29.540
I set my maximum at £300 and I’ve spent £250 already.

0:12:29.540,0:12:35.040
I do have some mini-tripods and
monopods in my camera bag already.

0:12:35.040,0:12:36.940
So that’ll save me some money.

0:12:36.940,0:12:40.080
Luckily, I also have a Røde microphone as well.

0:12:40.080,0:12:44.840
However I’ve still had to buy the CYNOVA audio adapter

0:12:44.840,0:12:52.440
Without it there’s no way of plugging in a microphone. And that adapter cost me another £20 GBP.

0:12:53.140,0:12:59.720
By the way, the reviews all say the internal
mics on the Osmo Action are pretty good,

0:12:59.720,0:13:06.020
and that you can normally use it without an
external mic, as long as it isn’t too windy.

0:13:06.020,0:13:13.100
So, if you had to cut corners anywhere, the microphone and microphone adapter would be the items

0:13:13.100,0:13:16.300
you could possibly, possibly live without.

0:13:16.300,0:13:18.469
So, now i’ve got pretty much everything.

0:13:18.469,0:13:21.020
There’s just one more accessory to worry about.

0:13:21.020,0:13:22.240
The camera cage.

0:13:22.240,0:13:25.680
And I’ve only got £30 GBP left in my budget.

0:13:25.680,0:13:28.520
Now this is where things can get a bit tricky.

0:13:28.520,0:13:32.260
There are lots of camera cages on
the market for the Osmo Action.

0:13:32.260,0:13:36.399
However, hardly any of them work
with the CYNOVA audio adapter.

0:13:36.400,0:13:41.060
In fact, for a while only the
PGYTech version was compatible.

0:13:41.060,0:13:45.140
I didn’t like that option, however,
because it was made of plastic.

0:13:45.140,0:13:50.700
I wanted a metal cage for my device,
just to add an extra layer of ruggedness.

0:13:50.700,0:13:57.180
I’d read online that many Osmo Action owners
were raving about something called the TILTA cage,

0:13:57.180,0:13:59.300
which does look like a fantastic product.

0:13:59.300,0:14:03.980
Unfortunately, it costs more than £50 GBP,
and I’m not keen on overspending here.

0:14:03.980,0:14:06.860
I was almost resigned to getting it though,

0:14:06.860,0:14:11.820
until I heard that Smallrig just brought
out a new cage for the Osmo Action.

0:14:11.820,0:14:18.079
And this one promised to be compatible
with the audio adapter as well.

0:14:18.079,0:14:24.200
It was priced at £29 GBP on Amazon.
Which meant I could stay under budget.

0:14:24.200,0:14:28.900
Smallrig, by the way, are renowned
for making excellent camera cages.

0:14:28.900,0:14:32.171
So now i spent £299 GBP.

0:14:32.171,0:14:34.079
But that’s it.

0:14:34.079,0:14:38.000
I now have everything you need
for the perfect vlogging setup.

0:14:38.000,0:14:40.400
This was a lot more difficult than I initially thought.

0:14:40.400,0:14:45.120
But, at the same time, I managed to put
together the best possible combinations.

0:14:45.120,0:14:49.400
Is it possible to build the perfect
vlogging rig for under $400 US?

0:14:49.400,0:14:54.160
Absolutely! But only if you do your research properly.

0:14:57.600,0:15:00.740
OK, full disclosure time.

0:15:00.740,0:15:05.500
There are a couple of items I
didn’t include in my calculations.

0:15:05.500,0:15:12.540
Firstly, I did also buy some screen protectors.
They cost me £8 GBP, so $10 US in total.

0:15:12.540,0:15:16.420
I didn’t need to buy screen protectors
as the camera is already rugged,

0:15:16.420,0:15:19.360
and I’ve also put a metal cage on top of it.

0:15:19.360,0:15:25.400
But I always buy screen protectors for my gadgets,
and I wasn’t going to make an exception here.

0:15:25.400,0:15:31.020
Secondly, I haven’t included the
memory card cost in the total.

0:15:31.020,0:15:37.200
I picked up a 256 Gigabyte Sandisk
Extreme micro SD memory card.

0:15:37.200,0:15:41.960
I got this one on sale and it cost
me about £50 GBP or $65 US.

0:15:41.960,0:15:46.127
This is the maximum size of memory
card that an Osmo Action can handle.

0:15:46.127,0:15:50.720
And it’s worth noting that the card I’ve bought is the A2 version,

0:15:50.720,0:15:53.780
which is the newer and faster type of memory card.

0:15:53.780,0:15:57.140
I intend to shoot in 2.7K most of the time.

0:15:57.140,0:15:59.360
If you’re planning to shoot in 4K,

0:15:59.360,0:16:05.560
then you really should get yourself a high speed memory card with an A2 rating.

0:16:05.560,0:16:09.440
If you get a slower card then you
could end up with lots of issues.

0:16:09.440,0:16:11.400
Your camera could end up overheating.

0:16:11.400,0:16:15.199
And there’s a danger your footage
won’t be recorded properly.

0:16:15.199,0:16:19.560
So, this is the most important
advice I’m going to give today.

0:16:19.560,0:16:23.580
Do not buy cheap memory cards!

0:16:27.040,0:16:30.720
So there you have it! The perfect vlogging rig.

0:16:30.720,0:16:33.920
I am really happy with how this one turned out.

0:16:33.920,0:16:37.820
But, does it work as well as it should?

0:16:37.820,0:16:40.700
Let’s take it outside for a test drive.

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