These days I always seem to be getting asked what I use for my Zoom setup, so I decided just make a page that I could point folks to. Of course everyone’s preferences for how they want to look on Zoom may differ, but this is how I do it.
I feel a real SLR or mirrorless camera is very important because of 1) far superior image quality, 2) ability to manually control camera settings & exposure, 3) ability to get dramatically shallower depth-of-field (”portrait” effect).
As a photographer, I love the Fujifilm X series cameras. I own multiple camera bodies and an array of lenses. For Zoom, I use:
I personally use a really high-quality portrait lens, but you could get away with even a starter “kit” zoom lens and still get pretty good results.
HOWEVER, if you want a blurred background / “portrait” effect which I personally prefer - you will need to get a faster lens with f/2 max aperture or better (ie. the lower f-stop number of the lens, the better; most kit lenses will be stuck at f/3.5 or so). Thus you will probably need to get a fixed focal length lens, as nearly all zoom lenses won’t be fast enough.
Normally I would recommend a 35mm or 50mm lens (in full-frame terms, this is 23mm to 35mm for APS-C). This is because a bona fide portrait focal length like I use (85mm full-frame equivalent) means you have to set the camera too far back than most people can (I have to set the camera back about 5 feet from where I sit).
I would recommend using your starter kit zoom lens to figure out what is the best focal length for your setup, then purchasing the closest fixed lens for your camera system.
Additionally you may need:
To effectively use an SLR or mirrorless camera for Zoom, you’ll need continuous power or else you’ll quickly run out of battery - probably at the worst possible moment. Some cameras can use a dummy battery (like mine). Basically you’ll use the dummy battery in place of the regular battery, and the dummy battery is fed continuous power via a USB cable. However, some cameras can be fed continuous power simply using a USB-C cable from any USB-C power brick. Make sure to check the situation with your particular camera model before buying.
You will also need a tripod to elevate the camera or other camera mount depending on your setup.
Important note: I used to use a Fujifilm X-Pro2 camera w/ Fujifilm X Webcam software. This worked pretty well for a while, and it’s still how I recommend to get started. You will need to download and install webcam driver software specific to your camera.
All the major camera manufacturers now make Windows / MacOS software drivers to let you easily connect their cameras to Zoom: Canon, Nikon, Fujifilm, Panasonic, Olympus. Note that only more recent camera models are typically supported.