These recommendations were made on October 2, 2012. The prices may change over time. The hardware recommendations will also change over time. This set of recommendations is meant more than anything to give a flavor for the amount of funding you can use to get started.
Blue Microphones Snowball Plug-and-Play
USB Microphone in Brushed Aluminum
with Studio Headphones and Microphone Pop Filter
(This is three things in one package: a microphone
a studio quality headset you can use with the mic, and
a "pop filter" for the mic that takes out "plosives"
like the popping you can get when you saw a word
on a good mic that starts with a P.)
one place you might buy: Amazon, here
cost: $109.99 (at Amazon)
get with it a "ringer stand". This isolates the microphone
from any noises like you hitting the desk while you are talking.
This ends up being very useful in the long run, and does not
cost very much.
That does it for a microphone. This is just one of a universe of possibilities, but if you have a look at the review you will see that the cost benefit ratio for this particular unit is reviewed as very good by C|NET, which is a usually pretty reliable source.
(I am assuming you want a relatively good webcam that you can use to do video blogs and to do record yourself in front of your computer as you run demos … and similar things. If you instead what a camera that you can use in a classroom to "film" a lecture, that is a wholly different thing. I am assuming the first.)
There are about a million different webcams out there. Here is one that is good.
Polaroid 8" Heavy Duty Mini Tripod With Pan Head
With Tilt For Digital Cameras & Camcorders
cost at Amazon: $7.00
This might seem odd to spend more for the microphone than for the camera. But it makes sense if you think about the movies you have seen on YouTube or on the web in general. In general we are much more forgiving for lower quality video but high quality audio is very "professional" in feel.
If you get really serious about making web movie blogs, or using the camera to record you while you do demos on your machine, eventually you will want some kind of lighting for your filming area. That is pretty cheap and can amount to as little as high intensity lights and translucent shower curtains to diffuse light in your camera area.
There are tricks too for making movies that work well. Like wearing always a light colored shirt when you record. A webcam sets its light intensity level based on the brightest thing in the field of view. If that is your shirt, then your face will most likely be in focus and have a reasonable set of the light level.
But the watch word really is… to get the stuff above, and try it out. If you are happy with the results you get, then no more is necessary. And the mic and camera above should produce quite good results with out anything else.
Remember this is the short form. I would not want you to think that these are the absolutely optimal choices. Of course in reality there is no single optimal, but it depends at the margin on what you want to do with the equipment.
But I think the above choices will serve you well. And you have a bill of
camera and tripod: $53.99
mic and associated audio stuff: $150.72