Whether you are a casual YouTube hobbyist or an experienced daily vlogger, having the best camera for YouTube videos is quintessential for your channel’s success. The popularity of vlogs, how-to videos, and other forms of video content has led to an upsurge in demand quality cameras in a variety of formats in the past year. In fact, we now have some Smartphones with awesome cameras that can record the most revered 4K resolutions.
If you own an iPhone or Samsung phone built after 2014, the odds are that it can record in either 1080p or 4K! So in the event that you’re strapped for cash but need to create videos for your channel, you could use your phone as your last line of defense and still pin it with great content.
You only need a few tips and guidelines on how to use a Smartphone for YouTube videos or Vlogging. You could also download several dedicated apps into the device to make editing and sharing your projects from the same device easier and faster.
However, as your channel gains momentum and attracts more subscribers, you’ll certainly want to step up your video quality. You’ll have no choice but to pull the trigger and purchase one of the best cameras for YouTube videos. Good news for you: great cameras only cost as little as a few hundred bucks and won’t break your bank. However, if you have an unlimited budget, there are countless choices in best of the best vlogging cameras. Frankly, you’ll find it hard to choose one from the other.
Vlogger & YouTube Camera Buying Guide
What matters when purchasing the best camera for vlogging or other YouTube videos?
Having used around 8 cameras since I started video-blogging and creating DIY/How-To videos, here are a few guidelines that I would offer to anyone hunting for the best camera for YouTube video clips;
- Familiarize yourself with the different types of cameras there are (know their specifics, what they are best for whether it’s action shots are still video, and their strengths and weaknesses)
- Understand the types of videos you are into or intend on recording
- Know your budget
- Inquire about add-ons required or optional accessories for the camera
Types of Cameras For Vlogging/Youtube Videos
There are numerous camera types on the market these days. Let’s take a quick look at what makes each one unique and excel in different situations.
Simply known as Point-and-shoots, these are compact cameras that offer the versatility of a high-end camera but in a compact footprint. These units have greatly improved over the last few years and is usually the best camera form to start out with for those just starting up a YouTube channel.
Most professional travel bloggers usually carry one or two of these. They tend to complement the DSLRs where the size and weight of the camera matter. Some point and shoots even have interchangeable lens capability.
Mirrorless cameras are the newest invention in the camera world. They are more like a hybrid between the compact point-and-shoots and the DSLRs. If you want a lightweight ‘DSLR’ with interchangeable lenses, and crystal-clear images, “mirrorless” camera is probably what you need. Unfortunately, this versatility also attracts a higher price point. Aside from the price point, more and more professionals are moving to this camera format.
DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) cameras have for long been the gold standards in the world of cameras. They are respected for a few good reasons:
- Have high image quality – DSLRs have large image sensors which allow large pixel sizes. As such, they can be used at faster ISO. This leads to speedy shutter speeds and minimal grain.
- Have wider ISO range – The best DSLR cameras for YouTube videos are known for their highly flexible ISO ratings. This versatility makes them great for shooting in different light conditions.
- Changeable lenses – This is another feature that makes DSLRs the best digital cameras options for professional content creators. You see nothing opens up your world to new possibilities than being able to change the type of lens on your camera. Keep in mind that the type of lens that you use greatly impacts the image quality. The more you invest in them, the more your DSLR camera will come in handy in different situations.
- Manual controls – While auto modes are extremely useful and quick, most DSLRs offer you total control over the quality of your projects which is must for setting up shots perfectly.
DSLR cams are pricey! The price continues to go north as you invest in high-quality lenses. They are also huge and heavy, compared to point & shoot, especially with the lens on. You’ll always have a lug around a bag of gear if you intend on using more than one lens on your video shooting activities.
Lastly, they are a bit tricky to use for starters and require regular maintenance which could cost you.
For those of you on a small or even non-existent budget, your Smartphone could certainly be used with great results. In fact, rather than spending money on a cheap vlogging camera with limited functions and near-phone quality videos, I would recommend starting out with your phone’s cam and save for a medium to high-end unit.
If this interests you, here is a list of 4K Smartphones worth checking out. The thing with Smartphone cameras is that they have everything built in like image stabilization and slow motion capture. As such, they are ideal for amateurs and professionals alike. They are also compact, lightweight, tiny, and easy to carry around. Unfortunately, some lag behind in terms of resolution and low light performance, so you’ll still need to replace it sooner rather than later.
A camcorder is what you’d require if you want something to record family moments like birthdays or anniversaries and playback later. With the advent of phones that can shoot in notably sharp high definition videos, the popularity for standalone camcorders has been shrinking rapidly over the past decade. Much as I used to love it, my Panasonic HDC TM900 camcorder has been collecting dust on the shelves since my iPhone 6 came knocking a few .
Smartphone Camera VS Camcorder – Which is best?
Unlike most camcorders, phones allow you to share your photos and videos almost immediately. On the other hand, only a few camcorders offer Wi-Fi connectivity. So you can’t upload your videos without an internet-connected computer. Again, video clips from a camcorder always require some editing which can prove agonizingly daunting at times.
However, Smartphones don’t best camcorders in all battles. Optical zoom capabilities, exposure controls, external mic support, and manual focus are among other capabilities that give camcorders an edge over Smartphones. So unless you’re really good at pulling off excellent YouTube videos from your phone, a camcorder is always a great place to start.
Sport and Action Cameras
As the name suggests, Sport/Action cameras like GoPros are small cameras designed to accompany you in your adrenaline-packed activities. You can strap them on your helmet or chest, or on your surfing board. Most of them are also waterproof. Therefore, they are your best shot if you want to record yourself under water or hiking through the rainforest during a downpour.
If all you want to do is stream live on your YouTube or Twitch channel while you are gaming or do live commentary you don’t have to spend big bucks, a webcam is what you need. Webcams are unbeatable for the price and ease of use. The best webcams for YouTube can have real neat extra features including high-quality video and image resolutions and highly adjustable shooting angles.
Essential Camera Features for Shooting Video
Let’s face it, cameras are packed with features these days, so much so that it can be confusing and downright maddening understanding them all. That’s ok, I have narrowed them down to only the most important camera features for shooting great YouTube content!
Auto modes are great for beginners but manual mode will allow full control over the exposure pictures and videos that camera takes. Auto modes select the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO for you based on the shooting mode which is a best guess of the settings needed.
While this can result in great video or pictures, it isn’t always the best possible picture that can be achieved by an experienced camera user that knows the precise settings needed.
Verify the camera has a setting labeled with an “M”. Most DSLRs and Micro Four Thirds cameras have manual mode, but not ever point-and-shoots does. A tip for learning what settings look best is viewing the meta-data of the video and picture files that look really good but were shot using “auto-mode”. It will give all of the settings used for the shot like aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.
Proper focus is an extremely important part of great video content and photography. Out-of-focus video/pictures can render content useless. You don’t want to waste time re-shooting because your camera is poor at auto focusing. Both precision and speed are important factors of auto-focus.
Testing an auto-focus system is quite easy, here’s what you should do:
Look through the viewfinder or the LCD screen, press the shutter release halfway down to activate the auto-focus system, and focus on something in the frame.
Try focusing on something close to you, then something far away, and then close again. Did the camera focus quickly and accurately? If the camera is slow to focus as you change what you’re looking at, or has difficulty focusing on the right thing, then it could be an indication of how well the system is.
Designed to reduce vibration and shakiness when shooting, which reduces blurriness in low light conditions. Sometimes the camera body or lens itself (for DSLRs) will contain the stabilization mechanism, which is known as optical image stabilization. This is of a higher quality than digital image stabilization, which is software in the camera that does that work.
There are also other means of achieving image stabilization. A camera gimbals are extremely effective at keeping a stable image. Pick one that is compatible with a wide variety of cameras and you can have yet another tool for making great videos. I recommend the ROXANT PRO as a cheap non-motorized camera stabilizer great for smaller cameras and smartphones used for YouTube videos. For a more high tech yet pricey option, motorized gimbals are quite effective.
ISO controls the camera sensor’s light sensitivity. This allows you to shoot in low light situation by increasing the sensor’s sensitivity. Look for cameras that offer ISO 1600 or higher. Some cameras can shoot as high as ISO 25,000 – 102,000
There is a trade-off however to using a high the sensitivity setting. High ISO settings usually produce more noise (colored speckles) and grainier images. Sometimes this can be alleviated in post processing.
Frames Per Second / FPS
This is how many photos the camera can take per second or for video it is how many frames are in 1 second of video. A higher frames per second (fps) capability is useful if you’re shooting sports or other fast action video.
Most videos in the USA are shot at either 24 FPS or 30 FPS. At 24 FPS, you are recording a more cinematic or film look. At 30 FPS, its more of a video look that you are used to seeing when watching TV shows. Some cameras are capable of shooting in 60 FPS, The 60 FPS option can also be used for ultra smooth playback, which is especially helpful when shooting fast paced scenes.
What kind of videos are you into?
It’s also worth understanding the type of videos that you’ll be recording. Luckily, most high-end YouTube cameras can be used for about any type of video. If you are into beauty or cooking tutorials, the best camera for your YouTube videos should excel in capturing vivid color and sharpness. DSLRs and mirrorless reign supreme in this category.
If you plan to shoot videos underwater, an action cam is the way to go or at least one that has a compatible water-proof housing. For travel vloggers, the best point-and-shoot or mirrorless cameras are ideal due to their compact size and portability.
What’s more important is to get a camera that can perform excellently in different light conditions, especially low-light environments. For this, consider a camera with a wider aperture and higher ISO. Camcorders are known to suffer in terms of poor low light performance. You’ll want to avoid them if you shoot indoors with not much light around you.
How good do you want your audio?
Vastly more critical than the type of camera you are using is the quality of your audios. It’s hard to emphasize this enough. No matter how crystal clear your videos are, it’s the audio that brings out the greatness in your content. In most instances, your YouTube audience is more likely to condone poor quality videos, but poor sound quality is a big NO.
The built in microphones on most cameras aren’t always great. In fact, I never rely on them, and most vloggers obviously don’t. The great idea is to consider a camera with an external mic input or at a minimum, a secondary audio recording device you can sync to the video in post processing.
Types of Mics for YouTube Videos and Vlogging
The best mic for YouTube video is a huge topic that can’t be handled in just a few paragraphs. But we’ll be bringing you a full write-up on them soon. So keep in touch.
Your ideal microphone mainly depends on the type of content that you do. For instance, if you shoot mainly in noisy environments, you’ll want a microphone that blocks all other background noise in favor of the target audio. Shotgun mics like Rode VideoMicro and Shure VP83 are great options here.
If your vlogging mainly entails conducting interviews or demonstrations, a lapel mic will just do fine. These are small units that you can clip anywhere around your chest. Tycka and Maono are our best recommendations here. They are cheap and can be used be in a number of cameras and mobile phones.
What is your budget?
This is ultimately a question that every vlogger starts with. It’s a common saying in the vlogging community that your best vlogging camera is what is in your hands or that which you can afford. If you have a phone with a camera that can shoot 1080p or 4K resolution, the stage is set for you.
It’s always a great idea to start with best cheap YouTube camera and upgrade later as your channel starts racking in some money. However, it’s not a sin to begin with an expensive gadget (DSLRs or Mirrorless) if your budget allows it.
What The Most Popular YouTube Stars Use
To get an idea of what types of video cameras vloggers use, it may help to look at the setups of current YouTube superstars. Some of these YouTuber’s have 10’s of millions of subscribers each:
- PewDiePie, video game streamer, vlogger: CANON G7 X MKII
- Zoella, beauty vlogger: CANON 70D
- NigaHiga, comedy and pop culture commentary: CANON 70D
- FaZe Rain, gaming, lifestyle vlogger (3.3 million subscribers): CANON G7 X MKII
- Pointless blogvlogs, lifestyle vlogger (3.2 million subscribers): CANON G7 X MKII
- Casey Niestat, lifestyle vlogger (2.9 million subscribers): CANON 70D
- iJustine, tech vlogger (2.9 million subscribers): CANON G7 X MKII
Best Point & Shoot Cameras For YouTube and Vlogging: Camera Reviews
Now that you have a better idea of what you should be looking for, here is our roundup of the best cameras for YouTube! No matter what you will be shooting there is a camera on the list suitable for content of any kind!
If you need the best camera pack with features, this camera balances everything perfectly, from price to quality to features. By far the most popular camera among the most popular YouTubers! The Mk II is an improved version of the G7 X which was faced with several challenges including low-quality lens, sluggish raw mode performance, and poor battery life. The new battery in this camera has a 25% higher capacity which lets you take 265 stills or roughly 70 minutes of video per charge. Regardless, an extra battery is almost mandatory.
The most noticeable improvement that Canon made on Mark II was the installation of the Digic 7 image processor. This processor offers it faster burst shooting of up to 8fps which is a great improvement from G7X’s 1fps. The processor also offers improved sharpening and an incredible high ISO-noise reduction. It also boasts Dual Sensing Image Stability. According to Canon, this technology reduces shakes by up to 4 stops.
The G7X II also packs a punch in its Lens which is a modest 4.2x. Its widest opening is rated at f/1.8 and can also be raised to f/2.8. This wide opening allows the aperture to take in more light which is great news for low-light scenarios. Canon’s Powershot G7X MK II is in the same class as Sony’s RX100 series which is another great option for Sony fans.
- Touch-sensitive LCD Display articulates 1800 up and 450 down
- Canon’s latest Digic 7 processor
- Outstanding low light performance
- Tons of manual controls
- Superior optical image stabilization
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX10K is a direct competitor to the revered Sony DSC-RX100 V series. So if you are a Panasonic guy but would like to experience Sony’s capabilities like 4k resolution, at a more affordable price, this is your chance. Like any other point-and-shoot camera, the LX10K is a compact unit measuring 2.36 x 4.15 x 1.65 inches and weighing 0.68 pounds. This means that you can tuck it in your pockets or luggage easily without looking overly bulky.
The LX10K is fitted with a 3″ touch LCD display. Like the Sony’s DSC-RX100, the screen can articulate 1800 to allow for selfies and vlogging. It also has a superior retractable quality Leica DC Vario-Summilux lens with dual control functions. You can control the shutter, manual, and zoom functions from the lens ring and a rear dial.
Among other features, you’ll certainly like its ultra high-speed focusing when recording fast actions. This feature has Panasonic’s Depth from Defocus (DFD) technology that locks focus on a fast-moving object to help catch each detail of it and playback later.
- Full HD high-speed recording at 120fps and slow motion playback
- 4K Video with live cropping
- Build images from videos
- Shoot now and focus later function
The RX100 IV has received a lot of attention since it released. Very rarely will it be left off of any lists of best point and shoot cameras. Among the number of features that make it a winner in this category is its articulating screen. This is a 3″ LCD screen that can be positioned in multiple angles thereby making the ideal camera for vlogging and the go or selfies.
It’s also quite important to note here that the RX100 is currently among a few other Point-and-shoots with a 1-inch sensor (large for a point and shoot). The large CMOS Image sensor coupled by its amazingly fast shutter speeds helps in shooting stunning 4K movies effectively even in low light conditions. Not to mention, RX100 also flaunts Sony’s slow-motion movie captioning capability. This feature allows you to capture real actions up to 40 times slower.
It also offers Wi-Fi and NFC sharing options so you can share your videos and stills instantly without fuss. Even better, you can download free PlayMemories app into your phone and use it to control the camera. Lastly, the built pro-video functions are great for content creators as it provide quick switching to the desired settings.
- 4K Video
- Very fast Hybrid Auto-Focus
- Enhanced pro-video functions
- Articulated 3″ LCD screen for easy vlogging
- Super slow-motion functionality
- NFC and built in Wi-Fi for easy video transfers
Best Mirrorless & DSLR Cameras For YouTube: Camera Reviews
Sony’s a7R II is one of the best professional vlogging cameras that money can buy today. By putting it around the 3K price point, Sony tries to make the a7R II the “it” camera for professional video makers who are ready to up their game no matter what cost. As you’ll find out here, this is a serious full frame mirrorless camera with several features that surpass several high-end DSLRs.
Firstly, this is currently the only model on the market with a 42.4MP full-frame sensor– the best so far. It goes without saying that the a7R II has almost zero competition regarding low light performance. This gold-quality sensor gives it an edge in high ISO performance (up to 102,400) and a remarkable dynamic range.
Another truly impressive feature that makes it the best video camera for YouTube content is its high-resolution electronic viewfinder (EVF). This is a 2.4M dot XGA OLED Tru-finder. It boasts 0.78X magnification which is way better the Nikon’s and Canon’s 0.71X. The a7R II also has the highest number of AF points (399) for action photography and video recording.
- Tough magnesium alloy construction for durability
- 399 Phase-Detect AF Points
- Internal UHD 4K Video & S-Log2 Gamma
- Durable Reduced-Vibration Shutter Design
- Best sensor on the market (42.4MP)
- Download PlayMemories Mobile App and use it control the camera from your phone
- In-body image stabilizer
For those who are in need of the best inexpensive vlogging camera or want to get started with a DSLR from Canon, Rebel T6 is probably the best option out there. The T6 is a full functioning DSLR despite its low price. It’s lightweight, easy to shoot with, and has great performance. Not to mention, it is fairly easy to use as far DSLRs are concerned.
One great thing is that it comes in a bundle of almost everything that you require to start shooting and jump start your channel. If you want to try your hat at professional vlogging while still saving some dollars, this is your chance. I recommend Canon’s 50mm also known as the “Nifty Fifty”, which is an extremely affordable prime lens that offers amazing quality that I can attest to. This was my first lens a decade ago and I still use it to this day.
Performance is surprisingly strong from a DSLR at this price point, the Rebel T6 is still as competent as any other inexpensive DSLR. It has all the controls easily accessible and learning how to use it shouldn’t be too technical. It employs 18MP APS-Cmos sensor and Digic 4+ processor that offer above-average image and video quality. It’s also reasonably quiet apart from a slight swirling vibration that occurs when the shutter actuates.
- Built-in Wi-Fi with NFC
- Ships as a package of everything you need
- Digic 4+ processor
Canon has been producing some of the best vlogging cameras in their EOS series for years now. The 70D is specifically designed with videographers in mind. Though the 70D isn’t the latest release (80D is), it still has the guts to give your vlog a tremendous boost. At around 25% cheaper than the 80D it is a much more affordable option for those not willing to spend a ton for feature upgrade that may not even be of benefit.
The most outstanding feature here is the combination of a 20.2-MP APS-C CMOS sensor and Digic5+ processor. This provides you with high-resolution images and videos even in low-light conditions. The advanced processor also speeds up the operation and provides you with stellar auto focus performance crucial for videos. You can power up the camera, focus, and take a killer photo in utmost 0.4 seconds in good light and about 0.8 seconds in dim light.
This camera can also shoot continuously at 7fps for still shots. This makes it easy to capture rapid actions moment by moment. Canon EOS 70D also boasts several other special features including Optical Image Stabilizer, wide ISO range, Automatic Lighting Optimizer, and Scene Intelligent Mode.
- Image star rating- for easy selection
- GPS compatibility
- High-speed continuous shooting
- 100-12800 expandable ISO range
- Super fast Digic 5+ Processor
- Wi-Fi and NFC
The D3300 is one of Nikon’s best DSLR cameras for beginners in the truest meaning of this term. DSLR cameras are known to come at a premium price, of course, because of their top notch performance. Fortunately, the D3300 comes at an affordable price range below the $450 mark without compromising its performance qualities.
This camera aims at giving you a smooth learning curve. It has a straightforward setup and an easily accessible Guide Mode to take you through the key features and controls. Ergonomic-wise, the D3300 is lightweight and measures just 3.78×3.0x4.92 inches make it easy to hold it steadily in hand while accessing all the key controls.
Among other specifics that make it the best beginner DSLR YouTube camera are 24.2MP CMOS sensor that shines in different light conditions, super fast Expeed 4 processor, and super high resolution.
- Speedy processor
- Stunning videos in different settings
- 24 megapixels for sharper richer images
- Super lightweight
- Very quiet
- High resolution with low noise
Best Webcams, Action Cameras, and Camcorders For YouTube and Vlogging: Camera Reviews
Logitech C922x is ultimately one of the best webcams for YouTubers. Logitech’s C922x is an advanced model of the C920. Though it’s a few bucks more, this webcam promises superior image quality than its elder sibling. It’s compatible with most PC and Mac systems and offers easy plug-and-play functions.
Best of all, it is specifically designed and optimized for Professional quality video streaming on social gaming and entertainment sites like Twitch and YouTube. It also features background replacement technology (powered by personify) allows you to integrate your live image and any background Scene, right onto your stream.
This webcam offers multiple mounting options. You can decide to clip it on the screen or use the tripod thread to position it wherever you want. It’s also fitted with a 58-inch cord which opens up more positioning options. Logitech C922x records in 1080p resolutions with up to 30fps. It also features Logitech’s Rightlight2 Technology that automatically adjusts depending on your lighting environment.
Worth noting, this webcam offers a wide field of view (900). If your vlog involves showcasing some products or other presentations, you can be sure that your audience will have a clear view even without much tweaking. Even better, Logitech C922x has 4X digital zoom, pan, and tilt functions so you can clearly focus on your presentations.
- Tough magnesium alloy construction for durability
- Designed specifically for Twitch and YouTube creators
- Background replacement technology built in
- Rightlight2 technology automatically adjusts light intake in different lighting conditions
- High-quality video
- Multiple positioning options
Next on line is one of the best action cameras for vlogging. If you want a camera that can capture your mountaineering, snowboarding, or biking skills and later talk about it on your YouTube channel, GoPro Hero is designed for that.
In fact, you can also attach it to your scuba mask and take it with you up to 40m under the water thanks to its waterproof casing capturing your favorite scuba diving moments. As such, it’s the best YouTube camera for snorkeling and underwater filming.
The thing with this camera is that it’s way lighter and smaller than other cameras on this list. It has a curved and flat adhesive mount so you can mount it on helmet, motorcycle, or bike. About performance, you can choose to record Professional 4K/30fps, 2.7K/60fps and 1080p/120fps video, 720p/240fps video for super slow-motion playback. It uses a USB rechargeable lithium battery with speedy charging rate and superb power retention compared to other cameras in action category.
- Waterproof casing for underwater filming
- Wireless connectivity
- High-resolution video quality
- Night photo and night lapse
- Higher battery capacity
Let’s face it, the only reason to get a camcorder these days is to really take advantage of the capabilities they excel at over any of the other camera classes. If your content demands a video camera for its optical zoom or superior low-light capabilities, the Canon XA30 is the best camcorder for YouTube you will find. It shoots professional grade videos and is capable of up to 20X zoom and has excellent low-light performance.
In a bid to offer you liquid clear videos, Canon has fitted the XA30 with a Advanced HD CMOS Pro Image Sensor. This sensor can record at 1920 by 1080 resolutions while maintaining natural colors even in low light. Another feature that makes the XA30 among the best camcorders for YouTube videos is the built in Optical Image Stabilization. It corrects a broad range of shakes for distortion-free videos for handheld videos.
- 20x High Definition Optical Zoom
- Improved Low-light performance
- Dual SD Card Slots
- Wi-Fi with FTP Transfer Capability
- 3.5-inch OLED Viewscreen
- Wide DR Gamma
That’s it! I hope that this list of the best YouTube cameras will guide you to your ideal gadget. I’ll keep on updating it as digital technology continues to evolve. I’d also love to hear what you have to say about the units we’ve highlighted above and any other vlogging cameras that you feel should be included here. So let’s meet in the comments section.