People have been making videos for YouTube for a while now but it’s only been in the last several years that this medium has become a bonafide career path in the form of full-time vloggers. Short for “video blogs”, vlogs have become extremely popular in recent years. YouTube’s most popular vloggers are making millions of dollars and even regular folks who see vlogging only as a hobby are having a blast making videos.
While there are many types of vlogs out there, they all have one thing in common: they require a good camera. When buying or renting a camera for vlogging it is important to consider things like budget, portability, image and audio quality, recording time, and battery life.
The best camera for YouTube or vlogging largely depends on what you are trying to capture. Travel vloggers want lightweight setups with excellent image quality to help showcase amazing locales. Beauty vloggers need sharp optics, excellent autofocus, and high quality audio. Family vloggers want highly portable cameras that can withstand the demands of a rough and tumble bunch of kids and all the chaos and fun that they bring.
We’ve broken down some of the most popular cameras for vloggers and came up with options to fit every need and budget!
The Best Cameras for YouTube
Types of Cameras for Vloggers
Digital single-lens reflex camera (DSLR) have long been the gold standard when it comes to photography and they make excellent vlogging cameras as well. With the option to change lenses, the ability to control things like ISO, focus points, and depth of field, excellent low light performance, and killer image quality, these cameras give you tons of options. But they have their downsides, including price, weight, and a steep learning curve to get the most out of all of those features.
Mirrorless cameras are the new kids on the block and they are becoming wildly popular with photographers and videographers due to their relatively lightweight, interchangeable lenses, versatility, and crystal-clear images. If you want a camera that comes with most of the bells and whistles of a heavy DSLR, but in a much smaller and lighter package, a mirrorless camera is perfect.
Point and shoots are tiny and generally (with some exceptions) lack a lot of the features of a DSLR. But they have lots of upsides, especially for vloggers who like to take their camera everywhere. A good point and shoot can provide excellent high-resolution images, often offers the manual control of a DSLR, and fits right in your pocket.
Action cams are designed and marketed as cameras that can be strapped to your chest when you go skydiving, taken underwater, or suction-cupped to the front of your surfboard. But that’s not all they’re good for. Action cameras are small in size but pack a huge punch when it comes to features, video quality, and durability. If you are the type of vlogger who wants to take video of yourself swimming in a waterfall—and then talk about it on your vlog afterward—an action cam may be perfect for you.
Camcorders are designed to give you everything you need to take amazing videos. This makes them lightweight, extremely portable, and perfect for people who want to focus strictly on videography and not photography.
Smartphones. There’s a good chance that you have a powerful vlogging tool on you right this very moment. While smartphones can’t touch the quality and versatility of an actual camera, they’re still pretty capable and assuming you own your phone already, they will cost you nothing.
What the Pros are Using
To get an idea of what types of camera vloggers use, it may help to look at the setups of current YouTube superstars:
- Zoella, beauty vlogger (10.5 million subscribers): Canon 70D
- MyLifeAsEva, lifestyle, beauty, comedy vlogger (6.1 million subscribers): Canon T4i
- FaZe Rain, gaming, lifestyle vlogger (3.3 million subscribers): Canon Powershot G7X
- Pointless blogvlogs, lifestyle vlogger (3.2 million subscribers): Canon Powershot G7X
- Casey Niestat, lifestyle vlogger (2.9 million subscribers): Canon 70D
- iJustine, tech vlogger (2.9 million subscribers): Canon Powershot G7X
- Aspyn Ovard, fashion and beauty vlogger (2.6 million subscribers): Canon 80D
- Jennxpenn, lifestyle vlogger (2.5 million subscribers): Canon 5D Mark III
- MarkE Miller, lifestyle vlogger (585k subscribers): Canon Powershot G7X
- Marzbar, tech vlogger (405k subscribers): Sony a7S
The GX7 is particularly popular. Learn more about it: First Impressions and Sample Photos from the Panasonic GX7 Micro Four Thirds Mirrorless Camera.
Best Microphone for YouTube
Vlogging isn’t just about making visually beautiful videos—it’s also about sound. The internal microphones on cameras are notoriously bad, which means that if you’re going to take your vlogging seriously, you’re going to want an external mic.
Before we get into a list of the best mics for YouTubers, let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons of the various types:
- Audio-Technica ATR-3350: Lapel-mounted microphones that are good for interviews, instructions, etc.
- RØDE VideoMic: Professional level hot shoe-mounted shotgun microphone.
- Shure VP83F LensHopper Shotgun Microphone: Great for DSLR vlogging.
- Blue Microphones Yeti Snowball: Easy to setup and best for voiceovers!
- Blue Snowball USB Condenser Microphone: Lets you select between unidirectional and omnidirectional pickup patterns.
Types of Mics for Vloggers
Lapel mics, also called lavalier mics, clip to the front of a shirt and allow the person being filmed to talk into the mic hands-free. These are ideal for vloggers who do interviews and conduct demonstrations. Maximize your lavaliers with the help of The Beginner Videographer’s Guide to Frequency Blocks.
Shotgun mics mount to the hot shoe of the camera and can pick up unidirectional audio. If you are taking videos in a noisy location and want the sound of the person you are filming to stand out above all else, consider a shotgun mic. Shotgun mics work best for vloggers who take their equipment with them out into the world and need to be able to block out a lot of background noise.
Condenser mics are useful for voice overs and recording audio in controlled environments. If what you want is a microphone that you can sit on your desk and record yourself talking with, a condenser is a great choice. Beauty and gaming vloggers love these types of mics.
Inexpensive Cameras for YouTubers (under $500)
If you’re new to vlogging or not sure that you want to invest in expensive gear, there are plenty of ways to get started. These entry-level cameras can also buy you some time while you figure out exactly what you want. Renting gives you the opportunity to see which camera fits your needs at a very reasonable price. “Try before you buy” is always a good idea!
In the meantime, here are some little beauties to get you started. While these cameras lack many of the features of those further down the list (like the ability to use manual mode, change lenses, see yourself in a flip screen, or shoot in high res) their ease of use and small price tags make them great for getting started.
1. Smartphone camera
($649 starting retail)
There is a saying in photography that the best camera is the one that is with you and for many of us, a smartphone camera is it. The iPhone 6s and Samsung S5 are both able to shoot 4K video on their front camera, but that resolution drops significantly when you flip it around. What these phones lack in resolution and low light performance they make up for in being tiny, lightweight, and always on hand.
($40 7 day rental, $400 retail)
This powerful little camera is made for more than just adventure. It’s small, rugged enough to go anywhere, and able to take 4K video. GoPros also come with special features like adjustable frames per second, slow motion capture, and the ability to change the frame width. These cameras are excellent for vloggers who are constantly on the go. If you are an adventure or travel vlogger who wants to take videos without worrying about busting your gear, the GoPro Hero 4 Silver is a great choice for you.
3. Canon Vixia HF R72
Parenting and lifestyle vloggers who want the portability and power of a small camcorder will love the Canon Vixia HF R72. This small but powerful camcorder gets rid of all the things vloggers don’t need but keeps all the things they do. Packed with a 57x advanced zoom, image stabilizer, WiFi, external mic port, and flip screen, this camera makes capturing quality video a breeze.
4. Logitech C930e
This webcam attaches to your computer and allows you to capture 1080p30 video with ease. While webcams have their obvious downsides (like not being portable), they can be a great way to get started. If you are the type of vlogger who plans to mostly make videos while sitting in front of a computer (looking at you, gaming vloggers!) this camera is for you.
5. Panasonic HC-V10 Digital
This small camcorder, which records 720p at 25 fps and has a flip screen, may not excel in low light environments but in bright light it provides high quality videos at an excellent price. If is a perfect way for lifestyle vloggers to get started.
|Camera||iPhone 6S||GoPro Hero 4 Silver||Canon Vixia HF R72||Logitech C930e||Panasonic HC-V10|
|Camera type||smartphone||action cam||camcorder||webcam||camcorder|
|Sensor||n/a||1/2.3-inch type 4:3||1/4.85-inch CMOS||n/a||n/a|
|Video Resolution||4K at 30fps||4K at 12.5 fps||1080p at 60 fps||1080p at 30fps||1280 x 720p at 60fps|
|Display screen||4.7″||built-in||3″ flip screen”||n/a||2.7″ pivoting|
|AF system||continuous AF for video||n/a||n/a||integrated AF||n/a|
Good Cameras for YouTube ($500 – $1,000)
Vloggers looking for higher performance have a lot of good options to choose from. These mid-range cameras run the gamut from point and shoots with lots of features to entry-level DSLRs with interchangeable lenses. Most of the cameras on this list have manual settings for better control, a swivel screen so you can see yourself as you record, fantastic image quality, external ports for microphones, and shoot at 1080p or better. These cameras strike the perfect balance between price and quality.
1. Canon T6i
($47 7 day rental, $750 retail)
Canon’s “Rebel” line has long been the entry point for many people looking to get into DSLR photography and now, with some seriously impressive video capabilities, it’s becoming one of the go-to cameras for vloggers as well. This crop sensor DSLR provides beginner to intermediate videographers with a lot of power in an accessible and affordable camera. With WiFi capabilities, a flip screen, 19 cross-type autofocus points, and the ability to record at up to 1080p, the T6i is a recommended starting point for serious vlogging. There is a reason why everyone from lifestyle to beauty vloggers love the T6i (which is the most recent version of the camera used by vlogging superstar MyLifeAsEva)—it’s a quality camera at a fantastic price.
($56 7 day rental, $579 retail)
Many people consider Canon’s Powershot G7X to be the best camera for blogging due to its myriad of features, small size, and incredible video quality. While it lacks the low light capabilities of a DSLR, it’s 1″ sensor, which is larger than most cameras of this size, captures a lot of light and produces clear, rich images. The G7X is a perfect choice for just about everyone.
3. DJI Osmo
($62 7 day rental, $570 retail)
The DJI Osmo may be the best action cam on the market for vloggers. This camera is small, rugged, and able to shoot at 4K. For vloggers, the Osmo’s most impressive feature may be its stabilization, which allows for smooth video even when you’re on the go—which is great for vloggers who like to shoot while running through town or hiking on remote and bumpy trails.
($65 7 day rental, $948 retail)
Sony’s Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 is a tiny vlogging powerhouse. Weighing in at just 10.5 ounces this camera is able to shoot 4K video at 30, 25, and 24 fps and at fps rates of up to 1,000. And it is small enough to fit in your pocket. This camera is a good option for vloggers who do a lot of their shooting away from the comfort of their own home and want a camera that is easy to take along for the ride.
5. Canon 70D
($75 7 day rental, $900 retail)
Many people consider the Canon 70D to be the best DSLR for vloggers due to its long battery life (920 pictures before needing a recharge compared to DSLR average of 894 shots), rock solid autofocus system, and user-friendly touchscreen. This camera supports full HD 1080p recording at speeds of 30, 24, and 25 fps and is a favorite of lifestyle, beauty, and travel vloggers who want fantastic image quality.
|Camera||Canon t6i||Canon Powershot G7X||DJI Osmo||Sony Cyber-shot DSC RX100 IV||Canon 70D|
|Camera type||DSLR||point and shoot||action cam||point and shoot||DSLR|
|Sensor||24.2MP APS-C||20.2MP 1″ High-Sensitivity CMOS||n/a||20.1 MP 1″ Exmor RS BSI CMOS||20.2MP APS-C|
|Video Resolution||1080p at 30p||1080 at 60 fps||4K at 24 or 25 fps||4K video at 30, 25, and 24 fps||1080p at 30vfps|
|Display screen||3″ pivoting LCD||3″ pivoting||None||3″ tiltable LCD||3″ articulating LCD|
|AF system||19 cross-type AF points||31 AF points||n/a||n/a||19 AF points|
Best Cameras for YouTube (over $1,000)
If nothing but the best will do, there are some excellent cameras on the market. These cameras all take external mics, have superior image and video quality, fast and accurate autofocus and interchangeable lenses. While learning to use all these features may take some time, the rewards are well worth the effort. These are some of the best cameras that money can buy!
($153 7 day rental, $3,200 retail)
Sony’s mirrorless camera systems have been taking the photography world by storm and the a7R II may be the best of them all for photographers and vloggers alike. This camera boasts a full frame 42.2MP sensor in a small body. The a7R II has built-in image stabilization, handles ISOs (up to 25,600 in video mode) well, and is compatible with lenses made by other brands (with the use of an adaptor – find out more in Leverage Multiple Camera Platforms with Adapters). This camera is the perfect choice for vloggers who demand high quality everything in a package that is smaller than a DSLR.
($129 7 day rental, $2,500 retail)
The Canon 5D Mark III is the venerable workhorse of the photography world and, while it lacks things like a flip screen or WiFi, it makes this list because it is just that good. This camera has a full frame sensor, a whopping 61 autofocus points, great performance at high ISOs, and excellent dynamic range. The 5D Mark III is perfect for vloggers who require incredible image quality but not a ton of portability, like makeup tutorials or studio interviews.
($170 7 day rental, $2,250 retail)
For vloggers looking for excellent video quality in a smaller camcorder package, Sony’s PXW-70 4K Ready Camcorder may be the perfect fit. Equipped with 4K capabilities and a Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar T* lens, this little camcorder produces stunning video. This is the ideal camera for vloggers who do most of their shooting out in the world. Lifestyle and travel vloggers will love this camera.
($83 7 day rental, $1,300 retail)
Panasonic’s small but mighty Lumix GH4 mirrorless camera is designed for people who want to take both beautiful photos and high quality 4K video. With a flip out screen, built-in image stabilization, and 49 autofocus points, this thing can handle pretty much anything a vlogger throws its way. This is ideal for lifestyle vloggers who want superior optical quality in a portable package. Learn more about the benefits of the GH4 in Shooting at Night with the Panasonic GH4.
($208 7 day rental, $2,500 retail)
The C100 Cinema Camcorder is one of the most powerful camcorders on the market. With a flip screen, ISO capabilities up to 80,000, and lightning-fast autofocus this is a camera for serious videographers—and super serious vloggers. The C100 is a great choice for vloggers who are flirting with the idea of also being filmmakers.
|Camera||Sony Alpha A7R II||Canon 5d Mark III||Sony PXW-X70 4K Ready XDCAM||Panasonic Lumix GH4||Canon C100|
|Sensor||42MP Full-Frame||22.3MP Full-Frame||1″ 20.2 MP||16.05MP||35mm 8.3MP CMOS Sensor|
|Video Resolution||4K at 24 and 25 fps||1080p at 30 fps||4k at 30 fps||4k at 24 and 30 fps||1080p at 30 fps|
|Display screen||3″ tiltable LCD||3.2″ rear screen||3.5″ flip screen||3″ swivel screen||3.5″ flip screen|
|AF system||25 AF points||61 AF points||n/a||n/a||Dual Pixel CMOS AF|
Vlogging can be a fun way to tell your stories, get your creative juices flowing, or even earn a living. Whether you are looking to make vlogging your career or just wanting to make funny videos to entertain your friends, there is a camera out there for you! And remember that if you’re having trouble making up your mind, renting a camera can be just the way to get started. Taking a bunch of different cameras for a spin before dropping cash on one is a great way to be sure that you’re getting exactly what you want and have confidence in your purchase.