Are you looking to be the next big thing on YouTube? If so, then what you need is a great idea, some video-making experience, and a video camera that gets the job done. There are many kinds of video cameras available in the market. From smartphone cameras to professional camcorders, you are bound to find cameras with a variety of exciting features.
But not all video cameras are alike. Some are great for shooting action videos while others give their best performance in a studio setting. The best camera for your YouTube channel is one that is best suited to the kinds of videos you want to shoot.
Choosing the best camera for your videos can be a daunting task, especially if you are new to the world of videography. Since video cameras can be quite an investment, it is wise to spend some time doing research before making a buying decision.
This YouTube camera buying guide is great for people looking to start a YouTube career as well as those who are looking to upgrade their filming equipment. We’ll walk you through the different types of cameras available in the market and their use. We will also suggest our favorite picks that suit your budget.
Read on to find out more about the best cameras for shooting YouTube videos.
Types of Cameras for Shooting YouTube Videos
It is hard to imagine that until only a decade ago the only options to film professional quality videos were camcorders or super-expensive filmmaking cameras. Today, there is a myriad of cameras available in almost all price ranges to film all kinds of videos.
Let’s take a look at the types of video cameras that are available in the market.
Ask anyone what they think is the best camera for vlogging and they’ll probably suggest a DSLR. With their ability to control things like focus point, ISO, and depth of field, compatibility with interchangeable lenses, widespread support, and amazing low light performance and image quality, DSLRs are truly the best cameras in the market.
They do have some drawbacks though. They are expensive and heavy. They also have a bit of a learning curve, especially if you want to make the most of all the features they offer.
Mirrorless cameras are the new rage for vloggers and photographers around the globe. They offer amazing image quality and are compatible with many interchangeable lenses. They are also much more compact and lightweight than DSLRs making them all the more appealing.
Mirrorless cameras are great for travel and sports vlogging. However, they are expensive so you have to be ready to make quite an investment.
Sports and Action Cams
Action cams also known as ‘point of view’ cams are everywhere. These cameras are designed to be strapped to your chest (or helmet) as you go snowboarding or skydiving. You can also take them with you while snorkeling or suction-cup the to the front on your surfboard for a first-person perspective.
Action cams are great for vlogging adventure sports and activities. They are small in size but that doesn’t mean they don’t offer some amazing features. They are durable and offer awesome video quality. The only downside is that they aren’t as versatile as other types of cameras.
Camcorders are the original video cameras. They offer a ton of features geared specifically towards videography. They are compact and most have convenient handles on top so you can hold them easily.
Camcorders have an easy-to-use interface that makes them great for beginners. They are great for people who want to focus specifically on videography and not on photography.
Also known as ‘digital cameras’, point-and-shoots are portable and compact. They are great for vloggers who like to take their camera along wherever they go. Though they lack sophisticated video-making capabilities, most are able to shoot good-quality videos.
Point-and-shoots are generally less expensive than DSLRs and even camcorders. Some even allow you to shoot videos in 4K.
Sometimes the best things are right in front of you, or in this case, in your hand. Smartphone cameras have come a long way and now have the capabilities of shooting high-quality videos. Of course, there are limitations regarding lens types and features of a professional camera. But you can still shoot epic videos with your smartphone cameras.
Technical Specs for Cameras and What They Mean
Video cameras may have different user interfaces but they all have some basic technical specifications that you need to be aware of. This information can help you judge which camera is best for your YouTube vlogs. It can also help you alleviate the quality of your videos.
Here are some technical specs of video cameras that you should know about:
YouTube has a built-in system that creates lower resolution copies of your video automatically. This means you should upload videos in the highest resolution you can. We don’t recommend going lower than 1080p since that can also affect your video’s popularity on YouTube (YouTube puts an “HD” badge on any video above 1080p and people can filter to see high-quality videos on the platform). Most TVs and monitors have 1080p as their native resolution so your video can easily play on them as well.
What this means for you while buying a camera for vlogging is to choose one that allows you to record in higher resolutions. Fortunately, most video cameras today have the capability of recording videos in high-res, so choosing a good one shouldn’t be a problem.
In addition to resolution, megapixels are the most common technical spec everyone talks about in terms of video quality. While megapixels are front-and-center in photography, they take a back seat to resolution, image sensors and processors in videography. All you really need to see while choosing the right camera is that it supports videos in 12 megapixels (MP) or more.
Image sensors determine the quality of your videos. Think of image sensors as the gatekeepers of your cameras. These sensors detect information, translate it, and then convert it into signals that then appear as your video. The greater the image sensor, the clearer the information. This ultimately translated to better video quality.
To judge the quality of image sensors, you have to do a little research and discover its make and features. This information is available in the literature that comes with cameras and you can find it online as well.
Image processors are to cameras what engines are to cars. The image processor determines the speed and finesse with which your camera will translate signals to videos. A good quality image processor means you will be able to record your videos seamlessly without lags.
The ISO range or sensitivity of your camera determines how it will react to light in different situations. The greater the range the more sensitive your camera is to light changes. This gives you the ability to record good-quality videos in many different kinds of lighting. For example, the ISO range of your camera will determine whether you’ll be able to shoot in low-light or not.
How to Choose the Best Camera for Shooting YouTube Videos?
The sheer variety of cameras in the market can make the process of choosing the best one a little overwhelming. To decide which camera is right for you, we advise breaking down your basic needs and requirements and building up from there. This will help you narrow down the list of suitable cameras for vlogging, getting you one step closer to choosing the best one.
There a number of factors you should consider before buying a camera for shooting YouTube videos. Here are some questions you should ask yourself before you start exploring camera options.
What Type of Videos Do You Want to Shoot?
Not all cameras are suited for shooting every kind of video. Deciding on the type of videos you’ll be shooting, helps you narrow down the list of the most suitable cameras for the job. For example, if you’re going to be shooting sports videos, the best cameras would be action-cams or camcorders. If you want to film weddings or live shows and concerts, you would be better off buying a DSLR or mirrorless camera.
You may even want to shoot different kinds of videos, in which case you can choose to go with a camera that gives you the most versatility. Choosing the type of videos you want to shoot also helps you decide what features you want in your cameras. For example, if you want to do travel vlogging, you’ll need a camera that is easy to carry, lightweight, and can fit into your pocket. In this case, camcorders or point-and-shoots will be your go-to.
What is Your Budget?
Some of you may already have an idea of how much you want to spend on a camera. While others may be looking to scour the market first and then decide on a suitable budget. In either case, the options are incredibly wide. You can find vlogging cameras in almost every price range. The basic options can go as low as $200 while the more sophisticated models can cost you up to $50k.
Generally, you cannot find cinematic professional grade cameras for under $1000. However, there are many budget action cams, digital cameras, and camcorders that offer high-quality video shooting capabilities. We have tried to cover the most common price ranges in our buying guide to help you make an educated buying decision. Read on to find out more.
How Tech Savvy are You?
Shooting great videos is a work in progress. You learn something new every day. However, you do need to have a certain level of technical knowledge to shoot videos for YouTube using a camera. By technical knowledge, we mean both an idea of lighting and shooting angles as well as how to operate the camera.
All cameras come with detailed guides on how to use them. You can also find many video tutorials online that teach you how to use a camera to shoot videos. Before buying a camera, make sure to check out its specs and reviews so you can see if it is easy for you to use.
If you’re a beginner, we suggest choosing a no-frills budget DSLR, digital camera or camcorder to get a hang of shooting videos. You can always upgrade to more sophisticated models once you have the basics of shooting videos down.
Are Your Looking for Special Features?
Most professional cameras give you a plethora of features that help you shoot nearly every kind of video. However, you may still need some extra features to shoot special kinds of videos. For example, maybe you want to shoot videos in dark places so you need a camera with extra low-light sensitivity. Or you want to be able to share your videos as soon as you shoot them and require a camera with WiFi function to do so.
There are many different kinds of added features you may require like image stabilization, voice activation, twin camera use, LCD touch screen, slow-mo video capabilities, intuitive controls, advanced built-in microphones and more.
Looking to shoot near water or in rain? You may need a camera with waterproof protection. Want some extra focus? A superzoom camera may be the way to go. Just remember, more novelty features means added expenses on your camera.
Do You Want Additional Gear with Your Camera?
Most of us want our cameras to be a one-and-done solution to our video shooting needs. But ask any professional YouTube vlogger and they’ll tell you that the best videos need some additional filming gear as well.
Additional gear can include microphones, LED lighting panels, camera lenses, tripods, video production software, and more. It is important to factor in these added gear items because they will affect your overall budget as well. For example, if you were buying a camera to vlog your travels you’ll need an image stabilizer, a tripod, and weatherproof gear.
Some popular additives are actually essential to shoot professional YouTube videos. For example, flexible LED lights can help you create just the right ambiance for your shots, external microphones will keep the noise at bay, and a good quality broadcast battery will make sure your camera doesn’t run out of juice mid-shoot.
Best YouTube Cameras Under $500
Let's start our list of best cameras for YouTube videos with the more affordable options out there. These cameras are great for beginners and professionals. They offer all the basic video making capabilities with a few frills added here and there.
Canon VIXIA R600
For our first pick, we’re going back to the basics and choosing Canon VIXIA R600. This camcorder is lightweight, petite but packs quite a punch. It has a simple user-friendly interface making it perfect for beginners. At the same time, it's premium features make it a favorite budget-buy for seasoned videographers.
R600 gives you 1920×1080 high-definition finish and features a super range optical image stabilizer. This means you can shoot high-quality videos easily. The camera also offers a variety of optical zooms so you can take those long distance shots like a pro. The 57x zoom count can help you really capture the details in your videos.
You can shoot in slow and fast motion to really amp up your videos. An audio scene select feature lets you choose between Standard, Music, Speech, Forest and Birds, and Noise Suppression so your videos always have clear audio. A 3-inch touch panel LCD, removable SD card, and high capacity battery add to the overall appeal of the camera.
Canon R600 is perfect for shooting home-style videos. It is a great budget buy for new YouTubers who want to make an impact with their fun videos.
Nikon is the leader when it comes to video shooting technology. That is the reason why the first DSLR on our list is the Nikon D3200. With full HD (1080p) video recording capabilities and a 24.2 MP CMOS sensor, this camera is perfect for beginners and professionals alike.
D3200 is sleek and lightweight but it houses a fast processor that lets you record videos seamlessly. Full-time autofocus, manual exposure, and stereo sound capabilities make sure your videos are high-quality. You can even record in slow-mo.
The camera is easy to use and also features in-camera tutorials to help you make the most of the camera features. It offers an 11-point autofocus system as well as an ISO range of 100 to 6400 so you can shoot in extremely low light situations without worry.
Additional features like WiFi capability and camera-to-phone wireless transfer (through a WU-1a optional wireless mobile adapter) makes this camera a crowd pleaser. Nikon D3200 is a great first professional camera as it is easy to use and gives you professional quality videos with very little effort.
Sony Alpha a5100
Looking for a budget-friendly, lightweight camera for your travel vlogs? Look no further. Sony Alpha a5100 seems like a custom-made camera for travel videography. It is compact in size as it can easily fit into the back pocket of your jeans.
However, its size doesn’t mirror the power it packs. That is the reason why it is our favorite budget mirrorless camera. The camera features the BIONZ X processing system that helps it create sharp, clear shots with rich tonal gradations. The advanced noise-reduction feature gives you area-specific noise reduction.
The camera features 180 degrees tiltable LCD screen so you can shoot at every angle. The LCD screen has a super-sensitive touch system that lets you control other features of the camera. You can shoot full HD videos at fps of 60p, 50p, 25p, and 24p which means you have a wide variety of video-shooting options.
The videos shot with a5100 look really good. Each frame is sharp and clear with great sound quality thanks to the stereo microphone. Fast hybrid autofocus does a good job of focusing on the object in 0.07 seconds. Sony Alpha a5100 is a great camera for people looking for a portable vlogging camera for YouTube that doesn’t break the bank.
GoPro video cameras are the trailblazers for action-cams. The name GoPro is synonymous with high-tech sports and action cameras, and with good reason. GoPro Hero series includes action-cams that boast progressive video-making capabilities. Hero7 is the latest to join the line-up.
This camera is great for shooting adventure sports and first-person POV videos. Hero7 allows you to shoot videos in 4K, 2.7K, and HD. It is fairly simple to use due to a single LCD and large menu. You can connect it to your phone and use it through the GoPro app as well.
It features video stabilizers that let you shoot clear and sharp videos on the go. You can shoot slow-mo, time-warp, and time-lapse videos easily giving you the freedom to be as creative as you like.
Hero7 is waterproof to 10m and has a stylish, rugged body that makes it perfect to take along on your adventures. The camera features wifi capability and can be connected to your phone via Bluetooth. It also allows you to auto-upload your videos to the cloud (with GoPro Plus subscription). GoPro Hero7 is the perfect action camera to shoot dynamic videos, plus the price point is pretty decent for the features it offers.
Best YouTube Cameras Under $1500
The cameras in this category cover some of the best in the market. These are still pretty affordable for the features they bring to the table. Perfect for professional YouTubers and video enthusiasts, let’s take a look at our top picks.
Canon VIXIA HF G20 HD
If you’re a fan of old school camcorders, VIXIA G20 is sure to impress you. This camcorder-style camera features 10x HD video lens as well as 8-bladed iris to give you superb video quality with soft background blur. You can record professional videos at 1080p with enhanced colors and improved light performance.
The camera is bigger in size but that makes it perfect for shooting indie-style videos for your YouTube channel. It packs a powerful battery that lets you shoot for up to two and a half hours. G20 has storage space of 32GB and it has space for two memory cards as well. This means you can shoot and store up to 12 hours of video. The camera automatically switches from internal memory to memory card while you’re shooting.
Canon VIXIA HF G20 HD features an array of manual functions that makes it super appealing to professional videographers. Professional Shooting Assist Functions help you control your video like never before. If you’re still new to video-making, the camera offers settings for 38 different scenes.
This camera is great for shooting YouTube tutorials and other studio-based videos. It may not be for travel videographers because of its size and weight.
Panasonic LUMIX GH5
If you’re on the lookout for a compact camera that lets you record amazing 4k videos, then Panasonic LUMIX GH5 is the answer to your prayers. This chic camera packs amazing features that appeal to professional and amateur videographers alike.
The camera offers a high shutter speed so you can capture fast-moving objects without losing focus. Color subsampling at 4:2:2 and a color depth of 10-bit allow you to shoot videos with richer color graduations.
The GH5 has a rugged body and is fully weatherproof, perfect for taking along on trips. It features dual SD card slots plus a full-sized HDMI terminal. A professional microphone adapter makes it easy for you to shoot professional videos.
GH5 is the perfect vlogging camera for YouTube. It offers a bunch of features that help you shoot a diverse range of videos.
Sony a6500 is the perfect camera for sports and action videography. It offers 5-axis in-body image stabilization that gives you more freedom to shoot action videos. You can shoot videos in 4k quality.
Advanced image processing engine makes the camera more efficient. You can produce videos with amazing details. 24.2 megapixel Exmor CMOS sensor gives you greater light sensitivity so you can shoot in the dark easily.
Fastest autofocus lets you capture frames effectively. The touch LCD screen is equipped with more intuitive point selection. The camera is dust and moisture resistant. Strong magnesium alloy body makes it a sturdy camera to take along on your travels.
You can shoot videos in slow motion and hyperlapse. The camera also features a silent mode so you can shoot those tricky wildlife videos without disturbing the ecosystem. This camera is great for beginners as it offers amazing features and a user-friendly interface. Also great as a secondary vlogging camera for professionals.
When it comes to high-quality videography, the debate is usually between Nikon and Canon cameras. Nikon D550 is a portable, well-priced DSLR camera that upholds Nikon’s high standard of videography. This camera has been designed for creative videographers who want to shoot all kinds of videos with a single camera.
The camera allows you to change the light and background settings for your videos. You can also choose from sixteen scene modes to automatically adjust the camera settings for specific scenes. Nine different cross-type sensors and shutter speeds that vary from 4 to 30 seconds give you the freedom to capture every movement easily.
A touch-screen vari-angle LCD allows you to handle the camera more fluidly. You can pull out the screen and simply touch the area you want the camera to focus on. Full-time autofocus keeps moving objects sharp.
Shoot your videos and share them instantly. The camera features inbuilt wi-fi and you can even control your camera from your smartphone or tablet. Nikon D5500 is a great vlogging camera for beginners and professionals alike.
What Cameras are the Pros Using?
Good vlogging cameras allow you to bring your creative ideas to life. YouTubers today realize the importance of choosing the right filming equipment to make their videos stand out from the rest. Here is a list of some famous YouTubers and the cameras of their choice:
Filmmaking is a process of continuous learning. As you hone your video making skills, you will learn more about your camera as well. If you’re just starting your YouTube journey, we suggest choosing a camera that offers all the basic video making features and has inbuilt settings for different scenes. This will help you understand the nuances of filmmaking. Plus you can always upgrade to a more high-tech model later.