Finding the Best Vlogging Camera for Me: Where Do I Start?
If there’s something you want to show to the world, and perhaps even monetize it in the future, you’re probably looking to start a vlogging channel. You only need a nice camera to get you started.
After researching hundreds of options, and weighting in with my own experience and audiovisual knowledge, I’ve built the following table with the absolutely best vlog cameras in 2016:
You can find reviews of these cameras at the bottom of this article
There are so many cameras out there with so many different features and prices, that most people don’t know where to start.
That’s why I’ve built this huge database called www.vloggerpro.com
Before navigating through the site, I recommend you read this whole page first. It will give you the basics you need to find the best vlogging camera without wasting your money.
The cameras shown in the table are great options that won’t disappoint you. There are of course cheaper cameras you can find in the posts here by navigating through the menu. They might not be as good but they will allow you to create quality content for your channel for a more accessible price.
You already got half the way done: you got a nice selection of cameras that are an often choice between vloggers. Now comes the hard part: picking the right one for you.
That’s what you’ll learn here.
Table of Contents
- 1 Finding the Best Vlogging Camera for Me: Where Do I Start?
- 1.1 What to Look for in a Vlogging Camera
- 1.2 How to Choose the Right Camera
- 1.3 Top 6 Best Vlogging Cameras
- 1.4 Top 3 Professional Vlogging Cameras for Serious Vloggers
- 1.5 Conclusion
What to Look for in a Vlogging Camera
There are a couple of things that make a camera especially good for vlogging.
I’m not going to mention here the obvious. We all know that we want a camera that can record good quality video. But there are some interesting features you might not know that are good for vlogging.
Firstly, let’s see what you don’t need to worry about.
What You Don’t Need
There are three main things you shouldn’t care about when looking for a vlog camera:
Most cameras can fulfill many jobs at the same time. This makes them good for different people, but not exceptional for a particular job.
For example, most of them come with zoom and flash, but these are features that are almost useless for vlogging.
The only time that zoom will be good for vlogging is if you record travel vlogs (and It still isn’t essential).
Flash and zoom are the two main features that you shouldn’t worry about. A camera with a zoom that can get up to 50mm is enough.
Using the camera’s built-in flash is considered a sin in professional photography. If you want to use lighting in your video, you will need an external lighting kit and some photography lighting knowledge. The camera’s flash is only useful to show your family your trip pictures. Nothing else.
Finally, do not worry about megapixels. They are only relevant for photography, and it’s only good if you need to print big pictures. MPs are almost exclusive for printing (unless you got something crazy like 40MP, which allows for photography cropping).
Evading these features will give you more value for your money.
What You Should Look for
Let’s begin with the aspects you might not know that are important. The cameras featured in this site perform well in each of these aspects, in relation with their price:
- Low-light performance
This is by far the most important aspect you should worry about when looking for a vlog camera.
It’s probable that you won’t have a way of controlling lighting. This means that your camera —to record at the promised quality— will need to have good performance in low light.
Low-light performance is important indoors, not only night time. It’s even an important factor in foggy days.
If your camera doesn’t have good performance in low light, it will reduce its frames per second and it will show image noise.
What makes a camera have a good performance in low light?
1) Lens aperture
A good quality lens has a wide aperture. This allows it to capture more light.
This also gives you nice aesthetics, as you are able to achieve the blurred background effect with wide aperture. High quality 50mm lenses have an aperture of at least f/1.8 (the higher the number the narrower the aperture).
2) Amount of noise it shows at higher ISO
This is something you can’t see in the camera’s specifications. This is the amount of noise the image will show as the ISO gets higher. You can only know this by testing the camera at high ISO.
ISO is the camera’s sensor sensibility to light. The camera will lift up its ISO number until the image is clear enough. This means that the lower light the higher the ISO.
And consequently, the higher the ISO number the more likely the camera will show noise.
It is kind of hard to notice the difference between these pictures, but if you look closely at the horse’s head, you’ll notice little grains that are the consequence of high ISO.
This difference is a lot more noticeable in video, since these grains will look like they’re moving. That’s why I consider low-light performance one of the most important things you should worry about.
Rather than worrying about your camera’s largest ISO, you should worry about the quality decrease as ISO gets higher. Still, usually cameras with higher ISO capacity show less noise in lower ISOs. Just bear in mind that it isn’t an accurate measure.
3) Sensor size
The bigger its sensor size is, the more light the camera captures. Simple.
The kind of camera often determines the sensor size. Here’s their normal size order from smaller to larger:
- Compact Cameras
- Full-Frame Cameras (high-end DSLRs and Mirrorless)
Some cameras have bigger sensors than others of its kind. This often happens with compact cameras and camcorders. That’s why it’s important to check their size and compare it with others from the competition.
- Optical Image Stabilization
A camera with OIS is necessary for vlogging. This is what allows you to record while moving around. If your camera doesn’t have OIS, it will result in a shaky image. That kind of video can be hard to watch.
Be aware of the called ‘digital’ image stabilization. This is only a marketing trick. It does not stabilize the image. You need to look for optical image stabilization or 5-axis image stabilization. The digital thing is just a lie.
This is the kind of impact OIS has on a still image sharpness. You can expect a similar result for video:
Most DSLRs and mirrorless don’t come with optical image stabilization. This is normal, but it doesn’t make them bad for vlogging. The reason for this is that in these types of cameras, the image stabilization is determined by the lens. You just need to get a lens with optical image stabilization (most of them come with it).
Finally, the following features aren’t vital, but they do help a lot for vlogging:
- Flip screen
Flip screen are come in handy when you need to record yourself. Vlogging often involves this kind of recording, so having a flip screen is always a plus.
WiFi means that you will be able to set your camera with your smartphone. It will also let you upload videos to YouTube without using cables
- Microphone input
Having a microphone input is a huge plus for a vlogging camera. Sadly, most compact cameras don’t come with this, so it is a premium feature.
The other way we got to record better audio is with an external recorder or a USB microphone.
- Location of the microphones
Something that helps vloggers a lot is the location of the camera’s microphones.
A front-facing camera mic is the optimal for vlogging. This way, when you turn around the camera to record yourself it will catch your voice above everything else.
Also, if the microphones are on the sides, it can become annoying to hold the camera. You will need to hold it in a way that doesn’t cover the microphones. This can make you adopt a holding position that isn’t comfortable.
To detect if a camera has the microphones set on the front, just locate one or two small holes on its surface. Like this:
There are many amazing cameras that don’t have microphones set like this, and they’re still very good for video blogs. This is just a feature that’s nice to have.
This should cover the basics of camera features.
As you can see, not everything is a must-have, but they can make vlogging easier and more productive.
Now, let’s see how you can find a camera that looks tailored for you.
How to Choose the Right Camera
There are a few questions you need to ask yourself before making your last decision.
To find out what camera can fulfill your needs, you must answer the following questions:
- What kind of content do I want to create?
Do you plan to record a lot of action videos? (GoPro) Or do you want to do some cooking tutorials from home (DSLR)?
Knowing the type of content you will create should be one of the first things to consider when choosing the right camera for vlogging.
GoPro has good video examples of situations where their cameras are necessary. However, notice how weird the surfer’s head looks? It’s impossible to film while surfing without a GoPro, but using it for any kind of video it’s not a good idea due to this deformation caused by the camera’s fish-eye lens.
If sharpness and good colors are essential for your vlog content, you will need a high quality DSLR. This is something that beauty YouTube channels are looking for. You don’t need to take your camera out for your makeup tutorials, so a DSLR is a good choice.
But, if you need to take it out you will need a mirrorless or a point & shoot.
You should also know more or less the length of your videos. This way you can determine if you should include extra batteries in your purchase.
- Where will I record my videos?
Knowing where you’ll spend most of your time vlogging is essential to find the right camera.
You should consider how far you will be taking your camera (carrying this gear to the local park isn’t as hard as taking it on a trip around the world).
Compact cameras are the easiest to take on a trip, but they don’t give you as good quality as a DSLR. In this case you would want to go for a mirrorless. They combine the best of both: luggability and high recording quality.
A DSLR is not the best camera to take on a trip; they come with heavy, bulky bodies and lenses that won’t make your vlogging easier.
- How much money can I spend?
You can find perfectly fine vlogging cameras for around $200, but don’t expect to invest less than a $200 in total. A vlogging kit that includes microphone, tripod and lighting will cost you a lot more.
You should consider a higher budget; you will have to upgrade your cheap camera sooner or later, so why not buying a good one straight away?
You must also take into consideration the cost of a good microphone. Not only that, but also other accessories are important. You’ll need a tripod, extra batteries, and lighting if you want to record like a professional.
If you want the best quality and the option of upgrading with lenses, know that the best DSLRs for starters will cost you at least $600 without lens.
- What kind of camera do I want?
Some people don’t like to record with a compact camera because they don’t have the best grip when holding them for long times.
But, some others don’t want a camcorder because they want to take good pictures with their camera.
Before deciding for a type of camera, you should know the true disadvantages of each kind.
The following graphics show some of the pros and cons of the different types of cameras. These are just average measures, meaning that some cameras can be outstanding in one aspect even if its kind is normally bad at it.
Most vloggers use compact (point & shoot) cameras. Most of the time these are the best cameras for vlogging, so open your mind about using one of them. After all, they’re friendly to the average camera user. They are easy to carry around and can record good video.
If you know the answer to each one of these questions, you will have half the job done.
You can now start by navigating through the site. I recommend you to begin by looking at the lists of the best cameras by price. In each one of them you will find different cameras that will appeal more or less to your needs in the same price range.
Top 6 Best Vlogging Cameras
The following list shows the most popular cameras between vloggers in different price ranges. They are popular for good reasons that I will explain for each one of them.
You will notice that most of them are from Canon. The reason is that Canon does make an extra effort in making their cameras better for video. This is their “catch”.
Many people agree that even though Nikon can deliver better photography quality, Canon includes more features for video.
Here’s the list:
Firstly it’s the closest you can get to achieve high-end DSLR quality in a small, luggable body. This is thanks to its sharp recording quality together with its excellent lens aperture. It is a camera that will record great quality video even in low light.
Secondly its image stabilization makes it possible to walk around and record without getting a shaky image. It is one of the best optical IS you will find in this market. This makes it a reliable camera for every use.
Finally, the best is that it comes with a high-quality lens for a really cheap price. This is of course, because you can’t replace it for another lens. The good thing is that you don’t need a different lens for vlogging.
It’s a lens with a wide aperture (f/1.8) and 24mm-100mm focal length. This gives you enough wide-angle to record yourself and enough zoom for travel video blogging. It is good value for your money, since it doesn’t come with an extremely large zoom —which you won’t need.
These features make it the perfect vlogging camera if you want to invest in a good, long-lasting camera. It’s a faithful vlog camera that you can carry everywhere and that can deliver the good 1080p quality, even at night.
- High-quality lens
- Great low-light performance
- Performs well for almost any vlogging channel
- Reliable and fast autofocus
While the G7 X is the often used in vlogging channels that are well established, the s120 is the most common choice to start from zero. This camera is often the first vlog camera to start growing a channel. The reason is that it can deliver high quality video for a fair price.
The video quality difference isn’t that great when compared to the more expensive G7X. But, the G7X is better is thanks to its low-light recording and higher quality lens.
The PowerShot s120 sacrifices having an articulating screen to bring you high recording quality for a low price.
Even for its price it comes with a touchscreen and WiFi; it also lets you upload your videos directly to YouTube. It is a camera you can use to start vlogging. You won’t need anything more expensive unless you need to record high quality at night.
- High quality for a cheaper price
- Useful for most vlogging channels
- High-quality pocketable camera
- Affordable “pro” compact
It’s a tiny camcorder, so it’s much like carrying a compact. It can deliver the best video quality in its price range, and has good battery life.
Just like any other camcorder, it isn’t the best choice for low-light recording. You should go for a good compact or mirrorless if you need to record at night, as their sensors are considerable bigger to capture more light.
Still, it is without any doubt the camcorder with the best price-quality relationship on the market.
It does lack WiFi, but this is in exchange of recording quality that is way above its price range. It is easy to set-up and to hold and comes with a touchscreen, which makes it faster to set up.
- High quality for a low price
- One of the smallest camcorders on the market
- Flip-out touchscreen
- Good battery life
The reason is that GoPro offers a unique way to record breathtaking shots. This is the only camera you can attach to any part of your body and let it run.
It will handle almost any kind of terrain, including water. They are resistant and record high quality video with a wide-angle lens.
The GoPro Hero 4 Silver is the last and most popular from this brand, although there are more versions if you want to record 4k video, like the Hero 4 Black. This one improves the image quality you could get with the HERO 3. It is a small and light camera that can take shots others just won’t let you.
Remember that this camera has no zoom, so it’s an exclusive camera for action vlogging.
- The unique option for first-person action vlogging
- Water and drops resistance
- High-quality video
- Attachable to your body with the right accessory
The Canon EOS Rebel lineup has been the main choice of makeup vloggers for a long time.
Their last version is the T6i, which now comes with improved performance, touchscreen, WiFi and autofocus.
This DSLR camera is ideal if you want to record from home. It’s the cheapest DSLR for YouTube you should get.
It delivers great cinematic-like quality and it can use lenses according to your needs.
The best option is getting a 50mm lens if you’re recording from home. With this lens its recording quality truly stands out.
Like all DSLRs, it’s not the right camera to carry with you, but they’re the best to record from a tripod.
The Rebel T6i is the entry-level DSLR for video aficionados, and it will allow you to get the best quality in good lighting.
It’s a good idea to think about using artificial lighting with it. The final result can make your channel stand out from the rest. You can find more information about lighting in this post.
Finally, you should consider its predecessor, the Canon Rebel T5i. It is still a good option to go for in 2016. This year model’s improvements aren’t that big, and you can save some bucks to invest in a good microphone instead.
- Big sensor (APS-C)
- The DSLR camera to record from home
- Upgradeable with the best lenses on the market from Canon
- Best video DSLR for the a cheap price
This camera is a DSLR trapped in a compact camera body. It has the good sides of both DSLRs and compact cameras.
This is why there’s a huge debate taking place about the future of DSLR; many photographers think mirrorless will replace DSLRs.
They have a big sensor in a small body, and the only real downside it’s battery life. Their batteries last much less than most DSLRs’ (except the Canon Rebel cameras).
Still, this camera comes with the best of both worlds. It is light, has a flip screen and it’s good in low light if you get a high-quality lens.
If you want to jump the hype train to the future, you might want to start with the Sony a5100.
There are more Sony cameras you should check, as they are making the best mirrorless on the market right now. They are compact cameras with DSLR sensors that you can upgrade later by buying high-quality lenses. Remember: “The lens is the secret”.
- Big sensor in a small body
- Great low-light performance
- Lightest camera on this list (without lens)
- Upgradeable with Sony lenses
Top 3 Professional Vlogging Cameras for Serious Vloggers
The following cameras are definitely on the top of the food chain of vlogging cameras. These are the ones you are looking for if you want to invest a lot of money in getting the best quality possible.
The Canon EOS 70D is the main video DSLR camera from Canon.
This one is the main choice of video makers looking to give their videos a professional look. Be it for weddings, indie musical videos and the like, the Canon EOS 70D is the accessible professional camera for video.
The main reason is that its autofocus is much better than its competition at the same price range. It also has a good dynamic range that allows you to record either in low light or in incandescent light. The main reason for its price is its high quality video image in most lighting situations.
Additionally, it’s one of the only expensive DSLRs that come with a flip-out screen. This comes in handy especially for vlogging.
Finally, something that isn’t common with Canon is good battery life. The Canon EOS 70D is one of the few cameras from canon with fair battery life for long recording sessions (920 shots).
All this make it a common camera between vloggers with good budget.
- Made specifically for video
- Great low-light performance and autofocus
- Good battery life
- Good Extras (flip-out touchscreen and WiFi)
If you need a camcorder to use also in low-light situations, then the Canon VIXIA HF G40 is the least you should get (although the G20 is still a good option). Canon designed this camera to get rid of the downsides of the usual consumer camcorder. This is why it is outstanding in low light compared to its competition.
It’s also considered a consumer professional camera because it comes with a manual mode that lets you get the result you want. Yet, its auto mode performs really well if you don’t know much about manual aperture, shutter speed and ISO.
It looks like a professional camera but it also behaves well as a camera for newcomers.
You will take the best out of this camera if you learn the basic concepts of photography and video settings. It is a camcorder than isn’t too heavy and you can carry it around much easier than a DSLR.
I don’t need to say that its recording quality is outstanding.
- High-quality sensor
- Great low-light performance
- Good for both newbies and professionals
- Good Extras (flip-out touchscreen and WiFi)
The Sony A7RII is the top-end vlogging camera. It can record 4k video and has precise, accurate autofocus. Still, the main catch is that it can use the best lenses available on the market —from Canon and Nikon— with simple adaptors.
But this isn’t the best thing about it:
What makes it perfect is its small body. The Sony A7R II is the ultimate luggable camera for vlogging. This is the main advantage of mirrorless cameras.
It has nothing to envy to the DSLR king: The Canon EOS 5D Mark III. This Sony camera even comes with 5-axis image stabilization to give you a stable image. That’s why I include this one instead of the Canon; it is the winner in vlogging performance.
It’s comparable with the Canon 5D Mark III because it has huge dynamic range, great autofocus, outstanding performance, and it’s just as reliable for any professional work.
I should also mention that the Canon camera doesn’t come with WiFi and 4k video recording. This is because it’s a much older camera that had maintained its position as the best one for far too long.
The only real disadvantage is that this camera has low battery life (around 45 minutes), like any other mirrorless. But this is fixed by buying a few spare batteries.
- Best all-in-one vlog camera on the market
- 4k Video recording
- Amazing quality regarding Dynamic Range, colors and low-light performance
- Can use lenses from other brands without loss
Before selecting the right camera, you should know what kind of content you will be recording. It’s ideal to have the general idea of your channel before going shopping.
Every camera you see listed here is a worthy buy, but the one you choose should be the best fit for your vlogging channel.
Just having a general idea about it will be enough. Knowing if you’re going to make tutorials from home or if you’re going to record your sport activities will point you in the right direction.
Also, remember that the more expensive a camera is the better video it will record in low-light conditions.
Remember about diminishing returns: the quality improvement of upgrading from a $200 camera to a $600 is higher than upgrading from $600 to $1000.
I like to consider the price range around $600 the optimal to buy a long-lasting camera for vlogging. Still, there are many great options at cheaper and higher price that will allow you to record high quality video.
Finally don’t be afraid to sacrifice a feature that isn’t vital for vlogging.
For example, sacrificing a flip-out screen for better performance in low light seems like a good trade.
This is especially true if you don’t have any idea about at what hour of the day you will be recording.
If you’re the kind of vlogger that will improvise a lots of its videos (maybe you’re traveling and can’t plan the sessions), you might need a camera that is good in low light.