The 8 Best Cameras for Live Streaming 
As live streaming continues to grow in popularity, the competition is tougher and streamers are looking for ways to stand out from the rest. While before the most common camera for streaming was a simple webcam, now regular cameras are used more often due to their higher quality. No matter if you're a YouTube or a Twitch streamer, here's the list of the best cameras for live streaming.
Table of Contents
- The 10 Best Cameras for Live Streaming: Comparison
- How to Use Any Camera as a Webcam
- Update (July 2020): Canon and Panasonic Now Have Official Livestreaming Capacity
- What Cameras Can You Use for Streaming?
- Is a 4k Camera Worth it for Streaming?
- Best Webcam for Live Streaming
- Best Mirrorless for Live Streaming
- Best DSLR for live streaming
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The 10 Best Cameras for Live Streaming: Comparison
How to Use Any Camera as a Webcam
Be it a DSLR, camcorder or mirrorless camera, you only need a camera with a clean HDMI output and use something like ElGato Cam Link. This capture card will let you stream up to 1080p60 quality.
Alternatively, you could install an app like Camerafi and connect to a camera using either USB or Wi-Fi to start a live stream.
How does it work?
When using a regular camera as a webcam, you don’t have to press the record button. Instead, you are going to stream your camera's LCD screen. You only need to keep your camera on for as long as the stream lasts.
This prevents damages to the sensor of the camera and bypasses the 29-minutes recording limit that photography cameras have.
This is what also prevents the camera from overheating.
The process for you will be something like this:
- Turn the camera on
- Disable auto turn-off (this is the option that puts the camera to sleep after some idle time).
- Connect your camera HDMI output to ElGato Cam Link.
- Connect ELGato Cam Link to your PC through USB.
- Open and configure you streaming software.
And that’s it! You can start using your camera as a webcam.
Bear in mind that if you’re going to stream for hours, you will need an AC power adaptor for your camera model. This will let you connect your camera to the power outlet directly so you don’t ever run out of battery.
Finally, some cameras like the ones from Panasonic will require you to turn off the overlay so you get a clean image without Meta info on your stream (data like ISO, aperture, etc.). You will find the option to turn it off in the camera settings.
Update (July 2020): Canon and Panasonic Now Have Official Livestreaming Capacity
It used to be that no matter what camera you had, you needed a capture card to stream your camera's display to the internet.
That's no longer true for selected models from Canon and Panasonic. Now these companies have released softwares that will allow you to stream with their most popular cameras.
So, if you have one of these models, you don't need to get a capture card. The cameras I'll review in this post are compatible with these streaming softwares and don't require a capture card.
We hope Sony releases their own version soon. For now, if you have a Sony camera, you'll need a capture card.
Here's how to do it with each brand:
- Download the Canon EOS Webcam Utility (compatible with cameras Canon T6 and upwards, full list here).
- Connect your camera to your computer through USB
- Open the EOS Webcam Utility and select it as the image source in your streaming software.
- If you're stuck, this video guides you through every step.
- Download the LUMIX Tether for Streaming (Beta). Compatible with LUMIX models: DC-GH5, DC-G9, DC-GH5S, DC-S1, DC-S1R, DC-S1H
- Connect your camera to your computer, turn it on and select the Tether option in the camera menu
- Open the LUMIX Tether program and select the options that you want. Use it as the source in your streaming software.
- If you're stuck, this video guides you through every step.
What Cameras Can You Use for Streaming?
If your camera isn't in the list of Canon and Panasonic cameras compatible with their official streaming apps, you'll need a camera with all of the following features. Use this info so you understand why we picked these cameras:
1. A camera with CLEAN HDMI output
A camera with simple HDMI output is not enough. Since you're going to stream what your camera shows in its LCD screen, you need the information on the screen to be clean.
What does this mean?
You need a camera that can turn off all the extra information that is normally shown on the screen ---ISO, aperture, shooting speed, recording time---, and not all cameras have this option.
2. A camera with unlimited runtime
Most cameras have a limited time that puts the camera to sleep after a while, but you can turn this off in the camera settings. However, some cameras will turn off completely after a certain amount of time, and you can't deactivate this function. You need a camera that doesn't do this.
3. A camera that allows you to charge it and keep the screen on
Some cameras won't allow you to charge it while it's turned on. You need one that allows you to charge it, be it through USB or with an AC adapter, while the camera is running. Thankfully, most latest cameras allow this.
Some features that aren't needed in a streaming camera:
If you want to stream from home, then you don’t need a camera with image stabilization. This will save you some money so bear this in mind when choosing your camera and lens.
Image stabilization comes in various types. There are some cameras like the DSLR systems manufactured by Nikkor and Canon that don’t have image stabilization built into the camera body. On the other hand you will find micro four-thirds systems manufactured by Panasonic and Fuji which have image stabilization (sensor-shift type) built into the camera body.
But even though you can skip image stabilization, you will still need a tripod. A tripod will allow you to set up your camera at the preferred height, depending on the composition of the shot.
Is a 4k Camera Worth it for Streaming?
Though the world is moving towards 4K / UHD, full HD still rules the market in terms of maximum available videos. Actually, you can't really output 4k quality to a stream yet.
However, when you set your camera to 4k and use ElGato's Cam Link to output a 1080p image, you will still use a downscaled 4k image . You will still get a slighty better quality than 1080p even though you aren't really uploading a 4k image.
Using a 4k camera is worth it, but it isn't necessary either. You can go for it if your budget allows it.
Best Webcam for Live Streaming
If you're looking to start with streaming, you might want to consider first a cheap webcam that can record 1080p60 video. The Logitech C920 is by far the most popular streaming camera for good reasons. Just imagine it: full-HD recording for only around $50. It is the first option you should consider due to its excellent quality/price relationship that makes it the most popular camera for streaming.
Don’t think that the Logitech C920 HD Pro webcam is a pushover due to its small size. In fact, it punches way above its weight. The Logitech C920 HD Pro is designed as a live streaming camera that you can plug on to your computer and start streaming right away.
The built-in lens on the Logitech C920 HD Pro has a field of view of 78 ˚. That's wide enough for you to move around inside the frame while shooting and yet not be out of frame. The camera has full HD video capabilities at 30 fps and it's the only webcam on the market to offer true full-hd for such a low price.
The built-in microphones aren't really good, but you should know by now that you need a good microphone for any kind of professional live streaming. Combine it with a good USB microphone and you're good to record with quality that is enough for most people.
Best Mirrorless for Live Streaming
If you're looking for more quality, mirrorless cameras are also popular. This is because their main weakness ---battery duration---isn't a big deal when it comes to live streaming from your home/office since you need to connect your camera with an AC power adapter anyway.
You can also get more image quality for your money with a mirrorless since most of them offer 4k recording quality while DSLRs appear to be stuck in 1080p.
Editor's Choice: Panasonic GH5
The GH5 wins this slugfest between the contenders for the best cameras for live streaming. It is also cheaper than the a7R III which we read about after this. Because of its native 4K video recording without crop and a series of other features including superior weather sealing, this an excellent camera for streaming no matter where you are.
No cropping when recording 4K videos definitely suggests that the GH5 oversamples the video and then downscales it to fit the 4K requirements. This takes care of some of the false coloring and moiré issues.
The GH5 is one of the best cameras in the market to do serious video work. It can output 4:2:2 10 bit output to an external monitor or recorder. A practical solution for recording videos without the artifacts that are a fall out of compression technologies used in ordinary cameras.
Plus, the presence of HDMI, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth means streaming is never an issue.
Read the full review: Panasonic GH5.
Runner-up: Sony A7R Mark III
The a7R III is the latest in the A7 series cameras. It is an upgrade of the older a7R II and promises high resolution with superior detailing. The a7R III has a 42 megapixel sensor which is paired with a BIONZ X image processor. The a7R III is capable of capturing UHD 4K 30p videos. The camera has HLG and S-Log3 gamma support.
Another aspect of the camera is its BIONZ X image processor and the front-end LSI technology. In plain English, BIONZ X is known for its superior image processing capabilities and low light results. The camera can capture up to 15-stops of dynamic range.
Dynamic range is the number of stops of (unique levels of brightness) between complete black and complete white that a camera is capable of capturing. Higher the dynamic range the smoother the tonal range of the videos. You would likely going to have more details in the shadow areas as well as retention of detail in the highlights. The a7R III, is one of the best cameras in the market in terms of in-camera dynamic range.
Additionally, the 4K video utilizes the full width of the 35mm sensor. This oversampling ensures that the recorded footages are of a higher quality and secondly, if there are fine patterns on the subject's clothing, something that creates false colors and or moiré, these are suppressed to an extent.
Image stabilization is an integral part of any camera, not just video cameras. If you are shooting based on a tripod 90% of the time you would probably never need it. But if you shoot hand-held then it is an absolute must-have. The Sony a7R III comes with built-in body based image stabilization.
The Panasonic DMC G95 is a micro four-thirds system mirrorless camera capable of 4k up to 30 fps.
It has excellent in-body image stabilization and it's compatible with Dual I.S lenses. Just like the Panasonic GH5, it allows it to work together with compatible lenses to bring arguably the best stabilization possible in a camera.
However, bear in mind that this one is its biggest selling point. If you're just going to use it to stream from home on a tripod, you won't take advantage of it.
You can go for something else that is cheaper and lacks stabilization — like the G7.
The fully-articulated touchscreen at the back of the camera is really useful when it comes to recording yourself. Especially, when you are a one man shooting team.
As a cheaper alternative, you can try the Panasonic G7. The real main difference is the lack of image stabilization in the G7, which a I said before, it is one thing you can spare if you want to use this camera to stream from home.
Best Balance for Streaming: Sony a6400
And even though it rocks an APS-C sensor instead of a micro four thirds, this model is actually smaller. So that's a nice additional feature to have without any sacrifice.
Furthermore, the autofocus this camera has is one of the best for video. It is a mirrorless that is very frequently chosen for video work due to this.
Remember that stabilization is not needed if you'll be streaming from home and while using a tripod, so this might be the best choice for your money if you only want it for that.
Read our full review of the Sony a6400.
The only reason I didn’t include the following cameras was just due to space and wanting to feature other kinds of cameras. However, I find them extremely useful for streaming:
Best DSLR for live streaming
DSLR were extremely popular but they've been slightly put aside by mirrorless cameras. The problem with them is that their main advantage over mirrorless---battery life--- isn't used for streaming. After all, you will need to connect your camera to an outlet if you want to stream for hours.
Still, if you want to get a DSLR for streaming, here are some of the best ones:
One of the critical advantages of this camera is the fully articulated rear LCD touchscreen. This allows you to turn the LCD screen facing you giving you the ability to see exactly how accurate the framing is without having to do guesswork. Comes in handy when you are basically a one man recording crew.
The EOS 90D captures 4k videos at 30 fps and comes in with both built-in Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity.
The previous version, Canon EOS 80D, was capable of streaming with clean HDMI output as long as you turned off the autofocus.
But now, the Canon EOS 90D has clean HDMI output even with autofocus. This is great news for DSLR lovers, and the reason why we're featuring the camera here.
We mentioned the A7R III above as one of the best, but it's also one of the most expensive cameras by far. The reason is that the camera is made for professional photography, so if you are just going to stream with it, there are too many features that increase its price that you won't be using.
If you are truly looking for a camera to stream with the highest quality, but you just want it for that---streaming---, then the Sony A7 III offers the best offer for your money.
Even its autofocus in video is sometimes better than the A7R III's. It can still record 4k video at fps and it features a full-frame sensor that is great for the low lights situations you can encounter.
You could also go for the Mark II version if you want to save even more money, although I feel like the better autofocus in this new version is worth the price difference. Also, the Mark II can only record 1080p60, so around $500 more for this version seems like a good deal.
If you want to start with a DSLR, the Rebel SL3 has just what you need without asking for a ridiculous price, so it is perfect for starters that are looking for a DSLR.
For a cheaper price, you could get a mirrorless camera like the Panasonic G7 with a slightly smaller sensor, but that can record in 4k.
However, this camera gives you slightly better video quality, Bluetooth and almost 3x the battery life.
It's also the lightest and smallest DSLR made by Canon, and its size is comparable to the Panasonic G7's, as it's only 39g heavier.