The 8 Best Cameras for Live Streaming [2020]

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.

Camera

Highlights

Resolution

Our rating/Price

  • Best for starters
  • Full-hd for cheap
  • Best-seller

1080p30

  • Clean colors
  • 4k at 60fps
  • Best stabilization

2160p60(4k)

$1,397.99

  • Intense Bokeh
  • Full-frame sensor
  • Best for poor light

2160p30(4k)

$2,298.00

  • Lightweight
  • Budget 4k
  • Image-stabilization

2160p30(4k)

$997.99

  • Best portability
  • APS-C sensor
  • Best price/quality

2160p30(4k)

$998.00

  • Great autofocus
  • APS-C sensor
  • Long battery life

2160p30(4k)

$1,199.00

  • Intense Bokeh
  • Full-frame sensor
  • The best price for the best for streaming

2160p30(4k)

$1,698.00

  • Great for starters
  • APS-C sensor
  • Good autofocus

1080p60

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:

Canon

  1. Download the Canon EOS Webcam Utility (compatible with cameras Canon T6 and upwards, full list here). 
  2. Connect your camera to your computer through USB
  3. Open the EOS Webcam Utility and select it as the image source in your streaming software.
  4. If you're stuck, this video guides you through every step.

Panasonic

  1. Download the LUMIX Tether for Streaming (Beta). Compatible with LUMIX models: DC-GH5, DC-G9, DC-GH5S, DC-S1, DC-S1R, DC-S1H
  2. Connect your camera to your computer, turn it on and select the Tether option in the camera menu
  3. Open the LUMIX Tether program and select the options that you want. Use it as the source in your streaming software.
  4. 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. Photo credit: PetaPixel

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.

camera on a tripod

If you set a camera on a tripod you don't need a camera with stabilization. Channel: Moose Winans

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.

Logitech C920

logitech c920 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.

The Good

  • Most Popular Webcam for content creation
  • 1080p for the lowest price
  • Compatible with tripods

The Bad

  • Only digital zoom

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.

panasonic gh5 for streaming

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.

The Good

  • Top recording quality at 4k60p
  • Made for video (flip screen, IS, mic jack, hot shoe)
  • 5-axis and dual image stabilization
  • 180fps slow-motion

The Bad

  • Smaller sensor than other brands
  • Heavy as a DSLR (1.6lbs)
  • Price
sony a7r iii for streaming

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 Good

  • Top recording quality
  • Full-frame sensor makes it outstanding for low light and Bokeh effect
  • Extremely small for a full-frame camera

The Bad

  • Screen can only tilt
  • Price

Affordable Top Quality: Panasonic G95 (Cheaper alternative: Panasonic G7)

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.

panasonic g95 for streaming

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.

The Good

  • 4k video for a fair price
  • Made for video: flip screen, hot shoe, mic jack
  • Lightweight
  • Stabilization comparable to the Gh5's

The Bad

  • Smaller sensor than other brands

Best Balance for Streaming: Sony a6400

If you want a simillar camera to the Panasonic G95, but with a larger sensor that makes it better for low-light recording, better Bokeh effect — blurry background —, but without the stabilization, this one is the choice.

sony a6400 for streaming

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 Good

  • Top 4k quality
  • APS-C sensor
  • Mic jack, IS, hot shoe
  • Small and lightweight

The Bad

  • No in-body stabilization

Honorable mentions:

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:

  • Sony a7S Mark II: Cheaper alternative to the a7RIII that was made for video.
  • Panasonic G7: Cheaper alternative to the Panasonic G85 without Image Stabilization.

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:

Canon EOS 90D

canon eos 90d for streaming

The EOS 90D is a 33 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor powered camera. This is the main advantage of using DSLR and mirrorless cameras: their sensors are much larger than those of camcorders. This makes them great when recording in poor lighting conditions.

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.

The Good

  • Made for video (mic jack, flip screen, hot shoe)
  • Really good autofocus
  • Good battery life
  • Light for a DSLR

The Bad

  • No in-body stabilization
  • Heavier than most mirrorless

Sony A7 III

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.

sony a7 iii for streaming

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.

The Good

  • Best price if you're looking for the best for streaming but nothing more
  • Full-frame sensor
  • Small but great in low-light

The Bad

  • Still quite expensive
  • Low battery life

The Canon EOS SL3 is an entry level DSLR camera. It is powered by an APS-C CMOS sensor and comes with Canon's dual pixel CMOS auto-focusing technology.

canon rebel sl3 for streaming

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.

The Good

  • Made for video (mic jack, flip screen, hot shoe)
  • APS-C sensor
  • Fair price

The Bad

  • No in-body stabilization

Will A.

Will is the founder of VloggerPro. He's a YouTube Certified partner and has been reviewing equipment and teaching others how to grow and generate real income on YouTube for the last 5 years.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below
Dayna Hilton - May 3, 2020 Reply

I’d like a camera for our non-profit to use during our live streams as well as to use to make 4k videos, that includes stabilization feature.

What would you recommend out of your suggested cameras?

    Will A. - May 5, 2020 Reply

    Hi Dayna, depends on your budget. The only cameras that don’t have stabilization on this list are the Canon ones and the Sony a6400

Vinka - April 15, 2020 Reply

Dear Will, thanks for your article. I am not really into all the tech stuff. I am looking for a camera for my yoga classes which I do at home in my basement. Live Stream with bad light. But I also want to shoot normal exercise videos.
I bought the Logitech C920 but when I move to fast the focus is gone and takes ages to readjust. Therefore I am looking for an alternative – but I do not want to spend too much money (200 – 400). What would you recommend?

    Will A. - April 16, 2020 Reply

    Hi Vinka. The C920 is not a camera you should use in low light. First, you really need to get a lighting kit because that’s the most important thing to get more image quality. And I’d recommend you get an APS-C camera. The Sony a5100, Canon EOS M50 and Rebel SL3 are good options slightly above 400. Maybe you can find a used model in your price range.

      Vinka - April 17, 2020 Reply

      Thanks Will!
      Do I need further stuff Go get the camera going or is it ready to start? I am thinking of special cabels, lenses etc…..Do I need this CamLink thing?

      BR Vinka

        Will A. - April 17, 2020 Reply

        Hi, Vinka. Yes, you need the Cam Link to stream with a normal camera (you don’t need it with a webcam). You can get the kit lens that comes with the camera. You’ll also need an AC charger so you can keep the camera’s battery charged while streaming. This last thing isn’t needed for some cameras that allow charging via USB while being turned on.

          Vinka - April 17, 2020 Reply

          Ok – thanks! Just returned it as it did not work with my old camera 🙁
          Is there a camera that does not need the cam link?

          Will A. - April 17, 2020 Reply

          Only webcams.

Kira - April 6, 2020 Reply

Hi Will!
I’m having trouble figuring out if I can use my Canon 6D MII for streaming. It seems like I can turn off the info that shows up on the screen, but I don’t know if it’s explicitly clean HDMI. Also, I’m not sure if I can connect it to a AC power adapter (is this not for DSLRs?). I’m not concerned about voice or super high quality video — just something that can record for 2 hours+ without stopping. I use that camera for photography, and I’d prefer not to get another body unless it really can’t record video for that long. If not, do you have a recommended cheap(er) Canon body that I can use my lenses on?
Thank you!

    Will A. - April 9, 2020 Reply

    Hi Kira,

    Unfortunately, the 6D Mark II is listed as not compatible on ElGato’s camera check page https://www.elgato.com/en/gaming/cam-link/camera-check

    It appears it’s not capable of clean HDMI nor unlimited runtime.

    You can use your Canon DSLR lenses on any basically every other Canon DSLR camera, or with the Canon EOS M50 if you get the right adapter. The SL3 is an affordable body that you can use if you simply want it for live streaming.

Earl - April 2, 2020 Reply

Hi great write up we are looking at purchasing a GH5 for my wife’s Yoga Classes, currently using webcams which is not giving the quality she wants. Is it possible you can advise whats the best type of lens to use for streaming.

Appreciate it

    Will A. - April 3, 2020 Reply

    Hi Earl. My advice is to start with the kit lens because I can’t tell you which lens will be the best for you without knowing exactly the place where you’ll record. The best thing you can do is get the lens that comes with the camera and test out the different focal lengths. Once you find a good focal length you feel comfortable with, get a higher quality, faster lens.

    With that said, if you don’t have a lot of space, you are probably going to need a wide-angle lens because you need to cover a wide range since you’ll be recording your wife’s entire body and movement. For a micro four thirds camera like the GH5, the PANASONIC 7-14MM F/4 and Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8 are good lenses.

Patrick Denny - March 17, 2020 Reply

What a fantastic resource! Thanks! What with the virus going around, our church went “virtual” last Sunday and we had to think quick–we used the FaceTime camera and built-in mic on my MacBook Air, running OBS to FaceBook Live. Went without a hitch and people were generally happy but I think this coming Sunday I’ll use my Logitech 1080p webcam and try and find an inexpensive wired microphone. Any other ideas? Our pastor wants to get an actual camera but they seem fairly pricey. Thanks for any suggestions!!

    Will A. - March 18, 2020 Reply

    Hi Patrick. If you have good lighting, you can probably use the Logitech without problems. Regarding microphone, I recommend the Snowball Yeti connected to your computer.

Karen Frankel - January 26, 2020 Reply

Hi Will. I’m must starting out streaming art demonstrations and investigating 2 camera options.
Can I use a webcam for one camera and another, dslr (or similar) camera through a Signal converter box as the other. I’d use the web cam for face and the dslr overhead for demonstrating. thanks

    Will A. - January 26, 2020 Reply

    Hi Karen, if you’re connecting them to your computer you don’t need any converter box. You can simply have both of them connected to the PC and use a software like OBS to put both cameras on whenever you want. You can change scenes and swap between the cameras with one button with that software. And the best of all is that it’s free.

      Karen Frankel - January 27, 2020 Reply

      Thanks for your quick reply Will. It’s very helpful.
      I’ve downloaded OBS :).
      I have a laptop so no hdmi port. From research I believe that a usb cable is not stable enough for good video hence the recommendation of the converter box along with adapting to an hdmi cable. True?
      Karen

        Will A. - January 28, 2020 Reply

        Hi Karen, I don’t think that’s true. If you’re using a normal camera, use the CameraLink from El Gato (link in the article) and that’s all you need.

          Karen Frankel - January 28, 2020 Reply

          You’re a start. Thank you so much for your help. Karen

Daryn - November 19, 2019 Reply

Can you tell me how to stream using more than one camera? and which ones would be good at it.
Ive seen some vlogs having 2 or 3 screens on their main display and interested in how they do that. Any help is appreciated.
Thank you
Daryn

    Will A. - November 23, 2019 Reply

    I’m gonna guess you just need to connect more cameras and use an ElGato capture card for each one.

SCOTT HAMM - July 31, 2019 Reply

do X-T3 or X-T30 have clean HDMI out? Please let me know if it does. We, the Church, is trying to figure out which camera to buy to Livestream the preaching.

    Will A. - July 31, 2019 Reply

    Yes, they have clean hdmi out

      Scott Hamm - July 31, 2019 Reply

      Thanks brother!

Paul D - October 26, 2018 Reply

Misleading because the Canon EOS Rebel SL2 /200D does not output clean HDMI, therefore you cannot use it as a streaming webcam unless Iam missing something.

    Will A. - October 30, 2018 Reply

    It has a clean HDMI output as long as you turn off the autofocus. I’ve added that detail in the cons of the camera since you can only use the manual focus for streaming. Thank you!

      Paul D - November 9, 2018 Reply

      Thanks Will, Ive ve gone from thinking I need to sell the SL@ to wanting to keep it as I stream my talking head and dont move much.. so.. hopefully Manual Focus should be fine. Also the M50… nice but for some reason the image through the device doesn’t look so rich… washed out even by comparison. I wonder if this has anything to do with the lens used or the colour gamut which some report as RGB only in the M50? hmmm.. So far Im sticking with the SL2 (its images are warmer and richer, whilst M50 seems garish and washed out by comparison despite having the same sensor.

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