Digital single-lens reflex cameras are really popular between YouTubers. Some of these have really nice features for vloggers, and their recording quality is the best. Their performance in low light makes them great for indoors and they’re highly adaptable. That’s why I’ve made this list of the 6 best DSLR cameras for YouTube vlogging.
But before beginning, a quick note:
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How to Save Money When Buying a New DSLR for YouTube Vlogging
When it comes to DSLRs, quality is attached to the lenses you buy with them.
This is why when buying a DSLR, I always recommend not buying the starter lens kit. Instead, get a good lens straight away.
Usually, starter lens kits are of low quality. For vlogging from home, you will want to start with a luminous fixed 50mm f/1.8 or f/1.4 lens. With them you won’t suffer perspective deformation, your image will be sharper and low-light recording will be much better. On the other hand, you’ll need a wide-angle lens (18-35mm) if you want to show more of your surroundings, or if you’re recording really close to the camera (like when walking around with the camera).
You might want to get an 18-50mm f/1.8 lens if you want to have a lens that is good for both situations. Nevertheless, when your vlogs involve speaking in front of a static camera, a prime 50mm is best.
Most of the time, buying with a starter lens kit will be more expensive . If this is the case, buy the body and get one of my recommended lenses straight away. The mistake of buying the starter lens kit is that you will more sooner than later need a better lens. Why not buy it straight from the beginning and skip the starter lens kit?
Still, bear in mind that some DSLRs come with the starting lens kit for no extra price. Just make sure they aren’t going to charge extra for it.
Take into account that you will also need a good microphone. DSLRs’ built-in microphones are not good. If you want to get the best quality with a DSLR, you better pick up with sound quality too. Here you will find a list of good shotgun mics you can use. You should bear in mind their cost before finally deciding which DSLR to get.
Now, let’s start.
A Quick Guide on Sensor Size
You will see that the most significant difference between some cameras here is their sensor size. The best ones are Full-Frame, while the rest are APS-C.
Their difference? The explanation is simple:
Full-Frame is the biggest sensor size. This means that they are significantly better in low light—and by low light I’m including indoors during the day—, and they are also able to capture a wider shot without using wide-angle lenses.
The image above shows how much more full-frame cameras are able to capture from the same angle. It also makes it obvious why they capture more light, since they’re bigger.
Full-Frames are capable of suppressing Perspective Distortion because they can use tele lens that still capture a wide area thanks to their bigger sensor.
Since they’re better in low light and can use better lenses, they offer the highest quality. Colors and sharpness is just on point—and it’s the main reason they cost a lot of money.
APS-C cameras listed here have smaller sensors, but they’re still of good quality. In fact, their sensors are larger than any compact or camcorder.
The most common choice for YouTube is an APS-C DSLR when recording at home, and a good compact camera for traveling and street vlogging. Only the most serious vloggers get a full-frame camera.
Now that you know all this, here is the complete list of the best DSLRs for YouTube vlogging:
And the 6 Best Are…
The Canon EOS 5D Mark III truly is the king of DSLRs, especially for video. This isn’t something that just occurred to me, it’s been known as the best since it came out 4 years ago. This is the main reason why Canon hasn’t released its successor; it seems they don’t think there’s something they can improve right now.
Now, Canon is wrong. They do have some things to improve, and recent Sony Mirrorless cameras have been showing it.
Still, this camera is the best DSLR you could get for video right now.
This camera has the best autofocus and it offers great sharpness and pure colors. This is one of the main reasons people still get this camera 4 years after.
Most cameras lose some color quality in higher ISOs, but this one simply doesn’t. It maintains its sharp colors even if you need to record at high ISO, which will only happen when recording at night without light sources.
You can trust this camera will live up to the challenge of giving the best quality in low light—unless you’re recording in a cave, of course!
Since it was released years ago, it lacks some features that we now consider essential, like WiFi, Touchscreen and NFC. However, let’s just say its quality makes up for it.
Now, the biggest downside is that this camera truly is a heavy brick that is not easy to carry around. This is why I recommend you to get this if you’re going to use on a tripod and mostly from home. If this is the case, you will hardly find a better camera than this one.
Finally, I would add to it an articulated screen to be able to watch myself while recording, but this camera was intended for another kind of filmmaking. Also, let’s be clear that its high price is mainly due to being made for professionals.
If you want a camera that looks more like it was made for the exact purpose of YouTube vlogging, check the next in the list.
- Top performance between DSLRs
- Indie filmmaker level camera
- Great battery life
- Full-frame sensor
The 5D Mark III is an amazing camera, but it might be too much if you just want to record YouTube videos. That cameras was made to fulfill the needs of professional photographers and indie filmmakers.
If you want a great camera to record your YouTube videos and even make short films, the Canon EOS 70D should be your main option.
Here’s why this one is my personal favorite for vlogging:
The Canon EOS 70D’s autofocus is the best you can find.
Besides its autofocus being extremely sharp and accurate, it includes touch autofocus. With this feature you can touch the screen to indicate the focus point. This is helpful for vlogging when you need a fast and accurate focus point change in the middle of a video.
Now, this isn’t something that important. Recording 60fps video is a matter of taste. The fact that the common cinema rate is 24fps proves it. This is why most Canon cameras don’t record 60fps; they are thought to match cinema quality.
Still, some people really like faster video and for slow-motion. As I said, this is a matter of taste. The closest camera to match the 70D that can record 1080p60 is the Nikon D7200, which you can find below.
Now, to summarize about some other aspects about this camera:
It has amazing performance in low light. One of the most common trouble vloggers face is the lack of a good lighting setup. If you know a little bit about lighting, you can of course get away with a DSLR that doesn’t perform in these situations. However, you can trust the Canon EOS 70D when used in non-optimal lighting conditions.
Noise is not annoying until you go past the 4000 ISO mark with this camera, which gives a lot of space to record top-quality video in low light.
This gives you an idea of the kind of value you’re getting for your money.
It has a fully articulating screen. You will be able to watch yourself when you record your videos. Incredibly, this is a rare feature to find in the most expensive cameras, but Canon decided to include it here.
Finally, it comes with WiFi, Touchscreen and the Canon’s exclusive Video Snapshots feature. WiFi comes in handy to transfer files to other devices. Also, the Video Snapshots feature will allow you to record short videos of 2, 4 or 8 seconds. If you’re familiar with YouTube videos, you might have noticed that most YouTubers use quick video snapshots to make their videos. This will save you a lot of time when both editing and recording. This is highly valuable for YouTubers and vloggers in general.
The Canon EOS 70D is a camera made for video, so it offers a lot of good things for it for a fair price. It’s not the camera you should get if you’re a photographer, but it is the best you can get for video without having to sell an eye to pay for it.
- Made specifically for video
- Great low-light performance and autofocus
- Good battery life
- Good Extras (flip-out touchscreen and WiFi)
The main reason Rebel cameras are the first DSLR many YouTubers start using is because it gives you the cinematic quality of DSLRs for the lowest price. It’s also because Canon offers the best lenses for video in the market, and you’re able to use them for a low price thanks to Rebel cameras.
This new Rebel camera comes with better autofocus, WiFi, NFC, more MPs and it’s slightly better in low light than its last version. Its AF is slightly improved too.
Just like the Canon 70D, it records 1080p30/25/24 video. If you’d like to be able to record 1080p50/60 fps videos within this price range, you can check the Nikon D5300, which is the alternative to the T6i. Just like I’ve said with the 70D, 30fps is the cinema traditional rate. Recording 60/50/30/25/24 fps is a matter of taste and purpose.
It also has Touchscreen and Video Snapshots. Touch screen makes navigation faster, and Video Snapshots saves also a lot of time if you’re a YouTuber. This feature allows you to record short 2, 4 or 8 second videos. It’s a feature exclusive to Canon, and one of the main reasons the T6i is popular between vloggers.
It has good recording quality and an articulating screen. This is another camera that Canon made mainly for video. Let’s say that it’s the entry level DSLR for YouTubers in general.
It has the lowest battery duration of this list. You might want to buy a spare battery because of this. It lasts for 440 shots according to CIPA standard.
It’s still a good idea to get the T5i instead of this one, since the improvements aren’t quite that noticeable, but the price difference is.
- An affordable DSLR made for video
- Flip touchscreen
- A way to access Canon lenses for a cheap price
- Can record top quality video for cheap
This one is around the same price as the Canon 70D. There are some differences that you might like more, although the Canon is better in low light and has better autofocus.
It records 1080p/60/50/25/24 video. The EOS 70D can only record up to 30fps in 1080p quality. This will certainly allow you to record slow-motion in 1080p.
It has more battery life than the 70D. This camera lasts for almost 200 more shots than the Canon 70D before having to recharge.
Its dual SD card slots will allow longer recording times. It’s annoying having to change an SD card when it caps. Together with its battery life will allow you more recording time than the Canon DSLR.
It lacks low-pass filter. Because of this, you will notice sharper recording than the Canon 70D. Nevertheless, if you record something with too many lines or stripes (like a striped wear), the moiré effect will kick in, making the video awkward.
It has a fixed screen. This is something a little bit uncomfortable for vloggers. You’re not able to watch yourself while you record. This way you can’t make sure you’ve been focused at all times. This isn’t that bad, but it’s still something that needs to be taken into account before buying for vlogging.
- Two SD card slots
- Can record 1080p at 60fps for slow-motion
- Sharper image
- Long battery life
This Nikon camera doesn’t offer the nice video snapshots feature from Canon, but it does have some advantages you might like more. It’s the direct alternative to the Canon EOS Rebel T6i.
It’s better than the Canon T6i in low light, as it shows less noise in higher ISOs. This problem can be fixed by using adequate lighting. Nevertheless, you might not have the best lighting setup at all times, so it’s very important to have a camera with good low-light performance.
Its autofocus is not as good as the Canon’s. The T6i’s autofocus is more reliable and much faster. It’s a bit slower and does more hunting.
On the other hand, It has more battery life than the Canon. This one lasts for 600 shots, which is much more compared to the Canon’s 440 shots.
Cheaper than the T6i if you only buy the body. It’s worth getting this camera body and then getting an f/1.8 or f/1.4 50mm lens for vlogging. This is the smartest decision when getting a DSLR for YouTube.
It includes WiFi, but doesn’t have anti-aliasing filter. A camera with low-pass filter will get rid of the moiré effect. This one doesn’t have one, but it has a sharper image thanks to this. It will be a better option as long as you don’t wear any striped clothing for your YouTube videos.
- A good affordable DSLR
- Flip screen
- Takes better pictures than its Canon counterparts
- Good battery life for the price
It has great color and contrast. Its image quality is a lot better if you compare it to the T6i, and the price difference isn’t too big. This is really important when vlogging; better color will simply make you look better and healthier. This is something important to bear in mind if you have, for example, a beauty channel.
It can record 1080p60/30 video. This camera offers you more FPS options compared to Canon cameras.
It has built-in WiFi and optical image stabilization. Action vloggers will find its OIS useful while holding the camera to shoot. However, since you’re probably going to use it more often mounted on a tripod, this isn’t a killer feature for most YouTubers.
This is the most important feature; you won’t need an expensive lens that comes with OIS to be able to move around while recording.
Great autofocus. Its autofocus is really good for the price and has little difference when compared to a camera well-known for its autofocus like the Canon EOS 70D.
Its battery life is as low as the T6i. You will pay more for this camera to get better color, contrast and OIS, but you will still get the same battery life. You will need a spare battery.