Want to become a YouTuber? The first thing you need, after creating a YouTube channel, is a good video camera. Picking the right camera can make a big difference in the quality of your videos. This guide was written to help aspiring and growing YouTubers pick the right camera and will be continuously updated.
Types of Cameras
- Point and Shoot: Point and Shoot cameras or ‘compact cameras’ are small cameras that are very easy to use, small and lightweight. They are easy to use because it has automatic systems for autofocus and exposure settings. This leaves little freedom to play with the settings and experiment with camera settings but if you have limited camera knowledge this might be the perfect option for you. Once you feel comfortable with playing around with the camera settings you can always upgrade your camera later.
- DSLR: DSLR cameras are bigger than point and shoot camera but have a few advantages. They shoot in higher quality, do better in different light conditions, have a lot of manual controls, have interchangeable lenses which allow even more control over footage and hold their value better than point and shoot cameras. They are more expensive and more difficult to carry around because of their size, but if you want more control over your videos you need to accept these trade offs.
- Mirrorless: Mirrorless cameras are a hybrid between point and shoot cameras and DSLRs. Mirrorless cameras are significantly smaller than DSLRs because they don’t have mirrors to project the image to the viewfinder or sensor so they are closer to the size of point and shoot cameras while stilling offering interchangeable lenses and external microphone connectivity.
- Action Camera: Action cameras are digital cameras design for filming action while being immersed in it. Action cameras are rugged, compact, waterproof and easily attachable to helmets, surfboards, vehicles and handlebars. Action cameras are usually used during (extreme) sports, travel and motovlogging.
- 360 Camera: Virtual reality is one of the fastest growing markets in the world right now and it is very likely that more YouTubers are going to produce VR content in the coming years. To produce virtual reality content you will need a 360 degree video camera. A 360 camera records has a field of view of 360 degrees which means it records in all directions. Viewers can watch this footage with virtual reality googles and look around in every direction.
Tip: When picking up one of these cameras add an SD card to your shopping card since most cameras ship without one and maybe add an extra battery depending on the camera. We also recommend protecting your new purchase with a case or camera protection plan.
Best Starter Camera for YouTube (under $200)
This category contains the best Full HD camera’s for those looking to start creating YouTube videos on a budget. There are cheaper cameras available for those on a really tight budget, but these record 720p instead of 1080p. We recommend spending a bit more to pick one of the full HD camera’s we recommend but if you don’t have that money go for a Sony DSCW800/B or a Canon PowerShot Elph 160.
Canon PowerShot SX600 HS
Our first recommendation is the Canon PowerShot SX600 HS. This camera is very slim (1.02-inch) so it’s very easy to carry around if you record on the go a lot. It also has built-in wifi so you can transfer your footage to your computer without wires and start editing quickly. It can even transfer photos and videos to your phone so you can quickly share it on social media with your fans. The PowerShot SX600 has a High-Sensitivity CMOS 16 Megapixel sensor with a wide ISO range so footage filmed in low-light looks sharp instead of grainy.
The camera is also equipped with Canon’s Intelligent Image IS system. This system automatically analyzes camera movement and applies the best shake correction method. So you can focus on shooting the video without having to worry about footage being blurry.
Canon PowerShot Elph 350 HS
Our second recommendation for starters is the Canon PowerShot Elph 350 HS. The 350 HS is slightly more expensive than the SX600 but justifies this by improving on a couple of aspects.
The camera is around 20% smaller, 10% thinner and 20% lighter. It also has a 20.2 Megapixel sensor instead of a 16 megapixel sensor and slightly wider aperture so it captures more light for increased low-light performance.
Other features of the 350 HS are very similar to the SX600. It has built-in wifi to transfer footage to your laptop for editing without having to deal with SD cards. It has excellent low-light performance for when you are recording at night or in darker places. This camera also has the Intelligent Image IS system to automatically analyze camera movement and apply the best shake correction method to prevent blurry footage.
Best Beginner Camera for YouTube (under $300)
Panasonic DMC-ZS45 Lumix
Our first recommendation for beginning YouTubers is the Panasonic DMC-ZS45 Lumix. This camera is one of the cheapest cameras with a flip screen which is especially useful when vlogging. Another feature that makes this camera excellent for vlogging is the wide-angle lens which helps capture more of your surroundings when vlogging from an arms length.
The DMC-ZS45 has power optical image stabilization which automatically minimizes blur, even when shooting with a powerful zoom. Active mode will effectively suppress hand-shake vibration while recording video. The large 1.040k-dot LCD screen is perfect to play back footage and make sure the footage is up to your expectation.
Our second camera recommendation for beginning YouTubers is the Panasonic DMC-G5. This mirrorless camera is the best camera for you if you want to have the most bang for your buck.
This is one of the few interchangeable lens camera you can buy in this budget range and it also has a shoe mount for mounting a light panel or external Rode microphone. Being able to change lenses and mount accessories means you can upgrade parts without having to replace to complete camera so it’s future proof.
The camera itself records crystal clear Full HD 1080p with a wide ISO range for optimal performance in different lighting conditions. The camera is equipped with a 920k dots LCD flip screen which can be flipped to the front of the camera so you can see if you are in frame when filming. Other handy features include fast autofocus, RAW support and great battery life.
The camera does not have built-in optical image stabilization, so if if you are planning on filming a lot while walking or running buy a lens with optical image stabilization built in. If you you want to have optical image stabilization built in and want to stick with this budget go for the Panasonic DMC-ZS45 listed above. If you don’t mind spending slightly more and/or want a camera with interchangeable lens we recommend looking into the Canon EOS Rebel T5 listed directly below.
Best Intermediate Camera for YouTube (under $500)
Canon EOS Rebel T5
Our first recommendation for intermediate YouTubers is the Canon EOS Rebel T5. Canon is a big player in the DSLR market and Canon cameras are used by a lot of YouTubers, especially amongst YouTubers on a bigger budget. Luckily Canon also has some good cameras available for those with a lower budget.
The Canon Rebel T5 has a powerful 18 megapixel CMOS image sensor and is able to record Full HD 1080p in 30 frames per second or 24 frames per second if you want to achieve the ‘movie’ look. The camera has a built-in phase detection autofocus system which is much faster than the contrast detection system found in cheaper cameras. This helps prevent blurry footage in your YouTube videos which can be very annoying. The camera also has a wide ISO range so it performs well in different lighting conditions and has great battery life so you can record a lot of footage on a single charge.
Unfortunately, this camera does not have built-in optical image stabilization so you will need to pick up a lens that optical image stabilization built in. It also does not have flip screen, if that’s a must for you we recommend the Samsung NX3000 listed further down.
A popular alternative to the Canon T5 is the Sony DSC-RX100/B. You can’t change lenses on this point and shoot camera or mount a microphone but it’s a lot smaller so it’s easier to carry. Unlike the Rebel T5 this camera has optical image stabilization to help eliminate blur caused by small camera hand movements. The 3″ Xtra Fine high resolution screen on this camera is perfect for reviewing recorded footage but unfortunately it’s not a flip out screen.
The camera records in 1080p Full HD footage in up to 60 frames per second on it’s massive Exmor CMOS sensor with 20.2 megapixels. The sensor uses advanced column A/D processing and low-light ISO 6400 sensitivity resulting in astonishing low-light footage with crystal clear details. The camera also has electronic image stabilization to compensate camera shake while walking and High speed autofocus which focuses almost as fast as DSLR camera’s in this price range.
Because of this camera’s good image stabilization, durable metal body and it’s portable size we highly recommend this camera over the Canon T5 if you want to record ‘on-the-go’. If you do most of your filming in one spot and want to change lenses the Canon Rebel T5 might be better suited for you.
Samsung NX3000 Mirrorless
The third camera we recommend in this budget range is the Samsung NX3000. The NX3000 is a mirrorless camera so it’s smaller than a DSLR but you can still change lenses if you want. This camera shoots 1080p Full HD at 30 frames per second with an advanced 20.3 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor. The CMOS sensor gives you very precise and fast autofocus and has a wide ISO range so you can record in different lighting situations.
The camera has built-in wifi so you can transfer your footage directly to your computer without cables or taking out the SD card so you can start editing. Unlike the other two cameras this camera does not have a fixed screen. The NX3000 has a flip-up screen so you can check to see if you are in from when you are in front of the camera.
It does not have optical image stabilization so if you plan on recording a lot while walking or during other activities you should also order a lens with optical image stabilization built in.
Best Advanced Camera for YouTube (under $750)
Sony Alpha a6000
Our first recommended camera in this category is the Sony Alpha a6000. The a6000 is a portable mirrorless camera and is powered by a 24.3 megapixel Exmor APS-C sensor and the new BIONZ x image processor. The camera can record 1080p Full HD in cinematic 24fps, 30fps or even 60 frames per second.
This camera features the world’s fastest autofocus (0.06 seconds) by using Enhanced Fast Hybrid AF with 179 phase-detection points so you don’t ever have to worry about being out of focus. The 3 inch LCD screen can tilt to a certain degree but does not flip to the front of the camera. If you want to upgrade the sound quality, the camera has a hot shoe and external mic jack so you can mount a Rode external microphone if you want.
Footage can be transferred without cables or taking out the SD card by using WiFi. If you are not using the WiFi capabilities of the camera we recommend turning on airplane mode in the settings menu of the camera to extend the battery life even further.
Tip: If you really want a front facing flip screen, the Sony a5100 has very similar specs/price with a flip screen. Unfortunately the a5100 does not have a hot shoe and external mic jack but if you don’t plan on using an external mic that trade-off might be worth it.
Canon PowerShot G7 X
Our second recommendation is another point and shoot camera, the Canon PowerShot G7 X. This camera is by far the most popular point and shoot camera used by YouTubers and is used by a lot of famous YouTubers, especially for vlogging. This camera is very popular because of it’s compact size, flip screen and excellent image quality. The G7 X records in 1080p Full HD at up to 60 frames per second.
The camera is powered by a time-tested 1″ high sensitivity 20 megapixel CMOS sensor and Canon’s latest generation DIGIC 6 Image Processor for excellent performance in different lighting conditions. The G7 X uses 31 focus points for it’s high speed autofocus system and has built-in optical image stabilization to automatically compensate camera movement while walking.
The only downside of this camera is that the battery life could be better compared to other cameras in the same price range. If you record a lot of footage consecutively or if you record on-the-go a lot you might want to consider picking up an extra battery pack. You can easily switch these out and keep recording so this should not be a problem.
The third recommendation in this category is a DSLR camera by Nikon, the Nikon D5300. The D5300 is a very good upper-entry-level DSLR with solid video features and a high-resolution camera sensor. The are a lot of lenses available for this camera so there are plenty of choices to upgrade from the kit lens in the future.
The camera is powered by a 24.2 megapixel CMOS image sensor that is able to record in 1080p Full HD in 24 fps for the ‘cinematic look’, 30 fps or even 60 frames per second. The D5300 has a 39 focus point autofocus system and a wide ISO sensitivity range so the camera can handle a lot of different filming environments. We especially like the larger than average Vari-angle LCD screen (1,037,000 dots) this camera has since that really helps with monitoring if everything is in frame while shooting video.
The autofocus is not as fast as the other two cameras in this category and because it’s a DSLR camera it’s also slightly bigger than the others but those are the only downsides we could find with this camera. We think the bigger size was used to put in a bigger battery and that’s noticeable, the battery life of this camera is very good.
Best Semi-Pro Camera for YouTube (under $1000)
Our first recommendation in this category is the Nikon D5500. The D5500 is the successor of the Nikon D5300 we recommended in the previous category. So what are the improvements? In brief, the body of the D5500 is smaller and lighter with an improved grip so it’s easier to carry and shoot with. It has a faster processor. The LCD screen is now touch-enabled. It has ‘flat’ picture control which allows for easier post-production color grading and built-in wifi to easily transfer footage to your computer without wires or switching SD cards. The camera’s battery life is also drastically improved.
The Nikon D5500 has a 24.2 megapixel CMOS sensor and Nikon”s latest Expeed 4 image processing engine. The ISO range has been drastically improved for better performance in different lighting conditions. The image quality and color depth of this camera are the best you can get in a DSLR around this price point. Video is recorded in 1080p Full HD at up to 60 frames per second.
The camera has a hot shoe and external microphone jack so you can mount an external microphone if you want to drastically improve the sound quality. We recommend going with the Rode VideoMic Shotgun Microphone or the RODE VMPR VideoMic Pro R. For more information on microphones you can also check out our Buying Guide on microphones for YouTube.
The D5500 does not have built-in optical image stabilization or focus motor so you will need to buy a lens with these features built in for the best results. There are currently around 230 lenses available but a good starter lens is with built-in optical image stabilization and focus motor is the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G. You can choose to order only the camera body with this lens or order the camera with the kit lens and upgrade when you want to.
Sony CyberShot RX100 IV
Our second recommendation in this category is the Sony CyberShot RX100 IV. This is one of the most capable point and shoot cameras on the market and is used by a lot of YouTubers such as FunForLouis, RomanAtwoodVlogs and MKBHD (Marques Brownlee).
The combination of Sony’s excellent 20 megapixel camera sensor and fast, sharp 24-70mm lens produces some of the best image quality available digital point and shoot cameras. Thanks to the Fast Intelligent autofocus system the RX100 IV can automatically focus with incredible speed and precision. The camera can record in Full HD 1080p at 24, 30 or 60 frames per second but if you want higher quality you can also record in Ultra HD/4K. If you want to get some slow-mo shots for your videos you can also shoot in 240, 480 or even 960 frames per second, albeit with lower image quality. The camera has a sharp 3″ LCD screen which can be flipped to the front of the camera so you can see if you are in frame.
The battery of this camera is not the greatest and recording in Ultra HD/4K drains the battery even quicker. We recommend picking up an extra battery pack when buying this camera so you can quickly switch batteries and keep recording.
Sony Alpha a6300 Mirrorless
Our third recommendation in this category is the Sony Alpha a6300. This mirrorless camera brings amazing image quality and blazing fast autofocus into a compact size that is alot easier to carry around than similar quality DSLR cameras.
The a6300 has a 24.2 megapixel APS-C Exmor CMOS sensor and can record in 4K Ultra HD in 30 frames per second or 1080p Full HD in up to 120 frames per second for incredible high quality slow-motion shots. Ultra HD footage is captured in 6K and scaled down to 4K which results in Ultra HD footage with incredible detail and depth. This camera offers 425 focal plane phase-detection AF point and has the fastest autofocus in the world (0.05 sec).
The a6300 has a hot shoe and external microphone jack so you can mount an external microphone if you want to capture the highest possible quality audio and interchangeable lenses so you have plenty of options to upgrade in the future.
There are also some downsides to this camera. It does not have built-in optical image stabilization so you will need to find a lens that automatically stabilizes for you. Another downside is that the screen can be tilted to a certain degree but does not flip to the front of the camera which is something a lot of YouTubers use for vlogging.
Best Professional Camera for YouTube (under $1300)
Canon EOS 70D
Our first recommendation in this category is the Canon 70D. This camera is the most popular DSLR camera among popular YouTubers and is used by big YouTubers such as Aspyn Ovard, Zoella, BFvsGF, Bethany Mota, Casey Neistat and Kian Lawley.
The 70D is powered by a 20.2 Megapixel and is able to record in 1080p Full HD in up to 30 frames per second. What really sets the 70D apart from it’s competition is the autofocus performance while recording video. The 70D’s autofocus is better than similar cameras in this price range and that’s why a lot of YouTubers use this camera, to prevent blurry footage in their videos. A cool feature of the autofocus system is that it locks to the subject in frame and makes the background slightly blurred out for a cool cinematic effect. Some other reasons why this camera is so popular among YouTubers are because of the excellent battery life and a flip out screen.
There are many available lenses to choose from and external microphones are also supported so there are plenty of upgrades available. Unfortunately, the camera does not record in 4K Ultra HD resolution and is not able to shoot in 60 frames per second. If that’s what you’re looking for you might be better off with the Lumix GH4 listed below.
Panasonic LUMIX GH4
Our second recommendation is the Panasonic LUMIX GH4, the main competitor of the 70D. The Canon 70D is a very good camera and is very popular amongst YouTubers for good reason. However, there are some things it’s missing. It’s not able to record in 4K resolution, it is not able to record in 60 frames per second and it does not have a headphone port to monitor your sound recording. Panasonic aims to fill those gaps with the Lumix GH4.
The Lumix GH4 is a mirrorless camera with a 16 megapixel sensor. The camera is able to record UHD 4K at 30 frames per second or at ‘cinematic’ 24 frames per second. Recording in 1080p Full HD can be done at up to 60 frames per second. The GH4 features a weather-sealed magnesium alloy body with a high resolution OLED monitor that can be flipped or tilted. It also features built-in Wi-Fi with NFC technology, in-camera creative controls, and a high-speed 49-point autofocus in both photo and video mode.
The GH4 does not win over the Canon 70D in every aspect, it has a slightly lower max sensor resolution (16 MP vs 20 MP) and shorter battery life.
Best Action Camera for YouTube
If you want to record a lot while traveling, doing sports, swimming, diving or other (extreme) sports you should get an action camera. Action cameras are more rugged and often waterproof so they can handle the abuse better than ‘normal’ cameras. Action cameras have a wide variety of attachments available so you can attach it to your helmet, handlebar, surfboard or something else.
Our first action camera recommendation is the GoPro Session. The GoPro Session is small, waterproof and easy to operate action camera that is perfect for first-time users or as a second camera. A single button powers on the camera and starts recording, when you are done recording the camera automatically turn itself off to save battery life. The camera can record up to 2 hours of video on a full charge and is waterproof up to 33 ft (10 meter).
The GoPro Session captures 1440p30, 1080p60 and 720p100 video and can take 8 Megapixel time-lapse photos at 0.5 second intervals. For optimal audio recording the camera is fitted with a dual mic system. When you are filming in windy conditions the camera will automatically switch to the microphone that captures the least wind noise.
GoPro Hero4 Silver
Our second action camera recommendation is the GoPro HERO4. The HERO4 is the big brother of the smaller GoPro Session with better performance and a built-in touch display. With the built-in touch display you can easily control the camera, play back your recordings or frame your shots by viewing, tapping and swiping the screen.
The HERO4 captures Full HD 1080p at 60 frames per second or 720p at 120 frames per second for cool slow motion shots. The camera can also take 12 megapixel burst photos at 30 frames per second, single photos or choose time lapse mode to shoot photos automatically at set time intervals. The camera is waterproof up to 131′ (40m).
GoPro Hero 4 Black
Our third recommendation is GoPro’s HERO4 Black. This is currently GoPro’s top of the line model with their best image quality yet and a processor that’s twice as powerful as the Hero 4 Silver. The better processor enables this camera to record 4K Ultra HD at 30 frames per second, 2.7k at 60fps, 1080p at 120fps or 720p at up to 240 frames per second resulting in beautiful slow-motion shots. You can also capture single photos, burst photos at 30 frames per second or time lapses by taking pictures at set time intervals.
Unfortunately, the Hero 4 Black does not have a built-in touchscreen like the Hero 4 Silver. If that’s more important to you than recording in 4K resolution the Hero 4 Silver might be a better option for you.
Best 360 Camera for YouTube
At the moment there are not a lot of YouTubers taking advantage of using 360 video but we think this will quickly change in the coming years as virtual reality becomes more popular. To give you a head start we have selected the best 360 cameras currently on the market. To learn more about how to upload 360 videos to YouTube you can use this step by step instruction by YouTube.
Ricoh Theta S
The first 360 camera we recommend is the Ricoh Theta S. The Theta S has been a complete game changer in the 360 degree camera market by being the first to make a small and easy to use camera. The camera records in Full HD 1080p for up to 25 minutes and the software automatically stitches the images of both cameras together for you. The format created by the Ricoh software is supported by YouTube so you don’t have spend hours in post-production adjusting the footage.
Samsung Gear 360
The second 360 camera we recommend is the Samsung Gear 360. Unfortunately you will need a recent mid to high-end Samsung phone to get the most out of the camera but you can still use it without by adjusting the settings on the camera.
The Gear 360 shoots video in near 4K resolution and can take 30 megapixel photos. The video format is supported by YouTube so you can directly upload your footage. The Gear 360 is also IP53 splash and dust resistant so you can use it when it rains or near a pool without worrying.
A MicroSD card is required to operate the camera but is sold separately so remember to add one to your shopping card!
How we picked
- Autofocus: Cameras should be able to quickly focus on subject in front of the camera, even with a lot of movement.
- ISO range: The ISO range plays a big role in the cameras performance in different lighting conditions.
- Optical Image Stabilization: O.I.S automatically corrects hand-shake vibration and other sudden movements to prevent shaky footage.
- Battery Life: Your camera should not die while you are recording a video so naturally we take into account how long the battery of a camera lasts while recording.
- Image Quality: This is a combination of image resolution, color depth and other factors.
- Size: If you record while ‘on-the-go’ a camera should be easy to carry around.
- Flip screen: A lot of YouTubers prefer a camera with flip out screen so what you are recording while you are filming. When possible we included cameras with a screen that is able to flip to the front.
- Modularity: A lot of YouTubers upgrade their equipment as their channel grows. We have taken into account if you are able to attach an external microphone or change lenses if you want to in the future.
- Frames per second: YouTube added support for 60fps in 2015 and we have tried to select cameras that support this frame rate when possible because footage looks smoother than 30fps.
We hope you enjoyed our guide! If there are any vlogging cameras you feel we missed in our guide please share it with us and if you think this guide will be helpful to others please share it with them.
If you found the right camera and want to pick up an external microphone to improve the sound quality, we also have a buyers guide for microphones. If you are specifically looking for a vlogging camera you can check out our vlogging camera guide.