Let's be honest:
Some purchasing decisions are not easy for YouTubers.
At some point, every creator will try to pick best camera for YouTube videos and their channel.
It can be a big investment, and you want to choose the right one.
Of course making good videos, using best equipment, and promoting them well are critical, but a good YouTube camera does give you a competitive edge over the (literally) millions of people trying to break out and grow their own channels.
It is rare in 2018 that a viewer will sit through a video that is grainy, out of focus, or lacking in audio quality.
There are a lot of good camera options for YouTube beginners or professionals, and they can be very different. Some people want to jump straight into the best cameras that famous YouTubers are already using, while others just want an affordable option.
Aside from picking the best video camera, there are many different types to choose from too. If you already know what type of camera you are looking for, then choose from this list what you are looking for
Depending on your level of experience, you might want get comfortable with the features of your YouTube camera, and also get comfortable being on camera yourself. This all takes practice, but with the right equipment you will be building up your views in no time.
To get a sense of what you can get in both the high and low-budget ranges, check out this great video from Sean Cannell and ThinkMedia.
You can learn more about how to kill it on YouTube from Sean's free online webinar here. Along with Sean's reccomendations, here are our picks for the best camera for YouTube in every major category.
The 7 Best Cameras For YouTube
DSLR Cameras for YouTube
DSLRs have long been considered the most high end, feature rich cameras for Videographers and Photographers. If you can afford them, and you want both high end video and pictures, then these might be the best camera for YouTube and your channel.
DSLR Advantages for YouTubers
DSLRs are the most popular cameras among many professional creators in large part because they usually capture the highest quality images for both video and photos
High image quality is possible because DSLRs tend to have larger image sensors and therefore larger pixel sides. Good modern DSLR cameras also excel when it comes to the latest tech in auto focus, image stabilziation and capture modes.
You are also more flexible in your ability to change lenses. Between the many accessible features, and the various lenses available to buy, anyone can create good looking videos for YouTube with a DSLR camera.
DSLR Disadvantages for YouTubers
The biggest complaint about DSLRs is their price point. It can be tough (though not impossible) to find a cheap DSLR under $500. If you are on a budget, you might skip over DSLRs altogether. This would be a fair choice given that they sometimes have more power and features than a beginner will really be able to take advantage of in their videos.
Another big complaint is exactly what it sounds like - they are big! Some people consider them too big and would prefer a camera that they can carry around in their pocket, or slip into a small bag.
What channels should use a DSLR?
If you are creating carefully produced content like mini documentaries, music videos, short films, skits, or attractive montages then a DSLR will likely provide the best looking results without spending many thousands of dollars on professional video cameras.
For example, if you pair it with the right dslr gimbal then you can get professoinal, smooth video footage of different locations. Similarly, a good external shotgun mic will improve your DSLR audio capture so that you sound confident and clear to the audience.
DSLRS also tend to have a one-two punch of great video and photography, so if you are also trying to build an audience on Instagram (or just love to take great pictures) then a DSLR might be a worthwhile investment.
The Canon EOS 70D DSLR gets our nod as the best DSLR camera for YouTube. While it is not the most expensive or ‘high end’ camera on the market, it has everything that a vlogger could need at under $1,000
the EOS 70D has all the key features you want in a camera for YouTube, and is trusted by famous vloggers such as Casey Neistat and Jake Paul. It has a reliable flip screem, and its weather sealed design makes it durable and easy to bring on the road. It also has excellent dynamic range which keeps shots looking great in almost any lighting.
The bar is not that high for many creators out there, and if you pair this camera with the right equipment, you will be producing content that is in the top 10% of YouTube videos in terms of sheer production quality.
The only weakness is it’s lack of 4K video, but with more than half of YouTube’s views coming on mobile, getting a 4K camera is a big expense that will only help your video with a small amount of your viewers.
If you want something similar, but want to save some money, you could also look at the Canon EOS M6
Budget YouTube Cameras
Budget Camera Advantages
Sometimes all you really need is a low budget camera that gets the job done. This saves you money, and also decreases any risk that you might invest in something that breaks or that you don't use as often as you think. For beginners, this releives the pressure of picking the best YouTube camera.
Cheap cameras usually have fewer features than more expensive models, and in some cases that is actually a good thing. If you are new to filming video or photography, then you are better off mastering the basics of the camera rather than getting distracted by advanced features right away.
If you do focus on choosing a camera that is affordable, this may also give you the flexibility to spend a little bit more of your budget on other YouTube equipment like lighting or external microphones that will improve your videos.
Budget Camera Disadvantages
The most basic sacrafice you will be making with a cheaper camera is in video quality. While you can still find good cameras under $300 that will film in 1080p HD, the overall clarity, the autofocus, the image stabilization, and the low light performance are all likley candidates to be relatively weak.
Less expensive cameras sometimes cut costs by using cheaper parts, so they are often relatively fragile, and might be missing components like an input for any external microphone.
What Channels Should Use a Budget Camera
Anyone who is a beginner on YouTube should seriously consider buying a cheap YouTube camera to get started. It is easy to do a lot of research and sink a lot of money into your channel, but it is usually more productive to buy something within your budget and just get started. You can always upgrade down the road like many YouTubers have,
You might also decide to invest in an affordable camera because you don't find yourself on camera that often in your own videos - if that is the case, then a good camera might not be the best use of your funds.
Cheap Camera Recommendation
The Nikon COOLPIX B500 is a solid choice for anyone who might just be getting started on YouTube. It includes full HD 1080p Video Recording at 30 fps which is impressive for a camera less than $300.
The COOLPIX B500 doesn’t include a lot of bells and whistles, but if you have a simple YouTube set up and plan to use a tripod to film yourself, this is a good pick.
Digital Flip Screen Cameras & YouTube
Digital Flip Screen Camera Advantages on YouTube
Many mirrorless and point-and-shoot cameras are being released with DSLR like features that do not carry the same bulk, or price tag.
More and more of these cameras are coming equipped with 180 degree flip screens which are a key feature for anyone filming themselves on YouTube. It allows you to see your self while filming in order to properly frame your shots, or work on your own delivery.
Since even smaller digital cameras are including this feature, they are ideal for portable vlog cameras in different locations.
Digital Flip Screen Camera Disadvantages for YouTubers
Buying a digital camera with a flip screen tends to be slightly more expensive than buying a comparable camera that doesn't have a flexible screen. If you don't plan on using the screen, then you are better off avoiding it to save a few bucks.
If you do buy one of these cameras, you will need to be extra careful with them as flip screens are prone to breaking. If you do damage the screen while it is flipped out, repairs can be expensive, or even render the screen useless.
What Channels Should Use a Flip Screen Camera?
Vlogging YouTube channels make the most sense to use flip screen cameras because the vloggers themselves are usually the visual focus of their videos. Seeing yourself really helps people get comfortable on camera, and reduces wasted takes that are out of frame or out of focus.
Digital Flip Screen Camera Recommendation
A great budget camera with a flip screen is the Sony a5100. The Sony Alpha series are excellent vlogging cameras overall, and the a5100 is among its most affordable options.
This flip screen camera captures video in 1080p HD, and has an above average autofocus system given its price point. Its small size and wieght make it ideal for YouTubers on the move.
YouTube Action Cameras
Action Camera Advantages on YouTube
GoPros, and other action cameras have given us new ways to capture incredible moments that viewers will want to see for themselves. Bungee jumping, diving with sharks, or any other crazy thing that people do makes for great content, and action cameras are the best way to film them.
These cameras are designed to be durable, weather resistent, and often waterproof, so they can take a beating and go with you anywhere. Relative to high end cameras, they are relatively cheap, so more and more people are adding them to their collection of YouTube cameras.
Action Camera Disadvantages on YouTube
Action cameras aren't always rich with features that give you a lot of different filming options. Generally you get what you see - and most of the time that is enough. Experienced film makers likely won't find there are enough options or enough control to get exactly the shot they want in a non-action related scenario.
These cameras are also not meant to replace a good photography camera. While they can take some very cool pictures, don't confused them for what a good DSLR or Mirrorless camera can shoot.
What Channels Should Use An Action Camera?
Travelling YouTubers are a natrual fit for an action camera. They are small and easy to bring anywhere, plus you won't be worried about getting caught in the rain or diving into the ocean.
Anyone who is into sports or high adrenaline activities will likely find themselves in a situation where a good action camera will be the best choice for capturing the moment.
Action Camera Recommendation
Many people love the GoPro Hero series of action camears but an excellent alternative is the YI 4K Action & Sports Camera. This is a more budget action camera that captures some really amazing 4K video.
Camcorder Advantages for YouTubers
Camcorders are sometimes underappreciated as good YouTube cameras, but if you exclusively care about video quality and the cost, then they might be your best choice.
Most good video camcorders are under $300, and capture in 1080p HD with more than adequate video clarity. If you will be filming in a consistent location with decent lighting, then you will be very happy with the results for the money you spend.
Camcorders tend to come with a flip screen which is an important feature for many YouTubers. It is also small and portable, so you can take it to different filming locations easily.
Camcorder Disadvantages for YouTubers
Camcorders are not ideal for anyone who wants to improve their photography. You are only getting better looking videos vs a phone or cheap digital camera - the photos will likely dissapoint you (if you can even take them) on a camcorder.
Also let's just admit that camcorders aren't as cool as other YouTube cameras out there. Most people aren't dying to brag about their new camcorder, or show it off in public - but what they lack in style they make up for in substance!
What channels should use a camcorder
If you have an at-home 'studio', and you only need a camera for filming YouTube videos on a tripod, then a good camcorder is a great pick. Beginners on a budget will be releived to see the affordable pricing and big jump in video quality on their channel.
Our favorite pick for a YouTube camcorder is the Canon VIXIA HF R800. For a reasonable price you are getting sharp looking HD video in 1080p that looks good even with subpar lighting. It is small and portable, and a sound investment for any channel.
Webcam Advantages on YouTube
One big advantage for YouTubers using webcams to stream or vlog is that they are very cheap relative to other cameras you could use. They don't provide the best video quality, but some of the best ones do look pretty great in 1080p HD. For (usually) under $100, this is a big win.
Some webcams also come with very helpful features for gamers like providing a green-screen like effect that mimics what many pro-streamers incorporate into their gaming videos.
Webcam Disadvantages for YouTubers
If you decide to buy a WebCam for YouTube, then you probably know that you will only ever be filming in your home. Sure, you can set up a webcam in other places (as long as it is attached to a computer) but that isn't where it works best.
You should expect that this camera will stay in one place, and that it won't ever be used for photography. For streamers, these things don't matter, but for general content creators, that is a major shortcoming.
What channels should use a webcam?
While some stay-at-home vloggers will probably love the cheap price of a standard webcam, the big winners here are gaming YouTubers. Gamers need to stay close to their console or PC so the lack of portability isn't an issue, and given that gaming equipment is generally expensive, it is a nice change of pace to have an affordable camera option.
Add to that the fact that webcams are now being developed with specific gaming related features in mind, and it becomes an easy choice for that type of channel.
Webcam For Streaming Recommendation
Most streamers would tell you to trust Logitech webcams above all others - and they would be right. Logitech has a long history of manufacturing great equipment for gamers. Their latest streaming webcam, the Logitech C922x Pro Stream Webcam is affordable, produces great video, and gives gamers some very cool options when capturing.