Choosing the best camera for YouTube for you is the biggest purchasing decision you will make for your channel!
Of course your actual content, and promotion are critical but none of that will matter if your videos look amateur.
You might ask – why does my Youtube camera really matter?
Think about it…
When was the last time you spent 5+ minutes watching someone speak into a camera online when the video was dark, out of focus, and had fuzzy audio?
Chances are, you haven’t.
The competition online, and especially on YouTube, is too fierce to look like an amateur. The potential rewards of building a great vlog is too high to spend so much effort on videos that make a weak first impression and never give you a chance to build new fans.
So the solution should be simple then, right? Just buy a cheap point and click camera and get started?
If only it were that easy…
Gold Medal – Best Camera For YouTube
The Canon EOS 80D DSLR gets our nod as the overall best 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.
the EOS 80D has all the key features you want in a camera for YouTube. Its weather sealed design makes it durable and easy to bring on the road. If you pair it with the right dslr gimbal then you can get professoinal level video anywhere you go.
It also has excellent dynamic range which keeps shots looking great in almost any lighting.
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.
Silver Medal – Best Value Camera for YouTube
The Canon Powershot G7 X Mark II is the perfect camera for YouTubers who are ready to add some real power to their videos. You don’t need to be an expert as this is one of the easiest cameras to use without a heavy learning curve.
It is also a competitive price given the high quality it produces. For those who are ready to take their YouTube channel seriously, but want to spend <$1,000, you should definitely check this out.
Bronze Medal- Best Cheap YouTube Camera
The Nikon COOLPIX B500 is a solid choice for anyone who might just be getting started. 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.
If you are looking for more detailed reviews for the best vlogging cameras available in 2017, you can see our recommendations here.
The truth is there are hundreds of options for you to choose from, and each one has different strengths and weaknesses. Understanding the features available, and then matching the right camera to your content and budget is the key to success.
This guide will explain what to look for to pick the best camera for YouTube, and why it matters.
We will start by reviewing the 4 questions you should be asking yourself right now, and will then provide a detailed overview of the top 5 features that are key to a vlogging camera, and recommend a few that excel in that category.
What is my budget?
If cameras were free, then we would all have high powered 4K cameras for every occasion. Sadly that isn’t the case.
But here’s the thing:
Even on a modest budget you can find the right dedicated camera for YouTube content and look like you belong. You definitely don’t need to break the bank, but as with most things in life, you get what you pay for.
If price is the most important consideration in your research for a camera, you can skip to our recommendations for good cheap vlogging cameras.
Decide your budget range is ahead of time and then spend all of your energy finding the best camera for you that fits that budget.
The good news is, you don’t always need to spend every last penny of that budget to get what you want. Consider looking at cameras that are as much as 25% less than your maximum budget.
What does that mean?
Well for example, if you are comfortable spending up to $1,000 on your new camera, you should also take a look at cameras that also cost $750 (25% less than $1,000) and anything in between. Now you can just focus on picking the right camera for you based on the remaining questions below.
What type of content will I be making?
Let’s be honest:
There is a LOT of different subject matter covered in video blogs, and there is an audience for just about everything. Just make sure you know what sort of content you are going create before choosing your vlog camera.
Because different content has different needs and the best camera for one vlog might be different
Consider this example:
Vlogger A has a travel channel on YouTube. They are constantly on the move and filming the amazing things that they see around the world. They shoot photos and video outdoors in various weather conditions, and rarely have time to set up a tripod. Chances are they speak into their camera selfie style to comment on what is happening around them.
Vlogger B has opinions to share about the latest news in the video game industry. They want to speak into the camera on a tripod to provide insights to their audience, and they may also want to film themselves while streaming on channels like Twitch, and may bring in guests for round table interviews on a regular basis.
Pretty different, right?
Not surprisingly, Vloggers A and B will be better off with different equipment to serve them best.
Right down a list of not only the subject matter you will cover, but also the types of filming you want to do.
Will you be on the move or on a tripod?
Will you film wide landscapes, or close ups?
Does photo quality matter, or is your content strategy 100% video?
You get the idea. The best camera for YouTube videos that you make is going to depend on these answers.
Where will I be taking the camera?
This is related to the question about your content because depending on what type of content you want to create, you may find yourself in different locations.
If you are like Vlogger A and constantly moving, then you want to make sure you have a camera with good auto-stabilization, and performs well in different light settings with good dynamic range so that the video quality on your channel is consistent.
Not only that – you also don’t want to break your prized possession!
You should carefully consider the durability of the camera. That doesn’t just mean that buttons won’t fall off, but how well can it handle itself in rain, or humidity.
If your camera is going to live on a tripod in your bedroom, then you can afford to lean towards super high quality video output. You can also worry less about the physical features and durability of the camera.
Remember: everything is a trade off and no camera is perfect. A camera that is stronger with one feature (ex. Video quality) may have made sacrifices on another feature (Ex. durability)
Make sure that your money is going towards the features that matter to you!
What am I willing to learn?
Some cameras pride themselves on being great for beginners, while others assume you have been filming for decades and pack in a ton of features with minimal explanation.
‘Ease of use’ is an ambiguous term, but you shouldn’t underestimate how important it can be to your overall experience.
If you savvy enough to create a YouTube channel, then you can figure out how to use just about any camera – just be aware that some of the high end cameras and DSLRs will take a bit of extra investment in time as well as money to make sure you understand what you are doing and are getting the best performance from.
If you have some experience with cameras, then leaning towards more feature rich cameras with several modes to play with can be a great option (and a fun way to learn more about what the professionals use.)
Got all that? Good! Now time for the fun stuff.
It is a fact of life that wasting takes sucks, and can be a big drain on your time.
A flip screen camera solves that issue because they allow you to adjust the angle of the digital display screen of a camera so that you can see yourself while you are filming.
This is a big deal for a few reasons.
To start, when you have the camera set up on the tripod, you can see yourself while you are filming in real time. You will know right away if you are sitting out of the frame, or if anything is wrong with the visuals.
If you have bad habits like slouching on camera, you can also catch that and correct it.
If you are one of the many vloggers who films while you are on the move, then the flip screen makes selfie photos and selfie videos a viable option.
Nobody wants to see a video where half of your face is off camera, and the auto-focus has zoned in on your left nostril.
You can find a comprehensive camera image quality guide here but let’s keep things high level for now.
You want need to look good on camera so having a camera that delivers a quality that people have come to expect is key.
If you have the money, then 4K is the highest resolution you will find today. Some computers and most mobile devices still do not display in 4K, so at least today, there are diminishing returns to buying in to 4K now.
With that said, if you have a 4K camera, then you are guaranteed to look legit long term, especially if you are a traveler, photographer, or reviewing products like fashion or makeup.
HD video resolution is really the must have for most YouTube channels. Most people will find themselves using HD Cameras that are 1080p or lower resolution. 1080p should be your goal if you can afford it. We recommend you make sure that your resolution is at least 720p or above, and even that is going to look noticeably different from professional vlogs.
Don’t worry about mega pixels unless you are also a professional still photographer. Anything above 20 MP has the capability for amazing photos as long as the rest of the camera has the right features.
Make sure to keep reading about “Auto-features” listed below because they will help explain two critical features for your video quality.
We thought about calling this ‘Ergonomics’, which is really just a fancy word for ‘feels good.’
And that shouldn’t be underrated!
Unless your camera lives on a tripod 24/7, the weight and design of the camera is going to impact your experience at some point. Even if it is just moving it from room to room or packing up to take to another safe location.
If you are like many content creators who are often on the move, then you are going to want to make sure the physical traits of the camera match your style in a couple of ways:
For starters, if you are going to be holding your camera all day, then pay attention to the weight of the camera. A heavy bulky camera can wear you down and feel cumbersome, an the quality of you work will suffer as a result.
Durability is another important consideration. If your brand new camera breaks on day 3, then you are going to be pissed.
As we mentioned earlier, some vloggers won’t need to worry about easily breakable equipment because it stays stationary, and they can afford do to put their budget towards optimizing video output. Others are going to see their cameras get bumped and bruised, or caught in bad weather, so their camera needs to be able to handle it.
Auto-focus and auto-stabilization (or image stabilization systems) are both important features to consider because they will have a big impact on overall image quality.
So what do they mean?
Well, autofocus is essentially a sensor and motor working together to keep your image sharp and bring a particular part of your video into focus.
This is an important feature and both speed and accuracy are important to make sure that you don’t waste a take. All of our top recommended cameras perform well with quick and accurate autofocus.
Image stabilization comes into play when you are on the move. It is intended to help prevent blurring that can be caused from a moving camera, and give you an overall smooth video.
You should also consider the dynamic range, which will impact how well your camera can handle pictures that aren’t lit up consistently. A good dynamic range can make a huge difference if you are taking your YouTube channel outdoors.
Sadly, silent film has fallen out of favor these days. Don’t expect that you are going to be the person to bring it back!
A lot of people forget that a vlog doesn’t have to look good, it has to sound good too.
There are a couple of options to consider. You want to make sure that your vlogging camera includes either a built-in microphone, or an input for an external microphone.
Let’s look at both options:
A built in microphone is certainly the most convenient option, especially if you are typically on the move. There are some pretty decent built-in microphones that can be considered ‘good enough,’ though sometimes they are just there to check a box for marketing the camera
Here are some great cameras we recommend with a built in microphone.
For the best results, you are likely going to want a dedicated microphone that you can plug in externally.
Make sure you have at least one of these options or start to practice your mime technique!
Best case scenario, find a camera that has both. Relying on just one will be sufficient, but at times limiting.
So there you have it – our complete guide on how to pick the best camera for your YouTube channel.
We would love to hear from you in the comments. What did we miss? What do you think is the most important consideration?
Go forth and vlog!