Best camera for vlogging: Smartphones cameras might be improving at a rapid rate, but if you’re looking to take your YouTube or Instagram vlogging to the next level there are still huge benefits to using standalone cameras.
Even compacts like the Sony RX100 series have larger sensors, which give you improved dynamic range, better low light performance and natural background blur for highlighting your subjects.
Move up to mirrorless cameras and you can also benefit from handy extras like external microphone jacks and fully articulated touchscreens for making framing much easier.
There are several kinds of vlogging camera to choose from: compacts, smaller mirrorless models and bigger DSLRs, as well as action cameras. Each has its own merits and will suit a different style of shooting.
If you’re not constrained by budget, the Canon EOS M50 is the best overall vlogging camera you can buy right now. If you want something smaller and a little less expensive for your travel vlogging exploits, the GoPro Hero 7 Black is the best-value vlogging camera available.
We test for colour, since different sensor and camera image processors can interpret colour differently, as well as shifting at different ISO sensitivities. We then get down to the nitty-gritty of resolution, with our lab tests showing us exactly how much detail each camera’s sensor can resolve.
Even though cameras can share identical pixel counts, some perform better than others. Then we look at image noise, since different cameras can produce cleaner images at higher ISOs than others.
Finally, we get out and shoot with every camera in real-world conditions to find out how it performs in day-to-day use. All results are analysed by the very best industry software, making our reviews the most authoritative of any you’ll read.
Related: Best compact camera 2018
- Touchscreen flips out sideways for vlogging to camera
- Has a 2.5mm input for external mics
- Excellent Full HD image quality
- HDMI out for recordings
- Low frame-rate 4K video
- Average autofocus
- No weatherproofing
It’s not quite the perfect vlogging camera, but if your dream snapper is a Fujifilm X-Series that’s also comfortable recording shots to camera for your YouTube channel, then this is the best one yet.
Unlike the cheaper, viewfinder-less Fujifilm X-A5, the Fujifilm X-T100‘s screen tilts in three directions, including 180-degrees horizontally. This means you can have the screen flipped out sideways and facing you for vlogging, without obstructing the hotshoe or tripod mount, which is the main disadvantage of vertically tilting screens.
While compact cameras (like the Sony RX100 V below) tend to lack microphone ports, the X-T100 also has one of these – albeit a 2.5mm version, which means you need an adaptor for connecting it to 3.5mm microphones.
Still, video quality in 1080p is sharp, well exposed and available in up to 60fps. It’s best suited to situations where the subject isn’t moving a lot, though, as autofocus tracking isn’t perfect. This means it’s good for vloggers filming shots to camera, if not extreme sports YouTubers. We’d also steer clear of the X-T100’s 4K mode, which is restricted to a jerky 15fps.
If that’s the extent of your video requirements, then the X-T100 is an excellent all-round camera for those upgrading from a smartphone. It’s stylish, relatively affordable, takes great photos and has a few handy tricks for vloggers too.
Sony RX100 V
- Small and lightweight
- Tilting screen
- Large sensor
- 4K video
- Relatively expensive
- Screen isn’t touch sensitive
Pro vloggers might recoil at the thought of shooting with such a small camera, but the Sony RX100 V isn’t your average compact: equipped with a 1-inch stacked CMOS sensor, its impressive stills capabilities are matched by a 4K video prowess that belies its form factor.
Admittedly, the lack of a microphone or headphone port means it’s not going to appeal to those looking for proper vlogging versatility, and you’ll need to buy a UHS-I U3-compatible SD card in order to capture 4K video at 30fps. That said, the RX100 V is nevertheless a properly portable vlogging solution – and if you don’t want to shell out on new cards you can always switch to Full HD.
Video quality is good, with oversampled 4K footage delivering surprising amounts of detail and decent dynamic range – though it’s worth noting that 4K recording is limited to five minutes in order to avoid overheating.
Most vloggers won’t need its slow-motion modes, but the RX100 V can also do 1080p at 120fps, as well as lower resolutions at even higher frame-rates.
Particularly impressive are the RX100 V’s autofocus capabilities, with phase-detection autofocus finding focus faster and, crucially, staying locked on more often, so you can rely on videos remaining sharp even as you’re on the move.
The biggest frustration? While the screen usefully hinges so that you can frame in ‘selfie’ mode, it’s not touch-enabled – so there’s no option to intuitively tap-to-focus or operate the camera from the front.
Still, the RX100 V remains a capable option and its lens is particularly adaptable. Focal length is equivalent to 24-70mm, with aperture of f/1.8-2.8 across the range offering good opportunities for blurred backgrounds.
In fact, that makes it preferable to the newer RX100 VI, which has a maximum aperture of f/2.8-4.5.
Canon PowerShot G7X Mark II
- Large sensor
- Wide aperture lens
- Touch-sensitive screen
- Wi-Fi & NFC connectivity
- Short zoom
- Tricky macro focusing
- No 4K
Until the Mark III – which is rumoured to be launching at Photokina in September 2018 – the Canon G7X Mark II remains the manufacturer’s best blend of pocketability, quality and versatility.
Despite its compact shell, the G7X offers several features that are vital for vloggers, including a hinged screen. While it doesn’t fully articulate, the display can flip and tilt at right-angles, including vertically for easy front-on shooting.
Crucially, it’s touch-enabled for simpler focussing and control, with the useful option to change the point of focus during shooting. Combined with a reassuring rubber grip on the front, it’s a camera that sits snugly in the hand and is generally painless to operate.
The wide aperture lens is a boon, too. Its zoom is roughly equivalent to 24-100mm, with a maximum aperture range of f/1.8-2.8, putting shallow depth-of-field effects at your disposal – as well as keeping noise in check for any low-light vlogging you might have planned.
In terms of video quality, there’s no 4K, but that shouldn’t be a complete turn-off. The G7X’s 1-inch sensor captures perfectly watchable FHD footage at various frame rates up to 60fps, aided by competent image stabilisation. The option of manual video controls is a welcome one, too.
Focusing is pretty handy, coping in most general shooting situations. It does start to struggle in lower light, with bigger problems coming when shooting small subjects – but that shouldn’t trouble most vloggers.
It’s not flawless of course, with other models offering better battery life, unflappable autofocus and 4K footage. The absence of a microphone port might also be a deal-breaker for pro vloggers, but at this price-point it’s hard to find a better vlogging option that’ll fit in your pocket.
- Strong low-light performance
- Well-rounded specification
- Solid design
- Good connectivity
- LCD could be better
- Screen doesn’t fully articulate
- No 4K
The Sony A6000 took the best of an already well-regarded compact system camera – the NEX-6 – and delivered a raft of improvements to make a mirrorless camera that’s still one of the best around for vloggers, despite its age.
Chief among the changes was the addition of a Bionz-X processor. Also found in the accomplished A7R, this chip means start-up is seriously fast, as is autofocus across its 179 phase-detection focus points.
In fact, the hybrid autofocus system – which pairs phase-detection with 25 precision contrast-detection AF points – sees the a6000 consistently locking and tracking subjects both quickly and accurately.
When it comes to video, Sony’s A6000 is a solid performer. While there’s no 4K, useful functionality, such as zebra patterning and full manual controls, paired with excellent Full HD footage at 24fps or 60fps, make it a stellar choice for vloggers.
The Exmor APS-C sensor is fantastic at collecting light, meaning footage is generally noiseless and low-light shooting is impressively clean, too.
In terms of features, the A6000 carries a type-D micro HDMI connection for straight HDMI output and, while there’s no headphone jack, the multi-interface hotshoe does allow you to connect an external microphone, among other accessories.
More appealing, still, is the option to switch lenses. While the 16-50mm kit lens is adequate (with a maximum aperture range of f/3.5-5.6), options such as the Sony E 35mm f/1.8 prime lens are appealing.
The biggest drawback of the A6000 for vloggers is its screen. The 3-inch LCD display is clear and bright, and excellent for shooting video – but it doesn’t flip up for front-on framing. The most it can do is swivel out to horizontal.
Even so, while its successor – the A6300 – might shoot 4K, for crisp Full HD footage and a full feature set, the older A6000 is now a steal for novice vloggers.
Related: Best mirrorless cameras
Canon EOS M50
- Compact and lightweight
- Excellent quality
- Quick and accurate autofocus
- Fully articulated screen
- Restricted 4K video
- Slow single-dial control
- Poor manual focus magnification
- Small range of EF-M lenses
The Canon EOS M50 is a mid-range mirrorless camera that puts DSLR quality in a small, beginner-friendly package – and it carries a host of features that make it a smart choice for vloggers.
Immediately noticeable is the fully articulated 3-inch touchscreen, which makes shooting at any angle a cinch and offers added touch focusing flexibility, including the option to pull focus during recording. Combined with a compact and lightweight design, this is a very usable camera for shooting video.
Focusing is fast and reliable, too, thanks to the EOS M50’s Dual Pixel CMOS sensor, which allows every pixel to be used for phase detection, up to a maximum of 143 points.
As for video quality, one of the M50’s headline features is 4K support, thanks to the new Digic 8 processor. There’s an asterisk, though: 4K is recorded using a 3840 x 2160 region of pixels at the centre of the sensor, which makes every lens look longer due to the tighter crop.
You also can’t use Dual Pixel autofocus during 4K recording. Instead, you have to rely on contrast-detection autofocus, which is decent but slower and less consistent.
Shoot in Full HD, mind, and the EOS M50 is a fantastic vlogging companion. Dual Pixel AF keeps even moving objects reliably in focus, and footage is clean, colourful and nicely exposed.
Rounding off the package is a 3.5mm stereo microphone socket which, in addition to the hot shoe on top, makes the M50 a very versatile option.
The only real shame here is that Canon hasn’t expanded its range of native EF-M lenses further. The 15-45mm kit lens, with maximum aperture of f/3.5-6.3, is perfectly adequate for everyday recording, but if you want to upgrade there’s a notable lack of fast prime options in the range, which could sway your decision if you want those beautiful blurred backgrounds.
Canon EOS 200D
- World’s lightest DSLR with vari-angle screen
- Fast Live View focusing
- Intuitive control layout
- Wi-Fi and NFC enabled
- Basic arrangement of 9 AF points
- Single scroll dial on top
- No 4K
The Canon EOS 200D won’t fit in your pocket, but it does have the distinction of being the world’s lightest DSLR with a vari-angle screen. What does that mean in practice? It’s about as convenient as a DSLR can be for vlogging, without sacrificing too much on features and quality.
Carrying a 24.2MP APS-C CMOS Sensor, it’s also the cheapest Canon DSLR to benefit from the manufacturer’s Dual Pixel AF system, which means excellent tracking and much faster autofocus when using Live View. Admittedly, the nine autofocus points are laid out in a pretty basic diamond formation, but for day-to-day vlogging this shouldn’t present a problem.
Being a DSLR, there are multiple manual options, with an impressive range of shutter speeds and exposure adjustments demonstrating its versatility – and that carries over to video, too. While the 200D can’t do 4K, it can deliver stellar Full HD footage with a variety of frame rates on offer, from 24fps, through 30fps and up to 60fps.
There’s also a 3.5mm stereo mini jack for connecting an external microphone, while the articulated touchscreen proves excellent for filming. It’s sensitive and precise, with settings easy to access, while the option to position it at almost any angle is a valuable one.
Flick the power button to the video mode and you’ll find the most important video settings on-screen, with a helpful quick menu offering options to adjust recording size, styles, filters and white balance.
One thing to bear in mind is the lack of digital image stabilisation, which makes it harder to capture shake-free footage on the EOS 200D, and the battery life, while good for 650 photos, will take a hit when shooting video.
Even so, with Wi-Fi and NFC on-board, alongside an arsenal of Canon EF-S lenses available, the 200D is a well-equipped, highly capable vlogging option that delivers DSLR flexibility without the usual weight.
Panasonic Lumix G7
- Comprehensive video options
- 4K footage
- Articulating screen
- Wi-Fi on-board
- Plastic build
- Might be overkill for some vloggers
- APS-C rivals offer better dynamic range
It might be older than the G9, but the Lumix G7 remains a good choice for vloggers. Offering video-focussed performance in an affordable, relatively compact package, it’s a strong alternative to entry-level DSLRs.
In the hand, it might not feel expensive – thanks to swathes of plastic – but the G7 is comfortable to hold and, at around 500g with a lens attached, it’s hardly a heavyweight.
The body is littered with buttons – 16 in total, along with four dials – offering complete manual control and plenty of opportunity for customisation, while the 3-inch display provides a further degree of interactivity. Touch-enabled, the screen supports gesture inputs and, helpfully, can fully articulate for front-on shooting.
There’s no phase detection autofocus here, but standard contrast detection AF works well alongside Panasonic’s depth-detection tech to deliver fast and accurate autofocus in almost all situations. Focus across the 49 points can be controlled using the touchscreen, too.
As for video quality, like the GH5, the G7 can capture 4K footage – albeit at UHD resolution, rather than the broadcast-standard 4096 x 2160. That’s not really a problem, though, as UHD is the standard resolution of most 4K laptops.
4K can be captured at 25fps, or 24fps with a bit rate of 100Mbps, while Full HD can be shot at up to 50fps. Either way, results are generally very impressive, while several more professional shooting modes and features mark the G7 out from its competitors – including focus peaking and zebra highlighting.
The presence of an external microphone socket is a welcome one, too, even if the G7 lacks a headphone port, while built-in Wi-Fi adds another feather to its bow.
There’s no in-body image stabilisation, which can show on handheld panning shots, but a lens with optical image stabilisation will help to counteract this – and there’s no shortage of stabilised Lumix glass, including the 14-42mm kit lens.
GoPro Hero 7 Black
- Superb electronic image stabilisation
- Improved audio recording
- Waterproof to 10-metres without a case
- Now offers live-streaming via your smartphone
- Huge range of mounting options
- Still not great in low light
- You need an adaptor to use an external mic
If you’re looking for a go-anywhere travel vlogging cam then it’s hard to beat GoPro’s new Hero 7 Black.
It’s physically almost identical to its predecessor, but a few improvements boost its vlogging potential. The redesigned microphone has improved sound recording across the board, although for top quality audio in challenging environments you’ll still be best off investing in a USB-C to 3.5mm adaptor and mounting an external microphone.
The Hero 7 Black’s big bonus, though, is its HyperSmooth stabilisation, which improves on the Hero 6 Black’s already impressive anti-shake skills. It doesn’t completely replace a gimbal in all situations, but for anything handheld – walking or running, in particular – it works incredibly well, delivering super-smooth videos without the need for packing extra stabilisation in your rucksack.
Add this to some traditional GoPro strengths, like the 10-metre waterproofing and huge range of mounts, and you have the best action camera we’ve tested so far. If you shoot a lot in low light, it’s worth bearing in mind that the Hero 7 Black’s sensor is still the same 1/2.3-inch size as before, which means it can struggle in gloomy conditions or indoors.
But the 4K/60fps footage is otherwise excellent and, if you shoot in 1080p, the handy ‘linear’ mode means you can lose the ‘fisheye’ barrel distortion to shoot videos that look much more like a traditional camera. Another bonus on the Hero 7 Black is that you can also now livestream to sites like Facebook, via your smartphone, which adds another string to its vlogging bow.
Related: Best DSLR
Those are our picks of the best vlogging cameras. If you still haven’t found what you’re looking for check out our in-depth buying guides.
Best vlogging cameras buying guide – five things to look out for
If you’re vlogging as you travel, you might like a camera that can transfer your latest videos without the hassle of wires. All of the models listed above offer built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, which means you can connect them to your smartphone, tablet or laptop wirelessly and easily transfer footage. Some can do the same thing via NFC, if your smartphone has that functionality.
Certain models also have partner smartphone apps, which vary in their complexity. Pick one with more advanced modes and you’ll get features such as auto-editing and quick compilation settings, taking the pain out of post-processing and giving you more time to focus on shooting for your fans.
2) Image stabilisation
Vlogging often means shooting on the go, without the luxury of a tripod. Whether in the back of a car, on foot or just holding your camera in your hand, image stabilisation offers a real advantage – especially for hand-held panning shots.
This technology limits the impact of hand-shake or camera movement, delivering footage that’s smoother and less shaky. There are several types of stabilisation, with the main difference being between physical (where the lens or sensor moves) and electronic (where the camera digitally counters the movement), but the aim is the same: less jerky footage.
There’s a limit to how effective this is when the movement is violent – if you’re running, for example – but electronic stabilisation is now so advanced that certain models can level out even the bumpiest of clips.
3) Mic input
If your vlogging involves delivering pieces to camera, it’s worth considering a camera with a separate microphone input. While on-body microphones have improved in recent years – particularly on DSLR cameras – they remain susceptible to wind noise, background interference and tinny audio quality.
Pick a model with a mic input and you’ll be able to connect a standalone microphone. These range from lapel mics to shotgun models that can be mounted on the camera’s hot shoe or held in the hand. Some take power from the camera while others need their own batteries.
Whichever you opt for, there’s a good chance that a dedicated microphone will deliver much better quality than the in-built pickup, and they’re generally superior in outdoor settings.
4) Articulating screen
Unless you’re vlogging about places or other people, chances are you’ll appear in your own video at some point – and this is where an articulating screen comes in handy.
Usually mounted on a rotating arm or attached to hinges, these screens can flip around to help you frame and shoot with the camera pointing at you. Hinged models are fine if you’re standing straight in front of the camera, while those on rotating arms are a boon if you’re filming at quirky angles.
Several of the cameras above feature articulating screens that are also touch-enabled, which makes certain operations – such as focussing and mode selection – much easier, especially as most of the buttons will be facing away from you.
5) Focal length
Lens versatility has improved a lot over the last decade, but it’s still worth considering how you’ll be shooting when you choose your vlogging companion.
If you’ll be filming handheld then you’ll probably want a wide-angle lens – something equivalent to 12-18mm – as this means you’ll be able to capture a wider scene from up close and camera shake will usually be less noticeable.
Conversely, if you’re planning to record from a tripod, you might want to consider something closer to 50mm. These lenses are generally sharper and offer greater versatility in depth of field (with maximum apertures around f/1.8), allowing you to capture crisp footage with nice blurred background effects.
6) Battery life
Finally, it’s always worth noting the battery life of your chosen camera. If you plan to be out shooting all day, you’ll want a model that can go the distance.
All of our models feature interchangeable batteries, so you’ll be able to carry backups with you that can be switched in easily. Some newer ones handily let you charge the camera from an external power bank via USB-C. If your style of vlogging involves capturing extended clips, then you’ll want a camera that isn’t going to die halfway through an hour-long video.
Also bear in mind that using features such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and GPS will reduce battery life. Turning these off will usually allow you to eke more life out of a single charge.