The Complete Guide To Buying A Vlogging Camera

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Ok, so you decided to become a vlogger. Congratulations! It’s going to be great sharing and documenting your life to the world on your own YouTube channel. The only thing that’s left is to choose the best vlogging camera.

Of course, the word “best” is really subjective; everyone’s needs are different so what you personally may find useful may be different than someone else’s requirement. That’s because requirements for each individual differ. What is important for one person may not be important for someone else.

Our top recommended cameras for vloggers

CameraVideoAutofocusMic jackPriceMore Info
Panasonic G74KGoodYes$$Click here
Canon 70D1080pGreatYes$$$Click here
Sony A63001080pGreatYes$$$Click here
Canon G7X Mark II1080pGoodNo$$Click here
Sony RX 100 Mark V4KGreatNo$$$$Click here

Top camera recommendations explained

Panasonic G7

The Panasonic G7 is an excellent mirrorless camera that packs a ton of excellent features for its relatively modest entry-level price point.

Since it’s a mirrorless camera, it’s also very light and small. That means your arms won’t get tired of carrying the camera all day. Being a micro 4/3 sensor camera, it’s also smaller and lighter than other mirrorless cameras such as the Sony Alpha line.

It comes with the 14-42mm (28-84mm in 35mm equivalent) lens, so it has decent wide angle and telephoto capabilities. Of course, if you’re planning to use it exclusively for vlogging (and that’s why you’re here!), you’d probably want to get more capable wide-angle lens. I would recommend something like 12-32mm or the 12-60mm lens.

Both give you the 24mm (35 equivalent) wide angle which is good enough for vlogging. There’s also the super wide angle 7-14mm lens. It would give you the amazing 14mm wide angle view, but this lens is more expensive than all the other lenses.

The downsides of this camera is that it’s not weatherproof and doesn’t have in-body stabilization. If you want those two features, you should spring for the slightly more expensive Panasonic G85. It’s both weather proof and has 5-axis in-body stabilization. As an added bonus, it also comes with the 12-60mm kit lens, giving you a nice wide angle for vlogging.

Canon EOS 70D

The Canon 70D is a fantastic semi-professional camera that’s excellent for both photography and video. It’s used by some high profile vloggers such as Casey Neistat and many others.

One of the reasons this camera is so popular is because it has amazing dual pixel autofocus system. It’s been lauded by experts as the best focusing system in the business. It’s very reliable and always keeps the subject in focus no matter what.

When it comes to vlogging, you obviously need a nice wide angle lens. The camera comes with 18-55mm kit lens (28-88mm in 35 equivalent), which is not wide enough for vlogging. But you can easily get Canon’s amazing 10-18mm (16-29mm 35 equivalent) wide angle lens. That lens is also cheaper than the wide angle lenses from Panasonic or Sony, saving you money for other gear.

Sony A6000

Sony makes some excellent mirrorless cameras in the Alpha series. The Sony A6000 is Sony’s midrange camera. It doesn’t have the bells and whistles of the more expensive A6500, but it’s also no slouch and offers some amazing features in a small package.

First of all, it’s very light. For a mirrorless camera with a pretty big sensor (APS-C, 1.5 crop factor), the camera isn’t much larger and heavier than many point and shoot cameras. Unlike the point and shoot cameras, it gives you excellent low light performance and bokeh (blurry background).

Sony cameras also have great autofocus thanks to its hybrid system that contains both phase detection and contrast detection focus points. If you’re not familiar with the terms, don’t worry, it just means your subject will always be in focus.

The only downside is that the A6000 doesn’t have a flip screen. That means you can’t see what’s being recorded. I don’t think it’s much of an issue for vlogging, however, because if you just look in the lens, you’ll be absolutely ok.

Canon G7X Mark II

The Canon G7X Mark II is one of the most popular cameras for vlogging. It’s a compact point and shoot (P&S) that packs a relatively large 1″ sensor. That’s larger than the sensors in smartphones, but not big enough as the micro-4/3 sensor and the APS-C sensors you find in Sony or Canon cameras.

Another big benefit of the camera is its flip-screen. The screen flips up, allowing you to see what’s in the frame, allowing you to adjust things if necessary.

The camera also has excellent low-light performance. While it’s not as good as the cameras with bigger sensors, it’s certainly better than the tiny sensors in your smartphones such as the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy series.

Overall, the G7X Mark II is a great contender for an all-around great camera. It’s my top pick for a starter vlogging camera if you don’t have any specific requirements.

Sony RX 100 V

The Sony RX 100 V is would I would call an upgrade to the G7X Mark II. It’s about the same size as the Canon, but also shoots in 4K while the Canon only shoots 1080p.

Just like all Sony mirrorless cameras, it has amazing autofocus, so you can be always sure your subject will always be properly tracked and in focus.

One of the other advantages of this camera—and why other people use it—is because it can do really impressive slo-mo. On some video modes, it can go up to something like 960-1000fps (frames per seconds). What this means is that once you reduce it back down to 24fps (normal “movie-mode” settings), the movie will seem incredibly smooth and silky. Much better than when it’s recorded at 60fps.

Features you need in a vlogging camera

Let’s first go over the requirements and decide what’s important and what’s not that important.

Here are some things that are very important:

Wide angle lenses (preferably 24mm and less)

Wide angle lenses allow you to get a complete frame when vlogging and not just your head. When you’re vlogging, it’s super important to show the background, to show what’s happening. (Casey Neistat is famous for using the 10-18 Canon lens, which, because of the crop sensor comes out to 16-28mm, with the 16mm on the wide-end being very wide indeed.)


Wide aperture

Aperture is a term that describes how wide the lens open up. The more the lens open up (wide aperture), the more light they let in and the more suitable they are for low light conditions. Additionally, wide aperture lens give a nicer depth of field (bokeh or blurry background).

If you’re looking to create videos indoors, you want lens with an aperture of F/2.8 or lower. Something like F/1.8 and lower would ideal.


Microphone jack

All cameras have built-in microphones. That’s the good news. The bad news is that they’re not very good. Although the actual sound quality various from one to another, most of the sound they produce is very distorting and has a noticeable “echo.”

That’s why it’s very important to be able to attach an external microphone. This will give you a much higher quality, especially if the microphones are unidirectional (pick up the sound from one direction).

All of that is nice and great, except for one problem: not all cameras have external microphones. The solution is to buy an external microphone and then record the audio on both the external microphone as well as the internal one. Then, later on you would sync the data together and have great audio.


Lightweight

Obviously, if you’re planning on lugging the camera with your hand all the time and filming yourself, you really need a lightweight camera. Casey Neistat, one of the most famous vloggers, loves to vlog with the Canon 70D. While it’s a nice camera, it’s definitely on the heavy side, so you would definitely want something lighter. Good candidates are compact cameras that weight as much as your smartphone.


Stabilization

Nobody likes to watch shaky footage, which is the result you’ll get if your camera is not stabilized. Fortunately some cameras come with “in-body” stabilization. That means that your footage will always super smooth regardless how you carry your camera. Absent the in-body stabilization, you can always get a gimbal or a steady cam. They look like a special tripod and will stabilize your footage so it looks very smooth.


Flip screen

Most vloggers operate as a one-person team; they don’t have a team of videographers making sure they’re properly in frame and everything is right. A flip screen allows you to see what’s being recorded—and even if anything is being recorded—while you’re in front of the camera, not just behind it.

Additionally, you also know whether your subject (i.e., you) is in focus. Some cameras have less reliable autofocus than others, so even if you’re right in the middle of the frame, you may not be reliably in focus.

While a vlogging camera with a flip-screen definitely makes vlogging easier, many of the nice and high-end cameras actually do not have a flip-screen. Thankfully, they have very reliable autofocus that makes sure you’re always in focus no matter what.


Autofocus

Last, but certainly not least, you need really good autofocus performance. The worst that might happen is that you’re filming yourself and then when you return home to review and edit the footage, you realize that in the half of the video, the subject (e.g., you) are completely out of focus.

I actually had this happen to me with a camera that didn’t have very good autofocus. Fortunately, there are many affordable cameras nowadays that have great and reliable autofocus functionality.


Features that you don’t need in a vlogging camera

Zoom

There are two kinds lenses: prime and zoom lenses. Since you’ll be using the camera for vlogging, you don’t really need a zoom lens; a good prime (non-zoom lens) should suffice.

Interchangeable lenses

One of the advantages of a DSLR or mirrorless camera is that you can remove your lens and swap them for another. This is something you can’t do with your cellphone or compact cameras.

While it’s a great feature if you’re into photography or more elaborate video shooting, it’s not really that important when it comes to vlogging. For vlogging, what you really need is just the wide angle lens. So, even if your camera doesn’t have interchangeable lenses, but your main camera has a pretty nice wide angle lens, that should suffice for most vlogging.

Megapixels

The amount of megapixels corresponds to the quality of the image. The higher the megapixels, the more image details that the camera’s sensor produces. An average DSLR or mirrorless can do anywhere from 16-24 megapixels. Some high-end models such as the Sony A9 can even shoot in 40+ megapixels.

As a vlogger, you don’t really need high number of megapixels. Even something as low as 16MB should perfectly suffice.

Do you need 4K?

One of the most important questions when buying a camera you must ask yourself is whether you need 4K capability or not. If you’re not familiar what “4K” means, it refers to the megapixels captured by the camera sensor. The term 4K refers to the number of megapixels that the camera’s censor captures during filming. Just below 4K in video quality, you have resolutions such as 720 and 1080p. Both are the so-called “High Definition” resolutions. Obviously, 1080p is a little bit sharper than 720p; 4K is even sharper still.

If you’re a casual blogger, then 4K is, for the most, an overkill. There are several reasons for that. First of all, most of the devices that people are watching videos aren’t able to display the videos in 4K. That includes today’s laptops, monitors and smartphones. So, even if you’re recording in 4K, that video will be “downscaled” to whatever the viewer’s native display is.

The other main consideration with 4K is that the files you record will be much bigger. That means you’ll need more powerful computers to process (encode, decode) that data. So, if you don’t have a super fast computer and lots of storage (read: terabytes), then processing 4K video files will just tax your computer and make the entire editing process super slow.

If you’re a daily blogger, the last thing you need is to spend lots of time editing your footage.

Great cameras for any budget

Of course, another factor that you must absolutely consider is your budget. If you have the more money, you can get a much nicer camera with lots of features. Nevertheless, even if you’re on a tight budget you can get a pretty great camera as well.

Cameras can be roughly categorized in the following budgets:

  • $250 and under
  • $250 – $500
  • $500 – $1,000
  • $1,000 – $2,000
  • $2,000 and over

Great cameras under $250

To be frank, you would be hard-pressed to find something excellent in this price range, but it’s still possible! For instance, you can get something like the GoPro Session cameras. These cameras have wide-angle screens and allow you to capture a lot into the frame easily.

If you’re not interested in a Go Pro, you can always opt for something like a used Canon T3i or an older Panasonic.

Great cameras for $250-$500

At this price range, you’ll be on the low end of DSLR and mirrorless cameras. Nevertheless, you can still get some amazing cameras such as the Sony A5100, Canon Rebel T3i and T5i and the Panasonic G6.

If you want something better, you can pick up a higher end camera in used condition. There are always great deals out there, so you can pick up a camera like the used Canon 70D, Panasonic G7 and even the Sony A6000.

Great cameras for $500-$1,000

At this price range you can get some quality cameras. The image quality these cameras produce will be mostly indistinguishable from cameras costing thousands of dollars more. In this price range, you can get amazing cameras such as the Panasonic G7, Canon 70D, Sony A6000. These are all great cameras that will deliver the absolute best performance and video quality.

Great cameras for $1,000-$2,000

If you have a slightly higher budget, you can enter the more semi-professional/professional territory. This includes great cameras such as the Canon 80D, Sony A6300, Sony A6500 and Panasonic GH4.

Great cameras for $2,000 and more

If you have $2,000 or more to spend on a new camera, you can truly step into the area of really good, high quality cameras. This includes cameras such as the Canon 1DX Mark II, Panasonic GH5(S), Sony A7R, Sony A7S and even the amazing Sony A9!