Vlogging — once largely the domain of teenagers, makeup lovers, and video gamers — is now so much more.
Businesses used to rely on partnerships with vloggers and influencers to promote their products, but now, an increasing number are stepping in front of the camera themselves.
By making vlogging part of your video marketing strategy, you gain a powerful channel for promoting your business or cause, as well as an opportunity to show off the personal side of your business and its people.
Getting started with vlogging is relatively simple — all you really need is a video idea and a camera. We shared our ultimate list of video ideas here, so now we’ll dive into the second half of the equation with tips for choosing a vlogging camera, plus suggestions for the best cameras in every price range.
The answer to this really depends on your needs. Are you looking for the highest video quality at any cost, or the cheapest you can get your hands on?
Do you want to film in-studio or on the road? The answers to these questions will inform your camera choice.
Technically speaking, the very best camera for vlogging would be the best camera of all — perhaps something like the Red One. But for nearly every purpose this would be overkill (big-budget Hollywood blockbusters are filmed on cameras like these). Also, bear in mind if you want to climb this far up the quality scale, you’ll probably also need a good lens, tripod, lights, and sound recording equipment, all of which can add up to a breathtaking amount of money.
Sometimes the best vlogging camera is the one you already have — for example, your existing smartphone or webcam. In most instances, these cameras now take very high quality footage, and will suffice for almost anything but the most professional needs.
But if you’re looking to get an edge and invest in a separate vlogging camera, here’s what you should know.
If you’re not familiar with photography lingo, camera shopping can get pretty confusing. 1080p, fps, mbps, 4K… it’s tough to know what you really need.
Your choices really come down to a few different types of camera:
Digital single-lens reflex cameras, or DSLRs are a popular choice among vloggers thanks to their great video quality, performance in low-light conditions, and adaptability. Lenses are interchangeable, from the cheap kit lens that typically comes with the camera body, to extremely high-end lenses offering exceptional sharpness and image quality.
The downside is these cameras are often heavy and clunky, and while DSLR camera bodies typically come with a lens, you’ll want to spring for a better one if you’re serious about image quality. You’ll need a microphone, too, since the built-in ones are typically lacking. The technology is also aging, with many photographers moving on to newer options like mirrorless cameras.
Vloggers who record on the go and want a streamlined, lightweight camera will often opt for a compact model. The best ones are capable of recording HD video that’s nearly as high quality as a DSLR, but without the bulk.
Again, sound quality can be hit or miss, especially when zooming/autofocusing (you can sometimes hear the camera motor chugging in your audio), so you’ll want to use an external mic.
These often don’t have the light sensitivity of a DSLR, so keep that in mind if you want to record in sub-optimal light conditions.
Like compact cameras, camcorders are a small, lightweight option that can pack a punch, visually speaking. The difference is that portable camcorders have video capture and recording as their primary function, rather than still photography like DSLR and compact cameras.
Some of the best options on the market offer 4K and HD recording for sharp picture quality, zoom lenses, image stabilization, and touchscreen displays.
Where they lack is, again, in low light conditions, and most don’t offer as much control over shutter speed or aperture, so you can’t adjust for the lighting conditions as required.
Action and sports cameras are perfect for vloggers who want a rugged option to take on outdoor adventures.
This class of camera is typically ultra compact, with a shockproof, waterproof body that can withstand whatever you throw at it. Because they’re often used to capture sports, most have wide lenses, advanced stabilization, and sensors to track speed, altitude, and other performance metrics.
They’re often equipped with GPS and WiFi, but you won’t have as much control over things like zoom (most are fixed lens), exposure, aperture, and other options.
If you intend to do most of your vlogging in front of your computer, webcams are a natural choice. They’re particularly popular for YouTubers who want to record livestreams, game walkthroughs, or commentaries. While your laptop probably has a built-in camera, the video and sound quality is universally pretty poor — OK for Skype calls, but not much else.
External cameras offer improved image quality at a really low cost. They’re usually easy to set up, and some offer features like 1080p recording, zoom, and panning/tilting.
The drawbacks are that the image quality is still poor compared to the options above, and you should get a separate USB microphone since the sound quality on pretty much all webcams is quite poor.
Smartphones offer the lowest barrier to entry of all, since nearly everyone already has one in their pocket.
Many smartphones today offer features like 4K or 1080p video recording (which means high resolution), dual cameras, optical zoom, image stabilization, and long battery life. As a camera, the price range is fairly high, but if you already have a decent phone (or need a new one) then the additional expense is minimal. Phones like the Google Pixel 2 and iPhone X offer the best video recording features in the smartphone market.
Below, we’re breaking down our vlogging camera recommendations by budget, since for most people this will be the ultimate deciding factor.
The Canon Powershot G7 X Mark II is our favorite all-round vlogging camera. Compact size and lightweight, with a high-quality, fast lens, 1080p HD video recording, fast processing, good low light performance, and a great battery life.
It’s a favorite of many pro vloggers and while it’s not the cheapest option, it offers high-end features for a fraction of the price of other high-end cameras.
If your budget for a camera is under $100, you may be better off using your phone, since at that price, features are pretty limited. Still, there are a few good options that stand out.
The Polaroid Cube is a fun little action camera that offers 1080p HD video, a 124° wide angle lens, WiFi, and a host of other features all packed into a tiny, shockproof, weatherproof cube measuring barely over an inch. If you’re looking to get into action/adventure vlogging without spending a lot, this is a great option.
Top-ranked webcams can also be picked up for less than $100, like the best-selling Logitech C920. It’s compatible with Windows and Mac, and can record 1080p at 30fps. The sound quality isn’t great, but at just under $60, you can put the cash left over towards a good microphone.
The most well-known action camera around is the GoPro, and while there are pricier models out there, the Hero5 Session is a good entry-level action camera that can be picked up for less than $300. It has some nice features, including 4K video recording, image stabilization, faster frame rates, time-lapse features, and voice commands, all packed into a compact, waterproof, and shockproof body.
The Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 HS is a budget compact that ranks well for its audio quality, plus other features like optical image stabilization, Wi-Fi, and 1080p recording. It’s lacking in low light conditions, and the battery life isn’t great, but if that’s not a concern, it’s a good option for vloggers on a budget.
In addition to our favorite overall camera mentioned above, Canon’s Powershot G7 X Mark II, this price range includes some entry-level DSLRs. Canon’s Rebel line has been a popular first DSLR choice for years, and the Canon EOS Rebel T7i EF-S is no exception.
There’s even a kit available for a bit more that includes a video mic. As is true for most DSLRs, the kit lens that this camera comes with isn’t great, so if you’re serious about great image quality, you should plan to invest in a higher quality one.
If you’re interested in a mirrorless camera, the Panasonic Lumix GX85 is a solid choice, capable of capturing high quality 4K video with a camera far less bulky than the average DSLR. This compact choice also has features like a 16-megapixel sensor, anti-shake control, and a wide range of interchangeable lens options available.
Passionate vloggers who are ready to drop some serious change on a serious camera have their choice of some amazing options. Sony’s A7R II Full-Frame Mirrorless is widely considered the best mirrorless currently available. It boasts a full-frame sensor, advanced image stabilization, a variety of interchangeable lenses, Wi-Fi, and more. While the battery life isn’t great, that can be easily resolved by keeping a spare on hand.
Vloggers who prefer a DSLR can pick up the well-rated Canon EOS 80D which offers a 24.2 megapixel sensor, improved autofocus, Wi-Fi, full HD 60fps frame rate, a more rugged, weather resistant body, longer battery life, great low-light performance, and other tasty features.
We hope this guide helps you choose a vlogging camera with the features you need at the right price. Be sure to also check out Biteable, which offers free, easy to use templates for intro and outro videos for vloggers, plus other great video making features. Happy vlogging!