What is the Best Camera for YouTube?

Updated March 2016

With so many options it seems difficult to find the best camera for YouTube. Don’t fret. I got ya.

During my YouTube life I’ve gone through a handful of cameras (visit my Resources page to see all my YouTube gear).

I’ve come up with 3 categories of cameras to help you find the best camera for your YouTube videos. The baseline criteria for all of the cameras I recommend is simple: they all have to be capable of shooting full HD 1080p. That’s it.

Best Cameras Under $100

For less than $100 I recommend the best HD webcamLogitech C920

The Logitech C920 will suffice until you can get a more professional camera.

If you don’t have any money to spend on a camera yet then you’ll have to use something you already own: most likely your smartphone (or an iPod Touch). Almost everyone has an iPhone or Android smartphone, and if you’ve gotten it within the past couple years then it should be able to shoot full HD 1080p video.

If you plan to record videos with your smartphone or webcam I highly recommend these accessories:

The tripod and mount will allow you to set up stabilized shots. A video app lets you control the exposure, focus, and various video settings for you phone’s camera. Don’t forget that microphone.

Pros:

  • Portable
  • Easy to use
  • No additional cost

Cons:

  • Usually poor audio from built-in mic
  • Can’t see yourself
  • Uses phone’s battery & storage space (smartphones)
  • Requires computer (webcams)

Summary: All in all when you’re first starting out you can record some pretty nice looking HD videos for YouTube with your smartphone or webcam. But plan on upgrading to a better dedicated camera as soon as you can.

Best Cameras from $200 to $500

Sorted by price, lowest to highest

If you have a budget for a new camera but don’t want to break the bank then I recommend any of these cameras:

Canon Vixia HF R700

 

Canon EOS M

 

Canon T5

 

Sony Alpha a5000

 

Nikon D3300

 

Pros:

  • Great quality for the price
  • Compact
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Not the best audio
  • Lack ability to fully customize shots

Summary: These cameras are great for beginner YouTubers, vloggers, and people on a budget who don’t have the money for a more expensive camera yet. Great for capturing that sharp, full HD footage that you really need for YouTube these days.

Best Cameras Above $500

Sorted by price, lowest to highest

Do you want the best video quality possible? Do you have a nice chunk of change to spend? These are the best high-budget options:

Canon T5i

 

Sony a6000

 

Panasonic G7

 

Sony RX100 IV

 

Canon 80D 

 

Panasonic GH4

 

Sony Alpha a7s ii

 

Pros:

  • Best video quality
  • Fully customize your shots
  • Interchangeable lenses
  • Professional-looking videos

Cons:

  • On the expensive side
  • Learning curve

Summary: These professional quality cameras produce stunning HD videos. If you’ve never used a DSLR or mirrorless camera it may take a little while to learn about all the different settings. But once you start practicing you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly and realize that it’s not as complicated as you may think.

You can even get a camera capable of recording 4K video for less than $1,000. If you want the best quality and you have the budget for it then I would definitely recommend getting any of the professional DSLR or mirrorless cameras.

How To Choose

Pick the category that fits your budget. Click on each camera link, read the reviews, compare the specs, and decide which one you’d personally like the best for your own YouTube videos.

Keep in mind you can always upgrade your camera in the future. Plus, if you purchase a DSLR or mirrorless camera then all the lenses you acquire can still be used if you just upgrade the body of the camera to one of the same brand.

Essential Gear for Your Camera

All these cameras shoot full HD 1080p video, and that’s really all you need when it comes to picture quality. However, it is highly recommended that you invest in some other gear to get the most out of your camera.

Check out my top 10 best microphones. On YouTube it’s essential to get great sounding audio. Also nobody likes a shaky camera.

Bottom Line: Get a tripod and microphone.

If you get any of these cameras, try to get a microphone and tripod along with it. Here are some that I recommend for beginners:

These are all great options that can make a huge difference for your YouTube videos. I hope this was helpful in your journey and endeavors to finding your perfect camera.

Remember: it’s not all about video quality. The most important thing is you just start recording videos.

Work with what you’ve got if you don’t have extra money. But if you have the budget for a camera and gear it is highly recommended to get the best quality possible for your videos.

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  • Jessa

    Hey, first off thank you so much for this incredible information! and second… so I am planning to start a youtube channel pretty soon. But…I’m a musician and I plan to upload my music, so what camera do you suggest for that? which one of these will capture the sound of my instruments and such?
    Thanks again ♥

    • Thanks for the comment, Jessa. Capturing good quality audio is often a difficult task with the mics that are built onto any of these cameras. To capture the music in the best way possible I would suggest getting an external mic such as the Zoom H1. Check out my post http://channelempire.com/best-microphone-for-youtube-videos. Hope that helps!

      • Jessa

        Okay, this helped a lot! thanks for the advice. Using the Zoom H1 would definitely do the trick, oh and I will be sure to read your post!

  • Daniella Akpakwu

    Wow this was so helpful.i am a health coach and want to start a YouTube channel on health and wellness. I have a question though,what microphone do I use with the canon T3i?

  • Justin Nicole Peterson

    Thank you for the tips!

  • LogicBomb

    Question, I am looking to start making YouTube videos, how to, unlocking etc. I have a Sony Cyber Shot Dsc-RX100 would it be good for videos? If not what would be good in the 300-400 price range?

    I don’t think that my Sony camera has a jack for an external mic though.
    I also have a Razer Siren mic sent to me for free , the link is here http://www.razerzone.com/store/razer-seiren-pro-bundle
    Is that a decent mic?

    Should I get a dslr such as a Sony DSC-RX100m III?

    Thanks

    • Hey I saw your FB message and replied to you on there.

  • Amanda Eileen

    I have the canon 60d and am filming beauty videos of myself, tutorials. The video mode doesn’t seem to autofocus? Am I doing something wrong?

    • I don’t exactly know because I’ve never used a Canon 60d myself. I’m pretty sure it has continuous auto focus though.

  • Joseph

    Gave me a bit of insight as I have used tons of different cameras and having a good light stream is always another issue but I have used several types of phones and small point and shoots heck I used my Nikon DSLR but I didn’t like the auto focus motor going ape shit on the mic so I stopped using it but I am going to go buy a decent point and shoot today and then I will look for proper mic equipment later on.

    • Best of luck! I’m sure you’ll find the perfect camera/mic combo soon.

  • Zachary Lang

    So I’m looking to buying the canon rebel. I shoot paintball games, some businesses, does it matter what camera I get if they all shoot 1080? I just want something with really good quality, also does the megapixels matter for video?

    • Hi Zachary. If you want to save as much money but still get great quality I recommend the Canon T3i. If you have a higher budget and want to get the most updated version of the Rebel go with the T5i.

      • Kasey

        I would like to start filming a vlog/beauty channel for YouTube and I wanted to stay in the $100-200 range. I’ve been interested in the Sony Dsc-h300 and the Samsung wb1100F because those are the ones I’ve found in my price range. I’m wondering if those are good choices for video quality?

  • Kasey

    I would like to start filming a vlog/beauty channel for YouTube and I wanted to stay in the $100-200 range. I’ve been interested in the Sony Dsc-h300 and the Samsung wb1100F because those are the ones I’ve found in my price range. I’m wondering if those are good choices for video quality?

  • Chelsea Stephens

    Hi! I’ve been on the market for a high quality camera to better my YouTube vidoes. I am a beauty and makeup blogger so that entails being able to display beauty products the best way possible. I also need a camera that can focus easily on up close items as well as my face when doing a makeup tutorial. I was looking at the new Canon EOS Rebel T6i and possibly the T5. Do you believe those cameras could fit my needs, or do I need to look at a different model? Also, do you think that sort of camera is even necessary for what I’m trying to achieve? Really lost when it comes to knowing what I should look for! Any input will help. Thank in advance!

    • Hi Chelsea, thanks for the comment. Yes those are definitely 2 great options. Have you looked at the T5i? It’s basically the same quality as the T6i (as far as video goes) but it’s about $150 cheaper: http://amzn.to/1xL0ZG3. That camera will be awesome for what you’re trying to do with your beauty/makeup channel.

  • Pamela Soto

    Thank you so much. I’ll use my iphone for my youtube videos, any suggestion for the ilumination?

  • Bruce Wayne

    I have a particularly special request for a certain type of camera which I just can’t seem to find anywhere on the internet. I’m looking for a camera that can zoom really quickly, something like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbt61vcAkG0
    Thanks.

    • A DSLR with a zoom lens can achieve that.

  • Grace Holmes

    Hey there I just wanted to confirm what you said to Jessa, do you think getting the Zoom H1 is better than the Rode VideoMic Pro? I am also a musician and am looking to record guitar and vocals at the same time. Will either of these options pic up the resonance of my voice better? Also I Canon ELPH 300 I have been using which shoots in HD 1080p. Can you just explain to me a little more about why getting something like the DSLR would be better if I am just recording in my house? Thanks!

    • Hey Grace, the Rode VideoMic Pro is a great choice for convenience if/when you get a DSLR. You can just mount it on top of the DSLR and get better sounding audio recorded right onto the card along with the video so need to sync in post. The Zoom H1, however, is a bit more versatile because it can be used by itself or with a lav mic. It can be used for any camera since it’s recording audio separately but it does require you to sync in post which isn’t too difficult with video editors these days. A DSLR isn’t necessary by any means, but it will give you better quality than the ELPH 300 and it also has the ability for interchangeable lenses, which is a huge benefit for getting high quality and different styles of shots.

  • Linnea

    Hi, I am beginning my journey to starting a YouTube channel / blog that will be featuring lots of outdoor footage and photos but indoor as well. I am looking for a camera that will yeild excellent results in a variety of lightings, especially low light. I was considering the canon 6D because although I’d rather not spend that much money, I want the best quality I can get and from reviews I’ve read it has excellent low light capturing capabilities. Is there another model or different brand altogether that I should put more thought into? I should add that this will be my first high quality camera and I am a newbie to photography in a professional setting

  • roderickdav

    Hi, I’m getting ready to make a youtube video. I’ve got a GoPro Hero and a good quality mic but the videos don’t seem to be great quality and I’m wondering whether to buy a better camera (a camcorder maybe) or a lighting and backdrop kit. To give you a cost comparison – a Canon Vixia HF R600 is about $500 here (Australia) a lighting backdrop kit is $150. What do you recommend?

  • Ayush Mishra

    Hi! Andy,
    First of all i would like to thank you for making such amazing videos
    which have helped my YouTube channel a lot. Ur work is absolutely
    amazing.
    I want to buy a new cheap good quality video camera. I saw the review of
    Logitech c920 pro webcam on your channel (mytechmethods), i found
    it interesting but i have a question in my mind, will it be giving me
    proper results if i mount it on a tripod & then shoot my videos
    standing 4-5 feet away from it. I am not considering this for video
    calls or for hangouts, i m thinking of using it as a video camera. I
    want good picture quality with details & accurate colors. So please guide me.
    Please don’t think that I praised you so that you would reply me but I
    really meant it.
    Keep up the good work!
    Thanks ☺

    • Hi Ayush, thanks for the comment. Yes the C920 will be a good camera as long as you are able to connect the USB cable to your computer while you are recording since it does require a computer’s USB connection for power. Also make sure you have enough lighting and a good microphone to really make your video high quality.

      • Ayush Mishra

        Thanks a lot!!! That’s the only reason I like your channel you are just so easily available to your viewers 🙂

  • Rich

    Hey Andy! I’m shopping for a camera for our upcoming YouTube channel and we’reon a tight budget. What are your thoughts on the Panasonic G6? It can be had for about $250 less than the G7. Other than 4k capability are there any other worthwhile advantages to the G7? Many thanks for your help!

    • Hey Rich, check out this page for a side by side comparison: http://www.imaging-resource.com/cameras/panasonic/g6/vs/panasonic/g7. Also, B&H is having a special offer. You can get a $100 gift card when purchasing a G7: http://channelempire.com/bh/g7-deal

      • Rich

        Thanks Andy! In looking over the specs, other than a faster still shutter on the G7 and lack of 4k on the G6, woud you agree that my funds might be better utilized on other equipment? Or am I missing something? Thanks again!

        • If you’re really on a tight budget then go with the G6. I can’t speak of the quality personally because I don’t own a G6 but I do own a G7 and it is a fantastic value. It’s the camera I recommend now to beginner YouTubers. But a G6 can suffice for most of what the G7 offers. G7 is just the slightly better, up-to-date model.

  • Andy, I am just starting my journey into YouTube video making and just stumbled across your site while trying to figure out my best camera option. You have such great info here so thank you!! I’m wondering if you have a suggestion for my situation, I’m planning to make craft tutorials and I need to video my hands from the perspective of my face, does that make sense? So the camera will be between my body and my hands. I have a cannon rebel t3, iPhone and iPad and I’m struggling to get any of them to get good video from this angle, the focus is always off. I’m looking into close up filters for my camera to see if that will help. I’ve toyed with the idea of a GoPro but I’m not convinced it will do anything my camera won’t (other than work with periscope which would be awesome). Do you have any ideas or thoughts? I don’t have a big budget but I could spend a little and after looking at your site I decided I need a microphone too! Thanks

  • Sandra Lemus

    Hey Andy i was hoping you could help me to choose what camera would be best for a youtube channel for toy reviews. I think it’ll need to be one that has good color and does good close ups since i wont have it too far away from the toys being shown maybe like 2ft away?

    • Hi Sandra, what’s your budget?

      • Sandra Lemus

        About $700. I know maybe for a starting it may seem like a lot to spend but I don’t want to spend a few hundred and then spend more on something better later. It’s something that I want to commit to so I feel like I want to do it right since the beginning. What are your thoughts? Should a starter really not be expensive?

  • Stina Ellis

    I have a budget of $300 and under, what is the best camera within my budget that has great quality video? I need to know before April 19th.