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The best YouTube cameras in 2022: give your channel a video makeover!

best YouTube camera
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The best YouTube cameras will give your channel a real boost, and the trick is to choose the right kit for the job, and the content you like to create. Having the right kit will make it so much easier to create content that looks the business and sounds great too (we have guides to the best video lights and best USB microphones too).

One of the key decisions is to figure out which kind of camera will suit you best. If your channel is filled dynamic, action-packed adventure, an action cam is the obvious candidate. The best action cameras capture really high-quality footage here, and we include some of our favorites below.

If your style of filmmaking is more measured, then a mirrorless camera could be ideal. Mirrorless cameras give you access to cutting-edge video technology, higher-quality capture and the ability to swap lenses. Want to produce high-quality footage at silky-smooth frame rates? These are the best choice – just remember that all that tech comes at a cost – and you won't just need more cash, you'll need to carry around more kit, too. A mirrorless camera with a wide-angle lens is perfect for vlogging selfies at arm's length, and a mirrorless camera is also ideal for presenting from your own desktop studio.

A third alternative is to go for a compact camera – a camera with a lens attached, with no option to change it. You lose out in terms of versatility and the option for using optics of the highest quality, but compact cameras tend to be much more affordable and simple to use, and there's a lot less to carry around than with a mirrorless model.

These three camera types are quite different to use, so we've split our guide up into sections for each.

Finally, will you be recording your video, editing it and then uploading it? If so, any mirrorless camera will give you great image quality and versatility. Do you want to do livestreaming? In this case the choice narrows a little – not all cameras can livestream straight out of the box. Our guide includes a few, but see our guide to the best cameras for streaming for a larger selection.

The best YouTube cameras in 2022

Action cams

(Image credit: DJI)

Incredible portability, simplicity, stabilization and quality!

Specifications
Type: Action camera with gimbal
Sensor: 1/1.7-inch
Megapixels: 64MP (16/64MP images)
Screen: 1-inch touchscreen
Max video resolution: 4K
Mic input: With adapter
Headphone jack: No
Reasons to buy
+
Sensational stabilization
+
Fantastic pocketability
+
Simple operation
Reasons to avoid
-
Relies on extras and accessories

The DJI Pocket 2 replaces the DJI Osmo Pocket, one of favorite mini-cameras, and is a best-in-class tool when it comes to combining stable video and pocketable size. In turn, it’s an obvious choice for anyone who wants a pull-out-and-shoot small camera for handheld video work. Bought as part of the Creator Combo, adding external audio to the mix is a piece of cake, and there’s also a handy ultrawide lens attachment that definitely drops quality, but adds field of view. Despite some real highlights: shallower depth of field than expected and nippy focusing, not to mention great object tracking and color reproduction, noise handling isn’t a highlight on the Pocket 2. That aside, the convenience, versatility, and stabilization offered by the DJI Pocket 2 can’t be overstated. After all, nothing much can do all the things it can and still slip into a jacket pocket. You can even plug it into your smartphone and get big-screen control and playback via the DJI app.

Read more: DJI Pocket 2 review

(Image credit: GoPro)

Best YouTube action camera for pros

Specifications
Type: Action camera
Sensor: 1/2.3-inch
Megapixels: 23MP
Screen: 1.4-inch color (front); 2.3-inch touchscreen (rear)
Max video resolution: 5K
Mic input: With adapter
Headphone jack: No
Reasons to buy
+
Excellent stabilization
+
Plenty of accessory options
Reasons to avoid
-
Pricier than competition
-
Mediocre microphone

The original action camera brand, GoPro is still a YouTuber favorite, with a world-class flagship product that delivers excellent image quality and stabilization for die-hard action fans and globetrotters. It may be more expensive than the DJI Osmo Action, but the GoPro Hero10 Black has the same 1.4-inch front-facing screen (first introduced on the GoPro Hero9 Black now) for easy framing of selfies and videos, and there’s a wide range of third-party accessories. However, this version has the all-new GP2 processor, which files a faster user interface and doubles the frame rates compared to the GoPro Hero9 Black. 

It’s also got some really neat features, the most useful being HyperSmooth 4.0, an image stabilization system that works so well. The result is super-smooth handheld shots. It’s also really hard to resist the option to capture in 5.3K video, and in 60 frames per second. There’s more in store from the GoPro Hero10 Black in the shape of the brand’s Max Lens Mod, which makes use of the camera’s removable lens cover by bringing an ultra wide 155º field of view that will be useful for group-vlogging, yoga classes, and education. Max Lens Mod will also bring a 360º modes pioneered by the GoPro Max; 360º horizon lock, which means you can  rotate through 360º. GoPro now has a suite of modular accessories; the Media Mod wraps around the Hero9 Black and enables Light Mod and Display Mod (if you need an even bigger front-facing screen) to be attached. 

Read Best GoPro accessories •  GoPro Hero 9 vs 10 Black

(Image credit: Insta360 )

A shirt-pocket video camera that records EVERYTHING around you

Specifications
Weight: 149g
Dimensions: 462x113x29.8mm
Waterproof: 10m
Stills resolution: 18.5MP
Video resolution: 5.7K
Memory: MicroSD
Mount: Tripod socket
Battery life: 80 minutes
Reasons to buy
+
Creates great-looking, dynamic clips
+
Endless creativity, easy AI editing
+
Excellent colour and detail
+
‘SteadyCam’ and ‘MultiView’ modes
Reasons to avoid
-
Requires the latest phones
-
Editing takes time
-
Overkill for most users

A seriously impressive action camera that uses its 360º lenses not only for virtual reality, but for a plethora of creative editing modes for widescreen videos, the One X2 consistently produces exquisite videos and photos. It takes time and patience to master, and its processing-intensive app demands the latest phones, but for filmmakers wanting to try something different the One X2 cannot be ignored. Its chief advantage for YouTubers is that it captures your whole surroundings in a 360-degree video which you can edit in the app to create regular 'flat' video where you can follow subjects automatically or pan around a scene.

Read more: Insta360 One X2 review

(Image credit: Insta360)

A tiny, ultra-versatile camera that can be stuck to anything – even you

Specifications
Stills resolution: 9 megapixels
Video resolution: 1440p
Field of view: Not quoted (11.24mm focal length equivalent
Screen: Info screen in charge case
Storage: Internal, 32GB
Wi-Fi: : Yes
Infrared: No
Operating time: 15-30 minutes
Dimensions: 52.9x23.6x20.7mm
Weight: 26.5g
Reasons to buy
+
Tiny when used 'naked'
+
High resolution for its size
+
Charge case and mounts included
Reasons to avoid
-
Short run time
-
Can 'flick' out of mounts

The Insta360 Go 2 is a cute and tiny wearable camera you can clip to your clothing, snap to a magnetic pendant around your neck, prop up on our own desk in its own holder, stick to a car dash or window... and more. Capable of unique immersive POV shorts and also worth considering as a minimalist rig for vloggers and YouTubers, the lightweight Insta360 Go 2 has some surprisingly big features for such a small camera. Excellent image stabilisation, ‘horizon lock’ and a multi-functional battery case make this versatile clip-on camera more than just a novelty item. It comes with its own charging case/mini tripod, a sticky, adjustable desk or wall mount and a magnetic neck lanyard. Amazing.

Mirrorless

(Image credit: Sony)

Sony's vlogger-oriented mirrorless camera offers terrific value for an APS-C 4K camera

Specifications
Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: APS-C
Megapixels: 24.2MP (effective)
Lens mount: Sony E
Screen: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 921,600 dots
Viewfinder: No
Max video resolution: 4K UHD
Mic input: Yes
Headphone jack: Yes
Reasons to buy
+
Excellent video autofocus
+
Clip-on wind muffler
Reasons to avoid
-
'Jello' effect in 4K
-
Cumbersome Sony menus

Following the success of the vlogger-oriented compact ZV-1 (elsewhere in this guide), Sony tried to repeat the trick with a mirrorless camera. Step froward the Sony ZV-E10, an E-mount APS-C mirrorless model capable of shooting beautifully detailed 4K UHD 30p video, and bursting with vlogger-aimed features like a 3-directional capsule mic, a clip-on wind muffler and a fully adjustable vari-angle screen.

It's smartly done, and the camera impresses. Minus a bit of rolling shutter here and there, it shoots excellent-looking 4K video, and its sophisticated mic system means you can produce great-sounding vlogs without having to fork out for too much extra gear. There's no viewfinder, but as a YouTube shooter you're probably not going to use one anyway, and this helps keep the cost of the camera down. Sony's video autofocus is class-leading, and it's present and correct on this capable camera.

(Image credit: Sony)

Fast and reliable AF, a vari-angle screen and in-body stabilization – but pricey

Specifications
Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: APS-C
Megapixels: 24.2MP (effective)
Lens mount: Sony E
Screen: 3-inch tilting touchscreen, 921,600 dots
Viewfinder: Electronic
Max video resolution: 4K
Mic input: Yes
Headphone jack: Yes
Reasons to buy
+
Unlimited 4K video recording
+
Microphone and headphone jack
Reasons to avoid
-
No 10-bit video
-
Mounted shotgun mic blocks screen

If you feel the Sony ZV-E10 is a little underpowered, there's this. The Sony A6600 is the ultimate camera for anyone who wants to shoot video all day long with as little battery swapping or charging as possible. Its NP-FZ100 battery can record for in excess of three hours at a time – that’s three times as long as the video capture time of the Canon EOS M6 Mark II (above) and roughly five times as long as cinema cameras like the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K

It’s also one of the first Sony A-series cameras to feature a fully-articulating screen, and while microphone ports are commonplace now, the A6600 also has a headphone jack, so you can monitor your audio.

While the A6600 is anything but cheap, given that it has in-body stabilization and can record unlimited 4K, if you’ve got the money and want the ultimate vlogging camera this could well be it.

(Image credit: Panasonic)

A terrific hybrid stills/video camera, though the video AF is patchy

Specifications
Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Four Thirds
Megapixels: 20.3MP
Lens mount: MFT
Screen: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1.84m dots
Viewfinder: Electronic
Max video resolution: 4K
Mic input: Yes
Headphone jack: Yes
Reasons to buy
+
6.5 stop in-body stabilization
+
60fps/10-bit 4K recording
+
A great stills camera too!
Reasons to avoid
-
Video AF lags behind rivals

The clue is in the name. A Mark II version of anything is likely to be a refresh rather than a whole new camera, and it’s the same here. But while the GH5 II might appear superficially similar to its predecessor, it incorporates a large number of improvements and additions that make quite a difference when you add them together – and they are even more impressive given the price.

Panasonic has stuck with its own DFD contrast based autofocus even though rival makers have switched to faster and more reliable phase AF. Panasonic's DFD AF has steadily improved, but it still tends to hunt and lose contact with subjects – which is bad news if you are trying to film yourself. 

With an articulating display that opens out to the side it won’t be blocked by a shotgun mic mounted on the hotshoe, so you can vlog obstruction-free, and it also has a full-sized HDMI-out, for easy-to-access clean video – perfect for pairing with an Atomos Ninja V, for example. The Lumix GH5 II would be best suited to a more advanced YouTuber who can make the best use of its advanced video settings and won't be fazed by its quirky AF.

(Image credit: Sigma)

The smallest full-frame camera also streams over USB

Specifications
Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Full frame
Megapixels: 24.6MP
Lens mount: L-mount
Weight: 90.7g
Reasons to buy
+
Can stream over USB 
+
Full-frame sensor
+
Modular, customizable design
Reasons to avoid
-
Autofocus can be tricksy
-
No EVF
-
Single card slot

The Sigma fp may not be the obvious choice for YouTubing, but thanks to its modular makeup it's an incredibly versatile camera – and it really shines in the video department. Indeed, it also has a very special party trick: it can natively stream over USB. So if you want to a camera for streaming but don't want to invest in an HDMI capture card, you're looking at it. 

The L-mount offers a good selection of lenses, though some come with hefty price tags – though the fp is very adapter-friendly, and bolting on glass (especially vintage) from other brands feels like exactly what this camera is made for. And with 4K up to 30fps and 1080p up to 120fps, the Sigma fp should cover virtually all your video demands – though if you're a lone vlogger, it does have a couple of handicaps. 

Firstly it has a fixed display, meaning you can't flip the screen around to see your framing while you film to camera. This leads to the second shortcoming, which is that the continuous AF is pretty unpredictable, and this is a camera that's best for experienced videographers rather than run and gun novices.

Compact cameras

(Image credit: Sony)

A brilliant little compact with its own clip-on wind shield

Specifications
Type: Compact
Sensor: 1-inch CMOS
Megapixels: 20.1MP
Lens: 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8
Screen: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 921,600 dots
Viewfinder: No
Max video resolution: 4K
Mic input: Yes
Headphone port: No
Reasons to buy
+
Vari-angle screen
+
Clip on wind shield
+
24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 zoom
Reasons to avoid
-
No viewfinder

The Sony ZV-1 is like a movie-orientated version of Sony's long-running RX100-series compacts. It's also way cheaper than the flagship Sony RX100 VII, so for once Sony has reversed its usual technology/price escalation. The XV-1 has the same 4K video capability and blindingly fast autofocus, and a new 'Product Showcase' mode is perfect when holding objects up to the camera. The vari-angle screen is more useful than the tilting screen on the regular RX100, and the microphone has a clip-on wind shield (supplied) which is a huge advantage for outdoor shooting, where even a light breeze can cause awful buffeting with regular in-camera mics. The Version 2.0 firmware update adds live streaming via USB to this camera's formidable capabilities although, oddly, Sony warns it's not compatible with the Mac Big Sur operating system. When that's fixed, it will be hard to fault this camera.

Read more: Sony ZV-1 review

(Image credit: Canon)

The best YouTube camera for livestreaming at this price

Specifications
Type: Compact
Sensor: 1-inch CMOS
Megapixels: 20.2MP
Lens: 24-100mm f/1.8-2.8
Screen: 3-inch tilting touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots
Viewfinder: Electronic
Max video resolution: 4K
Mic input: Yes
Headphone port: No
Reasons to buy
+
Easy live streaming to YouTube
+
Microphone input
Reasons to avoid
-
Expensive
-
4K clips capped at 10 minutes

One of the biggest bugbears vloggers and video makers have with Canon is the crop factor when shooting 4K on many of its cameras, but the G7 X Mark III bucks the trend – thank goodness. This high-end compact packs a similar body and an identical lens to the G7 X Mark II, but includes a new sensor and no 4K crop. It was also the first camera of its kind with a microphone input – vital if you want clean audio, not to mention the ability to livestream straight to YouTube. This means that even if you’ve got an expensive cinema camera, if you also have a G7 X Mark III you can create a fuss-free live setup without any expensive capture cards and a PC. With its flip-out screen, the G7 X III also gives vloggers a clear view of themselves when they shoot, and thanks to its 20.1MP 1-inch stacked CMOS sensor and Digic 8 processor it’s also able to capture great stills, so your custom thumbnails can pop nicely.

Read more:

12 best cameras for vlogging
Best webcams
Best PTZ cameras
The best 4K camera for filmmaking
The best laptop for video editing
The best microphone for vlogging

Basil Kronfli is a freelance technology journalist with a number of specialisms. He started his career at Canon Europe, before joining Phone Arena and Recombu as a tech writer and editor. From there he headed up Btekt as a director and then Future as a Senior Producer, sharpening his considerable video production skills. 


His technical expertise has been called on numerous times by mainstream media, with appearances and interviews on outlets like Sky News, and he provides Digital Camera World with insight and reviews on camera phones, video editing software and laptops, on-camera monitors, camera sliders, microphones and much more.