Looking for the best camera for streaming? Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. Streaming on platforms such as Twitch, Mixer, Facebook and YouTube Live has become increasingly popular – and it’s never too late to jump on the livestreaming trend.
Alternatively, perhaps you’ve been looking for the best camera for meetings on platforms such as Zoom or Google Meet. With home working becoming the new normal, ensuring that there’s a clear and crisp picture in your meetings has become important for plenty of former office workers.
No matter whether you’re streaming live to your followers, having a video meeting with your colleagues or even shooting a Let’s Play of your video game playthroughs, the best camera for streaming is a step above an ordinary webcam camera.
Some of the biggest YouTubers and Twitch streamers have built incredibly successful careers on their chosen streaming platforms, having built a loyal army of subscribers who watch and interact with their content. If you want to join this legion of streamers, having the right kit is a great starting point.
The best cameras for streaming: What to look for
As with almost any shooting setup, it can be easy to drop thousands of pounds on a variety of camera, lighting and audio equipment. However, the best camera for streaming doesn’t need to break the bank. While users will expect a certain level of quality (which all of the cameras on this list fulfill), a high production value isn’t nearly as important as the creativity and value that you bring to the table.
If a tight budget is your chief concern, then a basic webcam such as the Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000 is a great starter piece of kit. With the ability to capture 720p HD video, this level of quality should be absolutely fine for being viewed on a smartphone (as many game streaming fans would view it anyway).
Increasing your budget will help improve image quality, so if you have a little extra cash to splash but you don’t want to go overboard, our top-rated pick of the Logitech C922 Pro is a standout choice for anyone looking to stream in 1080p Full HD. However, you can also look into 4K cameras, cameras with zoom and slow-motion options and the gold standard of streaming cameras – an audio input option. This means that you can connect an external microphone to help take your video’s audio to the next level.
If quality is your top concern, then you also have the option of using a mirrorless or DSLR camera over USB. While this might sound like a bit of a faff, it’s actually easier than you might expect! For a while, the Sigma fp was one of the few “proper cameras” that was capable of being used natively as a webcam without an HDMI capture card. However, during lockdown most camera manufacturers provided firmware updates that turn cameras into USB webcams, including the Canon EOS R.
If you’re not quite ready to drop over a grand on a streaming camera, then you might want to take a look at action cameras such as the DJI Osmo Action and the GoPro Hero9 Black. The second display on the front of both of these action cameras makes it particularly easy to frame yourself and see what your viewers see. This tip also rings true for camcorders and more professional cameras too – articulating displays that flip up, down or around are super helpful for streaming situations. If you are looking for a permanent installation, for a church or theater say, then a more professional option is a PTZ camera with a built-in motorized head and zoom.
It’s also important to note that many cameras can’t stream at the same resolution that they’re able to record at. So, for example, you might have a camera that’s capable of recording in 4K Ultra HD, but if you want to stream from it through an HDMI cable then it can only output 1080p Full HD.
Another feature that you might want to keep an eye out for is automatic background deletion. This is where a camera gives you the ability to cut yourself out of video footage and replace your background with anything you like. Lighting is also a key element that you’ll want to keep in mind. You might want to invest in one of the best ring lights for added production value, but it’s worth noting that the Razer Kiyo actually has its own integrated LED light ring.
Ultimately, you’ll have to decide what features are most important to you – and how much you’re happy to spend to get them. If you’re just starting out, we’d recommend investing in a more affordable option while you build up your audience. However, if you’re looking to upgrade your kit, then it might be time to pick up an action cam, a camcorder, a mirrorless camera or a DSLR to give you even more creative control over your streaming.
We think the best camera for streaming right now is the Logitech C922. This is a standout choice for anyone either getting into streaming for the first time, or who wants to upgrade from the webcam they already have. It clips neatly onto the top of your television or PC monitor, or can be attached to a tripod if you want to get more creative with your angles and framing. The camera shoots and streams live in 1080p Full HD resolution at 30 frames per second, and there's also a ‘hyperfast’ mode for streaming 720p at 60fps.
Dual microphones create stereo audio so you don’t really need to both with a separate microphone, and the camera comes with an 18.5cm tall tripod. The lens offers a 78-degree wide view, and it comes with a free three-month license for Xsplit streaming software.
Note: This is one of the best webcams, and one of our favorite choices for streaming – but sadly it has been almost impossible to find during 2020.
Lighting is a crucial part of video production, and you’ll want to make sure your face is brightly and evenly lit when streaming. You can invest in standalone lighting to help achieve this, but on a tight budget you could be better off with the Razer Kiyo, which has its own integrated light ring made up of 12 LEDs. The light ring surrounds the camera and its brightness can be adjusted; the lights offer up to 10 Lux of brightness at a distance of one metre, with a color temperature of 5600K. As well as brightening your face, the light should also help prevent your face from mirroring reflections of gameplay from your screen, making for a more professional look.
As for the camera itself, the Razer Kiyo streams at 1080p Full HD resolution at 30 frames per second (the gold standard for streaming at this price range), and a 60fps at 720p option is also available. Although a little larger than some other streaming cameras, the Kiyo still clips neatly to the top of your PC display
Logitech Brio Ultra HD Pro is one of the very best webcam for streaming, but these top-level specs don't come cheap. This camera can record in 4K, stream in 1080p Full HD at 60 frames per second, and offers a 5X digital zoom that crops a 4K image to 1080p. Although you can’t actually stream live in 4K, this camera’s extra resolution means you can zoom into a 4K image without the quality dipping below 1080p, all while maintaining a steady 60 frames per second. The lens has viewing angle options of 65, 78 and 90 degrees, ensuring everything stays in frame, and the camera can also be used with the Windows Hello facial-recognition login system.
There is also a 90fps option at 720p resolution if you want super-smooth video, and the camera offers HDR (High Dynamic Range) video, for improved contrast. Two omni-directional microphones and a PC monitor clip complete this excellent webcam.
With a dedicated, and very friendly, phone app, the Mevo is purpose-built as a streaming camera – and allows you to pan, tilt, zoom during your recordings using the app. The camera is controlled via a WiFi network, or your phone’s hotspot, designed for livestreaming on the go. It’s actually a follow up to the 2018 Mevo Plus, and bears the hallmarks of a polished second-generation model..
In terms of hardware, the tiny camera shoots either at the full 84˚ width or cropping in and tracking your face. At the same time, it records to its MicroSD card, so you’ve got a backup to edit with. You can take sound via your phone, a 3.5mm mic, or the in-built 3-microphone array which uses Fraunhofer upHear Spatial Processing.
In terms of operation, the app is not only easy to use and connect to standard streaming platforms (Facebook, Youtube, any RTMP), but offers extensive picture adjustments – either preset or manual. A paid subscription will allow you to stream to multiple platforms at once, and add live graphics.
If you’re looking to take your streaming channels on the road, this device gives you the power to broadcast anywhere, wirelessly, with impressive sound quality. You can keep going for up to 6 hours on a single charge, too.
An action camera might not be your first choice when looking for a streaming camera, but bear with us. You might not need the GoPro Hero9 Black’s waterproofing, tough design, or ability to attach to bike handlebars and surfboards, but what you are investing in here is image quality and ease of use.
With a front-facing screen to help with framing shots, the Hero9 Black’s live streaming resolution now reaches 1080p resolution. It works with YouTube, Twitch, Facebook Profiles and Facebook Pages. However, the real plus is its ability to stream with arguably its key feature engaged; HyperSmooth 3.0 image stabilization. That means live-streaming super-fast action sequences is now on!
Used as an action camera it reaches an incredible 5K resolution. An upcoming ‘mod’ called the Max Lens Mod brings an ultra wide 155º field of view as well as some alluring 360º modes pioneered by the GoPro Max, including 360º horizon lock – allowing the camera to be rotated through 360º – and an ultra-wide 155º Max SuperView mode in 2.7K 60 fps.
For more options in this range, take a look at our guide to the best GoPro cameras.
It may seem a very leftfield recommendation, but the fact that the Sigma fp works natively as a webcam over USB – meaning that you don't need to invest in an additional HDMI capture card to use it. Of course, you do have to invest much more in the camera itself, but this can work both ways; since the Sigma fp is a highly modifiable, modular system, it can replace your webcam, your 'proper' camera and your video camera. So if you stream, shoot and film, this could be the ideal purchase. The key benefit, of course, is the ability to achieve a cinematic look on your streams by taking advantage of the full-frame sensor's depth of field capability, as well as the choice of any lens you want. If you want to use an f/1.2 lens for bokehlicious blur and tip-top low light performance, now you can – and it will certainly make your streams stand out from the crowd. Yes, it's expensive, but the Cheers for your image quality might pay dividends!
A budget option, the HD-3000 by Microsoft proves you can start streaming without having to shell out the big bucks. This webcam is limited to 720p HD resolution at 30 frames per second, but that’s still high definition and will be perfectly acceptable when viewed on a mobile device like a smartphone. The camera offers automatic face tracking, and low-light adjustment, has a built-in microphone, and claims to attach to all types of computer monitor.
There is also a digital zoom function, although we would advise against using this, because the 720p resolution, while acceptable when viewed normally, doesn’t provide enough pixels for images to remain sharp when zoomed in. Finally, there is a manual focus option for making sure the image stays exactly the way you want it – we prefer this, as autofocus can have a habit of incorrectly adjusting in some lighting conditions, taking you out of focus.
The predecessor to the newer Mevo Start, the Mevo Plus is another purpose-built streaming camera purpose-built for covering live events in 1080p Full HD, or recording footage to in Ultra HD 4K to be used later. Controlled via a companion smartphone app for iOS and Android, the camera can zoom in and pan to make it look like you are broadcasting from several cameras at once. This could add some real production value to any streams featuring two people, for example, or where you want to play around with your angles and framing.
The Mevo streams to most platforms, including Vimeo, LiveStream, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, and uses a high-quality Sony CMOS lens with a 150-degree viewing angle. Live footage is streamed in 1080p HD, or you can record offline in 4K then upload that later for a higher-quality video. A neat feature is that multiple Mevos can be connected to shoot from several angles at once – it’s a hefty investment, but such a setup would no doubt take your streaming and YouTube recording game to the next level. There’s an integrated microphone, but also the option to record audio from a separate mic, which should help boost sound quality.
The Panasonic HC-V770 camcorder is a highly regarded in streaming and YouTuber circles, thanks to its compact design, ease of use, and HDR video shooting at 1080p Full HD. There’s 20x optical zooming, so you can frame your video perfectly without any loss in video quality or resolution, and a 3.5mm audio jack means you can attach an external microphone for improved audio quality. The camera has a flip-out display so you can see yourself while filming, it attaches to any industry-standard tripod, and live Full HD video is sent through the HDMI port.
Finally, a smart feature of the Panasonic HC-V770 is that a smartphone can be wireless connected and used as a second camera. That way, you could use the camcorder as your main camera, then have a smartphone shooting a second angle – over the shoulder, for example.
If you already stream and want to seriously up your production values, it’s time to look at mirrorless or SLR cameras. A good place to start is the Panasonic Lumix G7 with a 14-42mm lens. By using a ‘proper’ camera, your video quality will take a massive leap forwards, and you can play around with the settings to add a blurred background, giving your streams a degree of professionalism simply not possible with a webcam or even the most expensive action cameras.
A key feature here is the articulating display, which pops out and flips around so you can see what the camera is shooting while it is focused on you. This will save you a lot of time when it comes to setting up your shot, and you’ll see right away if the exposure is wrong or you have fallen out of focus.
If you're planning on using an SLR for streaming you'll also need a port for connecting an external microphone (either through a standard audio slot or a camera ‘hot shoe’ connection), the ability to output a live video feed via HDMI port, and at a resolution of at least 1080p HD. Thankfully, the Lumix G7 ticks all of these boxes.
Another high-end mirrorless option, the Sony A7 II is a full-frame camera with interchangeable lenses, a 24.3-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor, and the ability to record in Ultra HD. This Sony camera offers the all-important ‘clean HDMI out’ function, where what the camera sees is sent out of its HDMI port without any information (such as ISO, shooting mode and zoom setting) plastered over the top. That way, the camera’s view can be sent to your computer, captured, and uploaded live to your streaming platform of choice, along with footage of the game you are playing.
It's also important that the camera does not automatically switch off after a certain length of time – remember, you are not actually using the camera to record video, but the computer to record what the camera is seeing. Thankfully, the Sony A7 II can be set to not switch off after inactivity.
Make no mistake, the jump from a regular webcam with integrated streaming capabilities, to a professional camera, is a huge one to make (and you need to budget for a suitable lens). However, the quality of your videos will also take a serious leap forwards, and hopefully so will your viewing figures.