When looking for the best cameras for vlogging, you need to decide how much versatility you need, how far you want to go with this and how much kit you're prepared to carry around.
Is smaller better? Well, if you're not based in a studio then having a compact setup that stows easily in your backpack, and can be stuck on a Gorillapod for those walking-and-talking-to-camera shots, then size definitely matters. If your vlogs are all done on a tripod indoors, though, then it's less important.
For our money, overall, mirrorless cameras offer the best content creating combination of control, quality and versatility – and mirrorless cameras often come with in-body image stabilization, a real game-changer for those walking shots or capturing smooth B-roll without a gimbal. That said, you can get great video with a DSLR or a compact camera – and the best camera phones offer brilliant fire-and-forget 4K video.
That said, while there is a fair amount of overlap between the best vlogging cameras and the best mirrorless cameras overall, as well as the best 4K cameras, there are some specific considerations that you need to bear in mind:
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1) External microphone port
This enables you to dramatically improve the sound quality of your content. Experts will consistently tell you that better sound is one of the single best ways to make your videos feel more professional.
2) LCD screen that can flip round to the front
A fully articulating screen enables you to see yourself while you're filming, to ensure that your framing is right and that you (or your products / subjects) are in focus. It often gets little play in camera reviews, as it may seem trivial to most photographers, but for vlogging it's an essential.
3) AF system with effective tracking
This is a huge advantage if you're recording yourself moving, as you won't be able to adjust the camera while you're filming. Features like face and eye AF can be a big advantage here, as the camera will naturally gravitate towards focusing on you – and phase detect systems come into their own for significant movement, along with consistency of focus (contrast detect systems tend to hunt and drift).
4) 4K video
Is 4K important? You can certainly live without it today (many vloggers will record and upload in 1080p (FullHD) rather than 4K), but going forward it really will be the norm – so future-proofing your purchase is sensible. In addition, 4K enables you to crop into and reframe your video and still output them in 1080p. So we've prioritized 4K video as a key feature (if you're looking for post production programs, check out our guides to free video editing software and to paid-for video editing software).
5) Great stills quality
Most vloggers will want to capture content of all types, not just video, and who wants to carry two cameras around when you can get one that does both jobs? After all, you need a decent camera to take that all-important thumbnail!
So here are the best cameras for vloggers on the market right now, ranging from mirrorless cameras through vlogger-friendly compacts and the latest video-oriented camera phones.
The best cameras for vlogging in 2020
Mirrorless cameras are the best for serious vlogging. They have more powerful video features, combined with the versatility of interchangeable lenses – which gives you the ability to change your focal length, as well as complete control over creative aspects like depth of field. We don't rule out DSLRs (especially the recent Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / Canon EOS 250D), but for now mirrorless cameras definitely have the lead for vlogging.
Not so long ago, any camera with a 180-degree front-facing screen was instantly dismissed as a ‘selfie’ camera, but the rise of blogging, vlogging and Instagram has brought video to the fore, and the A6400’s front-facing screen sets it apart from many of its rivals and makes it a powerful and desirable tool for single-handed video shooters who want to talk directly to the camera. The A6400 is also a great camera for stills. We're not so keen on the design, which is largely unchanged since the original A6000 model, but it's not a deal-breaker given that the Sony is so good at video. It's not just the 4K video that makes this camera stand out as a vlogging tool, but its state of the art autofocus system, and especially its Eye-AF performance. It's sold body only (handy if you already have Sony lenses), but if you intend buying it with a kit lens we'd recommend paying the extra for the Sony 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 lens, which has much longer reach and better optical quality than the standard 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 PZ lens. Since the Sony A6400 came out, we've had the cheaper A6100 and the more advanced A6600 – but we think the A6400 still hits the vlogging sweet spot between convenience, cost and quality.
Read more: Sony A6400 review
Vloggers and creatives more broadly will enjoy the simplicity of the Lumix G100. It makes it easy to capture high-quality video and stills with its approachable button layout. Even people uninterested in the technicalities of capturing great-looking videos will be able to get results with this camera. There’s an inherent risk of dumbing things down too much when creating a camera for social media creatives, but Panasonic has avoided that pitfall with the Lumix G100. By giving it a decent viewfinder and “proper camera” ergonomics, Panasonic has given the G100 an edge in a highly competitive market. This is a great camera to start with if you're more interested in vlogging than regular photography – or both!
Read more: Panasonic Lumix G100 review
The third version of the camera that put Olympus on the mirrorless map is a truly fantastic option for vlogging. While the powerhouse GH5 (below) and the Panasonic G95 / Panasonic G90 outpunch it with their 4K60, Log and bitrate options, they both falter when it comes to one key area: autofocus. For regular filmmaking this is less of an issue (as "proper" videography should be done with manual focus), but vlogging leaves you at your camera's mercy to keep you in focus – and Panasonic's DFD contrast AF is prone to pulsing, hunting and reprioritizing. The E-M5 Mark III delivers crisp, clean 4K video with rock-solid image stabilization and phase detect AF that won't let you down – and its stills photography performance is top-notch as well.
Read more: Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III review
The Fujifilm X-T200 is great for vlogging, partly because it can capture 4K 30p video, partly because it has a whopping 3.5-inch flip-out vari-angle screen, and partly because its super-slick exterior manages to look clean and simple and unintimidating while offering serious amounts of photographic control. The X-T200's 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor deliver super-sharp images, and the bundled XC15-45mm F3.5-5.6 OIS PZ kit lens is really compact, as well as offering an extra-wide angle of view. If you can do without the electronic viewfinder, the Fujifilm X-A7 is smaller and cheaper, but we'd go for the X-T200 every time.
Read more: Fujifilm X-T200 review
The best Olympus camera of all for travel, the E-PL9 is perfect for anyone who wants to concentrate on the moment rather than the camera settings – and who would prefer a body with a bit of style that isn't just an ugly black box. There are a couple of downsides that might make some photographers a bit sniffy, such as the lack of a viewfinder and the years-old 16MP sensor, but if you're a smartphone shooter and share your images digitally rather than printing big enlargements, that won't matter. The E-PL9 is intuitive and easy to live with, boasting excellent build quality despite its lightweight construction. Better still, it can capture 4K video and has sturdy in-body image stabilization. It's also ideally suited to travel photography, especially when paired with the remarkably small Olympus 14-42mm EZ ‘pancake’ zoom. That said, it doesn't feature a microphone input – but for this price, it's an acceptable compromise. Note that the newer Olympus PEN E-PL10 is now available, but is almost identical and costs more, making the E-PL9 a better option.
Read more: Olympus PEN E-PL9 hands on review
Canon's lightweight mirrorless EOS M series may not have the heft of the full-frame Canon EOS R cameras, but that's what makes it just the thing for vloggers who don't want to lug around too much gear. The M6 Mark II is an excellent choice for the prospective vlogger, as it can shoot impressive uncropped 4K video while making use of the impressive Dual Pixel autofocus. It's lightly built and easy to carry, making use of the similarly specced EF-M lenses. While this range doesn't have anywhere near the catalogue of Canon's EF lenses (though you can adapt these full-frame optics if you wish), there should still be easily enough for the vlogger's purposes. And with plenty of useful features like a microphone socket, an articulating touchscreen and video stabilization to keep things smooth, the EOS M6 Mark II is an extremely solid all-rounder for any vlogger.
Read more: Canon EOS M6 Mark II review
Generally we would recommend a mirrorless camera for more serious vlogging, but there are a couple of compact cameras that are especially interesting thanks to their smaller size, front-facing screens and video capability. Lots of compacts shoot 4K video now, but these two have larger 1-inch sensors that make a big difference to the quality of your footage.
Read more: The best compact digital cameras
Some might dismiss the ZV-1 as yet another Sony RX100 variant, but it’s much more than that. The sensor and lens might be familiar, but the body, the controls, the audio and the rear screen are all new and different and optimised brilliantly for vlogging. There are a couple of niggles. The huge change in the minimum focus distance when you zoom in is annoying and the SteadyShot Active stabilisation didn’t work too well for us, but the autofocus is exceptional and the ZV-1 is a joy to use, not least because here at last is a vlogging camera that really is designed specifically for vlogging, right down to that fully vari-angle rear screen and the supplied mic wind shield, which really does work brilliantly.
Read more: Sony ZV-1 review
When the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II showed popularity with vloggers, Canon sensibly leaned into it and gave us the Mark III, a compact that improves on it in all the right ways to provide a perfect compact vlogging solution. It's got 4K video with no crop, an external mic port, and even lets you livestream to YouTube! There's also the option to extract high-quality stills from 4K footage (useful for those thumbnails), and the excellent autofocus system works well with the 24-100mm (equivalent) f/2.8-1.8 lens and stacked 1-inch CMOS sensor to produce video of enviable quality. It even enables you to shoot vertical video that's very phone and Instagram story friendly – an incredibly useful function. This really is everything a vlogger needs in one package: if you like to keep things simple, look no further.
Read more: Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III review
Why not use a smartphone for vlogging? They're small, unobtrusive and always with you. And on top of their high-quality front facing cameras and video capabilities, they also enable you to share your vlogs instantly. You don't get the video quality and interchangeable lens versatility of a mirrorless camera, but not everyone needs those things. On the flip side, their software-driven imaging often provides simpler and superior results in challenging lighting conditions, making them ideal for those who want to focus on shooting rather than settings.
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The iPhone 11 Pro's triple-camera array is hardly cutting edge by today's standards, and it doesn't have all the bells and whistles of its all-singing and all-dancing rivals. But, as with all iPhones, it just plain works – and it works brilliantly, in any situation. The colors, tones and exposures are consistent across all three cameras, but it's Apples restrained approach to image processing that really sets the iPhone 11 Pro apart from the competition. Where flagship phones from the likes of Huawei and Samsung tend to produce shots with aggressive HDR, sharpening, and noise reduction, the iPhone's images look more true-to-life and never show signs of being over-processed. The new ultra-wide camera is just brilliant for travel photography, landmarks and spectacular interiors, and while it can't quite match the edge to edge image quality of the other lenses, it still produces sharp, distortion-free ultra-wide images that widen your horizons in every possible way.
Read more: Apple iPhone 11 Pro review
One of the best Android smartphones around right now, the Samsung S10 Plus comes with lots of video upgrades that make it ideal for vlogging. Digital Video Stabilizaiton is a big one, as is the ability to produce HDR10+ video for improved dynamic range. Samsung also made several great quality-of-life upgrades to this one, not least of which is the massively improved battery life, which really helps for the intense use that vlogging puts a phone through. The enormous display is also great for viewing your creations on. Okay, it's not cheap, but neither are its rivals, and if you've got the cash this is one of the most convincing vlogging phones on the market right now. We're eager to see if the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus is a better option, but the S10 Plus certainly won't let you down.
Read more: Samsung Galaxy S10+ review
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