The best YouTube camera will not be the same for everyone. It all depends on the kind of content you create and where and how you do your filming. So we've prepared a list of do-it-all mirrorless and compact cameras for indoor and outdoor use, higher-end movie-making tools that are still affordable, and small, simple and tough 'adventure' cameras that can go anywhere and film anything!
Choosing the best camera will give your content and your channel a real boost. We've used all these cameras and we think they are the best choices for YouTubers right now, but they reflect very different shooting styles, so pick the type that suits your content and your channel!
It's not just about choosing the best or most expensive camera. The trick is to choose the right kit for what you want to video. If your channel is filled with dynamic, action-packed adventures, an action cam is an obvious candidate. The best action cameras (opens in new tab) capture really high-quality footage these days and, for another spin (haha), what about one of the best 360 cameras?
If your style of filmmaking is more measured, then a mirrorless camera is the obvious candidate. This will give you access to cutting-edge video technology, higher-quality capture, and the ability to swap lenses.
A third alternative is a compact camera (opens in new tab) where the lens is part of the camera. You lose out in versatility, but compact cameras tend to be much more affordable and simpler to use, and there's a lot less to carry around than with a mirrorless model.
One more thing. Do you want to do live streaming? 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 (opens in new tab) for a more extensive selection.
So our guide includes all three camera types for all these different use cases.
The best YouTube cameras in 2023
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It took Sony five years to upgrade the video-centric A7S II to a Mark III, but the wait was worth it for keen enthusiasts and professional filmmakers. It might not boast the 6K or 8K video resolution of some of its rivals today, and with only 12.1MP it’s not a powerhouse super-stills machine either. But apart from an extensive and expensive cinema camera, it’s one of only a handful of cameras that can shoot 4K at 60p full frame with no crop, recorded internally, in 10-bit 4:2:2 with no limitations on recording time, and with all the advanced AF functions still working.
Instead of chasing headlines, Sony worked on giving filmmakers the camera they needed, with lots of codec choices without limits on frame rates. And uses its computing power for fast readouts to enable quick frame rates and high bit rates at all settings, with all other functions working. Such as all the clever AF systems with eye and face detection for humans and animals. Features that still shooters have come to take for granted while video shooters have always had a crippled AF that just didn’t offer all the bells and whistles.
Read our full Sony A7S III review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
There might be a massive price jump between the first and second-place cameras but depending on what you need it for, the GoPro Hero 11 would be a very good option.
With its brand new versatile sensor it can shoot in an 8:7 ratio which is perfect for those who use TikTok as well. In its standard aspct ratio it can shoot 5.3K at 60fps, 4K at 120fps or 2.7K at 240fps for super slow motion shots. When shooting in 8:7 it outputs video at 30fps and footage can be losslessly cropped to create 4K portrait, landscape and square photos.
GoPro's HyperSmooth stabilization is better than ever before, the updated hardware and software make it even more powerful and video quality is very good, except for in dimly lit environments.
The Hero 11 Black might not have wildly improved the line's lowlight performance. Still, with its new 8:7 sensor, a simplified interface, and enhanced horizon leveling, it's upgraded GoPro's offering in a meaningful way. Particularly appealing to folks who use multiple social platforms, nothing else can do quite what the 11 Black can.
Read our full GoPro Hero 11 Black review (opens in new tab)
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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 hot shoe, 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.
Read our full Panasonic Lumix GH5 II review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab) 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 elegant 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 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 uses 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 360º modes pioneered by the GoPro Max (opens in new tab); 360º horizon lock, which means you can rotate through 360º. GoPro now has a suite of modular accessories; the Media Mod (opens in new tab) wraps around the Hero9 Black and enables Light Mod (opens in new tab) and Display Mod (if you need an even bigger front-facing screen) to be attached.
Read our full GoPro Hero10 Black review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
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 your own desk in its own holder, stick to a car dash or window... and more. Capable of unique immersive POV shorts and small enough to be poked where other cameras won't fit – even a GoPro – it's also worth considering as a minimalist rig for vloggers and YouTubers.
The lightweight Insta360 Go 2 has surprisingly big features for such a small camera. Excellent image stabilization, ‘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.
Read our full Insta360 Go 2 review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K looks great value for money today and it's an intriguing alternative for Olympus or Panasonic users who've already invested in MFT lenses. It has some disadvantages, such as no continuous AF and a fixed screen, but this is a cinema camera, not a vlogging camera. It always comes back to bang for the buck with the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K.
When you consider the fact you have a mini XLR audio input and USB-C storage support for recording to hard drives, a full-sized HDMI port, and dual card slots, the Pocket Cinema Camera 4K leapfrogs the competition in almost every video-centric area. Considering that the camera also ships with a full license for Davinci Resolve, an excellent bit of pro-video-editing software that usually costs $295/£239, the Pocket Cinema 4K is quite a bargain.
Read our full Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
The Sony ZV-1 is like a movie-orientated version of Sony's long-running RX100-series compacts. It's also cheaper than the flagship Sony RX100 VII, so Sony has once 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 valuable than the tilting screen on the regular RX100. The microphone has a clip-on windshield (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 our full Sony ZV-1 review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
The DJI Pocket 2 replaces the DJI Osmo Pocket, one of our 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 a 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 our full DJI Pocket 2 review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
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 our full Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
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 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 with the camera. This leads to the second shortcoming: the continuous AF is pretty unpredictable, and this is a camera that's best for experienced videographers rather than run-and-gun novices.
Read our full Sigma fp review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
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 forward to 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, which helps keep the camera's cost down. Sony's video autofocus is class-leading and is present and correct on this capable camera.
Read our full Sony ZV-E10 review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
The Lumix G100 is a compact, easy-to-use camera that has an approachable button and menu layout. Its simplicity will be a big draw for YouTubers who don't want or need anything too complicated. That being said, it still delivers high-quality video and has desirable features such as a viewfinder should you also want to take stills plus it feels like a "proper camera" with its ergonomic grip.
While it can shoot 4K, there is a crop factor so you're not making the most of the sensor. The vari-angle screen makes it great for recording yourself or even recording footage overhead or from the hip. However, it's worth noting the G100 doesn't have any in-body stabilization so you might have to invest in one of the best gimbals for DSLRs and mirrorless cameras (opens in new tab) if you plan on doing a lot of handheld shooting. Overall, it's a compact, cute, and quite cheap camera that does the job but is lacking a couple of features.
Read our full Panasonic Lumix G100 review (opens in new tab)
How we test cameras
We test cameras both in real-world (opens in new tab) shooting scenarios and, for DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, in carefully controlled lab conditions. Our lab tests measure resolution, dynamic range, and signal-to-noise ratio. Resolution is measured using ISO resolution charts, dynamic range is measured using DxO Analyzer test equipment and DxO Analyzer is also used for noise analysis across the camera's ISO range. We use both real-world testing and lab results to inform our comments in buying guides.
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