The best camera for streaming is the most effective way to take your Twitch or YouTube presence to the next level. While it’s certainly possible to stream with a basic computer or laptop webcam, chances are good your picture won’t be much good and your audio will be hard to hear. If you’re serious about streaming, it’s a good idea to invest in a streaming camera.
We’ve put together this guide to help you figure out which is the right streaming camera for you and your channel. We’ve divided the list up into two main categories. First we’ve listed the best webcams, which can connect to a laptop or desktop computer for straightforward streaming. These are the ideal choice if you’re only really interested in using the camera for streams or video calls; if you want to also use it for vlogging, photography or anything else, then we’ve also included a selection of cameras and camcorders that are great for streaming and other applications. You can click the headings to jump straight to the section of your choice.
We’ve included cameras in both sections that vary significantly in price, from absolute budget options to high-end professional shooters. Naturally, the more you pay, the more you get, but we reckon every camera on this list is worth its asking price. While most (not all) of the cameras on this list do come with their own built-in mics, we would really recommend picking up one of the best external microphones to improve your audio quality, as this will make your streams much more enjoyable to watch. So you may want to factor this in when planning your budget. A ring light can also be a good acquisition, though if you can only afford one, prioritise the mic.
It’s tough to stand out in the crowded world of streaming – but the best streaming cameras are a great way to start!
The best camera for streaming in 2021
While the Logitech C922 Pro (see below) has staked out a place as a near-ubiquitous camera for conferences and the like, the Logitech Streamcam is a newer model that’s pitched directly towards streamers. Its video quality is excellent, with 1080p 60fps footage that looks excellent. You’ll have no reason to worry about your streaming quality once this camera is up and running – the auto framing and exposure features keep you centred and keep the image balanced for a pleasing output. You can also install the Logitech Capture software, available for Windows or Mac, to further streamline the process.
The cuboid Logitech Streamcam looks pretty chic and comes with a range of mounting options including a diddy desktop tripod, which makes it easy to put the camera at exactly the angle you want it. Our only real gripe is the fact that the USB-C cable is both short and non-detachable, meaning you can’t simply replace it with a longer one of your own. This does diminish positioning versatility a bit, but it’s a small strike against an excellent streaming camera.
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.
The Elgato Facecam is a relative newcomer to the streaming circuit, placing a firm emphasis on accessible, high-quality content. It shoots video at a streaming-friendly resolution of 1080p, uncompressed, with a 60p frame rate. The default image it produces is bright – some might call it overexposed – but if it’s not to your taste then it’s easy enough to fix the settings with Elgato’s Camera Hub software.
In other respects, the camera is pretty simple. The focus is fixed, and in a move that seems surprising but makes sense once you think about it, there’s no on-board mic. Elagto’s reasoning being that anyone who’s willing to spend almost $200 on a streaming camera probably isn’t planning to use a crappy on-board mic, and either has or is going to acquire their own. Fair enough, though this does mean you have to factor in the cost of a mic on top of the already slightly chunky asking price.
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.
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 Wi-Fi 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-degree width or by 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.
If you're a PlayStation 5 gamer keen to stream, then you're going to want to checkout the PlayStation 5 HD Camera as it's the only native option at the moment. You can use the existing PS4 camera via an adapter, but it's limited to 720p resolution and doesn't feature the cool tricks that the new one possesses. This includes built-in background removal tools, so you can crop your background or even remove it entirely automatically if using a green screen. The PS5 HD Camera integrates seamlessly with the console – simply hit the 'create' button on the DualSense control pad and you can start recording or livestreaming video, offering picture-in-picture broadcasting so you can present content on your preferred platform, such as Twitch and YouTube.
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.
Cameras and camcorders
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.
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're looking to step up the quality of your livestreaming but don't feel quite ready for the complexity of an SLR or mirrorless system, a compact camera can be a great purchase. The Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III is one of the most popular cameras around vlogging, and thanks to its introduction of livestreaming capabilities to the series, is great for streaming too.
Shooting high-quality 4K with no crop, the G7 X Mark III is a highly sophisticated camera for video. The 24-100mm equivalent lens gives you a good range to play with (though remember that this is a compact camera, so there's no changing the lens), and the 3.5mm mic port makes it easy to attach a mic and upgrade your audio. The good news for streamers is that a lot of the compromises on this camera are made in places you probably don't care about. It has no viewfinder, for instance, but streamers don't really need one.
It may seem a very leftfield recommendation, but the Sigma fp has an ace up its sleeve – it 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 livestreams 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 you receive for your image quality might pay dividends!
Something else to note: Sigma has released a successor to this camera, the Sigma fp L. While we were pretty impressed by this camera in our full review, we're sticking with the Sigma fp as our streaming recommendation, as it's much cheaper and does everything a streamer needs – and then some!
If you're looking to seriously increase the quality of your streaming, a high-end full-frame mirrorless camera like the Sony A7 III will fit the bill. This powerful shooter can record and stream high-quality footage simultaneously, and thanks to its FE mount, is compatible with some seriously impressive lenses. This is the perfect pairing with the gorgeous 4K UHD footage the camera produces.
As well as the big-ticket headline features, the A7 III also has some welcome quality-of-life features that are particularly good for streamers. For instance, it's possible to charge the battery in-camera via USB, which makes it much easier to give the camera a quick shot of juice if you're out and about.
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.
What to look for in the best cameras for streaming
Between cameras, lighting and audio equipment, it can be easy to quickly rack up an expensive bill when investing in good livestreaming equipment. However, the best camera for streaming definitely doesn't need to break the bank. While it's essential to have a certain level of production value (which all of the cameras on this list fulfill), pricey lights and fancy backdrops aren't going to be the deciding factor on whether or not your audience tune in – they're there to watch you after all!
However, if you have a little more cash to play with, then you might want to take a look at the Logitech C922 Pro, which is a standout choice for anyone wanting stream in 1080p Full HD. This livestreaming camera isn't overly expensive, but packs a lot of bang for its buck. Alternatively, you might also want to take a look at 4K cameras, cameras with zoom and slow-motion and – the gold standard of streaming cameras – one with an audio input option. This means that you'll be able to connect an external microphone, which will help boost your audio quality.
However, if you're obsessed with image quality and you only want the best for your audience, then why not consider investing in a mirrorless or DSLR camera. Up until as recently as last year, streaming with an interchangeable lens camera was a little complicated, but now most manufacturers have provided firmware updates that turn cameras into USB webcams, including the Canon EOS R. The Sigma fp was actually one of the first "proper cameras" that could be used natively as a webcam without an HDMI capture card, but now the streaming world is your oyster!
Another interesting option that you might want to consider is an action camera such as the DJI Osmo Action and the GoPro Hero9 Black. Both of these cameras feature a front-facing display that makes it easy for users to frame themselves and see what their viewers will see. Camcorders have a similar function as well, featuring articulating displays that are incredibly helpful for streaming. 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.
When you're investing in your new livestreaming camera, it's worth remembering that many cameras can't actually stream at the same resolution that they're capable of recording at. For example, some cameras may be able to record in 4K Ultra HD, but are only able to output 1080p Full HD when being used to stream.
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.
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