Social media dominates all, and there's a good chance you already vlog on YouTube, or TikTok. There are endless amounts of tutorials, video game playthroughs, podcasts -- you name it. Whether you're an amateur or trying to hit it big as a professional vlogger, you need a good vlogging camera to do so. The days of potato-quality, grainy footage are over. For the best image and sound possible, we have a few suggestions.
A good starting point is to decide what kind of video recording you want to do. You don't need to spend thousands or even hundreds of dollars on a high-end DSLR camera if you can easily get the video quality you want with your phone or a webcam with a microphone. Also, a good vlogging camera doesn't have to cost a fortune or shoot 4K video. Most of the affordable vlogging cameras have features such as optical image stabilization, slow motion, autofocus, LCD touchscreens, low-light sensitivity, external mic input and more.
If livestreaming is a priority (which may or may not be for someone interested in YouTube vlogging), you might need additional hardware beyond a camera. I'll include suggestions for that, as well as other accessories to consider, following the cameras' details.
With a small handful of exceptions, every vlog camera listed here has been fully reviewed or anecdotally tested by me or other CNET editors. Those exceptions in the accessories sections are based on positive Amazon user reviews and additional word-of-mouth accolades. I'll periodically update this list of the best vlogging cameras. Happy video recording and streaming!
DJI's latest phone gimbal, the Osmo Mobile 6, uses a clever folding system and magnetic phone clamp to pack down to a pocketable size. Add to that a solid battery life, impressive performance and a neat built-in extending selfie stick. The Osmo Mobile 6 updates the design with a new ergonomic handle, an updated clamp to hold larger phones, even when in a case, and a built-in status panel to check battery level and the gimbal mode it's in. There's also a side wheel for zooming in and out and switching from automatic to manual focus control. The stabilizer is a great choice for mobile creatives wanting to shoot better-looking video without carrying a big camera setup with them.
Whether you're looking to do a quick how-to from your computer, want to stream yourself while you game or anything in between, the simplest option for your vlog is a compact camera that doesn't need to move from your computer. Yes, we're speaking about the noble webcam. True, you won't be able to move around too much, but this vlog camera is pretty much a plug-and-play experience because you don't need an encoder.
Our top pick for vlogging is the $125 Logitech StreamCam because it is purpose-built for streaming at up to 1080p at 60fps. And this cheap vlogging camera is designed to be mounted horizontally or vertically.
It's worth noting that because of the increased demand for webcams, many camera-makers including Canon, Nikon, GoPro, Sony, Panasonic and others have made it possible to use some of their camera models as a webcam without additional equipment. Check out our list of best webcams for more options.
From its small waterproof design to its incredible image stabilization to its excellent video quality, the Hero 11 Black is one of the most versatile GoPro cameras you can get for creating YouTube vlog gold. For its latest model, GoPro used an 8:7, 1/1.9-inch sensor. While the size increase improves quality some, it's more about how GoPro is using the full sensor for 27-megapixel photos and 5.3K-resolution video with an 8:7 aspect ratio. With a high-resolution 8:7 aspect ratio, one clip can be edited to 16:9, 4:3 or 1:1, or vertical video at 7:8, 3:4 or 9:16. That means whatever your social media platform of choice is -- YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok -- the single clip can be edited to meet your needs. What's even better is GoPro's Quik app makes the whole process painless.
Sony turned its RX100 enthusiast compact into a good camera for vlogging with faster autofocus and a quick way to defocus backgrounds. It gives you a big image sensor and a bright lens for better video quality even when you're working with low light. This Sony camera has a flip-out LCD screen so you can see yourself when you're shooting. It has a handgrip and mics better suited for selfies. And the Sony ZV 1 has a clean HDMI output, too, so you don't have camera settings and info in your video if you output to an external recorder, encoder or display.
This Panasonic Lumix GH5 mirrorless digital camera might be shaped like a traditional SLR camera, but the GH5 was built for video. You'll find all the features you need in a camera for vlogging, and then some, regardless of your experience level, and it's all wrapped up in a splash-, dust- and freezeproof body.
Panasonic released its update, the GH6, earlier this year. It, too, is aimed at video shooters, offering a greater range of resolutions and quality settings compared to the GH5. However, it comes with a steep $2,200 price. The GH5 should continue to meet the needs of many and with a lower $1,298 price, you'll have room in your budget to get a lens or two also.
Mevo Start lets you create the look of a multicamera shoot with a single small camera. It lets you stream 1080p video live to every major platform instantly with the Mevo app for up to 6 hours without an external power source. It can also simultaneously record high-quality 1080p video to a microSD card in the camera.
Livestreaming can be done by connecting both a mobile device and the camera to the same Wi-Fi network, or you can directly connect by Wi-Fi to the camera and use your phone's LTE mobile broadband signal to stream. Or, you can use a power-over-Ethernet adapter to power the camera and stream with a wired connection. The Mevo Start also has NDI HX built into the camera that'll work on your network with either a wired or wireless connection.
The mobile app is the true star of the show here, though, as it lets you use its high-resolution sensor to create multiple tight and wide shots, and switch between them with a tap on the screen. Or, you can have the software automatically track people and switch between shots.
Getting great video for YouTube requires a little more than the best vlogging camera and Wi-Fi connection. You'll want good lighting and audio, too. And if you're planning to stream, you might need a capture card or encoder to get video from your camera and up on YouTube or other video-sharing sites.
The compact Lume Cube Panel Mini gives you a bright boost when you don't have enough light but still fits in a pocket. It puts out a lot of light that's adjustable in 5% increments and the color is adjustable too, from 3200K to 5600K in 100K increments -- all done with a small toggle wheel on the side. It charges via its USB-C port and can run for up to 14 hours (just not at 100%) and it can be plugged in and run that way as well.
It comes with a diffuser to help soften its light and the compact, lightweight design and a cold shoe mount so you can just slide it on your camera and start shooting. It also has standard tripod mounts on the bottom and side.
The VC kit, which stands for video conferencing, comes with a small suction cup mount that you can easily stick to your phone, tablet or display for brightening your face or subject without having to reposition the light every time you move your camera.
An external microphone is a must for high-quality vlogging. When it comes to mobile or on-camera mics, I lean toward Rode's microphones, such as the SmartLav Plus and the VideoMicro (shown here, mounted on a DSLR).
Monitors like the Ninja V not only give you a better view of what you're shooting, including seeing your framing when you're working solo, but also let you continuously record to their built-in storage. The Ninja V, for example, has an internal 1TB SSD so you can record up to 150 minutes of 4K video. Along with monitoring and recording, it also supports playback so you can instantly make sure you got the shot you wanted. And it's not just for cameras: You can also use the Ninja V for video game capture and playback at 4K resolution in HDR.
If you want to livestream from most cameras, you'll need a hardware encoder like the Magewell. It allows you to connect HDMI and USB audio and video sources and stream from them to YouTube, Twitch or Facebook over Wi-Fi or Ethernet. It has an HDMI output, too, so you can monitor your stream.
A software encoder will let you stream your PC games and webcam video to YouTube and Twitch. However, console players will need a capture card like the HD60 S. Connect this to your Nintendo Switch, PlayStation or Xbox and then to a PC or Mac and a display, and it will capture your gameplay and set you up for streaming. The included software will help you mix in webcam video as well.