Shutter Release: How to Choose the Best Vlogging Cameras of 2018

best vlogging cameras

Want to become a vlogger for Youtube or Instagram fame? You’ll need a vlogging camera setup capable of producing both high-quality video and still photography. Add in a microphone, lighting, and lenses for a complete vlogging setup. When you have the footage you need, take advantage of software like the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription for the slick edits.

Best Vlogging Cameras of 2018

We have everything covered from the beginner hacks to the professional setups. You don’t have to break the bank for a great setup. Instead, a couple of cool hacks and you’re golden. If you have the cash, your options open up, and you become more versatile, taking your vlogging channel to new heights and more opportunities.

Cheap Vlogging Cameras

Don’t have a load of money to spend? There are options that you’re not thinking about right now. Your smartphone for one. Apple, Samsung, and Google have all declared war, and the battle lines are firmly entrenched on the smartphone camera. Those wanting to hit the easy button can opt for the Osmo Mobile 2 for an instant vlogging setup.

Osmo Mobile 2

Known more for their camera drones, DJI has been increasing its presence in the gimbal market, first with the Osmo and now with the Osmo Mobile 2. Take everything you liked about the original Osmo Mobile and cram in even more features. Extended battery life now hits towards 15 hours for the gimbal. New shot modes allow you to create hyperlapses, panoramas and more. All priced at $129.

You’ll still need something along the lines of the Manfrotto Lumie Art LED light, but it’s definitely the most budget vlogging platform out there as long as you are the type who consistently upgrades your smartphone, be it the iPhone, Samsung or the Google Pixel. With three-axis stabilization and a price that’s an impulse buy, the Osmo Mobile 2 allows you to test the waters of vlogging before investing a ton of money into your setup.

A quick note if you want to vlog around your city or travels. Invest in Filmic Pro. It’s a $10 app and allows you to turn off optical image stabilization (OIS) in your phone. With a 3-axis gimbal, any sharp movements and the OIS start to do battle with any gimbal. That’s just one of the many features of Filmic Pro. I own it, and the app is a must on any smartphone you plan on using for videography.

Movi

The biggest challenger to the Osmo Mobile 2 is the Movi from Freefly. Yes, the company has a weird naming system due to the professional series of Movi Pros, etc. At $299, it is more expensive than the Osmo Mobile 2, but don’t let that deter you. Take a look at the feature set, and you can see its targeted at a more cinema-quality audience. Not saying you can’t get the same shots on the Osmo, because you can, but Movi is borrowing heavily from its cinema background to produce one of the more unique smartphone gimbals.

Smartphone Vlogging Lenses

The biggest name in the smartphone lens category is Moment. The company’s line of smartphone lenses are a hit with those looking to save on weight and use their phone to its full potential. Moment’s latest creation is the anamorphic lens which leads to incredible shots. Investing in the wide angle and tele portrait lenses is a solid addition to your budget vlogging solution.

Point and Shoot Vlogging Cameras

Sony RX100V

A point and shoot as a vlogging camera? Yeah, it sounds nuts, but the Sony RX100V punches way above its weight class. 315 AF points. 4K support. 24fps continuous shooting. Oh, and how about 960fps slow-motion capture?

For a pocket-sized camera, you can make the argument it offers more than it’s DSLR/mirrorless alternatives with the caveat being you have to hack some pieces together for a full vlogging camera setup. And you can’t change lenses, though, with a dedicated Zeiss 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8, you may not give a damn.

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Sony Cyber-Shot RX100V
  • ELECTRONIC VIEW FINDER: retractable Tru-Finder EVF provides sharp resolution, bright self-illumination, and high contrast to view shots and adjust settings...
  • AUTO FOCUS: World's fastest (0.05 sec.) hybrid AF system (contrast + phase) which is great for action and wildlife photography

Thanks to its more expensive cousin, the RX100V can be had for sub-$900. And setting up a full vlogging platform is similar to the Canon and Nikon. A Manfrotto mini tripod is $24.83. You may want a second tripod for lighting as the RX100V lacks a mount for an onboard light. Also, you’ll want something for audio. Point-and-shoots make compromises to keep the footprint small. Audio is one of those compromises.

Why the RX100V? You may want something that’s pocket size without having to deal with extra lenses. Also, it makes one hell of backup and offers 4K capture, unlike the Nikon and Canon offerings.

Sony RX100VI

The RX-series saw an upgrade with the RX100VI. It offers even more features and one hell of an updated zoom lens. Instead of the 24-70mm equivalent, the RX100VI offers a 24-200mm equivalent zoom. Is that worth the extra $200? It depends. Do you want a stacked point-and-shoot travel camera? If so, you won’t go wrong with this camera. If your goal is to upgrade to a DSLR or mirrorless camera, save the money and stay with the RX100V.

Sony Cyber-Shot RX100VI
  • 24-200mm F2.8-F4.5 ZEISS Vario-Sonnar T lens
  • World's fastest (0.03 sec) hybrid AF system (contrast + phase)

Budget DSLR / Mirrorless Vlogging Cameras

Canon EOS M50

Canon’s first foray into offering 4K on a consumer camera is targeted at the beginner vlogging set. Though it has some serious headline features, Canon nerfing the 4K with a double crop factor – both the APS-C crop and the 4K crop, it’s a bit of a head-scratcher. It’s definitely cheaper than the Canon 80D listed below, but the 4K offering you are getting has Canon’s Dual Pixel AF stripped away.

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Canon EOS M50
  • Improved Dual Pixel CMOS AF and Eye Detection AF for stabilized, crisp shots
  • 24.1 Megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and the DIGIC 8 Image Processor delivers incredible color, clear details, and stunning range
Other retailers include: B&H

Unless you seriously need a flip out screen, there are better options for similar price points. The Sony RX100V immediately springs to mind. Or toss your phone on a gimbal with the Osmo Mobile 2 and save a truckload of cash. If you find yourself into vlogging, let your success dictate your gear. If you’re looking for a DSLR-vlogging setup and can deal with no 4K, the 80D or Nikon D5600 are your best bets. Affordable and feature-rich.

I’d also watch for refreshes to the Canon EOS M5. That’s the premier mirrorless APS-C from Canon, and right now, the EOS M50 outstrips it. Expect that to change sooner rather than later.

Canon M50 Lenses

Because you’re dealing with a sizable crop, you will want the widest lens you can get your hands on. For the Canon M50, that will be the Canon EF-M 22mm f/2 STM. It’s more a pancake lens with solid low-light performance and a short minimum focusing distance of just under six inches. Price wise, you’re looking at $299 on top of the $699 for the M50. The pros are it’s compact, and sort of has 4K. The cons are it doesn’t take much more cash to step up to a DSLR.

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Best Canon M50 Vlogging Lens
  • Moderate wide-angle lens; equivalent to 35mm on a fullframe camera
  • Builtin stepping motor provides smooth and quiet autofocus when shooting video
Other retailers: B&H

Canon 80D Video Creator Kit

Let’s cheat a bit because the deal on this is fantastic. The Canon EOS 80D Video Creator Kit. It’s the go-to in vlogging platforms out there for beginners. The kit includes everything you need to get started. The Canon EOS 80D body with an EF-S 18-135mm 3.5-5.6 IS USM lens. A RODE VideoMic Go, 32GB microSD card and the Cano Power zoom adapter.

It’s more expensive at $1500, but you’re ready to rock YouTube with this setup. You also have the added benefit of being able to add lenses from Canon’s near limitless lens lineup. Some accessories you’ll need is a tripod and a lighting system. Audio is covered by the excellent RODE mic included.

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Canon EOS 80D DSLR Camera
  • The EOS 80D camera's Intelligent Viewfinder helps bring the thrill of SLR photography with each use
  • The Intelligent Viewfinder displays AF points and AF mode, has a grid display, a horizontal electronic level, plus numerous other points of information
Other retailers include: B&H

What makes the Canon 80D a winner is the 45 cross-type AF system. The low light performance is excellent for the price, and the 24MP sensor is spot on. One drawback is it doesn’t have 4K support, but most DSLRs in this price range lack 4K. Tradeoffs have to happen.

For a vlogging camera, the articulating screen is huge. It helps to keep you in focus at all times. Being in focus is a hell of a lot more important than 4K when starting out. You can upgrade the body later.

Those wanting the same technology of the Osmo Mobile but for a DSLR or mirrorless camera can opt for the Zhiyun-Tech Crane v2 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer. It adds $399 but is an absolute beast for any camera system under 3.3 pounds.

Nikon D5600

Rather have a Nikon over a Canon? This is the equivalent down to the articulating screen. It’s predecessor, the D5500 was a dream, and the Nikon D5600 has only built on it. Some of the new features include Snapbridge compatibility which allows you to transfer still images to your smartphone over Bluetooth instantly. It can be finicky as hell, but once you make a few sacrifices to the gods, it works pretty damn well.

For the camera, it features a 24MP CMOS sensor with 39 AF points. Like the Canon 80D, it lacks 4K support, but as a beginner, it’s about getting the most out of your gear. If you’re working on a 1080p monitor for edits, you won’t see the difference. Quality content rules the day. Hybrid shooters – both vlogging and still photography – will appreciate the 5fps continuous shooting.

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Nikon D5600 DX DSLR
  • 24.2MP DX-Format CMOS Sensor
  • EXPEED 4 Image Processor. Approx. 0.82x (50 mm f/1.4 lens at infinity, -1.0 m(*1))
Other retailers include: B&H

Pricing is cheaper than the Canon 80D video kit at $696.95 with a Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 VR kit lens. The issue becomes when you have to stack items up to get a solid setup. The RODE VideoMic Go hits $100 and then add on a tripod and lighting. A Joby GorillaPod hits $34.95, and a NEEWER video light is a steal at $32.99. Use the same Zhiyun gimbal for $399, and you’re set.

It’s easy to go big on all of this but the basic package to get you running retails out at $1163 with the 3-axis gimbal.

Semi-Pro Vlogging Cameras

Staying under a $2500 budget and the world opens up for vlogging camera. Better camera bodies, more lighting solutions, audio, and stabilizers. You name it, and you can accomplish it if you play your cards right. You are firmly into the major camera manufacturers and can open up more with lenses. It also guarantees you 4K.

Sony a6500

What it lacks in an articulating screen, it makes up for in pricing and the ability to add on in a hurry. The Sony a6500 retails for a bit over $1000. With the budget of $2500, the world opens up to accessories. The camera itself over samples 4K video to 6K to give the maximum picture quality. It, like the GH5, has 5-axis stabilization allowing much more freehand vlogging walking down the street.

An absurd AF system features 435 points with face detection. Those unsure about the lack of an articulating screen have that feature to rely on. Additional professional level videography features include S-Gamut3/S-Log3 and Gamma Display Assist, the ability to record Full HD at 120fps for 4x or 5x slow-motion HD video7, both a mic jack and XLR compatibility.

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Sony a6500 Mirroless Camera
  • 24.2MP APS-C Exmor sensor w/ advanced processing up to ISO 51.200
  • Wide 425 phase detection AF points, Fast 0.05 sec. AF acquisition

The 24.2MP APS-C Exmor sensor handles still photography with ease, be it landscape, action, portrait or street.

For a starter lens, the 35mm f/1.8 is a solid choice at $448. That takes you to $1700. Adding in the VideoMic go handles the audio with ease at $100. Tripods and lighting will depend on what you want, and it leaves you enough for the Zhiyun-Tech Crane v2 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal Stabilizer. You’d have a complete package including the ability for better action shots with the stabilizer.

Canon 80D

The video creator kit with the stabilizer. While it doesn’t have 4K capture, adding the 3-axis stabilizer is no issue at this price level. Or you can opt for better lenses. It has its drawbacks, but if you have a $2500 budget for a vlogging camera, don’t underestimate the 80D.

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Canon EOS 80D DSLR Camera
  • The EOS 80D camera's Intelligent Viewfinder helps bring the thrill of SLR photography with each use
  • The Intelligent Viewfinder displays AF points and AF mode, has a grid display, a horizontal electronic level, plus numerous other points of information

Nikon D500

One of the most award-winning cameras to hit the market in 2016, the Nikon D500 is considered one of the best values on the market. Similar in its drawbacks as the Sony a6500, there is no articulating screen. Also, the 4K endures an additional crop factor, which could create issues. For vlogging, you are getting 4K UHD Video recording at 30fps with a Multi-CAM 20K 153-Point AF system.

The 20.9MP sensor shines in both video and still photography, so if you’re a hybrid shooter, it’s the best of both worlds. 10fps will have you enjoying stills as much as video. You may as well seek Instagram fame along with YouTube.

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Nikon D500 DSLR Camera
  • 20.9MP DX-Format CMOS Sensor.Viewfinder:Eye-level pentaprism single-lens reflex viewfinder
  • EXPEED 5 Image Processor;Monitor Size : 3.2 inches diagonal

Dual memory card slots alleviate any worries of a corrupted SD card, along with the bevy of Nikon and third-party accessories. One way around the non-articulating screen is to attach a small external monitor. You switch to Live View, and you’re good to keep yourself in focus at all times.

Professional Vlogging Cameras

Budget no object? You can open up to the world of cine lenses, full-frame bodies and crazy lighting systems.

Sony a7 III

Want pro-level features for a semi-pro price? The Sony a7 III is making waves as a sub-$2000 full-frame mirrorless camera. Sure, it doesn’t have the articulating screen, but that can be handled with an external monitor. It grabs the AF system off the Sony a9 and records 4K with zero crop.

Sony a7 III Mirrorless Camera
  • Advanced 24.2MP BSI Full-frame Image Sensor w/ 1.8X readout speed* Advanced 24.2MP Back-Illuminated 35mm Full-frame Image Sensor * Sony test conditions....
  • 15-stop dynamic range, 14-bit uncompressed RAW, ISO 50 to 204,800

Dual SD card slots, an audio jack, and host of other features add up to one of the best values on the camera market today. If your budget can handle it, the a7III immediately puts you into the category of professional vloggers.

Panasonic GH5

The favorite of YouTubers everywhere. The Panasonic GH series. It’s been updated to the Panasonic GH5 and has nearly everything you want in a vlogging platform. The articulating LCD screen keeps you in focus, and everyone loves the 4k60/50P (4:2:0 8bit) and 4k30/25P/24P (4:2:2 10bit).

Onboard 5-axis body stabilization means you can vlog walking down the street with little shaky cam. It’ll still be there, but can be removed in post-processing. Dual SD card slots mean you’ll never worry about card failure again. Unless both fail which is just a bad day. Chalk it up as such and get out there again.

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Panasonic GH5 Mirrorless Camera
  • Professional photo and 4K video performance in a durable magnesium alloy body
  • 20.3MP Micro Four Thirds sensor with no low pass filter
Other retailers include: B&H

Pricing has come off the $2000 initial retail price to around $1700. You’ll need to be smart adding in audio (RODE VideoMic Go) and nice tripod and lighting. It’ll get the job done, and a lot of vloggers have settled on it as the tops in its class.

Fuji X-T3

The camera manufacturer not content with quietly shaking up the industry. Fuji is making serious noise and when you have the VP of Sony saying there needs to be a focus on ‘professional APS-C cameras,’ you know you have companies watching their exposed flank.

The Fuji X-T3 is an APS-C mirrorless camera, but don’t let the crop sensor scare you off. It packs more features than its more expensive full-frame rivals. It also helps the company doesn’t know how to make a bad lens. Even the kit lens earns plaudits.

Feature-wise, the most eyebrow-raising is the 4K60p video. Notice the Sony, Nikon and Canon cameras? None of them have that single feature, though expectations are for the a7sIII to earn the feature.

The 26.1MP X-Trans BSI CMOS sensor outstrips other cameras in the market. ISO ranges from 80-51200 with up to 30fps in certain modes. Internal picture and video profiles are a nice touch as is the improved weather sealing. And it looks good. The retro styling is unlike most cameras on the market. If you want a feature-rich camera and a conversation starter, the X-T3 checks those boxes.

The downside is the camera lacks IBIS, saving it for Fuji’s X-H1 flagship. It’s a shame, but at a $1500 price point, something had to give.

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Fuji X-T3
  • New 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor with X-Processor 4 image processing engine
  • 4K movie recording - internal SD card 4K/60P 4: 2: 0 10bit recording and the first Mirrorless digital camera with APS-C or larger sensor that is capable of...
Other retailers include: B&H

Canon EOS R

Canon’s first foray into full-frame mirrorless comes with good and bad features. If you’ve been wanting in on the mirrorless craze, it gets you into the market. Add the adapter, and the vast library of Canon lenses are there for the taking.

Obviously, the main feature is you don’t have to invest in new glass. The downside is the new mount on the EOS R lacks in the lens department, though expect the coming years and third-party lens makers to fill the void.

On the internals, the 30.3MP CMOS sensor is borrowed from the Canon 5D IV. Powering the new mirrorless camera is the latest DIGIC 8 image processor. In a nice touch, the EOS R does feature a flip-out screen nearly every vlogger wants. 4K30p is there as an option but comes with a crop. It’s weird to see, but if you can get past it, the EOS R shines with its Dual Pixel AF with 5655 AF points. That’s not a typo. 5,565.

The downsides to Canon’s first full-frame mirrorless is the lack of IBIS. It’s rather stunning Canon ignored this option. Flip-out screen for handheld vlogs, but no IBIS. Weird, but expect future models to correct this oversight.

Another odd choice is the single card slot. The damn Fuji X-T3 has dual card slots, and it’s orders of magnitude smaller.

What does the EOS-R have in its corner to overcome any shortcomings? Its world-renowned color science and a lens library that’ll keep shooters happy for a long time.

Canon EOS R
  • 30.3 Megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor and DIGIC 8 image processor
  • Dual pixel CMOS AF with 5, 655 manually selectable AF points
Other Retailers include: B&H

Nikon Z6 & Z7

Nikon’s entry into the full-frame mirrorless market came with not one but two cameras and the new Z mount. It follows the same logic as Canon introducing an adapter for its stable of Nikkor F-mount lenses.

Let’s go ahead and get the elephant out of the room. Nikon joined Canon with only including one card slot, and in Nikon’s case, it’s the XQD card over the standard SD card. Yes, XQD is blazing fast as evidenced in the Nikon D500 and D5. But, both those cameras had secondary slots.

With two cameras, Nikon’s goal is to attack both the a7III and the a7rIII. The Z7 is a direct shot at the a7rIII with the 45.7MP BSI CMOS sensor. Powered by the EXPEED 6 image processor, it can handle 4K30p and 10-bit HDMI Out. On the autofocus front, the Nikon Z7 has a 493-point Phase Detect system with built-in IBIS.

There’s not a flip-out screen, but it does tilt. Photographers can look forward to 9fps and an ISO range of 64-25600. Pricing is near the a7rIII at $3500 and some change. In an odd marketing choice, Nikon decided to make the adapter an extra $150.

Nikon Z7
  • New larger Z mount for revolutionary optical performance
  • Nikon-designed 45.7MP backside Illuminated image sensor with no optical low pass filter (OLPF)
Other retailers include: B&H

Nikon’s direct challenge to the extremely popular Sony a7III is the upcoming Z6. Set for release on November 30th, it does have more than a few features from the Z7 nerfed to cut costs. The 273-point Phase Detect AF system is a bit disappointing. Especially when Sony’s a7III borrowed the AF system off its flagship a9.

On the megapixel front, the Z6 sports a Nikon-designed 24.5MP BSI sensor powered by the EXPEED 6. Shooters will enjoy up to 12fps depending on the mode, 3K30p video, and 120fps/1080p.

Like the Z7, the adapter is an extra cost. It’s a weird decision when trying to introduce an entirely new system of cameras. The barrier to entry should be as easy as possible, not a pain in the ass.

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Nikon Z6
  • New larger Z mount for revolutionary optical performance
  • Nikon-designed 24.5MP backside Illuminated image sensor
Other retailers include: B&H

Sony a7r III

2017 ended with Sony giving us the much-anticipated update to the a7r lineup with the A7RIII. Take everything you love about the a7rII and give it one hell of an upgrade. The sensor remains, but battery life gets the a9 upgrade, performance is snappy, and it answers nearly all the gripes we had regarding the a7rII. And it’s finally in stock to start the new year off right. Yeah, now we wait for the a7sIII. We know it’s out there sony. Give it to us.

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Sony a7rIII Mirrorless Camera
  • INCREDIBLE DETAIL: Shoot high-speed subjects at up to 10fps with continuous, accurate AF/AE tracking
  • OPTIMAL LIGHT: A back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor with gapless on-chip lens collects more light.Operating Temperature 32 - 104 degrees F / 0 - 40 degrees C

Audio, you can stick with the RODE VideoMic Go. Lighting, the sky’s the limit, and you can start looking at brands like Aputure Lights which include kits with dual LED light panels with stands. Tripods can be the best Manfrotto has to offer.

Canon 1DX Mark II

The flagship Canon with the flagship price. The Canon 1DX Mark II body alone is $5,999, but it is capable of capturing 4K footage at 60fps. The Sony is a better value unless you need serious battery life. This has it with the battery grips. Hybrid shooters will love the 14fps continuous shooting and 61-point AF system.

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Canon 1DX Mark II DSLR Camera
  • Fastest shooting EOS-1D, capable of up to 14 fps full-resolution RAW or JPEG, and up to 16 fps in Live View mode with new Dual DIGIC 6+ Image Processors
  • Achieves a maximum burst rate of up to 170 RAWs in continuous shooting at up to 16 fps, and 4K movies using CFast cards in the new CFast 2.0 slot

It’s in this price range where you need to be thinking serious professional use. Even the top YouTubers are hardly using these and stick with cheaper bodies with better lenses and lighting. But if you want the best, it’s up there with the top camera bodies.

Which Vlogging Camera?

A lot of cameras to choose from. Here are my picks from each of the categories. For the cheap route, you can’t go wrong with the Osmo Mobile 2. Paired with an iPhone X or Samsung S9 Plus, you have a complete solution that’s portable.

Midrange, my favorite is the Sony a6500. You are getting more bang for your buck, and the face detection gets rid of any issues of you being out of focus in your videos.

And for the expensive bodies, the Sony a7 III. Hard to beat that megapixel count and the sheer amount of features for the price. For what you’d pay for the top Nikon or Canon, you’re completely outfitted with lenses, lights, audio, and a tripod.

Those are my picks for the best vlogging cameras of 2018. Sound off in the comments on any you’d like to see added.

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Last update on 2018-12-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API