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.
Want to become the next big Youtube or Instagram vlogger? You’ll need a dedicated vlog camera setup capable of producing both high-quality video and still photography. Why still photography? It’s a great way to increase your footprint on Instagram while you work on the edits for your latest episode.
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.
Oh, and dedication. Don’t expect to blow up overnight, but those who stick it out and want it? The sky’s the limit, and you could be the next YouTube or Instagram influencer.
It’s the camera that straddles the line between hobbyist vlogging and professional. Sure, it’s a crop sensor camera. But for vlogging, that’s a bonus over a negative feature. You want portability because you will be shooting at a variety of locations.
One odd feature missing is IBIS, but with tripods and gimbals, you can get away from relying on in-body image stabilization. Most will want a gimbal, and when the two start fighting, you’ll want IBIS off.
Quick note: The a6400 is the latest camera of the a6000-series from Sony. Not the a6500. I know, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but that’s corporate branding for you.
4K Video. Sony oversamples to 6K giving you the highest quality video.
Fast Tracking AF. If you’re on the move or shooting a fast-moving subject, the frame is always in focus.
Eye AF. Sony’s killer autofocus feature. Others are starting to include it, but Sony keeps ahead of the game with firmware updates. And with 425 phase-detection AF points, it’s one of the widest on a crop sensor and fastest with a 0.02-second focusing speed.
S-Log/HLG. Picture profiles for those who want to color grade. You’ll need to know your way around Adobe, Final Cut, etc., but the flat picture profiles allow incredible freedom to polish your videos.
180-degree tiltable screen to frame shots. One negative is the second you want to use the hotshoe; it obscures the screen.
External microphone jack and XLR adapter for professional grade audio options.
That’s on the vlogging video side. You’ll still want to load up your Instagram with your latest pictures. The Sony a6400 is a capable still camera thanks to its 24.2MP CMOS sensor. It can hit 11fps with the mechanical shutter and 8fps with silent shooting. The buffer holds up to 46 shots in compressed RAW or 116 JPEG (standard) shots in one continuous burst.
It’s on the still photography side where Eye AF shines. It hardly misses a beat and with continuous tracking, your days of worrying if a shot was in focus are gone. The a6400 also brings back the timelapse functionality with its suite of mobile apps.
Extending the Sony a6400
Batteries. Unfortunately, the a6400 didn’t get the latest Z battery from Sony so you’ll need extras. Rated at around 360 shots by CIPA, you can blitz through a couple in a hurry, so plan accordingly. One hack around the battery life is it can be powered via USB and a battery pack.
Lenses. You can opt for the kit lens to get started, but you’ll want to get something solid for video. Our recommendation is the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 for Sony E. It’s $400 so you’re not breaking the bank for a great low light lens which is compact and supports the Fast Hybrid AF on the a6400. The best solution is to pair it with the kit lens and see what else you need further down the line.
Tripod. Yeah, this could turn into a giant list. Our take is one you can accomplish multiple shots or videos. The vlogging tripod of choice among a lot of YouTubers? The JOBY GorrillaPod. It comes down to personal preference.
Gimbals. No IBIS means you’ll need a stable platform while walking the streets. Before you get the topline gimbal from DJI, Zhiyun or others remember you have a light setup. Something like the Moza AirCross gets the job done for a fraction of the price.
Now that we’ve had our say on the best vlogging camera of 2019 let’s take a deep dive into the near limitless vlogging camera options on the market.
Your Vlogging Questions Answered
What is Vlogging?
The videos filling every corner of YouTube and Instagram Stories. That’s vlogging. Sarcasm aside, the term is a riff off of blogging. Instead of writing post after post for a blog, go the video route and drop the ‘b’ for a ‘v.’ Video blog = vlog. You’ll need to get used to being in front of a camera and have a pretty good idea on what you want to say.
What is the best vlogging camera for beginners?
Your smartphone. Whatever model you use, most flagship smartphones have incredible camera systems. And you already own one. Invest in a smartphone gimbal for around $150, and you ’re set for your first vlog. Once you decide it’s something you want to take to the next level, you can then start investing in standalone camera setups.
What camera do most YouTubers use?
Ah, the age old question of what gear someone is using. Someone like Peter McKinnon uses the Canon 1DX Mark II. Other popular vloggers stick with Sony, be it the a7 III or the a6400 or a6500. Marques Brownlee uses the ultra-expensive RED cameras.
Starting out, you do not need the latest and greatest gear. Focus on what you want to say and build the consistency and message you want to present. Not a room full of gear.
How do you become a famous vlogger?
Work. A lot of work. While the vlogs are a picture of living the best life; what you don’t see is the storyboarding, video editing, social media marketing, discipline, and the list goes on. Find your niche and keep after it. What may look like a shortcut to success is months and years of work and dedication.
Best Vlogging Camera Kits of 2019
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 Camera Kits
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 or choose from a variety of smartphone gimbals.
DJI’s answer to the question of what happens when you take the camera off a Mavic Pro and walk around with it. The Osmo Pocket. It doesn’t get much more portable than this for a three-axis stabilized camera. At $350, it is in a niche all its own. The ability to shoot 4K60p is astounding for the price point. Loaded with the latest shot modes and external accessories, it can easily become a high quality, yet affordable vlogging solution.
Honestly, how DJI manages to price some of its offerings come across as shots across the bow of other competitors.
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 $139.
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.
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.
Remember the Sony RX0? The action cam that really wasn’t an action cam. It was an oddity in the market as it had loads of potential but lacked polish. It didn’t have 4K internal recording among other gripes. Well, it grew up into the RX0 II. It fixes all the issues of the previous generation and somehow adds a flip-up screen for vlogging. Yet, no tilt screen on Sony’s full-frame cameras? Bold move, Sony.
Its pricing may be what holds it back, but damn is it slick and summed up perfectly in iPhonedo’s review of what he calls the little 4K monster.
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.
Thanks to its more expensive cousin, the RX100V can be had for sub-$1000. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sony a7r III
2017 saw Sony giving us the much-anticipated update to the a7r lineup with the a7r III. 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.
Audio, you can stick with RODE. 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.
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 2019. Sound off in the comments on any you’d like to see added.