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.
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.
Here is the Best Vlogging Camera of 2020
Our pick for the top vlogging camera of 2020 is the Sony ZV-1.
While the Sony ZV-1 is basically an RX100 V, the looks are deceiving. It’s the internals and software that make the camera shine as the potential king of vlogging cameras in 2020. I think we have all seen the product review vlogs on YouTube with the personality having to hold their hand behind whatever they are showing off to get the autofocus to kick in.
The Sony ZV-1 gets around this with ‘Product Showcase,’ an autofocus setting that automatically widens the field of view to pick up the product. No more begging your camera to hunt whatever you’re trying to bring attention to finally. Sony, bring this to all your cameras. It’s not just vloggers doing product reviews.
Another notch in the camera’s belt is the autofocus. It’s Sony, and they have damn near perfected the game. Especially on a camera that’s well under $1000. Eye AF is there and hardly ever misses.
Then the flip-out screen. Pretty sure this is the dual card slot moment of 2020. Every camera is getting one, and the ZV-1 is no exception.
If you’re just starting out in the world of YouTube, it’s hard to argue against the Sony ZV-1.
Sony ZV-1 accessories.
Sony also created a package with a grip/tripod combination for $148. There are other options for tripods, but in this case, having something designed around the ZV-1 is definitely a plus.
Even with the improved audio, you should opt for a better audio solution. Your viewers will thank you. One option is the RODE VideoMicro for $70. It fits cleanly into the mic jack on the side and won’t block the flip-up screen. Another option is the wireless RODE lav microphone system. That will give you room to add an on-camera light source to better control the lighting during livestreams or daily vlogs.
Your Vlogging Questions Answered
How much is a vlogging camera?
That can vary from a few hundred dollars to well above $5000 with lenses. Our pick of the Sony ZV-1 is $748 but has a built-in lens. Adding a microphone and tripod takes the price to around $1000. Own a smartphone? The new Osmo Mobile 3 is $119. What about a Sony a7 III? Once you add the body, lens, microphone, tripod, etc. the price jumps north of $3000.
What is the best camera to vlog with?
The answer you’ll hear most often is the camera you already own. Our pick for 2020 is the Sony ZV-1. It has a veritable laundry list of features. Compact. Shoots 4K. SteadyShot. The autofocus system is borrowed from a $4000 professional camera. Pair it with a simple tripod and a microphone and you’re good to go on your vlogging adventure.
What is a good vlogging camera?
A vlog camera under $1000 is the new Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III. It pairs a 20.1 MP sensor with Canon’s latest DIGIC 8 image processor. While not as feature-packed as the Sony, the G7 X can record in 4K though it places 10-minute limits on each recording. At $750, you can easily piece together a vlogging kit well under $1000.
What is the best vlogging camera for beginners?
Your smartphone. Whatever model you use, most flagship smartphones have incredible camera systems. Invest in a smartphone gimbal for around $119, and you’re set for your first vlog. Once you decide that it’s something you want to take to the next level, you can then start investing in standalone camera setups.
What camera do 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. That’s gross overkill. You don’t need a RED.
If you’re starting out, don’t fall into the gear trap of wanting the latest and greatest. Deals can be had for a camera which is a generation older. Focus on what you want to say and build the consistency and message you want to present. Not a room full of gear.
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 of what you want to say.
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.
Canon EOS M50
It’s a bit older than the ZV1, and rumors have a Mark II version hitting sometime in late 2020, but the Canon M50 is a favorite among YouTube creators. It’s small. Shoots in 4K. Has the flip-out screen. Canon’s excellent Dual Pixel AF is on board. Oh, and it’s an interchangeable lens APS-C camera. That’s one hell of a bonus over the ZV-1. You’re not locked in on focal lengths, especially if Canon supports the hell out of the EOS M lineup.
There’s also the matter of it’s a cheaper option than even the ZV-1. Yes, you’ll still need the audio and lighting like all the others, but the cost savings can get you there for nearly the same price. The downside is the EOS M50 lacks the feature set of the ZV-1. It comes down to needs and wants. If you plan to make a lot of static vlogs with products, Sony has obvious advantages. Planning to be more mobile? Both can fit the bill.
Best Cheap Vlogging Camera – DJI OSMO Pocket
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.
A Good All Around Vlogging Camera – Sony a6400
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 the 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. Let’s take a look at the specs.
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.
Upgrading 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.
Best Prosumer Vlog Camera – 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. 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.
You’re probably thinking, why would an Action Camera make for an excellent vlogging setup? My answer is the extremely popular Young Bloods YouTube channel. Every video shot is with an action camera. In his case, a GoPro. They are small, can take abuse, and are cheap. And in 2020, each of the three below is wonderfully stabilized. The days of the GoPro shake are gone, and it’s more than a bit trippy at how far they have come.
Now, which one fits your need? Honestly, any of the three. The Insta360 R is compelling thanks to its modularity. Need a 360 camera? Buy the module. Want a one-inch sensor with Leica technology? Buy that module. You will pay more, but there are distinct advantages to having options.
Want to keep it simple? The GoPro Hero8 or the DJI Osmo Action are both fantastic options, and the pros and cons are essentially the same. Both are on par with each other for the most part, and the Osmo Action benefits from being able to use the near-unlimited supply of aftermarket accessories initially designed for the GoPro community.
Best of the Best Vlogging Cameras – Sony a7s III & Canon EOS R5
Budget no object? You can open up to the world of cine lenses, full-frame bodies, and crazy lighting systems.
File these both under you either have experience in the video world or have a sizeable budget. These are the two premiere camera launches in 2020. Sony went all-in on 4K with the a7s III, while Canon decided to be very un-Canon like and include every feature it could cram into the body.
Sure, it might double as a space heater, but damn if that spec sheet isn’t something special. 8K video? Sure, why not? We don’t even have dedicated 4K television channels yet, but sure.
Both have advantages and drawbacks. For Sony, the a7s III is not a hybrid camera. Sure, you can take great 12MP pictures, but it’s meant for video. The 12MP sensor is sized for a reason. It’s a full pixel readout at 4K up to 120fps. With unlimited record times. And it’s a lowlight monster. Actually, it’s downright creepy how well it performs in lowlight situations. Oh, and it shoots in 10-bit color. It’s about time.
Another Sony advantage is in the lens department. The company has been in the mirrorless camera business for a long time, and third-party glass out of Tamron and Sigma keep your overall cost down.
On the Canon EOS R5, it reads like a dream camera. 8K video? With autofocus? Yep. Do you need 8K? No, but it’s damn cool, unlike the camera. That kind of processing involves a lot of heat, and even Canon’s perfect scenario timeframes are limiting. In the real world, the 8K comes off as a gimmick more than a feature.
But it does have its advantages. For one, it’s a true hybrid camera. The sensor puts out sublime photos for those days when you want to take stills over video. And IBIS. I’m not sure what magic Canon pulled, but damn. It blows every other camera out of the water. Handheld is damn close to having it on a gimbal.
You can read more on both cameras on our mirrorless camera guide. Do you need either of these to become a vlogger? No. But there is something to be said for high-quality gear. You’re not getting cinematic 4K 120fps out of a point-and-shoot.
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.
Dual SD card slots, an audio jack, and a 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.
Which Vlogging Camera is Right For You?
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 Pocket.
Midrange, my favorite is the Sony RX100 VII. 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.
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