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.
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.
Best Vlogging Cameras of 2018
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 a solid solution.
Osmo Mobile 2
Fresh off the Movi announcement from Freefly, DJI entered CES 2018 with an answer in the form of the Osmo Mobile 2. Take everything you liked about the original Osmo Mobile and cram 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 X, Samsung S9 series 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 starts 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 exact 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.
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.
It retails for just under $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.
In the past month, 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.
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 great 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 D500 has only built on it. Some of the new features include Snapbridge compatibility which allows you to instantly transfer still images to your smartphone over Bluetooth. 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 at $796.95 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 with a ball head hits $119.00, and a NEEWER video light is a steal at $32.99.
It’s easy to go big on all of this but the basic package to get you running retails out at $1048.84. Adding the 3-axis gimbal is something you can do at a later date. It is damn cool to have. After you upped your lens game and have plenty of videos under your belt.
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.
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.
GoPro Hero5 Vlogging Camera
An action camera for vlogging? Why not? You never know when your adventures involve a dip into the water. And you can drop this without having a heart attack. Think of it as the Osmo Mobile solution with your smartphone if you add the GoPro Karma Grip for $300.
There are a host of accessories for the GoPro Hero5, including tripods, lighting solutions and more. The company may have had issues with the Karma launch, but don’t sleep on adding the GoPro Hero5 as a possible accessory to your vlogging setup.
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.
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) & 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.
It’s not cheap with the body retailing for $2000. 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.
Still, can you get the same for a cheaper price?
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.
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.
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.
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 host of other features add up to one of the best values on the camera market today. If your budget can handle it, the a7 III immediately puts you into the category of professional vloggers.
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.
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.
Same reasons as the semi-pro level, but now you can expand your reach with lighting and better lenses.
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.
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.
Honestly, I’d prefer the D500 over the Nikon D5. Same capabilities minus a few things in a package that’s easier to handle. At $6500, it’s the most expensive for a camera body. I’d stick with the Sony offerings and just buy extra batteries. But if you’re a previous Nikon user, you know you are getting serious quality, though, for vlogging, it’s overkill.
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.