The Best Vlogging Cameras and Equipment | The Ultimate Guide
As a vlogger, working with the right kind of equipment is crucial. Ultimately, it plays a huge part in determining the quality of your content – and its success.
Consequently, you should go for the best vlogging camera that’s in your budget, along with additional equipment like microphones, tripods, and lighting accessories.
When you’re just starting out with vlogging, sticking to your phone’s camera is mostly fine. These days, smartphone cameras will deliver solid results, though they’re usually better at photos.
For quality video content, however, you’ll need to shell out for a professional camera sooner rather than later.
A major reason for this is that smartphone cameras don’t have a lens assembly. This seriously limits them when it comes to things like depth of field.
The kind of camera and equipment you need depends on your niche and the kind of content you want to create.
Of course, you don’t want to break your bank either. We’ll talk about our picks in a bit, but first, we’ll give you an overview of the key video equipment.
Here’s the run-down.
Best Vlogging Cameras and Equipment for Stationary Filming
If you’re a fashion, lifestyle, or makeup vlogger, you probably have a dedicated vlogging space in your home. You can keep all your equipment and props here, and set it up for filming more or less permanently.
Since you’re in control of the environment here, you need less additional equipment and slightly less sophisticated cameras to get amazing results.
Most novice vloggers work solely with their smartphone, or an external webcam.
To take it to the next level, though, there are several professional vlogging cameras you could consider.
One of the top vlogger choices is the Fujifilm X-S10. At around $1.000, this is a solid mirrorless all-round camera for vloggers. It comes with a 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, and shoots at 4K.
A more budget-friendly alternative is the Sony ZV-1, a compact vlogging powerhouse. Like the Fujifilm X-S10, it films at 4K, connects via WiFi and Bluetooth, and has a flip-forward touchscreen. Pricing starts at around $750.
The Best Vlogging Cameras Compared
Choosing a good vlogging camera takes a little bit of research. One reason for this is that most digital cameras will shoot both pictures and video tolerably well. However, they’re usually optimized for still photography.
This means that not even high-end cameras automatically record good video.
For this review, we’ve put together some of the best options out there to compare them. Here are the most important criteria that decide whether a camera is suitable for serious vlogging:
Resolution: For all intents and purposes, 4K is the way to go. Recording in 1080p – that is, Full HD – is starting to look outdated. While 6K and 8K options are emerging, they’re not currently worth it for vlogging.
Frame rate: The number of video frames the camera can shoot per second (fps) is just as important a measure as resolution. However, since both drive up the data generated, there’s usually a trade-off. Today, 30 fps is about standard. 60 fps is excellent for general video, but not all cameras manage to do this in 4K. Lower resolutions allow for much higher frame rates, which can be great for smooth slow-motion clips.
Color depth and resolution: These two specs influence color quality, which can be very important for your niche. More importantly, they heavily influence what you can do in post-production.
10-bit color depth allows for much finer color gradients than the standard 8-bit depth, and is required for HDR imagery.
Color resolution – also called chroma subsampling – is important for sharp contrasts and contours. The standard is a serviceable 4:2:0 ratio, but you’ll quickly benefit from 4:2:2 if you have a lot of fine detail – text, for example – or if you film with a green-screen.
However, few common cameras can record in 10-bit or 4:2:2 color out of the box. Many, though, can actually output it. To take advantage of this, you can connect an external recorder via HDMI.
Autofocus (AF): Autofocus is essential for vlogging, since it lets you move around a bit without immediate blurring. Due to the way they work internally, mirrorless cameras outclass DSLRs in this, plain and simple. That’s why you won’t find any DSLRs in our selection.
Other Essential Features
External mic: Having the option to connect an external microphone is a must. That’s because the built-in mics’ recording quality often isn’t great. It usually won’t match the video quality. On top of that, they won’t focus just on you. Built-ins will record everything, including the camera’s internal motors, wind, and footstep noises.
Variable-angle screen: For vloggers, being able to see yourself while filming can prevent a lot of frustration. For this reason, it’s important that the screen can easily be flipped forward and adjusted. With a vari-angle screen, you don’t need an external monitor.
Stabilization: Until quite recently, in-body image stabilization (IBIS) was limited to high-end cameras. Now, midrange cameras also let you shoot smooth, steady video, even in motion, without an extra gimbal setup.
Connectivity: WiFi and Bluetooth connections let you stream video to your devices or even live on the internet. That’s quite useful in itself, but it also enables remote control of your camera. That can be a major time-saver.
The cameras we’ve selected for you all share the essential features from above.
That means that they are all:
- mirrorless for better autofocus
- have a vari-angle screen that can be flipped forwards
- support external microphones
- connect via WiFi and Bluetooth for streaming and remote control and
- shoot 4K at 30 fps or more.
|Camera||Resolution & FPS||Color depth||Color resolution||Stabilization||Body Cost|
|Fujifilm X-S10||4K + 30 fps
2K + 60 fps
FHD + 240 fps
|Sony ZV-1||4K + 30 fps
FHD + 120 fps
|Sony α6600||4K + 30 fps
FHD + 120 fps
|4K + 60 fps
FHD + 180 fps
E-M5 Mark III
|4K + 30 fps
FHD + 120 fps
|Fujifilm X-T4||4K + 60 fps
2K + 60 fps
FHD + 240 fps
|Sony α7s III||4K + 120 fps
FHD + 240 fps
4.2K + 60 fps***
|5-axis IBIS +
Active IS for video
* only with external recorder
** RAW output (also only with external recorder)
Other Considerations for Indoor Setups
In general, you should think about how many angles you want to film yourself from, and how many different setups you’ll need.
Additionally, since you’ll always be filming in the same place, it makes sense to invest in a decent lighting setup. Recently, ring lights have become popular, but there are lots of other options for your specific situation. As a rule of thumb, though, you’ll want your lighting to be soft, not super-bright.
Finally, think about what your audio sounds like. If you’re vlogging indoors, your choice of mic might not matter so much, since there’s likely little background noise to deal with. Built-in mics and shotgun mics are good for this because they’ll stay out of the frame.
That is, unless you’re a game streamer, in which case it’s absolutely fine to wear a headset.
Essential Equipment for Outdoor Vlogging
Once you move your vlogging videography outside, things become a little more challenging. You have much less control over your environment.
And your equipment needs to compensate for that. While you can use the same cameras, you’ll need additional accessories to adapt to the outdoor space.
In most cases, there is no way around a tripod – even if you get yourself a videographer.
If you want to continue shooting with your phone camera, there are some specific tripod models that will double as a selfie stick and connect to your phone via Bluetooth.
And if you’re aiming to film in difficult terrain or from tricky angles, flexible tripods – such as the one in the pic below – are a great solution.
In addition, you should consider investing in a light meter, which is invaluable to get camera sensitivity and white balance settings right.
When it comes to microphones, outdoor conditions are more challenging. Here, you’ll have to screen out background and wind noise. Regular (omnidirectional) microphones just don’t cut it here.
Shotgun (unidirectional) mics with wind protectors are ideal. Lapel mics will also work well because they basically sit right next to your mouth, but they’ll be visible.
As for lighting, light modifiers like white flags or boards let you reflect light to soften the shadows on your face. Neutral density (ND) filters on your lens also help compensate for very high contrasts.
Finally, you could consider investing in a drone for aerial shots. These days, selfie drones under $200 can follow you around automatically and shoot 2K video. Snaptain, Simrex, or Potensic make great little drones like that.
If you want to go for something slightly higher-end, the DJI Mavic Mini 2 comes at around $500. It’ll stay in the air for half an hour and can film in 4K.
Best Vlogging Cameras and Equipment for Action-Packed Videos
If your vlogging videos include a lot of movement, especially outdoors, you need to adapt your equipment accordingly.
When it comes to consistently capturing fast-paced movement at a good quality, smartphones and many cameras hit their limits – especially when they’re hand-held.
An excellent solution is to get a gimbal for your phone or camera. This set-up compensates for movement and provides steady shots even while you’re walking or running.
However, many high-end cams – the Sony a7S III, for example – have built-in video stabilization features to produce smooth video even in motion.
Alternatively, you can get a dedicated gimbal camera. Most of these models can track a target, and lock onto your face to keep it at the center of your shot throughout your sequence.
One of the best options currently out there is the Osmo Pocket, which The Verge calls “almost an all-in-one vlogging setup”. It supports motion-lapse, time-lapse, and other classic vlogging effects. At around $225, it’s not terribly expensive, but it does have some drawbacks, such as its audio quality and the tiny built-in screen. However, you can attach it to your smartphone for a better experience, and it does shoot 4K at 60fps.
Finally, you might move around for basically the entire shoot, or very quickly. In this case, consider a specialized action cam, such as a GoPro. While many of these models lag in video quality, their massive advantage is that they’re sturdy and easy to handle in the field.
And expert travel and GoPro video editing can make up for a lot of their downsides.
The Bottom Line
Which video equipment is best for your vlog depends on where and what you are filming. Before you make a decision on what to get, evaluate your needs, reach out to people in your network to ask for recommendations, and compare reviews.
Investing some time and effort into choosing the right equipment for your own situation is definitely worth it. By keeping an eye on the prices of online shops, and checking second-hand marketplaces like Craigslist and eBay, you’ll be able to assemble stellar equipment without blowing your budget.