The Best Vlogging Cameras and Equipment of 2021 | The Ultimate Guide

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Finding the best vlogging cameras is crucial
Photo by Los Muertos Crew from Pexels

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 invest the time and money to find 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, especially when it comes to photos. 

For quality video content, however, shelling out for a professional camera soon becomes inevitable. Smartphone cameras are generally limited when it comes to things like depth of field – after all, they lack space for a lens assembly. 

The kind of camera and equipment you need depends on your niche and the kind of content you want to create. To give you an overview, 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 additional webcam clamped to their screen.

Using your phone as a vlogging camera
Photo by Ron Lach from Pexels

To take it to the next level, though, there are several professional vlogging cameras you could consider

One of the top 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 vari-angle touchscreen. Pricing starts at around $750. 

Photo by Kenny Leys on Unsplash

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 doesn’t 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. 

for indoor vlogging, you need good lights
Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels

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, but they tend to be 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:

Video Characteristics

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 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 should be the minimum 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. However, few common cameras can record in 10-bit or 4:2:2 color out of the box. Many, though, can output it when you connect an external recorder.

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 film with a green-screen.

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 of the latter 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 falls short of the video quality. On top of that, they’ll usually record everything from the camera’s internal motors to wind or footstep noises, rather than just you.

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. That way, 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 Line-Up

The cameras we’ve selected for you 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, and connect via WiFi and Bluetooth for streaming and remote control. 

Model Resolution and FPS Color Depth Color Resolution Stabilization Price of Body
Fujifilm X‑S10 4K + 30 fps / 2K + 60 fps / FHD + 240 fps 8-bit / 10-bit* 4:2:0 / 4:2:2* 5-axis IBIS $999
Sony ZV‑1 4K + 30 fps / FHD + 120 fps 8-bit / 10-bit* 4:2:0 / 4:2:2* basic IBIS $749
Sony α6600 4K + 30 fps / FHD + 120 fps 8-bit 4:2:0 / 4:2:2* 5-axis IBIS $1.399
Panasonic Lumix DC‑S5 4K + 60 fps / FHD + 180 fps 8‑bit / 10‑bit 4:2:0 / 4:2:2 5-axis IBIS $1.999
Olympus OM‑D E‑M5 Mark III 4K + 30 fps / FHD + 120 fps 8-bit 4:2:0 / 4:2:2* 5-axis IBIS $1.399
Fujifilm X‑T4 4K + 60 fps / 2K + 60 fps / FHD + 240 fps 10-bit 4:2:0 / 4:2:2* 5-axis IBIS $1.699
Sony α7s III 4K + 120 fps / FHD + 240 fps / 4.2K + 60 fps** 8‑bit / 10‑bit / 16‑bit** 4:2:0 / 4:2:2 5-axis IBIS and Active IS for video $3.499

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’s 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 doesn’t 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 less control over your environment. And your equipment needs to compensate. While you can use the same cameras, you need additional accessories to adapt to the outdoor space. 

In most cases, there is no way around a tripod. 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. If you’re aiming to film in difficult terrain or from tricky angles, flexible tripods – such as GorillaPods – are a great solution.

Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels

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, meaning that regular (omnidirectional) microphones aren’t suitable for this. Shotgun (unidirectional) mics with wind protectors are ideal. Lapel mics will also work well because they basically sit right next to your mouth, but you might not be able to hide them.

Finally, you could consider investing in a drone for aerial shots. These days, some selfie drones under $200 can follow you around automatically and shoot 2K video, such as models by Snaptain, Simrex, or Potensic. If you want to go for something higher-end, the DJI Mavic Mini comes at around $500. It’ll stay in the air for half an hour and can film in 2.7K. The DJI Mini 2, at around $600, can film for 30 minutes at 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, most smartphone 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 when they move along with you 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 the movement of 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 $240, 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, if you’re moving for the majority of your filming process, or very fast, you should consider a specialized action-cam, such as a GoPro. While many of these models lag behind in terms of video quality, their massive advantage is their sturdiness and ease of handling in the field. 

the gopro is one of the best outdoor vlogging cameras

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 own 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 individual situation is definitely worth it in the end. By keeping an eye on the prices of online vendors, and checking marketplaces like Craigslist and eBay, you’ll be able to assemble a stellar set of equipment without blowing your budget. 

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