While anyone can get started making YouTube videos with just their smartphone, a more sophisticated setup will often yield better results. A good microphone, a tripod, and lighting are all key, but the heart of any YouTube setup is your camera. Depending on what you need, you may want to look into a compact camera that comes with features aimed to make vlogging easier, a mirrorless or DSLR camera for studio setups and higher quality video, or an action camera to take with you wherever you go. Whether you're a sit-down vlogger or you want to share your extreme sports adventures, choosing the right camera for your needs will help you create the content you want to make.
We've tested over 70 cameras, and below you'll find our recommendations for the best cameras to buy for making YouTube videos. These picks were selected not only based on their overall performance but also their feature set and price. Check out our recommendations for the best compact cameras, the best mirrorless cameras, and the best cameras for filmmaking.
If you're looking for something compact, one of the best cameras for YouTube that we've tested is the Sony ZV-1. It's designed primarily for vloggers, with a lightweight construction that makes it easy to carry around for extended periods and a compact body that allows you to store it in a small bag or a coat pocket. Its screen is also fully articulated, so you can monitor what's being recorded even when the camera is pointed at you. There's even a detachable windsock for its built-in mic to help cut background noise when shooting outdoors.
This camera can shoot FHD video at up to 120 fps, great for generating smooth slow-motion clips. It can also shoot 4k video at either 24 or 30 fps with only a minor 1.12x crop. Its autofocus system delivers superb face and object-tracking performance regardless of the resolution you shoot it and offers specialized vlogging modes, like 'Product Showcase', which automatically switches focus from faces to objects held up in frame. A dedicated 'Background Defocus' button instantly opens the lens' aperture to its maximum for a soft background effect while ensuring the subject in the foreground remains sharp.
Unfortunately, video quality can degrade when shooting in darker environments. In addition, like many Sony cameras, its menu system isn't especially intuitive, with many functions being buried within sub-menus. The menu is also somewhat hard to navigate with the camera's small physical click wheel. In addition, the camera's battery life is somewhat short, and it can overheat during extended recording periods, so it isn't the best fit for long-form videos. Still, its compact size and remarkably effective autofocus system make it one of the best point-and-shoot cameras that we've tested.
If you do a lot of livestreaming, check out the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III. It's similar in size to the Sony ZV-1, but it doesn't have a fully articulated screen, although you can still tilt its screen up to face you for vlogs. On top of that, it comes with a built-in livestreaming function that lets you stream videos directly to YouTube over Wi-Fi. It has a more comfortable handgrip, and its menu system is much easier to navigate. It can also record 4k video without a crop. However, its autofocus system is less reliable, and it can't record at 120 fps for slow-motion footage of fast action. Also, while it has a slightly longer tested battery life for video, it doesn't support use while charging, and it has a similar risk of overheating with prolonged use.
Get the Sony if you want a compact vlogging camera with a fully-articulated screen and more reliably autofocus. If, however, you like the convenience of a built-in livestreaming feature, the Canon is a great alternative.
If you're interested in an interchangeable-lens mirrorless camera, consider the Fujifilm X-S10, which is the best 4k camera for YouTube vlogging that we've tested. It has a sturdy-feeling body made of magnesium alloy and plastic, which is comfortable to hold and use. Its in-body stabilization system does a great job smoothing out camera shake, which is important if you're recording handheld. Its screen is fully-articulated, so you can monitor what's being recorded even when the camera is pointed at you.
This camera can shoot sharp 4k video at up to 30 fps without a crop. There are also dedicated high-speed recording modes for 1080p, which allow you to record at 120 or 240 fps and play it back at 2x, 4x, 8x, or 10x slow-motion speed. It supports flat F-Log recording if you plan on color-grading your video in editing, and its built-in View Assist feature can simulate what your footage would look like after it's been color-graded. Unlike the pricier Fujifilm X-T4, it can only record 8-bit 4:2:0 video internally, but it can output higher-quality 10-bit 4:2:2 video through its HDMI output, which is great if you have an external recorder.
Unfortunately, its NP-126S battery has a lower capacity than the NP-W235 pack used by the Fujifilm X-T4, and it can only provide sufficient charge for an hour of continuous recording. Thankfully, you can charge it while in use via its USB-C port, which is great for extended shooting sessions. Overall, it's a great option if you're looking for a versatile, well-built mirrorless camera that offers a fairly wide variety of video features, all at a lower price than many other flagship models.
If you're on a budget, check out the Canon EOS M50 Mark II. This entry-level mirrorless camera is the best camera for YouTube beginners thanks to its comfortable, lightweight design and Canon's highly intuitive menu system. You can use its fully articulated touchscreen to navigate the menu or for Live View, and it flips all the way around for selfies or vlogs. The screen is also bright enough to overcome glare in sunny conditions.
The camera uses a 24.1-megapixel APS-C sensor and delivers great 1080p video quality and good 4k video quality when shooting in more controlled lighting conditions. It records 1080p video at up to 60 fps, giving you a few different frame rates to shoot from, whether you want a more cinematic look or if you want to capture smooth, fast action. It also has a good autofocus system, which does an amazing job of tracking moving subjects in 1080p, and unlike the slightly cheaper Canon EOS M50, the Mark II supports eye-tracking.
Unfortunately, its 4k performance isn't as impressive. It can only shoot 4k video at 24 fps with a severe 1.5x crop. Its autofocus system also performs very inconsistently when shooting in 4k. It also lacks in-body image stabilization, though its digital stabilization feature does a good job of reducing camera shake while incurring an additional crop. While it doesn't perform as well in low light as a full-frame camera would, both versions of the M50 offer a ton of value for their price, thanks to their 1080p video features and portable design.
If you're looking for a portable action camera, the best camera for YouTube videos that we've tested is the GoPro HERO10 Black. This mountable action cam is incredibly portable, and you can attach it to any number of objects and mounts for unique POV action footage. It's advertised to be waterproof to a depth of 10 m, and it has a front-facing screen that you can use for Live View to monitor yourself as you record.
It supports a ton of frame rates and resolutions, including 1080p and 2.7k up to 240 fps, 4k up to 120 fps, and 5.3k up to 60 fps, allowing you to capture everything from high-speed action footage to slow-motion. Its video quality is reasonably good, particularly when compared to other action cameras, and its new processor gives it improved low-light performance over its predecessor, the GoPro HERO9 Black. Its digital stabilization feature also does a fantastic job smoothing out camera shake.
That said, the camera doesn't have any inputs aside from its USB-C port, which means you have to purchase a 'Media Mod' from GoPro at an additional cost if you want an HDMI port and directional mic for better audio. Its battery life is also mediocre, though it supports USB charging, and you can keep using it while it charges. All in all, this is one of the best action cameras we've tested, and it's a great choice for YouTube content creators and sports vloggers.
If you want an action video camera that you can use handheld instead of mounting it to an object or helmet, consider the DJI Pocket 2. It doesn't have as many resolution and frame rate options as the GoPro HERO10 Black since it only records 1080p and 4k video, and it isn't waterproof. However, it has a built-in three-axis stabilized gimbal, meaning you can shoot stabilized handheld footage. The gimbal has three different lock modes that let you adjust how the camera behaves as you tilt, pan, or roll the handle. Its autofocus system also does a fantastic job keeping moving subjects in focus. It includes an active tracking feature that can lock onto a subject and track them automatically. While it has fewer frame rate options, it can still record 1080p and 4k video at up to 60 fps and even includes a 'Slow-Mo' mode in 1080p that can capture footage at higher frame rates for slow-motion playback. That said, the camera can get very hot with extended use, especially when shooting in 4k.
Get the GoPro if you want a portable action camera with more frame rate options. If you want a camera meant for handheld use, the DJI is a solid alternative.
Feb 17, 2022: Verified that all main picks are still available and represent the best fit for user needs and expectations.
Jan 21, 2022: Reviewed article for accuracy with no change to recommendations.
Dec 22, 2021: Replaced the Fujifilm X-T4 with the Fujifilm X-S10 as the 'Best Mirrorless Camera For YouTube' and added the X-T4 to Notable Mentions.
Dec 03, 2021: Replaced the GoPro HERO9 Black with the GoPro HERO10 Black as the 'Best Action Camera For YouTube'.
Nov 05, 2021: Added the Canon EOS M50 Mark II as 'Best Budget Camera For YouTube'.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best cameras for most people to buy, according to their needs. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability (no cameras that are difficult to find or almost out of stock in the U.S.).
If you would like to choose for yourself, here's the list of all our reviews for cameras. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There is no single perfect camera. Personal taste, preference, and shooting habits will matter more in your selection.