While anyone can get started making YouTube videos with just their smartphone, a more sophisticated setup should 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 look into a more compact vlogging 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 should help you get the results you want.
We've tested over 50 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. You can also check our recommendations for the best compact cameras, the best mirrorless cameras, and the best mirrorless cameras under $1,000.
The best YouTube camera we've tested with a compact design is the Sony ZV-1. It's specifically aimed at vloggers and comes equipped with a bright, fully articulated screen that lets you monitor yourself as you record and includes a windscreen for its mic to reduce noise when shooting outside. It's also packed with features that may be useful for vloggers, including a 'Product Showcase' setting that automatically adjusts the focus to highlight objects held up within the frame and a 'Background Defocus' button that quickly switches to a shallow depth of field and back. That said, we don't currently test these features.
It delivers good overall video quality in 4k and decent video quality in FHD, although it degrades noticeably in low light. The camera also has an exceptional autofocus system that does a fantastic job of keeping moving subjects in focus, whether shooting in FHD or 4k. It includes face and eye-tracking, and you can set it to detect either humans or animals. It also does an excellent job of smoothing out camera shake, great for vloggers who prefer to shoot without a tripod or gimbal.
Unfortunately, it doesn't have the best battery life, especially when shooting video, and it tends to overheat, which may interrupt longer recording sessions. However, battery performance can vary with real-world conditions. The menu system can also be a little hard to navigate. Still, the camera's lightweight design, superb autofocus and stabilization, and good video quality make it one of the best compact cameras we've tested.
If you want a compact camera that can livestream directly to YouTube, check out the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III. Its video quality isn't as good as the Sony ZV-1, and its autofocus system isn't as reliable. However, it can livestream directly to YouTube using your phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot, which is convenient for vloggers who do a lot of livestreaming. It has a similarly small and lightweight design, making it easy to take on the go, and while its screen isn't fully articulated, it can flip up to face you for self-recording. Like the Sony, it has a disappointing battery life and a tendency to overheat, but this can vary depending on your settings and usage habits. Video quality is just okay overall, but it does a great job of smoothing out camera shake.
If you prioritize video quality and autofocus performance, get the Sony. If you like the convenience of a built-in livestreaming function, consider the Canon.
The best camera for YouTube that we've tested with a mirrorless body is the Fujifilm X-T4. The larger size of a crop-sensor mirrorless camera isn't as convenient as a compact camera for on-the-go vlogging, but the bigger sensor delivers better overall image quality. It has excellent internal recording capability as well, as it supports 10-bit color depth internal recording and produces large, high-quality video files. It's also a great all-around camera if you like to take photos as well as video.
Its video quality is impressive, whether shooting in 4k or FHD, and it has a fully articulated screen to help you monitor yourself as you record. It also has several frame rate options to suit whatever kind of video you need, from cinematic 24 fps to a nifty slow-motion capture mode that can record 120 or 240 fps in FHD for slow-motion playback. Unlike most other mirrorless cameras we've tested, it shoots 60 fps in 4k with only a very small crop. It has a superb autofocus system, especially for keeping moving subjects reliably in focus, and its in-body image stabilization does a fantastic job of reducing camera shake, so it's well-suited to shooting handheld.
That said, it's somewhat heavy, so carrying it around for long periods may be tiresome. Otherwise, it feels well-built, fairly comfortable to use, and has a great menu system with an easy-to-navigate interface. However, it doesn't have a guide mode to walk newcomers through its settings and features. Despite these minor quibbles, this is among the best mirrorless cameras we've tested, and most people should be happy with it.
If you want to save a bit of money, consider the Fujifilm X-S10. It doesn't have as high video quality as the Fujifilm X-T4, but it's more affordable and more portable for on-the-go vlogging and travel. Like the X-T4, it has a fully articulated screen to help you monitor the image while recording, and it feels very comfortable to use, with a large ergonomic grip. It also has an in-body stabilization feature that does a great job of reducing camera shake and a fantastic autofocus system that ensures moving subjects stay in focus. Unfortunately, it has a disappointing battery life for video, although this can vary depending on settings and usage habits.
Get the X-T4 if you want the best camera for YouTube videos with superb autofocus and high video quality. If you're looking for something a bit cheaper and smaller, the X-S10 is a great alternative.
If you're looking for an action camera, the best camera for YouTube that we've tested is the GoPro HERO9 Black. It comes with two screens, one on the back and another facing the front, to help you monitor yourself as you record. Plus, its small and lightweight design is ideal for action video, and it's rated to be waterproof, although we don't currently test this.
It does a great job of stabilizing video while walking or running, and it has a ton of frame rate options in FHD and 4k. It can record at up to 240 fps in FHD, allowing you to capture high-speed action and generate smooth slow-motion footage. It also records up to 60 fps in 4k, so you can smoothly capture fast-moving action. The fixed narrow aperture and wide-angle focal length ensure that everything stays in focus. In addition, the camera has a decent battery life for longer shooting sessions, though this can vary in the real world.
While it's a great choice for action video, its video quality still leaves much to be desired. Overall, the quality isn't bad, but it looks noticeably grainier and less detailed in dimmer lighting conditions. Unfortunately, it also lacks connectivity options, with no microphone port or HDMI port. However, if you want additional inputs and outputs, you can buy a GoPro media mod at extra cost to get a built-in directional mic, HDMI out, and accessory mounts. Still, this is the best action cam for YouTube that we've tested, thanks to its compact waterproof design, impressive video stabilization, and dual screens.
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 US).
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.