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 65 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 out our recommendations for the best compact cameras, the best mirrorless cameras, and the best vlogging cameras with flip screens.
Of the compact cameras we've tested, the best camera for YouTube is the Sony ZV-1. It's aimed specifically at vloggers, with a compact, lightweight design and a detachable windscreen for its microphone to reduce wind noise. It also has advertised vlogging features, including a 'Background Defocus' button to quickly toggle between a shallow and wide depth of field as well as autofocus settings like 'Product Showcase', which is meant to automatically adjust focus to any object held up within the frame, useful for beauty or product vloggers.
It's a remarkably portable camera that feels comfortable to use, despite its small size. It also comes with a fully-articulated touchscreen to help you shoot from different angles or monitor yourself while vlogging. It delivers excellent 4k video quality in brighter lighting conditions and decent quality in 1080p, though the quality dips a bit when recording in low light due to its smaller sensor. Still, it has a fantastic autofocus system that consistently keeps moving subjects in focus in either resolution.
That said, it has disappointing battery life. When recording continuously on its highest settings, it tends to overheat and shut down, but battery performance and risk of overheating can vary drastically with real-world conditions and settings. On the upside, it supports USB charging, and you can keep using it while it charges, which is handy. All in all, this camera's dedicated vlogging features, excellent 4k video quality, and superb autofocus make it one of the best vlogging cameras we've tested.
If you want a compact vlogging camera with built-in livestreaming functionality, check out the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III. It doesn't have a fully articulated screen like the Sony ZV-1, and its autofocus isn't as reliable, but it has built-in livestream capability that's advertised to let you stream directly to YouTube via Wi-Fi. It's also a bit more comfortable to hold thanks to its small handgrip, and its screen can still tilt out and flip up all the way to face you when you're vlogging. Canon's menu system is significantly easier to navigate than Sony's, making it easy to adjust settings as you need. It can also shoot in 4k at up to 30 fps without a crop. It doesn't have in-body image stabilization, but its digital stabilization feature does an impressive job smoothing out camera shake. However, it incurs a significant crop when enabled. The camera also has similarly disappointing battery performance and may suffer from overheating if you record continuously on its highest settings.
Go with the Sony if you want a camera with better autofocus and a fully articulated screen, but if you do a lot of livestreaming, consider the Canon.
If you're looking for an interchangeable lens mirrorless camera, then the best camera for YouTube videos that we've tested is the Fujifilm X-T4. It's a crop-sensor mirrorless camera with a fully-articulated screen, allowing you to shoot from unconventional angles or monitor yourself while vlogging. It also feels very well-built and has dedicated ISO and aperture dials to easily adjust settings on the fly.
It has an in-body image stabilization feature, which does an incredible job of smoothing out camera shake when recording video in either 4k or FHD. It also has a fantastic autofocus system with remarkable face and object tracking performance, which should ensure your face stays in focus while vlogging. Its overall video quality is impressive in both 4k and FHD, and it's especially sharp and noise-free in brighter lighting conditions.
Having said that, this camera is also on the heavy side and is larger than most of the other options on this list, meaning it's not the best option to carry around handheld or on the go for long periods. Still, it's an excellent option for sit-down vloggers, and it has a fair battery life, though this can vary with settings and usage. You can also keep using it while it charges, which is handy. All in all, this is one of the best mirrorless cameras that we've tested, and most vloggers should be happy with it.
If you'd prefer something a little more affordable, consider the Fujifilm X-S10. While it has a shorter tested battery life than the Fujifilm X-T4, it's cheaper and more portable, with a lightweight design and deep ergonomic grip that makes it easy to hold. Like the X-T4, it has a fully-articulated screen, so you can easily monitor the image and keep yourself in frame when vlogging. It also uses an APS-C sensor and delivers great image and video quality. That said, as with most crop-sensor cameras, the video quality is noticeably grainier when shooting in low light. Still, it does an excellent overall job of smoothing out camera shake when moving at a moderate pace thanks to its in-body image stabilization feature. It also does a superb job of tracking moving faces in video, although its autofocus is disappointingly inconsistent when taking still photos.
If you're looking for a mirrorless camera and want the best YouTube camera we've tested, go with the X-T4 thanks to its superior battery life and autofocus performance. If you want to save some money, however, 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's an incredibly portable action cam that you can mount to any number of compatible mounts and accessories, like a helmet or chest rig, to capture POV shots of fast-moving action. This model also comes with a front-facing screen with Live View, so you can monitor the recording when using it in a selfie position.
It can shoot video in 5k at up to 30 fps, and it shoots 4k video at up to 60 fps and FHD video at up to 240 fps, so it's well-suited to anything from more natural-looking video to generating smooth slow-motion footage of fast movement. While its video quality is lacking compared to cameras with larger sensors, it records high-quality video relative to other action cameras we've tested. It also has an exceptional video stabilization feature that does an incredible job smoothing out camera shake in both 4k and FHD.
Unfortunately, its video quality is poor in low light, with noticeable visual noise and grain. It also lacks inputs and outputs, with just a USB-C port, which means if you want to connect an HDMI cable for external playback or an auxiliary mic, you'll have to buy the GoPro 'Media Mod' at extra cost. Still, this is one of the best sports video cameras we've tested, and it's a great choice for adventure and sports YouTubers.
If you'd prefer an action vlogging camera that you can use handheld, check out the DJI Pocket 2. It doesn't have as many frame rate options as the GoPro HERO9 Black, and it isn't water-resistant, but it has a built-in three-axis gimbal that provides exceptional stabilization for handheld use. It also has better low-light performance due to its slightly bigger sensor, though its video quality is just okay overall. Like the GoPro, its aperture and focal length are fixed, but it has an excellent autofocus feature that can also be set to automatically follow a particular subject. It has a decent battery life, though this can vary with settings and usage. However, the camera can get quite hot during use, especially if you're shooting in 4k.
Go with the GoPro if you want a mountable action camera with waterproofing and 5k video capability, but if you're looking for something to use handheld, the DJI is a great alternative.
Oct 07, 2021: Added the Sony a7C and Panasonic GH5 II to Notable Mentions.
Sep 16, 2021: Checked picks for accuracy and availability; no change to recommendations.
Aug 26, 2021: Added the DJI Pocket 2 as 'Handheld Alternative' to the 'Best Action Camera For YouTube'.
Aug 05, 2021: Added the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III to Notable Mentions.
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.