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.
The best compact camera for YouTube of those we've tested is the Sony ZV-1. This fixed-lens vlogging camera is incredibly portable and lightweight, and it comes packed with features intended to make vlogging easier. It has a fully articulated screen that you can flip around to face you, and its simple design is easy enough to use for anyone to pick up and start recording. It also comes with a detachable windscreen to reduce ambient background noise when recording audio outdoors with the built-in microphone.
The camera records high-quality 4k video, and though it can only record up to 30 fps in 4k with a slight crop, it offers several frame rate options in 1080p, allowing you to shoot cinematic-looking video or slow-motion footage. On top of that, it has a fantastic autofocus system, including specialized modes like 'Product Showcase' that automatically switch focus to objects held up in frame without having to block your face. There's also a built-in 'Background Defocus' button that quickly blurs the background to give your videos a Bokeh effect.
Unfortunately, its menu system can be somewhat tricky to navigate, with more advanced settings being harder to find and limited touchscreen navigation. It also has a disappointing battery life, although that's fairly typical of compact cameras. Still, depending on your settings, it may overheat and shut down when recording for longer periods. Despite that, this is still one of the best cameras for YouTube videos for those interested in a compact option.
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 mirrorless camera, consider the Fujifilm X-S10, which is one of the best cameras for YouTube that we've tested. It's lightweight, portable, and has a fully articulated touchscreen that makes it easy to shoot from different angles or monitor yourself while vlogging. It also has in-body image stabilization to help reduce camera shake when shooting handheld.
On top of being relatively compact, it also feels very comfortable to use thanks to its deep, rubberized handgrip and solid build quality. It can record 4k video in 8-bit 4:2:0 internally, but it can also output 10-bit 4:2:2 video over HDMI if you have an external recorder. It has several frame rate options, including 4k up to 30 fps and 1080p up to 60 fps, along with a high-speed recording mode that can capture 1080p footage at up to 240 fps for slow-motion playback. Video quality is excellent overall, and its autofocus system does a fantastic job of keeping moving subjects in focus.
That said, it doesn't have the best battery life. It only lasts for about an hour of continuous video recording on a full charge, which is disappointing. On the upside, though, it supports USB charging, and you can keep using it while it charges. It also has a fairly long 30-minute recording time limit. While the flagship Fujifilm X-T4 may be preferable for more advanced videography, the X-S10 is one of the best vlogging cameras that we've tested, and it comes at an affordable price point.
The best camera for YouTube that we've tested for those on a budget is the Canon EOS M50 Mark II. This entry-level mirrorless camera is a great choice for 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.
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'.
Oct 07, 2021: Added the Sony a7C and Panasonic GH5 II 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 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.