- Our choice for the #1 Best Overall Camera for YouTube is the Sony ZV-1.
- When looking at cameras for YouTube, you want to start with 4K resolution as the minimum recording quality.
- Depending on your needs, portability should be a big part of your decision about which camera to purchase.
One of the first things to learn about YouTube is that the quality of your content is the most important way to earn new subscribers. The second most important thing about becoming a YouTuber is that content quality is something you cannot ignore.
While different types of YouTubers will have different camera needs, you can rest assured there is an ideal YouTube camera out there for you.
Let’s take a look at the 6 best cameras for YouTube below.
- Best Overall: Sony ZV-1
- Best for 4K: Sony ZV-E1
- Best Mirrorless: Panasonic Lumix GH5
- Best for Portability: GoPro Hero 11
- Best Premium: Sony A7S III
- Best for Professionals: Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro
#1 Best Overall: Sony ZV-1
As soon as your search for a camera that is perfect for YouTube starts, you have to think through what kind of content you will be using it for. Are you looking to use it for action shots or are you just sitting in front of a camera and talking? The answer to this question might have you looking at two different cameras altogether or you can find a happy medium with the Sony ZV-1.
The highlight of the Sony ZV-1, at least for YouTubers, is the articulating 3-inch LCD screen which you can use to help make sure you are properly in the frame before shooting. It’s a benefit that quickly makes you wonder how you ever lived without it. In addition, the built-in microphone offers a windscreen, which is great for grabbing exterior shots where you might have less-than-ideal noise conditions.
Last but not least, the 24-70mm Zeiss lens and 20.1-megapixel sensor combine to create an extensive list of features for video shots that help make the Sony ZV-1 the best choice for many YouTubers.
|Flip-out LCD makes it easy to compose selfie videos||Additional accessories necessary for the best possible audio|
|Makes magical videos with only a 1-inch sensor|
Check out the Sony ZV-1 on Amazon.
Best for 4K: Sony ZV-E1
- Black body
- Full-frame 12.1MP Exmor R sensor, optimized for 4K, sensitivity and speed
- 10-bit 4:2:2 recording with direct pixel readout, Long GOP, or All Intra formats
- Create memorable imagery with ease with Cinematic Vlog Setting
- Dedicated AI Processor and Real-time Recognition for accurate subject tracking
- 5-axis in-body image stabilization and Dynamic Active Mode for stable recording
When you want a portable camera that can shoot in 4K and offers interchangeable lenses, the Sony ZV-E1 is the way to go.
Don’t let the 12.1-megapixel Exmor sensor throw you off as the 4K quality from the Sony ZV-E1 will absolutely impress your audience on YouTube. Like its sister camera, the Sony ZV-1, the E1 offers a similar articulating 3-inch LCD for easily framing selfie shots.
Where the ZV-E1 excels is with its AI-based technology that helps auto-frame videos and ensures you stay continuously in a prominent position while shooting. This is true even if you are filming with your camera mounted on a tripod as the ZV-E1 follows you as if someone were manually moving the camera along with you.
While you can certainly add an additional microphone, Sony’s Intelligent 3 Capsule microphone captures some of the best audio when compared to any similarly-sized camera. This feature works well when shooting in 4K quality at up to 120 FPS as you want the audio quality to feel as if it’s the same outstanding quality as the 4K video being captured.
|Interchangeable lenses can lead to great video results||External microphone required for distance recording|
|Excellent auto-framing||Extra lenses can quickly get pricey|
Check out the Sony ZV-E1 on Amazon.
Best Mirrorless: Panasonic Lumix GH5
Don’t let the size of the Panasonic Lumix GH5 fool you as this camera is the best mirrorless camera you can purchase today.
Even as the Panasonic might be less portable than either of the above Sony options, the Panasonic Lumix GH5 stands out for its excellent video capture. One of the most immediate highlights is that you can wirelessly livestream right from the camera using the downloadable LUMIX Sync app.
It’s very easy to take this live-streamed footage and upload it back to YouTube, which helps make Panasonic one of the best options for live streaming.
When you are recording for YouTube, you’re going to be thrilled with the 4K and 6K anamorphic modes that can shoot up to 60 FPS.
Should you need to shoot in 4K or 6K anywhere, the frame of the GH5 is both splash and freeze-proof, which enables you to capture a whole lot of different types of footage for YouTube. Moving any video from the camera to a computer is easily done through the fast USB 3.0 connection so you can record, edit, and post all within a couple of hours.
|The 5-axis body prevents shakes from appearing as part of your recording.||Not a portable option|
|Built with both vlogging and YouTube in mind||A cable is required to move content onto a computer.|
Check out the Panasonic Lumix GH5 on Amazon.
Best for Portability: GoPro Hero 11
- 5.3K60 Ultra HD video
- 27MP photos
- 1/1.9" image sensor
- Live streaming
If you are looking for the most portable way to capture footage that is YouTube-ready as soon as it’s shot, the GoPro Hero 11 is the way to go.
Capturing videos on the GoPro Hero 11 can be done all the way up to 5.3K video quality, which is 91% more resolution than 4K and a whopping 665% better than 1080p. Even if YouTube can’t handle the highest quality levels, you can rest assured that your footage is going to look superb to your audience.
Video capturing with the Hero 11 can be done any number of ways, either by hand, with a small handle attached to the GoPro Hero 11 mount, or by mounting it on a tripod. No matter how you go about shooting video, HyperSmooth Stabilization will kick into overdrive and keep the horizon locked in a 4:3 aspect ratio. It’s the combination of the stabilization quality and aspect ratio that makes the GoPro Hero 11 perfect for any active YouTuber who wants to upload videos of biking, skiing, snowboarding, or skateboarding.
When connected to your smartphone and using the GoPro app, you can even use the GoPro Hero 11 for live streaming directly to YouTube for instant content and views.
|The best portable YouTube camera around||Offers so-so battery life when on the go|
|Recording in 5.3K quality leads to excellent video content||Additional accessories can quickly add up|
Check out the GoPro Hero 11 on Amazon.
Best Premium: Sony A7S III
- With ProGrade 128GB UHS-II V90 SD card
- Extra battery
- Compact charger
- Memory wallet
- Cleaning kit
Considered a full-frame mirrorless camera, the Sony A7S III is a native 4K camera that offers excellent video capturing for YouTube.
Between its 4K resolution and up to 8x slow motion recording, the Sony A7S III is also well deserving of its premium status thanks to its best-in-class autofocus speed. On top of this already strong performance, Sony also stands out with its excellent low-light performance, which makes it ideal for YouTube video captures in less-than-ideal lighting conditions.
Speaking of ideal conditions, what is ideal is Sony’s capability of recording 4K quality video in up to 120 FPS, which leads to terrific content quality. As good as the video quality is, the microphone on the Sony A7S III is equally good but it also allows for additional microphones to be mounted on the Sony frame to increase overall audio quality.
After videos have been captured, transferring them to a computer is done with incredible speed thanks to a USB-C connection type for up to 5 Gbps transfer speeds.
|Fast transfer speeds to a computer||It’s pricey.|
|4K recording at up to 120 FPS|
Check out the Sony A7S III on Amazon.
Best for Professionals: Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro
- Super 35 sensor with 6144 x 3456 native resolution
- 13 stops of dynamic range with dual native ISO up to 25,600
- High-quality, motorized IR ND filters that let you quickly reduce the amount of light entering the camera
- Built-in CFast and SD UHS-II card recorders, and a high-speed USB-C Expansion Port for recording direct to an external media disk
While many of the cameras on this list can produce professional-level videos for YouTube, the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro is the biggest stand-out camera of them all.
If you’re looking at the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema camera as a serious option, there is a good chance you already have a substantial YouTube presence. With a price tag of over $2,500, this is a serious camera for serious YouTubers who are looking to take their video quality to the next level.
Capturing content in 6144 x 3456-pixel 6K resolution, it’s easy to confuse the Blackmagic as just another DSLR camera, but that would be a mistake. Between its large 5.5-inch LCD screen, full-size HDMI port, and mini XLR inputs, you can have up to 2 different audio sources running simultaneously. On top of these features, the Blackmagic also adds a high-speed USB-C expansion port for uploading to an external hard drive or UHS-II SD cards for quickly moving videos off of the camera.
Where the Blackmagic really earns its money is that it offers a shallow depth of field, plus you have 13 stops of dynamic range with up to 25,600 ISO to help create some of the best low-light images you can use as part of your YouTube content.
|Built with professional video footage in mind||Expensive|
|6K quality is outstanding||Too large to be truly portable|
Check out the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K Pro on Amazon.
How to Pick the Best Camera for YouTube: Step-by-Step
Choosing the right camera is an important decision so before you decide, there are a few important things to consider.
- Viewfinder size
Let’s talk about them below.
As you look at a camera for YouTube, you have to consider all of the different ways you might use it down the road with future content ideas. Having a camera that is portable enough to go with you on different shoots may be important. This is what enables the GoPro Hero 11 and either of the Sony cameras to become such strong options.
It’s easy to think of filming YouTube content as just someone sitting on a sofa talking to the camera and lenses not really playing a role. The reality is that different types of activities will require a variety of lens types and so you may want a mirrorless camera like the Sony A7S III that provides a variety of lenses to easily capture footage right in front of you or long-range shots.
Factoring in viewfinder size ahead of selecting your next YouTube camera might seem unusual, but it’s actually quite important. Being able to frame yourself to see exactly what you are capturing and how it will look when uploaded to YouTube can be critically important to make sure you get the exact footage you need.
There is no doubt that 1080p video still looks really great on YouTube when viewed on both computers and smartphones alike. However, to be future-proofed and have the best possible footage capture opportunity available, you want 4K to be your target resolution for any camera you are planning to buy for recording and uploading videos to YouTube.
Using a Camera for YouTube: What It’s Like
It’s easy to wonder why you wouldn’t just use a smartphone for YouTube uploading. As the best camera is often the one you have with you, a smartphone is most likely to be your first choice for uploading content to YouTube.
The challenge here is that while a smartphone can do a good job recording for most people, it still doesn’t have sensors and microphones that outpace dedicated cameras. If you want good content, use a smartphone, but if you want great to exceptional recording quality, you want to use one of the dedicated cameras on this list.
The quality of the microphones and low-light recording are just two of the many reasons why a dedicated camera for YouTube is highly recommended.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©flyingv3/Shutterstock.com.