Want to get started on YouTube? We’ve found the best cameras for vloggers and creatives
Whether you’re an established YouTuber, or just looking to start up a channel for fun, the best YouTube cameras will make it easy to get your content live. YouTube is one of the world’s biggest video-sharing platforms, with creatives using it to showcase their work. Many people even make a business out of it.
But whatever level you’re at, you’re going to need a camera with great video capabilities that makes it easy to get things online.
We’ve tested a range of cameras and picked out a selection with different capabilities to suit a range of budgets. Our list includes the best vlogging cameras out there, with plenty of niches covered. We looked at how easy the camera is to use, alongside its autofocus, battery life, audio connectivity and, of course, its video quality.
In this guide we’ve put together our pick of the best YouTube cameras and made sure to include a bundled lens option where necessary. Not sure exactly what you’re looking for? Our handy buying guide below should answer all your questions.
How to choose the best YouTube camera for you
There are so many cameras on the market that it can be hard to see which one will suit your needs. We’ve put together a buying guide to answer any questions you might have.
How much should I spend?
Unfortunately good cameras don’t come cheap. We’ve found options ranging from just over £340 to just under £2,600. For those starting out, aiming for the lower end of that range will still get you a camera capable of creating your content. If you’ve already got an established audience, then committing to a more expensive camera might be the way forward.
What’s the best YouTube camera for beginners?
If you’re just starting out, the best YouTube camera is going to be one that’s easiest to use. Look for a camera that you find easy to handle and with automatic modes that will let you shoot video content that requires little or no post-production work.
We would also recommend touchscreens as these will seem more intuitive for those used to smartphones. Many YouTubers just use their smartphone to shoot content, but if you want access to more features, these cameras should satisfy your needs.
What features should I look for?
Again, this list may vary depending on what you want to shoot, but these are the features we would recommend you look out for.
Autofocus – If you want to keep things straightforward, you’ll need a camera with a good autofocus system when shooting video. If you’re going to be moving around a lot in your videos, look for a camera with face and/or eye tracking.
Image stabilisation – The last thing you want to create is blurry and jittery footage. Most modern cameras and lenses come with some form of image stabilisation that will automatically adjust for movement. If your camera doesn’t have this, we would recommend investing in a gimbal.
Audio options – Some cameras are able to record excellent sound with their built-in microphones, but a mic input and/or a hotshoe for mounting mics will give you more options to get a clearer sound.
Articulating screen – If you’re trying to film yourself, a screen that flips or pivots is essential. It means that you can check that the composition is right, as well as focus and exposure, before you start shooting.
4K video – It’s not absolutely essential, but 4K resolution and above is becoming far more ubiquitous these days and will give you better quality footage than just full HD.
How we test YouTube cameras
We tested our YouTube cameras on their video capabilities, looking at image quality, autofocus, image stabilisation and audio options including the built-in microphone. We also looked at how the camera worked statically as well as when we were moving about, plus how it handled focus as well as colours, details and skin tones.
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The best YouTube cameras you can buy in 2023
1. Canon Powershot G7 X Mark III: Best compact camera
Price when reviewed: £800 | Check price at Argos
Many existing YouTubers really rate this camera, and that’s probably because it’s a great all-rounder for vloggers. Best of all, it’s a tiny compact that’s easy to transport and take along anywhere.
There’s a fixed lens, but with a focal range of 24-100mm you’ll have most eventualities covered. The large maximum aperture range of f1.8 to f2.8 also means that the G7 is surprisingly good in low light.
This incarnation of the G7 X introduces 4K video recording as well as a microphone socket, meaning you can attach an external mic for better sound quality. A minor downside is that there’s no hotshoe to mount a mic on, so you’ll have to find somewhere else to put one.
As you might expect, image stabilisation is really good and the 180-degree tilting touchscreen makes the camera easy to use, with responsive controls.
The camera comes with YouTube livestreaming support and you can tether it to your smartphone or Wi-Fi network to broadcast live. This is a fantastic little camera, but do be aware that the smaller 1in sensor will impose some restrictions on image and video quality.
Key details – Type: Compact; Sensor size: 1in; Monitor: 3in tilting touchscreen, 1.04 million dots; Max movie resolution: 4K/30p; Mic input: Yes; Connectivity: Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
2. Panasonic LUMIX DC-S5 II: Best full frame
Price when reviewed: £2,299 | Check price at Amazon
On the Panasonic S5 II, both image and video quality are excellent and you’ll be able to crop your clips to different ratios without losing any detail. A full frame camera isn’t essential for shooting YouTube videos, mind.
Considering its large sensor, we were really impressed by the weight of the S5 II; it’s remarkably light for its size, but still feels reassuringly solid in the hand. There are dedicated buttons for all your key exposure settings, plus a big red button to initiate video recording. You’ll find a headphone jack, mic socket, USB-C connector and a full-size HDMI connector hidden behind two rigid port doors, giving you everything you’ll need for professional video shooting.
There’s also a fantastic rotatable screen, making it easy to shoot video from every angle. And the S5 II gives you the option of shooting 6K/30p video either uncropped or cropped to a 16:9 ratio. There’s also a 4K/60p option with a Super 35 crop.
We found shooting with the S5 II easy: action looks smooth and results are full of tonal depth and great dynamic range. Packing both image stabilisation and effective phase detection autofocus mean it’s also ideal for shooting on the move. The only thing we wouldn’t recommend this camera for is slow-motion, wide-angle 4K video, as this is hampered by the 1.5x crop.
Key details – Type: Mirrorless; Sensor size: Full frame; Monitor: 3in vari-angle touchscreen, 1.84 million dots; Max movie resolution: 6K/30p; Mic input: Yes; Connectivity: Wi-Fi 5GHz and USB-C
3. GoPro Hero 12 Black: Best action camera
Price when reviewed: £400 | Check price at Amazon
GoPro’s latest Hero camera follows the same design that was first introduced on the Hero 5 Black, with the company very much following the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” rule.
There are some subtle changes in this latest update: a 0.25in thread mount between its flip-out feet makes the GoPro easy to attach to a tripod, and HDR video capture improves how it handles shadows and highlights. Plus there’s greater dynamic range and support for wireless audio from a Bluetooth microphone.
Where the GoPro excels is in shooting action in the daytime. There’s 5.3K/60p 10-bit video and the ability to shoot 240fps 2.7K slow-motion footage. There are also plenty of creative modes like timelapse, “light painting-style” video capture and hyperlapse. The built-in microphones are really good at capturing voices as well.
We felt that the GoPro shot really bright and colourful video, with skin tones replicated accurately. The 8:7 sensor shoots an almost square frame that’s really easy to clip for social media channels and can be cropped while still producing high-resolution posts.
Our only bugbear is that because the GoPro has a smaller sensor it really doesn’t perform well in low light, with footage often looking grainy.
Read our full GoPro Hero 12 Black review
Key details – Type: Fixed lens; Sensor size: 1.9in; Monitor: Front: 1.4in Colour LCD, Rear: 2.27in Colour LCD; Max movie resolution: 5.3K/60p; Mic input: Yes; Connectivity: Bluetooth, USB-C and Wi-Fi
4. Sony ZV-E1: Best for AI modes
Price when reviewed: £2,599 | Check price at Amazon
If you’re serious about vlogging, the Sony ZV-E1 is the smallest and lightest full frame mirrorless camera on the market. It even has image stabilisation. Its real selling point is a dedicated AI chip, which provides plenty of useful features for YouTubers to try out.
The AI enabled autofocus is excellent and does a great job of detecting human eyes, animals and a variety of other objects. Framing stabilisation makes sure that your subject is kept stable and in the middle of the frame, while auto framing tracks subjects across a frame, meaning less editing later on. The AI controls are slightly buried in the menu and could be more accessible, but that’s a minor gripe.
We were really impressed with the in-body stabilisation (this is something that Sony seem to have perfected across their range of cameras) and you should easily be able to shoot sharp, smooth video without the need for a gimbal.
Video quality is excellent and the camera also performs well in low light, thanks to an impressive dynamic range. Our biggest bugbear is the lack of cooling vents and only a single card slot on such an expensive camera but otherwise, it’s a great investment.
Key details – Type: Mirrorless; Sensor size: Full frame; Monitor: 3in vari-angle touchscreen, 1.037 million dots; Max movie resolution: 4K/120p; Mic input: Yes; Connectivity: Wi-Fi 5GHz and USB-C
5. DJI Pocket 2: Best pocket camera
Price when reviewed: £341 | Check price at AmazonUnlike many of the other cameras on this list, the DJI isn’t a multipurpose image and video camera. Instead it’s been designed entirely for vlogging, with a tiny camera combined with a gimbal for steady footage while you’re on the move. In fact, we don’t think you’ll find another camera at this price or size that’s more stable.
Despite its tiny size, the DJI is still capable of 4K/60p footage and you can shoot slow-mo in Full HD. The sensor is similar to one that’s used in a smartphone and at just 1.7in it’s pretty small, but with 64 megapixels this little pocket powerhouse has more than enough image quality to shoot some great vlogs.
This updated version has a wider ISO, HDR support and better audio capture than its predecessor. Plus there are some great accessories available in the Creator Combo, which includes an external wireless mic, ultra-wide-angle lens, tripod legs and DJI’s Do-It-All Handle for third party audio.
The real selling point here is the portability of the camera; you can literally pick it up and chuck it in a pocket or bag. As you might expect at its size, the touchscreen is pretty fiddly, even for smaller hands and the camera struggles in low light. But its portability and simplicity make the DJI Pocket 2 an appealing choice.
Key details – Type: Gimbal; Sensor size: 1.7in; Monitor: 1in touchscreen; Max movie resolution: 4K/60p; Mic input: Yes; Connectivity: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth with the Do-It-All Handle
6. Sony ZV-1: Best powerful compact
Price when reviewed: £799 | Check price at John Lewis
The Sony ZV-1 is another entry from Sony, who have released a number of great vlogging and video cameras. The ZV-1 is a premium compact which benefits from Sony’s Real-time tracking and Eye AF systems. Used in conjunction, the fantastic autofocus means that you can be sure of sharp footage that will stay in focus as you move around the shot.
Colours are replicated well and image quality is excellent, considering there’s only a 1in sensor. Unlike many other compacts, we were also impressed with the background bokeh that the camera could produce.
Having a mic input is particularly important, as we felt that the built-in microphone wasn’t great. You’ll want to invest in an external mic and fortunately there’s a hotshoe for easy mounting.
We were slightly disappointed by the image stabilisation compared to other Sony models and felt it wasn’t quite as smooth as other cameras in our list. However, there are plenty of great features on this camera. You can livestream to YouTube and there’s even a feature aimed at YouTube reviewers called Product Showcase which will automatically alter settings for the best shooting parameters for movies or close-up product reviews.
The design is great: there’s a nice big video record button and we particularly liked the built-in ND filter that means you can still shoot even in the brightest midday sun. Even though there’s a newer ZV-1 II model now, we still think the older version holds its own, particularly as the latest version still has the same stills and video resolution.
Key details – Type: Compact; Sensor size: 1in; Monitor: 3in vari-angle touchscreen, 0.921 million dots; Max movie resolution: 4K/30p; Mic input: Yes; Connectivity: Wi-Fi and Bluetooth