‘Vlogging’, as a term, feels old and established, a bit like an oak tree or Liam Neeson. However, YouTube was only founded in 2005 and Vimeo in 2004. Since then, video sharing sites have been transformed from places to share third-party content to a destination for user-generated videos, transforming the entire landscape of the media industry.
Some vloggers try to make the world we live in a little more stylish (Freddy My Love), more tasty (Matty Matheson), more weird (Memory Hole) whilst others fight to transform the world itself e.g. Francheska (HeyFranHey).
Whatever your motivation, agenda or goal, there’s nothing more powerful than video to communicate.
Whatever your mission with your vlog, getting best vlogging camera for your precise objectives could ensure you have a vlog that looks high quality enough or alternatively prevent you from spending money you could have otherwise put towards external lighting or video editing software.
4K and UHD video resolutions (more detail by capturing more ‘pixels’ or ‘points’ of image information) are becoming the norm, so it's generally worth considering investing in. Reasons you may prefer to save the money might be that you foresee that videos will be viewed mainly on smartphones rather than smart TVs, laptops and tablets.
But video quality is not just about resolution.
The quality of the lens (glass v plastic), number of elements in a lens, zoom or magnification, can all affect the ultimate quality of what you get. But whilst glass might be better, beware ... it is also heavier!
Cameras these days are glorified computers that do much more than simply turning photons of light into digital images. These microprocessors can track moving objects, recognize the environment scenario then use AI to enhance elements in-frame and much more. But whatever you’re looking to film the processor capability will have an impact on the images you end up with.
Significantly, the sensor is very critical in yielding great video. Aside from the quality of the sensor, size here matters. The bigger the sensor the more distinct and precise an image it can capture. Full-frame DSLRs and mirrorless cameras can capture more detail than cropped sensor variants of the same cameras types.
Bridge and compacts have smaller sensors still. However, the choice isn't straightforward. If you want to be able to achieve a shallow depth of view (blurred background) then larger sensors help. But if you want everything in shot to be in focus such as in fixed studio conditions, overall you may be better off overall a smaller sensor. To get a good vlogging camera with the right video quality, you’ll have to balance your preferences and make tradeoffs.
Stabilization and tracking
Cameras often offer ‘video stabilization’. This refers to a variety of features designed to keep the movie content free of camera-shake and wobble, leaving you with professional-looking, smooth motion.
In most higher-end DSLRs, a favourite of serious YouTubers and vloggers, the stabilization depends on what lens you buy. It works well, but you’ll have to pay a premium for stabilization tech in each lens. Some of the more modern mirrorless as well as bridge, compact and action cameras tend to have any stabilization built-in.
A cheap solution is for software to pick up the slack. Googles photos service will do this for videos uploaded to its cloud, for free. However, be warned; you may lose video detail in the process, perhaps even see some edge of frame material disappear altogether. Paid-for software, in turn, may be less efficient than paying for the feature in the first place.
If you’re wanting to capture kids running for a family vlog or wildlife darting across the Serengeti, stabilization is critical. Action cameras tend to have the best stabilization for the money
A great way to get awesome stabilization would be to buy a separate gimbal. This used to be eye-wateringly expensive technology. Although it still isn't cheap, nowadays you can pick one up for the price of a good lens or a compact camera.
Again what you choose depends on what kind of vlogging you’re into. If you’re filming in a studio with the camera on a tripod then its a waste of money. Equally, for some styles of movie-making, a shaky video is exactly what’s needed.
The detail and colour all hit the sensor courtesy of light. Yeah, I know, it's pointing out the obvious, but it's an obvious point often overlooked.
When there is low light, cameras can compensate by increasing the ISO (think of this as the ‘gain’ on the electrical signal), by relying on a lens that lets through a lot of light (often a high quality ‘prime’ lens - but these will have no zoom at all), by relying on a very still subject all combined with a very steady hand. Alternatively, you can use external lighting.
In a studio, this is easier to achieve. It can also be deployed (more hassle, time and money) outdoors. Reflectors can also help.
Some camcorders come with built-in lighting or lights that can be mounted onto the hot shoe. Built-in lighting is great where you have to move around in dark places - think wedding receptions, conferences, red carpet events. But remember they add weight, not to mentioned heat.
The most important factor here is sensor size. Followed by lens type, a big sensor can do the most to ensure that you can capture viewable moving images in twilight on dimly lit conditions
The biggest mistake made by buyers of cameras for vlogging is focusing on the image and not the sound. But sound is usually the biggest area of weakness for vloggers. You can deal with this by buying extra hardware, remote mics etc or by going for one with a great integrated. You’ll get the best results by having dedicated mics perhaps capturing audio separately, but they can increase your setup time taking longer between shoots. Additionally, there more potential points of failure.
This is a tricky one, as skill level is not a static thing. You may be a total novice nor, for example, but what’s to say that you’re not the next James Cameron in the making?!
Nevertheless, if you have a good handle on your skill level and don't see a need to improve it, just remember - DSLRs, mirrorless and pro camcorders all require some knowledge and skill. Some have automatic modes and entry-level versions even have scene modes just like compacts. However, you can get better results spending less on the camera and buying useful extras such as lighting if you're not going to use the deeper features.
On the flipside, camcorders, compacts, action cameras and bridge cameras often come with some of those extra settings if you want to expand your repertoire of techniques. This allows the camera to do the heavy lifting, even if there is a bit of compromise in terms of getting the video exactly as you’d want it. Which brings us to …
DSLRs are a very popular answer to the question “what is the best camera for vlogging”. However, they are often bought precisely due to popularity when really factors like skill level and ‘need’ should precede this choice. For example, DSLRs are great if you want to make adjustments to shutter speed, aperture, ISO, white balance and need different lenses to capture some specific varieties of movie type.
But they are heavy, bulky and require maintenance. They also take longer to pick up and be in a position to start shooting.
Action cameras are perfect for… err action. Not really optimum for a studio setting or shooting celebrities on a red carpet.
If you’re going to scuba dive and don't want to be fiddling around just at the point you’re about to capture your once in a lifetime glide-by a great white shark (without being eaten of course), an action or an underwater compact will probably be perfect. If that same video needs to be pixel perfect, you’ll have to use a professional camera, with a polarizing filter and a crew, mainly to prevent you from becoming your movie star’s meal!
Bridge cameras are another popular format for vlogging. They often come with decent sensors, the key functions of a DSLR, all in a light body without having to mess around with changing lenses. They are lightweight and easy to carry around making them perfect for about-town type shooting.
One thing to remember is that, aside from camcorders, most form factors have their genetic history in photography. The popularity with these formats is down to the much cheaper CMOS sensors type they use are now as good as CCD sensor types used in older and more expensive camcorders. So modern still-cameras have evolved, Darwin style, into the leaders for camcording, leaving actual ‘camcorders’ on their death bed.
However, the one thing camcorders still have going for them is their ergonomics. Their shape, grip, construction are designed with just videography in mind. Hence the horizontal grip position, the location of zoom controls and the position of the viewfinder all lend themselves to shooting video. The flip-out screen which is a very useful and practical camcorder feature has found its way to DSLRs, bridge cameras, compacts, and even some action cameras. This screen will be the main way you judge whether everything is set up correctly. From focus and depth-of-field to colour saturation and glare, needs to be spot on, so a great screen is invaluable. A good vlogging camera with a flip screen, whatever the form factor counts for a lot.
This is an area of vlogging-camera-decision-making that is easy to either overlook or indeed overpay for.
Connections are important as you need a way to 1) actually get your video edited the way you want it and then 2) you need to publish it to your video sharing site. Most commonly this is done by transferring your video clips from your camera to a laptop or perhaps a tablet where your clips can be edited and stitched to the final edit. Then the video can be uploaded via a web browser.
If you’re shooting in 4K and Dolby audio then your video files will be big and you’ll benefit from a camera with high-speed cable transfer i.e. Thunderbolt 3, USB-C 3.2 or ethernet. If you’re shooting at a lower resolution, using shorter clips or just aren’t in a rush then regular USB cables will probably do.
If you’re looking for convenience, you can’t beat wifi. No wires, no hassles. But even modern wifi is not as fast as cable transfer, and WIFI will push up the cost of your camera.
Now, if the prospect of researching, tabulating, calculating breaks you into a sweat and the idea of having to trawl the web to find the best prices seems daunting, try out our AI-powered Smart Assistant and get the tailored advice that even the best shop-assistant couldn't provide!