YouTube changed our world when it was created in 2005, and it even changed how we watch and consume video content. It was ground-breaking.
Fast forward to today. YouTubers are actually becoming internet famous, with some accounts having tens of millions of engaged, enthusiastic followers. And with monetisation on their videos, a lot of those YouTubers have become real-life rich, too. Last year, one prominent YouTube star earned around $12 million USD, all while making videos from the comfort of their own home.
Of course, YouTube has so many benefits for businesses, too; the marketing potential is enormous. More than one billion videos are watched daily, and a whole lot of them involve “how to” keywords that businesses can excel at to offer value to their target audience.
Whether you’re a business or an aspiring YouTuber with a new channel, however, one thing holds true: the right equipment will make your job a lot easier. In this post, we’re going to take a close look at the best video cameras for YouTube videos, discussing 10 different options for every type of creator and a few best practices to keep in mind.
Does the Camera Really Matter
We’ve got incredible videos and stunning images being captured by teenagers with iPhones, so it’s only natural for businesses and soon-to-be YouTube marketers to wonder if the camera they use really matters.
The answer to this is still yes, but it’s more of a soft yes than it was even ten years ago.
Video quality is of paramount of importance if you want to grow your follower count and keep viewers engaged. Since the quality of the video themselves can even impact factors like brand credibility and reputation and YouTube may be the first touchpoint for certain customers, it is essential to use the right equipment so that you can create superior content.
So are you ready to find out about “the best video camera for YouTube videos?”
As it turns out, this can mean a lot of different things to different types of creators. Someone who wants to shoot videos from a webcam won’t need the same kind of waterproof features as someone who is shooting action shots while scuba diving in the Pacific. Because of this, we’re going to take a look at the best cameras in every category that you might benefit from so that you can decide what features you want to prioritise.
The Best “Everything” Camera: The Nikon D3300
The Nikon D3300 is an outstanding “everything” camera, with well-rounded features. It’s an outstanding entry-level DSLR, making it easy to operate and a little more intuitive than other DSLR cameras on the market. It also comes with a built-in zoom lens, full HD video capabilities, and it’s compact enough to travel well.
Since you can immediately send images and videos to a compatible smartphone, this is also a good choice for people on-the-go who are looking for some high levels of convenience. If you edit images and videos on your phone (which isn’t what we’d recommend in most cases, but is definitely possible), this is a great choice.
This camera is going to be an excellent asset for a large number of different video types, including vlogging, outdoor content, and even short skits. Since it comes with a price tag of $300 USD, this is also relatively affordable for a one-time investment.
The Best Budget-Friendly Camera: Nikon COOLPIX S7000
We all know what it’s like to be on a tight budget, and strictly adhering to your marketing budget is essential. If you blow the whole budget on a camera, after all, you won’t have anything left over to run the campaigns needed to get enough clients to convert to pay for it.
If you’re on a budget but aren’t willing to sacrifice the quality of your videos (and you shouldn’t be!), take a look at the Nikon COOLPIX S700. As far as small cameras go, this has a strong zoom function, giving you up to 40x zoom so you can get great shots from further away or even focus in on fine, hard-to-see details, and it’s all available in HD.
This camera has a few great unique features, too, that make it an excellent contender. These include:
- The ability to add effects to images and videos
- Target finding for smarter auto-focus, making it great for less experienced videographers
- Vibration reduction, to improve the quality and reduce shakiness in the video
- Scene modes to help you automatically shoot different situations well, including options like “beach” and “sunset”
- Being small and compact, able to fit into a pocket
This camera only costs around $130 USD, giving you the potential for big results on a tight budget.
The Best In-Action Camera: GoPro HERO7
For brands and creators who need a camera that can not only survive through those insane action shots but actually capture them well, look no further than GoPro. Any of the products in their recent lines would be a good choice, but we’ve picked the HERO7 specifically.
GoPros are specifically designed to be action-friendly, outdoor-friendly cameras. They can handle underwater filming, and have the features to create an outstanding first-person perspective.
There’s plenty of affordable equipment that allows you to mount your camera to everything from helmets to selfie sticks, allowing you to get whatever shots you’re aiming for. You even have the option to use a smart remote to start recording from a distance, and there’s built-in WiFi so you can get your HD, 4K action videos to your devices quickly.
This camera costs $299.95 currently, and additional mounting equipment is extra.
The Best Pocket-Sized Camera: DJI Osmo Pocket
The DJI Osmo Pocket is a professional-grade camera that comes fun-sized. It can literally fit into a pocket despite its impressive features, making it an outstanding choice if you’re looking for a camera that’s small and convenient. Creators who are shooting their own content or need to bring it while traveling should consider this option.
This camera isn’t just small, at only 4.8 inches long and weighing 4.1oz; it’s designed to be not only comfortable to carry, but also comfortable to use while shooting video. And it does it extremely well, allowing you to capture up to 4K video with a number of quality-boosting features attached. These include:
- Video stabilisation to reduce shakiness and improve stability
- Active track and face track abilities to help the camera focus in on your subject
- Connects to your smartphone so you can watch the action live on a larger screen
- Creative features like motionlapse
This is a professional-grade camera, so it does come in at a professional price tag. You’ll like to pay around $600 USD, but you can sometimes find a great deal when they go on sale.
The Best Beginner Camera: Sony Handycam CX405
Want something simple and beginner friendly? The Sony Handycam might be the best choice for you.
This camcorder is a good choice for brands not doing anything too technical but who need something reliable and good quality. Think brands who have their office in the background instead of full green-screen; they’re invested but not setting up an in-office studio for their YouTube marketing just yet.
It’s reliable, and it’s got image stabilisation to combat that shaky hand.
If you’re using this camera, you do need to make sure there’s proper lighting, as it won’t perform well in low-light environments. It shoots in HD but not 4K, but for beginners, this is a great choice, and it comes in at an affordable price tag of around $250.
The Best Smartphone Camera: Google Pixel 3
Are you stuck needing to upgrade your phone and needing to get a new YouTube camera all at once? If you really want to go for convenience and affordability, you can actually combine your needs here and kill two birds with one stone.
The Google Pixel 3 is the smartphone with the best video capabilities on the market. Colours look bright and vibrant without being oversaturated, and there’s a 12.2 megapixel sensor. It’s actually pretty astonishing the quality of both images and videos users are getting with this smartphone; you can see a few examples here.
If you’re not interested in Google, that’s ok. While the Pixel 3 does have the best video of all their competitors, all of the latest models on Apple and Samsung have exceptional video quality, too.
Want to opt for Android or iOS? Check out the following models and see if these strike your fancy:
The Best of the Best Camera: Sony Alpha A7S
You know we had to save the best for last and this literally is the best of the best.
This is the camera choice for serious videographers, offering uncompressed 4K video in astonishing detail, partially thanks to its 35mm pixel sensor. The technology in this device is extraordinary, and the video it will yield will be superior to anything else on the market.
And, of course, it comes with plenty of fun features, too, including:
- Silent shutter mode, allowing for more discrete filming
- Outstanding audio control features
- LCD tilts for high and low angle framing
This is the best of the best, and it’s an incredible professional-level camera, so it’s coming in with a hefty price tag of nearly $2000 USD. Keep in mind that you only have to pay this fee once, so if it sounds like a fit for you, you have the skills to use it (or the time to learn them), and you can make room in the budget, it will definitely be worth it.
Quick YouTube Best Practices
When creating your YouTube videos and choosing a camera that’s right for you, keep in mind that the right camera isn’t all you need to create a strong video. After you’ve chosen the best video camera for YouTube videos for your channel, take a look at the following equipment to help you take your content to the next level:
- Video editing software. Most videos will benefit from having intros and outros added at the very least, and you should always add closed captions to your videos. Look at options like Camtasia to start.
- High quality microphones. Your crystal-clear video won’t amount to much if there’s a lot of background noise or if viewers can’t make out what you’re saying. For the best of the best, start your search with RODE.
- Strong lighting. Indoor video almost always needs the right lighting to help everything in view look great-- including you. You can find a few options for around $60 or less online, and of course there are options for much more expensive professional equipment starting at around $200. We recommend starting smaller to determine what you need and then investing more once you’re sure.
All elements of a video need to be great if you want to create something spectacular, so take a look at what you need and factor it into the budget up front.
YouTube can have incredible marketing potential, but your results will only go as far as the quality of the videos themselves. The last thing you want to do is potentially damage your business’s credibility with low-quality videos coming from the wrong choice of camera.
Cameras can be expensive, especially if you’re on a tight budget. YouTube marketing itself, however, doesn’t require many other big costs, so go all in on the right equipment up front and it could pay for itself many times over.