Brian's favorite vlogging cameras

If you’re a beginner at vlogging, one of the best vlogging cameras to start out with is the one you already have: your smartphone. Many of the latest Apple and Android phones, like the iPhone 7, Samsung Galaxy S7, and HTC 10 come equipped with pretty impressive cameras that you can definitely use to get started.

However, if you’ve been making videos for a while, or you simply want to make your vlogs look more professional, you are better off buying a standalone video camera. I’ve tallied up some of the absolute best value video cameras that offer the greatest video and sound quality, storage space, and other functionality that will take your vlogs to the next level.

Why trust my tips for vlogging cameras?

Hey there, I’m Brian! I’ve been making videos since 2009, and I’ve been putting them on YouTube since 2012. I even made a viral video with one of the cameras in this guide. I understand how a solid camera can help you make content that stands out on YouTube, which is critical when you’re trying to attract an audience on a platform that’s more competitive than ever. That’s why I only recommend cameras of the best quality, with the best value.

My favorite beginner’s vlog camera: Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 (price range: $$$$)

Click on the image above to find today’s price on Amazon.com. If you can’t see the image, that’s probably because you have AdBlock installed.

Pros Cons
20.2 megapixels, 1080p Full HD, 12x optical zoom, Wi-Fi (pictures only) No flip screen, no touch screen

Portability: 5 out of 5
The Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 is tiny. It’s considerably smaller than most smartphones, and weighs just 5.3 ounces. I can fit the ELPH 360 in my pocket next to my wallet, which means this is the perfect camera if you want a quick solution you can pull out and start shooting with at any time.

Video Quality: 2 out of 5
The ELPH 360 takes fantastic video for its price. Canon managed to stuff a lot of great quality technology into this tiny piece of kit, and it shows. The camera records in 1080p Full HD at 30 frames per second, a big step up from older models, which only recorded in 720p, and which are a poor investment if you’re starting out as a YouTuber.

The video footage from the ELPH 360 looks good, whether you’re making videos at home, or you’re shooting videos outdoors. However, video quality suffers pretty badly in low light conditions, and your footage will be accompanied by a lot of annoying grain, or noise, as it’s known to professionals.

What sets this camera apart from others in this price range is its 12x optical zoom. That’s a huge plus for creators who want to have the ability to zoom up close on a faraway object. However, quality does degrade toward the maximum zoom length.

The optical image stabilization (IS) on the ELPH 360 is a big step up from earlier models. This means that if you’re moving around while filming, your video won’t be unwatchable, as this camera can make your footage still look relatively stable. Strong IS is a must for most types of filmmakers these days.

Sound Quality: 3 out of 5
Canon has taken great steps to improve the microphone on the ELPH 360 over some cheaper models, like the older ELPH 180 — which, by the way, is still a great camera, albeit one that is slightly lacking when it comes to recording voices.

The sound quality on the ELPH 360 sounds clear, and crisp, and functions perfectly well if you’re vlogging indoors, or outside, on calm days. However, as is the case with every compact camera I’ve ever used, the built-in microphone doesn’t fare well in areas with strong winds. That’s not a deal breaker, and can be solved by picking up a small wind muff, such as a MicroMuff Skinny.

Battery Life: 2 out of 5
You can shoot about 45 minutes of continuous video on a single battery charge using the ELPH 360.

It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s pretty standard for a Canon compact. Most YouTubers overcome this problem by picking up a second battery. Having a spare battery is critical if you’re making travel videos, or other types of videos that force you to be away from home for extended periods of time.

I still recommend buying a second battery if you’re making videos at home, as the ELPH 360, again like most Canons, doesn’t allow you to recharge the battery while the camera is recording. That could get annoying if you’re in the middle of making a video, and the battery dies, so you really ought to buy a second battery.

Usability: 3 out of 5
The ELPH 360 has a three-inch LCD screen that acts as a viewfinder, so you can see exactly what you’re filming at all times.

This camera also has Canon’s famous user interface. It’s so simple to use that even someone who has never touched a compact video camera before will not have a difficult time getting to grips with it. And if you’re one of those people who just doesn’t want to have to figure out which settings to use, the ELPH 360 allows you to just press “record” and start filming, right out of the box.

The ELPH 360, while a fantastic camera, is not perfect. It lacks a flip screen, which means you won’t be able to see yourself while you’re making your videos. My first cameras didn’t have a flip screen, and it wasn’t my biggest concern at the time, but it may be for you. If you feel like you definitely need a camera with a flip-out screen, I recommend checking out the Nikon COOLPIX S6900.

The ELPH 360 also does not have a touch screen, meaning you can’t tap on the screen to make it focus on an object, or easily toggle settings using your fingers, like you can on most smartphones. Thankfully, the buttons on the ELPH 360 are very easy to use, and make using this camera a breeze.

Click on the image above to find today’s price on Amazon.com.

Verdict: 2 out of 5

The Canon PowerShot ELPH 360 is mired by the usual compact camera problems: poor battery life and weak sound quality in noisy conditions.

That said, for a camera of its price, the ELPH 360 records some impressive footage, partly thanks to its optical image stabilization.

If you’re starting out as a vlogger, and you’re looking for a solid beginner’s device, you could do a lot worse than theCanon PowerShot ELPH 360.

My favorite action camera: GoPro HERO5 Session (price range: $$$$)

Click on the image above to find today’s price on Amazon.com.

Pros Cons
Portable, easy to use, 4K, voice commands No zoom, no LCD screen, no removable battery

Portability: 5 out of 5
The GoPro HERO Session is one of the best budget video cameras you can buy. It’s also tiny, at about 1.5 inches thick, the same as the first generation session, and almost half the size of a Rubix Cube. However, it’s almost 2 ounces heavier, at 4.5 ounces. Buy the GoPro if you’re looking for a camera you can throw in your backpack, and keep it there at all times for those times when you need to pull it out at a moment’s notice.

The GoPro gets a 5 out of 5 for portability because its also incredibly durable, and waterproof up to a depth of 33 feet. The camera is rubber on four sides, with a tough glass cover on the front, and strong plastic on the back. I’ve dropped my GoPro dozens of times, and it’s still undamaged. This means the GoPro is best if you want to film high-octane vlogs, and sports like skateboarding, or swimming.

Video Quality: 3 out of 5
The GoPro HERO5 Session has had major improvements over the first generation session, and can shoot video at up to 4K resolution at 30 frames per second. Unless you want to fill up your memory card in a matter of minutes, however, you’re better off shooting at 1080p at 90 frames per second, which still looks fantastic.

Video quality degrades a little when filming in poor light conditions, and that’s to be expected from a camera with such a small lens. However, degradation is not close to the first generation, which often looked downright table in places with bad lighting.

The GoPro is probably the most famous action cam in the world, and it still seems nuts to me that the first generation Session does not have image stabilization. Thankfully, this version adds digital image stabilization, and while that’s generally poorer than optical image stabilization (i.e. software vs. hardware), it’s works surprisingly well here, and even made footage of my running down a hill appear pretty smooth and stable.

If you want to create time lapse videos like Casey Neistat, the GoPro allows you to take photographs at set time intervals, which can then be edited together into a time lapse video. Using this function is easy: you simply press and hold down the circular button on top of the device for three seconds to begin taking photographs. Editing these images together to create a time lapse is somewhat complicated, however, particularly for beginners.

Fans have been complaining for years about the fisheye lens on the GoPro, designed to capture as much action as possible. The Session 5 finally comes with a setting that removes the fisheye effect, which makes the GoPro HERO5 Session the most versatile action camera ever.

Sound Quality: 3 out of 5
Sound has definitely gotten an improvement on the first HERO Session, and feels louder, crisper and a lot clearer than before. But the sound quality is still not suitable for filming in places with a lot of wind, as you’ll hear intermittent, but still clearly audible muffling sounds.

Battery Life: 3 out of 5
You’ll get about 90 minutes of filming on a single charge of the GoPro. That’s considerably more than most larger compact cameras, but I’m only giving this camera 3 stars because you still can’t remove the battery, meaning you need to stop filming once you’re out of juice. That’s just annoying, and something I really hope GoPro correct on the next version.

Usability: 4 out of 5
If you’re a beginner at vlogging, it doesn’t get much easier than the GoPro. To start recording, you press the circular button on the top of the camera. To stop recording, you press it again. A small rectangular screen on top of the camera lets you know how long you’ve been recording for, and how much time you have left to record on your SD card.

The HERO5 Session adds something pretty neat: voice commands. You can begin shooting by saying aloud: “GoPro start recording!” It’s not the first action cam to do this; the Garmin Virb Ultra 30 has voice commands, too. The GoPro can understand 12 different commands, though, far more than the Virb Ultra, and in a bunch of different languages. In practice, I found it doesn’t work all of the time, much like how the iPhone’s Siri voice command system sometimes shows me nearby farms when what I actually want is a pharmacy. But hey, that may be down to my Irish accent.

Click on the image above to find today’s price on Amazon.com.

Verdict: 3 out of 5

The GoPro HERO5 Session offers a big jump in video quality from the first generation model, with a 4K resolution setting, and a lot less distortion in low light conditions.

It also comes with digital image stabilization — which frankly should have been on the earlier model, and slightly better sound quality. Voice commands seem like another feature that should have been around sooner, but combined with the other improvements here, make the GoPRO HERO5 Session a solid reason to upgrade from the first generation model, and just a great action cam in general.

My favorite mid-range vlog camera: Canon PowerShot SX720 (price range: $$$$)

Click on the image above to find today’s price on Amazon.com.

Pros Cons
20.3 megapixels, 40x optical zoom No flip screen, no touch screen

Portability: 3 out of 5
The Canon PowerShot SX720 HS is a mid-range vlogging camera that is still small enough to fit comfortably in your pocket. The SX720 a little heavier than less powerful models, but that’s because Canon needed to set aside a little more weight in order to pack in features like a larger lens with 40x optical zoom.

Video Quality: 4 out of 5
The SX720 is middle-of-the-road in terms of price, but as a video camera, it is leaps and bounds ahead of similarly-priced cameras. The SX720 shoots at 1080p Full HD at a smooth 60 frames per second.

One of the best features of the SX720 is its incredible 40x optical zoom. That’s far greater than some of the most expensive Canon PowerShot compact cameras, and the SX720 doesn’t lose much video quality, even when you zoom in on faraway subjects, or on small details, which is helpful if you want to be a beauty vlogger, like Zoella.

The camera’s impressive zoom is backed up by fantastic optical image stabilization, which helps steady your footage if you move around a lot while filming — think travel videos. Image stabilization is less important if you plan to mount your camera on a tripod or similar hardware, meaning this won’t matter as much to you if you intend to vlog at home, or anywhere else where you can easily keep your camera stationary.

What sets the SX720 apart from cheaper cameras on this list is its ability to record high quality footage in low light situations. Thanks to a wide f/3.3-6.9 lens it than can let in more light, so you’ll typically see very little noise, or grain, in your footage.

The lens on the SX720 is slightly smaller than on some top-end models, which means it’s not as effective at creating a shallow depth of field effect that loads of YouTubers love — that’s where you, the subject of the video, are in focus, but your background looks slightly blurred. If you absolutely must have that effect in your videos, I recommend going for the Canon PowerShot G7X Mark II.

Sound Quality: 3 out of 5
There’s a perfectly acceptable reason why Canon’s compact camera line don’t include the ability to attach an external microphone. In most situations, you simply do not need it. If you’re looking to mostly do at-home vlogging, beauty vlogging, gaming videos, or travel videos in areas where there’s not a lot of wind, you’ll be perfectly happy with the audio on the SX720. The camera records voices and other noises incredibly well.

However, the audio isn’t great when it comes to shooting in windy areas outdoors. If you attempt to shoot on a particularly blustery day, you may find that the only sound you’ll record is the wind. But there is a pretty simple solution: a small wind muff, such as the Micro Muff. Stick one of these over your camera’s microphone, and it blocks out wind noise while still capturing the sounds you want it to capture.

Battery Life: 2 out of 5
The battery life on the SX720 is on par with more expensive models. But that still means you’ll get less than an hour of continuous recording time on a single battery. I recommend investing in a second battery, regardless of how you intend to use the camera.

Usability: 4 out of 5
There are a couple of drawbacks with the SX720 in terms of usability. First, there is no flip screen, meaning you cannot see yourself while the camera is pointed at you. It’s not a deal breaker for some people, but there is definitely some benefit to being able to see exactly what you’re filming.

Another downside, which actually isn’t so bad, is the lack of a touch screen. The camera takes slightly longer to operate when you can’t just tap on the screen. It’s not a huge frustration, but does take some getting used to if have a smartphone, and spend most of your time using touch screens.

That said, Canon cameras are without a shadow of a doubt the most accessible compact cameras on the market today, and the SX720 is no different. I trained myself how to use these cameras, and the reason that was possible is because of Canon’s ridiculously simple user interface.

If you’re new to vlogging, the SX720 provides a high quality, easy-to-use experience that allows you to start shooting videos within moments of taking it out of the box.

Click on the image above to find today’s price on Amazon.com.

Verdict: 3 out of 5

If you’ve been using an entry-level vlogging camera for a while, and you’re looking for a solid upgrade, the SX720 is the perfect choice.

The biggest return on your investment in this pricier camera is the superior video quality, especially in low light conditions.

That said, the SX720 suffers from the same problems cheaper Canon compact cameras do, and the lack of a flip screen means you might be better off saving your cash until you can afford something with just a few more features included.

My favorite high-end vlog camera: Canon PowerShot G7X Mark II (price range: $$$$)

Click on the image above to find today’s price on Amazon.com.

Pros Cons
20.1 megapixels, wide lens, fast autofocus, great in low light Short 4.2x optical zoom

Portability 3 out of 5
The Canon PowerShot G7X Mark II is heavier and bigger than most compact cameras, at 1.4 pounds and 5.7 x 6.3 x 3.2 inches. The Mark II also has a huge lens, meaning you might not be able to fit this comfortably in your pocket.

That said, I have carried it around in my hand, or in a case, for entire trips, and found it rarely becomes cumbersome. Canon have managed to pack a lot into a relatively neat package.

Video Quality: 4.5 out of 5
Like some cheaper models, the G7X Mark II shoots at 1080p Full HD at 60 frames per second. However, the technology in this camera far exceeds that of every other compact camera on this list, which means videos look as crisp, clear, and professional as you will ever achieve from a compact camera.

The camera’s really wide f/1.8-2.8 lens and 1-inch sensor means it’s excellent at creating a shallow depth of field effect, which is where you, the subject, are in focus, but your background is pleasantly blurred out. It’s an effect thousands of the most popular YouTubers use in their videos, and one that used to be reserved for huge DSLR cameras.

The G7X Mark II is also incredibly skilled at autofocus. I’ve used the G7X Mark I extensively, and while it’s also a fantastic camera (and a little cheaper since the release of the Mark II), one of its drawbacks is the slowish speed of its autofocus in low light. The G7X Mark I can take a few seconds to focus on a subject in poorly-lit situations, which can become annoying when you regularly break out your camera to vlog. The Mark II is noticeably faster.

The G7X Mark II is phenomenal in low light, or even while filming at night. On most cameras, if you’re not shooting in daylight, footage often looks grainy, or noisy. This is not the case on the Mark II. There is no visible noise in low light, and virtually none even when shooting during almost complete darkness.

Sound Quality: 3 out of 5
Canon does not seemed to have upgraded the sound quality the G7X Mark I. The microphones are still located on the top of the device, directly above the lens, where you may be tempted to grasp when you’re using the camera to vlog, thus ruining your sound.

If you’ve read my other reviews here, you’re well aware that Canon compact cameras have perfectly fine in-built microphones, as long as you don’t try to film in windy areas. You cannot overcome this problem by attaching an external mic, as the G7X Mark II has no such connection.

However, purchase an inexpensive small wind muff, place it over the microphone holes, and you’ll get rid of this problem.

Battery Life: 2 out of 5
You can shoot continuous video for about 50 minutes on the G7X Mark II, at 1080p at 30 frames per second. Battery life is shorter if you film at 60 frames per second.

I highly recommend buying at least one spare battery if you are considering the G7X Mark II.

Usability: 4 out of 5
One of the major plusses with the G7X Mark II is its flip screen, meaning you can see yourself while the camera is pointed at you. This can be important for some video creators, as it allows you to ensure you are shooting your video the way you want to, so there are no surprises when you watch your footage back later. Of course, it also means you can make sure you look good, if that’s important to you. (Let’s be honest, it’s important for most of us.) Unlike the Mark I, the screen on the G7X Mark II also tilts downward, meaning that if you’re shooting from way up high, you can see what you’re shooting without having to grab a stool.

Where Sony is famous for its poor user interfaces, Canon excels. The interface on the G7X Mark II is pretty simple to use, even for relative beginners. As for the camera itself, the “auto” function means you can simply turn it on and hit the red “record” without ever having to mess with any options. The user interface is made even better by the fact that the G7X Mark II has a touch screen that is almost as responsive as a top-end smartphone. Having a sensitive touch screen also means you can double tap on the screen to make the camera focus on you, even when you’re already filming.

The G7X Mark II records time lapses, but you can’t charge the camera while it’s taking a time lapse — or while its filming in general — so the length of your time lapse might be decided by the camera’s battery life.

While you can pair your G7X Mark II with a smartphone app to transfer photos, the quality of the video footage from this device means you can’t transfer your videos without the use of a cable.

The G7X Mark II is a lot easier to hold than the Mark I, which was pretty slippery. This camera has a large rubber grip on the front, which makes it a lot less likely that it will slip out of your fingers, come crashing down on a hard surface and make you weep.

Click on the image above to find today’s price on Amazon.com.

Verdict: 4 out of 5

The GX7 Mark II is the best compact vlogging camera you can buy. It shoots excellent videos, even in low light, and has a faster autofocus than the previous generation model.

It also comes with a flip screen that’s also touch-sensitive, two of the more practically useful features when it comes to making YouTube videos. The flip screen means you can see yourself while you’re filming, and the touch screen means you can double tap your face to make sure you’re in focus.

However, the Mark II is still quite similar to the Mark I, and if you already own the earlier model, I recommend holding on for the next iteration in this series, or splashing the cash on the Sony RX100 V.

My favorite at-home vlog camera: Canon EOS 70D Digital SLR (with 18-135mm lens) (price range: $$$$)

Click on the image above to find today’s price on Amazon.com.

Pros Cons
20.2 megapixels, changeable lenses Extremely bulky

Portability: 1 out of 5
Obviously, the 70D is not a very portable camera. But that’s not the point of a DSLR. While the rest of the cameras on this list are versatile enough to use for at-home vlogging, and while traveling, the 70D is a camera you may want to keep stationary, unless you’re really serious about filming outdoors, and willing to lug this beast around.

Video Quality: 5 out of 5
Shooting at 1080p at 60 frames per second, the video quality on the 70D is about as good as it gets before moving to a fully-fledged, professional camcorder.

One reason the 70D is so expensive when compared to compact cameras is because it is a digital SLR, meaning it uses a mirror and prism system to allow you to see via the viewfinder exactly what you will see in the actual video footage. On compact cameras, lighting and framing you see through the LCD screen will typically be a little inaccurate. If you don’t like to use a viewfinder, the 70D also has an LCD screen.

Digital SLRs also allow you to attach a range of standalone lenses. For vlogging, you’ll really only need the standard 18-55mm lens sold with the camera. When you’re filming a vlog, a big lens means you’ll get some of the best quality video footage a DSLR has to offer, with shallow depth of field — so you’ll be in focus, but your background will look nicely blurred.

Better yet, the video quality on the 70D doesn’t suffer during low light, or in complete darkness. Videos captured during these situations will typically have no noise, or grain, which is more common with even high end compact digital cameras.

The 70D also comes with more precise autofocus than non-DSLRs, meaning that even in low-light situations, the camera won’t spend much time zooming around, trying to focus on what you want it to.

Sound Quality: 5 out of 5
The microphone on the 70D is not much better than the mics on Canon’s compact cameras, which are somewhat susceptible to wind while filming outdoors. But the 70D gets an extra point for sound quality as it is the only camera on this list that allows you to attach an external microphone, like the incredibly popular VideoMic Pro from Rode. With an external microphone attached, the audio on the 70D is flawless, even in strong winds outdoors, perfect for high-octane creators.

Battery Life: 2 out of 5
Shooting videos is a huge strain on camera batteries, and unfortunately, the 70D is not much different. Expect to get around 45 to 60 minutes of footage on a single charge. The upshot here is that you can connect this camera to a mains electricity supply, and shoot for as long as you need.

Usability: 3 out of 5
The 70D provides a ton of functionality for the most experienced video creators. But it’s also pretty accessible for beginners. The camera has an auto mode, meaning you can simply hit “record” and start talking.

It also has a flip screen. This is a great feature for vloggers who’d like to be able to see themselves while filming, but some cheaper compact cameras, like the G7X, also have flip cameras, so it’s not a feature exclusive to cameras at this price point.

One major downside of the 70D is that it does not have built in time lapse functionality. You can overcome this by purchasing an intervalometer, a piece of hardware that makes the camera take a photo during set intervals, which you can then piece together into a video. That’s frustrating for a camera of this price, but probably a non-issue, unless you’re specifically looking to film time lapses.

Click on the image above to find today’s price on Amazon.com.

Verdict: 5 out of 5

The Canon EOS 70D provides the best video and sound quality (provided you buy an external mic) that you’ll ever find without moving to an professional camcorder.

It’s certainly a big investment, but there’s a reason so many famous YouTubers have used the 70D for so long.

Pick the 70D if you’ll primarily be shooting your videos from home, and you’ve got a lot of cash to spend.

Subscribe to my newsletter and I'll send you vlogging tips you won't find here!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *