Choosing a video camera to film for YouTube can get tricky. As the years continue, we’re all starting to have our own YouTube channels. Whether it’s for filming your family and friends to share on social media, providing information for others to help with everyday life tasks, vlogging, or to merely exemplify your talents with comedic sketches, there is one thing all of us need: a proper video camcorder to do so. Whether you’re attempting to monetize off of your ideas or simply have the most optimal quality of video possible for sharing purposes, it is important you find the best camera that falls under your budget. We reviewed the price, quality, and other main/technical features of the best camcorders on the market specifically for recording YouTube videos. Yes, using your iPhone is always an option; however, this is more recommended for outdoor shooting, and let’s face it: it just won’t cut it if you’re trying to take your videos to the next level. Let’s see what we’ve found.
Choosing Your Video Camera
In our opinion, there are some crucial elements you must take into consideration:
- Your budget
- The sound and video quality the camera can shoot in
- Your video type – When and where you will be shooting them
- Accessories you may need to supplement your camera and videos
Our top 10 recommendations for video camera for YouTube videos
Before we get into the details of which you should buy and for what reasons, here is a list of the 10 best cameras for filming YouTube videos. We’ve chosen one or two from each price range. We then analyze and provide photos of our favorites. We have provided links to the lowest price, which is typically on Amazon.
This is listed as the single most important factor because, well, you need to buy what you can afford. We made sure to take the best camera from each price ranges, $0-$100, $100-$300, etc. We wouldn’t recommend going above $1,000 unless you’re very serious about your recording. Going with a 1,000$ or less (we don’t recommend anything less than $100, otherwise you should just your iPhone) for a suitable camera is just fine in about 99% of YouTube videos in the world.
Sound and Video Quality
YouTube automatically lowers the video quality of it’s uploads for most users in order to decrease loading time (typically to 240p or 360p). YouTube determines this by the users internet connection speed. So you’ll have to think: what internet connection are most people using? Basically, standard high speed internet for most. However, the maximum quality a video can be is 1080p, which many times users choose to view the videos in. We recommend grabbing a camera which supports this quality if you’re able to afford it – it is pretty much the standard of all videos nowadays. This is why we list this as one of the most important factors to take into consideration when choosing a camera: video quality is extremely crucial. The higher it is, the more professional your video looks (which is up to you and your preferences). If you want to get even more technical in terms of how your video looks, you should look into cameras that offer interchangeable lenses or programs you will be using to alter the look and feel of your video clips.
As far as sound quality goes, you typically have the option to use an external mic in most videos. Most connect with a 3.5mm (which is very standard for cameras) and there some that are even wireless via Bluetooth. If you want a true standard/above-standard quality YouTube video, external microphones are important. For field-type of filming, we really like the portable Zoom H4N. If you do end up going with a DSLR camera like we recommend in this article, there are great microphones that specialize in mounting on your DSLR. We recommend the Rode Videomic.
One last option you have is a clip-on mic if you’ll be filming indoors or vlogging. You can always check out some cheap ones on Amazon, but we really like (and more than 700+ reviewers) the clip-on mic Audio-Technica ATR-3350.
If you have more questions on YouTube and uploading videos, this resource by Google is great.
Your Video Type – When and Where Will You Be Filming Them?
Will you be vlogging, speaking to your audience at home or in a studio? Is portability important, or will you be simply resting your camera on a tripod? What kind of videos you will be filming is very important to take into consideration. For vlogging, a webcam won’t cut it anymore. You’re better off purchasing a decent camera and using a tripod (probably need a green screen for that too, unless you have some designs or white wall for the background). The portability and convenience of a smaller, more convenient camera may be more suitable for you if you are filming in public, on-the-go, or capturing your children playing at the park. Convenience should be taken into consideration for this — do you want a lug a camera around all day, or have one handy in your pocket if a memorable moment pops up? For action sports or point-of-view (POV) videos, the GoPro is a must. All in all, the conditions of what you will be typically submerged in should be a serious factor while shopping for your camcorder. We have only provided you with cameras that have 1080p resolution capabilities.
Accessories You May Need For Recording
Will you be a one-person show? You may need a tripod. Does the camera have a mic attached to it, or would you prefer a clip-on external microphone (these are recommended for a better quality video, but if you’re really concerned with sound quality, go with the Rode we recommended). These are questions you must ask yourself, and in order to find the answers, it depends on what kinds of videos you will be shooting. Another important question to ask yourself: will you need an external lens to attach to your camera? Some of the cameras we list enable this capability, while others do not. The lens you need to buy depends on what brand of camera you purchase. This isn’t as important as your budget or video quality possibilities: it is a bit more advanced (such as if you want a wide angled video, such as shooting 15mm or 30mm), and if you do find a camera that supports lens interchangeability (typically for higher priced cameras), you can also go and purchase one that you like at a later time. We recommend looking up videos online showing the differences of the lenses or going into a physical store and trying them out yourself.
The Top Best Camcorders for YouTube Videos
Below is the research we have compiled which provides the price and main features we need to take into consideration when shopping for camcorders to record on YouTube with. We’ve ranked them in order of price. Provided are photos of the model, recommended uses, and main features of the camera. Happy filming!
The Samsung HMX-W300 is extremely nimble. As the cheapest camera available we feel would be worth it, this is best in terms of those who are more filming their children or capturing memorable moments with friends with no intention of being completely professional. If you want to buy it refurbished and save money you have the option. This is a must-have for YouTubers who are constantly on the go or recording in public (don’t forget consent!). It’s also relatively cheap.
Note that this camcorder has about 20 minutes max of record time at a single session and will interrupt afterwards. It is not intended for continuous recording. Not recommended for taking pictures. Also noted as better for during the day. If you’re not as serious about your YouTubing in terms of professional quality, but will be filming on the go and will sometimes need immediate accessibility to your camera, this is recommended.
- Recommended for YouTubers who: Film family videos, memorable moments/clips with friends, shorter segments.
- Main Features:
- Films in 1080p HD video
- Built-in USB
- Waterproof (16.4 ft)
- Shock proof (6.5 ft)
The Panasonic HC-V520 is a step up from the pocket-cameras and starts off the true video camera category. This is by far the highest rated camera within the middle range of cameras. If you’re relatively serious about filming and can afford a camera within this range, the HC-V520 is a good choice. It is great in terms of image stabilization with their O.I.S. technology (you can always fix this with program and their stabilization features as well), perfect for a step-up from the HMX-W300 if you’re filming family and friends or a more outdoor oriented video.
- Recommended for YouTubers who: Film family or friend moments, most practical videos
- Main Features:
- 28mm wide-angle lens
- ‘Intelligent 80x Zoom’ with a 5-Axis HYBRID O.I.S. (optical image stabilization)
- SD card compatible
- 3″ LCD screen
- Built-in Wi-Fi
- 1/5.8″ sensor size
- BSI MOS Sensor type
GoPro HERO 3+
We’ve all seen the commercials and continuing growth of the GoPro camera. Particularly for action sports and other fun adventures, the GoPro dominates all camera in terms of point-of-view. Their newest cam, the 3+, comes in three editions: black, silver and white. The price is determined by which cam you get: quality, megapixel capacity, and overall image quality. Note, however: All GoPro cameras have the ability to shoot in 1080p! You are also able to purchase numerous accessories for the camera, such as different types of mounts to place your camera on yourself or a piece of equipment. So if you’re filming some action shots (whether you’re into any sport or have a great idea for a POV video), we recommend the GoPro.
- Recommended for YouTubers who: Film action sports or more adventurous films, have ideas for point-of-view videos
- Main Features (dependent on which edition you choose):
- Ability to connect to your phone via WiFi (need an app and accessory for this, however the black edition has it built in)
- HDMI Port
- MicroSD cards up to 64gb
- Ultra wide-angle glass lens
- High resolution and frame rate capablities: 1440p at 48 fps, 1080p at 60 fps, etc
Canon EOS M
The Canon EOS M is an amazing camcorder. If you’re in the medium price range, this is the absolute best camera for the money and overall quality for YouTube. We recommend spending another few bucks or so if you can for this. You can be a legitimate YouTube channel with this camera, regardless of what you film for. Take into consideration how long these cameras can film in continuously at your desired quality. The higher the quality, the less time it can take (this one in particular around 30 min for their highest resolution). Don’t forget about the lenses available. Here’s a video they have to get started with them. Recommended for all film types besides POV, this is the camera you want if you have the money and are pretty serious about your YouTube videos. The link we’ve provided comes with a great lens as well.
- Recommended for YouTubers who: All filming types (except action or POV, which we recommend the GoPro for)
- Main Features:
- Can record in multiple resolution sizes (highest is 1920 x 1080 full HD – more than enough for YouTube)
- 18 megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor (in lamens terms, great enough quality for any type of video)
- Noise reduction
- Lens interchangeability (Canon specific lenses – Canon EF and EF-S lenses)
- Compatible with SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards
- Built-in microphone (Also has the ability to use an external mic — which is preferred for better audio quality).
- Image stabilization
- Touch sensitive screen
The Sony HDR-CX260V is the best camera we found within the middle price range (looks like it’s gone up a bit due to it’s rarity, but still a camera worth looking at. Otherwise, go with a DSLR) in terms portability. In particular for YouTube video, the quality of this camera is exceptional and is also convenient for on-the-go, semi-professional quality videos. It’s also best in terms of personal preference: the mobility of the camera is great, fitting in a smaller case and is comfortable in the palm of your hand. What makes this camera special is the video quality: a whopping 1920×1080 Full HD. The GPS function is also extremely useful if you think you’ll be using it. Ability to watch in slow-motion on the camera is a plus as well.
- Recommended for YouTubers who:
- Main Features:
- 9 MP (megapixel) still image
- 30X optical, 55x zoom extended
- 3″ touch-screen LCD display (touch screen)
- Capable of filming in 1920×1080 Full HD 60p (crazy great resolution)
- 16 flash memory
- Wide angle G lens
- Built-in USB cable
- Noise reduction tech
Canon EOS 60D
The Canon EOS 60D is great for the price if you’re able to get in the higher range. Estimated retail is starting at the top tier but Amazon usually has it for a decent price. If you have the money: get. this. camera. What’s nifty with this model is the interchangeable lens feature as most Canon’s allow. This is plain out top notch video quality and technical features.
- Recommended for YouTubers who: Do anything. This is one of the best cameras we could find that is under a grand. This is top-of-the-line.
- Main Features:
- 18 mp (megapixel) CMOS sensor
- EOS HD video with exposure control
- Compatible with SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards (not included)
- 5.3 fps continuous shooting
- Dual-layer metering system
After sifting through our camera list, always remember to take into consideration your budget, the video quality capabilities of the camera, when, where and how you will be filming your YouTube videos, and what accessories you may need. We recommend always going for a camera that provides 1080p resolution, as that is the standard for YouTube videos for any type of filming. Also, take into consideration the amount of time these cameras allow you film in your desired resolution (many are relatively short for higher resolutions). Will you be able to charge the battery after using it in such a high resolution to continue filming? Or will you not have access to electricity and be forced to shoot in lower resolutions to preserve battery life?
I know we have been subjective in this entire article, but if you’re looking for a definite answer: the Canon EOS M is the best video camcorder for YouTube if you are able to afford it. We’ve chosen this camera because of the average price, main features, overall video quality, and it’s simplicity to use. It is most optimal for YouTube if you are on a budget (if you have more to spend, don’t be shy to invest more in the other more expensive cameras listed – the Canon EOS 60D is a step up). It’s our go-to for YouTube videos, and for good reason!
As far as some portable options, the Zoom Q4 is out and we’ve heard a lot of reviews over the past few months from this. Be sure to check that out if you’re more of an on-the-go type of YouTube filmer. Happy filming, and let us know if you have any questions.
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