Searching for the best YouTube camera you can buy? From action cams to the latest mirrorless cameras, we’ve tested all of the finest options for YouTube creators. Whether you’re just starting your vlogging journey or are an experienced videographer looking to take your channel to the next level, we’ve rounded up all of the best options in the list below. (Looking for the best vlogging camera instead? Check out our separate guide on that).
Most cameras can shoot YouTube-worthy content these days, but a specialist camera can give your production values a real lift and help give your channel a more professional feel. Smartphones and compacts certainly offer an accessible start, but cameras with larger sensors, superior autofocus and audio options can make a dedicated YouTube camera a worthy investment.
Our list below contains all kinds of YouTube cameras, so it’s worth considering what type of content you’re looking to produce. Looking to shoot product-led videos at home? The Sony ZV-1 is an excellent option for this thanks to its class-leading autofocus. But if you’re more of an adventurous type who’s looking to shoot first-person travel videos, then the GoPro Hero 9 Black could be a better bet. For maximum versatility and portability, you might also consider the new Insta360 Go 2.
On the other hand, some YouTubers prefer to use a hybrid camera that’s as comfortable shooting stills as it is video. These cameras tend to be a little pricier, but options like the Fujifilm X-S10 can also be all the camera you’ll need for any situation, whether that’s photographing the family or shooting a high-quality YouTube video.
Overall, our top pick for the title of best YouTube camera is the Sony ZV-1, which is currently the ultimate compact camera for YouTuber creators. It combines excellent autofocus, superb image quality, and a surprising amount of versatility, thanks to its hot-shoe and an external mic input.
But while that’s a great all-rounder, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best YouTube camera for you. Our guide also contains powerful mirrorless cameras like the Fujifilm X-T4 and older bargains like the Panasonic G90/G95, so be sure to read the whole guide to find the best YouTube camera that’s right for you.
Our top picks
The best YouTube cameras you can buy in 2021:
The Sony ZV-1 delivers pretty much everything the roaming YouTuber needs, all in a pleasingly compact package. Sony’s class-leading Real-time tracking and Real-time Eye AF systems will keep you in focus as you move around the frame, while the bright lens and large 1-inch sensor size mean clear, crisp images in most conditions as well as attractive background bokeh – both something of a rarity on pocket-sized cameras.
You’ll find thoughtful touches everywhere. The hotshoe can accommodate an external mic or LED light without blocking the side-flipping touchscreen, the video record button is much larger than on regular compacts, and a built-in ND filter helps you to shoot smooth movement on brighter days. It even offers a feature aimed specifically at reviews-based YouTubers, ‘Product Showcase’, which quickly alters settings for optimal shooting of objects, while YouTube livestreaming will be added via a software update in July 2020.
It’s not completely flawless – the touchscreen controls are a little limited and Sony’s stuck with the aging microUSB rather than a more versatile USB-C port. The video stabilization also falls just short of the best and there’s no weatherproofing either. But unless you're mostly shooting out in challenging conditions, it's the best pocket YouTube camera around.
Read the full review: Sony ZV-1 review
One of the best mirrorless all-rounders, especially at its price point, the Fujifilm X-S10 makes for one of the best YouTube cameras because of its great video specs and versatility.
You get a fantastic 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor, paired with an X Processor 4 which facilitates some of its top video functions, like 4K/30p video recording.
There’s also the ability to use an external mic source, the option to output 4:2:2 10-bit video, Full HD at up to 240p for a slow motion effect and a great in-body image stabilization system.
All of that comes in a package which is stylish and easy to use, and as a bonus, it also takes great stills when you’re not using it for your YouTube escapades. It’s also available at a great price, considering the specs you get inside.
Read the full review: Fujifilm X-S10 review
YouTubers rejoice: with its lightweight polycarbonate construction and impressive in-body image stabilization, the E-M5 Mark III is one interchangeable lens camera that feels engineered for long handheld recording sessions. It also touts some seriously impressive video specs, including the option of shooting Cinema 4K at 24fps and a bit-rate of 237Mbps, plus the ability to capture slo-mp 1080p video at 120fps.
The Four Thirds sensor isn’t as large as those on many mirrorless rivals but, while the E-M5 Mark III might not be the most impressive camera in its class when it comes to outright image quality, its video footage boasts great color rendition and rich detail. A vari-angle touchscreen, meanwhile, makes self-shooting a cinch.
One thing we’d have liked to seen on a camera this pricy is a headphone jack for real-time audio monitoring, and a slightly larger hand grip to make handheld shooting a little more comfortable wouldn’t have gone amiss – but neither of these caveats prevent the E-M5 Mark III from being an incredibly powerful package for making videos.
Read the full review: Olympus E-M5 Mark III review
At first glance you might wonder why we’re recommending the A6600 over its significantly cheaper Sony stablemate the A6400. After all, on first glance the A6400’s video specs are almost identical – both cameras come with the same 24.4MP Exmor APS-C sensor and Bionz X processor, allowing them to shoot 4K at 30fps with support for S-log3 and S-log2 profiles and hybrid log gamma HDR.
Look closer and you’ll find several key features that make it the superior YouTube camera. Firstly, there’s in-body image stabilization (IBIS), which helps smooth out handheld shooting no matter which lens you’re using. Secondly, the A6600 has mic and headphone ports, while the A6400 has only the former. Thirdly, there’s the excellent Real-time Eye AF for movies, which keeps faces in focus even if they move back and forth in the frame. And finally, the battery capacity on the A6600 is about twice the size, giving you a lot more shooting time per charge.
Those unaccustomed to Sony’s convoluted menus and tiny buttons may find it a little frustrating to use and the touchscreen controls limited. It's worth bearing in mind that the screen also flips up to face forwards, which means anything mounted on the hot-shoe will block your view. But aside from these quibbles, the A6600 is one of the best YouTube cameras around.
Read the full review: Sony A6600 review
The latest incarnation of Canon’s G7 X series ups the video ante by adding 4K recording and a microphone socket. These slot in nicely beside the large 1-inch sensor, superb image stabilization, tilting touchscreen and USB charging to make this a very capable compact for making YouTube content.
What’s more, it comes with YouTube livestreaming support out of the box, so tether it to your smartphone or a Wi-Fi network and you can broadcast live to the world. The camera is sturdily built, sits nicely in the hand, and the touchscreen controls feel responsive.
Despite the microphone socket there’s no hotshoe, however, so you’ll have to mount your mic elsewhere, while the contrast-detection autofocus system is a little less advanced than the hybrid setups on rivals like the Sony ZV-1. Still, YouTubers looking for a pocket-sized camera should definitely consider this a worthy alternative.
Read the full review: Canon PowerShot G7X Mark III review
Its sturdy shell might look retro, but the X-T4 is the opposite of old school. Fujifilm’s most advanced APS-C camera yet packs a catalogue of features that make it excellent for capturing YouTube content. Solidly built and weather-resistant, the X-T4 is a lovely camera to handle, with a fully articulating touchscreen that proves a boon when framing shots. Across the board, video performance is superlative: besides Cinema 4K at up to 60fps, the X-T4 supports 10-bit internal recording, HMDI out, up to 400Mbps bit-rate and F-Log and HLF profiles as standard. In simpler terms, it’s a very versatile solution for filming footage for YouTube, especially when you add super slow-motion into the mix (Full HD at up to 240fps). There’s also five-axis image stabilization for those whose channels are more walk-and-talk than slow-mo magic, with sensor shift and digital stabilization noticeably reducing shake. Bolstered battery life and improved eye- and face-detection autofocus are also useful for YouTubers, while Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity should make up for the absent headphone port. It might be pricey, but the X-T4 is a seriously capable tool for YouTube vloggers.
- Read our in-depth Fujifilm X-T4 review
Action cameras are designed to be easy to use in all kinds of situations, which also makes them excellent cameras for YouTubers – and the GoPro Hero 9 Black is no exception. The most powerful and versatile action cam on the market, it’s tough enough to survive extreme exploits, while the new full color front display is a gift for self-shooters. Its touchscreen interface is a little laggy, but the combination of easy presets, a range of recording modes and full manual control options means the Hero 9 Black caters to all kinds of creatives. Image stabilization is better than ever, with the strongest boost setting available at all resolutions. And courtesy of an upgraded sensor, the Hero 9 Black can capture detailed 5K footage at 30p – though the maximum 4K frame rate remains 60p. Built-in mics provide decent wind noise reduction, while Mod support allows for optional upgrades to suit your shooting. Software tricks such as TimeWarp make it easy to capture dynamic B-roll for YouTube, plus the ability to Live Stream in 1080p will please vloggers. The Hero 8 Black might represent better overall value, but the Hero 9 Black is the best all-in-one YouTube action camera you can buy.
- Read our in-depth GoPro Hero 9 Black review
If portability, versatility and value are your main criteria for a YouTube camera, then the Insta360 Go 2 could be your ideal match
Despite its manufacturer's name, this isn't a 360-degree camera – the Insta360 Go 2 is instead a tiny camera that comes with a range of accessories, including a handy charging case and a pendant that lets you 'wear' the camera hands-free.
It can't shoot 4K video, but the 1440p footage we shot with the Go 2 was very impressive and far superior to that of its predecessor. It doesn't quite match the GoPro Hero 9 Black's quality, but it's not far off either – and that's impressive for a camera of this size and versatility.
We found its new charging case to be particularly useful, as it has a built-in tripod that lets you set it up on a table or flat surface for a quick to-camera piece. And while the in-camera image stabilization is pretty average, you can get excellent stabilization when you run the footage through Insta360's companion app or desktop software.
The only downsides are that this process is a bit more of a faff compared to a GoPro, and the fact that audio is limited to a single microphone. The Insta360 Go 2 also lacks a built-in screen to help you compose shots. But if none of these issues are deal-breakers for you, it's otherwise a fine choice for the roaming YouTuber.
- Read our in-depth Insta360 Go 2 review
If you're looking for a YouTube camera that also doubles as a fine travel camera for photos, then the Panasonic G100 is one of the strongest contenders around.
Unlike compact cameras like the Sony ZV-1 and Canon G7X Mark II, the G100 has a viewfinder – and a very decent, 3.69-million dot EVF at that. While this isn't generally necessary for vlogging or shooting videos, it is a useful addition for shooting photos in bright conditions.
What about its video skills? These are also strong, if not quite class-leading. One standout feature is the G100's Nokia Ozo-equipped triple microphone setup, which does a better job than most cameras in this list of isolating voices from background noise, and also cleverly works with the camera's face-tracking.
Video quality is also very good, with good colors and plenty of detail. The reason why the G100 isn't higher up this list is because it has a rather large 1.6x crop in 4K mode (which may be an issue if your YouTube channel is of the 'walking and talking' variety) and it also relies on the slightly older contrast AF system, rather than the hybrid phase-detect variety offered by the likes of the Sony ZV-1.
Still, this might not be a major issue if you or your subjects tend to stay relatively still in your YouTube videos, the G100 is otherwise one of the best 4K all-rounders at this size and price point.
Read our in-depth Panasonic G100 review
Compact even by mirrorless standards, the EOS M6 Mark II sports an APS-C sensor with a high 32.5MP resolution. Video-focussed users may not get as much out of all those megapixels as stills shooters, but there’s plenty for YouTubers to admire besides.
The flip-up touchscreen is handy for self-shooting, and it can shoot crisp uncropped 4K at 30fps or 1080p at a smooth 120fps. You get pleasing color and detail straight out of the camera, while Dual Pixel CMOS AF with eye detection is on hand to keep your face in focus.
The lack of a viewfinder and the (currently) small selection of native lenses for the M6 Mark II’s EOS M system aren’t huge drawbacks for shooting YouTube content, as you can use the screen for shot composition and likely only need one or two lenses to cover most situations. But if you do want to broaden your shooting horizons, there's always the option of adapting Canon's huge range of EF lenses.
Read the full review: Canon EOS M6 Mark II review
Panasonic's full-frame mirrorless cameras arguably failed to catch the world's attention, thanks to a number of key problems. Keen to address those issues, the Panasonic S5 brings a smaller and more portable body, better autofocusing, but still keeps the video-friendly specs that vloggers and YouTubers have come to love the company for.
You get 4K recording, with a crop applied at 60p (but not at 30p), a fully-articulating screen, V-log support, and dual memory cards. The standard kit lens starts at 20mm, making it well-suited to filming clips to camera (even with a crop applied). It's also a neatly compact optic that matches well to the small size of the S5 - which is now smaller than its Micro Four Thirds cousin, the G9.
One of the big downsides of the S5 is that other cameras can outclass it when it comes to super-fast autofocusing, while another is the fact that other lenses for the system are much bigger and bulkier. If you're somebody that likes to shoot stills as well as video, this is a good hybrid all-rounder though.
- Read the full review: Panasonic S5
Fujifilm’s entry-level mirrorless model is an affordable all-rounder, with some interesting features for video makers. YouTube creators will love the widescreen touchscreen, for instance: not only does it flip round to face forward, it’s large (3.5 inches) and sharp (2.78-million dots). There’s also the new digital gimbal feature, which uses a gyroscope and clever cropping to smooth out handheld footage taken while you’re moving. It’ll only work with 1080p or lower resolution videos, though.
USB-C charging is a great addition too, but sadly the camera’s excellent AF technology seems designed primarily with stills in mind, not video: the face and eye detection tracking tech doesn’t work while filming, so you’ll have to do your best to keep your head from weaving about too much when filming to-camera pieces.
- Read the full review: Fujifilm X-T200
Designed very much with video in mind, the G95 (known as the G90 outside North America) has a raft of features and functions that make it great for shooting YouTube content. Its new, smaller Panasonic G100 sibling is now here (see above), but this model is well worth considering because it offers in-body image stabilization (IBIS).
The flip-out OLED touchscreen, headphone output, mic input, hotshoe, IBIS, weatherproof build and variety of video formats (which include V-Log L for perfectionists who want to dabble in post-shoot color grading) make it a powerful and versatile performer.
There’s some evidence of rolling shutter at points, which you'll have to take some care to avoid. The G90 is also fairly pricey for a mid-range model, especially when bought with the (good quality) power zoom kit lens. That said, it’s easier on the wallet than Panasonic’s GH5 and GH5S video flagships, while offering many of the same benefits.
Read the full review: Panasonic G95 / G90 review
There’s plenty of life in DSLRs yet and some make for great video tools. While these cameras aren’t quite as new, shiny and small as mirrorless models, they have plenty to offer photographers and, yes, video makers. Canon’s EOS 90D records lovely uncropped 4K footage at up to 30fps and 1080p at up to 120fps, works in adverse weather conditions, comes with a flip-forward screen and has access to a vast range of EF and EF-S native lenses – all things that make it ideal for YouTubers.
On the downside, it doesn’t have in-body image stabilization and it’s larger and heavier than a lot of mirrorless alternatives. It’s not cheap, either, and if you’re buying it solely for video you’ll be paying for a lot of still-focussed features and performance that you’ll barely touch. You may be tempted to plump for the older, cheaper 80D instead, but note that it doesn’t support 4K or 24p video.
Read the full review Canon EOS 90D review
Not everybody wants to invest in a dedicated camera just for YouTube. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t kick your existing gear up a notch, by using something like the DJI OM 4.
With it, you can create smooth footage from your existing smartphone, stabilised via the OM4’s 3-axis gimbal. It simply attaches to your phone via magnets - which also means you can quickly release it when you want to use the phone for other purposes.
You can also fold down the gimbal for quick and easy transportation, too. The gimbal fits most phones – even large “phablet” type phones, but anybody using a thicker case might struggle.
Read the full review: DJI OM 4 review
Choosing your YouTube camera
How to pick the best YouTube camera for you:
While your needs will vary slightly depending on the kind of videos you're looking to shoot, there are five main features that you should look for in a YouTube camera:
1. Articulating screen
Whether it flips out to the side or pivots up to the top, an articulating screen is a godsend when trying to film yourself. By giving you a live preview of the shot composition, exposure and focus, it helps you get the basics right so you can concentrate on other aspects of your video.
2. Good autofocus
Manual focus has its place in filmmaking, but to keep everything as simple and straightforward as possible it pays to pick a camera with great video autofocus. Face and/or eye tracking helps if you tend to move around a lot in your videos, as the focus will adjust itself automatically to compensate.
3. Built-in stabilization
Filming on the hoof can result in shaky, hard to watch footage. Thankfully a lot of modern cameras come with image stabilization (optical, electronic or a combination of the two) to automatically compensates for motion. Some, it should be noted, do it much better than others. Alternatively, a gimbal can stabilize pretty much any camera, at the cost of adding bulk.
4. Audio options
A camera’s built-in microphone can record sound – but using an external microphone will vastly improve clarity and likely cut down on unwanted ambient noise. Check potential buys for mic inputs and a hot shoe for mounting mics. You might want to consider headphone sockets too: they allow you to monitor audio levels while recording.
5. Livestreaming options
This might not be vital for those making videos to upload after filming and editing, but for anyone who wants to broadcast live, it’s well worth checking to see if a potential camera supports YouTube livestreaming. It’s not just smartphones and webcams anymore – more and more cameras are coming with the technology built-in.