Searching for the best YouTube camera you can buy in 2020? You're certainly not short of options these days, though the number of contenders – from premium compacts to video-focused mirrorless cameras – can make it a tricky decision. That's why we've put together this guide to the finest ones available, whatever your needs. If you're looking for the best vlogging camera, you can also check out our guide to that broader species of video camera.
With so many capable smartphones around, you may be wondering whether you need a dedicated YouTube camera at all. While smartphones certainly are a good first step, they lack many of the features that will take your channel's production qualities to the next level.
Ideally you want something that can capture great quality video and audio, automatically keep your face in focus, and be small enough to carry around. You might even want livestreaming capabilities in order to share your musings in real-time.
If you’re struggling for inspiration, you’ve come to the right place. Our buying guide brings together the best YouTube cameras on sale right now, from the expensive to the affordable and the ultra-compact to the high-spec. From DSLRs to action cameras to portable gimbals, there’s something for every requirement and budget.
There isn’t just one style of YouTube video, so when picking a camera you should carefully consider what your own style will be. Will you be recording pieces mainly to camera in a home studio? Then you might want face-tracking autofocus. Or will you be making active outdoors videos where a rugged build, light weight and effective image stabilization are key? Or will you be making a whole variety of videos, and in need something that ticks all the boxes?
Our top pick right now is the Sony ZV-1, a video-focussed compact that's stuffed with features and capable of capturing superb quality movies for its size. But your own needs might require interchangeable lenses or world-class stabilization, in which case one of our other picks might suit you far better.
Here are the best YouTube cameras you can buy right now.
Our top picks
The best YouTube cameras you can buy in 2020:
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
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
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
Essentially a tiny gimbal with an even tinier video camera attached, the Osmo Pocket is built for filming buttery smooth footage on-the-move. Its smart three-axis stabilization works exceptionally well when you’re filming while walking or even running, and its 4K video (which now supports frame rates of up to 60fps) looks excellent.
You’ll get better quality footage from a mirrorless camera attached to a hefty gimbal, sure – but it’ll end up costing you a lot more as well as requiring you to lug bags full of camera equipment around. The Osmo Pocket, need it be said, fits in your pocket. It even features built-in face tracking so you can film yourself while walking and the camera will stay pointed the right way.
There are limitations and oversights: the on-board microphone isn’t up to much, so you’ll want to invest in something external for capturing clear sound, and the lens' focal length is totally fixed, so you won’t be able to zoom in tight or go ultra-wide. There's also no tripod mount on the handle, which seems like a strange omission. But none of these prevent the Osmo Pocket from potentially being a key, unique part of any YouTuber’s arsenal.
Read the full review: DJI Osmo Pocket 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
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
GoPro has long been the go-to action cam brand for adventurous types looking to document their extreme outdoor exploits, but its latest flagship model is a pretty nifty camera for YouTubers too. Because it’s small, light and possessed of a wide-angle lens and the best electronic image stabilization we’ve ever seen, it’s a great way to film on-the-go vlogs and to-camera pieces.
Walk around with the Hero 8 Black attached to a handle and you won’t have to worry about nauseating camera shake – its HyperSmooth wizardry will make everything rock-steady without affecting image quality.
Home-based YouTubers may prefer the refinement and versatility of a compact or mirrorless camera, but those who regularly record in tricky conditions should certainly consider the GoPro. It can even be boosted with the company’s Mod add-ons, with microphones, screens and LED lights among the current options. You may need the latter if you plan on filming indoors or at night too, because the Hero 8 Black’s small sensor struggles a little in low light.
Read the full review: GoPro Hero 8 Black 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
While it isn't strictly a YouTube camera, the Osmo Mobile 3 is a decent alternative if you don't mind shooting with your smartphone:
No, the Osmo Mobile 3 isn't actually a camera – but it will turn your smartphone into a super-stabilized mobile vlogging maestro.
This brilliant folding gimbal is portable enough to take almost anywhere, and once you’ve clamped your Android or iOS handset into it and paired things up using DJI’s Mimo app, it’ll make self-shooting on the move a delight. The 3-axis gimbal keeps everything beautifully steady, and your phone facing exactly where you need it.
Depending on the phone you’re using, the app’s footage may be noticeably inferior, and that can be an issue in challenging shooting conditions. It tracks faces very effectively, which is ideal for YouTubers, but struggles a little when tracking objects.
Read the full review: DJI Osmo Mobile 3
Best YouTube camera 2020 at a glance:
- Sony ZV-1
- Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III
- Sony A6660
- Canon Powershot G7 X Mark III
- Panasonic G100
- DJI Osmo Pocket
- Canon EOS M6 Mark II
- Fujifilm X-T200
- Panasonic G95 / G90
- GoPro Hero 8 Black
- Canon EOS 90D
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.