Best Budget Camera for Starting on YouTube 2018

Updated on January 3, 2018
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I left my finance job 6 years ago to work for my dream boss, myself. I've never looked back. I focus on tech, gaming, and hardware reviews.

No camera will make you an instant success on YouTube. However, it can make the process easier.

Having started my YouTube channel with a webcam and phone, I quickly upgraded to an inexpensive camcorder and then DSLR. These upgrades came after getting my audio sorted, which I feel is your first upgrade after finding a camera that can quickly auto-focus.

Whether you're a beginner, or just looking to upgrade, I'll take you through a few of my favorite cameras right now. Compared to higher-end options, these cameras are not only more affordable, they actually look very similar in overall picture quality.

5 Entry-Level YouTube Cameras You Should Know About

Looking to make it big in the YouTube world? First, you'll need a camera. Here are some affordable options that make our shortlist.

Canon T7i

When I started my YouTube channel I used a webcam and my smartphone to get by. After that, I quickly upgraded to the T3i. It was a huge upgrade, but my T3i didn't have autofocus. Fast forward to the impressive Canon T7i and you'll see that Canon has made huge improvements to it's mid-range DSLR.

The T7i is lightweight. This makes it a fantastic option for hooking up to a flexible tripod or taking it on the go. Anytime you can eliminate weight, it just makes your job that much easier. Plus the hotshoe on top makes it easy to mount a good shotgun microphone.

This isn't the T3i of old, rather it has an autofocus that's on par with the Canon EOS 70D and is the same price. So before we go any farther with this model, which one should you go with? Let's look at the 70D.

Canon EOS 70D

If you're looking for a good camera for YouTube in the under $1,000 you've likely come across recommendations for the Canon EOS 70D.

Going with a camera that's a few years old can be a great way to spend money and the Canon EOS 70D, even though not completely new, is still being used by a massive amount of YouTubers after being popularized by famous YouTuber Casey Neistat.

And if you go out regularly by yourself, you'll understand why. The 70D keeps the image focused during your video. It's facial autofocus is fantastic and the STM and image stabilization are incredible. It's fast, easy, and effective. In fact, it's much better than even the expensive cameras I have.

In addition, it has a flip-out LCD for seeing yourself while you film - a requirement for those who can't afford a full-time person behind the camera. Throw it on a good budget tripod like the Gorillapod and you're ready to go.

No it doesn't do 4k. However, most people aren't watching YouTube in 4k anyway right now. It's difficult to stream, hard to store, and doesn't look that much better on your handheld device.

Still, the older EOS 70D is at the same price point as the Canon T7i. So, to help you with your decision, let's take a look at some of the key specifications of each of these cameras.

Canon EOS 70D vs Canon T7i Specifications

EOS Rebel T7i
24.2 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor.
20.2 MP APS-C CMOS sensor and DIGIC 5+
ISO Range
ISO Range 100-25600 expands to 51200
ISO Range Auto, 100-12800 (25600 with boost)
weight: 532g 1.18 pounds
755G 1.66 pounds
Dual Pixel CMOS AF (more refined but same system)
Dual Pixel CMOS AF
Additional Notes:
App is updated for remotely controlling camera and works better than 70D's
Weather Sealed Body

Final Thoughts:

So, there are a few problems with the EOS 70D. It's getting older, doesn't have a better picture, has many of the same specs as the T7i, has an inferior sensor, and is significantly heavier. If you plan on remotely controlling your camera, you'll also notice that the T7i's app is more refined just like you'll find with the newer EOS 80D.

Ultimately, if you can get the 70D for cheap refurbished or used, it might be a great way to get in the game on a budget. That being said, if it's the same price as the T7i, you should go with the T7i or jump up to the newer model in the EOS 80D for an additional $300. For us, the T7i is clearly what you want to jump from your phone. That's why it makes our shortlist for our good and cheap audio and video setup for YouTube.

Under $500

Finding the Canon T5i here for under $500 might be a good option if you're operating with a limited budget. Use the stock 18-55mm lens and you're off to the races. That being said, it's still tempting here to step up another $250 and go with the T7i or 70D.

Affordable 4k Camera - Panasonic Lumix DMC-G70


There are many people that will tell you that the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 Mirrorless Camera is the best body under $1,000. Truth be told, they have a point. Personally, I've stuck with the Canon lineup because that's where the glass I own is at.

However, there's a lot to like about this camera.

First of all, you can shoot this mirrorless lightweight camera in 4k or 1080p 60FPS. This is unavailable with the Canon cameras at the same price range.

Second, is focus peaking. Focus peaking isn't autofocus (although the Lumix G7 does have that). Rather, it allows you to drag a box on your subject in order to focus in on them. For whatever reason, this makes it even easier to get the exact shot you'd like.

Lastly, the luminosity histogram allows you to easily get the best lighting for each situation. This allows you to use a lot of raw footage and cuts down on that post production hassle.

Final Thoughts:

Overall, you get more than what you're expecting with the Lumix G7. I picked up the f/2.8 12-35mm lens to have that one-stop shop lens for shooting. This makes it a lot easier when you're trying to get out the door. Again, if you're looking to shoot in 4k and want an inexpensive option, this might just be what you're looking for.

Canon vs Nikon vs Sony

Which Brand do You Prefer?

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For Good YouTube Action Shots - GoPro Hero5 and Hero6 Camera

Even the biggest YouTubers in the world occasionally use the GoPro HERO5. It's crucial for taking high-quality action shots. It's lightweight and portable, waterproof, has fantastic stabilization, and is super tough.

It shoots 4k it 30FPS (frames per second) and 1080p at 120FPS. And it does all of these while being waterproof at up to 33'.

Vs Hero4

Compared to the Hero4, the Hero5's microphone is much better and the picture is brighter and more crisp.

Final Thoughts and Hero5 Vs Hero6

The Hero5 is a fantastic camera. So, if you can get it used at this point, I'd go that route. However, with the HERO6 coming we're likely to recommend that as it shoots in 240FPS 1080p so that you can get that perfect slow motion shot and 4k 60FPS!

Yet whether you're video gets a lot of views or not depends more on what you're doing in it than the quality of the camera itself. So, if you can only afford an old GoPro, go with that and work your way up.

Best Webcam Camera for Live Gaming and YouTube - Logitech C930e

If you do end up using a webcam, I like one of these mini tripods to help you manage your shots. Pictured in front is the Manfrotto Mini Tripod.
If you do end up using a webcam, I like one of these mini tripods to help you manage your shots. Pictured in front is the Manfrotto Mini Tripod.

Before I could afford a DSLR I gained my first 10,000 followers on YouTube with the Logitech C920. Today, the upgrade to that is the Logitech C930e.

Even though I have better cameras today, I still occasionally find myself using a webcam. It's ideal for when I'm gaming live or want to post a video where I'm showing various news sites or products. A webcam just makes things so simple.

I highly recommend you hook up a good microphone as any webcam mic won't be up to par.

Even though it's a webcam you can get full 1080p at 30FPS with this one. Again, cameras don't limit the story you tell. As such, there are still many YouTubers with high sub counts that ONLY use webcams. A good example is Hearthstone streamer Kripparrian.

Final Thoughts:

Overall, a good webcam seems like a must-have for almost any YouTuber. And if this is the only camera you have to start with, you can definitely make it work.

Your Smartphone (Whatever That Is)

I currently use a Galaxy S8 and love the photo and video I get from it. However, whatever phone you have is a great option for just about any situation. (This picture was shot from another Galaxy S8.)
I currently use a Galaxy S8 and love the photo and video I get from it. However, whatever phone you have is a great option for just about any situation. (This picture was shot from another Galaxy S8.)

Whatever your smartphone is, it probably has a camera. If it's only a flip phone, you might want to disregard this. This will become one of your best tools for when you're out and about and don't have your gear with you.

If you've ever heard that the best camera to have is the one that's with you, that is certainly true of your smartphone. Don't forget it's there.

If you're looking for quality video, I recommend you take a look at the iPhone 6 or later, Google Pixel, or the Samsung Galaxy S7 or later. I currently use the Samsung Galaxy S8 and love it.

Smartphone vs DSLR

In the right hands, you'd be surprised at how difficult it is to distinguish between your smartphone and your DSLR. You will see some additional blur with your phone on action shots, but overall, it's not too bad if you're willing to get creative.

What to Look For in a Camera for YouTube


Trying to manually focus while you're recording yourself and others doesn't turn out well. You'll typically have blurry film. I've been there and done that. So, prioritize finding something that not only has autofocus but does it quickly.

Flip out Screen

As a YouTuber, you'll find that a lot of the time you're holding the camera away from yourself while trying to film yourself. It sounds difficult but isn't too bad with a flip out screen. So, make sure that you make a flip out screen a priority.

Should you spend more?

You want to go with something that will last you at least a couple of years. It's easy to want to skimp on the body, but it's the glass/lenses that really end up costing a lot. So, if you can afford it, I'd recommend getting something that will stand the test of time.

Otherwise, it might be a good idea to use a budget option, like your phone, until you can get something that will truly cover some ground.

Sticking With a Single Brand

Over time, you'll likely spend more money on your lenses and accessories than you will on the camera body itself. So, it may be worth it to invest in a brand and stick with it.

You can definitely sell old gear; however, this can be a fairly big burden when you've got a lot of it!

Remember, the best camera to have is the one you've got on you. So, get out there, never quit, make some videos, and achieve the YouTube success you're looking for!


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