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 if you get the right camera from the start.
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 should be your first priority. In my opinion, your phone and good audio is better than a $2,000 camera without a microphone.
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.
Canon T7i and T8i
Canon's EOS Rebel line of cameras has been a staple in the community for many years. 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 it didn't autofocus. Fast forward to the t7i and T8i and you've got inexpensive options that not only have autofocus, but that produce amazing quality video.
T7i vs T8i
Most of the questions I get relate to how the T7i compares to the 70D, how the new Canon EOS Rebel T8i differs from the 90D, and how the t7i and t8i compare. While I've provided a table below, here's a brief summary of my thoughts on which you should buy.
I'll go over the 70D below, which I think is a decent buy if you can get it in good condition used. It gives you a similar performance to the t7i.
For the T7i and T8i, both options are lightweight. This makes them fantastic options for hooking up to a flexible tripod or taking 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.
That being said with the newer T8i coming in at just around $70 more than the old model, it's hard to recommend the T7i here.
Must-Have Accessories To Purchase with the T8i
- SD Card - I recommend at least 128GB.
- 50mm lens - The Nifty Fifty is a must-have for most photographers and videographers. An inexpensive option can be found for around $125.
- Shotgun Microphone
- Wind Shield for any Shotgun Mic you may Pick Up. The Takstar SGC-598 is a good and inexpensive option while Rode makes a lot of good mid-range options.
Sony ZV-1 Vlogging Camera
I've seen a lot of major websites touting the Sony ZV-1. And while I agree that it should be on this list I want to present you with its strengths and weakness so you know what you're getting before you commit.
Great for Beginners
The image stabilization on the ZV-1 is pretty good. If you're out and about moving a lot and don't have a lot of experience holding your camera, the ZV-1 can make up some ground. Long-run you may want to invest in a gimbal.
The ZV-1 also has a super-fast Hybrid Autofocus. This allows you to focus more on your content rather than all the buttons on your camera.
ISO and shutter speed is handled for you as well, automatically. And you'll be surprised at what a good job it does.
As for the mic, it's better than what you'll find in your average DSLR. It's passable. That being said, you'll likely want to upgrade over time.
The front flip screen is ideal for self-shooting.
In addition, this camera comes with a large aperture 24-70mm lens. This is a good and a bad thing. It's a good thing you don't have to go out and purchase an expensive lens. The lens is also very fast. It's a bad thing because you can't change the lens, and if you damage it, you'll need a new camera.
It's lightweight. My arms have admittedly gotten a bit tired when I've been holding my DSLR setup. Most of that fatigue is avoided with the ZV-1.
No camera is perfect. And at this price point, this one is still lacking in a few areas. If you're ok with that, it may just be the perfect camera for starting out on YouTube.
While it's advertised that this camera has continuous shooting, it's files are broken down in 10 minute files.
This camera isn't really for photographs, thus it has no flash. As I mentioned above, you can't change the lens for different situations. So as you progress it may feel somewhat limiting especially in wide-lens scenarios.
The battery life is a bit mediocre compared to other cameras. It's not terrible, but it's under an hour in 4k (1080 lasts much longer). So, you may want another charged battery for longer sessions.
Ultimately this is a great camera to start with if you understand its limitations. It does so many things better than beginners can do by themselves when starting out. At $700 it's very reasonable as well and especially so when considering you don't have to purchase a lens.
Canon EOS 70D Used
If you're looking for a good camera for YouTube in the under $500 you might want to consider the Canon EOS 70D which comes in as low as $400 in nicely used condition.
Going with a camera that's a few years old can be a great way to save money and the Canon EOS 70D, even though not completely new, is still being used heavily 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. Its 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 T7i vs T8i vs 70D vs 90D Specifications
|EOS Rebel T7i||EOS 70D||EOS Rebel T8i||EOS 90D|
24.2 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor.
20.2 MP APS-C CMOS sensor and DIGIC 5+
24-megapixel APS-C sensor
32.5MP APS-C CMOS sensor
ISO Range 100-25600 expands to 51200
ISO Range Auto, 100-12800 (25600 with boost)
100 - 25,600
100 to 25,600
weight: 532g 1.18 pounds
755G 1.66 pounds
Dual Pixel CMOS AF (more refined but same system)
Dual Pixel CMOS AF
Full HD: Dual Pixel CMOS AF, 4k: contrast detection
45 cross-type points w/ 220,000-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor face detection
App is updated for remotely controlling camera and works better than 70D's
Weather Sealed Body
Uncropped 4k at 30FPS and 1080p 120FPS
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 T8i and EOS 90D.
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 T8i for $70 more or the EOS 90D for an additional $300. For me, the T8i is almost the perfect jump from your phone. That's why it makes our shortlist for our good and cheap audio and video setup for YouTube.
Affordable 4k Camera - Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7
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, if you're willing to branch out and go with a camera that's a few years old, you may find quite a bit of value in this one for just around $600.
Pros for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7:
First of all, you can shoot this mirrorless lightweight camera in 4k or 1080p 60FPS. This is unavailable on many cameras at the same price range.
The 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 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.
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.
For Good YouTube Action Shots - GoPro Hero7 and Hero6 Camera
Even the biggest YouTubers in the world occasionally use the GoPro Hero 7. It's crucial for taking high-quality action shots. It's lightweight and portable, waterproof, has fantastic stabilization, and is super tough.
It's also $150 cheaper than the new Hero9, and $250 cheaper than the Hero10.
It shoots up to 240 FPS (frames per second) in 1080p and up to 60FPS in 4k. And it does all of these while being waterproof at up to 33'.
Hero7 vs Hero6
I wouldn't normally say to go with the latest and greatest but the improvement in the Hero7 is substantial. The main difference is in the image stabilization. Something that, if you're on the go at all, you'll care a lot about.
In addition, photos and video seem truer to life and with more detail. That being said, photos, in my opinion, were very similar to the previous generation in actual tests.
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
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. For 4k, you'll be looking at the Logitech Brio.
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.
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)
Ever heard that the best camera is the one you have on you at the time?
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 One Plus 9 and it does a great job.
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!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: Do you think a Go-Pro would work for making YouTube videos?
Answer: A Go-Pro is a great option, but it all depends on what you're doing. Use a Go-Pro along with your phone and a decent mic and you've got a setup you can work with.
Question: What is a good camera for videos like skits and short videos?
Answer: I'd probably go with some sort of DSLR, but it really depends on your budget. The T7i is an excellent mid-range place to start. Or, you could even go with a used T5i if you want to go with something on the budget side of things.
Question: What do you think about the g7x mark ii for vlogging?
Answer: That's a good choice for a compact vlogging camera. If you personally plan on holding it all the time, there's certainly an argument for it. If you're using a tripod regularly, I prefer the T7i. I like the picture and autofocusing better overall.
Isaiah Madison on September 08, 2020:
Is aaboley can be used to do pranks and stuff
Pawan Kumar Tripathi on September 10, 2019:
Is Older Nikon 3200 camera with 18-55mm lens is suitable for Youtube videos in beginning.
Please tell me
Manikanta Pradeep Kavuri on July 20, 2019:
Brian on June 03, 2019:
Image stabilization between the Hero6 and Hero7 is NOT that pronounced. Neither of them stacks up to a gimbal setup and the Hero6, mounted to a bike helmet, is smooth as butter at even 170mph.
Amber Gillespie on February 25, 2019:
Very helpful, thank you so much!!
Techmen on July 16, 2018:
Any idea about Best Cameras For Youtube Under $200??