How to Choose a Vlogging Camera

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How to Choose a Vlogging Camera

2023 has been another banner year for vloggers. Not only did we see new releases from familiar faces like GoPro and Sony, but big-name camera brands like Canon and FUJIFILM wheeled out their own vlog-specific and vlog-friendly cameras, making content creation more accessible than ever. With vlogging on the rise and showing no signs of stopping, you might be interested in getting a vlogging camera for yourself.

  • The vari-angle rear LCD touchscreen is a must-have for most content creation and vlogging. Vari-angle touchscreens can twist and rotate frontwards, be tilted up or down, and can lock in place on the back panel of your camera. This kind of touchscreen is the most conducive for checking your exposure and focus, ensuring you are in frame, and generally reviewing your footage while selfie-vlogging.

  • An external microphone port is another key feature to look for in your vlogging camera. While many cameras have powerful built-in microphones for capturing sound, nothing will compare to the accuracy and quality of a dedicated microphone that can be plugged into your camera.

  • Image stabilization is indispensable for creators who plan to vlog on-the-go by making your footage look less shaky, but it is also helpful to have an image stabilizing-capable camera even if you are a stationary creator. While those who prefer sit-down style vlogging tend to use tripods for support, a built-in image stabilization system is a great additional layer for ensuring smooth footage and is a great option to have if you ever decide to go mobile with your content.

  • High resolution is the standard for most cameras today, with 4k being the predominant output. You will most likely encounter vlog cameras that output 4k in your search, but keep an eye out for higher resolutions that will maintain the pace with this rapidly developing technology.

With these features in mind, here are a few of our favorite vlogging cameras—presented in no special order.

Sony ZV-1 II

Sony ZV-1 II
Sony ZV-1 II

Top Features:

  • Compact, lightweight body with vari-angle touchscreen

  • 20MP 1"-type RS BSI stacked CMOS sensor

  • Wide-Angle 18-50mm equivalent f/1.8-4 lens; built-in ND filter

  • UHD 4K30 recording with HLG S-Log3/2 Gammas

  • Ultra-fast phase-detect AF system with customization

  • Background Defocus for shallow depth of field

  • Soft Skin Effect and Face Priority AE

  • Product Showcase Setting for reviews

  • Intelligent directional three-capsule mic for clear sound

  • Cinematic Vlog Setting, Slow and Quick Shoot Mode

Sony has kept content creators in mind since the RX100 series, in 2012, but the release of the ZV-1 vlogging camera, in 2020, kicked off a widely successful lineage of content creator cameras. We have chosen the popular ZV-1’s successor, the ZV-1 II, as our best vlogging camera for 2023.

The ZV-1 II sports a 20MP 1" sensor and a 18-50mm equivalent f/1.8-4 wide-angle zoom lens that delivers superb image quality for both stills and video, reaching up to UHD 4K at 30p. It supports Slow & Quick mode, which allows you to apply frame rate adjustments in-camera, simplifying the process of long time lapses. The camera’s deep grip is for comfortable selfies, while a noticeable tally light makes it clear that you are recording.

The features and their applications are virtually innumerable on the ZV-1 II, and Sony clearly approached this camera with the word “seamless” in mind. The Background Defocus feature is sure to delight Youtubers as it guarantees smooth bokeh. Tack on other features such as Product Showcase and Soft Skin effects, and you have a camera that is especially well-suited for creators who make stationary vlogs such as makeup tutorials and unboxing reviews.

But with functions such as Face Priority auto exposure to up to three subjects well-lit and in focus during mobile vlogging, it’s clear that the ZV-1 II is not exclusively useful to stationary content.

The intelligent directional three-capsule mic is incredibly powerful, whether you are in front of or behind the camera, and comes in handy should you forget your shotgun mic. If you are a creator who can’t wait to edit, the Picture Effects function is easy to use and enables vloggers to prepare ready-to-publish videos straight from the camera. Overall, the ZV-1 II is a great option for creators looking for the full package―it’s an intuitive, feature-rich camera that will yield professional results.

We would be remiss not to mention the older ZV-1, because it is still a great vlogging camera. Now available at a lower price because of the arrival of the ZV-1 II, it is a solid option if you are willing to forgo the wider field of view and other upgrades. For both, we recommend checking out the compatible Vlogger Accessory Kit to get started right away.

Read More: Sony's Vlogging Cameras: Something for Everyone

Panasonic G100

Panasonic G100
Panasonic G100

Top Features:

  • Compact design with relatively large 20MP Micro Four Thirds sensor

  • Bundled with versatile 12-32mm (24-64mm equivalent) f/3.5-5.6 lens

  • Mirrorless design permits use of a wide range of lenses

  • UHD 4K30 video with V-Log L

  • Updated Depth From Defocus (DFD) autofocus

  • Electronic IS and Hybrid IS with compatible lenses

  • 3.68m-dot OLED EVF

  • 1.84m-dot 3.0" free-angle touchscreen with high brightness

  • Directional three-microphone array with OZO Audio by Nokia tech

If you are looking for a more traditional camera with swappable lenses, Panasonic’s G100 is worth checking out. This mirrorless Micro Four Thirds camera aims to check all the boxes on the vlogger wish list, with an interchangeable-lens option that truly maximizes the large 20.3MP sensor.

Whereas competitor vlog-centric cameras on the market lack the ability to swap lenses at all, the Micro Four Thirds ecosystem is robust enough that you can choose among a variety of affordable, high-quality primes for this camera. The kitted lens, while small and lightweight, is admittedly slow to take full advantage of the G100’s sensor, so we recommend checking out a couple of additional lenses to really start strong.

The features of this camera don’t stray too far away from the ZV-1 II, which is to be expected from a vlogging camera. The Selfie Mode for video recording utilizes powerful face-detection software for optimized selfie vlogging, and a built-in image stabilization system ensures smooth footage, much like the ZV-1 II. Autofocus for the G100 has noticeably improved over previous Panasonic models, while the unique OZO Audio feature enables creators to track the audio of their subjects for soundbites that are sharp and clean.

On top of these features, the G100 allows users to customize various buttons housed on the camera for quick toggling. Once familiarized with this camera, whipping it out to capture content can be done in a snap, whether it is video or photography.

GoPro HERO11 Black

GoPro HERO11 Black
GoPro HERO11 Black

Top Features:

  • 27MP with improved performance

  • 5.3K60/2.7K240 Video, 27MP Photos

  • Front display/rear touchscreen

  • HyperSmooth 5.0 Image Stabilization

  • Enhanced low-light performance

  • Wi-Fi & Bluetooth Connectivity

  • Waterproof to 33' without a housing

  • Timelapse and night-lapse, 8x slo-mo

GoPro has come a long way from its action-cam roots, in 2004. The past few years have seen a steady stream of GoPro releases with user friendliness and content creation in mind. GoPro’s most recent release, the HERO11 BLACK, is the most versatile yet, with a slew of features geared toward vlogging.

Off the bat, the HERO11 Black can record 5.3K video at 60 fps and includes the ability to shoot in either 8- or 10-bit color. It features a powerful new sensor that captures in an 8:7 aspect ratio, well suited for sharing content on Instagram and TikTok, with the ability to deploy GoPro’s proprietary HyperView for capturing wide 16:9 shots.

Users looking to diversify their content can take advantage of creative features such as slo-mo, light painting, vehicle light trails, and star trails, with ease. Getting everything set up is incredibly straightforward, thanks to the intuitive menu system, which supports “Easy Controls” for newbies to get started right away. Outputting content is even easier, with the simplified Quik App that allows you to edit, extract frames, and share content right from your smartphone.

As with other GoPro action cams, the HERO11 BLACK is tough against the elements and is waterproof up to 33' without a housing. If you are looking for a camera to accompany you on your travels, or even a rugged little guy that you can toss in your bag for everyday vlogging, this is a great option at an even better price.

Read MoreGoPro Hero 11 Black Hands-On Review

Sony ZV-1F

Sony ZV-1F
Sony ZV-1F

Top Features:

  • 20.1MP 1" Exmor RS BSI CMOS Sensor

  • ZEISS 20mm Equivalent f/2-f/8 Lens

  • UHD 4K30p Video Recording

  • 5x Slow Motion & 60x Hyperlapse Modes

  • Background Defocus & Face Priority AE

  • Directional 3-Capsule Mic & Mic Jack

  • Easy Smartphone Connection

Designed to be “your first content creation camera” the Sony ZV-1F is a great option for beginners. Its roots go back to the same family as our top choice, the ZV-1 II, and features many of the same user-friendly adjustments.

This camera’s compact, lightweight body is designed to slip into your coat pocket or backpack for a day of vlogging. It features a 20mm equivalent wide-angle lens that can easily fit more than one subject in-frame at arm’s length. With the ability to capture UHD 4K30p video and high-quality stills, the ZV-1F is a big upgrade over a simple smartphone.

The ZV-1F also enjoys settings like Product Showcase and Background Defocus for streamlining the vlogging process. Of course, beautifying settings like Soft Skin Effect are included, allowing users to focus less on appearance and more on their content. The basic menu system is easily accessed via the vari-angle touchscreen to toggle settings quickly while on the go.

Beginners can also enjoy useful presets to yield professional footage without getting too deep in the weeds with editing. Combine this with the pared-down menu system and production shortcuts, and new users can easily output high-level footage. 

While this camera is decked out with pretty much everything you could need as a beginner, it lacks some of the more sophisticated settings available in other vlogging camera hybrids. This also makes it a great choice for vlog-exclusive creatives, because they can circumvent the price tag of a more expensive camera with features that won’t be used.

Canon EOS C70

Canon EOS C70 Cinema Camera
Canon EOS C70 Cinema Camera

Top Features:

  • 9.6MP Super 35mm Dual Gain Output (DGO) Sensor

  • Canon RF Lens Mount

  • DCI 4K up to 120p with Canon Log 2/3 & HLG/PQ HDR gammas

  • 10-bit 4:2:2 internal recording

  • Super 16mm Crop for 2K up to 180p

  • Built-in 2/4/6/8/10-stop ND filter system

  • 3.5" Direct Touch Control vari-angle LCD

  • ¼"-20 thread on grip for vertical mounting

  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF with EOS iTR AF X

  • Pro connections (2 x mini-XLR, BNC timecode, etc.)

  • Large BP-A series batteries

  • Dual SD card slots

Now, you might already be a professional photographer looking to get into vlogging. In this instance, a powerful camera that will also work as a vlogging camera might be your best bet―a camera like Canon’s C70.

For those familiar with the C300 Mark III, the C70 is almost like the pocketable version of it. The C70 embodies nearly all the video-shooting capabilities (excluding raw and a couple of other features) in a reasonably compact package that has been outfitted with a built-in ND filter system and RF mount. Users can utilize stunning RF glass or legacy EF lenses through optional adapters to yield vlogging content of supreme cinematic quality.

We decided to call the C70 the pocket C300 Mark III because it has essentially all the video-shooting goodness of the C300 (minus raw and a couple of high-end features) in a handheld package. The use of the RF mount makes it even more appealing, because it signals a potential future for Canon cinema cameras and allows for the use of beautiful RF glass in addition to legacy EF lenses via optional adapters. There’s even an EF-EOS R Mount Adapter 0.71x that gives you the full-frame look on the Super 35mm sensor.

Overall, the C70 is a standout among other contenders like the Panasonic S1H or the Sony a7S III because of its delightful ergonomics and cinema features. With outstanding dynamic range, a stellar variety of resolutions and frame rates up to 4K 120p, the C70 is a serious camera that is flexible enough for a professional looking to venture into the more casual vlogging space.

Questions on what to look for when shopping for a vlogging camera or any of our recommendations? Share your thoughts with us in the Comments section, below.

5 Comments

You're right - so many choices out there. I am a bit curious about why nothing from Blackmagic made the cut...in studio only that is. To heavy to lug.

I understand the hesitancy to recommend Olympus gear given their uncertain future.  Nevertheless, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III with the Olympus 14-42 mm f/3.5-5.6 EZ MSC lens and LC-37C Auto Lens Cap is an extremely compact and capable video camera, particular video friendly features including 5 axis IBIS with 5.5 stops of image stabilization (active in video mode), forward facing 360 degree rotating rear touchscreen LCD, "selfie" mode that places controls directly on the screen, microphone jack, 4K, FHD, and C4K video modes, UHS II SD card connectivity, reliable face recognition continuous autofocus, and exceptional image quality for both video and still photography.

It is a great camera and Olympus, now OM SYSTEM, certainly has a future. It's not that we were avoiding it, it could've made a top 10 cameras for vlogging list, but now there are so many great options dedicated to the vlogging space.

Didn't mention my favorite... Nikon D5200...with it's swing-out screen.

The D5200 was a good option when it was released for sure. But today there have been so many improvements in technology that the D5200 (or it's successor the D5600), just didn't quite make the top five here. Thanks for sharing!