The best vlogging cameras of 2019 for beginners to pros

Daven Mathies
best vlogging cameras thumb

Any camera that shoots video can technically be used to create a vlog (which is short for video blog), but if you want the most control and highest-quality results, our pick for the best vlogging camera is the 

Panasonic Lumix GH5.

The GH5 has all the requisite features of a good vlog camera, including headphone and microphone ports, a fully articulating screen, face and eye-detection autofocus, and in-body image stabilization to keep those walk-and-talk shots steady. In our experience testing DSLRs, mirrorless cameras, and even professional cinema cameras, the GH5 has proven to be one of the best video cameras, period.

However, it’s not the cheapest nor the smallest, and there may be a better vlogging camera for your needs, shooting style, and budget. Here are some of our favorites.

At a glance

The best: Panasonic Lumix GH5

Panasonic Lumix GH5 Review

Why should you buy this: Exceptional video quality, no recording limits.

Panasonic Lumix GH5.

Who’s it for: Experienced shooters who need full control over the look of their videos.

Why we picked the Panasonic Lumix GH5:

With a 20.3-megapixel Micro Four Thirds, high bit rate 4K video capture, and internal five-axis image stabilization, the Panasonic GH5 is one of the best video cameras on the market (not to mention, a capable still camera, as well). But while all of those features are potentially important to vloggers, what really makes the GH5 stand out on this list is its lack of a recording time limit. While many cameras put strict caps on the length of individual video clips, the GH5 lets you keep on rolling until the memory cards (yes, it has dual slots) fill up or the battery dies. For long-winded monologues or interviews, this is a huge benefit.

The GH5 also packs a lot of other features useful to vloggers, like a fully articulating monitor that lets you watch yourself when you’re on screen, a microphone jack for adding a high-quality external microphone, and a headphone jack so that you can actually check and monitor audio quality before it’s too late. The electronic viewfinder will also come in handy when shooting B-roll outdoors, where bright sunlight could make it difficult to see the LCD. And thanks to the weather-sealed body, you won’t have to worry about rain or snow, assuming you also have a weather-resistant lens.

Overall, the GH5 is simply one of the most versatile vlog production tools available. It skews toward the professional end of the spectrum and is likewise expensive and comes with a relatively steep learning curve. For those reasons, it’s best reserved for experienced videographers or those comfortable taking the time to learn.

Read our Panasonic Lumix GH5 review.

The best camera for vlogs and photos: Sony A7 III

Sony A7 III

Why should you buy this: Full-frame sensor with in-body image stabilization

Panasonic Lumix GH5.

Who’s it for: Anyone who needs to look good on both YouTube and Instagram.

Why we picked the Sony A7 III:

Sony’s mirrorless cameras have always been powerful hybrid machines, and the newest A7 III combines stunning image quality with great 4K video from its stabilized, 24-megapixel full-frame sensor. It doesn’t offer all the advanced video functionality of the Panasonic GH5, but it does include a microphone jack, dual SD card slots, and Sony’s flat S-Log color profile for holding onto more dynamic range if you don’t mind spending some time color correcting in post. It also doesn’t have a fully articulating screen, but Sony’s excellent Real Time Eye Autofocus makes it easy to film yourself even if you can’t see what you’re shooting.

While the GH5 may best it for video in some areas, the Sony comes out ahead in still photography — and by quite a large margin. It produces some of the best image quality of any camera on the market. This is why it’s a great option for one-person teams who need to produce both video and still content that stands out from the crowd. That full-frame sensor also gives the A7 III an edge in low light. From your living room to a trade show floor, that can be a huge advantage in any dimly lit location.

This is the most expensive option on this list and it’s not for everyone, but if you’re looking to take the next step in your stills and video production, it’s certainly worth your consideration.

Read our Sony A7 III review.

The best camera for travel vlogs: Sony Cyber-shot RX100 VII

Sony Cyber-Shot RX100 IV

Why should you buy this: Great image quality, compact design.

Panasonic Lumix GH5.

Who’s it for: Travel and vacation vloggers.

Why we picked the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 VII:

The seventh iteration of Sony’s class-defining RX100 brings a wealth of advanced features to the compact camera. Not only does the RX100 VII offer the most impressive video feature set of any compact camera, it also happens to excel at still photos, giving you a one-size-fits-all device for travel. It uses a 20-megapixel, 1-inch sensor matched with a fast Bionz X processor for detailed images and fast performance. The 24-200mm, 8X zoom lens offers a usable range to cover whatever you’ll run into during your travels, and the camera is small enough to easily fit into a jacket pocket.

4K video can be recorded at either 30 or 24fps, Full HD 1080p up to 120fps, and super slow-motion as high as 960fps at lower resolutions. Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) and S-Log profiles are also included for capturing more dynamic range and creating video suitable for playback on HDR televisions.

New to the Mark VII is Sony’s Real Time Tracking and Real Time Eye AF, the same focusing technology in the A7 III mirrorless camera above. But perhaps the most important new feature for vloggers is the microphone jack, which finally allows RX100 shooters to connect external microphones for better audio quality. All of these features mean the RX100 VII doesn’t come cheap, but unlike traditional point-and-shoot cameras, it is built to last and should be viewed as an investment.

Read more about the Sony RX100 VIII.

The best budget vlogging camera: Panasonic Lumix G7

Panasonic Lumix G7

Why should you buy this: Great image quality, solid feature set.

Panasonic Lumix GH5.

Who’s it for: Suitable for anyone.

Why we picked the Panasonic Lumix G7:

Released “way back” in 2015, the Lumix G7 may not be the newest model, but it still packs a punch when it comes to video and its age means it is now quite a bit cheaper than it once was. Like the higher-end GH5, the G7 shoots 4K video from a Micro Four Thirds sensor and is compatible with the full range of Micro Four Thirds lenses. It also features a 180-degree tilt screen and a microphone jack. There’s no headphone jack, but the mic input is definitely the more important of the two.

One potential red flag for vloggers is that the G7 makes due without the impressive in-body image stabilization found in the GH5, meaning you’ll need to rely on lens stabilization for your handheld shots. Fortunately, the bundled kit lens is stabilized, although as always, you’ll get best results with a tripod, monopod, or gimbal.

We should also draw attention to the

Panasonic Lumix GH5.

, an upgrade over the G7 that is based on a similar sensor but includes in-body stabilization. The G85 does cost more, but it may be worth it if you do a lot of run-n-gun video shooting.

Read our Panasonic Lumix G7 hands-on review

The best vlogging camera for beginners: Canon EOS M6

Canon EOS M6

Why should you buy this: Fast autofocus, compact, simple to use

Panasonic Lumix GH5.

Who’s it for: Anyone who wants a straightforward camera and doesn’t need 4K

Why we picked the Canon EOS M6:

Canon’s mirrorless efforts may have gotten off to a slow start, but the company really hit its stride with the EOS M5 and followed through with the M6. Of the two, we lean slightly toward the M6 for vlogging simply because of its lower cost and slightly more compact design (it loses the electronic viewfinder of the M5). Otherwise, it’s a nearly identical camera, built around the same 24-megapixel, APS-C sensor.

However, while the sensor is great for still photos, video resolution is limited to Full HD 1080p at 60 frames per second. There’s no 4K to be found here, but then again, most of the content you watch on YouTube is probably still in 1080p. Plus, 1080p is easier to work with, taking up less space on a memory card and requiring less computing power to edit. At the end of the day, when it comes to any type of documentary filmmaking, content is what counts, and the EOS M6 makes the process of getting it easier.

Thanks to Canon’s excellent Dual Pixel Autofocus (DPAF) technology, the M6 focuses very quickly and smoothly, with virtually no hunting. We also found the face detection to work very well, meaning you can constantly keep yourself in focus even as you move about the frame (although, it’s not quite up to speed with Sony’s advanced Real Time Eye AF). The LCD screen also flips up 180 degrees so you can monitor yourself while you’re on camera, and — crucially — there is a mic jack.

We were tempted to include the lower-cost EOS M100 on this list, but the lack of a mic jack kept it off. Otherwise, it offers virtually identical video features to the M6 and might be worth picking up as a B-camera if you need a second angle. And if you like the EOS M system but want the option for 4K, the newer EOS M50 is worth looking at — however, that camera does have some limitations when it comes to shooting in 4K, such as being limited to 24 frames per second and not being able to use DPAF.

Read our Canon EOS M6 review.

The best action camera for vlogging: GoPro Hero7 Black

Why should you buy this: Great image stabilization and 4K/60p video.

Panasonic Lumix GH5.

Who’s it for: Anyone with a love for POV videos or who needs a camera small enough to fit anywhere.

Why we picked the GoPro Hero7 Black:

“Action” camera is becoming a misleading title. These tiny cameras can be used in a much wider variety of settings than the name entails, from (yes) nabbing extreme sports shots to recording Netflix-level movies. The GoPro Hero7 Black can handle pretty much anything you can ask of a tiny camera.

When it comes to vlogging, the Hero7 Black has one feature that gives it a big advantage for any sort of handheld shot: Incredible electronic image stabilization that’s simply the best we’ve ever seen. Whether you’re just walking and talking or bombing down a narrow single-track trail on your mountain bike, the Hero7 Black keeps your footage impressively smooth. The camera also features a new TimeWarp mode that creates smooth time-lapses similar to Instagram’s Hyperlapse app.

Built around the same GP1 custom processor introduced in the Hero6, the Hero7 Black records 4K video at up to 60 frames per second or 1080p up to 240 for slow-motion playback. The user interface, which was already one of our favorites, has been redesigned to make it even more user friendly. GoPro has also added native livestreaming so users can share their adventures in real time with friends and fans around the world. With the microphone adapter, you can also add external mics to upgrade your audio quality.

Read more on the GoPro Hero7.

What about the camcorders?

If you’re over the age of 25, you may recall a time when people shot videos on dedicated devices called camcorders. Perhaps your parents owned one and used it to record embarrassing memories of you on your birthday, Halloween, or prom night. All joking aside, such devices still exist — you can check out our camcorder buying guide and our list of the best video cameras for more information — and while they may be better than ever, camcorders have simply fallen out of vogue as traditional still cameras (and phones) have gotten better at video.

Cameras like the GH5 are true hybrid machines, excelling in both video and still photography, leaving little reason for a dedicated video camera. Large-sensor cinema — or “digital film” — cameras have also gotten cheaper, replacing professional camcorders at the high end of the market.

But camcorders do still have some advantages, like powered lenses for smooth zooms and generally better built-in zoom range. However, interest in camcorders just isn’t where it used to be, and Digital Trends has not reviewed one in years, unless you count action cameras and 360 cams.

For that reason, we decided to stick with mirrorless and compact point-and-shoot style cameras for this list. If you are interested in checking out camcorders, however, we recommend looking for three key things: Sensor size (larger is better), zoom range (generally more is better, but your needs may not require as much), and, of course, a microphone jack.

Can I shoot vlogs with my phone?

Of course. In fact, many people do. A phone is conveniently always in your pocket and easy to set up and use, which makes it more accessible for spur of the moment vlogging. And the best phones are adept at handling video, with many capable of shooting 4K — some even at 60p. Keep in mind, however, that the front-facing (selfie) cameras tend to be inferior to the one on the back, and even though the microphone may be able to record stereo, you’re still better off with an external mic (they can be had for cheap, like the Movo PM10 lavalier mic).

Also, if you’re moving around, something like a selfie stick might actually work better than holding the phone in your hand. If you can, try to use a gimbal like the DJI Osmo Mobile 2 to keep the phone smooth and steady. You will get better quality footage with a dedicated camera, but sometimes the convenience of a phone will be the difference between getting a shot or not getting it all.