Best Vlogging Cameras to Capture Your Essence

min read

Part of the reason it seems like everyone has a vlog is that everyone has a smartphone. For most people, the increasingly adequate, often premium, video cameras built into most mobile devices has made knowing where your phone is the only barrier to shooting video — especially the single-camera, one-shot videos that a lot of vloggers use.

And for most vloggers, a smartphone works just fine. Assuming you already own one, it’s a good way to start creating video without a big upfront investment.

But if you’re looking to raise your game, to graduate to professional-grade video, you need a professional-grade, high-definition video camera. That doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t use a smartphone — just that you can’t use any smartphone.

You can find endless HD camera options out there. And like any consumer technology, the choice can be not only overwhelming but totally confusing. You can simplify things by focusing on three key requirements:

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1. High resolution 

You want a touchscreen camera that can record video in nothing less than 4K resolution. Many cameras still only have a maximum resolution of 1080p. That’s not horrible, but it puts you at, risk of looking low-res and dated. Many newer smartphones come with 4K video capability.

2. Autofocus

If you’re a one-person team, like most vloggers, you need a camera stays in focus by itself.

3. Stabilizing and screen visibility

For your vlog, you’ll want a display that lets you can see yourself and the scene around you while you’re recording. If you’re using with a smartphone, you’ll need a three-axis stabilizer or gimbal to mount it. A shaky camera can blur your picture, which can ruin your footage or, at best, increase your editing time.

With those three factors in mind, here are our picks for the best vlogging cameras on the market today. All but one record in 4K. We’re not including any smartphones; if that’s your preferred route, just try to find one that meets the three criteria above.

5 of the best vlogging cameras

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1. Panasonic Lumix DC-S5

The Lumix DC-S5 is one of the most sought-after cameras out there, and for excellent reason. Compact, sturdy, and designed for video, the DC-S5 supports external mic features so you can mount it for pro-grade audio, as well.

You’ll get high-end features like V-Log support, body stabilization, and contrast-based autofocus — things that pro videographers and editors value (if they don’t have meaning to you, you might want to start with something further down this list). The downside, of course, is that the DC-S5 isn’t cheap. All of that firepower will likely cost you more than $2,000..

2. Sony ZV-E10

The Sony ZV-E10 is a mirrorless camera — which makes it smaller, lighter, and quieter than DSLR cameras — that can hold its own with far more expensive gear.

Sporting a front-facing LCD, the ZV-E10 is particularly good at recording high-quality video in low light. It has fantastic autofocus, and it can be had for $700 or less. One downside to at least be aware of: its stabilizer is not as advanced as Panasonic’s Lumix DC-S5, so it will be harder to hold steady while you’re shooting

3. GoPro Hero 9

You don’t have to be a windsurfer or a teenage motocross jock to appreciate GoPro. 

With add-on microphone options, digital stabilization, the ability to mount to a selfie stick, and standard resolution in 4K, the Hero 9 is a solid choice for any action-oriented or outdoorsy vlogger. It’s also waterproof design and relatively cheap. We’re talking less than $400.

4. Sony ZV-1

This is a camera built specifically for you, the vlogger. . 

It’s also a premium, action-oriented camera that fits in your pocket. The ZV-1 supports external microphones and comes with a flip screen, so you can turn it around to see what the camera sees while recording — a must-have when you’reworking by yourself. You can pick up a ZV-1 for around $700. 

5. GoPro Max

If you want to take the action-movie concept of the GoPro even further, with 360-degree shots, here you go.  The Max also has a great microphone and is compatible with most gimbals, tripods, and selfie sticks. It does not capture in 4K, so it’s really best suited for special effects and action-oriented vlogging. The cost runs around $500.

And a gimbal: DJI OM 4

If you’ve read this far and decided to record on your smartphone — which, again, totally fine — you need to invest in a gimbal. The one we recommend is the DJI OM 4.

Popular and available for as little as $120, the DJI OM4lets you work your smartphone hands-free while also stabilizing the picture. It’s sturdy, easy to use, and can fold up for travel. The newest model also comes with a built-in battery and magnetic mounts to secure your phone. 

Vlogging camera FAQs

Now that we've covered the basics, which camera option best suits your vlogging needs? Here are our suggestions for particular vloggers.

YouTubers seeking high-quality video

  • Go with the Panasonic Lumix DC-S5. It gives you high-definition video, excellent mic options, and plenty of other features.

Beginning vloggers

  • Try the Sony ZV-E10 or the Sony ZV-1. Like the Lumix DC-S5, they both record in 4K and have decent features, but won’t put as big of a dent in your savings 

Outdoor vloggers

  • Go with the GoPro Hero 9, which gives you 4K quality and all the mobility you want.  For those crazy 360 shots, use the GoPro Max. Don’t forget to buy a helmet and pay your health insurance premiums.

Smartphone vloggers

  • Just make sure your phone records in 4K, and get the DJI OM 4 gimbal. It will allow you to mount and stabilize your smartphone.

To learn more about hooking up your vlogging camera to editing software like Descript, read more tips and tricks on Descript's blog.

Written by
Written by
Lara Unnerstall

Video Producer at Descript. Filmmaker, writer, and dog weirdo.

Descript is a collaborative audio/video editor that works like a doc. It includes transcription, a screen recorder, publishing, and some mind-bendingly useful AI tools.
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Lara Unnerstall

Video Producer at Descript. Filmmaker, writer, and dog weirdo.

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