Creating videos online was once the preserve of professionals. And most creators often gave up before starting a channel, thinking they lack the budget necessary. But thanks to advancements in technology over the years, online content creation has changed. Now anyone, even a beginner, can pick up a camera, start filming and upload enticing professional content.
And considering YouTube accounts for as much as a third of all videos watched, it could be an excellent way for you to start a new career, build your audience, and set yourself apart. But to do so, you will need a good camera. And despite all of the differences between channels, all undeniably have this one aspect in common – the right camera.
Thankfully, getting the right camera doesn’t require splurging on the latest flagship model anymore. No, these days, you can still create excellent content despite a limited budget. And even entry-level models are apt to deliver professional-looking videos that outpace the latest smartphones.
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But when it comes to cameras for YouTube, the list is vast. And there’s a host of cameras, all equally capable of creating a successful YouTube channel. Even so, most cameras help in certain aspects of content creation, but not others. With that in today’s post, we’ve compiled a detailed guide outlining some of the considerations to keep an eye on. And we will also cover the best cheap cameras for YouTube on the present market.
DJI Osmo Pocket 2
DJI’s Osmo Pocket 2 boasts a larger sensor, better lens, microphone, and now slow-motion video. It features a 64MP 1/1.7-inch sensor with a 20mm lens mounted to a 3-axis gimbal. And this configuration produces 4K 60 FPS and 1080p 240 FPS video. Other bonuses include HDR, a log profile, panorama, time-lapse, 8x digital zoom, and the Ultra High-Pixel option.
Pocket 2 obtains DJI’s high-end ActiveTrack 3 from their drone lineup. And this technology relentlessly tracks moving subjects, regardless of seeing their faces. So much so, it transforms complicated subject tracking to merely tapping on the screen. DJI’s also refined the touchscreen with this update. And it now shows a live preview and helpful shooting information. But, it also boasts swipe gestures to quickly track a subject, control the gimbal or focus the camera.
Overall, DJI’s Osmo Pocket 2 is quite a versatile package for creators. And it fixes the shortcomings of the original model while setting a new benchmark for the class. And it’s an excellent option for creators looking for utmost portability without compromising on stability.
Panasonic’s G7 is the backbone of the G series. It features a 16MP micro-four-thirds sized sensor, 4K 30 FPS, and 1080p 60 FPS video. It also has a 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, time-lapse, a microphone input, and wireless connectivity.
The G7 uses a 49-point autofocusing system with Face Detection. But Panasonic has equipped this camera with extensive customization over the footage. And you can customize the camera’s HSL, gamma curve, dynamic range, and more. As such, you can tailor the in-camera rendering to your specific style, reducing the need for post-processing. The bundled Image app also offers full remote control when recording video too. And it’s among the most versatile remote shooting apps around.
Overall, the Panasonic Lumix G7 remains budget-friendly, and it’s a powerful alternative to the higher-end GH4. It offers many of the same features and performance. But given its price, it’s a better option for budget-conscious creators.
Logitech C922X Pro
Logitech’s C922 Pro is the ideal option for content creators looking to stream to YouTube. This webcam uses a 1080p sensor with a 78º field of view that streams at 1080p 30 FPS or 720p at 60 FPS.
The C922 houses dual omnidirectional microphones too, which capture clear, natural, and realistic-sounding audio. And it also includes Logitech’s Capture app, so you can customize your streams with overlays, transitions and adjust the camera’s settings. Plus, it also features Auto Light Correction with HD autofocus, optimizing the camera’s configuration across various lighting conditions and ensuring videos are razor-sharp.
Overall, Logitech’s C922 offers the latest improvements that make it an excellent option for content creators looking to stream. And despites its power, it remains within reach of beginners.
Canon G7X II
Canon’s GX7 II ups the technical performance in the line. It features a 1-inch 20.1MP sensor and 1080p 60 FPS video. It also has a 3-inch tilting touchscreen, a built-in ND filter, stabilization, a 2x teleconverter, HDR, wireless connectivity, and a 24-100mm equivalent lens.
The GX7 II uses a 31-point autofocusing system with Face Detection. But, Canon’s refined the design and upped grip with this model. They also added a smooth toggle switch to the front control ring, which provides quick and tactile feedback to control the aperture. This camera also offers a 4.2x zoom, which is longer than average for its class. And it’s effortless to use, given its excellent touch interface that’s ideal for beginners. But, not so lacking that it misses functionality and control for enthusiasts.
Overall, Canon’s GX7 II offers plenty of performance for the price. And it’s an excellent option for traveling creators looking for an on-the-go companion.
GoPro Hero 8 Black
GoPro’s Hero8 brings a new design and more flexibility. This camera captures 12MP still photos and stabilized 4K 60 FPS or 1080p 240 FPS video. It also has wireless connectivity, live streaming support, LiveBurst, time-lapse, HDR, and TimeWarp 2.
With this model, GoPro’s streamlined the design to make it more pocketable, flexible, and durable than before. And it now debuts hot-swappable batteries and built-in mounting fingers for hassle-free mounting. Additionally, this model brings expandable mods, letting creators enhance its functionality. So now, you can add microphones, displays, and lights. Yet the device still remains waterproof down to 10m.
Overall, GoPro’s Hero8 is extraordinarily capable and ups the line’s versatility. And given its feature set and stabilization, it’s quite the bargain for aspiring content creators looking for a hassle-free starting point.
What to look for in a cheap camera for YouTube
When selecting the right camera for YouTube, you’ll want to first and foremost decide the type of videos you’ll create. From there, you also want to consider the kind of camera that’ll work best.
Now there isn’t a single rule when it comes to picking a camera for YouTube. Even so, the most significant determiner will be the content you’re creating. If you plan on only recording videos at home, you may not need a streaming-oriented camera. And instead, a high-quality video camera would be best. But if you plan on live streaming and record videos to YouTube, you’ll want to look for that specifically, as not all cameras offer this functionality.
Additionally, if you plan on filming risk-driven adventures, action stunts, or anywhere near water, you’ll want a camera that’s rugged and durable. But, say you only plan on filming casual vlogs, the right camera may be one that’s ultraportable and lightweight. These are just some of the styles of content you can create, and how the camera you select varies. But, understanding the type of content your channel focuses on is paramount in choosing the right camera.
From here, you’ll next want to consider the type of camera that will fit your content best. Below is a list of each kind and best use cases.
Types of cheap cameras for YouTube
Cameras come in all shapes and sizes. And there are several options and camera styles suited for YouTube content creation. Below is a list of each. Which option works best will ultimately come down to your budget, content type, durability, and the form factor you prefer.
Sure, many may not think you can create professional videos from a smartphone. But, today’s flagships are surprisingly capable platforms with solid image quality. So if you’re looking for the most budget-friendly option or ultra-portability, consider using your current phone. And instead of purchasing a camera, add an external microphone or Lavalier and a gimbal stabilizer to your setup. This combination will provide a substantial improvement in video and audio quality without much expense. And it’s the most portable solution around.
Webcams are a popular choice, primarily amongst the streaming community. Sure, they may not be the most enticing option, but they’re affordable and an excellent suit for beginning creators. They work in tandem with a computer and give you a real-time feed of the recording. Most of these devices are largely plug-and-play. As such, they simplify the setup and configuration process. Plus, most offer 1080p video and microphones as mostly standard, dramatically improving your video’s quality. As such, if you want a convenient and straightforward solution to upgrade your content, a webcam is one to consider.
Action cameras like the GoPro or DJI Osmo Action are quite a popular choice amongst the adventure crowd. But, it’s an area most content creators for YouTube overlook. These cameras offer wide-angle lenses that capture plenty of the surroundings. And newer models have vastly superior flexibility than even two generations prior. Now, you can attach external lights, microphones, and cages to improve their video quality. And they provide impressive stabilization with unrivaled portability. As such, these are a great option if you want to record content in more dangerous environments, scary scenes, or near water.
These cameras are usually more straightforward and use fixed lenses. And this configuration allows them to be more portable, lightweight, and generally easier to use than interchangeable lens cameras. However, many of these cameras do have smaller sensors and suffer from poor battery life. Even so, they’re an excellent choice if you want an affordable camera with better image quality than a smartphone.
First introduced with the Canon 5D Mark II, DSLRs are now powerful video cameras. And they’re rugged, durable, and often weather resistant. As interchangeable lens cameras, they also deliver vast flexibility, letting you select the lens to achieve a particular look flawlessly. But, they do tend to be heavy and quite bulky. And many mid-range DSLRs lack advanced video features found in their small mirrorless counterparts. Some models also have disappointing autofocus performance. Even so, they do provide superior battery life over mirrorless cameras and are more comfortable to use.
These are the most popular cameras. And they’re the best hybrid cameras with similar benefits to DSLRs while eliminating the key downside of real-time feedback. Mirrorless cameras are substantially smaller than comparable DSLRs and provide more technical advancements such as sensor-based stabilization, which remains mostly absent on the SLRs. But they suffer from poor battery life, and the smaller size means that the ergonomics are not quite as comfortable if you have large hands. Even so, these cameras are a great choice if you want real-time feedback of your exposure or portability is most important to you.
Camcorders are analogous to point-and-shoot still cameras. And they offer an all-in-one package with capturing video in mind. These cameras generally have fixed lenses. But, they provide superior video-centric features such as log profiles, zebras, waveforms, and more. As such, they’re a great one-stop tool for creators wanting an affordable video camera that has more advanced features than most mirrorless or DSLR cameras.
But outside of selecting the camera style, below, you’ll find some other considerations to keep in mind as you’re shopping around. These may also help when deciding between two capable options.
Image quality is arguably the most critical factor, and you can’t overlook it. As a visual creator, the camera that you select must provide high-quality imagery and sharp videos. Many cameras could work as YouTube cameras. But the camera you choose must record in at least 1080p Full HD resolution. Here, it’ll produce enough details and present sharp and clean videos to your viewers. And a high-quality video is one way to gain subscribers and continue having them re-watch your videos. But, if you use anything less, you’ll have blurry and grainy-looking videos that will look dated and not present your content in its best light.
But know, a camera’s image quality is relative to their market price. And sub $200 cameras will often lack this particular feature. As such, it’s something to review in the manufactures listing to ensure that you’re getting a camera with full HD capabilities.
Now, while many may suggest opting for a 4K capable camera, that decision depends on your current workflow. Shooting in 4K results in massive file sizes that require more powerful computers for editing, rendering, and more bandwidth for uploading. If your a new content creator and a beginner, a 1080p equipped device is best. Upgrade to a 4K option as your skill sharpens. Or, if budget allows, get a 4K option now, shoot in 1080p, and future proof your setup.
For most creators, the camera becomes the most exciting part of setting up a video kit. But it’s also essential to understand the importance of a good microphone. High-quality audio is equally as crucial as image quality. And it’s the next single biggest upgrade to produce professional-looking content.
The microphone that’s built-in on the camera can often record clean and crisp audio. But, these microphones will suffer when recording outdoors in the presence of wind. And in those situations, an external microphone will vastly improve the clarity of your sound. And it’ll also reduce any unwanted ambient noise in your videos.
As you’re looking around, look for cameras with microphone input or a hot shoe for mounting supported microphones. These ports give you more flexibility and ensure you can create high-quality videos that grab your viewer’s attention. And they’ll let you upgrade your audio to a professional level when the time comes.
But sadly, understand that many cheap cameras for YouTube don’t include external microphone inputs. As such, you’ll want to purchase a Lavalier and connect it to your smartphone instead. Doing so will dramatically improve your audio quality, and it’s a good investment.
But If the camera does have a microphone input, you have several options. In general, lapel microphones, also known as Lavaliers, are the best option for YouTube creators. These microphones clip onto a shirt and remain a few inches away from your mouth. And this position, they’ll isolate your voice from the background noise and give you more consistent audio. You can also use a shotgun microphone, which attaches directly to your camera’s hot shoe. These standalone microphones capture sound directly in front of them and also reduce ambient noise, similar to lapel microphones. But they’re a better option for on-the-go creators looking to be mobile. And they require less setup time.
Size, Form Factor, and Portability
This factor highly depends on the type of videos you plan on producing.
If you’re filming videos at home that are mostly stationary, the camera’s size doesn’t matter as much. However, if you plan on filming videos on the go and potentially vlogging, you’ll want a lightweight camera. And a portable camera won’t cause a lot of arm strain while filming. Otherwise, you’ll quickly get bogged down under the weight of a bulky camera. And the strain will make it more difficult to film for extended periods.
If you primarily plan to film yourself, the camera’s rear LCD will be of particular importance to you. And the last thing you want is to spend hours recording, only to finish and realize your framing was incorrect or the focus was off. Thus, consider looking for cameras with an articulating screen that flips around to the side or above the camera. Having a screen you can see is a godsend when setting up your framing, checking your exposure, or focus. And it also ensures that the camera doesn’t shut off accidentally while recording.
While manual focus is the center point in professional filmmaking, autofocus reigns as king for content creators. Thankfully, most cameras released over the last five years offer face and eye-tracking to ensure that your face remains focused as you move throughout your video. And the camera automatically adjusts itself to ensure you stay sharp.
However, the accuracy and the consistency of these systems do vary. And some cameras offer better autofocusing tracking than others. As such, you’ll want to investigate the cameras autofocusing reliability before making a final decision. As without good autofocus, you’ll have to focus manually while recording, which will likely result in blurry footage and add unnecessary difficulty to your workflow.
If you plan on recording videos on the go, you’ll want a camera with some form of image stabilization. Image Stabilization ensures that you get stable, sharp videos without blur. And it removes much of the need for using a tripod. Without it, though, filming handheld will result in shaky and difficult-to-watch footage that will turn off your viewers.
Thankfully, many cameras offer image stabilization, mostly in the form of electronic and optically stabilized lenses. And many do a great job automatically compensating for motion. However, some do perform better than others. And most electronic stabilization systems result in a crop into the frame, altering your field of view. Even so, it’s a must-have feature as, without it, you would need a gimbal to stabilize the camera, which adds both bulk and additional cost.
Battery life is also another area to consider. If you plan on filming on the go, you’ll likely film in areas without outlets, making recharging impossible. So if you want to shoot all day, you will need a camera that supplies sufficient battery. Otherwise, look for USB charging, so you can charge on the go. But know, most cameras only provide 90 minutes of continuous 1080p recording. And not all cameras provide USB charging. So if you find yourself in this position, consider getting an extra battery instead.
The focal length of the attached lens determines the coverage that it provides. And it also determines your framing. In general, if you plan on filming handheld, you want a 16 mm equivalent lens or wider, ensuring you capture a large enough field to include yourself and your surroundings. This focal length also helps remove handshake and improves image stabilization. But at a maximum, look for a lens that has 24 mm equivalent. Anything above this will make it tricky to film handheld. And you’ll likely have to use a selfie stick to properly film yourself.
You may also want to consider the connectivity options while shopping around. Most cameras offered built-in wireless connections augmented with Bluetooth or NFC connectivity. This configuration allows you to connect them to a smartphone or tablet to transfer photos wirelessly. But some cameras even support moving proxies, lower resolution videos to your devices as well. And that’s the perfect option for conveniently sharing your footage online on social media. Many of these connections also give you access to remote shooting functionality. And some cameras provided full manual control, too, giving you more flexibility when setting up your shot.
Last Updated on September 10, 2023 by Photography PX Published March 7, 2021