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From showing exotic places abroad to the humdrum of everyday life, video blogging (also known as vlogging) is a popular way to share your experiences with the world. All you need to get started is one thing: the right camera.
Not sure where to begin? Don’t worry, we researched every camera on the market and put the eight most popular vlogging cameras through the ringer to see which is the best of the best. After all that, we believe the Panasonic Lumix GH5 (available at Amazon for $1,497.99) is the best overall camera for vlogging, with the GoPro Hero7 Black taking second place as our pick for the best value.
1. Best Overall: Panasonic Lumix GH5
This Panasonic GH5 was the standout performer among the pack of cameras we tested. It has everything we looked for in a high quality vlogging camera: ease of use, versatility, durability, and more. It also supports dual memory cards, captured 4K video, and has all the ports you’d need for headphones, an external microphone, and HDMI.
The mirrorless digital camera comes with a 20.3-megapixel Micro Four Thirds CMOS sensor, which captures crisp images. The screen is a gorgeous 3.2-inch rotating LCD touchscreen that closes into the body for protection. It shoots video in 4K and has a 225-area autofocus, letting you track moving subjects quickly and easily. It also comes with Wi-Fi, NFC, and Bluetooth connectivity for external devices.
Weighing a beefy 25.6 oz, the camera is built with a magnesium alloy body. That means the camera is quite sturdy, but also heavy. There’s a wealth of controls all around the GH5's body for adjusting the manual settings. While we love the crisp images it captures and the connectivity options, we still had a few nitpicks.
Low light video is bright, but the picture is a bit grainy. Autofocus is also slow and wanders aimlessly at times and, since this is the heaviest camera on our list, it lost points for portability. If you plan on using this camera for hikes and other outdoor adventures, we’d recommend hooking it up to a tripod, as it's pretty hefty.
2. Best Value: GoPro Hero7 Black
The GoPro Hero 7 Black may be the smallest video camera on the list, but that doesn’t make it any less mighty. It’s capable of shooting 4K video at 30 frames per second or 2K at 60 FPS, and it carries a 12-megapixel sensor. The optics are great, as the depth of field is quite deep. This means objects stay in focus whether close up or at a distance (without having to rely on autofocus).
All GoPro accessories are proprietary, meaning you’ll need an accessory simply to mount this to a tripod. That being said, GoPro has a ton of accessories that can make your product do just about anything, and they’re all interchangeable, so once you buy into the ecosystem, all of your cameras going forward will be well-equipped.
The downside to the aforementioned depth of field is that you won’t get the bokeh effect of a blurred background, which adds “pop” to videos. The display on the back of the camera doesn’t flip around, so keeping yourself in the frame is a challenge. There’s an app for your smartphone that allows you to adjust any setting and see yourself in the camera, but that requires a second hand, which can be just as annoying as it is convenient.
3. Panasonic Lumix DMC-G85
The Panasonic G85 performs just as well as the GH5 and is super lightweight and portable. The lenses from the two cameras are interchangeable as well, meaning you can pick up the G85 and upgrade to the GH5 later. While the G85 has a lot going for it, there are a few trade-offs.
Images are less sharp, especially when the camera is in motion, and low light video is more grainy. Although the G85 and the GH5 have similar accessories, they’re not interchangeable, which is disappointing.
If you start with the G85, you’ll get a 16-megapixel camera with 49 autofocus zones. It shoots in 4K at 30 FPS and a maximum ISO of 3200. If you’re on a tight budget, then this camera is a good choice. It performs well, is very portable, and it won’t burn a hole in your wallet.
4. Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II
This compact, all-in-one camera has a lot going for it. It seems like it’s designed for the casual camera user, as you can’t really adjust the exposure and ISO. You can adjust them a little bit with the two dials on the camera, but it’s really hard to get full control over the settings you want. However, in auto mode, especially when you have good light, this camera does quite well. It’s also one of the most stable cameras for walking and talking.
This camera boasts some good specifications. It has a 20.2-megapixel 1-inch BSI-CMOS sensor and an ISO range of 125 - 12800. The extended ISO range can help capture shots in very low light. However, video capture is limited to 1080p which is a little weak for this day and age. And, at just 10.37oz, this is a little guy that transports easily.
That said, this camera is missing some basic features (like a viewfinder). You need to use the screen all the time, which is fine, but if you plan to be away from power for a considerable amount of time, you can use a normal viewfinder to save some of that power. Also, since the screen only faces out, it may be prone to scratching or damage. While the camera does have an HDMI output, there are no additional ports for a microphone and external flash. As long as you don’t need to do anything above and beyond a basic point and shoot, this camera will get the job done.
5. Sony Alpha a6400
The Sony a6400 is a great little camera, with a body that is a little bigger than a typical point-and-shoot. With its interchangeable lenses, lightweight body, and great autofocus, there’s a to love. This was also our best low-light performer. While low light images were darker than the Panasonic GH5, it was less grainy.
The autofocus can capture and maintain a tight focus on the subject even in low light. If you plan to move around a lot in your videos, this might be a good camera to take with you, but only if you have a tripod. Stabilization in this camera is pretty much non-existent.
It also features a 24-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, which is capable of 4K video shooting with a 425 point autofocus. Add to that Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and NFC connectivity, and you’ve got a camera packs a lot into a small package. That said, there were a few drawbacks.
Navigating the settings menu can be a headache. We’re also not fans of the screen, which faces out when you fold it in. This simply leaves the screen prone to damage or scratching. However, the Z-Fold system is more robust and stable than the typical rotating screen that lets you keep the screen in. What that means is, the stable folding system allows for more solid screen positioning as opposed to a more flimsy rotating screen that you'll find on other cameras.
Overall, this is a great camera and our favorite of the three Sony’s we tested. But the frustrating menu system, lack of touchscreen, and lack of stabilization pushed this one down to the middle of the pack.
6. Nikon D5600
The Nikon D5600 comes with a 24.2-megapixel APS-C sensor and an extended ISO range of 100 - 25,600. It’s among the lightest DSLR cameras we tested, which made it the most portable and easiest to handle and store. It’s also quite compact with a nice bright touchscreen that folds into the body. Image quality is good, but the video footage is limited to 1080p.
This camera isn’t the most user-friendly, as the buttons are all over the place. They’re on the right side, left side, top, and front. If you’re looking for a camera that you can use one-handed, you may want to look elsewhere.
Out of all the cameras we tested, this is the only one with a lens lock, which allows you to extend the lens so it’s ready to shoot. One might argue that it’s a good feature, designed to keep the lens safe, but it’s just not user-friendly. Often during testing, we would forget that the lens needed to be unlocked or re-locked when we were done. We found it to be more annoying than useful.
The build is made of plastic, which isn’t a bad material but it feels cheap and not very durable. While this camera is capable of capturing good video, Nikon falls short in terms of the customer experience, which knocked this camera down a few pegs.
7. Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 V
The Sony Cyber-Shot Rx100 V was the second of two point-and-shoot cameras we tested, and it's widely considered the best point-and-shoot camera ever made (though that was true of the Sony RX100, the Mark II, the Mark II, and the Mark IV, too). It boasts a 20.1-megapixel 1-inch sensor and a 2.92x optical zoom. This little powerhouse is even capable of 4K video, albeit with a 5-minute limit. Because it’s a point-and-shoot, it’s small and very portable. What’s more, the camera holds nice surprises like the pop-up viewfinder and flash. The VCT-SGR1 Shooting Grip, which connects with this camera, gives it a nice tripod base with buttons to zoom, record video, or shoot a still. However, like the other Sony cameras on this list, this one has a few shortcomings.
There’s no touchscreen and the screen itself doesn’t fold in. The menu is also a bit of a pain to navigate with the 5-way rocker switch. Image quality is good but we noticed that, especially in outdoor testing, highlights get blown out, washing out the possibility of reading text on a page at a distance. That said, it’s not a bad camera. It did fall toward the bottom of the pack, but that was because of the same faults that its siblings exhibited.
8. Sony RX0 II
The Sony RX0 II is one of two ultraportable cameras we tested. Although this camera can fit inside your pocket, don’t let the small size fool you. Not only is this camera durable, but there’s also a flip up the forward-facing screen. However, similar to the other Sony’s on this list, there’s no touchscreen, which is a little bit of a bummer. The controls are hard to get used to as well, mainly because the buttons are so small. This makes it a little frustrating to use.
Unless you attached Sony’s VCT-SGR1 Shooting Grip (we received one with our test unit), there’s no easy way to switch between video and stills. Also, the low light performance was terrible and the price tag is pretty lofty. While we like the durable build and the flip up forward-facing screen, the high price tag is a tough pill to swallow.
How We Tested
Adam Doud is a freelance videographer, writer, and podcast producer. He has been shooting video for a number of sites and YouTube channels. He also regularly uses his Panasonic G85 for his own work. When he’s not testing cameras, he’s hosting the Android Authority Podcast and the DGiT Daily podcast or writing for other tech sites.
A great vlogging camera needs to do a few things extremely well. The most obvious is image quality, though it's important to pin that down a little more exactly. Vlogging cameras need to capture sharp footage in both bright and dim light (think outside and inside), with enough dynamic range that natural lighting differences (such as a backlit window) won't ruin the entire scene.
Also critical? A camera's optical image stabilization. Though you can use handheld stabilizers to make up for a camera's shortcomings in this regard, for many vloggers you'll want something that can keep a shot stable by itself. We also made sure that all of our picks could autofocus successfully, since many times vloggers will be shooting themselves without a second person to operate the camera. After all, there's nothing worse than capturing a whole scene or interview and finding out your focus was screwed up.
Beyond that, we looked at how well each camera fit within its ecosystem. Capturing video often means needing to rely on external accessories, such as lighting, microphones, LCDs, recorders, and tripods. Our top pick in particular works with a massive array of pro-ready gear, letting you customize it to be whatever you need, anything from a run-and-gun setup to a totally professional studio-quality 4K camera capable of broadcast-quality video or live streaming to social media.
What Should I look For in a Vlogging Camera?
Before deciding on a camera, you should first consider what kind of vlog you’d like to make. Will it require a lot of b-roll shots? Will it be a simple walk and talk set up? Do you want to focus on shots of another country? All of these contribute to your ultimate purchasing decision.
Most vlogs involve a simple talk to the camera set up while others focus on b-roll, which is a set of background shots showing other things besides the host talking. Depending on which kind of blog you want to produce, different features are going to be take precedence.
If you plan on doing anything adventurous, getting the best image quality might take a backseat to durability—meaning you may want to focus on something like an action camera instead of a bulkier, mirrorless camera. If you’re shooting in a studio, low-light quality may not be much of a concern compared to capturing high quality images.
No matter what your plans are, there's definitely a camera for you. To find the best, though, we made sure to test each camera in as many conditions as possible.
What is a Good Vlogging Camera?
A good vlogging camera has to capture a great image, as you don’t want a low-quality image distracting your audience It also has to be relatively lightweight, so you can maneuver it with ease. At the end of the day, a vlogging camera has to be both portable and versatile.
Of course, that still leaves you plenty of options. The most obvious will be between full-fledged mirrorless cameras (like the Panasonic GH5, G85, and Sony a6400), traditional DSLRs (like the Nikon D5600), and action cameras like the GoPro.
In truth, any of these can be a good vlogging camera, you just need to know what you plan to use it for, what kind of footage you need, and what accessories will be along for the ride.
Can I Use a GoPro as a Vlogging Camera?
GoPro’s are certainly portable, versatile, and durable, making them a great choice for bikers and kayakers. While the GoPro Hero 7 Black scored well in our testing, it does have some major limitations which we go over in the full review above.
That said, it gets the job done. If you just want to capture your adventures (particularly if they involve situations where a larger camera could get wrecked), the GoPro is a quick and easy way to capture your life.
If you want the real deal? Expect to spend at least a grand on a proper camera and the accessories you need. There are some GoPro’s that’ll do the job for less, but the image quality isn’t as good, the audio options aren't as good, and the stability and controls aren't as good. For a truly pro-quality camera that’ll do everything you want, our top pick (or something similar) is your best bet.
Of course, art is all about overcoming limitations. If you've got a great idea and a story to tell, even a limited budget can get you what you need.
Prices are accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.
This article features excerpts of product reviews published on Reviewed. To see thousands of other product reviews, check out our full suite of guides to the best products you can buy right now.
This article originally appeared on Reviewed.com: The Best Vlogging Cameras of 2019: Panasonic, Nikon, Sony, and Canon