Ultimate Guide to the Best Cheap Cameras for Vlogging in 2021

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If you don’t have time to read this article, then the best cheap camera for vlogging is the Sony ZV-1, while a close runner-up, the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II is the best cheap camera for YouTube.

Trying to find the best cheap cameras for vlogging can sometimes feel like searching for a needle in a haystack, thanks to the multitude of models that all claim to be the best cameras for vlogging, but which can’t always deliver.

I wanted a cheap vlogging camera for my own use, but as other websites didn’t seem to really know what they were recommending, I had to find this on my own. I put countless hours into researching the best budget vlogging camera, and so that this isn’t wasted, have decided to put it here so you can cut down on your own research.

I have decided that ‘cheap’ means that the vlog camera price is around $500, with options to stretch the budget to get a much higher specification model, or options with more limited specs for the budget conscious.

So that this article isn’t packed full with every model of cameras for vloggers, I’ve chosen a few key criteria that I believe all cheap cameras for YouTube videos should possess:

  • A large sensor for quality photos and videos
  • Ability to shoot video in multiple modes to cover all vlogging situations
  • High quality audio either through internal microphones or with a mic input jack
  • Good rear screen that is preferably a touchscreen

Every one of the vlog cameras in this article meets these key criteria at a minimum. The full list of cameras reviewed is:



The Best Cheap Camera for Vlogging 2021

Best Cheap Camera for YouTube

  • Side Flip Out Screen
  • Fantastic Internal Mic for Quality Audio
  • 4K Recording at 30 fps
  • Steady Shot Feature for Stabilized Footage
  • High Frame Rate Mode for Recording up to 960 fps
With a screen that flips out to the side so the the hotshoe is not impeded, and with an excellent internal mic, the Sony ZV-1 is not only the best cheap camera for vlogging, but a brilliant video camera for everyday use. It’s the only camera reviewed here that can record at up to 960 frames per second in (upscaled) 1080p quality, as well as standard 4K recording at 30 fps.
The point and shoot-like size and weight of the ZV-1 makes it easily portable, and the Steady Shot mode genuinely helps when recording yourself walking and talking, so I have no trouble saying that this is the best camera for YouTube vlogging.

The Best Beginner Vlog Camera

Best Vlogging Camera for Beginners

  • Records video at 1080p and 60 fps
  • Zoom range of 24-100mm (in 35mm equivalent)
  • Has full manual controls, plus plenty of helpful beginner modes
  • Strong internal mic for high-quality audio
  • Small and light, with tilting touchscreen
The Canon G7X Mark II has been the camera of choice for many professional vloggers for a number of years, offering 1080p video recording, a useful zoom range and a body designed for usability. Now available at a relatively low price, and with modes from full automatic down to full manual, this is an ideal beginner vlog camera for those more limited in terms of budget, but who want to still make pro-level vlogs.
For such a small point and shoot camera, you get something that rivals some mid-range DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, but in a much smaller, more portable package.

Comparison Table of the Best Cheap Vlogging Cameras in 2021

Take a look at the comparison table of all of the best cheap vlogging cameras that are reviewed in this article, and then read the full reviews below.

Camera

Sensor

Video Recording

Lens (35mm equivalent)

Check Price

Sony ZV-1

[Best Cheap Vlogging Camera]

1-inch, 20.1 Megapixels

4K / 30 fps;
1080p / 120 fps (up to 960 fps upscaled)

24-70mm, f/1.8-2.8

Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II

[Best Beginner Vlog Camera]

1-inch, 20.1 Megapixels

1080p / 60 fps

24-100mm, f/1.8-2.8

APS-C, 24.2 Megapixels

4K / 30 fps;
1080p / 120 fps

N/A

1/2.3-inch, 12.1 Megapixels

1080p / 60 fps

24-720mm, f/3.3-6.4

1/2.3-inch, 18.2 Megapixels

1080p / 60 fps

24-480mm, f/3.5-6.5

Four Thirds, 20.3 Megapixels

4K / 30 fps;
1080p / 60 fps

24-64mm, f/3.5-5.6

1/2.3-inch, 20.0 Megapixels

720p / 25 fps

28-224mm, f/3.2-6.9

DJI Pocket 2

[Best Compact Vlog Camera]

1/1.7-inch, 64 Megapixel

4K / 60 fps

20mm, f/1.8

DJI Osmo Action

[Best GoPro for Vlogging]

1/2.3-inch, 12 Megapixels

4K / 60 fps;
1080p / 240 fps

6.82 mm, f/2.8

YouTube Vlogging Camcorder

[Best Starter Camera for YouTube]

8 Megapixel

1080p / 30 fps

8.15mm, f/3.0


What to Look For in the Best Affordable Vlogging Camera

There are a few features that I would consider to be absolutely key, to keep in mind when looking for the best affordable vlogging camera. Every one of the best cheap cameras for vlogging reviewed in this article meets this list of strict criteria:

  1. Large Sensor – bigger sensors show less noise at high ISOs and give sharper, higher resolution videos.
  2. Video Recording Resolution & Modes – the best cameras for vlogging can record in 4K, though 1080p is often a good compromise for the more budget models.
  3. Audio Quality – ideally you would look for an external mic input for the best audio quality, but there are vlogging cameras for beginners that have excellent internal microphones.
  4. Low Light Performance – budget YouTube cameras often fall down in low light performance, giving noisy, grainy video – this depends on internal image processing, the sensor design, and the lens aperture.
  5. Stabilization – this can either be in the form of internal stabilization, where the sensor is moved to minimize hand shake, or as optical stabilization, where glass elements in the lens are moved.
  6. Lens Quality – consider the zoom range and max aperture of the lens, and if lenses can be switched out.
  7. Rear Screen – are you looking for a vlogging camera with flip screen for easy talking heads videos, or do you want touch controls?
  8. Autofocus – consider how strong the autofocus system is, including whether it can track people, or even someone’s eyes within the frame.
  9. Connectivity – does the camera have WiFi / NFC, to let you upload videos and photos to your phone without needing a computer?
  10. Battery Life – you don’t want batteries to be constantly failing when shooting.
  11. Size & Weight – if you are carrying a camera around all day, you want it to be light and small, but this is less necessary for studio-based vloggers, who might want a more fully-featured model.

I. Sensor Size

In practice, it tends to be the case that the larger the sensor, the better the photo and video quality of the camera. Ideally, you would want a full frame sensor, as seen in the diagram below, but this is unrealistic for a cheap vlogging camera.

Most of the cameras in this article are in the 1 inch sensor size or below, as this is about the best sensor size trade-off between cost and performance.

What makes a camera with a small sensor such a good YouTube camera, is that you get a much smaller device with increased zoom, thanks to the crop factor.

This crop factor means that shorter focal lengths produce a much longer ‘apparent focal length’ than you would otherwise think, with this apparent focal length dependent on the multiplier needed to transform the camera’s current sensor size up to full frame.

So, a camera like the Sony ZV-1, which has a 1 inch sensor, has a lens that at its widest is 9.4mm. With the crop factor applied, this gives an apparent focal length of 20mm, and means that the camera can be both much smaller and lighter than an equivalent full frame model.


II. Video Recording Resolution & Modes

At its most basic, all good cameras for vlogging should be able to shoot at 1080p, Full HD resolution at a minimum. This is a common YouTube standard and means that your vlogs will look professional, although this is not the best format for future-proofing your work.

Ideally, get a camera that can shoot in 4K, Ultra HD resolution to remain current for the next few years, although this does come at a price premium.

You should also consider the frame rate, particularly if you want to introduce special effects like slow motion footage. Standard cinema framerate is 24 frames per second (fps), which tends to be the limit that you find in the best budget camera for video at 1080p resolution, and is not suitable for slow-mo. For a more detailed look at the differences between frame rates, see the video below.

The best 4K vlogging camera in this article shoots footage at 30 fps in 4K, but also offers much higher frame rates at lower resolutions. For example, the Sony ZV-1 can record at up to 120 fps in 1080p, which offers incredible scope for slow motion shots. But, like many other cameras, as the frame rate gets higher, the resolution will reduce. Take a look at the reviews for more on this.


III. External Mic Input & Audio Quality

Audio quality is perhaps even more important than image resolution for vlogs. People tend to forgive lower quality visuals, but have a hard time getting over poor quality sound.

The best camera for vloggers should have an excellent internal microphone, although this is much less common in the more budget models. To avoid the problem of potentially poor quality audio recording, I would recommend looking for a camera with an external mic input, so that you can add something like the Rode VideoMic, the best microphone for vlogging.

  • Using an external mic with a camera offers a massive audio quality upgrade over using the same camera with only its internal microphone.

You are unlikely to find a vlog camera with a headphone socket in the more budget range, but if possible this is a nice extra to have, as it means that you can monitor audio as it is recorded.


IV. Low Light Performance

Strong low light performance is often a signifier of a high quality camera, as it is dependent on a number of parts of the camera: the sensor size and design; the image processing software inside the camera; and the maximum aperture of the lens.

This performance can be measured by low amounts of noise at high ISO (ie. a large sensor and / or good image processing) or by allowing more light to reach the image sensor (ie. a large maximum aperture of the lens), and is noted in the reviews of each camera below.


V. Internal / Optical Stabilization

Image stabilization is one of those features that I would consider to be essential, even in a beginner vlogging camera, unless you intend to use your camera mainly in a studio setting or on a tripod.

Cheap, good vlogging cameras have in-body image stabilization (IBIS), which reduces camera shake and helps make videos sharper, often by having the sensor move in 5-axes to offset camera shake caused by your hands. The more basic models will have IBIS that digitally offsets the motion by cropping the frame, moving the recorded picture to cope with any hand shake. This is know as electronic stabilization.

Lens stabilization (called OSS for Sony, IS for Canon, or VR for Nikon), works in tandem with IBIS, or on its own, to reduce any camera shake still further by moving the glass elements inside the lens. This tends to be the more common form of image stabilization that you see at this end of the market.


VI. Lens Quality (Max. Aperture / Zoom Range)

Most of the cameras for vlogging in the budget end of the market have fixed lenses that cannot be swapped. Therefore, it pays to be extra careful and check the zoom range and maximum apertures are appropriate for your needs.

If you are looking to shoot talking heads videos of yourself or others, you will likely want a lens with a wide max aperture (eg. f/2.8 or below – although there is no hard and fast rule), and a full frame equivalent focal length of between 40mm to 80mm.

Vloggers looking to shoot landscapes will not care about a wide aperture however, and will likely want both wide angle focal lengths (eg. 14mm to 24mm), and telephoto focal lengths (eg. 70mm to 200mm).

For the ultimate in lens quality, then consider a mirrorless camera or DSLR, which allow you to change lenses to suit the subject you are shooting.


VII. Rear Screen Articulation / Touch Control

The rear screen articulation of cameras with screens that flip is what sets apart vlogging cameras from regular cameras. Whether you want a camera with flip up screen depends on whether you want to record yourself talking to camera or not (I assume most vloggers do).

The flip screen means that you can point the camera at yourself, but also see yourself at the same time, which is invaluable for framing and making sure that you are not cutting half your head out of the frame.

Cheap vlogging cameras with flip screens tend to come in only one type: screens that flip on only one axis by 180 degrees. These are useful, although the screens that flip up often impede anything placed in the hotshoe, like an external microphone, and screens that flip down can hit a tripod if you are using one. Therefore, many vloggers prefer cameras for YouTube vlogging that have sideways flip screens.

For more on the three types of flip screens, and good examples of each, see the article here.

Touch controls on the rear screen mean that it is much easier to set exposure and other settings, often by the use of sliders to make the recording brighter or darker, rather than having to work your way through a number of buttons and dials. Touchscreens are therefore very useful for vlogging beginners.


VIII. Autofocus Performance

A good autofocus (AF) system should be able to easily track objects as they move about the frame, with the more high-end cameras, like the Sony Alpha a6400 having AF that can even track the eyes of a subject, or the face, keeping these areas in constant sharp focus.

If you are regularly shooting in a studio, then AF becomes less important, but if you are shooting videos in low light, then the quality of the AF system becomes more important. AF requires some light to work effectively, but the light levels at which AF tends to fail varies from camera to camera.

Generally speaking, the more expensive the camera, the less light the AF system needs to work effectively, although there isn’t a direct link between this and price. See the reviews of the cameras to vlog with below.


IX. Connectivity

A common feature of cheap, good cameras for YouTube is that they have the ability to send videos and photos straight to your phone over WiFi. This is incredibly useful as it means that you don’t have to transfer your content to a computer as a middle step. Therefore, videos can be created quickly and easily away from home, then uploaded straight to YouTube.

Although connectivity is not a deal-breaker for me, it falls into the category of ‘nice to have’.


X. Battery Life

Battery life is a useful characteristic to consider for the best starter vlog camera if you think that you will be away from a charger for any length of time. Some cameras receive power via USB, meaning that once the internal battery has been depleted, you can use a standard USB powerbank that you might otherwise use for you phone or other devices, while other cameras must have their batteries removed and charged in a wall socket.

How easy batteries are to change is often overlooked in most reviews, with some models having the battery compartment blocked when a tripod quick release plate is attached, making battery changes much slower and more involved.


XI. Size, Weight & Portability

The size and weight of these inexpensive vlogging cameras reviewed here is a useful proxy for how easy they are to carry around all day, although it doesn’t tell you too much about how easy they are to use.

I’ve tried to cover usability below, as far as I can, but remember that how easy a camera is for you to use will depend on your general videography experience. Camera weight, size and ergonomics plays into usability, but the importance of these are more subjective, as it depends on how much studio versus in-the-field shooting you will be doing.

If you are wanting a device that will slip into a pocket, with a weight that you will barely notice, then the best small vlogging camera is the DJI Pocket 2.


Which Type of Vlogging Camera is for You?

Although the above criteria are useful as a guide to understand the key parts of the best cheap vlogging camera, you also need to consider your style of photography and videography to point you towards the type of camera that you need.

  • Adventure Vloggers – choose a small camera that can withstand tough conditions and environments, like an action cam such as the DJI Osmo Action.
  • Travel Vloggers – choose something with excellent all-round abilities that has interchangeable lenses available for both wide angle or zoom photos – a DSLR or mirrorless camera like the Sony Alpha a6400, or otherwise a smaller superzoom for a more compact camera like the Panasonic Lumix ZS50.
  • Home / Studio Vloggers – where you don’t rely on autofocus, and are in a controlled environment so that you don’t have to worry about extraneous sounds, choose a well-designed point and shoot camera with a flip screen such as the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II.
  • Beginner Vloggers – choose a cheap, basic model if you want to find out if vlogging is for you, like the YouTube Vlogging Camcorder, or go for a more fully featured model like the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II.
  • All Round Vloggers – if you need a good cheap camera for YouTube to cover you in every situation, then choose an up-to-date point and shoot, like the best camera for vlogging, the Sony ZV-1 with flip screen, solid autofocus and the ability to shoot video in 4K.

Reviews of the Best Cheap Camera for Vlogging 2021

Take a look at the full reviews for the top 10 vlogging cameras in 2021 (plus a few extras) below. This list is regularly updated to stay up-to-date with the most current models.


1. Sony ZV-1 [The Best Cheap Camera for Vlogging]

Best Sony Camera for Vlogging Beginners

Specifications:
  • Sensor: 1-inch, 20.1 Megapixels
  • Video Recording: 4K / 30 fps; 1080p / 120 fps (up to 960 fps upscaled)
  • Included Lens (35mm equivalent): 24-70mm, f/1.8-2.8
  • Stabilization? Optical and Electronic
  • Screen: Side flip-out 3-inch touchscreen
  • External Mic Input? Yes
  • Weight: 10.4 oz (294 g)

This is one of the latest models of vlogging cameras from Sony, and is ideally suited to those wanting an all-rounder that can handle pretty much every environment and style of videography. It takes many of the elements that have made Sony’s more premium models so effective, and combines them into a smaller, lighter package to make the best cheap camera for vlogging.

There are a number of particular features that stand out to make this the best budget camera for video, including:

  • Directional 3-capsule internal mic (with wind screen), and an external mic input with shoe to hold the mic. Unusually for cameras in this price range, the internal mic is excellent and is by far the best mic for vlogging if you don’t want to use an external audio recording device.
  • A flip to the side touchscreen that does not impede anything attached to the hotshoe or the tripod when flipped, which makes the ZV-1 the best camera with flip screen.
  • An optimized grip designed for holding from the front as well as the back for talking heads style videography.
  • Compatibility with wireless grips, such as Sony’s GP-VPT2BT.
  • An auto-exposure algorithm to keep your face bright and clear so minimal user input is needed for filming

Of course, the ZV-1 only has a 1 inch sensor, so low light performance is not on a par with the APS-C or full frame cameras, but is the best you can get for this price. If you intend to regularly shoot videos at night, then it may be worth trying to increase your budget to enable you to buy a mirrorless camera, like the Sony a6400 reviewed below.

With the smaller sensor, the apparent focal length of the lens is 24mm – 70mm, which will cover all day-to-day use including street shooting and talking heads, with perhaps the only exception being wildlife photography.

A massive bonus to the ZV-1 is the AF system, which is taken from the premium range of Sony A6000 cameras, and includes face tracking and real-time eye autofocus, which locks all almost instantly, and tracks subjects very competently. For those shooting product reviews, the Product Showcase mode will automatically pull focus to any objects placed in front of the camera, regardless if your face is visible in the frame. On other cameras, you would have to block your face in order for the focus to pull correctly to the object.

You also get selective background de-focus to create some lovely bokeh, and the auto-exposure mode keeps your face bright and clear in the frame. The digital ND filter gives you the ability to shoot in bright light at wide apertures for pro-level video, and the internal mic is so good that you do not really even need an external mic for most uses.

If you still need convincing, then consider that with the High Frame Rate mode, you can shoot upscaled 1080p footage at up to 960 fps, meaning this camera is well suited for creating slow-motion effects.

Overall, if you want a strong, cheap camera with a flip screen for vlogging, you won’t go wrong with the Sony ZV-1, which will enable you to shoot high-quality YouTube videos for many years to come.

  • Pros:
  • Excellent internal mic that captures sound around the camera, and includes wind screen
  • Autofocus system from Sony’s premium cameras, with real time eye tracking
  • Shoots footage at 4K / 30fps, or 120 / 240 / 480 / 960 fps at 1080p (upscaled footage about 120 fps)
  • External mic input and shoe
  • Good optical image stabilization
  • No time limit for 4K recording, and no overheating issues
  • Front recording lamp to show you when you are recording
  • The camera can be as easily held from the front as from the back
  • 24 – 70 mm zoom range and f/1.8 – 2.8 aperture range
  • Very small and light, at 10.4 ounces (294g)
  • Compatible with the excellent Sony Bluetooth shooting grip
  • Cons:
  • No ability to change lenses
  • 1 inch sensor is not the best for low light performance
  • The electronic image stabilization crops the frame
  • Shorter battery life (and battery must be charged in camera, unless you buy a separate charger)

Note: If you are able to up your budget, then the Sony RX100 VII takes the best parts of the ZV-1 and adds excellent low light performance, and zoom range of 24 – 200mm, extra 4K recording modes and improved stills photography performance, albeit at a much higher price.


2. Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II [The Best Beginner Vlog Camera]

Best Beginner Vlogging Camera

Specifications:
  • Sensor: 1-inch, 20.1 Megapixels
  • Video Recording: 1080p / 60 fps
  • Included Lens (35mm equivalent): 24-100mm, f/1.8-2.8
  • Stabilization? Optical (approx 4-stop) and electronic
  • Screen: 180-degree tilt 3-inch touchscreen
  • External Mic Input? No
  • Weight: 11.3 oz (319 g)

The Canon PowerShot G7X vlogging camera mark II has been favored by many of the top name vloggers for a number of years. Even though this is no longer the most current model of G7X available, it is still in my opinion the best beginner vlogging camera, and competes well with some mid-range DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, despite being a point and shoot camera.

Available under $500, the G7X has an impressive 1 inch sensor paired with the Digic 7 image processor that can record video at 1080p and 60 fps, although is showing its age in not being able to record in 4K.

This vlogging camera flip screen moves 180 degrees up, to flip over the top of the camera, or tilts 45 degrees down for easier viewing when holding the camera above your head, and is touch enabled for easier camera control, making this suitable as a beginner vlog camera.

The zoom lens covers 24-100mm in full frame equivalent focal lengths, which is suitable for most kinds of vlogging, from talking heads to basic telephoto work, particularly when paired with the excellent optical image stabilization. The camera’s small size and light weight are a bonus for those vlogging in the field, and sets the G7X II up as the best cheap camera for YouTube.

You get very good control of depth of field with the max aperture of f/1.8, which also means that you can keep the ISO low in dark conditions so videos are not too noisy. If you can live without 4K recording, and an external mic jack, then the G7X offers you a still outstanding camera for a very fair price.

  • Pros:
  • Very reasonable price for the feature set – excellent value for money
  • 1-inch sensor that records video at 1080p / 60 fps
  • Good zoom range of 4.2x (24-100mm) makes it suitable for most vloggers
  • Strong internal mic that records sound to a high quality level
  • Has all-manual controls down to fully automatic, so is suitable for all levels of vlogger from beginner to professional
  • Can connect via WiFi to your phone or computer
  • Low light performance is surprisingly strong for a point and shoot – this rivals some DSLRs and mirrorless cameras
  • Small and light at 11.3 oz (319 g) and easy to carry around all day
  • Beginner friendly with the 3-inch tilting touchscreen
  • Cons:
  • No mic jack, so must rely on internal audio or a separate audio recording
  • The battery does not last all day – buy a spare
  • No 4K video recording

Note: there is a more recent model of this YouTuber vlogging camera, in the Canon flip screen camera the Canon PowerShot G7X Mk III, which adds a mic jack, although has some overheating issues when recording in 4K, and has a poorly designed AF for video, hence why the Mark II model is recommended here.


3. Sony Alpha a6400 [Best Mirrorless Camera for Vlogging]

Best Mirrorless Camera for Vlogging

Specifications:
  • Sensor: APS-C, 24.2 Megapixels
  • Video Recording: 4K / 30 fps (oversampled to 6K equivalent); 1080p / 120 fps
  • Included Lens (35mm equivalent): N/A
  • Stabilization? Optical stabilization available in compatible lenses
  • Screen: 3-inch 180-degree tiltable touchscreen
  • External Mic Input? Yes
  • Weight: 14.3 oz (403 g)

This Sony camera with flip screen is probably the best budget mirrorless camera with flip screen available, and is a cheaper version of the A6600, only really missing the in body image stabilization.

You get a touchscreen that flips up by 180 degrees, plus a fantastic AF system, which was reused in the ZV-1, and allows for face tracking and eye tracking of your subjects.

The ISO range of 100 – 102,400 is very strong on paper, but is tuned more for still photography than vlogging, and means that you will struggle to get really clean video at above ISO 1600. It is still generally better than the remaining cameras in this article that all have much smaller sensors, but falls behind full frame models. Unfortunately, all full frame cameras are pretty expensive, putting them out of reach for those on a budget. If you did have the money for the best low light camera, then take a look at the Sony A7C.

There are a few benefits to the A6400 over the smaller point and shoot cameras, and these include the viewfinder for use in sunny conditions, the addition of Sony’s log video formats to record ungraded video for more control during later editing, and most importantly the ability to change lenses.

Although needing to buy additional lenses does raise the cost of the camera, the utility that this provides makes videos so much easier to produce, and gets you real professional looking output.

Ultimately, as the best mirrorless camera for vlogging, the Sony A6400 suits those looking for a top-end travel camera that doesn’t break the budget.

  • Pros:
  • Can use many different lenses
  • Large APS-C sensor for increased video quality
  • No video recording time limit and no overheating issues
  • Can record 4K / 30 fps footage, or 1080p / 120 fps
  • In-camera timelapse and slow-mo features
  • Electronic viewfinder is useful in bright conditions, and to extend battery life even further
  • 180-degree flip up screen
  • Small and light, at 14.22 ounces (403 g)
  • Cons:
  • No in body image stabilization
  • Slight crop to the frame when shooting at 1080p / 120fps
  • An external mic or flash in the hotshoe partially blocks the screen from flipping up
  • ‘Rolling shutter’ effects when recording in 4K – not suitable for fast action recording

4. Panasonic Lumix ZS50 [The Best Camera for Travel Vlogging]

Best Budget Camera for YouTube

Specifications:
  • Sensor: 1/2.3-inch, 12.1 Megapixels
  • Video Recording: 1080p / 60 fps
  • Included Lens: (35mm equivalent) 24-720mm, f/3.3-6.4
  • Stabilization? Optical & Electronic
  • Screen: 3-inch fixed non-touchscreen & viewfinder
  • External Mic Input? No
  • Weight: 7.65 oz (219 g)

If you want an affordable vlogging camera, then the Lumiz ZS50 is an excellent choice, as it is the best vlogging camera under $300. The specs on paper look pretty similar to the Canon G7X, but you lose some performance and gain some additional features.

The standout feature for me is the very strong super zoom lens, which covers full frame equivalent focal lengths from 24mm to 720mm. This is a massive 30x range and makes the camera suitable for every type of vlogging, from standard street filming to wildlife videography, and pretty much everything in-between.

Combined with the small size and very low weight, the Panasonic ZS50 is for me the best camera for travel vlogging. It’s easy to carry and easy to use, and won’t let you down regardless of the kinds of vlogging you are interested in.

As with the G7X, there is no ability to shoot in 4K, and there is no external mic input. You also do not get a flip screen, and the ZS50 has a relatively small image sensor, meaning that low light videos will be noisier, which is only exacerbated by the maximum aperture of f/3.3. Still, this does make a good, cheap vlogging camera, and the best budget camera for YouTube if you are serious about filming, but don’t have a lot of money to spend.

  • Pros:
  • Full manual controls available, or plenty of auto functions for beginners
  • 1080p video recording works at a standard rate of 60 fps, but can be pushed to 100 fps, or 200 fps in VGA resolution for pro-level slow-mo.
  • 30x zoom range (24-720mm) covers pretty much all vlogging situations
  • Lens-mounted control ring for intuitive manual control of exposure, zoom or focus
  • Strong image stabilization to eliminate hand shake
  • Can use WiFi to transfer photos and videos to your phone
  • The best affordable camera for YouTube if you are serious about making videos
  • Very small and lightweight at 7.65 oz (219 g), and with excellent battery life
  • Cons:
  • Lack of touchscreen is less useful for beginners
  • No 4K recording
  • Low light performance is less strong (video is too smoothed)

Note: if you want a similar cheap, high quality camera to consider, then the older brother of this model, the Panasonic LUMIX DC-ZS70K, which is the best vlogging camera under 400 dollars, allows for 4K video recording and has a touch, flip screen.


5. Sony DSCWX350

One of the Best Cameras for YouTube

Specifications:
  • Sensor: 1/2.3-inch, 18.2 Megapixels
  • Video Recording: 1080p / 60 fps
  • Included Lens: (35mm equivalent) 24-480mm, f/3.5-6.5
  • Stabilization? Optical & Electronic
  • Screen: 3-inch fixed non-touch
  • External Mic Input? No
  • Weight: 3.7 oz (105 g)

As a point and shoot vlogging camera, the Sony DSCWX350 really stands out as a travel camera, with its very light weight and super-small size when switched off with the lens retracted. The 20x optical zoom is powerful, and works well with the image stabilization for smooth footage.

Sony are considered the top producers of AF systems and sensors that can produce decent videos even in low light, and they deliver with the DSCWX350. AF locks on quickly, and can track subjects when in video mode, and the highly regarded Bionz X image processor keeps noise low when shooting in dark environments.

4K video is unfortunately non-existent in this camera, although the 1080p recordings at 60 fps are smooth and look good, and just for that, this must rank as one of the best cameras for YouTube.

If you value a small sized camera that can easily slip into your pocket, that you will barely notice when carrying around all day, and are willing to overlook the lack of 4K, then the Sony DSCWX350 may well be your best choice.

  • Pros:
  • 20x optical zoom (24-480mm) covers most common vlogging situations
  • Good video recording capabilities with 1080p at 60 fps
  • High resolution 18 megapixel sensor
  • Strong autofocus performance with lock-on option
  • Uses WiFi and NFC to connect to your phone
  • Super-compact and lightweight camera at 3.7 oz (105 g)
  • Cons:
  • No external mic input
  • No 4K video
  • No flip screen or touchscreen
  • Relatively small sensor, so more noise

Note: if you want a longer zoom range, then take a look at the Sony DSCHX80, and for pretty much the same camera but with 4K recording, then look at the Sony DSC-HX99.


6. Panasonic Lumix G100

Panasonic Vlogging Camera

Specifications:
  • Sensor: Four Thirds, 20.3 Megapixels
  • Video Recording: 4K / 30 fps; 1080p / 60 fps
  • Included Lens (35mm equivalent): 24-64mm, f/3.5-5.6
  • Stabilization? Electronic
  • Screen: 3-inch fully articulated touchscreen
  • External Mic Input? Yes
  • Weight: 14.8 oz (419 g) with lens

Aimed at those looking for a more professional vlogging experience, the Panasonic Lumix G100 has a wealth of more high-end features that justify its higher price tag. You get the ability to record 4K video at 30 fps, which has lovely colors and looks sharp and clear, but remember that the electronic image stabilization crops the frame to cover any camera shake.

There is no optical stabilization on the included lens, but as a mirrorless four thirds camera, this Panasonic vlogging camera has a wide range of compatible lenses available that can be switched out. This gives you the ability to set your camera up for pretty much any and all types of vlogging, which is particularly useful if you think that your style is likely to change in the future.

The internal microphones look fairly insubstantial for everyday use, but actually offers some very powerful audio tracking which is connected to the face tracking through the lens, and uses Nokia’s OZO processing for maximum quality. Any sound that is not coming from the person in frame is therefore reduced, meaning other conversations and external noise are pushed low in the mix. It may not have quite the sound quality of a dedicated mic with windshield, but there is a mic input and hotshoe to turn this into an excellent vlogging camera with mic.

The rear 3-inch screen is touch enabled and fully articulated, which is a massive bonus for vlogging, and lets you control the camera, including setting AF points, with minimal prior knowledge. The AF system as a whole is less powerful than comparable Sony mirrorless cameras, but that is more of a strong reflection on the power of Sony’s AF system, than Panasonic’s.

Overall, if you want a powerful vlogging camera with mic that handles itself very well in bright conditions and offers a stronger performance than most point and shoot cameras, then the Lumix G100 makes a very good choice.

  • Pros:
  • Fully articulated flip screen for easy selfie shooting that doesn’t get in the way of an external mic when flipped
  • Shoots lovely footage in 4K at 30 fps, with slow-mo options in 1080p
  • Includes a mic jack and excellent internal microphones with audio tracking
  • Good range of compatible lenses
  • Smaller and lighter than it looks, at 14.8 oz (419 g) with the battery and lens
  • No overheating issues at 4K
  • Vertical video shooting is possible, and you get recording frames to show you the output
  • Optional lightweight tripod that also acts as a grip with controls
  • Cons:
  • No optical image stabilization with the included lens (although lenses are changeable)
  • Quite expensive for those on a budget
  • Autofocus is not as strong as other cameras in this price range

7. Canon PowerShot ELPH 180 [The Best Point and Shoot Camera Under $150]

Cheap Point and Shoot Camera

Specifications:
  • Sensor: 1/2.3-inch, 20.0 Megapixels
  • Video Recording: 720p / 25 fps
  • Included Lens (35mm equivalent): 28-224mm, f/3.2-6.9
  • Stabilization? Optical & Electronic
  • Screen: 2.7-inch fixed, non-touch screen
  • External Mic Input? No
  • Weight: 4.4 oz (126 g)

The Canon PowerShot Elph 180 is one of the better cameras for beginner YouTubers thanks to its low price, putting it in the best vlogging cameras under $200 category, and for its simple to use interface. There is essentially no learning curve to those new to photography – just use one of the intuitive auto modes and press the shutter.

This is essentially aimed at those looking for a basic camera, with a solid AF system and decent performance, that can take pictures and videos quickly and with no stress.

There is no flip screen, so this is less suitable for filming yourself, but on the plus side, the colors always look good and accurate, as on most Canons, and you need to do very little editing to any videos once you get them back onto your computer.

If you want a basic, light camera, then the Elph 180 is one of the best sellers currently available and is well-liked pretty much universally.

  • Pros:
  • Very cheap, making it good for kids or those just starting out
  • The 8x optical zoom is a very useful range, particularly with the image stabilization
  • Small, light and quick to to startup
  • Strong autofocus system
  • Auto modes work well for beginners – there is no learning curve
  • Good, accurate colors
  • Cons:
  • Only shoots 720p video, so only suitable for basic use
  • No weather sealing and will not survive being dropped
  • No flip screen or touchscreen

Note: for the same camera but with increased zoom and the ability to shoot video in 1080p, take a look at the Canon PowerShot ELPH 190 and the Canon PowerShot ELPH 360.


8. DJI Pocket 2 [The Best Compact Vlogging Camera]

Tiny Vlogging Camera

Specifications:
  • Sensor: 1/1.7-inch, 64 Megapixel
  • Video Recording: 4K / 60 fps
  • Included Lens (35mm equivalent): 20mm, f/1.8
  • Stabilization? 3-axis gimbal
  • Screen: 1-inch fixed touchscreen
  • External Mic Input? Accepts DJI wireless mics
  • Weight: 4.1 oz (116 g)

The DJI Pocket 2 is one of the smallest and lightest cameras in this article, and fits naturally into your hands with well designed ergonomics and buttons, making it the best compact vlogging camera.

On paper, the photo and video specs look very promising, with 64 megapixel stills and 4K footage recorded at up to 60 fps, but quality is of course limited by the sensor size of 1/1.7″, so don’t go expecting the quality levels you would expect on a high-end DSLR or mirrorless camera. Nonetheless, the sensor size compares favorably with competitors’ cameras, like the GoPros, which have 1/2.3″ sensors, so the Pocket 2 should not be written off for this.

The front screen (which could also be a back screen as the lens can move around 180 degrees) is touch enabled, and makes the camera easy to control and to see what you are shooting. The four directional mics are a surprise on such a tiny vlogging camera, and they work very well for close up audio. For recording audio from a distance, then you can get a wireless mic from DJI that is compatible with the Pocket 2.

The lens is at a fixed focal length of 20mm (in 35mm equivalent), which is good for shooting groups of people and for selfie shooting, and the 3-axis gimbal stabilization is a particularly strong feature, making videos super-smooth and not causing the frame to be cropped as with electronic stabilization.

Overall, if you are looking for a pocket camera with excellent stabilization that can record high-quality 4K videos of people, then the DJI Pocket 2 is the camera for you.

  • Pros:
  • Records 4K, 60 fps footage, which is the highest in this article
  • 3-axis gimbal stabilization for super-smooth footage
  • Very small and light – easily fits in a pocket
  • Four microphones for directional sound recording
  • Extremely easy to use, even for beginners, with well designed buttons
  • Compatible with useful accessories, including a wireless mic
  • AI editing algorithm to automatically produce edited footage
  • Cons:
  • You must register the camera with the DJI app on your phone, or it will stop working
  • Relatively poor low light performance due to small sensor size
  • Short battery life
  • Fixed lens focal length at 20mm

9. DJI Osmo Action [The Best GoPro for Vlogging]

Best Waterproof Vlogging Camera

Specifications:
  • Sensor: 1/2.3-inch, 12 Megapixels
  • Video Recording: 4K / 60 fps; 1080p / 240 fps
  • Included Lens (35mm equivalent): 6.82 mm, f/2.8
  • Stabilization? Electronic
  • Screen: Front – 1.4-inches; Back – 2.25-inches
  • External Mic Input? No
  • Weight: 4.4 oz (126 g)

Despite not being made by GoPro, I would consider the DJI Osmo Action the best GoPro for vlogging, as it hits the same high notes, but at a much cheaper price. You should see the Osmo Action as a direct competitor to the GoPro HERO8, as both have dual screens and 4K recording capabilities.

Although an action camera like this is not suitable if you require a long zoom range, the Osmo is worth looking at for its very small size and weight, and the ability to use it in many different environments. It has a 1/2.3″ sensor that delivers photos at 12 megapixels, which is comparable to some of the other budget cameras in this article, but photo ability is not really what the Osmo is about – this camera is designed primarily for video.

You can record 4K video at up to 60 fps, with smooth, sharp footage that is stabilized by an electronic system that works very well, and you can even record 1080p video at up to 240 fps, allowing for some serious slow motion effects.

Being waterproof down to 36 feet, along with being very small and light, means that this mini vlogging camera is my pick for the best portable vlogging camera, and the best waterproof vlogging camera. If you intend to shoot video in tough environments or underwater, then the DJI Osmo Action is the camera for you.

  • Pros:
  • 4K video recording at 60 fps, and 1080p at 240 fps for super slow-mo videos
  • Lens has a 145-degree fixed wide angle, equivalent to about 6.82mm
  • Dual screen – one front and one back for easy selfie shooting
  • Waterproof down to 36 ft
  • Electronic image stabilization is fantastic (although it does crop the picture)
  • Five voice commands to control the device
  • Compatible with most GoPro accessories
  • A better product than the GoPro Hero 8, and at 2/3 of the price
  • Cons:
  • Must register with DJI or the camera gets locked
  • No viewfinder
  • No zoom

Note: if you want a cheaper action camera, then the Crosstour CT9700 has many of the same features, but is available for less than $100.

Read a Related Article:
Which are the best action cameras under $100?

10. YouTube Vlogging Camcorder [The Best Starter Camera for YouTube]

Best Camera for Vlogging Under $100

Specifications:
  • Sensor: 8 Megapixel
  • Video Recording: 1080p / 30 fps
  • Included Lens: 8.15mm, f/3.0
  • Stabilization? Electronic
  • Screen: 3-inch flippable non-touch screen
  • External Mic Input? Yes (and external mic included)
  • Weight: 23.2 oz (658 g)

If you want a basic video camera for vlogging, or a kids vlogging camera, then you won’t do much worse than to look for one of the generic models of camcorders which come in at under $100. After some research, I would personally recommend this one as the best starter camera for YouTube, rather than any of the other models, as it offers most of what you need in a small, cheap package.

You get 1080p video recording at 30 fps, which is perfectly respectable, along with an included external mic and a flip screen. These are the basics that you would want in the best camcorder for vlogging, although you do not get much else.

Although you lack any optical zoom and the ability to change focus, this basic vlogging camera is actually ideal for kids and those who are not sure whether YouTube is for them, and just want a cheap and simple to operate video camera, that has no major downsides.

  • Pros:
  • Flippable screen to see yourself when filming
  • Includes external microphone and remote control
  • Can record while charging
  • Electronic stabilization included
  • Can be used as a webcam
  • Easy to use, even for beginners
  • Cons:
  • Focus and aperture are fixed
  • No optical zoom
  • Shorter battery life

Read More Related Articles:
What is the best vlogging camera with flip screen?
The best camera for filmmaking
The best DSLR camera for beginners
The best action camera for under $100
The best cameras under $300
Choosing the best slow motion camera
Follow Tim Daniels:

Hi, I'm Tim Daniels, photographer and photo trainer, founder of Lapse of the Shutter and creator of the totally free Lightroom Develop System. I've travelled to (probably) 30 countries over the last few years, taking photos and licensing them around the world, and creating lots of free photography learning resources. Read More ...

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