Social media has provided us endless ways to get our messages to the masses. At the same time, the cost of video equipment continues to drop even as the number of camera features and level of quality rises. It’s no wonder that video blogging—or vlogging—has become so popular over the last few years. But navigating the world of cameras can be daunting. Can you get away with your phone? What about the camera on your computer? Do you need a fancy DSLR or professional video camera? The right tool depends on your personal needs and the style of your show, but there are certain features to look for that makes a camera good for vlogging.
First, you’ll want a sharp LCD screen that rotates—you can’t shoot yourself if you can’t see yourself. High-quality auto-focus is important so you don’t worry about drifting out of focus while delivering your lines. Finally, the camera should shoot at least 1080p—full HD. Many cameras shoot in 4K, which is nice, but the truth is you’ll likely upload you final video in 1080. There’s nothing wrong with future-proofing your equipment against the inevitable rise of 4K, and with 4K footage you can do fun things like re-frame your shot later, but the large files created by the format give rise to potential work-flow issues. You also get a lot less shooting time on your SD cards, and that could cause problems during production—or at least cost you more in storage media.
Don’t neglect audio. Most cameras have lack-luster built-in microphones, so an 1/8-inch audio input is a great feature. This lets you take advantage of the many external microphones available. Remember, a video isn’t any good if people can’t understand what you’re saying,
Finally, consider getting a camera that shoots sharp still photos as well as video. You might want pictures to use as b-roll while you’re out exploring a new city, or maybe you just want to capture some memories to post on social media. Regardless, a camera that can do double-duty will save you money in the long run, and keep you from lugging around extra equipment.
With a good camera in hand, you’ll be ready to explore your world and deliver it to your audience.
The GH5 isn’t for anyone on a tight budget, but it’s a feature-rich camera that has rightfully earned a reputation as a high-end work-horse for enthusiasts and professionals alike. The GH5 features a robust micro 4/3 sensor that can shoot pro-quality, 10-bit 4:2:2 internal 4K video. The camera has built-in five-axis sensor stabilization that reduces shaking and shimmying when you’re recording out in the field. The large, 3.2-inch LCD can be swiveled and tilted to almost any position, and it also provides easy touchscreen navigation for the camera’s menu settings. The camera is available with or without a kit lens, and it supports a wide range of micro 4/3 lenses from many different companies. It features an audio input for a microphone, and HDMI outut for use with an external monitor. This is more than just a vlogging camera, this is a piece of gear to use when shooting your next documentary or indie short.
The Sony RS100 is a tiny, 10.6-ounce point-and-shoot camera that fits in a pocket. Nonetheless, it delivers lush 4K footage from it’s Exmor RS BSI CMOS sensor at 23.97, 25, and 29.97 frames per second. The camera features a built-in Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T f/2.8-4.5 lens that can zoom from 24mm to 200mm. The three-inch touchscreen doesn’t have a wide range of motion, but it flips to face forward for easy, one-person vlogging. Advanced auto-focus keeps its eye on the shot. While the camera includes a convenient 1/8-inch jack for an external microphone, it doesn’t have any mounting points or shoes, so you’ll need to get creative when attaching a mic.
Panasonic pops up on this list for a second time with their DMC-G7, an entry-level camera that nonetheless delivers the features most vloggers need. The camera has a micro 4/3 sensor and shoots 4K footage at either 24 or 29.97 frames per second, or full HD at up to 59.94 fps. It features a built-in microphone for ambient sound, but also includes an external jack to accept external mics. The camera is available with a 14-42mm kit lens, but the micro 4/3 mount accepts an almost limitless selection of glass, at all price-points, from Panasonic and third-party manufacturers.
The DJI Osmo Pocket is something a little different: It’s a tiny 4K camera mounted on a pocket-size, motorized gimbal that automatically keeps the camera stabilized. What’s so special about that? When you’re walking around and talking to your audience, it won’t look like you’re in the middle of an earthquake. The Osmo Pocket has a small LCD screen that’s no bigger than a postage stamp—it’s enough to keep yourself framed in the shot, but you can also attach your iOS or Android phone to the unit for use as a monitor. When you’re done shooting, you can transfer the footage to your phone for immediate posting to any of your social media accounts so your audience never misses a moment.