7 Best Vlogging Cameras and Equipment of 2021 | Wirecutter's Review

2021-12-16 08:01:26 By : Mr. Wisen Wu

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After considering all cameras, we came to the conclusion that Sony’s ZV-1 is the best compact camera for video blogging, and Sony’s α6600 is the best choice for experienced video bloggers who want to enhance it.

A video blog or video blog is a way for you to share your life and interests with the world, and you may make money when you do this. From cooking to traveling, from makeup to hair care, from pugs to parakeets, whatever you like is possible, and others like it too. The most popular video blogging platform is YouTube, with more than 2 billion users. With enough viewers, you can monetize videos and share advertising profits.

You don't have to enter the world of vlogs with the idea of ​​making money, but the potential exists. You can treat your channel like any other social media site and share your adventures and interests with your friends. However, in the end, with a little luck, work, and some fascinating content, you can pass the magical 1,000 subscriber threshold and start making money from your hobbies.

But first, you need a video blog. To record a video blog, you need at least one camera. We have compiled a list of equipment and some tips to help you get started, starting with the camera you may already have, and then gradually choosing the more expensive options as your vlog and experience grow.

Me, Geoff Morrison, is the editor-in-chief of Wirecutter, and I have been a professional writer and photographer for 20 years. I have written numerous articles about cameras for many publications. For most of the past ten years, I have been a digital nomad, writing travel articles and photography for media such as CNET, Forbes, and The New York Times.

Although I have dealt with videos before, in the past year, I started to vlog on my YouTube channel. Although I know a lot about cameras, I am just a beginner video blogger, so I contacted the creators behind several YouTube channels, including Fact Fiend and Sailing Uma, to understand their thoughts, which we will discuss in the next section.

Previous updates to this guide were written by Phil Ryan, Wirecutter’s camera reporting editor, who has covered cameras and other photo-related products for CNET and Volkswagen Photography for more than 15 years. His initial research included examining the gear that many top and budding YouTube users (including Casey Neistat, Raymond Nguyen, Ben Budiman, and Ben Brown) used for their gear to understand which devices are suitable for those who want to try vlogging for the first time.

Vlogging can be fun, if this is the only thing you want, all you need is an idea and a video. However, if you want to make money, this is undoubtedly a job. Many YouTube users feel exhausted when they are constantly busy creating new videos that must be executed, otherwise they will lose income. In other words, you need to treat it as a job before you can get paid like a job.

What you don't need is a lot of expensive equipment, at least you don't need to start. Except for your family and friends, your first video may not be seen by many people. It takes time to simplify your process, get used to being in front of the camera, figure out if this is what you really want to do, etc. Spending $3,000 up front to understand that you don’t want to be a YouTube user is not a good investment. Start with the equipment you have, learn the job, and then upgrade your equipment. If your old videos embarrass you because of their quality (and they almost certainly will), you can delete them at any time.

But don't believe me. One of my favorite channels is Sailing Uma, where two recent college graduates, Kika and Dan, bought an aging sailboat and repaired it, learning how to operate it along the way. For the past six years, as they sailed around the world, they have been feeding themselves through YouTube videos (and Patreon). At the time of writing, their channel has 334,000 subscribers and nearly 60 million views. I contacted them and asked them what they would say to people who are just starting out. Their answer is: "The most important step is to go out and do your best to use what you have at the time. With experience, you will understand what works and what does not work, and which equipment suits your own style and workflow. "

Their videos are now beautifully made, and there are only two of them. In terms of equipment: "In a way, equipment is really important," Dan told me via email. "But like my high school store teacher once told me,'A good carpenter never blames his tools.' Over the years, we have developed our own style, experimented, and slowly improved our equipment. To help our creative process smoother."

I highly recommend their "Advanced Video Selfie Master Class" video, which shows how they make this beautiful travel/daily life video.

I also contacted Karl Smallwood, another of my favorite YouTube anchors. At the time of writing, his channel Fact Fiend has 740,000 subscribers and more than 230 million views. He was able to feed himself and a small group of staff from the channel’s income through leisurely but informative videos about random facts. His answer was: "We never paid special attention to visual effects, but focused on audio when upgrading and purchasing equipment, because more people listen to video as background noise more than you think. According to our experience, people It’s more likely to forgive janky for visual effects than bad audio."

A good microphone is a crucial purchase, and we will discuss the microphones used with mobile phones and cameras below.

Finally, the main factor that makes a video blog successful is how much energy and time you are willing to put in, no matter what you shoot with.

As the saying goes, the best camera is the one you carry with you. The same is true for video blogs. The best way to get started is to use what you have, even if it is "just" a smartphone. Even after using your phone for a few years, you can record videos that look great on YouTube.

The benefit of using your phone or any camera you already have is that you can get used to the process of making a vlog before spending a lot of money to buy equipment for activities that you might not end up enjoying. It is also very easy and quite cheap to upgrade the quality of existing cameras with some basic accessories, which we will discuss later.

Upgrade your camera when you are ready to make better-looking videos and help you get photos and clips that cannot be achieved with a mobile phone camera. In some cases, it is a logical choice for us to choose the best sports camera. As for other cameras, there are some features that are important for video blogs that we are not particularly concerned about in the camera guide:

Generally, when evaluating cameras for this guide, we also consider portability. The Canon and Nikon digital SLR cameras we like seem to be the obvious choice, and if you already own one of them, given their excellent photo image quality, they are a good choice. However, they are heavy and usually lack image stabilization, so if you plan to take your vlog around with you, they are not a good choice. For example, if you just want to stay in one place and make cooking videos or makeup tutorials, they might be suitable. However, in many cases, the video from the DSLR is not as good as the video chosen by our vlog, so if you plan to rely on the DSLR, please make sure it records the video as we suggest below.

If you want better images than a smartphone and are looking for a digital SLR camera, we think Nikon’s D3500 is the best choice.

In our four years of researching and testing cameras for vlogs, we checked nearly 50 mirrorless cameras from brands such as Canon, Fuji, Nikon, Olympus, and Panasonic, which are smaller than DSLRs . None of them offered the combination of features and prices we chose. Many cameras in the mirrorless category are much more expensive than our choice, while others are larger and heavier. Crucially, most of them either do not record 4K video or provide image stabilization, and in many cases, neither of these functions are available. However, many mirrorless models are excellent cameras in their own right, so if you already own one, then it is great for video blogging and may not cost money to upgrade.

If you plan to stream to Twitch or similar services instead of uploading individual vlog entries to YouTube, then our choice will not be for you. Most of them are not designed to handle a constant stream of video transmitted directly to a server somewhere, and they are hard-coded to limit video clips to 30 minutes or less. If you are looking for something that can help you make your own Let's Play channel, a webcam will provide you with a better service.

If you have questions about cameras, we will resolve them in their own section.

Zhiyun Smooth 4 has a great application and a large number of useful buttons, which greatly smooths flexible videos.

May be out of stock

*At the time of publication, the price was $100.

Assuming you already have a mobile phone you like (if not, please check our selection of the best smartphones), some accessories can improve the quality of any mobile phone video. The first is the universal joint. These electric handles can offset the movement of your arms and hands to stabilize the phone so you can record smooth videos without distracting bouncing. The latest version of the technology was once only available in the form of an ultra-expensive Hollywood Steadicam bracket, and modern mobile phone gimbals provide excellent stability for about $100. If you are walking around, or even just walking, this can easily be the best upgrade for your video.

Zhiyun Smooth 4 is the best mobile phone pan/tilt because it has excellent applications, a large number of useful buttons, and the ability to help you record ultra-stable videos. The videos it creates are much smoother than the operations that can be performed inside the phone or the operations you can perform in the application that processes the footage after shooting.

GorillaPod can be used as a small tripod and selfie stick, and it can grip the surface for various placement options.

For many videos, you may not want to hold your phone/camera at all. It’s always convenient to put your phone on a table, counter, or wherever you record a video, pun intended. Doing so provides you with many additional creative options, not to mention the freedom to use your hands. (For those of us who like to speak with our hands, this is very important.) For small things that can be used as handles and can hold fence rails, benches, railings and many other objects to maintain stability, we like Joby GorillaPod 1K kit. It is lightweight and height-adjustable, and can hold things with the legs of the ball joint. It can also be used as a short selfie stick.

To connect your phone to a tripod, you need a square jellyfish metal spring tripod stand, which has a rotating stand that can comfortably hold a cell phone of any size, and can be used as a stand alone.

If you want a pan-tilt to smooth the video you make with your smartphone, we think Zhiyun Smooth 4 is the best choice.

Joby's GorillaPod 1K kit and square jellyfish metal spring tripod stand are the best options for stabilizing your smartphone when taking photos and videos.

Most importantly, bad audio will alienate your potential audience faster than visual effects. No less than the outstanding person George Lucas himself once said, "Sound is half the experience of watching a movie." Even if you plan to record only indoors, a good microphone will make your voice more prominent and professional, and It is possible to reduce the noise and echo of the room.

You have many microphone options, and which one is best for you depends largely on how and where you will do the video blog. The sound quality of almost any brand-name microphone is better than the built-in mobile phone. Here are some of the options we like to use on mobile phones.

Blue Yeti provides clear and complete sound and can be easily connected to any computer.

*At the time of publication, the price was $130.

If you insist on video blogging at your desk, check out Blue Yeti, our favorite USB microphone. Yeti has been our top choice since 2013, and it ranks among the best every time we retest an available microphone. In our tests, Yeti produced clear and rich recordings and retained the natural warmth of our testers’ voices. This is a microphone that both amateurs and professionals will use when doing voice or music work, and can be used for many years. But please note that it is a full-size wired desktop microphone, so if you plan to record videos on the go, this model will not work properly.

VideoMic Me is installed on your phone, allowing you to get better sound without fussing.

*At the time of publication, the price was $80.

If you want to connect something simple to your phone, check out Røde's VideoMic Me. It will soon be available in three versions: Me-L for Apple phones, Me-C for Android phones with USB-C (to be launched in late May 2021), and for any headphone jack Version of the phone. It has a cardioid (heart-shaped) pickup pattern, which can better separate your voice from background noise. There is a headphone jack on the back, so you can monitor or listen to the recording without removing the microphone. The included furry "dead cat" wind reducer helps keep your voice clear when the breeze blows.

Each version also optionally includes a kit that includes a handle, an LED light and a furry air reducer. To understand the sound of VideoMic Me and the performance of the entire kit, check out my review of the Vlogger kit on YouTube.

The ZV-1 is compact and light, but can record stable 4K video, which represents a great improvement for beginners of video blogging.

*At the time of publication, the price was US$750.

When you are satisfied with the video blog and ready to improve the video quality, we recommend that you use Sony ZV-1. It is designed as a video blog camera, capable of recording 4K video at 30 frames per second, 1080p video up to 120 fps, and even super slow motion at 1,000 fps, but the resolution is much lower (912×308 , Saved as 1920×1080 HD video). It can even record stereo audio with a clever top-mounted directional microphone. The flip-up screen allows you to easily compose your selfies, and the built-in optical image stabilization function can make your movements smoother.

There are two main reasons why ZV-1 can record better videos than mobile phones. The first is the 1.0-inch Exmor RS CMOS sensor, which is much larger than any image sensor in a mobile phone. This sensor allows the camera to capture more light, which means it will produce less noise and overall better images in low light. The second reason is that the ZV-1 paired the sensor with an f/1.8-2.8 Zeiss lens. Despite its compact size, it still allows a lot of light to fall on the sensor. It also provides a smooth 2.7x zoom, providing you with a wide angle and reasonable telephoto. It's not as wide as a typical mobile phone camera, but at arm length, you should be able to fit your face and shoulders into the frame, especially when you use any type of selfie stick or handle.

Most importantly — quite rare among affordable cameras that can record 4K video — the ZV-1 has a flip screen, so you can easily see how your lens looks from almost any angle.

Many of the software features built into the camera are also very suitable for video blogs. First, with the push of a button, you can enable a soft bokeh blur that separates you or your subject from the background. In addition, fast autofocus will quickly lock you on a separate subject, and then return to you. If you walk around in the frame, it will also recognize your face and stay focused on you.

Although we still recommend using a separate microphone, the ZV-1’s built-in microphone works well, and even comes with a fluffy windshield “tribble” to keep wind noise to a minimum. The 3.5 mm microphone input and the Sony MI hot shoe on the top allow you to add an external microphone.

The body itself is also well designed and the grip position is good, so you can hold the camera safely in many ways. In addition, it is small enough to fit easily in a jacket pocket or purse.

During my testing of the ZV-1, one of my main concerns was that it would open in my bag or pocket because there was no lock of any kind on the lens or power button. After opening, the camera will extend or try to extend the lens. I'm sure that if there is enough resistance, it will stop trying-I don't want to risk breaking it to find out what these limitations are-but regardless of the additional wear and tear on the mechanism. It is strange that there is no lock of any kind. For safety, I removed the battery, which is annoying, but it does give you peace of mind during transportation.

Any new camera will bring a learning curve, especially for people who are not used to "real" cameras. The menus and buttons on the ZV-1 are not intuitive. You will be able to learn them, but consider doing so before your first big shot. Although you can touch the screen to focus, you cannot adjust any settings there, which is an inexplicable decision for Sony; you have to use the buttons and scroll wheel. Or, you can use Sony's mobile app (iOS, Android) to adjust the settings.

In bright light, the screen may be difficult to see, depending on your sunglasses. Since the ZV-1 does not have a headphone jack, the camera cannot monitor your audio level.

When recording 4K video, the camera will apply a slight crop, if you use Active Steadyshot stabilization mode, the crop will be slightly more. The effect is very significant, unless you have long arms like a friend of mine said, you may not be able to hold the camera body and get a reasonable selfie. However, as long as you use a handle or tripod like the Joby GorillaPod 1K kit or Sony’s own Bluetooth controller and tripod, it should be fine in most cases.

Finally, there is the issue of price. At the time of writing this guide, the price of ZV-1 was US$750. In terms of the features and overall performance it provides, this is a very good price-we found in our research that many other cameras have lower prices, but higher prices. However, if you are not sure whether a video blog is right for you, $750 is still a lot. If you already own a camera that supports 1080p, this is definitely the job you should start before you buy the ZV-1.

Hero9 Black provides high-resolution, highly stable video, front screen and waterproof body, which is very suitable for outdoor and active video blogs.

May be out of stock

*At the time of publication, the price was US$400.

GoPro Hero9 Black is our favorite sports camera for two main reasons: image quality and stability. If your video blog contains any kind of vibrant outdoor activities, then these two factors make it an excellent video blog camera. The maximum resolution of Hero9 is 5.7K, which provides far more details than other sports cameras. This resolution allows you to shrink the lens to zoom in (the camera itself lacks optical zoom). Its ultra-smooth stability means that you may not need a gimbal for stable shooting, even when the camera shakes during recording. It is water-resistant to 33 feet (10 meters). Thanks to a set of built-in microphones, the audio performance is also good, but in most cases, you should consider using an external microphone.

The image quality is not what you can get with a camera with a larger sensor (such as Sony ZV-1 or especially Sony α6600). However, Hero9 Black creates a vibrant, detailed image in bright light and works well in low light. There is no action camera that can handle real low light situations, so if you are usually in a dark cave, an abandoned building with insufficient light, etc., please consider using a larger lens and a larger camera, if carrying is not a serious problem .

The two most useful features of Hero9 make it an excellent vlog camera, with its front-facing screen and multiple field of view options. The color front screen is small, but allows you to easily set up selfies. As for the "lens" option, you can choose wide, linear and narrow. There is no zoom on the lens itself-the software can handle the difference-but these options allow you to frame yourself and your adventure in more ways than most sports cameras.

GoPro's application Quik (iOS, Android) provides a variety of editing options, allowing you to trim and create videos without third-party editing software. Of course, if you have a more sophisticated video editor, the effect will be better.

An important GoPro accessory worth investing in for any video blogger is the Media Mod. The kit includes a plastic frame that surrounds the camera with a built-in microphone and two mounts for wireless microphones or small LED lights. On the back of the frame is a 3.5 mm audio input, a Micro HDMI port and a USB-C port (because the frame covers the camera’s USB-C port). Since the bottom of the frame is open, you can still use GoPro's foldable stand. In my YouTube comment, you can hear the microphone and see how everything fits together.

Although Hero9 Black is an excellent sports camera, it is still a sports camera. It does not provide any type of optical zoom, and the digital lens mode just crops the image, so you basically need to use a wide-angle lens for every shot.

This APS-C mirrorless camera provides excellent 4K video image quality, but it is larger and more expensive than our other options.

*At the time of publication, the price was $1,200.

When you are ready to upgrade your production value again, Sony α6600 provides the best combination of image quality, stability and price. This actually only applies to video bloggers who have reduced the process, perhaps already have a monetized channel, and definitely know that better video quality will take them to the next level. If this is you, the α6600 can shoot 4K video and slow motion; it also has a reversible screen, and you can use it with any number of E-mount lenses from Sony and third-party manufacturers. The APS-C sensor is larger than the sensor on the ZV-1, and much larger than the sensor in mobile phones and sports cameras. This means it should produce less noise in low light conditions, provide a higher dynamic range, and create a more professional overall image.

Thanks to the mirrorless design of the α6600, it is smaller and lighter than a SLR camera, and it is easier to walk away from the face for a long time while chatting video blog meetings. Unlike many digital SLR cameras, the α6600 is designed for video: its maximum resolution is 4K, which is 3840×2160, and 30 frames per second. It also supports 1080p60, and slow motion up to 120 fps.

In addition, the battery life of the α6600 is much longer than that of the ZV-1. Sony estimates that the recording time for each battery is more than two hours, of course, you can replace another battery at any time (you should do that).

We tested the α6600 with Sony’s own 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS lens, which has optical image stabilization. The wide zoom range, from wide-angle 18mm to narrow 135mm (for reference, most smartphone lenses are about 28mm), seems to be very suitable for various vlog moments, and the zoom itself is smooth enough to be used in shooting. In our guide to E-mount lenses, we also like Sony E 18–200mm f/3.5–6.3 OSS LE. It also has optical image stabilization and a slightly longer zoom. Note that if you plan to hold the camera, you will need a wider-angle lens than you expected. If you don’t think zoom is needed, we have previously recommended the 20mm f/2.8 pancake lens, which offers the additional benefits of being smaller, lighter, and cheaper than zooming.

Although the image quality of this camera is significantly better in terms of detail, color and contrast, it comes at a price. Under normal circumstances, the cost of the α6600 is more than twice that of the ZV-1, and there is no lens. For video bloggers just starting out, the price tag represents a major expense that may not be justified. The quality of YouTube videos does not exceed twice the quality. As mentioned above, α6600 is only suitable for experienced video bloggers or people who want to have a great camera and happen to shoot great videos for their video blogs.

The rear screen will not rotate outward like the screen on the ZV-1. Instead, it uses a complicated mechanism to cantilever and then flip up. It is made of metal, but it feels delicate. The design is not as convenient as the ZV-1 screen, and it can be rotated to a more convenient angle.

Otherwise the only problem is size. ZV-1, Hero9 Black and your mobile phone are very light and easy to carry. The α6600 is small and light, but it is much larger than those alternatives-smaller than a DSLR, but much larger than a point-and-shoot camera. If you plan to carry a camera for a lot of selfies while walking and chatting, your arms will be exercised.

Some key accessories will improve the quality of your video and sound, thereby increasing the appearance and sound "professional" of your video blog.

A sturdy, adjustable tripod is an invaluable tool in many situations. Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263AB100 provides a technique that is very suitable for many video bloggers: for example, the ability to extend horizontally to better position the camera on a table or counter. Its legs can also be rotated wider than most tripods, allowing you to place the camera lower from the ground. You can also use it for video blogging via your phone (although this is a bit overkill), as long as you add things like a square jellyfish metal spring tripod mount.

If you plan to stay in one place for video blogging, such as talking to a camera at your desk, Blue Yeti is an excellent USB microphone and one of our longest-running options.

For audio on the go, Røde VideoMic Go is an affordable directional microphone that does not take up much space in the bag. When Phil Ryan tested it in the previous version of this guide, he found it to be the ideal microphone for video blogs. Other critics have said the same thing. Jaron Schneider wrote in his comments on the Fstoppers website that VideoMic Go “produces almost the same sound quality as the original Videomic” when shooting within 2 feet of the subject, which is common in video blogs. Eric Reagan said in his Photo Bay review: "If you want better audio than the camera microphone provides, few options are as simple and affordable as Rode VideoMic GO."

The only disadvantage of VideoMic Go is that it connects to the camera, so you must also connect to it. To allow more freedom of movement, Røde's Wireless Go provides a receiver connected to your camera and a transmitter that doubles as a microphone. You can also connect a lavalier microphone. Røde Wireless Go II adds a second transmitter, if you are part of a pair of video blogs, or if you interview people frequently. It can also be recorded internally.

Finally, editing: To truly produce engaging and professional-looking videos, you need to learn how to use video editing software. This allows you to add titles, insert graphics, combine multiple clips into longer videos, cut boring parts, and more. This is crucial. You can find a variety of free options, including iMovie that comes with Apple devices. The complete list of available editing applications is beyond the scope of this article, but it is worth the time to find the one that works for you. This may not be the best choice for everyone, but I decided to teach myself to edit on Adobe Premiere Pro. In the words of South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, it’s like “using a bulldozer "Building a sand castle" on my video. I think if I want to learn, it makes sense to learn what professionals use.

If you want or need to take clear photos while using a slow shutter speed, we think the Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263AB100 tripod is the best choice.

After eight years of testing more than 30 microphones, Blue Yeti is still our favorite USB microphone, suitable for users who want a simple and significant upgrade to the built-in microphone.

If you haven't shot many videos before, you may not know that compact, mirrorless or DSLR cameras are usually limited to approximately 30 minutes of video clip recording time. (This is because cameras have to pay higher import tariffs in some regions, especially the European Union.) If you want to record for a longer period of time, you must choose a camcorder (or a Panasonic camera, because the company only has to pay the obligation). This may make some potential video bloggers think that the camera is a better choice to meet their needs, but this is not the case.

One reason is that for video, 30 minutes is a long time. Most likely you want to install a video blog within 30 minutes each time. Very few video blog entries last longer, and even more rarely than 30 minutes in one uninterrupted shot. Video blog posts are more commonly composed of clips of five minutes or less each, strung together to make the final video.

Another reason is that with a camcorder, you will lose the excellent still image capturing effect that we recommend here as the best video recording camera. Even if you rarely put still images in a video, you can use the camera to capture still images for use outside of vlogs.

In addition, with the exception of the sensors in smartphones, the sensors in most reasonably priced cameras are not as big as the sensors we picked. The larger sensors we selected for the best vlogging cameras are more suitable for capturing great video and still images in a wider range of situations.

Casey Neistat, How to Video Blog, YouTube, June 16, 2015

Raymond Nguyen, my camera equipment: what I use to shoot Vlogs, YouTube, September 14, 2015

Ben Budiman, Ultralight Travel Vlogging Device, YouTube, October 26, 2016

Ben Brown, new Vlog camera, YouTube, January 13, 2016

Jaron Schneider, Fstoppers review RODE VideoMic GO in-line power microphones, Fstoppers, February 6, 2014

Eric Reagan, Rode VideoMic GO review, Photography Bay, January 24, 2014

Phil Ryan is Wirecutter's camera report editor. Before that, he had covered cameras and other photo-related projects for CNET and Popular Photography for more than 13 years. As the latter’s technical editor and senior technical editor, he was responsible for maintaining and improving the camera’s laboratory tests. As the main camera tester, he used many cameras released at the time.

If you want a pan-tilt to smooth the video you make with your smartphone, we think Zhiyun Smooth 4 is the best choice.

By Theano Nikitas and Erin Lodi

If you want or need to take clear photos while using a slow shutter speed, we think the Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263AB100 tripod is the best choice.

Via Erin Lodi and Signe Brewster

Joby's GorillaPod 1K kit and square jellyfish metal spring tripod stand are the best options for stabilizing your smartphone when taking photos and videos.

Jeffrey Morrison and Ben Keogh

If you want to take videos and photos of your favorite action sports, we think GoPro Hero9 Black is the best choice for most people.

You can also send us a note.

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