Love it or loathe it, vlogging is here to stay. Easy access to decent quality cameras and the internet means thousands of people are hitting record and sharing their life experiences and perspectives.
Vlogging, or video blogging, is the act of taking an audience through a story – often just a normal day – in a video. It’s been dubbed the new reality TV, with vlogging’s biggest stars racking up giant followings on YouTube and raking in impressive wages through ad revenue.
Big names include Roman Atwood, who charts his life as a father with a particular brand of positivity and pranks; Zoella and boyfriend Alfie, who shot to fame as the UK’s most popular internet couple; and Casey Neistat, the New York videographer with a cult following who switched from filmmaking to vlogging and found a huge audience online.
If you fancy yourself as the next YouTube star, or simply want to share your experiences with family and friends, there are many considerations to make. You can be a vlogger with an iPhone – the kit isn’t everything – but if you want the professional look of the big names, you will need a proper camera, and choosing the perfect one is the first step.
It’s worth thinking about where you’ll be filming – at home or out and about? You might need image stabilisation, wind reduction or waterproofing if you’re taking on the great outdoors in your vlogs. Would you prefer a flip-up screen to check the shot? Not all cameras give you the option to see the screen when in selfie mode. Other features to consider are built-in wifi, 4K recording, battery life and weight.
We’ve tested a range of options to suit multiple budgets, so here’s our verdict on the best cameras to kick-start your vlogging career.
1. Canon G7X Mk II: £549, Jessops
Compact, lightweight, fantastic build quality, crisp video and a reasonable price for this level of equipment – Canon’s second iteration of its popular G7X aced our test. It comes with all the features you might need, including a flip-up screen to see what you’re filming, built-in wifi and wind noise reduction. Most importantly though, it’s a very simple camera to use for someone with limited photography experience. The G7X Mk II gets a big thumbs-up from us, but bear in mind that it lacks removable lenses, 4K video or a waterproof body. Read on to see what else is on offer.
2. GoPro Hero 5 Black: £349, John Lewis
GoPro is a self-described “experience-sharing company” so we should expect good vlogging performance from its most advanced camera to date. The Hero 5 is the smallest and lightest unit we tested, and boasts 4K video, electronic image stabilisation, voice control and waterproofing without the need for a case. The video quality is spectacular for a genuinely pocket-sized camera, and the image stabilisation eradicates most of the jerkiness from walking and recording simultaneously. The touchscreen interface can be a tad slow, and the feature which switches between microphones when recording can lead to the audio volume changing mid-clip. But overall it’s a brilliant all-in-one package, and the least conspicuous when out vlogging in public.
3. Sony RX100 Mk IV: £749, John Lewis
The RX100 sits at the top end of the price range for smaller, point-and-shoot style cameras and is designed to challenge much bulkier DSLRs (bigger cameras that use mirrors and have the option of interchangeable lenses). Like many cameras of this style it has a flip-up display which makes seeing
what you’re filming easy – but it isn’t a touchscreen, which would have been nice at this price. It functions perfectly well without, but navigating the menus can take a bit longer. Video quality is excellent, certainly a marked improvement on a smartphone or the GoPro, and the autofocus will snap your face into focus quickly and without any button pressing. It’s packed with features, too – wifi, 4K video, slow motion and ambient noise cancelling which does a good job of stripping out wind and traffic noise (although the audio itself could be fuller). The biggest question mark over the RX100 is its price, which we feel should be slightly lower.
4. Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX15: £599, Jessops
You would be forgiven for struggling to tell the difference between the LX15 and Sony RX100 Mk IV – it looks very similar with most of the same features, the addition of a touchscreen and a significantly lower price. This is a great recipe, and it holds up very well against the Sony. The autofocus isn’t quite as speedy and it would benefit from noise cancelling, but the video and audio quality of this camera is actually slightly superior to the RX100 in real-world conditions. It performs particularly well indoors, keeping the focus sharp and producing surprisingly deep and clear audio. Given the choice, we’d pick this camera over the Sony RX100 MkIV and spend the difference on a new vlogging hairdo.
5. Nikon D3400: £369, Currys PC World
If you’re happy to make the leap into bulkier DSLR-style cameras, this would make a good choice. The D3400 was a big surprise in our group test as it performed much better than expected. The video quality is superb – crisp, detailed and smooth, with rich audio thanks to lens-facing speakers which cut out ambient sounds naturally when talking to camera. The 18-55mm lens we tested it with tended to cut out too much of the frame (a wider lens would fix this) and its front heaviness caused it to tip forwards onto the lens when on a flat surface. The biggest problem is the lack of a flip-out screen, so there’s some guesswork when vlogging. Unfortunately there’s no easy way around the screen problem, but we didn’t come across any major framing issues when filming with it. If you can deal with this, the Nikon D3400 is a quality vlogging camera at a great price.
6. Canon EOS 80D: £1,029 John Lewis
The Canon 80D is the unrivalled big daddy of vlogging – a professional grade DSLR camera which happens to shoot superb quality video too. It’s by far the biggest, heaviest and most expensive camera on this list but is the top choice for some of the world’s most popular vloggers, including Casey Neistat (despite highlighting reliability issues on an early-release version). The results from the 80D are as amazing as expected, and it has by far the greatest range of options to suit all video shoots, from manual focus and exposure to a 3.5mm jack to allow for an external microphone. However, it will be overkill for most. This is an incredibly heavy piece of kit which makes holding it for longer than a few seconds like a gym session, and with it held aloft as you vlog it’s difficult to blend in. Truthfully then, this camera is better suited to bedroom vloggers (make-up tutorial anyone?) than adventurers.
The Verdict: Vlogging cameras
Because vlogging is such a wide-ranging field, which camera is best for you will come down to how you use it. For travelling light, extreme sports and splash-heavy activity, the GoPro is the undisputed king. To capture supremely crisp, professional-looking video at home, go for the Canon EOS 80D (if you can afford it) and pair it up with a sweet lighting rig. But if you want a supreme all-rounder for making films with minimal fuss, get the Canon G7X MkII – it’s a do-everything camera you’re unlikely to be disappointed by.
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