Allow us to let you in on a little secret. There is no secret, fail-proof guide to being a successful YouTuber. There is, however, something all successful YouTubers undeniably have in common—a good camera.
So, whether you're an aspiring YouTuber, an upcoming one, or at the very pinnacle of YouTube success, you can be sure you'll need a great camera to shoot videos and vlogs with.
The only difference, of course, is that while some part of that group may have no problem doling out five, or even six, figures for their gear, some may not be comfortable doing that just yet.
Thankfully, there are host of cameras out there that are capable of delivering just the right amount of quality and professionalism needed to make a successful YouTube channel.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is where our list comes in. It is there to provide you with a carefully curated arrangement of not just the best cheap cameras for YouTube, but the best of the best in that category.
Below you'll find cameras of all ranges, fit for all levels of production and budget. You can also be sure that they all provide immense, even unbelievable, value for their price. And they can all be considered a steal by people who really know their stuff.
Well then, ladies and gentlemen, we present to you our list of best cheap vlogging cameras, and after that, a quick note on what to look for before buying to help make your decision easier and without regret.
TL;DR – Our Top 3 Cheap Cameras for YouTube
1. Sony ZV-1
The Sony ZV-1 sits right at the very top of our list, and not just because we have witnessed numerous experts refer to it outright as "the best compact camera for vlogging," but primarily because we also believe that to be quite true ourselves.
Why is the ZV-1 such a great camera, you ask? Well, we could start with its perfect balance of a bright powerful lens, impressive autofocus, and subtle design optimizations, all of which ensure you get a solid vlogging powerhouse right inside your pocket.
Speaking of subtle design optimizations, take a look at the side-flipping screen, for example. This tweak, simple as it is, makes a powerful statement: this camera has been optimized for vlogging.
And this is something you seriously need when making a decision towards getting the best vlogging camera. Sure, you can easily choose to go for the biggest, heaviest camera in the market, and no doubt you'll get yourself something with the video capability you're looking for. But you'll also get a few extra heavy features you don't even need.
Going for an optimized camera like the ZV-1 ensures you get the required features and specifications at just the right price.
Speaking of features and specifications, with the ZV-1, you have a 20 megapixel sensor, fast zoom lens, 24.0 frames-per-second continuous shooting, and 4K videos, all in a light, portable body.
2. Canon EOS M6 Mark II
The EOS M6 Mark II from Canon rocks a potent 32.5 megapixels and a solid 14 frames-per-second continuous shooting, all of which are truly commendable. What really makes it amazing for vlogging and shooting YouTube videos, however, is its uncropped 4k video that shoots up to 30 frames per second, and 1080p full HD, where you get 120 frames per second.
And along with all these, you also get a pretty portable device—all the more impressive when you consider just how much power is packed into that 390g frame of its.
Having a portable body, we should say, is sometimes a curse for video cameras. When some people think of cameras to shoot videos with, even YouTube videos, they think of huge cameras with countless parts. But of course this is not quite accurate at all, and cameras like the M6 Mark II are beginning to change people's minds.
Other impressive technical features and specifications of the M6 Mark II include a 3" tilting screen, a flash sync port, 14.0 frames-per-second continuous shooting, 1/16000s electron shutter speed, articulating screen, and bluetooth plus wireless connectivity options.
It is also worth noting that in terms of performance, the M6 II is impressive. It does great in low light thanks to its improved low light -5 EV, and its focus is quite smooth and simple, both for still images and videos.
Canon EOS M6 Mark II
3. Sony A6100
An improvement on the previous A6000, which was quite a popular entry-level mirrorless camera, the A6100 adds a mix of sophistication and stronger performance without necessarily losing all of its core simplicity.
It is lightweight, compact, offers real-time tracking autofocus and a 1:1 aspect ratio option, but most importantly, it is capable of 4K recording with full-pixel readout.
You also have the option of capturing in quick and slow motion, along with a tilt screen with flexible orientations—a feature which makes taking selfies for vlogging quite convenient.
Physically, the A6100 has a grip-friendly build, one of the best among the Sony Alpha line of cameras. It has a durable battery life and weighs 396g, which is good enough for average portability. For context, the A6600 weighs about 503g.
Moving on to performance, the A6100 lives up to expectations. Its autofocus is fast and accurate, and its low light functioning is very satisfactory.
Other features and specifications that might be of interest are its 3" tilting screen, 1440k dot electronic viewfinder, 120 frames-per-second high speed video, and its external microphone port for better audio.
For connectivity, the A6100 offers three options in wireless, NFC, and Bluetooth connectivity. You also get to enjoy real-time animal eye AF and a selfie-friendly LCD screen for vlogging.
Sony alpha 6100
4. GoPro Hero8 Black
GoPros are established vlogging devices capable of drastically changing the way your videos are shot. They are adept at giving you the best angles, stabilization, and shooting options that you don't get with other devices.
All these features are why it is quite impressive that the Hero8 Black can legitimately be said to be the best one yet.
Most people associate GoPros with your typical skating, parkour running daredevils. But the Hero8 Black transcends this stereotype. With a lot of improved features, a highly responsive interface, lots of shooting options, and a built-in mounting attachment, you get in this tiny device the perfect instrument for your YouTube vlogs and videos.
It also, obviously, shoots in 4K resolution, and has the advantage of a highly portable design to give it even further appeal. Add all these to its stabilized time-lapse videos, streamlined design, and a battery life that is stronger than its predecessors, you have yourself quite the option.
Another thing really worth highlighting when it comes to the Hero8 Black is its image stabilization. The Hero7 was alright in this sense, but the Hero8 Black is just so unbelievably good.
If you're going to be shooting with lots of vibrations and movements, then this feature will really come in handy for you.
Other notable features of the Hero8 Black include built-in flash, microphones, and a USB-C cable. The device comes with two GoPro rechargeable batteries.
GoPro Hero8 Black
5. Canon EOS M50
The Canon EOS M50 sits comfortably midway through our list as perhaps the most versatile and moderate device of all. It offers just everything you'd need for a great YouTube video, in just the right proportion.
The device sits well as an entry-level camera for people who aren't necessarily in need of numerous sophisticated functions. It has an APS-C sensor with a brilliant autofocus that functions just as great for videos as it does for taking photos.
It also has a slow motion functionality, available in 720p, with a regular 4K recording that is undeniably impressive for the money. Its video capability is so great, in fact, that we believe it genuinely qualifies as an entry-level filmmaking device.
On the physical side of things, the M50 features a 3-inch fully articulated screen, 390g light body, and a thickness of 59mm, just a little above the average thickness of similar cameras.
Other notable features of this device include a 2360k dot electronic viewfinder, 10.0 frames-per-second continuous shooting, digital video stabilization (which is a really handy feature when shooting outdoors), and a selfie-friendly LCD screen.
Its three connectivity options include wireless, Bluetooth, and NFC connectivity.
All in all, the EOS M50 is a small, light, and inexpensive camera that would no doubt be a delight to have for any YouTuber.
Canon EOS M50
6. Apple iPhone SE 2020
The very first— and only—smartphone on the list, the iPhone SE 2020 blows its smartphone competitors out of the water, and even manages to take on a few mirrorless cameras and emerge victorious. When it comes to shooting high-quality videos, it would be a huge mistake to underestimate the power of this portable device.
For one, it is an iPhone that shoots in 4K, and also has a good number of nifty features that are just a delight. An example of this is the QuickTake feature, where you can easily start recording while you take a photo.
Its autofocus is also as impressive as one you'd find in a DSLR, and there's a portrait lighting feature, depth control, smart HDR, and a powerful 13 bionic chip to tighten things up.
Its native camera resolution is 12 megapixels at the rear, and 7 megapixels for the front camera.
The editing on the device is also impressive, but of course, if you're not satisfied, there are loads of editing applications easily available for download.
Also, as with most iPhones, it would be a mistake to be fooled by the sleekness of the frame to think it can’t handle shock. This device is as rugged as they come. It is water and dust resistant and has quite an impressive battery life.
Other features and aspects of the 2020 special edition iPhone worth nothing are its slim lightweight design, augmented reality features, and HD display.
Apple iPhone SE 2020
7. Logitech C922
The Logitech C922 is another impressive entry on our list with an impressive reputation as a portable video camera, this time with a targeted speciality for video streaming.
Of course you get to do more than just this, but that is without a doubt the area where it excels the most.
So what else does the device offer you as a YouTuber apart from a really sleek and portable design?
Well, first of all, you get a full high-definition streaming capability that we talked about, with a picture quality that is as impressive and fluid as they come. The C922 comes alive outdoors, and boasts of really bright and vibrant pictures, perhaps thanks to its light correction feature—a novel features that lets the device fine-tune itself to lighting conditions.
This feature also works in maximizing low light potential, making it also a great device to have in low light. It also has a 78° field of view capable of accommodating up to two people easily.
Apart from the 1080p 30 frames-per-second streaming, you also have the option to stream at 720p with 60 frames per second, making for an even smoother video with very, very minimal lag.
Finally, you have two microphones on either side of the camera, elevating its audio capabilities to a really impressive level.
The C922 comes with a free tripod.
8. DJI Osmo Pocket
Gimbal stabilization with three axes, small and compact build, HDMI capability, and, most importantly, dedicated vlogging features—these are just some of what makes the DJI Osmo pocket camera one of the best vlogging cameras anybody can ask for.
Its closest competitor on our list has to be the GoPro Hero8 Black, and the DJI Osmo Pocket has proven itself time and time again to be a worthy substitute.
Without a doubt, one of the most striking features of the device is its size. The Osmo Pocket is known as the smallest stabilized handheld camera the company has ever designed. This is quite a remarkable feat, but at the same time, it has led many to underestimate the device's performance. Make no mistake, though—this tiny baby is capable of outputs that a lot of 700g cameras can't give you.
It shoots in 4K resolution at 30 frames per second, and has a flexible flip that makes shooting selfies ridiculously comfortable. It is also capable of producing highly detailed photos thanks to its 1/2.3-inch sensor and a three-axis gimbal stabilization.
And in case all of these aren't impressive enough, the Osmo Pocket also shoots great time-lapse videos, has a Story Mode and NightShot feature for low light, and is compatible with practically any android or iOS device out there.
All in all, with this small machine, you get to shoot a smooth, stable, highly-detailed video pretty much anywhere and anytime you feel like recording.
DJI Osmo Pocket
9. Canon G7X Mark III
The Canon G7X Mark III, a great camera for videos and a great camera overall, replaced the Mark II, which was also a great camera for videos and a great camera overall. That alone is enough to say about the credibility of the Mark III's place on our list of best cameras for YouTube.
But of course, there is more. Much more.
Apart from the reputation of its series, the G7X Mark II also has the capability to deliver high-quality images and videos, most impressively in less than optimal external conditions.
Thanks to its impressive low light autofocus, its optical image stabilization, and 30.0 frames-per-second continuous shooting, you're able to make the most of even the less desirable conditions and get some solid pictures and video shots out of it.
It goes without the saying that the device shoots in 4K and comes equipped with image stabilization and articulating screen, along with Bluetooth and wireless connectivity.
Physically, the G7X Mark III weighs 304g, astounding for a compact camera with a large sensor. And speaking of sensors, the Mark III has a 20 megapixel BMI-CMOS sensor with a 24mm wide angle lens.
All of these, along with built-in ND filter, selfie-friendly LCD, ability to shoot in RAW, and time-lapse recording, make the Canon G7X Mark III very deserving of a place on our list.
Canon G7X Mark III
10. Canon SL3 (EOS 250D)
Rounding off our list of the best cameras for YouTube is the Canon SL3, also known as the EOS 250D, with its 24 megapixel APS-C sensor and 449g light frame.
The EOS 250D SL3 is particularly noteworthy for its high performance and ruggedness. It weighs an impressive 449g and doesn't fail to deliver when it comes to quality and dependability (its battery life is quite impressive at 1070 shots).
Of course, as with all the entries on our list, you also get to shoot 4K with the SL3, although when it comes to shooting regular videos for YouTube, it sometimes isn't worth it to go all out on 4K videos (which takes considerably more time, resources, and size when it comes to post processing).
Still, the SL3 gives great quality either way, along with built-in wireless and Bluetooth connectivity, fully-articulated screen, optical built-in viewfinder, and flash sync port.
Physically, it sports a compact, highly traditional exterior, and offers a tight grip, as is customary among Canon devices of this class.
Other noteworthy features of the camera that earned it a place on the list are its max ISO of 25600, expandable to 51200, selfie-compatible LCD screen, high video bit rate of 120 megabytes per seconds, and an external microphone port for even better audio.
What to Consider Before Buying
All cameras above should serve you well in making a decision as to which particular camera to go with. In case you're still unsure, though, here are some factors to consider before making your final decision.
Depending on what niche you find yourself in, you may need to get a whole lot of “on-the-move” shooting done. This is where image stabilization comes into play.
This doesn't necessarily involve running into the jungle, though. It could be something as mild as shooting at the back of a car or taking a stroll while vlogging.
Having a device with great stabilization plays a huge part in ensuring you get stable, non-blurry shots without using a tripod.
Having great video quality is great. But, really, as everyone knows, your video isn't worth a lot of attention if the audio quality is subpar. Sure, some devices, and most of those on our list, offer great built-in microphones, but having a device with a separate microphone input gives you more flexibility and assurance.
Again, built-in microphones, especially on DSLR cameras, have improved a lot in quality over the years, but you also wouldn't be amiss to insist on a product with external microphone output if you so please.
Articulating screens are capable of flipping around in order to ensure that you are able to frame and shoot while the camera points at you. This is especially convenient for vloggers who happen to want to get themselves involved in a video at some point even as the MPC remains on the subject for the most part.
Several of the cameras on our list above are all equipped with articulating screens, so you don't have to worry about that. They are also touch-enabled, which comes in handy in making selections and focusing a lot easier.
A camera with a great battery life is always a good thing. Sure, battery life is not the most important feature of a camera. Nobody searches for a camera and overlooks the autofocus and other capabilities, while focusing solely on battery life.
Yet having this in mind may also lead you to completely ignore the battery aspect, which usually turns out to be a mistake—especially for a YouTuber or a vlogger.
You're probably going to be shooting on the go, in places without outlets. You may even be shooting all day, and would rather not be bothered with the chore of plugging in your device to an outlet every other minute.
This is why battery life is such an important aspect to take into consideration before making a purchase.
Another feature worth noting is the focal length, which goes a long way in determining what you're able to cover in your videos.
For regular framing, you would do better to go with a wide-angle lens, usually equivalent to about 12 to 18 mm. This will help you capture a much larger range of subjects in a wider scene. It will also help limit shakes and improve stabilization.
Finally, you should keep an eye out for the connectivity options available in your device. Most modern devices offer built-in wireless connections and augment this with Bluetooth and/or NFC connectivity.
This helps you connect to a smartphone, tablet, or your laptop conveniently.
There you have it—our list of the best cheap vlogging cameras capable of elevating your YouTube channel to the next level. As the list has proven, you don't need super expensive gear to get the best outcomes. Even with devices under a thousand dollars, you can get pretty much all the features you need for a great video, including 4K capabilities, stabilization, and a long battery life.
To recap, at the very top of our list is the Sony ZV-1, which takes the crown thanks to a powerful lens, equally powerful autofocus, and most importantly the fact that it is a super definitive all-around camera with a strong emphasis on videos and vlogging.
For even more dedicated vlogging cameras, we have included the GoPro Hero8 Black on the list, along with the DJI Osmo pocket. They both feature really a portable, streamlined design with highly impressive performance and out-of-this-world stabilization.
For a strictly streaming device, you have the Logitech C922 with full high-definition streaming capability and fluid and detailed frames, and finally, for multipurpose, all-around cameras on the list, you have the Canon SL3 (EOS 250D), G7X Mark III, and Canon EOS M50, all capable of performing this function with the added trustworthiness of the Canon brand.
Oh, and of course, lest we forget, for those who are hell-bent on simplicity and would prefer a smartphone, there is the iPhone special edition on the list to fulfill your video needs to the fullest extent.