What to look for when buying a vlogging camera
Before getting into this topic, you need to understand that you need a vlogging camera that suits what you want to do. It is perfectly acceptable to just use to your phone. These days smart phones have good cameras and their mic’s are decent too. I personally think that this is the best way to start vlogging. That way you can see if you enjoy it or not before you spend money on equipment that will never be used.
Resolution is not as important as one thinks but it should still be decent. Even though 4K video is becoming popular vlogging at 1080p (Full HD) is still more than good enough, especially if you are getting started. You might even get by with a camera that does 720p video but I would not recommend doing that.
Low light performance
Low light performance generally refers to ISO. ISO is a setting to make a camera more sensitive to light, in other words, the higher the ISO is the more light your camera will capture. One down side with high ISO is an increase in noise and grain. Noise and grain will reduce image quality, and depending on high you push the ISO it can dramatically reduce the image quality.
This is another setting that might depend on the type of vlog that you want to make. If you are going to have full control over your lighting then this is not too much of an issue since you will have enough light to be able to use a lower ISO. If you are going to be walking around then you will generally have little to no control over your lighting. Depending on the settings of you camera, you might find that it will increase the ISO when you go into an area with low light. So it is just something that you need to watch out for, and if you know that you are going to be doing vlogs where you are moving to very different lighting situations then you would be better off with something that can handle higher ISO.
Lens selection will depend on camera and on brand. If you go for a compact camera it will only be able to use the lens that comes with the camera. If you go with something like a mirrorless or DSLR camera then you will be able to choose from many lenses, again the amount of lenses depends on camera brand and type of camera.
DSLR and mirrorless cameras will allow you to use interchangeable lenses. This means that you can change the lens on your camera. This also allows you to buy lenses that suits your vlogging style and gives you more control by giving you constant aperture, depending on lens, or being able to give you an ultra wide focal length.
For more info about lenses, I have done another post with more in depth information about lenses and what to look for.
When looking for a good vlogging camera make sure that is has autofocus for video. This feature is a deal breaker. If it does not have autofocus look else where.
Trying to vlog and manually focus is a complete and utter nightmare. It can also waste a lot of time. If you have filmed most of your day and then when you get in to edit all the clips that you have shot only to find that they are out of focus and unusable is really not something that you want to experience.
Strangely enough, sound quality on videos is more important than video quality. For e.g. people would much prefer watching a video at 720p with good sound quality than watching a 1080p video with poor sound quality. Sound quality can make or break a video, which can hurt your vlogging channel. Unfortunately sound equipment can be expensive but there are also cheap alternatives that can give good sound quality while being inexpensive.
Just like cameras and lenses, there are different types of microphones. Depending on the style of vlog you want to make, you might need a different type of mic.
Flip out screen
A vlogging camera needs a flip out screen otherwise it will be near impossible to vlog. Flip out screens will help you view the camera screen while you are recording you vlog. This allows you to get your focussing and exposure correct. It will also allow you to monitor your audio levels, if the camera has that ability.
When vlogging you will need to put you camera on something when you are holding it, or when you are just sitting and talking to the camera. A tripod or a handle will help depending on the type of vlog you are making.
If you are going to be making vlogs while walking around or going about your day to day tasks then you should probably get a handle. A handle will make easier to hold the camera further away. Having this kind of control can help you create different effects or looks to your video. Being able to hold your camera out further with a wide angle lens can help you to get more of the environment in the shot. At the same time, being able to hold a camera further away will allow you to use a longer focal length that could have less distortion or could help give you a tighter and more close up shot.
If you are going to be shooting a lot of your vlogs at home, or somewhere where you will be sitting down a lot, then a tripod can be a huge help. You could use a table or something along those lines but a tripod will give you far more control. You can raise or lower a tripod by adjusting the height of the legs, or you can tilt the camera up and down or left and right. This provides a lot of flexibility while filming.
This is another point that depends on the type of vlog you are or will be making. If you vlog from a desk or in your lounge while seated then going for a bigger heavier camera is not a problem. However, if you plan on walking around a lot make sure that you think about the size and weight of the camera, lens and all the other accessories.
Some bigger DSLR cameras like the Canon 7D mark ii can weigh up to 2lb(910g) and that is without a lens. A lens could weigh up to or more than a than the camera depending on the lens.
So getting a lighter setup can improve your vlogging experience. Carrying heavy gear around can potentially stop one from doing something because of how uncomfortable it might be, or it might just tire you out faster.
This is probably the most important point just because it puts a limit on to what you can buy. When buying a vlogging camera don’t always go for the cheapest setup that you can find. If you are wanting to do that then I would suggest that you use you smartphone instead.
Smartphones have decent cameras as well as decent mic’s and getting started like this is probably the easiest and cheapest way to start vlogging.
When looking for the perfect vlogging camera, look at cameras out of your price bracket and see what video features that they have, do some research about those features and then try and find a more affordable camera that has as many of those features as possible.
If you are going to go with a mirrorless or DLSR camera, remember that do not always come with a lens. When you are looking at these cameras make sure that they don’t say it is body only.
Desired vlogging camera specs:
- Lightweight, depending on your vlogging style
- Video autofocus
- Good ISO performance
- Flip out screen
Examples of good vlogging cameras:
Sony A7R II(Body only link):
Check out my Ultimate guide to buying a vlogging camera