The best camera for vlogging may be the one that you already own. Before you run out and purchase a new piece of equipment, look in your own pocket. Do you own an iPhone 4? This phone has two cameras, one that is custom made for video blogging and conferencing, built right in. Ditto with the new iPad (ignore the controversy about the new iPad camera quality – it is just fine for posting your vlog online). Or maybe you have a still camera that has a video feature? A laptop with a camera? (an especially good option for a sit-down vlog).
The important thing with vlogging, is to begin shooting. The best vlogs are created through practice. Most of the best vloggers didn’t just wake up one day and upchuck greatness onto YouTube. So if you do already have a vlog camera, dive right in.
Just shoot. The very act of shooting itself will help you define the features that are most important to you in a camera.
Still want a brand new camera? Okay, I hear you. Once you are ready to purchase a camera, here are some tips to keep in mind.
Buy a camera that allows you to view yourself while you shoot. Popular cameras such as the Kodak zi8, Playtouch, Playfull and most of the Sony Bloggie line – while being good cameras otherwise – do not allow you to see yourself while shooting. Depending on the style of vlog you are planning this can be a huge issue. But there are notable exceptions. The best cameras for vlogging are below:
RCA EZ-1000 & RCA Small Wonder EZ205. These budget models were recently discontinued and the upgraded models no longer have flip-out screens! Not good for video blogging. When I find a worthwhile, low-budget replacement this section will be updated.
- Toshiba Camileo S30. Better made than the (discontinued) RCA EZ-1000 above, this camera is reportedly not easy to use for the left-handed and doesn’t have the best image quality but nor does it have the worst. A decent camera all-around, and nice and thin. Perhaps a tad over priced because of the Toshiba brand name. Lefties beware.
- Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5. This is an interesting, well made and compact camera. Rather than offering a flip screen, the lens itself swivels. The bloggie is easy to use and delivers top notch HD video. Picture Motion Browser software is PC only. Otherwise works on the Mac.
- Sony Bloggie MHS-CM5. The newest addition to the Bloggie line is now available for purchase. Sony is listening to their audience! Most everyone who vlogs frequently NEEDS a flip screen. With this camera Sony is finally delivering. Windows and Mac friendly.
- Sanyo Xacti VPC-HD2. The Xacti line has long been the model of choice for vloggers. They have recently come down in price – they can now be found for around $300. This is probably due to the fact that they are slowly being rebranded/discontinued by Panasonic (who bought Sanyo). The Xacti is included because it offers one interesting option that the other models don’t. This is one of the best digital video cameras from an audio standpoint because you can plug-in an external mic. This is huge if you want the highest quality sound possible. It depends on where you are at in your blog video production process. If you are just beginning you may not want to spend the extra cash just yet. Many people find that their external mic works just fine. The included Motion Director software is Windows only. Luckily the Xacti works well with iMovie.
- Panasonic HX-WA2 Waterproof Full HD Camcorder. Want to video blog in the pool or underwater? Well you can with this model (don’t go any deeper than 3 metres though). Panasonic has been quietly discontinuing/rebranding the Xacti since their purchase of Sanyo in 2009. The HX-WA2 is similar to the venerable Xacti but at a slightly lower price point (although the frequent discounts on the Xactis bring them closer together). Unfortunately this camera does not have external microphone ports. Shame on you for ditching this hard-to-find feature Panasonic.
- Samsung HMX-Q20 HD. This fun new 1080p video camera features a good view screen, excellent low light capabilities, optical image stabilizer and around a $200 price tag. The ultra cool element is its flippable design that lets you operate the camera with either hand. If you are left handed you will definitely want to check it out. But the Q20 isn’t only for lefties. A flippable ‘corder is a totally cool and helpful design from a video blogging standpoint. If you vlog handheld you know that your arm gets tired. With this camcorder you can easily switch to the other hand and take a break.
New camcorders are released nearly every month. If you don’t find one that fits your needs right now, buy the cheapest one that seems the closest and wait half a year. Something new and better is sure to come along soon. Also note that if you are specifically seeking the best camera for YouTube videos, all of the above will work. YouTube is the most flexible online video service to be found – it can handle anything.