Best camera for vlogging

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 up through 6? An Android? Most of these phone have two cameras positioned in two directions. The selfie cam is perfect for video blogging especially when combined with a selfie stick. Ditto with the new iPad. Otherwise, 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 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:

  • Panasonic HC-V770 Full HD w. WiFi. This is a sweet camera, well designed and wifi enabled for great connectivity. The camera features a 5 axis image optical stabilization which is heads above the electronic stabilization on other cameras. The image is great with nice noise reduction even in low light. A great flip screen rounds it out. Recommended!
  • Samsung HMX F90. Better made than the (discontinued) RCA EZ-1000 above, this SD card camera features one-touch upload, performs well in low-light. It has a 2.7″ flip screen and uses electronic image stabilization. They are solidly built and can take a beating (within reason of course).
  • Bell+Howell T100HD-BL Take 1. Bell+Howell made their name in the motion picture industry back in 1907 and continues to produce a variety of consumer and pro electronics. They drop the ball a little bit on the T100 but for the price (less than $30 as of this writing) this is a good blogging crash cam for days when you want to leave the iPhone or high end camera at home but still want to get some good video blogging and selfie shots.
  • Panasonic HX-DC2 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.
  • RCA EZ-1000 & RCA Small Wonder EZ205. These budget models were recently discontinued and the upgraded models no longer have flip-out screens!

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.

The 3d Camcorder – is it time?

If you have the urge to escape the flat-lands and keep your video blog or journal in 3D, there is likely a 3d camcorder that will meet your needs. With each passing month new models appear and it becomes easier…and cheaper to try out 3D. From big name brands such as Fujifilm, Panasonic and Sony to newcomers like the Taiwanese company, Aiptek, every camcorder manufacturer seems to be joining the 3D club.

Panasonic led the pack in summer 2010 with their HDC-SDT750. Critics were quick to point out that the 3D mode was finicky and the front lens design is a bit unbalanced (see image below). Many of the controls are manual and the focal length is shallow. If you don’t get things just right, the picture is fuzzy and the 3d effect falls…well, flat.

This Spring Sony is releasing a new user friendly 3d video camera, the HDR-TD10 that records two simultaneous 1080p video streams. These are subsequently combined to create the 3D effect. The HDR-TD10 will shoot in a 2D mode as well, and sell for the relatively reasonable price of $1499. If this still falls outside your budget, Sony is also releasing a 3D version of their Bloggie camera that will sell for around $250.

All of the above assumes that you have a 3D TV to watch your 3D footage on. Sales of 3D televisions have been slower than expected. The push to release 3D camcorders is seen by some industry insiders as being a ploy to give people a compelling reason to make a 3d flatscreen purchase. But this strategy is primarily geared toward users who will primarily be making and showing home video.

Does it make sense to keep a video blog in 3D?

Are you the type of person who likes to be FIRST at everything? Do you want the chance to carve your own little niche out on YouTube before everyone else gets there? Well then 3D may be just your ticket. YouTube launched their new 3D channel where users can upload 3D content.

Guess what – you don’t even need a 3d camcorder!

If you have the technical know how, you can use two camcorders to record the necessary images and upload the dual streams to YouTube. I’ll be recording my own 3D blog in the coming days and will be posting a tutorial as to who to do this shortly. Meanwhile, monitor manufacturers are coming out with reasonably priced 3D monitors such as the Asus VG236H.

If you are like me, when you first heard about 3D you pegged it as another fad. However the more I’ve learned about it the more I see this to be as the inevitable next step toward video and an exciting leap forward for the potential of video blogging and video journaling. Video blogging is connecting the world like never before and the depth and realism that 3D video cameras takes that further. Let’s see how far we can go.

Kodak Zi8 Digital Camcorder Review

Is the Z18 a good camera for video blogging? How about for video journaling?

The Kodak Zi8

The Kodak Zi8 is a pocket-sized camera that shoots full 1080p video. Tech speak aside, 1080p is the highest resolution that the majority of HD TVs support (outside of the high-tech wonderland of Japan).

I’ve been using the Zi8 for three months now. Here is what I learned (divided into two categories): Functional and Technical. If you keep a video journal or casual video blog, feel free to skim over the Technical section.


  • The Kodak Zi8 is pocket-sized, light and easy to carry.
  • The screen is kind of difficult to see in bright sunlight (there is a lot of glare off of the plastic cover).
  • The controls for shooting are straight forward.
  • The controls for reviewing are not very intuitive. They are fine, however, once you learn their quirks.
  • There is no flip out screen. Unless you get all MacGyver (here’s the Wiki if you’re too young to remember) with a pocket mirror, it’s not possible to view your own image when you are video journaling or blogging with the Zi8. This takes getting used to. Now that I’m more familiar with the camcorder I have a better sense as to where to point it so that my face is in frame. To begin with there were a lot of shots of my t-shirt!
  • The angle of the lens isn’t very wide. You will need to hold your arm out quite far or sit a further distance from the Zi8 if you want your whole head and shoulders in the shot.
  • The camera has an easy to use macro (extreme close-up) function which is fun to use!


  • The HD image and vibrant colors in bright daylight are stunning for such a small camera (and it has 720p slow motion!)
  • In low light situations, the image becomes a bit grainy and difficult to see. Oddly enough my pocket digi still cam’s video function is MUCH more sensitive in low-light conditions.
  • The Zi8 is unique in that you can plug in an external mic (for example a wireless lav). If you want a more ‘intimate’ sound or you are doing an interview this is helpful. This worked well for me with my Sennheiser wireless lav mics. (Note that having a volume output on the external mic is key. The Zi8 does not have an input level function.)
  • Unlike the Flip Cam which has a fixed internal memory, the Kodak Zi8 uses SD cards. Cool! Infinite expansion.

When I bought the Zi8 the iPhone 4 wasn’t available. Since I’m due for a new phone, I plan on buying one this month. If you plan on purchasing an iPhone 4 (or new Android), my recommendation would be to hold off on buying the Zi8. The iPhone offers features that are useful for video blogging and journaling that are lacking in the Zi8. On the other hand, the iPhone 4 shoots 720p, not 1080p so if the extra bump in quality is important you may still want to grab one.

As for me, I am considering selling my Zi8. I have a limited number of hands and pockets. Mobile phones are fast becoming the pocket knives of the digital world.

Below is my video review where you can check out the camera for yourself (and especially see the screen).

Video Blogging: No Age Limits

The last time I went back to Canada to visit my parents I taught my mom how to video blog using the camcorder built into her laptop. She had read ‘Naked Lens’ and being the supportive parent she is, wanted to try out the exercises. I appreciated her support, but I half wondered if she wasn’t humoring me just a little bit. My mom and technology generally don’t mix (no offense mom).

Well guess what? I was completely wrong. My mom loves video blogging!

She has been keeping a video journal nearly every day and I am so proud of her. She is a born storyteller and I can tell that video really taps into her need to communicate. She has never consistently kept a written diary as far as I know. I haven’t seen one of her video blogs yet, but she tells me that she has been conveying stories from her life, stories about my grandfather and interesting things that happen during her day. Because I live in NYC and she lives up in Winnipeg we don’t see each other all that often – one or two times per year on average. Her video diaries connect us in an entirely new way. No matter what continues to happen or not happen with ‘Naked Lens’ *this* makes it all worthwhile to me.:)

So if you have a mother, uncle, or grandparent who is even slightly open to the concept – buy them a cheap camcorder and show them how to video blog! Who knows – they might love it! None of us will be here forever and it’s so valuable to have the opportunity to know and understand where we came from and learn from the perspectives of those we love. Check out the ‘Leave a Legacy’ section in ‘Naked Lens‘ for more on this.

Happy video blogging!

Video introduction to the book

Below is my video intro to Naked Lens. I had fun setting up the green screen and it wasn’t difficult (I’ll post instructions at some point in the future in case anyone is interested). For now I’ve decided I’m not going to be using green screen that much.

I generally enjoy videos where I can get some sense of the person’s placement in space and time. With this green screen technique I miss that aspect – even though I know what was behind me. (then again it was kind of a mess. green screen=instant tidy apartment, that’s one good thing!):)

Cool new dual lens camera

I just learned about a new “twin video” camcorder by Ion Audio. What this is is a dual lens camera that allows you to video your own reaction at the same time that you video someone (or something else). Very cool.

The camcorder apparently has two lenses – one which is presumably always pointed at the user (though the press release says that they are “controlled independently” so maybe it’s possible to point it elsewhere).

With a video camera like this, no matter what you shoot, your perspective and reaction will become part of the total picture. When you’re alone with your camcorder, this is unnecessary. But when you are out and about it can be challenging to cover more than one perspective – even with a small camera.

In the past, I’ve extended my arm out to include myself in the shot which always looks kind of weird, or I’ve put the camera on a tripod or stable surface – or if others are around and don’t mind, I give the camera to them. It would be nice not to have to choose though.

In terms of video blogging or video journaling this presents some interesting possibilities. Imagine holding a video “conversation” with someone where the camera sits in the middle and you each speak to one another while simultaneously recording each other’s perspective. It seems like it would also be great for creating vacation videos and other spontaneity filled situations because you will be able to capture your first reaction to whatever you record. This will be great for impromptu interviews as well.

But how much is it? So far I haven’t found a price, but will update that when I do.

You can read more about the camera here.

You can see video from the camera here.

If anyone else has any ideas as to how they would use a video camera like this, I would love to hear them.

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