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.
A ‘Flip’ camera is the brand name of a pocket size camcorder that was introduced by a company called Pure Digital Technologies in 2007. The flip video camera became popular not only as a tool for YouTube videos, but with everyday folks who wanted a tiny camcorder that was easy to throw into their backpacks or purses. In fact, the camcorder was so popular that the words Flip Cam are still used to refer to any of a variety of handheld video cameras – especially with those that have a vertical orientation. Flip a video is still occasionally used to refer to shooting video on a handheld cam. Unfortunately, the actual Flip Camera was discontinued in April 2011. More on that below.
In 2009 Cisco bought the Flip brand from Pure Digital for nearly $600 mil. Soon after, other models were released such as the Flip Video Mino and the Flip MinoHD. However, after just two years Cisco decided to discontinue the line because of competition from cellular telephones with built in cameras.
This seems short sighted on the part of Cisco. The Flip is/was one of the strongest camcorder releases ever launched and an extremely strong seller on Amazon.com. Nevertheless, as of this writing it is still possible to purchase new Flips as you can see by the numerous models available such as the MinoHD sold at Amazon.com.
But don’t buy a discontinued Flip just for its name (unless you think it might become a collector’s item – anything is possible). Mining for future Ebay riches aside, there are plenty of cameras that are simliar to the Flip, not to mention better. For example:
The Kodak Zi8 has been a strong seller. It is a 1080p HD camcorder (with higher resolution than the MinoHD which is only 720p) and has an external microphone jack on top of that.
The Sony Bloggie MHS-PM5 has been a strong seller and even comes in a 3D version. It is a well made camera with a nice touch screen display.
Toshiba makes the Camileo which shoots in 1080p. The BW10 model includes a waterproof case good up to six and a half feet. No chance it will make it for a scuba dive, but you can have fun shooting some summer splash videos at the pool or on the beach.
So what is a Flip Camera? To put it bluntly, a flipping huge opportunity lost for Cisco. Luckily there are plenty of other video cameras out there to fill the gap.
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).