Choosing the right camera for recording YouTube videos

To many people, YouTube is the go-to place when they want to watch original content, funny sketches, movie reviews, and instructional videos. Watching other people’s videos may inspire you to start making your own but if you are going to stand out then you will need to get at least two things right; original, interesting content, and the right camera.

There are more than 37 million YouTube channels so if you are going to make an impact you need to be making high-quality content. Here you will find out how to look for the right type of camera for producing your own YouTube videos plus a bit more information on how to get the most out of videography.

The popularity of YouTube

YouTube has gone a long way since its early days as a failed dating site and now has hundreds of hours of new video uploaded every single minute. There are movie trailers, competitive food eaters, fashion vloggers, in fact, almost everything that can be put on video is on YouTube.

It is not only an ideal channel for a potential vlogger to use to air their work but there is also the potential to make some money and grow your own brand. Ryan Kaji was the highest-earning YouTuber in 2020 with nearly $30 million taken in annually. Ryan reviews toys, so imagine what you could do if you put your mind to it and bought yourself the right equipment.

Looking for the right camera

Before you start looking for a new camera to launch your new career as a YouTuber you will need to ask yourself some questions:

  • What is your budget?
  • How serious a YouTuber are you?
  • What will you be shooting?

The budget will play a big part in what you buy. You could easily spend over $1000 on a camera but do you really need to? This leads to the second question, how serious are you? If you’re likely to get bored in a few weeks then spending a grand on a camera is pointless. If you are serious though then you need to consider what you will shoot.

What are you going to film?

If you check out some of the YouTubers of Ottawa here you can see a variety of filming styles and this will affect which camera you buy.

For instance, if you are going to be making videos on-the-go like some of the YouTubers who film in the streets or carry out stunts then you will need in-camera stabilization. This means you can film without any blurring or frame-to-frame jitter. It is perhaps better than lens-stabilization as in-camera means it works with all lenses.

Then again you may be filming monologues indoors and then you will not have to worry about that feature but you will want full HD. When considering picture quality it is worth noting that YouTube doesn’t support 4K yet so you might want to decide how important that is to you.

Buying a camera with Ultra HD might be great for other platforms and YouTube later but then again it might be an expense you don’t really need.

As for sound, it would be wise to look for a camera that supports external microphones. Contrast, saturation, and good color profiles are also considerations and you can see a few cameras that are popular among YouTube creators here including the Panasonic Gh5 for the serious vlogger.

What are the main considerations and features you should look at?

When you choose your camera it will be very much a personal choice; how it feels, if it fits your budget, and maybe even brand loyalty if you have a preference.

Before you jump in here is a list of things to consider:

  • How good is the battery life
  • Can it be charged through USB?
  • What connectivity does it have?
  • Does it have flexible color profiles?
  • How good is the autofocus?
  • Is it splashproof or weather sealed?

Filming on the go outside means you could be eating up battery life so this is an important area to consider as is how you recharge it. Do you have to go home or carry spare batteries or are you able to use USB charging? Poor autofocus will affect your filming outdoors and of course, you don't want water damaging your new gear so check if the camera has some splash protection.

Could you use a smartphone to make YouTube videos?

One way to get yourself started making YouTube videos is to use a smartphone. The chances are you already have one and you may even be reading this article on yours right now. It makes sense to utilize the technology you already have but there are some considerations.

If your phone is older the camera may not be particularly good, and you also need to consider the sound quality. There are some smartphones with great cameras like the Huawei P30 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra but if you don’t own one then you will be paying out cash that may have been better spent on a good camera.

Basically, if you are making simple vlogs from home and have a good smartphone with an external mic you should be able to make videos of suitable quality. However, if you want to make movies involving a lot of movement such as comedy sketches and stunts then you need a digital camera.

What about editing software?

Filming your masterpiece is only part of the equation. Once you have decided on what camera you want, whether that be a DSLR, compact, or smartphone, or whatever you will have to consider how you will edit your videos.

If you are using a smartphone to film then you have access to some very good apps including Kinemaster and FilmoraGo which is very user-friendly. If you have purchased a dedicated digital camera then you will want to edit your movies on a desktop or laptop which gives you a range of options.

For many, Adobe software is ideal for editing photographs and videos. Premiere Pro is the industry standard and has every feature you could want but if you want something a bit easier to access then there is Premiere Elements which is more suited to beginners. Alternatively, Filmora, Nero Video, and if you are looking for something free then VSDC maybe for you.

These platforms allow you to cut, paste and edit your videos along with adding transitions, titles, and other effects. If you get access to a green screen then you can use software and your new camera to make some pretty technical content.


When choosing your new camera consider what your YouTube channel will be for. Do you really need to spend $1000 if you are vlogging from your bedroom, or are you better off with a good compact? If you are setting up pranks in public can you use your existing smartphone, or do you need to pay out for something with more features and higher quality video capture?

Your budget will play a big part in what you buy but understanding what you want a camera for will mean you don’t make a purchase you regret a few weeks into making your new channel come to life.

Photo: Seth Doyle, Unsplash