Vlogging (short for video blogging) is one of the fastest growing means of self expression. It’s a great way to tell your story and to connect with other people going through the same things you are, but if you want more than a handful of family members and real life friends to watch it you’re going to have to do more than set up your ancient digital camera in a corner and start ranting about your life.
A great vlog starts with a good camera. Luckily advances in video technology have made a camera that shoots in full HD affordable to just about anyone. But don’t run out and buy the first mid-range camera you see. Researching your vlogging camera in advance will save you a lot of heartache in the long run.
What makes a good vlogging camera?
Realistically the most important thing for a vlogging camera is that it shoots in proper HD video (1080P), but there are several other things to consider:
- Audio. Most vloggers record their audio and video at the same time and being able to do so with the same device will save you a lot of money and time. The in built audio should be high quality, with bonus points for a microphone plugin.
- Weight. Plan to be vlogging on the road? You’ll want as light a camera as possible, especially if you’re going to be carrying around a bunch of equipment.
- Wide angle lens. If you’re going to be shooting in small spaces you want a wide angle lens. Look for a camera which gives you a wide shooting range to maximize your creative options when it comes time to actually start vlogging.
- Optical image stabilization. Various companies call this technology all kinds of outrageously long-winded names but it all does the same thing: compensate for shaking hands, with varying degrees of success. Don’t think you have shaky hands? You might just discover otherwise when you start trying to actively film things.
- Attachments. Sometimes you can purchase cameras in a bundle with items such as a waterproof carrying case, lens cleaner and tripod. This saves money and increases the number of different things you can do with your camera right off the bat.
Depending on your goals you might also want to pay attention to different film settings and whether or not the camera allows for any manual controls, but most vloggers will be fine only paying attention to items on the list before.
Here are some of the most popular cameras for vloggers:
- Canon PowerShot S110
Canon is one of the most highly respected camera companies in the world thanks to their amazing SLRs and DSLRs. While they’ve only come into the point and shoot market fairly recently they are already dominating it with an impressive range of cameras, the most powerful of which is the aptly names PowerShot S110.
The PowerShotS110 is designed for professional photographers who want something more compact and features 12 megapixel photographs as well as full 1080P HD video. You’ll also find a range of manual controls typically reserved for professional cameras such as aperture settings and shutter speed settings. You can even pre-program your own photography settings. Of course, there are also a range of built in settings such as portraits and scenes.
For all of these features you’d expect to spend a lot on this camera yet the Canon PowerShot S110 accomplishes all of these things for only $350. If you want to shoot like a pro you simply can’t afford to overlook this camera.
- GoPro HERO4
This one requires a little bit more learning on your part, especially if you’re used to traditional camera controls, but it is considered by many to be the best in the GoPro lineup. Its ability to attach to pretty much anything and the tendency to be sold in bundles with several attachments at a time make it extremely attractive for vloggers. It’s also by far the smallest camera on this list, making it ideal for anyone who plans to vlog their travel experiences.
You won’t find a bunch of fancy manual controls on the HERO4 but it will record video at a 1080P resolution and take 12 megapixel photographs. Sold new at $400, the HERO4 is one of the most expensive cameras in the GoPro lineup but if you want your videos to be professional quality it is definitely worth the extra money.
- Canon Vixia HF R500 Digital Camcorder
The only dedicated camcorder on the list, the Canon Vixia HF R500 has earned its place here by shooting awesome 1080P videos. It features a 57x advanced zoom, allowing you to film pretty much anything. The Super Range Optical Image Stabilizer is some of the best image stabilization software out there, especially for a camcorder in this price range.
Creative vloggers will enjoy the variety of image filters they can use when recording new videos as well as the Video Snapshot feature. The Vixia HF R500 also comes with a high capacity battery pack, allowing you to shoot for extended periods of time.
You can usually find the Vixia HF R500 on sale for $299.
- Olympus VG-160 14MP Digital Camera with 5x Optical Zoom
The Olympus VG-160 14MP Digital Camera shoots 720P HD video and comes with several art filters for you to experiment with as you vlog. There are also 30 different scene modes ideal for shooting in different styles, all of which can be adjusted to personal preference. And while it won’t be shooting any great wildlife videos the 5x optical zoom is plenty for most vloggers.
If you’re primarily looking for an excellent camera that will allow you to experiment with vlogging, the Olympus VG-160 14MP Digital Camera is one of the best options out there. You can purchase it new for $299.
- Sony Cyber-Shot WX80
Ideal for the vlogger on a budget, this nifty little $199 camera shoots in full 1080P HD video and can actually dual record stills and movies, a great perk for creative vloggers. It also takes incredible 16 megapixel photographs.
You won’t get any extra manual controls or art filters with this camera but if you want something you can afford right now, the Sony Cyber-Shot WX80 is a great choice.
A great camera is the most important piece of equipment any vlogger owns. If you’re still not sure which of these cameras is for you take the time to read several vlogging camera reviews, ideally reviews by other vloggers.