What is the best camera for vlogging (video logging)?
We Explain it all Below...
We Chose the GoPro Hero4 Our Favorite. Here's Why...
We tested the best in each class and then analyzed the findings. It does not always have to be the priciest of cameras to be able to shoot the best of videos. Often it is the product that gives the best synergy of pricing, features and convenience that wins the day. The GoPro Hero4 does just that. Let’s find out more about it.
But first a brief about vlogging itself...
What is vlogging and what are vlogging cameras?
You don’t have to be an astronaut marooned on the red planet to make a vlog. You are probably making it now and using the old point & shoot camera to record your babble from time to time. Vlogging or Video Blogging is the act of recording small clips, where you discuss about anything under the sky and then upload it to the cloud for everyone to watch and comment on. It is the new form of blogging that involves little to no typing at all. You speak what you have to say and instead of toiling on the keyboard you make videos. It is a lot easier and certainly more convenient for both parties.
Cameras for vlogging
The question is what you need to get started? More importantly what vlogging camera should you buy? We will look at a number of parameter, but let’s start with our pick of the best four vlogging cameras that we think there are based on all the parameters, starting with the GoPro Hero4 which we think is the pick of the lot.
The GoPro Hero 4 Black is the best vlogging camera. Why did we pick it?
We looked and tested some of the best and most popular vlogging cameras out there. We tested them for their video quality, ease of use, manual controls and other features. For a camera to be a good choice for vloggers it does not have to be the latest or greatest. You need wide angle of view, reasonably wide aperture and good resolution to start off. Wide angle is definitely important. Wide angle ensures that you are able to capture a lot of the scene. Why? Simply looking at your face, up close, may not be an attractive proposition for your viewers. Spicing up the scene with props, especially if you are a product reviewer makes all the more sense. If you have a decent studio or want to showcase your business workplace a wider lens will allow you to do all that.
Interchangeable lenses are not always necessary, but then if you want to record different perspectives in your clips, as we have found out, the ability to change lenses would be nice to have. Let’s say that you are at a place that’s not quite the background you’d loved for your vlog. Instead of using a normal 24mm lens you can use a 50mm lens or even an 85mm lens and captured a slightly more cropped frame with the background blurred out for additional effect. Interchangeable lens cameras allows you to do just that.
Then we stacked them up and finally brought into the equation their respective retail prices. When all these factors were considered the GoPro Hero4 Black emerged as the pick of the lot.
More about the GoPro Hero 4 Black
When we speak of action cameras, or for that matter vlogging cameras, one name comes up almost instantaneously; and that is GoPro. GoPro is to vlogging as Lionel Messi is to Barcelona. They are both the best in what they do. The thing is GoPro has revolutionized the way people use their cameras. It’s primarily used as an action camera, something that you would likely be taking with you at all times and anywhere.
The GoPro is also a fantastic vlogging camera. Why? Because it has everything that you need to work as one. It shoots 4K native videos at 30, 25 and 24 frames per second. Of course you can choose to record at a much reduced resolution of 2.7K, and yet still shoot at ultra-wide perspective with a series of extra frame rate choices, but then it kind of defeats the whole purpose of buying a 4K camera. The quality of the recorded is excellent.
A major advantage of the GoPro Hero 4 Black is its small size and portability. You often don’t need a tripod to hold it into position. The GoPro Hero 4 Black can be attached to a bicycle, worn on a safety helmet and even mounted on a DJI Phantom which makes it extremely versatile and capable of being used in all feasible angles and situations. And yes, with the specially designed underwater housing you can even take your GoPro Hero 4 Black underwater to capture breathtaking underwater footages.
So what to look for in a vlogging camera? Resolution
One of the main considerations of buying a vlogging camera is the recording resolution. These days with superfast 4G internet connection and high resolution display on hand-held devices shooting at high resolution and posting them is no longer a no-no. As a matter of you are encouraged to upload the highest resolution you can. YouTube is one example. It provides automated scaled down resolutions based on what you upload, and stream them depending on the users’ preferences as well as the speed of the internet connection. Besides with higher resolution you are able to capture more details. These days with net-casting devices like Chromecast etc. your videos could very well end up being seen on HD TVs.
A higher resolution certainly makes sense. At higher resolution the image quality becomes crisper, and depending on the lens that you use, your production value goes up. The GoPro Hero4 offers native 4K resolution. Perfect for your vlogging requirements. There are a bunch of other cameras too that offer great quality video in full-HD.
Great built-in sound recording, but also the option to plug-in external mic for sound recording
You would ideally be shooting inside a room; likely, with windows and doors shut and curtains drawn. In other words you would try to minimize external noise so that you can record clear audio along with the video. But in all probability after a while you would want to step up and record with an external mic. Because the sound recorded using an external mic is of far better quality. That’s when the need to plug one in comes in.
You would want a camera that can accept an external mic. Especially, the ones with noise cancelling features. The better ones can also cancel the awful howling sound that wind makes. This is useful when recording in outdoor situations. The GoPro Hero4 is compatible with a host of external mic. Adding, any of these will enable you to record crisp stereo sound with your 4K videos.
A great camera does not always have to be a heavy behemoth. You don’t need a broadcast quality camera to shoot great clips. These days the mantra is – lighter the better. The GoPro Hero 4 Black fits that bill perfectly. At just 88 grams this is the lightest 4K camera that you can get. Even with the underwater casing on it weighs just 152 grams. All the more reason for you to use it every time you record yourself.
A tilting swiveling LCD screen
Ah, that’s the only thing that the GoPro Hero 4 Black does not have and some of the DSLRs that we have discussed in this article do. When you face up to a vlogging camera, or for that matter any camera, to record a video, there is no way to tell whether you are in the frame or outside. I am sure you are experienced and you will no doubt have excellent idea where and how far to stand to be able to get into the frame. But at times it is convenient if you could just see the frame being recorded. The tilting swiveling screen helps you to do things like accurate hand gestures while using stock phrases like – ‘Click here to subscribe’ pointing at an imaginary YouTube subscribe link in the frame. Cameras like the Canon 70D has this while the GoPro Hero 4 Black doesn’t.
Option to use interchangeable lens
This is something that the GoPro Hero4 Black loses out again. It has a fixed lens. That means you are not going to be able to change it and use another lens. The reason I insist on an interchangeable lens camera is because these cameras do allow the option to change the perspective if you need. Usually when shooting a vlog you would use a wider lens. A wider lens couple with a smaller aperture gives you a greater depth of field. Not that a tele-lens wouldn’t work. With a tele-lens you would pull in more of the background. But that depends on the individual vlogger. You can change the lens and use more of the background if you wish to. Alternatively you can create a tighter frame and not unnecessarily using too much of the background.
You don’t always need to use a wide aperture but sometimes a wide aperture is the order of the day. A wide aperture will not only help you blur the background, which at times is necessary but it also helps to collect more light. When shooting indoors, and in dimply lit environments, a wider aperture with a slightly higher ISO number is a better combination than using a strong single artificial light with a color cast.
Some other choices that you can look to
We have looked at the GoPro Hero4 which is our preferred vlogging camera. But there are a number of other great choices. Let’s take a look at some of them now.
Entry level models
Any small point & shoot, even a smartphone can be used as a vlogging camera. All you need is to be able to set it fixed at a spot when you record. These days there are a few entry level compact cameras that also have full HD and even 4K native recording capabilities. That makes them an attractive proposition because their smaller size and relative lack of complexity involved makes them the ideal choice for a huge number of vloggers.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS60
At first looks the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS60 can be misleading. It is a smallish compact point & shoot indeed. But inside the frail looking encasing is a very powerful 18.1 megapixel 1/2.3” MOS sensor, capable of shooting 4K (3840 x 2160) videos at 30p. The Lumix DMC-ZS60 has a ton of features that can give even high end DSLRs a run for their money.
One of the better features of the Lumix DMC-ZS60 is its 5-axis Hybrid O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilization). This mechanism is a very powerful counter to five types of camera movements when recording – horizontal, vertical, rotation on axis, vertical and horizontal rotation. This feature helps record excellent quality blur free videos (as well as stills). It can even detect horizontal line in the frame and keep it level, which is yet another great feature to have.
But the stand out feature is the native 4K video recording. The Lumix DMC-ZS60 records videos at 3840 x 2160p at 30 fps. Native 4K gives you ample scope to scale it down in case you want to cut down on the upload time, or take advantage of the high resolution to cater to customers who are on fast internet connections.
Prosumer models – the Canon EOS 70D
The first prosumer model I would like to write about is the Canon EOS 70D. The 70D has something that was revolutionary – Dual Pixel CMOS auto-focusing. This is a revolutionary technology that uses the same pixels on a sensor, albeit redesigned to produce a left and right dual set of photo-diodes. The technology is similar to what happens in phase detection auto-focusing. Let me explain it in greater detail.
On a normal DSLR camera there are dedicated phase detection AF sensors at the bottom part of a DSLR camera. When you press the shutter release button the phase detection sensors come into their own. They analyses the image coming through the lens and move the focusing elements via the internal circuitry to make the image sharper.
Phase detection can work till the mirror in front of the sensor is able to direct some light to it.
When the mirror moves away, such as when you are shooting videos or when shooting in live-view mode, phase detection cease to work. In these situations contrast detection auto-focusing comes into play. However, contrast detection auto-focusing is a perennially slow auto-focusing technique.
To counter this problem Canon devised the dual-pixel CMOS AF system. Almost 80% of the photo-diodes on the sensor is actually a combination of two photo-diodes that taken together performs the task of a phase detection sensor. Ingenious isn’t it? The result is, this system works even when you are shooting in live-view or when recording video, giving you precise auto-focusing. Evidently video recording is what is required for your purposes.
The 70D is the first Canon camera and the first in the world that has this technology. This and the new STM lenses (STM stands for Stepping Motor Technology) which assist in continuous auto-focusing in movie mode 9Movie-servo AF) ensures that the 70D is a formidable challenger to the GoPro Hero4 Black. Movie-servo is an auto-focusing mode wherein the camera acquires auto-focusing in live-view. The auto-focusing performance is smoother than the jerky movements that other AF systems offer.
There are a ton of other features on the EOS 70D that I like. One of them is the tilting swiveling LCD screen. Canon calls it the vari-angle screen. This screen turn 360 ˚basically allowing you to face you while you record yourself.
Canon PowerShot GX7 Mark II
At just about $700 a piece the Canon PowerShot GX7 Mark II is a prosumer level vlogging camera. It shoots stills at a high resolution of 20.1 megapixel and full HD videos at 1080p and 60 fps. The ability to shoot at higher frame rate and in full-HD means you have enough material to play it back in slow mo to get breathtaking dramatic moments in your edited clips. The Canon PowerShot GX7 Mark II replaced the very popular Canon PowerShot GX7. You can still get the old camera at a reduced price under $580. For all conceivable reason this is too a very capable camera indeed for vlogging.
The Canon PowerShot GX7 Mark II has a fixed lens that offers a 35mm format equivalent zoom range of 24-100mm. It has a maximum aperture range of f/1.8 – f/2.8; wide enough to let in a lot of light. This is an ideal camera for shooting indoors with ambient light. The other features of the camera include a tilting touchscreen LCD screen with a resolution of 1.04m dots, built-in Wi-Fi and NFC, manual control ring and intelligent image stabilization.
Canon VIXIA HF G40
The Canon VIXIA HF G40 is a full HD professional camcorder. Make no mistake this is a proper video camera. It has everything that you need except the ability to shoot native 4K; which is kind of a shame. It can shoot full HD at 1920 x 1080p at up to 60fps. It has a built-in 20x HD video lens. It come with wide DR gamma, HD peaking and highlight priority modes. There are dual SDXC memory card slots which means an extended recording time frame. They are arranged in buffer overrun mode. Means when one fills out, the other one comes into play seamlessly.
There are a ton of other features which makes this camera a professional choice for vloggers. Asa matter of fact you would rather have someone behind this one instead of remotely operating it or setting it and forgetting. There’s simply too many options to leave a cameraman out of the production with this one.
The five axis hybrid optical image stabilization comes in handy when you use the camera hand-held. While that is optional and you’re professional help could also use the full manual controls on the camera to control exposure, focusing and framing while recording.
The large 5inch capacitive touch screen LCD display is beautiful and ideally suitable for almost one hand control. The Canon VIXIA HF G40 matches the EOS 70D in this aspect. There’s also a 0.24” tiltable LCD color viewfinder. This should be suitable when you want to record something other than yourself.
These days with the advent of faster wireless transfers and the need for more products that are wireless enabled, it is but normal to ask that your camera is wireless enabled. Wireless technology allows for seamless transfer of clips to your computer and storage mediums. It means less time spent looking for data cables. As soon as your done simply connect your Canon VIXIA HF G40 to any available wireless network to transfer clips.
Make no mistake the Canon VIXIA HF G40 is a professional video tool. You have everything that you would ever need, including such features as zebra (to indicate blown out highlight patterns), focus assist and high definition peaking, series of customs dials and buttons, the ability to use external microphone via the mini hot-shoe to name a few.
What do some of the biggest vloggers use for their vlogging cam?
Speaking of vlogging one name is almost synonymous with the whole vlogging thing. his name is at least his real name is Charles Trippy, though he goes by the name of CTFxc. He owns the vlog Internet Killed Television and others. Started off with a Canon PowerShot ELPH 340 HS but he also owns a Canon PowerShot G7X. He also uses a GoPro. He owns the Guinness world record for continuous number of days of vlogging. That’s 2200 days without a break of vlogging.