Whether you’re trying to make it as the next big Twitch gaming streamer or just get more followers on Instagram Live, your camera is important. To help you make the right choice, I’ve put together this guide to the top 10 best cameras for live streaming.
So what is the overall best camera for streaming video? My top pick is the Logitech C920 Pro Stream webcam. It’s easy to use, super affordable and delivers full HD quality. It’s also probably the most popular webcam on the market right now amongst streamers.
But it’s not the only great live streaming camera out there. There are a lot of other options that might be better suited to your needs, depending on your budget and the kind of streams you plan on creating. I’ll be reviewing the best 10 options below, but first, let’s talk about what you need to look for in a live streaming camera.
Live Streaming Camera Buyer’s Guide
The first thing to think about when buying a live streaming camera is what type of camera you’d like to use. There are 5 different types of cameras to choose from. These are:
- Webcams— These cameras sit on top of your desk or computer and usually connect directly via a USB, meaning you don’t need to worry about getting extra hardware like a capture card or video encoder.
- Mobile devices— You can stream directly from the built-in camera on your mobile phone, but the video quality is likely to be poor.
- Camcorders— These are typically better quality than webcams but connect via an HDMI (not a USB) and as such, you need a video encoder to stream. They usually produce a clean HDMI output.
- DSLRs/Mirrorless Cameras— These represent the highest-quality, most professional video recording you can get, but they’re not typically designed for live streaming. Many DSLRs don’t have a clean HDMI output which means, even with a capture card/video encoder, the footage might not transfer over in a clean format.
- Action Cameras— These are tiny, lightweight cameras designed for ‘action’ footage. They might be a good option if you plan on live streaming outdoor activities like hiking, surfing, or anything similar.
You’ll find a mix of these different types of cameras on the list below.
What to Look For in a Live Streaming Camera
Once you know what type of camera you’d like to use, here are some more things you should look for:
- Ease of use
- Good image and audio quality (especially good low light performance)
- A flip-out Screen (so you can see yourself while recording)
- Clean HDMI output (so that your live stream doesn’t have any of the cameras on-screen info in the display)
- Good heat dissipation (you’ll likely be using it for hours at a time and you don’t want it to overheat)
- An external power adapter (so the batter won’t run out while you’re streaming)
The good news is you don’t have to worry about most of these, because we’ve already done the shortlisting for you. We considered all of the above factors when narrowing down our top 10, so just pick one off of the list below and you’re all set!
Now without further ado, here are the top 10 best cameras for live streaming.
Logitech is a brand you’ll see a few times on this list as they’re known for creating top-notch webcams. The C920 (and newer C922), though, is probably their best live streaming webcam to date.
It’s the most popular camera for streaming right now, and for good reason. It captures video in 1080p resolution (or 720p for live streams) and 30fps, which is good enough for full HD resolution streams.
The C920’s low-light performance is top notch too thanks to the automatic lighting correction feature that boosts the exposure when you’re filming in dimly-lit spaces. At under $100 for full HD, well-exposed video, the C920 represents the absolute best value for money.
It’s not just great in terms of video quality either, but audio too. The in-built stereo microphones reduce your background noise so that the audio comes out pretty darn clear. Obviously, it’s not as good as it would be if you were to use an external mic, but all thing’s considered, it’s not bad.
It’s a webcam, so it’s easy to set up. Plus, it’s both mountable and compatible with tripods, so you can have more control over the recording angle, and boasts a wide 78-degree field of view.
If you have a larger budget and want something bigger and better, the Logitech BRIO webcam might be a better choice. It’s much more expensive than the C920 (almost double the cost), but it also delivers a much higher resolution.
This thing is capable of shooting in 4K resolution. Not that you’d ever need it as most streaming platforms still don’t support 4K streams, but it’s a nice bonus in case you ever want to use it to record footage and upload it at a later date.
When you’re streaming in 1080p, the BRIO knocks it out of the park. The footage always comes out sharp, vibrant, and well-balanced thanks to the high dynamic range and automatic low-light adjustment. It also features 5x digital zoom so you can really get up close, and the field of view is adjustable for added versatility.
All in all, the Logitech BRIO offers probably the best video quality you can get from a webcam. If you want a webcam for the USB input but don’t want to sacrifice on quality, this is the way to go. You get the quality of a DSLR (well, almost) and the ease of use of a webcam. It’s the best of both worlds.
Next up, we have the Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000, my top pick for the best budget live streaming camera.
The LifeCam HD-3000 represents the opposite end of the spectrum than the Logitech BRIO. While the BRIO was twice the cost of the C920, the LifeCam is half the cost.
Despite the low price tag, Microsoft has done a great job of making sure that it doesn’t skimp on quality. It still offers 720p HD recording at 30 fps, which is plenty good enough for most streamers.
The TrueColor technology means that the footage comes out looking well-lit and vibrant, and the noise reducing microphone works is not too shabby.
It’s also pretty versatile and easy to use, with a small in-built stand that allows you to place it anywhere and an adjustable head. At under $30, you really couldn’t ask for more.
4. Razer Kiyo
Razer is a brand that might be familiar to the gamers out there; they’re known for being a ‘world leader in high-performance gaming hardware’. As you’d expect from a gaming brand, this camera is perfect for any Twitch gamers out there.
It boasts a 1080p resolution that captures super-sharp, detailed footage, a speedy autofocus feature that actually works, high colour saturation, and great white balance.
The coolest thing about this webcam for me personally is how it looks. It has a really striking design that is unlike most other webcams thanks to the ‘light ring’, a built-in 5600k ring light feature that keeps you well-lit even in dim rooms.
In fact, the low-light performance is where the Kiyo really stands out. You can even change the brightness level by just rotating the bezel. This is just one of the many features that make the Razer Kiyo so easy to use.
Ok, we’re now on from webcams to camcorders, and where better to start than with the Canon Vixia HF R800?
The Vixia HF R800 is my top recommendation for a starter camcorder. It’s great for beginners who are new to live streaming as it’s one of the cheapest camcorders you can get but still offers pretty good quality.
It has all the things we’re looking for in a camcorder, like a high resolution (1080p, 60fps), a long battery life, an external mic jack and – most importantly – a rotating screen. The rotating screen means you can see yourself while you’re recording, which is super-important for live streaming.
The Canon VIXIA HF G40 is another one of the best camcorders for live streaming. It’s a lot pricier than the HF R800, but the cost does get you a professional-level camcorder that will really boost the quality of your live streams.
The HF G40 boasts a 3.28 MP full-HD CMOS unit and an incredible 57x ‘superzoom’. I can’t imagine when you’d need to use the whole 57x zoom, but it sure is cool.
One of my favourite things about the G40 is the highlight priority mode and backlit correction, which fixes underexposure when you don’t have good lighting.
Another feature that makes this a great choice for live streaming is that it has a feature that allows you to stream footage directly to your Android or iOS devices through an app as it’s being recorded.
The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema camera is evidence that bigger isn’t always best. This compact, lightweight, pocket-sized camera really packs a punch, with a 1080p sensor that produces beautiful cinematic footage.
One feature I love about the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema is that it allows you to save videos in CinemaDNG and Prores 422 format. It also comes with a Micro Four Thirds mount so that you can use any type of compatible lense that you choose. All in all, it’s a great camera for streaming video.
If you’re willing to spend a little more money, it’s worth looking into the 4K Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera too. This is essentially the same camera but it’s also capable of shooting in 4K resolution. Depending on what streaming platform you plan on using, you might not be able to stream in 4K anyway, but if it’s a feature you’re interested in, check it out!
We’ve covered webcams; we’ve covered camcorders. Now, let’s talk about DSLRs and Mirrorless cameras. As I said earlier, most Mirrorless cameras and DSLRs aren’t designed for live streaming, but some of them are, like the Canon EOS M50.
This Mirrorless camera has a couple of features that make it perfect for live streaming. First off, it has a flip-out screen, which is something you don’t often get with similar cameras. Secondly, it has a clean HDMI output, which means you’ll get clean footage without any on-screen information.
It also records in 4K, but you’ll probably mostly be using it in 1080p mode, which is great as the M50 really performs well in 1080p. The dual-pixel autofocus is great for streamers, and the 60fps limit in 1080p means you can get really sharp, detailed footage. If you’re willing to drop the resolution to 720p, you can even get 120fps.
The Panasonic Lumix G7 is another awesome Mirrorless camera for live streaming. Like the Canon M50, the Lumix G7 features a flip-out screen and 4K.
It also has a micro four-thirds sensor, a precise autofocus, compact design, and clean HDMI output. All that for under $500 – it’s a steal!
You really can’t go wrong with a Lumix; the G4 and the G5 almost made the list too, but on balance, I found the G7 to be the all-around best option for live streamers.
10. GoPro HERO 7
I thought I’d finish the list with an action camera, just in case you’re looking for something more suitable for outdoor activities. When it comes to picking the best action camera for live streaming, the choice was clear. It has to be the GoPro HERO 7.
GoPro’s latest model not only delivers stunning 4K, 60fps footage, but it also has some stand-out features that make it great for live streaming. For example, the HyperSmooth video stabilization helps to minimize camera shake and deliver smooth footage.
You can stream your recordings directly to Facebook Live and other live streaming platforms by using an RTMP URL. It’s also possible to save your live-streamed footage to your SD card in high resolution.
You can’t actually live stream in 4k, only 1080p, but as most live streaming platforms are limited to 1080p anyway, this really isn’t a big issue.
It’s also voice activated, which means you can control it without having to leave your seat. Just say “GoPro, start recording” and you’re off!
Final Thoughts On the Best Camera For Live Streaming
That concludes our list of the top 10 cameras for live streaming. If you’re still struggling to make your mind up about which camera is right for you, I’d definitely recommend going for the Logitech C920 Pro Stream webcam. It’s a great beginner webcam to use while you’re trying things out, and you can always upgrade to something more expensive at a later date.
If you opt for a camcorder, DSLR, or mirrorless camera instead, make sure you’ve got the right equipment to go with it. You’ll need an HDMI cable and either a video encoder hardware, or a capture card and video encoder software on your laptop.
Good luck and happy streaming!
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