5 Best Vlogging Cameras in 2021

What a year for vloggers. All the cameras seemed to be outfitted with a vari-angle touchscreen meant for vlogging, and a few newer releases even cater directly to the vlog market. Tons more accessories followed suit. There has arguably never been a better time to be a vlogger or to start vlogging, so here are the top cameras for the job.

1. Sony ZV-1

Sony already had a great thing for content creators with the RX100 series. It’s small, yet still delivers solid image quality and features. Sony also knew it could make the camera even better. Enter the ZV-1. Sony comes right out and states it is “made for content creators and vloggers” and, with its design and feature set, it is easy to see why.

Sony ZV-1

Top Features:

  • Compact, lightweight body with vari-angle touchscreen
  • 20MP 1″-type BSI stacked CMOS sensor
  • 24-70mm equivalent f/1.8-2.8 lens; built-in ND filter
  • UHD 4K30 recording with HLG HDR/S-Log2
  • Ultra-fast phase-detect AF system with customization
  • Background Defocus for shallow depth of field
  • Soft Skin Effect and Face Priority AE
  • Product Showcase Setting for reviews
  • Directional three-capsule mic for clear sound
  • MI Shoe with digital interface and 3.5mm mic input

There isn’t much more Sony could have done to tune the camera for creators. The addition of features such as Background Defocus to guarantee smooth bokeh, Product Showcase Setting to make sure focus is exactly where you want it, and Soft Skin Effect to make everyone looks good, will satisfy all types of vloggers. Plus, nicely thought out capabilities such as Face Priority auto exposure to keep the footage looking great during a walk and talk, as well as a new directional three-capsule mic that isolates your voice for maximum clarity, just seal the deal.

We also can’t forget the 20MP 1″ sensor and 24-70mm equivalent f/1.8-2.8 lens deliver superb image quality up to UHD 4K at 30p. Super Slow Motion is possible just like in the RX100 series, built-in interval shooting helps make short work of long time-lapses, and Picture Effects get you a ready-to-publish video straight out of the camera. A new grip for selfies and a tally light certainly help, as well. I’m definitely missing some other goodies. I’m hoping that this covers all the main points.

Oh yeah, the ZV-1 is good for stills, too.

Make sure to pick up the Sony Vlogger Accessory Kit with the perfectly matched GP-VPT2BT Wireless Shooting Grip and a 64GB SDXC Memory Card. It’s almost a required accessory.

Sony Vlogger Accessory Kit

2. Panasonic G100

And the battle begins. Panasonic seems to have the same train of thought as Sony when it launched the G100. Panasonic took what worked and made every tweak it could to fulfill a vlogger’s wish list, this time doing it with a mirrorless Micro Four Thirds model.

Panasonic Lumix DC-G100

Top Features:

  • Compact design with relatively large 20MP Micro Four Thirds sensor
  • Bundled with versatile 12-32mm (24-64mm equivalent) f/3.5-5.6 lens
  • Mirrorless design permits use of a wide range of lenses
  • UHD 4K30 video with V-Log L
  • Updated Depth From Defocus (DFD) autofocus
  • Electronic IS and Hybrid IS with compatible lenses
  • 3.68m-dot OLED EVF
  • 1.84m-dot 3.0″ free-angle touchscreen with high brightness
  • Directional three-microphone array with OZO Audio by Nokia tech

The major advantage of this vlogging camera over other compact offerings is the relatively large sensor—Four Thirds—and the fact that you can change lenses. The interchangeable-lens option really elevates the performance of the camera and the Micro Four Thirds system is fleshed out enough at this point that you can find affordable, high-quality primes. Arguably, the kit lens, while small and lightweight, is a bit slow to take full advantage of the sensor, so new lenses are recommended.

Autofocus is improved over previous Panasonic models, making it a viable option and useful for vlogging. Combined with the OZO Audio, the camera will effectively track you and keep audio and video sharp and clean. Also, it has all the controls you would want, namely a free-angle touchscreen and various customizable buttons. There is an EVF, as well, making it a great everyday carry option for regular photography.

3. Insta360 ONE R, or Any Action Cam

Action cameras took the vlogging world by storm. Or should I say, GoPro took the vlogging world by storm. Today, there are a ton of options to fit nearly any budget or need—including those hopping into 360—and for my recommendation I would go with the Insta360 ONE R 4K Edition. There is fierce competition here; the GoPro HERO9 and DJI Osmo Action stand out for sure, but I just love the ONE R’s modular design.

Insta360 ONE R 4K Edition

Top Features:

  • Tiny, waterproof construction
  • Modular design allows flipping screen or using new camera modules as needed
  • Standard 4K Wide Angle Mod with FlowState stabilization
  • Optional 1″ mod for higher quality or 360 mod for 360 video capture
  • UHD 4K up to 60 fps
  • Screen can be positioned to be front facing
  • Microphone input via optional USB Type-C to 3.5mm adapter
  • iOS/Android companion app
  • Standard 3-prong action cam mount

Being ultra-small and durable is a major selling point for a vlogging camera you might want to carry around every day. The ONE R is certainly that, plus it’s waterproof to 16′ deep. It has 4K up to 60p for good quality video, but the real advantage is FlowState stabilization for getting smooth footage straight out of the camera. The less editing needed, the better.

I like the Insta360 offering because of the mod system. For moments in which you want better quality and resolution, you can pop on the 1″ Mod for better performance, thanks to the larger sensor and up to 5.3K resolution. Or, for even more fun, you can go with the Dual Lens 360 Mod and try out 360-degree video. It’s a fun little camera

4. Smartphones

Vlogging is about capturing what is happening all around you at any given moment. How about a camera that you quite literally always have on you? That’s right, we are talking about the smartphone. Specs have gotten insane on the latest smartphone releases: 4K60, 8K, three or more lenses, etc. Smartphones are good at capturing quick video.

Top Features:

  • Most people already have one!
  • iPhones, Galaxy S20s, Pixels, Sony Xperias…modern smartphones capture good video
  • App ecosystem unlocks manual control with ease
  • Relatively affordable accessories compared to traditional cameras
  • Fits in your pocket

It almost doesn’t matter what brand of smartphone you choose to use, but the latest and greatest camera configurations are found on the following:

  • Apple iPhone 12 Pro
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
  • Sony Xperia 1 II
  • Google Pixel 5
  • The phone you already have

If you do want to use a smartphone, we highly recommend picking up a smartphone gimbal. We like the DJI OM 4. You can also consider some add-on lenses to further help capture your vision.

DJI OM 4 Smartphone Gimbal

5. Canon EOS C70

Looking for the best option? Well, a cinema camera is the way to get the best video quality, features, and connectivity. Today, I think the best cinema camera with a compact form factor is the Canon EOS C70. It is a traditional cinema camera in specs and usability, so if you want to do professional videos with some high-quality vlogging on the side, this might be the one to get.

Canon EOS C70

To be honest, this was a tough choice, because there are very strong arguments for picking the Panasonic S1H, Sony a7S III, or even the Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K. Still, I think Canon did so many great things with the C70 that it deserves the spot, especially managing to fit a built-in ND filter system with the RF mount.

Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K

Top Features:

  • 9.6MP Super 35mm Dual Gain Output (DGO) Sensor
  • Canon RF Lens Mount
  • DCI 4K up to 120p with Canon Log 2/3 & HLG/PQ HDR gammas
  • 10-bit 4:2:2 internal recording
  • Super 16mm Crop for 2K up to 180p
  • Built-in 2/4/6/8/10-stop ND filter system
  • 3.5″ Direct Touch Control vari-angle LCD
  • ¼”-20 thread on grip for vertical mounting
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF with EOS iTR AF X
  • Pro connections (2 x mini-XLR, BNC timecode, etc.)
  • Large BP-A series batteries
  • Dual SD card slots

I like to call the C70 a pocket C300 Mark III. It has essentially all the video-shooting goodness of the C300 (minus raw and a couple of high-end features) in a handheld package. The use of the RF mount makes it even more appealing, to be honest, because it signals a potential future for Canon cinema cameras and allows for the use of beautiful RF glass in addition to legacy EF lenses via optional adapters. There’s even the new EF-EOS R Mount Adapter 0.71x that gives you the full-frame look on the Super 35mm sensor.

With outstanding dynamic range, a stellar range of resolutions and frame rates up to 4K 120p, and all the connections, what’s not to like about the C70 for super vlogging?

That’s our lowdown on the wealth of vlogging equipment available for the holidays. So many choices! What kind of vlogging equipment do you currently use? Do any of these entice you toward an upgrade? Tell us about it in the Comments section, below!