Building an online influence base is all the rage in 2021, and will be for a few years to come. If you want to do that through vlogging, you need one of the best cheap cameras for videography.
If you are trying to figure out which the best affordable cameras for YouTube vlogging are, you will quickly realize how vast the field is.
However, we know just what you’re looking for, and we will guide through the 5 best options on the market currently. Plus, we know how hard it can be to scrape together enough money for a camera and accessories, so no sticker shock here.
As a bonus, we have also put together a buying guide to help you identify what is important.
5 Best Cheap Cameras for Youtube Videos in 2021
1. Sony Alpha α6000
The α6000 from Sony offers the best balance of affordability and rich features. It was introduced in 2014 to replace the popular Sony NEX series and has since been a favorite of many upcoming vloggers.
It is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera (MILC) with a hybrid autofocus (AF) system. Its AF system is one of the fastest among the best cheap cameras, with 179 phase-detect points covering 92% of its 23.5 x 15.6 mm APS-C sensor.
It captures high-resolution video with fast subject-tracking AF. You also get a live preview, thanks to a digital viewfinder and an HD OLED display. The screen tilts to give you effective viewing angles while shooting.
For sharing, it has built-in WIFI, SD card reader, and NFC card pairing capability. It is compatible with all recent versions of Windows and Mac OS.
- Fast autofocus.
- Flip out, high-resolution OLED screen.
- Inbuilt audio input.
- Inbuilt WiFI and SD card reader.
- Small and compact size.
- Fast Bionz-X image processor.
- The default format is Sony’s ARW. You need to convert to use third-party software such as Photoshop.
- Image quality in low light isn’t as impressive.
The Sony α6000 hits that sweet spot between rich-featured and pricing. You should know, however, that what you get is the body (as in the case with most mirrorless cameras). Make sure to budget for the glassware, too.
If you have a decent budget and elementary shooting skills, the α6000 is your best bet.
2. Nikon D3500 DX-Format DSLR
The Nikon D3500 is a great entry-level DSLR camera that shoots Full HD effortlessly at up to 60fps. You get fast and responsive autofocus with subject tracking which ensures sharp videos at all times.
For beginners, it gives you full DSLR experience with intuitive and easy to reach buttons. All its buttons are within easy reach for fast operation, and it even has a recent menu button.
For connectivity, you can pair it with your smartphone through Bluetooth. Nikon has a free app called SnapBridge to make sharing snappy and fast.
The camera is powered by an EN-EL14a Li-Ion battery. Nikon also includes a charger, so that you can charge one battery while you use the other.
It comes with two lenses for versatile shooting. For landscapes and wide perspective shots, use the AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR lens. There is also a telephoto zoom lens for sports, concerts, and more.
The D3500 has a built-in microphone with a monaural sound. This way, if you don’t have a budget for external microphones and other equipment, this camera has you sorted.
- Super easy to use, thanks to inbuilt Guide and Auto modes.
- Compact design.
- Inbuilt microphone.
- Sharp OLED screen.
- Fast autofocus with subject tracking.
- It also comes with two lenses for different shooting modes.
- Optical viewfinder for real-time previews.
- Rugged construction.
- The screen doesn’t flip.
- Bluetooth connection is slow; it lacks WiFI.
- It has no connection options for external microphones or speakers.
For under $500, the Nikon D3500 offers massive value for your money. Its shooting quality is above par and is very easy to use. It remains one of the best vlogging cameras for absolute beginners.
3. GoPro Hero 7
GoPro has made a name for itself when it comes to adventure-filled shooting. Hero 7 is the latest iteration from the company and is the best cheap camera for action videos.
Although GoPro has already introduced the Hero 8 Black as its flagship in early 2020, Hero 7 remains the best package for value. You can even get revamped models in extremely good condition at almost half the price.
One of the Hero 7’s best features is its HyperSmooth electronic stabilization. It produces smooth videos even in demanding action like dirt biking. GoPro describes it as ‘gimbal-like stabilization, without the gimbal.’
Its specs include a 12MP sensor and a wide-angle lens. At peak performance, you can take 4K videos at 60fps or full HD at 240fps. It also allows you to speed up time-lapse videos up to 30x for your viewers.
Using Hero 7 is easy and intuitive, with its intuitive touchscreen. It feels just like a smartphone, so you won’t struggle with it even if you’re new to it.
Best of all, the GoPro Hero 7 is rugged and waterproof up to 10m (33ft). You can take it in the rain, to the lake, biking, and any other similar situation. Its battery lasts about 45 to 90 minutes, depending on your preferred shooting mode.
- Rugged and waterproof.
- Super clear 4K videos at peak performance.
- Fast read/write speeds depending on the media used.
- Intuitive touchscreen.
- World-class video stabilization.
- Advanced time warp video capture options.
- Voice control available.
- It lacks a dedicated audio input jack. However, you can buy an adapter for the USB port to turn it into a mic slot.
- Poor battery life.
Despite stiff competition from companies like Garmin and Sony, GoPro remains the best camera for videos that involve intense action. Hero 7 offers you the most cost-effective and functional option as you wedge your way into YouTube vlogging.
4. Canon Powershot S7X Mark II
The Canon Powershot S7X Mark II is a point-and-shoot compact camera that is perfect for beginners. Its low budget price tag belies a powerful little camera for vlogging in general conditions.
The Mark II features a 1.0 inch 20.2 MP high-sensitivity CMOS sensor. Combined with Canon’s DIGIC 6 Image processor, it makes for the sharp and colorful shooting of both photos and videos.
You can capture amazing Full HD video at 1080p/60fps. While it lacks 4K capabilities, Full HD is more than enough for most YouTube applications.
It also comes with an f/1.8(W)-f/2.8(T) aperture range that allows up to 4.2x optical zoom (24-100m). It also has a 9-blade diaphragm and IS equipped lens.
Another impressive feature is its 3.0” panel LCD touchscreen with flip capabilities. That way, you can use it while taping yourself to get instant feedback.
The GX7 Mark II also features an inbuilt microphone. This makes it one of the best cheap cameras because you will not have to buy expensive microphones. However, you can also use an external microphone as shown in this helpful video here.
- Compact size with a retractable lens.
- 4.2x optical zoom without sacrificing on low-light shooting capabilities.
- Great video and image quality, especially in Full HD.
- Excellent touchscreen with flip for self-recording.
- Reliable AF performance.
- Good hue accuracy.
- Improved battery life at about 75 minutes.
- Distortion at very wide angles.
- No viewfinder.
- Lacks 4K video shooting.
The Canon GX7 Mark II is a great compact camera for vlogging, especially if you’re looking for something that outperforms your smartphone. Its large sensor, zoom capabilities, and reliable autofocus make it a worthy first choice option when you’re starting.
5. Panasonic Lumix G7KS Mirrorless Camera
Not all cheap cameras for videography are for amateurs, and the Panasonic Lumix G7KS mirrorless camera is proof of that. It offers superb image and video quality while allowing you to play around with interchangeable lenses and settings.
It features fast and precise autofocus modes with subject tracking. These include AFS (single), AFF (flexible), AFC (continuous), face and eye detection, tracking, pinpoint, among others.
It also comes with great sharing options including WiFI linking, HDMI, micro HDMI, and VIERA Link. It has expandability options such as external flash slots and a DMW-MS2 stereo shotgun microphone.
The G7KS has a 16MP live MOS sensor with an advanced processor for clear shooting free of distortion. You can even pause and shoot stills while recording 4K video.
To top it off, it has a high-resolution 2360k-dot OLED Live View Finder with tilt and swivel. It is also touch-sensitive and is bright enough for use in bright sunlight.
- High-performance 4K video shooting.
- Expandability options for memory and microphone.
- Fast connectivity with WiFI.
- Advanced autofocus with subject tracking.
- Great low-light performance.
- Intuitive controls and touch-enabled tilt screen.
- Manual focus and interchangeable lens for professional shooting.
- Complete beginners will have to take the time to learn how to use it.
- Tracking focus slows it down a bit.
The Panasonic Lumix G7KS is a perfect option if you’re looking for a high-end camera with a budget price tag. You can let your creativity roam free without limitations, and grow your skills without having to replace it.
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What to Look for When Buying a Camera for YouTube Vlogging
Buying a camera for vlogging is very different from buying a professional camera. There are some things you can ignore, and many that are crucial.
What You Need
- Low light performance
Your camera must be able to perform well in low light. You will seldom be able to control the ambient light. As such, go for a camera with a wide aperture in the neighborhood of f/1.8.
Some of the best options for low light shooting are the Panasonic Lumix GH5S and the Sony Alpha α7S.
Most sensors on the best cheap cameras will be CMOS sensors, which are good in most vlogging applications. A larger sensor allows higher quality videos. The best sensors can be found in mirrorless, DSLR, and full-frame cameras, in that order.
Stabilization is essential, especially if you’re going to be shooting while in motion. It keeps the video steady even when the camera is shaking. GoPros are amazing at this, as are most mirrorless cameras.
Autofocus is crucial in creating sharp videos. You need fast autofocus with subject tracking if possible.
- Microphone Input
The importance of sound quality in your YouTube videos cannot be overstated. However, many budget cameras lack a dedicated microphone slot. In that case, a front-facing inbuilt microphone is the next best option.
You will also need to consider how you will be storing and transferring your videos to your phone or computer for further editing and publishing. MicroSD, flash drive, NFC, and WiFI are all great options. Bluetooth tends to be slow.
If you’re going to be filming outdoors, weather and shock proofing are a good option. Your camera is a delicate gadget, and you never know when it will fall or get rained on. GoPros are the kings of rugged camera construction.
- Battery life
If you’re going to be filming away for hours on end, it is wise to consider the battery life of the camera. Wise vloggers always have extra batteries and charging stations on hand.
What You Will Not Need
No one uses an inbuilt flash in vlogging.
Only photography requires good zoom features. However, if you will be filming travel vlogs, you might need a reliable zoom feature.
- Inbuilt video editing
You can do a better job by editing from your computer.
The truth is, that is important for photographers. So long as you have Full HD and 4K recording, the megapixel numbers don’t matter to you.
Vlogging continues to be one of the best ways to make money in this new decade. However, you need a good camera to satisfy your fans. These cheap cameras will help you get started on what can be the most lucrative opportunity of your life. Just grab one and get started.