If you ask a professional or any camera expert about which is the best camera for video you'll probably get a different answer every time. It all comes down to what you want to use it for. The best camera for streaming won't be the same as a camera you'd choose for shooting a movie, your next vacation or for launching an influencer career!
This guide is for anyone just starting out in video that doesn't know what camera to get. If you already know what you're looking for, you can jump straight to our dedicated buying guides to the best camcorders, best 4K cameras for video, best action cameras and more.
But if you're still trying to figure out what you want to shoot and how, then keep reading!
In this guide we've brought together a wide range of camera types and price points. We will walk you through all the options available, including smartphones, action cameras, DSLRs, mirrorless systems and purpose-built video cameras. They all shoot video in completely different ways and some are much better all-rounders than others so if you want to take pictures too it's worth keeping that in mind.
Video doesn't have to be difficult so don't be put off by all the accessories, technical terms or complex-sounding techniques. Remember, your first project doesn't have to be a masterpiece, the more you do, the more you'll learn. It's one of those things where until you do it, you really won't improve. Start with basic skills and techniques and build on them as you grow as a videographer.
So let’s take a look at all the different types of video you might want to get involved in, the equipment you might need and where to go next.
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Action cams one of the the simplest ways to get into video. There’s almost nothing to know. Apart from a handful of basic settings for the video resolution and frame rate, you just press a button to record and press again to stop. What action cams lack in finesse they make up for in immediacy, impact and their bulletproof go-anywhere attitude – and one name stands above all the others: GoPro. Though launched without much fanfare and looking identical to the Hero9 Black in almost every way, the Hero10 Black (opens in new tab) is nevertheless a significant upgrade. That’s all down to its use of the all-new GP2 processor, which powers a speedy user interface, doubles the frame rates and fuels the best image stabilization tech yet. The highlight is 5.3K video with 60 frames per second, but don’t underestimate the usefulness of GoPro’s new HyperSmooth 4.0 video stabilization – in all modes – alongside 23MP photos and best-ever low-light performance. It's a step up from a smartphone and tougher too.
• Read more: GoPro Hero10 Black review | Best action cameras (opens in new tab)
Imagine an action cam attached to a flying machine you can control from the ground and where, with most models, you can actually look through the camera’s ‘eyes’ as you’re flying it using an app on your smartphone. And with the latest automated flight controls, you can be up and flying in an afternoon even if you’re a complete novice. For this reason, we think the DJI Mini 2 (opens in new tab) is a great camera drone to get started with, but it's by no means the only choice. Mounted on a 3-axis gimbal that absorbs all the twists and turns in flight, the video is incredibly smooth and professional-looking. It also now has the ability to shoot raw stills which makes recovering highlights and shadows in post much easier. The device is operated via a controller you sync up with your phone so that you can view the camera image. The DJI Fly App is easy to use and includes excellent safety features such as return to home.
• Read more: DJI Mini 2 review | Best camera drones (opens in new tab)
This is another variation on the action cam design that takes video into whole new areas. 360 cameras are essentially two 180-degree cameras fixed back to back that film simultaneously – and the camera merges both sets of images in real-time to produce seamless 36-degree ‘spherical’ footage. It’s amazing and disorientating at the same time. It doesn’t matter where you point the camera (!) because it captures everything around you. Viewers can look around the full 360 scene in 360 viewers (YouTube can do this), or you can edit the video to produce a regular ‘flat’ movie where you can pan the camera and control where it’s pointing as you edit the movie. Our favorite right now for new users is the Insta360 One X2, which can fit in a shirt pocket, but there are lots of alternatives too.
• Read more: Insta360 ONE X2 review | Best 360 cameras (opens in new tab)
You don't have invest in a dedicated video camera to shoot great video. Like other flagship smartphones, the iPhone 13 Pro can shoot incredibly well stabilized 4K video of a quality that's perfect for vlogging and even indie filmmaking. And if you mostly shoot video for social media, a camera phone makes recording, uploading and sharing content very efficient. The iPhone 13 Pro is one of the best. There's a useful new macro mode, along with an improvement to low light shooting with the ultra-wide camera. New picture styles are worth experimenting with, while the Cinematic video mode is a clever feature and nice to have if you're a budding movie-maker. As for camera hardware, Apple has gone for a triple-lens set up on the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max, with a standard 13mm, ultra-wide 26mm and 78mm telephoto lens.
• Read more: Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max review | Best camera phones (opens in new tab)
Vlogging is definitely the New Big Thing in video, and it’s now wildly popular amongst a new generation of photographers and videographers – the current buzzword is ‘independent content creators’, and the most talented and successful of these have become household names amongst their fans. If you're just starting out, we think the Fujifilm X-S10 has the perfect set of features, including in-body stabilization for jittery first-timers! The excellent finish, build quality and handling gives this camera a very broad appeal, especially in this price sector, to produce perhaps the best combination of performance, quality and value in the APS-C mirrorless camera market right now. It even has a vari-angle rear screen and this, combined with the X-S10's in-body-stabilisation and 4K video, makes it a great vlogging camera.
• Read more: Fujifilm X-S10 review | Best cameras for vlogging (opens in new tab)
Vlogging is a perfectly respectable occupation, but if you create serious productions for clients and customers you may need to step up a gear with your equipment. Proper cinema cameras like this one are designed for video first and foremost, with video-specific features, controls and connectors that regular cameras don't have. The good news is, it doesn't have to cost a fortune! The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema 4K (opens in new tab) is a cine camera without the high price tag. It has a Micro Four Thirds sensor which means there are a huge number of Olympus, Panasonic and third-party lenses available both brand new and secondhand. It can shoot up to 4K 60p with no crop factor and has 13 stops of dynamic range. The one downside to the camera is it doesn't have a flip-out screen but if you're a serious filmmaker you'd probably want to invest in one of the best on-camera monitors (opens in new tab) anyway.
• Read more: Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K review | Best 4K cameras for filmmaking (opens in new tab)
Streaming is a relatively new way to shoot and share video, but it's really catching on. 'Streaming', whether it's to Facebook or YouTube or some other video sharing platform, is sharing video live, as you shoot it, whether that's out in the field or in front of your computer hooked up to a camera. Streaming from a phone is the simplest solution, but if you want a proper camera, the PowerShot G7 X Mark III is ideal. It was also the first camera of its kind with a microphone input – vital if you want clean audio, not to mention the ability to livestream straight to YouTube. This means that even if you’ve got an expensive cinema camera, if you also have a G7 X Mark III you can create a fuss-free live setup without any expensive capture cards and a PC. With its flip-out screen, the G7 X III also gives vloggers a clear view of themselves when they shoot, and thanks to its 20.1MP 1-inch stacked CMOS sensor and DIGIC 8 processor it’s also able to capture great stills, so your custom thumbnails can pop nicely.
• Read more: Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III review | Best cameras for streaming (opens in new tab)
Once upon a time, camcorders were the go-to piece of kit if you wanted to shoot video. With a long zoom lens, a hand-strap for ease of shooting and a pop-out screen, they were perfect for recording video. Well, don't worry, they haven't gone anywhere! While you can still buy amateur-orientated camcorders as you'd remember from the videotape days, there are also a lot of pro camcorders on the market that even have interchangeable lenses. The traditional camcorder shape is still regarded by many pro videographers to be better for shoulder-mounted use and general handling. The FDR-AX43 is a great camcorder to start with. It may be compact but it doesn’t skimp on features. Fronted by a Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar T lens, the AX43's niceties include a 10x optical zoom, 4K shooting (with super-down-sampling for 1080p displays) and a low noise Exmor R CMOS sensor.
• Read more: Best camcorders (opens in new tab)
How we test cameras
We test cameras both in real-world shooting scenarios and, for DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, in carefully controlled lab conditions. Our lab tests measure resolution, dynamic range and signal to noise ratio. Resolution is measured using ISO resolution charts, dynamic range is measured using DxO Analyzer test equipment and DxO Analyzer is also used for noise analysis across the camera's ISO range. We use both real-world testing and lab results to inform our comments in buying guides.
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