If pictures can tell a thousand words, then live streaming will tell the whole story. And I guess that explains why live streaming has become so popular over the recent years. And as hilarious as it may sound, if you aren’t doing live streaming videos, folks may look at you as though you’re from another planet. So that been said, we will be taking a look at the Best Cameras for Streaming in 2020.
And the stakes are even higher if you’re a video content creator, the reason being; your audience expects you to churn out nothing but the best quality videos.
And really, you have no choice, because as the popularity grows, the streaming industry has become a rat race. Every live streamer is trying to get ahead, to outperform the other, to do whatever possible to engage and connect with followers.
And after all, if you cannot distinguish yourself and stand out from the crowd, no one will hear, let alone see you. Long gone were those days when a simple webcam took care of all our live streaming needs.
But now, in this day and era, unless you can put your hands on a good quality regular camera with excellent live streaming features, you’d be doing yourself and your followers a grave injustice. That said, whether you’re an avid Twitch or YouTube streamer. Or, you’re the average person who wants to create high-quality live stream videos to display on Facebook Live, Instagram Live, or any other live streaming platform, here’s a well-thought-out list of the best cameras for live streaming.
But wait, before we jump into our collection of the best live streaming cameras, I must reiterate that whatever camera you choose will determine the overall presentation, and ultimately the success of your live stream.
You get the idea; it’s much like picking a camera for vlogging. I can’t imagine someone owning a vlog using cameras that don’t provide great audio-visual clarity. Which, by the way, will rule out the idea of using your smartphones, and as such, leaves you with the single option of getting a regular camera. And that’s what we’re going to discuss in this article.
We’re going to look at the different options available to you; we’re are going to point out a few features and anything we deem necessary to ensure you have the best camera for your live streaming videos. When you finish reading this article, you will know, not one, but several types of high-resolution cameras that best compliment your style, suits your preference, and satisfy your video content type.
Top 5 Essential Hardware for Live Streaming
Just before we get right down to business, we want to point out to you the top 5 essential hardware that you need to streamline your live streaming experience. And as simple as these units may appear, using them with your camera will help you to achieve excellent audio and visual quality as you stream.
Audio and video quality go hand in hand, and they both play a vital role in the presentation of your videos; get it wrong with either, and you will ruin your live stream videos. So, like built-in cameras, it’s recommended not to use built-in microphones with doing live streams. By far, external microphones are the best way to go, not solely because they are dedicated devices tailored for that need. But, by and large, they will improve the overall quality of your stream, thus making you not only to look professional but to sound professional also.
And with that, our best and highly recommended pick for live streaming is the Samson G-Track Pro microphone. Why? It will save you buying another mixer. The Samson G-Track Pro comes with a 1/4 “audio input that you can easily connect to other audio sources. And not only that; but because this device is a USB microphone and it works as a real plug-and-play mic, it’s ideal for live streaming and podcasting.
However, if you’re always on the go and you love doing your live streaming when on the move. You can go for one of those microphones that you can mount on your camera. Similarly, with lavalier microphones, you can pin to your shirt, and you are good to go.
In the layman’s world, sometimes referred to as a “box,” a video encoder (the correct name) forms a vital clog of one’s live streaming repertoire. Necessary in getting your videos live on the web, a video encoder, using unique algorithms, assemble video content, and in so doing make it viewable for your audience to view them.
And depending on your preference, you can get these devices in varied sizes and shapes, but usually, these units are very compact.
And for the device we recommend, it’s the Blackmagic Design Web Presenter. And it’s a very popular video encoder, and we believe this has to do with the unit’s ability to work flawlessly with nearly all the live streaming platforms, including Facebook, Twitch, YouTube and the likes. With this video encoder, you can immediately stream your video content using an HDMI or SDI video source; all you need to do is to plug it into the Web Presenter and your computer. And in so doing, it will enhance the quality of your live stream to that of professionals.
Also, another popular choice, albeit, a more affordable video encoder is the Blackmagic Design UltraStudio Mini Recorder that you can connect to your computer and just like the Blackmagic Web Presenter; stream your videos.
What’s the point of having a top-notch camera, but your internet speed and Wi-Fi signals are weak? There’s no point in that, but this reality seems to be the Achilles heel of many streamers. A stable internet connection is as important as anything else in achieving a flawless live stream. And not ticking this box will result in turning away, or even permanently losing your followers’ interest in your live streaming videos.
That being the case, you want to equip yourself with the best possible internet device that your pocket can afford. However, the best internet devices selling on the market aren’t necessarily the cheapest either; they require that you make a sizable investment. But considering you are a die-heart streamer and you above all things, you value your fans, and as such, will do whatever it takes to present nothing but the best quality videos to them. And if this means spending more to acquire an excellent quality internet device, then so be it; the cause is worth every cent.
Ideally, you will need upwards of 5Mbps for HD streaming, and nothing less than 25Mbps for 4k videos and UHD. That being so, and probably the safest thing to do is to get an LTE modem. Or, this is the best and long-term option; to get an internet live streaming device that will connect you to the internet. And a great buy, in our estimation, that gives you value for every dollar is the Teradek VidiU Pro. And this internet device will no doubt greatly enhance your live streaming experience to that of a hard-core streamer. You will stream high quality, lag-free video content from start to finish with no connectivity problem whatsoever.
Battery Power System
If you are thinking about doing continuous live streams, and we believe you are, then you need to step up your game, and having to change your batteries during sessions is not an option. And unless you are willing to invest in a more sophisticated battery system, the probability of your camera cutting out on you during your live broadcast is high. So, to prevent this from happening, you will need to invest in a durable and high-quality system like the Tether Tools Case Relay; that way, you can have extended streaming sessions without having to change your batteries.
Tripod or Mount
Just imagine you holding your camera for 45 minutes while doing a live broadcast. Now, that will take some doing, and quite frankly, we don’t recommend anyone doing that. Instead, it would help if you buy a mount for smaller cameras and a compatible, but sturdy tripod like the Manfrotto 4-Section Compact Aluminum. And did you notice we mentioned compatible? Yes, your tripod must be compatible with your specific camera type.
4 Types of Cameras for Live Streaming
Keeping in line with what we have already discussed in this post, we will not reiterate, but we will stress the need of you knowing the types of options available to you. In this section of the article, we will discuss four types of cameras for live streaming. And these are as follow:
Budget-friendly and easy to use, webcams are often the “go-to” camera of choice for new streamers. At a glance, the massive drawback of using webcams is the fact that you cannot do your live broadcast beyond the comfort of your chair. But other than that, webcams are perfect for video streaming, live video chatting, or any form of live streaming that keeps you chair-bound.
And by the way, we aren’t talking about the built-in camera on your laptop. But we are referring to an external webcam of at least 720p resolution, and it should host a decent built-in microphone, though you can purchase a separate headset or a mic if you so choose. And no, you don’t need to buy a video encoder, webcams come with the feature to directly connect them to your computer.
Here’s a trick, and it’s our free give to you, keep scrolling to find out.
How to Use Any Camera as a Webcam
Using a capture card like the Elgato cam link, you can stream up to 1080p60 quality. And that’s in spite of you having a DSLR, camcorder, or a mirrorless camera. The important thing here is for you to have a camera with a clean HDMI output that you can then use with the Elgato cam link.
There’s also the option of you using an app called “camerafi” that you can use to connect your camera via Wi-Fi or USB before you start live streaming.
How does it work?
First, I must warn you that during this process, your camera may overheat, or have its sensor damaged if you don’t know what you are doing, but that’s what I’m here for, to walk you through the process and to simplify everything for you. Also, by following what I’m about to show you, will bypass the 29 minutes limit you will encounter when using videos with your photography camera. So, here’s what to do.
Instead of pressing the record button, when using a regular camera as a webcam, stream your camera’s LCD screen. And this, do for the duration of the stream. In short, here’s what the entire process looks like:
- Turn on the camera.
- Look for auto turn-off and disable it.
- Link the HDMI output for your camera to Elgato Cam Link.
- Using a USB, connect your Elgato Cam Link to your PC.
- That’s about it, and now you can use your camera as a webcam after you open and configure your streaming software.
DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras
When it comes to ultra-high photo resolutions, excellent video quality, and exceptional low-light performance, DSLRs stands head and shoulders above everything else. DSLR and mirrorless cameras didn’t initially find their place as video cameras. But has time went on, and as faith would have it. Both these cameras have become a favorite among YouTubers that do live streaming. And if you are wondering why – it has to with the fact that both camera types are capable of producing digital images and videos of the highest order.
One last thing about DSLR and mirrorless cameras, if you plan on using them for your live broadcast. Make sure that whatever model you choose can do extended recordings, while at the same time giving you a clean HDMI output. And this will hide the viewfinder icons and status. And yes, you will need a video encoder to connect the camera, that way, the HDMI output will go to the online streaming platform.
Besides being ergonomically designed, which means it’s ideal for extended shooting and streaming, camcorders are specifically for recording videos. Camcorders are efficient; they will save you time; and that thanks to them being easy to set up.
And what’s even more impressive and the determining factor of your stream’s quality is the camcorder’s clean HDMI outputs, and this without compromising on the frame rates and resolution of your videos.
And if we add that most camcorders nowadays come with 4K resolution. You will have no difficulty in grasping why these camera types are our best pick for live streaming.
Despite being tiny in size, action cameras are among the best live streaming device. The hallmark of these cameras, and what makes them so unique is their ability to capture truly immersive videos and pristine quality footage.
And this we suspect is the real reason behind why these cameras are so popular among athletes, streaming professionals, and adventurers.
However, as promising as action cameras are, they are still evolving, and they have to; because the first-person view and the wide-angle lens which they offer tend to restrict the output to informal live broadcasts. But as mentioned already, these cameras are evolving quickly. They are coming with more advanced specs, which reinforces why the action cameras are rapidly becoming the live streaming camera of choice.
Best Web Cameras for Live Streaming
Now, for the moment you have been patiently waiting for, our collection of the best web cameras for live streaming. We will walk you through this collection step-by-step as we help you to decide which camera is best for you, and based on your specific needs, which one to buy. So, let’s get right into it.
Logitech C920 HD Pro
Logitech is a manufacturer known for producing top quality webcams, but by far, the Logitech C920, in our estimation, is arguably the best-rounded webcam at this price point. The hallmark feature of this affordable webcam lies in its ability to capture full high-definition1080 pixel resolution videos at 30fps (frames per second). And then, without you having to configure it, goes 720p as you live stream.
Another feature worth pointing out is the automatic lighting correction functionality; this feature helps the camera to achieve well-exposed videos even in less than ideal conditions; for example, dimly lit rooms.
There are also built-in stereo microphones that will significantly improve your audio quality by reducing the background noise. And despite the fact we have mentioned this feature, you must, however, note that you will still need an external mic if you want to have the best quality audio. To polish things off, we feel compelled to point out that the C920, to make HD recording possible, uses UVC H.264 technology, and this it does while being economical on your memory space and bandwidth.
Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000
If you’re on a tight budget but yet want a camera that offers premium features to enhance your live stream, then the LifeCam HD-3000 will suffice. The HD-3000 doesn’t only tick that box, but it’s a heavyweight in its own right.
And apart from looking sleek with the Microsoft signature look for the LifeCam series, this camera allows for widescreen 720-pixel video recording at 30 frames per second. Also, the small but stable stand that the device has will allow you to place the unit in almost any area easily.
In addition to the features mentioned above, the HD-3000 boasts a flexible head, a mono mic, and a USB 2.0 output. And these respectively allow for the below-stated functions in the following order:
- Allow you to adjust the camera quickly.
- Noise cancellation, this makes it possible for your viewers to listen to the audio of your video without having to increase their volume excessively.
- To connect to other Windows devices.
So, look no further if you are on an extremely tight budget but want the best that pocket can buy; the Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000 is your winner.
Logitech C930e Full HD
In its own right, the C930e is one of Logitech’s flagship cameras. Built with business in mind, the C930e is an ideal choice for online conferences and other such sessions. This Logitech model is adept at recording full HD 1080p videos at 30fps. And being consistent with the Logitech design, you can either use the tripod embedded thread or the clip this plug-and-play camera.
And in addition to the C930e being able to zoom 4x without compromising the video quality, tilt, and pan, the device hosts a built-in H.264 encoder that allows for in-camera video processing. If you ask, this camera is a smart buy for online business owners, lecturers, website owners, or anyone that functions in a similar capacity.
Best DSLRs and Mirrorless Cameras for Live Streaming
As we had alluded to earlier, DSLR and mirrorless cameras are some of the best cameras for live streaming. And that being so, this collection is not complete without featuring them. That said, we are only going to list the best of the lot; that is, we will discuss the best DSLR and mirrorless cameras available anywhere.
Canon 80D (with EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens)
And kicking things off in this section is the Canon 80D, and why not, this camera is, to date the most popular DSLRs used by YouTubers. Even famous vloggers like Casey Neistat can’t get enough of the Canon 80D. And here are a few reasons why:
- 2MP APS-C CMOS sensor that allows for the most beautiful and perfect image quality.
- HD 1080p video at 60fps, which is an exceptional feature that’s reserve for high performing cameras. And most of Canon’s users have come to expect nothing less from this top-selling camera.
- Canon’s improved Dual Pixel CMOS AF and this feature allows for fast and ultra-precise focusing.
- A world-class autofocus system that ensures the camera intelligently adjusts its lens to pinpoint its focus on the specific subject. If you’re a professional, you will know that often the line between a sharp photo and a missed opportunity is a thin one. That being the case, you want a camera that can autofocus on the subject matter throughout your live stream. With the Canon 80D, you won’t have to worry about that; this feature takes care of that.
- 7560-pixel RGB+IR metering sensor: this helps to enable color tracking, which in turn makes skin color detection possible.
The features discussed above, coined with an anti-flickering setup that helps to maintain constant exposure levels, and image color when filming under flickering or changing light source, all combine in making this camera an irresistible choice.
Panasonic Lumix GH4
If the Canon 80D is the most popular DSLR camera among YouTubers and photographers, so is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4. But unlike the Canon 80D, the Lumix DMC-GH4 is a mirrorless camera, and one of the best of its type. This camera is versatile, and it offers a variety of recording options.
Can you guess which device on this list was the first Micro Four Thirds camera designed to capture cinema-grade DCI 4K videos? If your guess was the Lumix DMC-GH4, you guessed right. And mind you, I did not mention that it does all this with a maximum resolution of 4096×2160 at 24fps.
And if we should add that this camera films UHD 4K (3840×2160) videos at up to 30fps and 1080p videos at 60fps, we would have no choice but to conclude that this camera is one of Panasonic’s best offering in this price range.
Panasonic Lumix GH5
If the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH4 packed a mean punch, then the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH5 will knock you off your chair. And we mean it, the GH4 is an upgraded model of the GH5, and it takes everything great about the GH4 and improves on it. So, here are some of the remarkable features of this camera that will push you to order it at this very moment, providing you can afford to, but it’s worth every penny.
- Enjoy 4K video recording a 60fps; now that’s unprecedented and never seen before speeds.
- Full HD 1080p video recording at 180fps, that’s on par with the price and, more importantly, allow for unbelievable super slow-motion video recordings and time-lapses.
- Full-sized HDMI port; this will take care of the output quality issue.
- Export of uncompressed video via HDMI; on par with its GH4 counterpart.
Now, considering that the features listed here are just a few of many other features, we will have to conclude that the GH5 model is in a class by itself, period.
Sony Alpha a5100
Sony is a tech giant, and when it comes to creating electronics, it’s among the best in the industry. With Sony, you can bet your last dollar that you will get value for your money, and as always, the case, the superior image quality will never be an issue.
That said, the Sony Alpha a5100 is a camera designed to produce HD videos. So, considering the price point and the fact that you are getting a full HD experience, you may want to keep the a5100 close to you. And besides not blowing a hole in your pocket, this camera records 1080p videos at 60fps, and add to that a hybrid autofocus system with various options. Now, in our estimation, that’s an offer you will find hard to pass on.
Best Camcorders for Live Streaming
Since camcorders are so popular and a favorite among many live streaming fanatics, we thought it only fit to include them in this list. So, let’s look at them.
Panasonic is another tech giant, and an old one at that, the company has been a significant player in the tech industry for ages, and they know just how to build an electronic device. And with the Panasonic HC-V770, it’s hard doubting the handwriting on the walls… quality.
So, if outstanding image quality is what you are after, at a reasonable price, you can get your desire. And besides being able to shoot 1080p videos at 60fps, this camera has a built-in Wi-Fi feature, remote monitoring, a clean HDMI output, 5-axis image stabilization, and built-in jacks for headphones and mics. And these are not all the highlights for this device; there are more. But the idea is to give you a taste of what is possible with this camera from Panasonic.
Canon VIXIA HF G40
With the Canon VIXIA HF G40, you can kiss goodbye to any internet connectivity issue. This camera comes with advanced dual-band Wi-Fi control that gives you more control over your camera. And the fact that the Wi-Fi feature is dual-band means that your camera can interact with the internet at blistering speeds, and with that, you will enjoy a lag-free live streaming experience. There’s also a built-in image stabilization that is ideal for shooting 1080p videos handheld at up to 60fps. That said, you won’t need to worry about the quality of your videos if you have to move around while shooting them.
Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera
The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema is not only an excellent choice for live streaming but equally for independent filmmakers and documentary. It’s lightweight and compact, which makes it a top pick for location shoots. Among other offering are:
- Super 16 format sensor
- Thirteen stops of dynamic range
- Cinematic detailed footage at full HD 1080p
- Micro Four Thirds (MFT) lens mount
The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema comes with some pretty impressive features; a purchase of this device will go a long way in helping you achieve an enjoyable live streaming experience at an affordable price.
Best Action Cameras for Live Streaming
We’re just about to finish, but first, we need to look at the only action camera for live streaming making its way on this list.
GoPro HERO5 Black
With every passing day, GoPro cameras, though being action cameras, are rapidly increasing in popularity among live streaming fanatics. And no doubt, this has to do with its recent technological and optical advancements. Now, considering its UHD 4K (3840×2160) video recording output at up to 30fps, versatility, and portability, you might downplay its connectivity issue, which is its most significant setback. Aside from that, Hero5 is the best action camera for live streaming.
We have reached the end of an informative, easy to read, funny at times, comprehensive article about the best cameras for live streaming. We hope you enjoyed reading it; we did our best based on our experience, research, and our take on these products to present them to you in the way we did.