The best camera for streaming is a vital purchase if you’re serious about making a go of being a streamer. Your laptop webcam might look decent on Zoom, but streaming audiences have learned to expect something that’s a cut above in terms of visual quality, and the audio won’t be much cop either. A simple upgrade, which doesn't have to be expensive, can completely transform your streaming potential.
Want a more general-purpose camera? We’ve also got a round-up of the best cameras overall. And if you want to stick with a smartphone, our best camera phones guide will help you find the best ones for video.
It’s important to look at each camera’s specs before making a decision. Different cameras shoot at different resolutions, for instance, and for streaming it’s best to have access to Full HD (1920x1080 pixels). Anything lower than that will be passable but not the best quality (though it will come cheaper). Higher resolutions, meanwhile, are nice to have, but probably unnecessary as even speedy internet connections can struggle with streaming 4K. We have included options for a broad range of resolutions, so that whatever your needs and budgets, you should be catered for.
It’s also worth looking at the video frame rates offered – 30fps is good and fine, while 60fps is smoother, but costs more. Different cameras also have different fields of view, and you may want a wider one depending on your streaming setup (i.e. if you’re streaming a group conversation).
We’ve gone through each of the ten cameras on our list and run through their strengths and weaknesses. We’ve included different types of streaming camera and split them up into sections – you can click to jump to the section of choice, where we’ve also included a brief explanation of each type.
The best camera for streaming
Webcams are the best choice for PC streaming. They tend to be simple to set up and use, and while they don’t offer much in the way of manual control or accessory compatibility, they’ll do everything that most streamers need. There’s a reason they’re so popular!
The Logitech C920 is one of the most popular streaming cameras ever made – if you’ve spent any serious time watching streams, then you’ve almost certainly seen someone using it. The Logitech C922 is its successor, adding a few improvements while still being available for a tempting, competitive price. It produces great-looking Full HD video (all you need) and has two omnidirectional microphones to ensure clean and clear audio.
The C922 couldn’t be easier to use – plug it in via USB and you’re away. It offers customisable background replacement, which is great for gaming streamers, and the autofocus is consistent and reliable. For the vast majority of streamers, this is almost certainly the best buy you can make.
Elgato has spent quite some time building up a stable of products for a streaming studio, from lights to microphones, so it was inevitable that we’d eventually get an Elgato-branded webcam. As competition to the likes of Logitech, the Elgato Facecam impresses – that price tag gives you an indication that it’s targeting a slightly different stripe of user, but if you want 60p video, you gotta pay for it. While having your Full HD video run at 60 frames per second is hardly necessary, you can’t argue against how smooth it looks.
The eight-element prime lens on the front of the camera also helps the image look as sharp as possible. You’ll undoubtedly look fantastic on streams captured using the Elgato Facecam – really it’s just a question of whether you want to pay the premium for it.
You don’t need to spend big money to get started with streaming. The Microsoft Lifecam HD-3000 is available for a fantastic budget price, and really it has all the basics you need to get started. It only captures video in HD 720p, not Full HD 1080p, but this is absolutely fine for smartphone viewing and basic setups, so if you’re streaming more for fun than to make a career, it’ll do the job. One piece of advice though – don’t bother with the digital zoom, as 720p doesn’t provide enough pixels for it to look anything other than bad. The built-in mic is decent quality and even has some noise cancellation, which is a nice touch. For a straightforward PC streaming setup that keeps things cheap, we’d definitely recommend the Lifecam HD-3000.
Many streamers and TikTokers find themselves buying a ring light to make the image of their face look the best it can – well, the Razer Kiyo webcam has a multi-step LED built right in! Allowing you to consolidate your setup earns this webcam brownie points right off the bat, and it continues to impress with full manual camera controls and Full HD 30fps video that looks excellent. If you take the resolution down to HD 720p then you can up the frame rate to 60fps (and if you simply must have Full HD 60fps, there is a doubly expensive Razer Kiyo Pro offering this). If you’re the kind of streamer who likes to tweak and fiddle with their image until happy with how it looks, the Razer Kiyo will let you absolutely go to town.
Short for ‘pan, tilt zoom’, PTZ cameras have motorised stands that allow them more freedom of movement than a fixed webcam. They are excellent for streaming large-scale events in conference rooms or lecture theatres, and are a good choice if your streaming plans are a little more ambitious than you at your computer. The downside is that they cost more, and many don’t offer audio support, meaning you also need to factor in the cost of a mic.
While it may look like quite a price jump from the webcam, believe us, the Logitech PTZ Pro 2 is pretty cheap for a PTZ camera. It’s capable of capturing great-looking Full HD video, and thanks to its high-quality lens unit, can also optically zoom up to 10x, meaning you can get closer without the loss in quality that comes with digital zoom. This makes it great for streaming a conference or speaking event, as you can move from a wide room shot to a tight speaker shot with ease, controlling the camera via the hand-held remote. It plugs in via easy USB, and while the autofocus is sometimes a little temperamental, overall it offers excellent value for a PTZ camera.
For wireless streaming and seamless connectivity, it’s hard to beat the Mevo Start. Using the Mevo Camera App, or the Mevo Multicam App for multiple-camera setups, you can control the settings of your stream, switching between shots and editing on the fly. The Mevo Start has excellent built in microphones that capture audio in great quality from considerable distance, and it has pan, tilt and zoom functionality – though the maximum zoom is only 2.3x so it’s not exactly a game-changer. Thanks to the Wi-Fi integration, it’s possible and even easy to stream completely wirelessly with the Mevo Start; the only reason to plug it in via the USB-C connection would be if you’re worried about battery life.
Cameras and camcorders
If you want to do more with your camera than just live stream, it makes sense to get a more sophisticated camera or camcorder that provides you with greater depth of control than a webcam. Many of these cameras also offer higher resolutions, in case streaming in 4K is something you need to do. Here are the cameras and camcorders we think are best for streamers and vloggers.
The Sony A6000 is an enduringly popular mirrorless camera for video even though it’s a few years old, and it works great for streaming too. Setting it up requires a few extra steps compared to a webcam – something like an Elgato Cam Link 4K is a good extra step for getting it connected to a computer’s USB port, and you’ll need to delve into the settings to make sure the video output is clean of screen furniture. But you get a huge amount of flexibility here, and can craft a host of different setups thanks to the abundance of lenses available for Sony E mount. The Full HD 60p footage also looks fantastic.
YouTubers love the Canon G7 X series, and this latest iteration is the most video-focused yet. The fact that it has a clean HDMI out means it’s easy to stream high-quality video, even in 4K UHD if you so desire, and having a 3.5mm mic input means you can attach a high-quality microphone for superior audio (though with no mic hotshoe on top of the camera, you’ll need to find somewhere else to put it). Its 24-100mm equivalent lens provides a broad range of framing options, and there’s a pleasing range of frame rate options in Full HD. It’s definitely on the pricey side for a compact camera with a 1-inch sensor, but if you’re a streamer, the video features just about justify the price.
A dedicated camcorder can be just the thing for all sorts of different types of streaming, from solo desktop streams to large-scale events. We’ve picked the Panasonic HC-V770 as a typical and affordable camcorder that will work for most streaming needs – it doesn’t have 4K, but most streamers won’t need it, and this keeps the price down. A 20x zoom lens, a portable and well-designed body and top-notch Full HD video all add up to a very versatile all-rounder of a streaming camera. It’s easy to use with an ergonomic control ring, and the footage generally looks very good. The 1/2.3-inch sensor is on the small side, and if you want more dynamic range you’ll get it from the other cameras in this section.
An enduringly popular mirrorless video camera, the Lumix GH5 recently got updated with a Mark II version, but we’re sticking with the original as our pick as it’s a fantastic video camera whose price is only going to come down. It can shoot video at various resolutions, all the way up to cinema-quality DCI 4K, and also has access to the wide range of Micro Four Thirds lenses thanks to its MFT lens mount. By far the most expensive camera on our list (remember you have to factor in lens costs too, and you’ll probably want a microphone) it’s only really suitable for serious streamers and vloggers looking to shoot professionally. But if that does describe you, this is a fantastic buy.