If you’re looking to become a Twitch streamer nowadays, there is a lot of gear you’re going to need to invest in. Desktop microphones, Capture Cards, and Lighting set-ups are all essential tools, but those are relatively straightforward to choose. When looking for the best camera for streaming, the amount of options can be a little bit intimidating. That’s why FilmToolKit has put together this guide to help you pick the best camera for streaming that suits your needs.
The right choice for you can vary depending on your budget and needs as a streamer. Some of you are looking for a way to connect a DSLR, others might just want a kick-ass webcam. We’re going to have the best solution no matter what type of camera you’re looking for! At the bottom of the page, we have a section discussing the pro’s and con’s of the different types of cameras to help you understand what you’re choosing.
Sit tight, let’s get into the picks!
- 1 Best Camera For Streaming – Our Top 5 Picks
- 1.1 1. Best Webcam Camera For Streaming
- 1.2 IMPORTANT: If you want to stream with a camcorder or DSLR, you’re going to need one of these.
- 1.3 2. Best DSLR For Streaming (Very High Budget)
- 1.4 3. Best Camera For Streaming (High Budget)
- 1.5 4. Best Camera For Streaming (Low Budget)
- 1.6 5. Best Camera To Live Stream For Free
- 2 Essential Accessories For Your Camera For Streaming
- 3 The Pros and Cons Of Each Type Of Camera For Streaming
- 4 How To Stream “IRL” Remotely With A Camcorder Or DSLR
Best Camera For Streaming – Our Top 5 Picks
1. Best Webcam Camera For Streaming
While initially known for their low quality, in recent years, there has been a surge in the availability of high-quality webcams. The Logitech C922x is widely regarded as the best webcam on the market.
Even big streamers like ImaQTpie use the Logitech C922x for their streams, and they’re some of the most popular streamers on the entire site. If it’s good enough for them, it is certainly good enough for you.
At under $100, the camera is capable of vibrant, 30 FPS 1080p footage, and 60 FPS at 720p. The field of view is a great middle ground 78 degrees, it has auto focus, as well as Logitech’s excellent dynamic background replacement feature.
The stereo microphone, while still a “webcam microphone”, has enough fidelity for you to be understandable if you do not yet have a better mic.
The C922x also comes with a 6 month Xsplit license, giving you free access to the industry standard streaming software.
If you’re interested in learning more about the C922x, or would like to see our other webcam recommendations, check out our full guide to the best webcams for streaming.
IMPORTANT: If you want to stream with a camcorder or DSLR, you’re going to need one of these.
While Webcams are convenient and are plug-and-play with a simple USB connection, camcorders and DSLRs require a little extra work and accessories. The following devices will allow you to hook up your camera to your computer to use it for streaming.
In addition, If you already have a spare capture card, you can use one of those. We wrote a guide to some of our favorites.
The Magewell USB capture device is actually technically a capture card that we reviewed in our Top 5 Capture Cards list. It serves a simple purpose, and it serves it better than anyone else. It records a visual feed from a high quality DSLR or camcorder.
That’s right. You can plug in a fancy DSLR and do a live-stream with zooming lenses and proper camera settings. This is the best HDMI capture dongle on the market.
It supports up-scaling, down-scaling, and arbitrary video resolutions and framerates. Your computer will recognize it as a webcam, so you’ll be able to do everything that a webcam could ever do.
Why is it so expensive? Similar devices like the Black Magic UltraStudio do the same thing for half the price!
Yes, the Black Magic Ultrastudio is also an excellent advice that we have no problem recommending if you’re looking to save money. It even has SDI capabilities, which is arguably a better connector type if you’re streaming from a SDI compatible camera.
However, the internal processors allow the Magewell to deliver a completely uncompressed signal with zero loss in quality and almost no latency. You literally could not find a recorder that will give you better fidelity.
In our opinion, the steep asking price is worth it. You’re already spending a lot on your camera equipment, so to skimp here would defeat the purpose.
2. Best DSLR For Streaming (Very High Budget)
Be warned, this is going to cost quite a bit. Only buy this if you’re already in the market for a DSLR anyways. We think webcams are perfectly fine. Check Price on Amazon
The Panasonic GH5 holds up very well and is used by several streamers to achieve a level of quality otherwise unattainable. We’re going to list the stats at the bottom, but that’s not what we want to talk about. It’s a very popular camera either way – the stats are not why we are recommending it.
In our research, we came across many people who argued that streaming with a DSLR is not a good idea. However, we came across many streamers who have had a lot of success with DSLRs and are happy with the look they achieve. Almost all of these streamers recommend the Panasonic GH5.
Most popular DSLRs from brands like Canon and Nikon have excellent cameras, but few of them are designed for to be used for prolonged periods of time. Many of these cameras are prone to overheating, which can cause permanent damage to a camera’s internal processors and sensor.
The GH5 has become a popular choice because it does not have this flaw. Many streamers have reported being able to stream for 6-8 hours with it without any issues whatsoever. No damage to the camera and no interruptions, even with repeated use. If you want the absolute best quality possible on your stream, this camera should be your choice.
This video is a demonstration of the stream quality when using the Lumix GH5
As seen in the above video, you will be able to stream in 4k, provided you have a 4k capture card like the Elgato 4k60 Pro. Now, not all streaming platforms are running 4k just yet, but a few are, and future-proofing your setup is always a good thing.
Finally, here’s the important stats.
- 20.3 Megapixels sensor resolution
- 4k 60fps Video Resolution
- Wi-Fi for image transfer
- Mirrorless design
- Incredible Image Stabilization
- Dual SD card slots
- Weighs under 2 pounds
The following video is a strong argument as to why you may want to use a DSLR for your stream, as well as a guide to how a GH5 setup functions.
Note: If you are going to be running a streaming setup with this camera, you will need a continuous charging power supply like this one.
3. Best Camera For Streaming (High Budget)
In our opinion, streaming with a DSLR is very overkill. Now, if you want to just go a little overkill, this is a great one.
We’re very impressed with the performance of this camera and recently recommended it in our guide on the best camcorders for YouTube. You can read the full review there. Basically, we found that it produced the best footage out of all the camcorders we looked at.
A larger-than-average aperture of 1.8~2.8, OLED display, excellent low light performance and a proper lens hood ensure that your stream looks even better than the pros. If you’re already looking for a video camera, this one rocks, and will do everything you need it to do in terms of your stream as well.
Here is a video quality test of the Canon Vixia HF G40.
Camcorders are built to record video for long periods of time, and are much more user-friendly than DSLRs. If the price tag is still too scary, you can definitely afford the next one on our list.
4. Best Camera For Streaming (Low Budget)
You don’t need to spend $1000 to experience the quality a camcorder can offer. For around 200 dollars you are getting excellent video quality from one of the best brands on the market, and it’s packed with a ton of extra features.
Here is a video quality test of the Canon HF R70 (Make sure to turn on 1080p 60fps!)
Okay, the last two cameras are pretty tough to beat, but we think that this camera definitely outperforms any webcam you’re going to find.
The Vixia HF R70 is capable of shooting 1080p at up to 60 fps, a framerate typically reserved for camcorders of a higher price tier.
While it won’t connect directly to twitch, the Wi-Fi features do allow you to live stream videos over the internet. If you want full, uncompressed quality, we still recommend going with the capture cards mentioned above however.
At the bargain price of only $200, this is going to give you the most bang for your buck if you’re looking for a better camera for streaming.
5. Best Camera To Live Stream For Free
Your Cell Phone
Yup. If you’re looking to start streaming for as little money as possible, you can start today by using your smartphone!
In fact, if you have a modern smartphone Google Pixel or Iphone X, it’s actually probably going to be your best option, period.
There are many apps out there that allow you to stream from your camera directly to any streaming platforms. Battery banks will allow you to keep shooting indefinitely, and your phone’s built in networking capabilities mean you don’t need any external devices to connect it to the internet!
This is an excellent choice for aspiring IRL streamers.
Here’s an example of a vlog recorded on the Google Pixel. We think it looks pretty professional!
Essential Accessories For Your Camera For Streaming
Here’s a couple accessories you can combine with our previous recommendations to take your face-camera to the next level!
If you’re opting to record your stream with a DSLR or camcorder, you’re going to likely need something to hold your camera up with. While mini desk tripods are cool and can get the job done, we suggest going with something more versatile.
The Joby Gorillapod is an amazing, relatively cheap device that allows you to mount your camera on just about anything.
The ability to articulate the arms fully is very useful, and means you will be able to configure your camera in otherwise unreachable parts of your desk.
Since IRL streaming is practically live vlogging, the Gorillapod makes the most sense there too, as you can either hold it yourself or wrap it around your surroundings.
A Lighting Kit and Green Screen
We recently assembled a guide covering the best lighting for streaming in which we listed our favorite lighting kit, which also includes a green screen so that you can remove your background on your stream.
For the full review, as well as some other lighting recommendations, check out the full guide.
The Pros and Cons Of Each Type Of Camera For Streaming
You’re going to have three primary choices when you’re picking your streaming camera. Each has their own drawbacks and benefits, which we have neatly compiled here to help you make your choice!
For the vast majority of streamers out there, we recommend that you go with a webcam. What you sacrifice in versatility is gained in value and ease of use.
- By far the best quality to cost ratio.
- No additional purchases like capture or networking cards.
- Very simple to use.
- Can come with useful features like background blurring/removal.
- Limits you to recording at your desk.
- Cannot match the quality of DSLRs and Camcorders.
- Internal mic quality isn’t always the best.
- Can’t use without a computer.
Camcorders are the middle-ground choice on the spectrum of quality to value. They might not beat DSLRs, but they definitely exceed the quality of Webcams.
- Can shoot anywhere, even outside your house with some.
- Quality a bit better than webcams.
- Built to record video for long periods of time with no issue.
- Fairly affordable.
- Streaming setups can be a little more complex.
- Lacks the quality of DSLRs.
If you are looking for the best quality possible for your stream, this is the best choice. Be warned, this quality will come at a price, and DSLRs can have some harsh drawbacks as well.
- By far the best quality.
- As versatile as it gets.
- Maximum control when it comes to focus, exposure, etc.
- VERY expensive, often requires additional accessories.
- Complicated to configure.
- Most DSLRs are prone to overheating when streaming for too long.
How To Stream “IRL” Remotely With A Camcorder Or DSLR
Fairly recently, there has been an explosion in the popularity of a new breed of streamers – IRL. These streamers like to take their cameras out into the real world as they do exciting activities, or even as they go about their day-to-day life.
Here is a video compilation of some Twitch IRL fails. (WARNING: May containt NSFW language)
What many of you are likely wondering is how it’s possible to stream out in public using a DSLR or camcorder. They most definitely do not have twitch built in, and you can’t lug around your streaming PC everywhere you go, so how is it possible?
Well, it is a lot less easy than just using your phone. We’ve talked to some of the pros to get an answer on how they make it work with their DSLR.
Solution #1 – Elegant but expensive
If you’re a professional, or a streamer with a large audience willing to make a larger investment, this will be the best solution for you.
Warning: This device is really expensive. If you don’t have the budget for it, please, just stream from your phone.
The Teradek VidiU is a professional grade capture card/transmitter that can use Wi-Fi to stream your camera feed to a remote computer and Twitch, YouTube, Periscope, and more.
This is used by large businesses and streamers when they want a reliable, compact device that will do everything they need it to. It even has a built-in service that allows you to aggregate the bandwidth of 4 different Wi-Fi hot spots so you can stream in places with very weak signal.
All you need is this, your camera, an HDMI cord and a phone to get started, so if you’re looking for the easiest solution, here it is.
Solution #2 – Stuff everything in your backpack
Of course, not everyone has $1000 to blow on a tiny little remote streaming device. The other solution, is to take your whole setup on the road with you. Grab a portable computer, capture card and power supply, throw it all in a backpack and hit the road!
The only problems with this solution are running out of power, or the rig becoming too cumbersome. It’s cheap, and will be pretty inconvenient long-term, but it gets the job done.
In either case, taking your stream on the road is far from convenient. If you’re a big tech reviewer covering an expo, then the purchases might be justified. However, if you’re just taking your stream on a walk with you a couple times a month, probably just stick with your cell phone.