Whether you’re an experienced filmmaker or an aspiring vlogger, becoming familiar with the best video cameras for your context can transform your content. From easy-to-use designs for beginners to action cams for intrepid travelers, we’ve got something for everyone and we want to help you find the best one for you.
To help you sift through the best video cameras for your needs, we’ve put together our top picks for 2021. Using a comprehensive methodology to identify the best hybrid cameras, our impressive selection makes it easy to find the right model for you.
Our Evaluation Method
To make finding the best video camera simple and straightforward, we’ve compared a range of factors, including lens type, video quality, ease of use, and portability. In addition to this, we’ve scoured the market and sifted through expert reviews to get the lowdown on the biggest brands and most anticipated releases.
However, we don’t stop there. Video cameras can be used for a wide range of purposes, from capturing breaking news to vlogging, which is why we differentiate between the best cameras for different purposes. By combining this data and conducting our own in-depth research, we make it easy to find the best video cameras in 2021.
Our Recommendations for April 2021
- Canon EOS R6 – Perfect for top-quality 4K video recording, the R6 is versatile, user-friendly, and delivers 21 custom functions.
- GoPro Hero 8 – Highly portable and super lightweight, the Hero 8 ensures you’re always ready to capture the action.
- Autel EVO II – If you’re looking for a drone video camera, the EVO II, with 8K video capture and a max. speed of 72kph will fulfill all your requirements and more.
- GoPro Max – Capture immersive 360 content with the GoPro Max and add the finishing touches with a range of editing features.
- Sony A7 III – Easy-to-use and capable of recording high-quality video content for 210 minutes on a single charge (LCD monitor), the A7 III is a must for YouTube creators.
- Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III – Packed full of features, the E-M5 Mark III turns everyone into a pro vlogger and makes it easy to capture stunning footage in Cinema 4K.
- Panasonic Lumix GH5 – A natural choice for budding cinematographers, the four-thirds image sensor and advanced in-body stabilization enable you to shoot cutting-edge documentaries, action-packed sequences, and everything in between.
- Sony FDR-AX43 – Easy to use but with outstanding functionality, the highly portable FDR-AX43 makes capturing 4K footage a breeze.
- Sony Cyber-shot RX100 MVII – 4K video capture, tilting touchscreen and pocket-size design make the RX100 MVII perfect for traveling.
Reviews of Best Video Cameras April 2021
Best Video Cameras for 4K
Canon EOS R6
With the option to shoot in 1080p up to 120 fps and 4K up to 60 fps, the Canon EOS R6 is perfect for users who want to capture crystal-clear footage. 21 custom functions and built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth ensure you’ll be able to send, save and share your content straight away. While the lack of sound memo functionality might be a drawback for some, there’s no doubt that the Canon EOS R6 offers exceptional functionality and outstanding 4K video capture.
Specs: Full-frame mirrorless camera | DIGIC X Image Processor | 4K Video up to 60 fps
- Water and dust resistant
- Dual SD/SDHC, SDXC, UHS-II Supported
- Multiple shooting modes
- Digital Lens Optimizer
- No LCD Panel
- Cannot capture sound memos
Best Video Cameras for Action
GoPro Hero 8
Lightweight, robust, and small enough to fit in your pocket, the GoPro Hero 8 is our top choice for high-octane shoots and is undoubtedly one of the best action cameras out there. HyperSmooth 2.0 stabilization ensures you’ll capture every second of the action at high quality, while TimeWarp 2.0 automatically adjusts lighting, motion, and scene detection to create the best content. Film in 4K, or livestream in 1080p so your viewers never miss a thing.
Specs: 12MP + SuperPhoto | In-app horizon leveling | 8x Slow motion | SuperView, narrow, linear, and wide lenses
- Waterproof up to 10m
- 1-3 hour battery life
- Smaller and lighter than the Hero 9
- Built-in accessory mounts
- No front-facing camera
- Smaller screen than DJI
Best Video Cameras on Drones
Autel EVO II
If you’re going to send a drone up, you’ll certainly want to capture everything it sees. With the Autel EVO II, you’ll get a stunning bird’s eye view thanks to its 48MP camera and 8K video functionality. Use the controller and 3.3” OLED screen to send the drone on its way or connect directly to smartphone via the Autel app and take the perfect overhead shots.
Specs: Up to 8K video resolution | 40 min. battery life | Max. range 5.5m/9km | Max. speed 44mph/72kph
- Omnidirectional collision sensors
- Multiple tracking options
- CMOS optical sensor technology
- 8K video capture only up to 25fps
- No geofencing
Best Video Cameras for 360
Shooting 360 videos gives you the opportunity to capture footage in a whole new way and the GoPro Max makes it easier than ever. You don’t need to be an expert to use the Max, as you can hit record and worry about editing your footage later but the wide range of features and capabilities ensure that even pro users will find the GoPro Max the best video camera for 360.
Specs: 16.6MP 360 Photo and 5.5MP Hero Mode Photo | 360 video capture in 5.6K30 | 2x Slow motion with Max HyperSmooth | Live streaming at 1080p
- Front-facing screen and shotgun microphone
- 180-degree buffer enhances stabilization
- Six microphones capture real-life 360 audio
- App functionality could be improved
Best Video Cameras for YouTube
Sony A7 III
For serious YouTubers, the Sony A7 III is hard to beat. Sony’s mirrorless cameras are the ideal hybrid device for capturing stills and videos, while the A7 III’s full-frame sensor makes it easy to capture stunning 4K footage, even in low light. If you’re looking for a video camera that’s easy to use but capable of producing great YouTube content; this is it. With double the MP of the A7S III, the A7 III might seem like an obvious choice. However, the A7S III is capable of recording in 4K at up to 60p, whereas the A7 III is limited to 30p, which makes it a worthy contender.
Specs: 24.2MP BSI full-frame Image Sensor | 4K recording at 30p | 8fps live-view shooting | Updated 24.2-MP5 Exmor R CMOS sensor | BIONZ X image processing engine
- Suitable for use with Sony’s E mount lens
- Connect to your smartphone using Bluetooth for instant uploads
- 200-minute ViewFinder recording with full charge
- Doesn’t feature a fully articulating screen
Best Video Cameras for Vlogging
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III
If you’re creating content to boost your followers or promote your brand, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III is everything you need. A micro four-thirds camera, its mirrorless design, and DSLR functionality ensure top-quality footage. What’s more – the option to shoot in 4K, or Cinema 4K a great cinema camera too. Optical image stabilization, a range of inputs, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity make this a great camera for amateur and professional vloggers.
Specs: 20.4MP | 3.0-inch vari-angle touchscreen | Four-thirds sensor | 5-axis in-body image stabilization | 30Fps sequential shooting
- 4K and Cinema 4K functionality
- No headphone jack
Best Video Cameras for Filmmaking
Panasonic Lumix GH5
Filled with features that cinematographers will love, as well as impressive still photo capabilities, the Lumix GH5 is a hybrid you can’t afford to miss. The popularity of the GH4 amongst filmmakers makes the GH5 a natural upgrade, particularly due to the enhanced functionality and range of features. While the Lumix GH5S offers dual native ISOs of 400 and 2500, the GH5’s native ISO of 400 with a range of 200-12800 will be more than sufficient for the vast majority of users.
Specs: 20MP Four Thirds sensor | Autofocus point joystick | Internal 4K/30p 10-bit 4:2:2 video capture | 5-axis in-body image stabilization
- 4K footage recorded using full width of sensor
- 1080 video at up to 180p
- 4K footage at up to 59.94p
- Menu navigation can take some time to learn
Best Video Cameras that are Camcorders
With an Exmor R CMOS image sensor and max. recording resolution of 3,840 x 2,160px, the Sony FDR-AX43 offers exceptional capabilities. For users who are looking for a light and compact camcorder that packs a punch, the FDR-AX43 is a top choice. Widely recognized as one of the best video cameras, its 20x optical zoom, 4K shooting ability, and multiple recording options ensure the FDR-AX43 is a natural choice for budding filmmakers. While performance in low light can be a little noisy, this isn’t a drawback that should concern you. In fact, the features, capabilities, and portability of the Sony FDR-AX43 mean it’s one of the best video cameras out there.
Specs: Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar T lens | 20x optical zoom | Exmor R CMOS image sensor | Dual-video recording in AVCHD or XAVC S (plus MP4) | 4K Recording | 5.1 Channel microphone
- Lightweight and portable at just 625g
- Record in 4K
- Can be noisy in low light
- No HDR
Best Video Cameras for Travel
Sony Cyber-shot RX100 VII
Built with travel in mind, the Cyber-shot RX100 VII is perfect if you’re jet-setting around the world or wandering through your neighborhood. You can record in 4K at up to 30fps but switch to full HD and the frame rate increases to 120p. The introduction of Real-time Eye AF and Real-time tracking for video, as well as stills, mean photographers are clamoring to upgrade to the RX100 VII, which isn’t surprising when you consider the features on offer.
Specs: 20.1MP 1-inch stacked CMOS sensor with DRAM chip | 4K recording up to 30fps | 20fps with AF/AE and up to 90fps without
- Similar speeds to Sony’s A9 flagship model
- 4K Active SteadyShot offers enhanced stabilization
- Real-time Tracking and Real-time Eye AF for video
- No in-camera raw processing
How to Choose a Video Camera
With so many models and features to consider, choosing a video camera can be tricky, particularly if you’re new to filming. However, there are certain things you should bear in mind. When you’re comparing models, for example, be sure to think about how you plan to use your camera. If you’re going to be filming on the go, for example, portability might be a top factor. Alternatively, if you plan to use your video camera in situ, a larger model with additional capabilities might be the best option.
By focusing on your must-have features, you’ll be able to determine which of these top-rated video cameras is right for you. To get a little more guidance on what you should be looking for, take a look at these important things to consider when you’re choosing a video camera:
1. Interchangeable or Fixed Lens
As you might expect, an interchangeable lens camera gives you more options when it comes to shooting. Also known as system cameras, an interchangeable lens model is ideal if you want to capture different types of footage or use your camera in a wide range of environments.
However, fixed lens cameras shouldn’t be overlooked. The dimensions of a built-in lens typically means that these models are compact, which is important if you’re looking for a highly portable video camera. What’s more- the autofocus and zoom features on a built-in lens can give you an impressive range of functionality, without the hassle of changing lenses.
2. Video Quality/Control
When you’re buying a camera, the video quality and control is, perhaps, the most important aspect to consider. Today’s video cameras typically offer 4K recording but check the frame rate and whether there is any limitation on how long you can film in 4K.
Of course, if 4K is more than you need, you’ll find a stunning range of video cameras with 1080s capabilities, as well as 720p and Full HD. While 4K is becoming standard across the industry, there’s no point blowing your budget for features you won’t use.
To enhance the quality of your footage, look out for video cameras with image stabilization. This will help you to capture steady shots and enhance the audience’s experience.
The zoom is always an important feature but it’s particularly critical if you’re choosing a fixed lens camera, as you won’t be able to switch to a different lens at a later date. Optical zoom is generally seen as the most effective option, so be sure to check the capabilities when you’re comparing cameras. Although digital zoom doesn’t provide the same lossless functionality as an optical zoom, advanced tech means they’re getting better all the time and can be a welcome addition on any video camera.
The viewfinder is what you’ll look at when lining up a shot or recording footage, but there are various options out there. On DSLR and mirrorless cameras, the viewfinder is typically an LCD screen on the back of the camera, which provides easy viewing. Extra features, such as multi-zone metering, EV scale, and focus points, enable you to increase the quality of your content, which is why choosing a camera with the right viewfinder is so important.
Remember – many video cameras feature more than one viewfinder. Although some users find the addition of an optical viewfinder unnecessary, they can come in handy when you’re shooting in bright light or difficult conditions, as an electronic screen might hard to see. While an optical viewfinder will only show 75-90% of the full-frame, it can be a helpful feature to have.
The best cameras don’t tend to come cheap but, look hard enough, and you’ll find some irresistible bargains out there. If you want to keep your budget low, think carefully about how many of the advanced features you really need and how you’re going to use your camera. However, if you want to access the best quality and widest range of features, you might want to look at your new video camera as an investment purchase, rather than an impulse buy.
As you can see, there is an impressive range of video cameras on the market in 2021. While all of the cameras featured above offer great video quality and a vast range of features, finding the best cam depends on what your goals are and how you plan to use it.
Similarly, you’ll want to consider your own experience, skills, and confidence when deciding which model is the best fit for you. While some video cameras are superb for entry-level beginners looking to learn, others take a little time to get to grips with and could hinder your progress in the beginning.
By using our independent and objective rankings to help you differentiate between the features and styles available and incorporating your own needs into the mix, you can decide which video camera is your top pick.