Looking for the best camera for streaming? You're in the right place! Streaming on major platforms like Twitch, Mixer, Facebook and YouTube Live has become big business as of late, so now it a great time to get in the game.?
Whether you're presenting a vlog-style stream, a Let's Play of your videogame playthroughs, or even a livestream of an event or breaking story, there can be far more to streaming than just plugging in the same webcam camera you use for work. And with everyone spending more time at home due to COVID-19, getting the best camera for streaming is a very worthwhile investment.
Some of the biggest YouTubers and Twitch streamers are hugely successful, having built up an army of followers and subscribers who avidly watch their antics, discussions and gameplay. Some have even made a lucrative career from it, so if you want to get involved you'll need to find the right fit for your needs and budget…
The best cameras for streaming: What to look for
Thankfully, while you can spend thousands of pounds on camera, lighting and audio equipment to produce the highest-quality gaming videos, this doesn’t need to be the case. As with most aspects of photography and videography, the financial barrier to entry is fairly low, with your creativity being the most important key to success.
You can start your streaming career with nothing more than a basic webcam like the Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000. This shoots 720p HD video, which should look plenty good enough when viewed on a smartphone (as many game streaming fans will see it).
Upping your budget will improve image quality, of course, until you get into the realms of 4K Ultra HD video. At this point you can start to look at cameras with zoom and slow-motion options, and the all-important audio input option. That way, you can connect an external (and far superior) microphone to improve your video’s audio quality.
There's also the option of using a mirrorless or DSLR camera over USB, which is a very niche party trick. The Sigma fp is one of the rare "proper cameras" that can natively be used as a webcam without the need for an HDMI capture card, giving you the cinematic look and depth of field afforded by its full-frame sensor. If you want to stream using a 50mm f/1.4 lens, you can! Canon is also offering beta software that turns Canon cameras into USB webcams, including the Canon EOS R –?but there are still some quirks that need ironing out.
Action cameras also make good streaming cameras, and the DJI Osmo Action is a particularly good option as it’s second display on the front makes it easy to frame your shots. This is important for camcorders and more professional cameras too – look out for options with articulating displays which flip around, making it easy to see how you look before you start filming.
Unless you're using the Sigma fp or Canon's webcam software, crucial for streaming is a camera that outputs its footage live over an HDMI connection. That way, you can stream your gameplay and the camera’s view live to the web, instead of recording a gaming session then uploading it later.
You will often find that cameras can’t stream at the same resolution that they can record at; for example, some cameras can record in 4K Ultra HD to their memory card, but can only stream footage through an HDMI cable at 1080p Full HD. That said, Full HD is plenty, as live Ultra HD isn’t really necessary.
Another option to look out for is automatic background deletion. The Logitech C922 Pro has this, making it easy to cut yourself out of the video footage and replace your background with whatever you like. Lighting is also key, and the Razer Kiyo is a good option here as it comes with its own integrated LED light ring for professionally illuminating your face.
Less important is optical or digital image stabilization, as the camera will be held still on a tripod or clipped to the top of your computer monitor, and zooming capabilities should also not be a huge concern.
Ultimately, you will want to strike a balance between video quality, features and price. If you are just getting into streaming for the first time, then we would suggest you start out with a cheaper option and focus on producing a lot of content to build up an audience.
If you are looking to improve your streaming efforts, then it might be time to upgrade from a webcam to an action cam, a camcorder, mirrorless camera, or even a DSLR. That way, you can have full control over aperture, white balance, framing and focal length, as well as being able to add a nice bokeh effect, which gives a professional-looking blurred background to your footage.
NB: Due to to the coronavirus lockdown, most of the popular webcams are currently out of stock at most dealers. Do also check our guide to Best webcams for home working. And also look at what you need to turn your own camera into a webcam.
1. Logitech C922 Pro
This versatile webcam is the best camera for streaming all-round
Resolution: 1080p recording, 720p live streaming | Frame rate: 30fps at 1080p, 60fps at 720p | Field of view: 78 degrees | Size: 44 x 95 x 71mm
We think the best camera for streaming right now is the Logitech C922. This is a standout choice for anyone either getting into streaming for the first time, or who wants to upgrade from the webcam they already have. It clips neatly onto the top of your television or PC monitor, or can be attached to a tripod if you want to get more creative with your angles and framing. The camera shoots and streams live in 1080p Full HD resolution at 30 frames per second, and there's also a ‘hyperfast’ mode for streaming 720p at 60fps.
Dual microphones create stereo audio so you don’t really need to both with a separate microphone, and the camera comes with an 18.5cm tall tripod. The lens offers a 78-degree wide view, and it comes with a free three-month license for Xsplit streaming software.
2. Razer Kiyo
The best webcam with integrated light, for Full HD video recording and enhanced illumination.
Resolution: 1080p or 720p | Frame rate: 30fps at 1080p, 60fps at 720p | Field of view: 90 degrees | Size: 69 x 69 x 48mm | Weight: 200g
Lighting is a crucial part of video production, and you’ll want to make sure your face is brightly and evenly lit when streaming. You can invest in standalone lighting to help achieve this, but on a tight budget you could be better off with the Razer Kiyo, which has its own integrated light ring made up of 12 LEDs. The light ring surrounds the camera and its brightness can be adjusted; the lights offer up to 10 Lux of brightness at a distance of one metre, with a color temperature of 5600K. As well as brightening your face, the light should also help prevent your face from mirroring reflections of gameplay from your screen, making for a more professional look.
As for the camera itself, the Razer Kiyo streams at 1080p Full HD resolution at 30 frames per second (the gold standard for streaming at this price range), and a 60fps at 720p option is also available. Although a little larger than some other streaming cameras, the Kiyo still clips neatly to the top of your PC display
3. Logitech Brio Ultra HD Pro
Ultra HD resolution and a noise cancelling microphone make this webcam one of the very best – but it'll cost you
Resolution: 4K Ultra HD, 1080p or 720p | Frame rate: Up to 30fps at 4K, 60fps at 1080p, 90fps at 720p | Field of view: 90 degrees | Size: 63 x 36 x 19mm | Weight: 44g
Logitech Brio Ultra HD Pro is one of the very best webcam for streaming, but these top-level specs don't come cheap. This camera can record in 4K, stream in 1080p Full HD at 60 frames per second, and offers a 5X digital zoom that crops a 4K image to 1080p. Although you can’t actually stream live in 4K, this camera’s extra resolution means you can zoom into a 4K image without the quality dipping below 1080p, all while maintaining a steady 60 frames per second. The lens has viewing angle options of 65, 78 and 90 degrees, ensuring everything stays in frame, and the camera can also be used with the Windows Hello facial-recognition login system.
There is also a 90fps option at 720p resolution if you want super-smooth video, and the camera offers HDR (High Dynamic Range) video, for improved contrast. Two omni-directional microphones and a PC monitor clip complete this excellent webcam.
Full-frame depth of field and interchangeable lenses over USB!
Resolution: Up to 4K | Frame rate: Up to 60fps | Field of view: N/A | Size: 112.6 x 69.9 x 45.3mm | Weight: 422g
It may seem a very leftfield recommendation, but the fact that the Sigma fp works natively as a webcam over USB –?meaning that you don't need to invest in an additional HDMI capture card to use it. Of course, you do have to invest much more in the camera itself, but this can work both ways; since the Sigma fp is a highly modifiable, modular system, it can replace your webcam, your 'proper' camera and your video camera. So if you stream, shoot and film, this could be the ideal purchase. The key benefit, of course, is the ability to achieve a cinematic look on your streams by taking advantage of the full-frame sensor's depth of field capability, as well as the choice of any lens you want. If you want to use an f/1.2 lens for bokehlicious blur and tip-top low light performance, now you can –?and it will certainly make your streams stand out from the crowd. Yes, it's expensive, but the Cheers for your image quality might pay dividends!
5. Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000
The best camera for streaming if you're on a tight budget
Resolution: 720p | Frame rate: 30fps | Field of view: 60 degrees | Size: 44 x 39 x 109mm | Weight: 90.7g
A budget option, the HD-3000 by Microsoft proves you can start streaming without having to shell out the big bucks. This webcam is limited to 720p HD resolution at 30 frames per second, but that’s still high definition and will be perfectly acceptable when viewed on a mobile device like a smartphone. The camera offers automatic face tracking, and low-light adjustment, has a built-in microphone, and claims to attach to all types of computer monitor.?
There is also a digital zoom function, although we would advise against using this, because the 720p resolution, while acceptable when viewed normally, doesn’t provide enough pixels for images to remain sharp when zoomed in. Finally, there is a manual focus option for making sure the image stays exactly the way you want it – we prefer this, as autofocus can have a habit of incorrectly adjusting in some lighting conditions, taking you out of focus.
6. GoPro Hero7 Black
This compact action camera offers 4K video with HDR and live HD streaming
Resolution: 4K Ultra HD with HDR (streaming limited to 720p) | Frame rate: Up to 60fps at 4K | Field of view: Up to 120 degrees | Size: 227 x 68 x 102mm | Weight: 446g
An action camera might not be your first choice when looking for a streaming camera, but bear with us. You might not need the GoPro Hero7 Black’s waterproofing, tough design, or ability to attach to bike handlebars and surfboards, but what you are investing in here is image quality. With the launch last year of the GoPro Hero8 Black , the Hero7 Black has now become really great value.
Even though the GoPro’s live streaming resolution is limited to 70p HD, the camera’s optics offer a healthy upgrade over a basic sub-$100 webcam. But more than that, cameras like these mean you can get seriously creative with the types of shots you want to produce. The camera has a super-wide field of view, and you can attach it just about anywhere – not just to your PC display.
If you prefer to record your gaming sessions and then upload them later, you can make use of the GoPro’s Ultra HD video recording with HDR at 60 frames per second. Pick up a couple of these and you’ve got yourself a pair of excellent cameras for shooting b-roll or secondary angles of your gameplay – one pointing at your feet and pedals while playing a racing game, for example.
For more options in this range, take a look at our guide to the best GoPro cameras.
7. Mevo Plus
A purpose-built and portable live streaming camera
Resolution: 1080p streaming / 4K recording | Frame rate: 30fps | Field of view: 150 degrees | Size: 63 x 50 x 50mm | Weight: 142g
A bit of an oddball, the Mevo Plus is a streaming camera purpose-built for covering live events in 1080p Full HD, or recording footage to in Ultra HD 4K to be used later. Controlled via a companion smartphone app for iOS and Android, the camera can zoom in and pan to make it look like you are broadcasting from several cameras at once. This could add some real production value to any streams featuring two people, for example, or where you want to play around with your angles and framing.
The Mevo streams to most platforms, including Vimeo, LiveStream, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, and uses a high-quality Sony CMOS lens with a 150-degree viewing angle. Live footage is streamed in 1080p HD, or you can record offline in 4K then upload that later for a higher-quality video. A neat feature is that multiple Mevos can be connected to shoot from several angles at once – it’s a hefty investment, but such a setup would no doubt take your streaming and YouTube recording game to the next level. There’s an integrated microphone, but also the option to record audio from a separate mic, which should help boost sound quality.
8. Panasonic HC-V770
This compact, Full-HD camcorder is highly regarded in streaming and YouTuber circles,
Resolution: 1080p with HDR | Frame rate: Up to 120fps at 1080p, or up to 240fps with interpolated software | Field of view: N/A (4.08-81.6mm focal length) | Size: 65 x 139 x 73mm | Weight: 354g
The Panasonic HC-V770 camcorder is a highly regarded in streaming and YouTuber circles, thanks to its compact design, ease of use, and HDR video shooting at 1080p Full HD. There’s 20x optical zooming, so you can frame your video perfectly without any loss in video quality or resolution, and a 3.5mm audio jack means you can attach an external microphone for improved audio quality. The camera has a flip-out display so you can see yourself while filming, it attaches to any industry-standard tripod, and live Full HD video is sent through the HDMI port.
Finally, a smart feature of the Panasonic HC-V770 is that a smartphone can be wireless connected and used as a second camera. That way, you could use the camcorder as your main camera, then have a smartphone shooting a second angle – over the shoulder, for example.
9. Panasonic Lumix G7
A well-priced compact system camera, ideal if you're ready to take your streaming to a new level
Resolution: 4K Ultra HD or 1080p | Frame rate: Up to 50fps at 1080p | Field of view: N/A (14-42mm kit lens) | Size: 77 x 124 x 82mm | Weight: 410g (body only)
If you already stream and want to seriously up your production values, it’s time to look at mirrorless or SLR cameras. A good place to start is the Panasonic Lumix G7 with a 14-42mm lens. By using a ‘proper’ camera, your video quality will take a massive leap forwards, and you can play around with the settings to add a blurred background, giving your streams a degree of professionalism simply not possible with a webcam or even the most expensive action cameras.
A key feature here is the articulating display, which pops out and flips around so you can see what the camera is shooting while it is focused on you. This will save you a lot of time when it comes to setting up your shot, and you’ll see right away if the exposure is wrong or you have fallen out of focus.
If you're planning on using an SLR for streaming you'll also need a port for connecting an external microphone (either through a standard audio slot or a camera ‘hot shoe’ connection), the ability to output a live video feed via HDMI port, and at a resolution of at least 1080p HD. Thankfully, the Lumix G7 ticks all of these boxes.
10. Sony A7 II
This high-end mirrorless camera is a superb option for professional streamers
Resolution: Ultra HD 4K | Frame rate: 30fps at Ultra HD | Field of view: N/A (35mm sensor, body only) | Size: 96 x 127 x 60mm | Weight: 556g
Another high-end mirrorless option, the Sony A7 II is a full-frame camera with interchangeable lenses, a 24.3-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor, and the ability to record in Ultra HD. This Sony camera offers the all-important ‘clean HDMI out’ function, where what the camera sees is sent out of its HDMI port without any information (such as ISO, shooting mode and zoom setting) plastered over the top. That way, the camera’s view can be sent to your computer, captured, and uploaded live to your streaming platform of choice, along with footage of the game you are playing.?
It's also important that the camera does not automatically switch off after a certain length of time – remember, you are not actually using the camera to record video, but the computer to record what the camera is seeing. Thankfully, the Sony A7 II can be set to not switch off after inactivity.
Make no mistake, the jump from a regular webcam with integrated streaming capabilities, to a professional camera, is a huge one to make (and you need to budget for a suitable lens). However, the quality of your videos will also take a serious leap forwards, and hopefully so will your viewing figures.