Here at Vlogger Gear we have written hundreds of articles about Vlogging and YouTube. Some of the most popular discussions revolve around equipment choice from cameras, tripods, lighting and more. But one particular question I have been asked many times is what are the “best Vlogging cameras under $300?”.
After putting this article off for sometime, I finally found the time to do a comprehensive rundown on the top cameras in this price range. What I found was both surprising and has changed the way I view cheaper point and shoot cameras. But first…
Why Would You Want a Camera Specifically For Vlogging?
Two reasons that immediately jump to mind are quality and versatility. When I say quality, I’m mostly speaking of video and sound quality.
A point and shoot camera (P&S), even a modestly priced one, will have a larger sensor than what is in most smartphones which will in return give you better results. A larger sensor gives us higher resolution, better color images and videos in low light, and more control over depth of focus.
Another benefit of using a dedicated camera for Vlogging is that the onboard microphone gives clearer and crisper audio. While you typically can’t attach an external microphone to a P&S, the onboard mic still delivers more and adequate sound.
So let’s jump in!
Top 5 Best Vlogging Cameras Under $300
1. Panasonic Lumix ZS50 Camera (Best Tested)
The Panasonic Lumix ZS50 is one of the most full featured cameras under $300 that I tested. Panasonic has been a recognized top tier brand among technophiles for many years. When Panasonic first partnered up with Leica for it’s camera lenses, we were all excited about this combination of superior optics and ground breaking electronic technology.
The Lumix ZS50 continues this fantastic pairing.
Starting off with the fit and fell of this camera, it is small, but not tiny weighing it at 0.53lbs. The hand grip is well shaped but felt a little small in my hands. I found I had to ease up a little on my grip because of how my fingers gripped at the small edge of the hand grip. Once I adjusted, it was a pleasure to record with on long recording sessions.
Vlogging is what we’re wanting out of this camera, and it does not disappoint. The sensor has great performance in lower light and provides great output for the HD video. It can also been shoot in RAW format which gives more post production ending control.
Overall this Panasonic Lumix ZS50 was a pleasure to Vlog with while also delivering great video and audio. This also seems to be the general consensus as this model has over 130 five star reviews and an average rating of four stars on Amazon. This camera easily deserved a number one spot on this article on the best Vlogging cameras under $300.
2. Canon PowerShot SX610 HS
The Canon PowerShot SX610 HS is another fine camera in $300 price range. This is a nice little camera with an 18X zoom lens with a wide angle capability of 25mm. And by little, I mean it almost seems too small. Even though this camera is small, it has some great video capabilities.
One of the features that truly stands out in this camera, putting it firmly on my list of the best Vlogging cameras under $300, is the Intelligent IS, a versatile image stabilization system. The camera automatically senses what the shooting situation is and chooses the correct stabilization mode. The fact that this camera has different image stabilization modes in place, and that they work in video mode, is a great plus for many Vloggers.
There are more IS modes available in the still imaging modes, but I liked the modes in video. Dynamic IS, Powered IS, Macro (Hybrid) IS and active Tripod IS. Dynamic IS is effective for video shooting at wide-angle focal lengths, eliminating the unwanted shaking that typically occurs while walking.
The CS100 has 1TB of memory, which equates to 70 hours or so of video, depending on what resolution you shot the videos in. It organizes the files and you can play them directly to an HD-TV, or you can use Canon’s Image Gateway to share them online or to virtually any mobile device. I think that’s really useful for Vloggers. A great pick!
3. Nikon COOLPIX L340
The Nikon COOLPIX L340 is a camera that has more heft to it, and is significantly larger than the other cameras tested. The size and weight will be a make or break decision for some, I’m sure. Being larger, though, it has great hand grip. The hand grip helps steady the 28X zoom lens when Vlogging indoors or on the go.
Perhaps one reason for the large hand grip is to house the battery choice. For whatever reason, Nikon did not design the camera to be powered by a small lithium ion battery. It is instead powered by 4 X AA’s which seems a bit old school when compared to the other cameras on this list. Getting rechargeable batteries will easily remedy this flaw.
4. Canon PowerShot SX530 HS
Another largish camera that makes my list of best Vlogging cameras for under $300 is the Canon PowerShot SX530 HS.
The 50X optical zoom is neatly paired with Canon’s Intelligent IS system for nice, steady videos. Remember, Shaky Cam is bad. Bad! Unless you’re doing it as a special effect for a specific (and hopefully brief) reason.
1080P HD video is a great reason to put this camera on my list. Recording at highest resolution, this camera gave image quality on my big screen TV that could make some people upset. Which is why we might decide to up our game in regards to make up and lighting techniques. I think there may be something about those subjects on the internet somewhere. Say… on a certain really interesting and informative website. Hint, hint.
Zoom Framing Assist is an interesting feature. I had mixed feelings about it. First, what is it? It keeps the subject the same size regardless of subject movement. In still imaging, it could be quite useful. In video, I thought the idea was good, it was the implementation that I found fault with. Because the feature uses zooming and focus adjustments to keep the subject the same size, I picked up a whole lot of motor noise in the recording.
This camera also mates up with the CS10 Connect Station. I’m wishing there was a universal product for all the various brands and models. Even tho many cameras I test have NFC or Wi-Fi, I find that setting them up and keeping them connected is often fairly hit or miss in use.
5. Nikon COOLPIX B500 Digital Camera
The Nikon COOLPIX B500 Digital Camera is another largish camera, for a Point & Shoot anyways. This 40X optical zoom camera is a great choice for Vlogging for multiple reasons.
That Nikon lens is a great reason to say this is one of the best cameras for vlogging in the under $300 price range. At 40X zoom, not much is out of reach for you. Add in the digital enhancement and we get 80X out of this rig. As you well know, I usually don’t suggest using digital zoom, but this camera does a fair job of it.
The main reason I tend not to use it is because of how digital zoom enhancement adds in unwanted artifacts. In other words, it just doesn’t look as sharp as staying in optical zoom limits. 80X would be pretty hard to hand hold anyways, even with Nikon’s fantastic VR image stabilizing.
The hand grip holds 4XAA batteries and is a great size for holding this camera at or near maximum zoom. The sound quality is great, and the scenes look great played back on any device, from a smart phone up to a large screen HD-TV.
“What camera should I buy?”
Believe me, I’ve seen some great vlogs from our readers made with equipment like these reviewed cameras. After all, it’s the idea and the execution, more so than the equipment, that makes a vlog worth watching and subscribing to.
The best equipment to use to make a vlog is what you have in your hands right now. With great ideas and proper techniques, a vlogger can really hold the attention of an audience. When you want to step up to higher quality or more versatile equipment, that’s why I write these reviews.
Even though I have access to all sorts of equipment with tests like this, I see these budget minded camera choices as awesome tools for story telling. I like to use a wide variety of equipment, and these 5 cameras reviewed stack up well as being among the best vlogging cameras under $300. If you want to learn more about how to be a Vogger, checkout this cool guide from WikiHow.
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