Live streaming platforms like YouTube, Facebook Gaming, Twitch, and Mixer have always been quite popular but during this Covid-19 recluse, they have exploded to the popularity and have gained an insane army of fans. If you are looking to get a piece of that legion of fans for yourself and do not know what cameras work best while keeping the cost at a minimum without sacrificing quality, this is your one-stop guide. We recommend three of the best cameras in 2020 namely
- Sony A5100
- Canon M200
- Panasonic Lumix G7
All of these are great picks but choose the right one to match your content. In addition to the camera, we recommend the Sigma 16mm lens and the total sum of the camera plus the lens remains under $1000. You will also find some extra information to help you start Live Streaming so do not miss any of the details.
What to look for?
Before we start with our recommendations, we must tell you about the different types of cameras available in the market and will select the best for our streaming purpose. Once, we do that, we still have to know the specs and features that we must be looking for in a camera under $1000.
Let’s start with the camera types. We have got DSLR, mirrorless cameras, webcams, camcorders, and PTZ cameras. Webcams and camcorders have, although, become quite good but they are still not good enough for professional live streaming but rather for just conferencing and for webinars. Then, we have got PTZ cameras, they can work for live streaming but are a good choice if you have to move around a lot and you want the camera to move around with you. But, it’s just for a very specific purpose. We do not want that. DSLRs get very expensive if you want good quality so the best option for live streamers comes down to mirrorless cameras.
Now that we are going for mirrorless cameras, let’s discuss the specs and features that matter the most for live streaming;
The most basic feature that some camera manufacturers miss out on is Clean HDMI. What this does is that it outputs a video without showing any of the menu items hence you have got clean in the name. Now the surprising thing is that it is not a matter of hardware but rather a firmware and software update can give you this setting but it’s just basic negligence of some manufacturers that they do not provide this. During Covid-19, most manufacturers saw this difficulty and started rolling out firmware updates so you can find this on most cameras nowadays.
The lens is the most crucial part of a camera. The stock lens that the cameras in our list feature are also good but if you want to step up your game and right from the start look professional and polished, look for a camera that has the option of changing the lens. It can also help with different landscapes and focal lengths that you might want to try. We must add here that we are limiting the main camera prices around $500 so that you can buy a great lens and still keep the price under a grand.
We do not necessarily restrict you to a flip-up screen but it can either flip up, down, or side, whatever tickles your fancy. No matter the orientation, this feature really comes in handy for streamers. These secondary displays help you frame yourself just by looking at it so that you do not get those weird shots and angles in your streaming.
When we say you really need to keep an eye on the power for your camera, we really mean it. You would not want the camera to die mid streaming and leave your viewers hanging in the black abyss. Most cameras have a screen-on limit of 30 minutes, steer clear of them. Then, some cameras come which only support battery packs, you are going to avoid that too. The most optimal feature for you is to get a camera that supports direct power from an adapter and will keep you going as long as you want.
Now, this the main highlight of our article apart from the cameras themselves. In olden days, you would have needed to shell out a couple of thousand bucks to get a good rig for live streaming because cameras were not optimized for this back then. Due to the insane popularity of live streaming giants, camera manufacturers have started making great value for money cameras. Unfortunately, Nikon is still not making any camera under $1000 which features all of the aforementioned features, so Nikon is out of this list. But it does not mean that we are left with low tier camera, continue reading to know about the best cameras for live streaming under a thousand bucks.
Best Video Cameras for Live Streaming under $1000
About the time that we start with the main features of our article. We are listing three cameras for you to choose from. Although all of them are great, that is why we are mentioning them, and they all have the above-mentioned features but there are some features that they differ in. Delve straight into the details to pick the best one for your needs.
Right from the start, we are going to mention the best camera available in the market for live streamers. Although, Sony’s full A line up which is their mirrorless camera series is targeted towards streaming but this specific model, gives the best value for your money. It has been around since 2014 but its popularity among the streaming community has seen no dip. You can get this camera for around $450 on Amazon but if you look around on eBay or other sellers on Amazon, you might find a slightly cheaper unit. Let’s start with the key features;
- 28.2 mm APS-C Crop Sensor
- 1080p 60 FPS
- 16-50mm lens
Let’s start with the sensor. A5100 has the biggest sensor out of all three of the cameras listed which means that the field of view that it will provide will be the widest among the lineup. A bigger sensor also means that it is able to get more light in and will work fine in low light conditions as well. It is able to live stream at 1080p at 60 FPS and we doubt that anybody would need more than that for live streaming. We need to add here that this is the best camera any live streamer would want to work with because of the great value and quality. The stock lens is also good enough but it features a digital power zoom and we do not recommend that you use it. It works just fine without the zoom.
An issue that pops up about this camera is that it heats up while recording. But live streamers need not worry about that because it only happened during recording because the camera is processing and sending the video in SD card but because during live streaming, processing happens in your PC, you will be fine. Also, we believe that Sony addressed the issue and rolled out some software updates to remedy that. So, keep your A5100 updated for best use.
Canon M200 came out around August 2019 and since then, it has proved itself to be in the running of the best cameras for live streaming without putting much of a dent in your bank balance. Let’s start with its build quality first. It is the smallest of the cameras listed here, in size, but stills have a solid build and weight and definitely feels modern. You can get this camera for $499. Here are the key specs;
- 26.8mm APS-C Crop Sensor
- 1080p 60 FPS
- 4K 24 FPS
- 720p 120 FPS
- 15-45mm lens
Just looking at the features, you might think it as superior to the A5100, well, it does have its pros and cons against the Sony’s champ. You can see that it is able to live stream at 4K but what you must know that it will be cropped. For an already crop sensor, further cropping might not look good but if you want 4K content, it can provide that. The good thing about the live stream quality is that it is able to stream at 120 FPS but at a slightly lower quality of 720p. If you want some fast-paced action to be streamed at that smooth looking 120 FPS, this camera covers that for you. This feature makes it unique on the list. Let’s talk about the autofocus now. This little buddy comes equipped with Canon’s proprietary and widely famous Dual Pixel Autofocus right out of the box.
Aside from the key facts, there are some little details that Canon does best. On the body of the camera, you get covers on both sides for the ports for protecting them from debris and the button portion is also simplifies for your ease of use. It also has a neat lens lock which is really a nice feature to have for streamers.
PANASONIC LUMIX G7
Now, this camera has also proven its worth to be mentioned in the list of best cameras for streaming but there is a flaw in the body of this camera, which does not, in any way, affect the quality of the stream but mainly, reduces the feel of the camera. Let us elaborate on that. It looks good with its black leather and grey metal kind of vibes but when you touch it, it is all plastic. It’s not, however, cheap plastic but quite sturdy and we assure you it does not affect the quality, so if you are willing to overlook that, continue reading on. Here are some key features of Lumix G7;
- 21.6mm Micro Four Thirds Sensor
- 1080p 60 FPS
- 4K 30 FPS
- 14-42mm lens
- Mic Holder
You can get all of the features above for $499. Some might have gathered from the above information that this camera features the smallest sensor of all 3 cameras in our list but what that small camera can provide you is cinematic footage at 4K. Now, we know that it is not the main feature for live streaming but whatever fancies you. For some people, cinematic 30 FPS 4K live streaming might be a preference. Another great feature that this camera pack is the ability to get direct Microphone input from the camera. You can connect the mic to the camera through a dedicated port and can also mount the mic on the top of the camera where a horseshoe mount is given. If that does not sound comfort, we do not know what does, for the live streaming community.
Now, we do understand that you are just looking for a great camera but a camera does not become great without having a great lens. The stock lens that comes with the cameras above is also nice but if you really want to step in the field and make a name, you are going to need a decent lens. For this reason alone, we kept the price of the main camera around $500, so you can still get a great camera and also the best lens to go with it. Sigma 16mm is a lens that is very dear to us and for good reasons as stated below.
Sigma 16mm comes with an aperture of f/1.4 mm and is a beauty in a wide-angled lens department. The 1.4mm aperture controls the light which enables it to shoot not only in well-lit environments but also in low light situations. The shallow depth of field that this lens provides is a thing to behold creating the best bokeh effects with pure professional class. This lens comes at $450 but if you look around enough, you can find some vendors selling it for $399. You might argue that this lens costs as much as the camera itself but it is the best investment that you will do and we are sure that you would not regret buying it for your streaming.
Best Settings for Livestreaming
Now that you have selected your camera, you are ready to start live streaming on your favorite apps and create your legion of fans, you must also know the best settings that will get the most out of your camera. Give it a quick read.
The aperture should be as wide as possible because you are more likely to shoot in your studio or your room, so you must get as much light as possible. We recommend it be kept at f/3.5.
Shutter speed should also be set to as long as possible, under the condition that there is no rapid movement on your side, to get an evenly lit stream, so we recommend keeping it at 1/60 which will give you 60 frames per second. If you want fast-paced action, you can pick up a 120 FPS camera from the list above.
ISO should be kept at automatic so that it will keep the video evenly lit itself. If you were to choose a manual, you will have to dig a little deeper to access Lumix G7’s manual ISO settings. To get more ISO stops on G7, go to the camera’s Creative Video Menu Settings and change from 1/6 to 1/3 for more precise control.
Now that we are talking about light, we will also recommend that you get a ring light that you can get for $25 dollars or cheaper to enhance the light in your room or studio. By the way, the total sum would still remain under $1000, happy shopping.
All of the cameras mentioned above are no doubt great but each one will work best depending on the content you have to stream for. Canon’s 120 FPS and the dual pixel autofocus is sure to help you if you are aiming for fast-paced action and if you would want to shoot some smooth cinematic 4K video, Lumix is the best choice for you. Otherwise, if you do not have a preference for 4K or 120 FPS, A5100 is what you should go for. Now, if you are thinking that you should be fine with the stock lens, well, you can start live streaming with the stock lens but soon, you will want to upgrade to the Sigma 16mm. That lens is a gamechanger and a beauty to behold. After you understand the things that we have mentioned in the start of the article that you have to look for in the article, you will be confident enough to pick the right one for you. After getting the necessary features, it all comes down to personal preference. We do not leave you hanging after you have got your camera and the lens to go with it, we give you the best settings for your best live streaming camera to get you started in the best possible way. Now, go and get a legion of fans for yourself.