The Best Cameras For Live Video

Last Updated November 18, 2016

Choosing new cameras for broadcasting, live streaming, IMAG, or other live production can be intimidating and confusing. Over the last 16 years, I've spent more than 10,000 hours working live broadcasts and productions, and have used scores of different broadcast cameras and camcorders. Here is my list, based on that experience, of the best cameras available today for live production.

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Canon Vixia G20

The Canon Vixia G20 is the only live-capable camera I recommend under $1,000. It has a clean HDMI output and can embed audio from the 1/8" mini audio input. It has decent low light performance and a great HD picture for the price. This camera has a 10X optical zoom, recommended for achieving decent framing of subjects less than 50 feet from the camera.

  • 1920x1080 1/3" CMOS Sensor
  • 10X Optical Zoom
  • 2.5mm LANC remote control (zoom and focus)
  • HDMI Output
  • Works with Blackmagic ATEM switchers
$800 on Amazon $800 on B&H

Canon Vixia G40

The Canon Vixia G40 is the next step up from the Canon Vixia G20. It offers the same specifications as the G20 with the addition of a 20X optical zoom, which is recommended for achieving decent framing of subjects further than 50 feet from the camera.

  • 1920x1080 1/3" CMOS Sensor
  • 20X Optical Zoom
  • 2.5mm LANC remote control (zoom and focus)
  • HDMI Output
  • Works with Blackmagic ATEM switchers
$1099 on Amazon $1099 on B&H

Canon XA10

The Canon XA10 is a good base level prosumer camcorder. It has similar specs to the Vixia G20 with the addition of a better image processor and 2 XLR audio inputs. This camera is great if you are looking for slightly better quality than the Vixia series. This camera has a 10X optical zoom, recommended for achieving decent framing of subjects less than 50 feet from the camera.

  • 1920x1080 1/3" CMOS Sensor
  • 10X Optical Zoom
  • 2.5mm LANC remote control (zoom and focus)
  • HDMI Output
  • 2X XLR Audio Inputs
  • Works with Blackmagic ATEM switchers
$1299 on Amazon $1299 on B&H

Canon XA30

The Canon XA30 is the step up from the XA10. It has an updated 1/2.84" sensor, which provides improved sharpness and low light sensitivity. It also adds image stabilization to its 20X optical zoom, which is recommended for achieving decent framing of subjects further than 50 feet from the camera.

  • 1920x1080 1/2.84" CMOS Sensor
  • 20X Optical Zoom
  • 2.5mm LANC remote control (zoom and focus)
  • HDMI Output
  • 2X XLR Audio Inputs
  • Works with Blackmagic ATEM switchers
$1799 on Amazon $1799 on B&H

Sony PXW-X70

The Sony X70 is the little giant of camcorders. It boasts a giant 1" sensor, making it perfect for getting great shots in low light situations. Its small package also includes 2X XLR audio inputs, 3G-SDI output, a high quality recording codec, and wireless control of settings with a smartphone or tablet. Its 12X optical zoom is recommended for achieving decent framing of subjects less than 60 feet from the camera.

  • 1920x1080 1" CMOS Sensor
  • 4K Upgrade Available for Purchase
  • 12X Optical Zoom
  • AV/R port for remote control (zoom and focus)
  • 3G-SDI Output
  • HDMI Output
  • 2X XLR Audio Inputs
  • Works with Blackmagic ATEM switchers
$1999 on Amazon $1999 on B&H

Canon XA35

The Canon XA35 the same camera as the XA30, only with an HD-SDI output added. It has an updated 1/2.84" sensor, which provides improved sharpness and low light sensitivity. It also adds image stabilization to its 20X optical zoom, which is recommended for achieving decent framing of subjects further than 50 feet from the camera.

  • 1920x1080 1/2.84" CMOS Sensor
  • 20X Optical Zoom
  • 2.5mm LANC remote control (zoom and focus)
  • HD-SDI and HDMI Outputs
  • 2X XLR Audio Inputs
  • Works with Blackmagic ATEM switchers
$2299 on Amazon $2299 on B&H

Sony PXW-X160

The Sony PXW-X160 has three 1/3" Exmor CMOS sensors that support 1080p video at up to 60 fps. The Sony G lens has a 25x zoom range with a 35mm equivalent focal length range of 26mm to 650mm, which allows decent framing of subjects further than 100 feet from the camera.

  • 3X 1920x1080 1/3" Exmor CMOS Sensors
  • 25X Optical Zoom
  • 2.5mm remote control (partially compatible with LANC)
  • 3G-SDI and HDMI Outputs
  • 2X XLR Audio Inputs
  • Works with Blackmagic ATEM switchers
$3749 on Amazon $3749 on B&H