The Best Cameras For Live Streaming (2020)

The Best Cameras For Live Streaming (2020)

Updated

This is a list of the best cameras I recommend and use for live streaming and multi-cam production.

In this list you'll find:

But first, a reminder...

The Best Camera Is The One You Have With You

Make the most out of what you have.

First Things First:

Hierarchy Of Video Production
Hierarchy Of Video Production

If you desire better quality, be sure to invest in those things before investing in a new camera.

Let's dive in...

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Micro Four Thirds Cameras

IMPORTANT: These cameras require an additional lens sold separately.

The Micro Four Thirds (4/3") sensor has become a great compromise between smaller sensors found in most camcorders and larger sensors found in most cinema cameras.

They often provide better image quality and low light performance than smaller sensors while still keeping depth of field manageable.

So if you are looking for a bang for the buck and don't require features like smooth motorized zoom, one of these cameras may be the right fit.

Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 4K

Top Pick For 2020!

Image quality and features for the price are impossible to beat.

Output up to 1080p60 while recording in high quality codecs including ProRes and Blackmagic RAW.

Apply your own LUT to the HDMI output for creative control.

Outputs: HDMI (Type A - Full Size)

Recording Formats: Up to 4096 x 2160 at 60 fps

Output Formats: Up to 1920 x 1080 at 60 fps

My Favorite Feature: Versatility

View on Amazon
Z Cam E2C

Z Cam E2C

Versatile & Powerful

Z Cam still has a bit of the "new kid on the block" reputation, but is really starting to turn heads.

This entry-level cinema camera fits surprisingly well into a live production environment, with power and control (through a web browser) over Ethernet.

And here's the cherry on top: HDMI output capable of 4K for way less than $1,000!

The jury is still out on Z Cam's reliability and long-term success, but right now the quality and features for the price is pretty incredible.

Outputs: HDMI (Type A - Full Size)

Recording Formats: 3840 x 2160 (UHD) up to 29.97 fps or 1920 x 1080 up to 59.94 fps

Output Formats: 3840 x 2160 (UHD) up to 29.97 fps or 1920 x 1080 up to 59.94 fps

My Favorite Feature: Control and power over Ethernet

View on B&H
Panasonic G7

Panasonic G7

Budget-Friendly Pick

A popular option for the last few years and still my top pick for smaller budgets.

Clean 4K UHD HDMI output (when not recording) and no recording time limit in 1080p make this a stellar deal.

The only camera in this section that also comes with a kit lens.

Outputs: HDMI (Type D - Micro)

Recording Formats: Up to 3840 x 2160 at 29.97 fps

Output Formats: Up to 3840 x 2160 at 29.97 fps or 1920 x 1080 at 59.94 fps when not recording

My Favorite Feature: Price

View on Amazon
Panasonic G85

Panasonic G85

Simultaneous Recording & Output

No recording limits - record any format as long as the camera has power and memory card has space.

Clean HDMI output, even while recording.

Outputs: HDMI (Type D - Micro)

Recording Formats: Up to 3840 x 2160 (UHD) at 29.97 fps

Output Formats: Up to 3840 x 2160 (UHD) at 29.97 fps

My Favorite Feature: Simultaneous recording and HDMI output in all formats

View on Amazon
Panasonic GH5S

Panasonic GH5S

Low Light Performer

Excellent low light performance, great image quality, and tons of useful features make this worth every penny.

No recording limits - record any format as long as the camera has power and memory card has space.

Clean HDMI output, even while recording.

Outputs: HDMI (Type A - Full Size)

Recording Formats: Up to 4096 x 2160 at 59.94 fps

Output Formats: Up to 4096 x 2160 at 59.94 fps

My Favorite Feature: Low light performance

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Micro Four Thirds Lenses

IMPORTANT: None of the Micro Four Thirds lenses I recommend have motorized (servo) zoom, so these cameras and lens combinations work best for static shots.

These lenses will work natively on every camera listed above.

Distances & Framing

Be sure to measure how far your camera will be from your subject.

Keep in mind crop factors will vary slightly between these cameras. It's better to be conservative when choosing a lens - go a little wider or tighter than you anticipate needing.

Here are some general numbers that will help you determine what lens you may need:

Depth Of Field

Micro Four Thirds sensors are larger than most camcorder sensors.

This can often mean better light sensitivity which translates to better image quality with less noise.

However, the size of the sensor also affects focal length which in turn affects depth of field (how deep the area of focus is).

Here are some general scenarios to help you understand how lenses and the distance to subject affect depth of field:

You can do your own depth of field and framing calculations using DOF Simulator.

Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8

Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8

Top Pick For 2020!

My favorite standard zoom for Micro Four Thirds.

Extremely sharp and great contrast, even at f/2.8.

Full Shot: 8'-24'

Medium Shot: 3'-10'

My Favorite Feature: Classic Olympus sharpness and contrast

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Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8

Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8

Excellent Telephoto Zoom

Further reach than most other options while keeping a constant f/2.8 throughout the zoom.

Full Shot: 24'-90'

Medium Shot: 10'-37'

My Favorite Feature: Impressive zoom range with a constant aperture

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Panasonic 100-400mm f/4-6.3

Panasonic 100-400mm f/4-6.3

The Beast!

When you just need to get the shot from far away.

It doesn't have a constant aperture, but it more than makes up for that with its reach.

Full Shot: 60'-240'

Medium Shot: 25'-100'

My Favorite Feature: Waist up from 100' - enough said

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Panasonic 25mm f/1.7

Panasonic 25mm f/1.7

Budget-Friendly Prime

Prime lens (no zoom) equal to 50mm on a full frame sensor.

My go-to lens for a lot of situations.

The f/1.7 aperture helps in low light situations and can provide a shallower depth of field when desired.

Full Shot: 15'

Medium Shot: 6'

My Favorite Feature: f/1.7 aperture for a great price

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Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8

Olympus 7-14mm f/2.8

Best Wide Angle

I love this lens.

It's sharp, has very little distortion, and is built well without being bulky or heavy.

This is a great lens for gimbals, stage handhelds, action shots, or wide cover shots.

My Favorite Feature: Low distortion, even at 7mm

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Camcorders

A camcorder, specifically in this list, refers to a camera, recorder, and lens built into one complete unit.

If you want to do smooth motorized zooms and control zoom/focus with a controller, then a camcorder is the best option for smaller budgets.

They usually can't match the image quality of Micro Four Thirds or cinema cameras, but they make up for it with their versatility.

Canon XA45

Canon G50 / XA40 / XA45

NEW Top Picks For 2020!

The G and XA models have been consistently solid performers, and these are no exception.

Record in formats up to 3840 x 2160 at 29.97 fps while outputting up to 1920 x 1080.

20x optical zoom comes in handy for medium shots at distances greater than 45'.

All 3 models have the same lens and internal recording features, but only differ in input and output options:

Full Shot: 8.5'-170'

Medium Shot: 3.5'-70'

Outputs: 3G-SDI (XA45 only) and HDMI (Type C - Mini)

Recording Formats: Up to 3840 x 2160 at 29.97 fps

Output Formats: Up to 1920 x 1080 at 59.94 fps (SDI only) or up to 1920 x 1080 at 29.97 fps (HDMI only)

My Favorite Feature: 20x optical zoom

*HDMI and 3G-SDI outputs CANNOT be used simultaneously

View G50 on Amazon
View XA40 on Amazon
View XA45 on Amazon
Canon XA55

Canon G60 / XA50 / XA55

Better For Shorter Distances

These are a natural step up from the G50 / XA40 / XA45 as long as you do not need the 20x optical zoom.

The larger 1" sensor provides improved light sensitivity and dynamic range, but optical zoom drops to 15x.

Record in formats up to 3840 x 2160 at 29.997 fps while outputting up to 1920 x 1080.

All 3 models have the same lens and internal recording features, but only differ in input and output options:

Full Shot: 8'-111'

Medium Shot: 3'-45'

Outputs: 3G-SDI (XA55 only) and HDMI (Type C - Mini)

Recording Formats: Up to 3840 x 2160 at 29.97 fps

Output Formats: Up to 1920 x 1080 at 59.94 fps (SDI only) or up to 1920 x 1080 at 29.97 fps (HDMI only)

My Favorite Feature: Improved image quality from 1" sensor

*HDMI and 3G-SDI outputs CANNOT be used simultaneously

View G60 on Amazon
View XA50 on Amazon
View XA55 on Amazon
Canon XF405

Canon XF400 / XF405

4K60 Recording

Record and simultaneously output formats up to 3840 x 2160 at 59.94 fps.

Both models have the same lens, sensor, and recording features, but only differ in input and output options:

Compatible with the RC-V100 (Amazon) - offering remote control of most camera settings, including zoom and focus.

Full Shot: 8'-111'

Medium Shot: 3'-45'

Outputs: 3G-SDI (XF405 only) and HDMI (Type C - Mini)

Recording Formats: Up to 3840 x 2160 at 59.94 fps

Output Formats: Up to 3840 x 2160 at 59.94 fps

My Favorite Feature: Advanced Zoom offers 30X zoom in 1080p mode while maintaining image quality

*HDMI and 3G-SDI outputs CANNOT be used simultaneously

View XF400 on Amazon
View XF405 on Amazon
Panasonic UX180

Panasonic UX180

1" Sensor With 20X Optical Zoom

One of the only camcorders currently available with a 1" sensor and 20x optical zoom.

Record in formats up to 3840 x 2160 at 59.94 fps while outputting up to 1920 x 1080 at 59.94 fps.

Full Shot: 7'-143'

Medium Shot: 3'-60'

Outputs: 3G-SDI and HDMI (Type A - Full Size)

Recording Formats: Up to 3840 x 2160 at 59.94 fps

Output Formats: Up to 3840 x 2160 at 59.94 fps (HDMI) or 1920 x 1080 at 59.94 fps (3G-SDI)

*HDMI and 3G-SDI outputs CANNOT be used simultaneously

My Favorite Feature: Dual SD card slots offer backup and proxy recording

View on Amazon
Panasonic CX350

Panasonic CX350

It's Back!

*While the CX350 went to "recommendation purgatory" for a while due to an issue with external LANC controllers, I think the issue has been resolved enough to warrant recommending this model again.

With full 4K60 capability, a 20X optical zoom, high quality 10-bit recording options, and simultaneous output from HDMI and SDI ports, the CX350 is about as feature-packed as you can get in a fixed-lens camcorder.

Full Shot: 7'-143'

Medium Shot: 3'-58'

Outputs: 3G-SDI and HDMI (Type A - Full Size)

Recording Formats: Up to 3840 x 2160 at 59.94 fps

Output Formats: Up to 3840 x 2160 at 59.94 fps (HDMI) or 1920 x 1080 at 59.94 fps (3G-SDI)

*HDMI and 3G-SDI outputs CAN be used simultaneously

My Favorite Feature: 10-bit recording at up to 400 Mb/s

View on Amazon

Broadcast Cameras

IMPORTANT: These cameras require an additional lens sold separately.

A no-brainer category.

Cameras designed specifically for the purpose of working together in a live production environment for the purpose of real-time broadcasting.

When you think of news, sports, and talk show looks that are common on television, these are typically the type of camera used.

These cameras all come with a B4 lens mount, compatible with a large selection and history of B4 broadcast lenses.

Blackmagic Design URSA Broadcast

Blackmagic Design URSA Broadcast

Top Pick For 2020!

Full studio configuration, now possible for much less.

Capable of of full UHD or HD recording and output up to 59.94 fps.

B4 lens mount included, compatible with nearly all B4 lenses made for 2/3" sensors.

Additional accessories available like studio viewfinder, viewfinder, shoulder mount kit, fiber converter, and more.

IMPORTANT: Although this camera is a budget-friendly option, a complete URSA Broadcast setup will cost $10,000 minimum to do well. This just includes the camera body, lens, and viewfinder or studio viewfinder. Also don't forget other necessities like tripod, fluid head, zoom and focus controls, shoulder mount kit for handhelds, etc.

Lens Mount: B4 (additional EF, F, and PL mounts available)

Outputs: 12G-SDI & 3G-SDI (monitor/viewfinder output)

Recording Formats: Up to 3840 x 2160 at 60 fps

Output Formats: Up to 3840 x 2160 at 60 fps

My Favorite Feature: Camera control, program return, tally, and intercom all available through compatible ATEM switchers

View on Amazon
Sony HXC-FB80

Sony HXC-FB80

Best Bang For The Buck

An awesome system capable of HDR and 1080p upscaling to 4K UHD.

Lens Mount: B4

Outputs: 3G-SDI (12G-SDI and 4 x 3G-SDI outputs available through HXCU-FB80 Camera Control Unit)

Recording Formats: N/A

Output Formats: Up to 1920 x 1080 at 59.94 fps (Up to 3840 x 2160 at 59.94 fps with connected CCU)

My Favorite Feature: HDR capability

Learn More
Panasonic AK-UC3000

Panasonic UC3000

Complete 4K60 Ecosystem

An all-around excellent solution for full 3840 x 2160 broadcasting up to 59.94 fps.

Lens Mount: B4

Outputs: 3G-SDI (4 x 3G-SDI outputs available through CCU for full 3840 x 2160 output up to 59.94 fps)

Recording Formats: N/A

Output Formats: Up to 3840 x 2160 at 59.94 fps with connected CCU

My Favorite Feature: Panasonic Ecosystem

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Broadcast Lenses

All of the broadcast cameras listed above come with B4 2/3" lens mounts.

Therefore, all of these lenses will work natively on every broadcast camera listed.

The two major players in broadcast lenses are Fujinon and Canon. Together they essentially make up 95% of the market.

And since there are so many options from both brands, here is a short list of the most popular options and styles available:

Fujinon XA20SX8.5BRM

Fujinon XA20SX8.5BRM Lens

Top Pick For 2020!

This is a great bang for the buck ENG servo lens.

It can be used for most situations like static/tripod positions, handhelds, jibs, dollies, etc.

A solid mix of quality, durability, and optical zoom.

Also available with 2x extender to allow up to 40x optical zoom.

Lens Mount: B4

Sensor Coverage: 2/3"

My Favorite Feature: Price Point

View on B&H
Canon CJ14ex4.3B Lens

Canon CJ14ex4.3B Lens

Super Wide Zoom

When you want that larger than life look that is common with handheld and Steadicam shots often seen in sports and concert events, this is a go-to.

A wide angle equivalent to approximately 17mm on a full frame sensor, complete with 14x optical zoom and a 2x extender.

An absolutely incredible lens with even more incredible zoom range.

Lens Mount: B4

Sensor Coverage: 2/3"

My Favorite Feature: Everything - What a lens!

View on B&H
Fujinon UA80X9BESM Box Lens

Fujinon UA80X9BESM Lens

Tight Shots Never Looked This Fabulous

Cheap?

Nope.

Small and lightweight?

Not at all.

But when you need stability and optical zoom for tight shots from long distances, a box lens like this is often necessary.

Lens Mount: B4

Sensor Coverage: 2/3"

My Favorite Feature: I can't even...

View on B&H

Cinema Cameras

IMPORTANT: These cameras require an additional lens sold separately.

This category is tricky.

Cinema cameras can offer great image quality, live-friendly features, and more creative freedom with depth of field and color adjustments.

And while they don't always work well in live situations, they can provide tremendous value in the right context.

However...

These cameras can easily become a two-edged sword.

Shallow depth of field is not always desirable or practical in a live setting.

Proper lens choices can also be limited and expensive.

So approach them with caution and don't hesitate to send me a message if you need help choosing the right camera.

Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K

Blackmagic Design Pocket Cinema Camera 6K

Top Pick For 2020!

It's very difficult to beat the Pocket Cinema Cameras for the price. They're simply crammed with so many great features.

The internal 6K and 4K recording in ProRes and Blackmagic RAW pushed this to the top for me.

And the ability to control many of the camera settings over the HDMI connection using the ATEM Mini and ATEM Mini Pro are just the cherry on top!

Lens Mount: Canon EF

Outputs: HDMI (Type A - Full Size)

Recording Formats: Up to 6144 x 3456 at 50 fps or 6144 x 2560 at 60 fps

Output Formats: Up to 1920 x 1080 at 60 fps

My Favorite Feature: This is tough, but I would say the ability to record up to 6K while outputting 1080p for streaming is pretty awesome

View on Amazon
Canon C100 Mark II

Canon C100 Mark II

Coming In A Close 2nd

A fan favorite budget cinema body that works surprisingly well for streaming and multi-camera productions.

Compatible with the RC-V100 (View on B&H), giving you remote control of zoom, focus, iris, shutter speed, white balance, and more.

Lens Mount: Canon EF

Outputs: HDMI (Type A - Full Size)

Recording Formats: Up to 1920 x 1080 at 59.94 fps

Output Formats: Up to 1920 x 1080 at 59.94 fps

My Favorite Feature: Downscaled 4K sensor creates super crisp 1080p images

View on Amazon
Panasonic Varicam LT

Panasonic Varicam LT

Best All-Around Live Ecosystem

Panasonic has absolutely nailed the cinematic-meets-live ecosystem.

Their CINELIVE system brings broadcast-style features to the Varicam LT, including control from remote shading panels, tally, and return video - all while taking advantage of the Varicam LT's classic qualities - 14+ stops of dynamic range, dual native 800/5000 ISO, and 12-bit AVC-Intra internal recording.

If you want a 100% cinematic experience with a 100% studio/live feel, this is it.

Lens Mount: Interchangeable (PL or Canon EF)

Outputs: 3x 3G-SDI (1x for viewfinder)

Recording Formats: Up to 4096 x 2160 at 59.94 fps

Output Formats: Up to 1920 x 1080 at 59.94 fps (3G-SDI)

My Favorite Feature: I can't pick just one - it's a wonderful marriage of cinema and live

View on B&H
Panasonic EVA1

Panasonic EVA1

Varicam Look With 6G-SDI Output

The same great Varicam look with many excellent features, including 6G-SDI output.

And now that Skaarhoj has released a full-featured RCP/CCU solution for the EVA1, it becomes an even greater value for live production.

Lens Mount: Canon EF

Outputs: 1x 6G-SDI and 1x HDMI (Type A)

Recording Formats: Up to 4096 x 2160 at 59.94 fps or 2048 x 1080 at 240 fps

Output Formats: Up to 5760 x 3072 at 29.97 fps (6G-SDI RAW)

My Favorite Feature: 5.7K RAW output

View on Amazon
Canon C200B

Canon C200B

4K Bang For The Buck

Amazing value with tons of versatility.

Works well for camera positions that don't need accessories like viewfinder, top handle, grip, and touchscreen monitor.

Compatible with the RC-V100 (View on B&H), giving you remote control of zoom, focus, iris, shutter speed, white balance, and more.

Lens Mount: Canon EF

Outputs: 3G-SDI and HDMI (Type A - Full Size)

Recording Formats: Up to 4096 x 2160 at 59.94 fps

Output Formats: Up to 3840 x 2160 at 59.94 fps (HDMI) or 2048 x 1080 at 59.94 fps (3G-SDI)

My Favorite Feature: Bare bones body saves you money over the regular C200 for times when extra accessories aren't needed

View on B&H

Cinema Lenses

All of the cinema cameras listed above come with Canon EF lens mounts.

Therefore, all of these lenses will work natively on every cinema camera listed.

Canon CN-E 70-200mm T4.4

Canon CN-E 70-200mm T4.4

Top Pick For 2020!

A cinematic take on the classic Canon 70-200mm.

Built-in servo zoom that works with many industry-standard controllers.

Parfocal design that maintains focus throughout zoom range. Focus shows almost no signs of breathing.

Lens Mount: Canon EF

Sensor Coverage: Up to Super 35

My Favorite Feature: Quality for the price

View on Amazon
Canon Cine-Servo 17-120mm T2.95

Canon Cine-Servo 17-120mm T2.95

A Handheld Operator's Dream

I was a broadcast camera operator for years, and I wish I had this back when I was running handhelds.

Super 35 coverage suitable for 4K resolutions, constant aperture throughout the zoom range, and a 7x optical zoom - speaking my love language.

Lens Mount: Canon EF

Sensor Coverage: Up to Super 35

My Favorite Feature: 7x optical zoom with a constant aperture is just remarkable

View on B&H
Sigma 18-35mm T2

Sigma 18-35mm T2

Budget-Friendly Handheld Option

Just like the Sigma 18-35 f/1.8, its photography sibling, this lens has become a fast favorite wide zoom.

This is a full manual lens (zoom and focus), so I generally recommend it for handheld or static shots only.

Lens Mount: Canon EF

Sensor Coverage: Up to Super 35

My Favorite Feature: Wide aperture opens artistic creativity for shallow depth of field

View on Amazon
Canon CN-E 18-80mm T4.4

Canon CN-E 18-80mm T4.4

Excellent Standard Zoom

Same great features from the 70-200mm listed above in a standard zoom.

Lens Mount: Canon EF

Sensor Coverage: Up to Super 35

My Favorite Feature: Quality for the price

View on B&H
Canon Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9

Canon Cine-Servo 50-1000mm T5.0-8.9

Tight Follow Has Never Looked Better

You know you want it... just don't look at the price.

But if you want to do tight follow properly on a Super 35 sensor from any considerable distance, this is the lens.

Lens Mount: Canon EF

Sensor Coverage: Up to Super 35

My Favorite Feature: True broadcast capability for Super 35 coverage

View on B&H

Need Assistance?

If you have any questions or suggestions, don't hesitate to send me a message.