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What Camera is Best For YouTube?

YouTube is one of the most popular ways of sharing videos—but what video camera is best for sharing with the site's one billion plus unique monthly viewers? While you used to be able to get away with using a low resolution camera because the site couldn't handle large video files, all that has changed, with YouTube now supporting 1080p HD videos and even some 4K. Here's what you need to know to choose a video camera for YouTube.

 

Resolution

YouTube has no problem supporting 1080p HD video, so you should record and upload with your camcorder's highest available setting. Early in 2014, YouTube also announced a new format that allows 4K video on the site, though anyone viewing the video would need a 4K monitor compatible with YouTube's VP9 format that allows for such high quality videos with less bandwidth. I wouldn't rush out and spend $2,000 on a 4K video camera for YouTube unless you've already developed a well-established (and high paying) channel, but more and more people will be able to view the high resolution videos soon.

 

Aspect Ratio

YouTube uses a widescreen 16:9 format. You can use another format like 4:3, but pillar boxes (i.e. those black bars at the top and bottom of the screen) will appear on your video. Many video cameras will allow you to choose what aspect ratio you'd like to shoot in.

 

Bitrate

Higher bitrates indicate better video quality, but also larger files, which is harder for YouTube to handle. 4K video can be displayed with a 35-45 Mbps, though 1080p is at just 8,000 kbps. If you have an enterprise quality internet connection, 1080p can be viewed at 50,000 kbps. Don't worry though, if you upload a file with a larger bitrate, YouTube will resize it automatically.

The best video camera for YouTube then will offer at least a 1080p resolution with a 16:9 aspect ratio, though you can save a bit of money if you choose a camcorder with a lower bitrate. Wi-fi can also be helpful, as well as image stabilization. Here are a few of our most recent recommendations, at a few different price points.

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Nikon KeyMission 360

Camera giant Nikon took everyone by surprise when they launched not just their first action camera, but their first 360 video camera — the Nikon KeyMission 360. Using two lenses and internal stitching software, the KeyMission 360 puts immers...

Grade: B- Price: $497.00

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Panasonic HC-W580

For about $70 more than the V380, the Panasonic W580 offers a twin camera, HDR recording and higher frame rate, though skimps a bit on the zoom with 50x instead of 62x.Recording 1080p HD video at 60 fps, footage from the W580 should be smooth, not...

Grade: A- Price: $348.00

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Ricoh Theta S

The Ricoh Theta S is being touted as a digital camera, but since it's just as capable of shooting video (and there are few 360 options on the market) we've added it here as well as the original post on Digital Camera HQ. Here's our tho...

Grade: B- Price: $219.00

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GoPro Hero+LCD

GoPro's mountable action cams are among the most popular in the business, and for good reason. There's a range of mounts and even a range of camera options. Now, there's one more with the GoPro Hero+LCD, an entry-level model that featu...

Grade: A- Price: $268.00

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Panasonic HC-V770

The Panasonic V750 is a solid consumer camcorder--the 2015 Panasonic V770 keeps the goods and adds a few extras, including high dynamic range video and the option for a sub-camera using wi-fi and a smartphone.Equipped with a slightly larger-than-a...

Grade: A- Price: $448.00

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Sony CX440 Handycam

Sony's 2015 CX440 offers quite a few features for the average consumer, yet still sits at an affordable $300.Video quality certainly isn't sacrificed to keep the price low. The Sony CX440 can shoot 1080p HD video at a smooth 60 fps frame r...

Grade: A- Price: $298.00

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GoPro HERO4 BLACK

The GoPro HERO4 BLACK is likely the best mountable camera on the market in terms of video quality--though, albeit, the most expensive. Introduced with the GoPro HERO4 SILVER, which is the only GoPro to include a touchscreen, it has the highest vid...

Grade: A- Price: $300.00

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Sony AS20

Sony's highly reputable action cam line has seen it's latest addition with the Sony HDR-AS20, a $200 1080p HD camcorder that packs in quite a few features for the price. Among the list of features is a battery that can record up to 150 min...

Grade: B Price: $150.00

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Panasonic W850

There aren't too many camcorders out there that can be described as unlike any other camcorder, but the Panasonic W850 may just fit the bill. That's because it's not a camcorder—it's two. The W850 has a secondary lens to reco...

Grade: B Price: $961.00

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Panasonic V750

Panasonic has made some pretty substantial updates to their already solid V720 with the V750. The 2014 model now uses a back-side illuminated (BSI) sensor, which enhances the low light performance. On top of that, Panasonic says the new processor ...

Grade: A- Price: $600.00

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Sony FDR-AX100

When Sony released their first 4K Handycam last year, we were pretty impressed with the video quality, but the AX1 is huge and it doesn't just have a 4K resolution, it has a 4K price tag too. Now, the power of 4K resolution comes in a much sma...

Grade: A- Price: $1,398.00

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Canon VIXIA HF R52

Another $50 can get you a whopping 32 GB of built-in memory in Canon's top 2014 HF consumer model. With the same 1/4.85” sensor, fast processor and f1.8-45 lens as the HF R500 and HF R50, the HF R52 has the most built-in memory, and like...

Grade: B+ Price: $375.00

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Sony MV1

Camcorders, traditionally, have always been about the video quality, forcing consumers to go into a much higher price point to achieve matching sound quality. But Sony has developed a $300 camcorder designed specifically for the musician, where th...

Grade: B+ Price: $298.00

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Sony CX290

Sony's popular CX line continues to offer performance without a big bottom line in the CX290. We've reviewed some of Sony's 2013 offerings and were quite pleased; expect no less from the CX290. Features include 1080 60p recording, 8 GB...

Grade: A- Price: $340.00

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Sony HDR CX675

While the Sony CX675 doesn't fall in the 4K category, the consumer camcorder still offers a good set of features.New to the line is the Intelligent Active mode on the 5-axis stabilization system, which detects when the user is moving and helps...

Grade: B+ Price: $498.00