If you want to live stream content, then you’re going to need a live stream camera. But what is a live stream camera? Well, a live stream camera is pretty much any camera that’s capable of streaming in real-time.
Before we rank the best streaming cameras, consider what you might want to use a live stream camera for. Do you want to use it as a HQ webcam for work calls or picture-in-picture game streaming? Do you want to use it like a GoPro to capture action content in real-time? Or do you want the highest quality streaming content for something like a conference or convention? All of these situations call for different products and different price tags. Our list is going to cover a variety of live streaming needs – just be mindful that some cameras are better suited for some types of live streaming than others.
Good Streaming Cameras
Before you buy a streaming camera
Before purchasing any live stream camera, make sure that you’re not going to have any compatibility issues. You can figure this out by looking at the interface of your camera and the interface of your computer. Most of the time, if you have an HDMI out port on your camera, and a HDMI in port on your computer, you’re not going to have any issues.
Nowadays, fewer and fewer laptops are shipping with dedicated HDMI in ports, complicating the process of streaming. If you plan on streaming with a MacBook or even an iMac, you’re going to need a HDMI in device that can connect to USB-c or USB-a (depending on the machine) – but the reality of the situation is that if you’re planning on live streaming video, you’re better off connecting through a PC.
With that note out of the way, here’s our list of the best streaming cameras currently on the market.
Good Streaming Cameras
- Max Video Resolution:
- 1080p/60 fps in MJPEG
- Supported resolutions:
- 1920x1080, 1280x720, 960x540, 848x480, 640x360, 320x240
- Supported frame rate:
- MJPEG: 60 fps, 30 fps, 24 fps, 20 fps, 15 fps, 10 fps, 7.5 fps, 5 fps
YUY2, NV12: 30 fps, 24 fps, 20 fps, 15 fps, 10 fps, 7.5 fps, 5 fps
- Premium Full HD Glass lens
- f/2.0 - focal length 3.7 mm
- Field of View: 78° (diagonal)
- Autofocus(10 cm to infinity)
- Face based autofocus with Logitech Capture
- Built-in Audio:
- Dual omnidirectional mic with noise reduction filter
- Stereo or dual mono channel
- Live indicator lights:
- White LED
The Logitech StreamCam quite literally has the word “stream” in its name – but is it the best live stream camera? Well, it’s a good live stream camera that comes with a relatively hefty price tag.
The autofocus works a lot better than it does in some of the cameras on this list but there are issues too. Its FOV isn’t very wide and there are compatibility issues with XSplit and OBS.
Best Streaming Camera for PC
- True 720p HD Video - Post true HD video to online video sites.
- 16:9 Widescreen - For cinematic video recording.
- Noise Reducing Microphone - Crystal-clear audio and built-in unidirectional microphone with acoustic noise cancellation.
- Universal Attachment Base - Work on your desktop, laptop, or notebook.
The Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000 is the best budget streaming camera on this list. It’s hard to go wrong with the LifeCam HD-3000 considering it’s currently priced at $37.95.
Let me say this though: if you’re looking to upgrade your laptop webcam, the HD-3000 probably isn’t worth it – I’d say the video quality is near equivalent to the video quality on most laptop webcams. But if you need a serviceable webcam for your desktop or cameraless laptop, then the HD-3000 is a great option.
Action Mode Good Streaming Cameras
- HERO9 Black Mods Compatibility
- HyperSmooth 3.0 Video Stabilization
- TimeWarp 3.0 Video
- SuperPhoto + Improved HDR
- Digital Lenses (SuperView, Wide, Linear + Horizon Leveling, Linear, Narrow)
- Live Streaming in 1080p | Webcam Mode | Power Tools (HindSight, LiveBurst, Scheduled Capture, Duration Capture)
- Voice Control with Wake on Voice
- Presets + On-Screen Shortcuts
- Intuitive Touch Screen
- Touch Zoom
- Rugged + Waterproof to 33ft (10m)
- 100Mbps Bit Rate
- Face, Smile, Blink, + Scene Detection
- Exposure Control
- GP1 Chip
- Rechargeable Battery (1720mAh Lithium-Ion)
The latest iteration in the GoPro HERO series, the HERO9 Black, has received mixed reviews from critics with some saying its best features are the ability to shoot 5k video, horizon lock and hypersmooth 3.0 stabilization; yet many critics have also said that the HERO9 suffers from performance issues due to the GP1 chip.
You can stream directly to Twitch, YouTube, Facebook and other sites that accept RTMP URLs with the HERO9 Black and the GoPro app
Best Camera for Web Streaming
- Triple 12MP Ultra Wide, Wide, and Telephoto cameras
- Ultra Wide: ƒ/2.4 aperture and 120° field of view
- Wide: ƒ/1.8 aperture
- Telephoto: ƒ/2.0 aperture
- 2x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out; digital zoom up to 10x
- Portrait mode with advanced bokeh 4K video recording at 24 fps, 30 fps, or 60 fps
- 1080p HD video recording at 30 fps or 60 fps
- 720p HD video recording at 30 fps
- Extended dynamic range for video up to 60 fps
- Optical image stabilization for video (Wide and Telephoto)
- 2x optical zoom in, 2x optical zoom out; digital zoom up to 6x and Depth Control
I know what you’re thinking: does a smartphone really have one of the best live stream cameras in 2020? And the answer to that question is yes. The three camera – ultra wide, wide and telephoto system in the iPhone 11 Pro marked a major step forward for smartphone cameras.
There’s one major reason why I put the iPhone 11 Pro on this list. If you want to stream on Instagram Live or Facebook Live, you can do so easily on iPhone. It doesn’t require any workarounds or extra cables – you simply hit record and the software does the rest of the work.
Great Live Streaming Video Camera
- Supported Format: IEEE 802.11 b/g/n
- Frequency Band: 2.4 GHz bandwidth
- Security: WEP/WPA-PSK/WPA2-PSK
- NFC: NFC Forum Type 3 Tag compliant
- Streaming: MPEG-2 TS/UDP, RTMP(USTREAM)
- FTP: FTP, FTPS
- Imaging Device (Type): 3-chips 1/2.8 type "Exmor" CMOS Sensor
- Effective Picture Elements: Approx. 2.07M
- Built-in Optical Filters: OFF: Clear, 1: 1/4ND, 2: 1/16ND, 3: 1/64ND
- Minimum Illumination: 50i : 1.0lux(1/25 Shutter Speed, iris/gain Auto) or 60i :1.2lux(1/30 Shutter Speed, iris/gain Auto)*
- Shutter Speed: 1/3 -1/10,000
- Slow & Quick Motion Function: 1080p: Frame rate selectable 126.96.36.199.12.25,50 fps
- White Balance:Preset (Indoor: 3200K, Outdoor: 5600K±7 steps, Color temperature set range: 2300-15000K), Onepush A, B, Auto selectable
- Gain: -6, -3, 0, 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30 dB, AGC
- Audio Input: XLR-type 3-pin (female) (x2), line/mic/mic +48 V selectable
- Video Output: BNC (×1), Composite 1.0Vp-p, 75 Ω
- Audio Output: Stereo mini jack (x1)
- SDI Output: BNC type (x1), SD/HD/3G(Level-B) selectable SMTPE 259M/292M/424M/425M standards
- USB: Multi/Micro USB jack (x1)
- Headphone Output: Stereo mini jack (x1)
- Speaker Output: Monaural
- DC Input: DC jack
- Remote: Stereo mini mini jack (x1)
- HDMI Output: Type A (x1)
The Sony HXR-NX5R is a behemoth. It’s big, it’s bulky, and it’s better than most of its competitors. But all of that size and prestige comes at a price – at a price of $2,500+ to be exact.
Make no mistakes, the Sony HXR-NX5R doesn’t have a huge market at its price range; but for institutions, conventions and enterprises that can afford it, why not go with the biggest and the best?
Best HD Streaming Camera
3. Sony A5100
- 24.3 MP Exmor® APS-C CMOS sensor
- BIONZ X™ engine for superb detail and noise reduction
- Fast Hybrid AF with 179 phase-detection points
- 180 º tiltable LCD screen for perfect self-portraits
- Wi-Fi® and One-touch NFC for simple sharing and control
- Number of pixels (effective): 24.3 MP
- Monitor type: 3.0 in wide type TFT LCD
What’s the deal with the Sony a5100? It’s a six year old camera, but it’s still regarded as one of the best streaming cameras for content creation. Why? Well, there are two reasons: it’s less expensive than similar options and it’s easier to use.
The Sony a5100 has developed a reputation for being the “go to” camera for burgeoning content creators – and in 2020 it’s a great option for live streaming too. You can even download the Imaging Web Webcam software on Sony’s website to turn your a5100 into a webcam.
Best Camera for YouTube Live Streaming
- Max Resolution: 1080p/30 fps - 720p/ 60 fps
- Focus type: Autofocus
- Lens type: Glass
- Built-in mic: Stereo
- Diagonal field of view (dFoV): 78°
- Tripod-ready universal mounting clip fits laptops, LCD or monitors
The Logitech C922 HD Pro is perhaps the best camera for streaming Twitch. One of the more unique aspects of the C922 HD Pro is the Personify software, which highlights you and removes the background without any need for a greenscreen.
Does the Personify software work great? No, not exactly. But it’s a novel feature for a webcam in the C922 HD Pro’s price-range.
Best Quality Streaming Camera
- Recording mediaSD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card, SDXC Memory Card (Compatible with UHS-I / UHS-II UHS Speed Class 3 standard SDHC / SDXC Memory Cards)
- Image sensor size: 17.3 x 13.0 mm (in 4:3 aspect ratio)
- Micro Four Thirds mount
- Live MOS Sensor
- Camera effective pixels: 16.00 Megapixels
- OLED Live View Finder (2,360k dots)
- Contrast AF system
- DFD technology compatible
- Focus modeAFS (Single) / AFF (Flexible) / AFC (Continuous) / MF
- AF modeFace/Eye Detection / Tracking / 49-Area / Custom Multi / 1-Area / Pinpoint
- ISO sensitivity (Standard Output Sensitivity)Auto / Intelligent ISO / 100 (Extended) / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1600 / 3200 / 6400 / 12800 / 25600 (Changeable to 1/3 EV step)
It’s time to answer the question: what is the best streaming camera? The Panasonic LUMIX G7 is perhaps the best video camera for live streaming. You can shoot in 1080p at 60FPS or 4k at 30FPS so there’s a lot of flexibility for resolution clarity depending on your need.
A lot of people would argue that the viewfinder is one of the best aspects of the G7. The viewfinder flips out and can be swiveled so you can see at pretty much any angle – oh, and it just so happens to have an OLED screen. Is that necessary? Maybe not. But I’m not going to complain so long as the price stays as low as it is.
Best capture cards out now
Unless your camera has built-in streaming capabilities, then you’re going to need a cam link or another camera-based capture card. In this next article, we look at the best capture cards, cam links included. We’ll also explain what makes the best capture cards for game streaming so that you can maximize your set-up accordingly.