Whatever platform you use to live stream, your choice of camera plays a key role in ensuring the overall success of your event. Unfortunately, choosing one isn’t the most straightforward task. There are a lot of things to consider.

For starters, you need to take time to compare the functionalities of the different camera types in the market. You also need to carefully think about your budget and streaming goals, as these will heavily affect your choices.

This guide aims to help you choose the best gadget. We’ll be looking into all the essential information, including the different types of cameras and what they’re best used for.

Camera Types Guide: Everything You Need to Know

Live streaming cameras vary widely in price, quality, and ease of use. Some are best used outdoors, while others provide more flexibility. Here’s a quick guide to the different types of live stream cameras.

1. Webcams

Webcams provide high-quality streams for an affordable price. That’s why they’re a popular choice for live streaming, especially for broadcasting podcasts, webinars, video games, and other streams where the camera is trained on an unmoving subject. These cameras are very easy to use. You simply plug them into your computer and that’s it. You don’t even need a separate video encoder to make them work.

Built-in webcams in laptops have come a long way in terms of video quality over the years, but they still can’t compare with external webcams. Most webcams come with a built-in microphone and resolution of 720p, which is good enough for broadcasting a game. Audio quality isn’t the best though. To get better sound quality, buying a separate mic is your best option.

Also, there are many budget-friendly webcams with 4k streaming resolutions. If you’re serious about live streaming and are looking for a YouTube gaming camera, we highly recommend getting yourself a high-quality webcam.

2. Mirrorless or DSLR cameras

DSLR cameras provide exceptional low-light performance and great video and photo quality. They’re ideal for filming in dynamic situations where the distance of the camera to the subject keeps changing. But they’re quite bulky and expensive. A high-quality DSLR camera can cost as much as $4,000.

Aside from the cost of the camera itself, you also need to get yourself a good camera lens to capture amazing shots. The interchangeable lens options of a DSLR camera sets it apart from other cameras, but the cost can add up real quick. Some lenses even cost just as much (if not more) as the camera itself. That’s why you need to consider your needs carefully before getting one. To help you decide what you need and cut down on costs at the same time, you can rent the lenses first.

Mirrorless cameras provide similar video quality as DSLRs but are lighter and more compact. This makes them a better option for streaming fast-paced events, such as live sports activities. But you get fewer accessories and lens options with a mirrorless camera.

When selecting a mirrorless or DSLR camera, make sure the model you choose can accommodate longer recordings and produce clean output that doesn’t show the icons and viewfinder status on-screen. Since these cameras aren’t primarily designed for live streaming, you’ll need an encoder to send your video to online streaming platforms.

3. Action cameras

Action cameras are lightweight, compact, and sturdy, making them the perfect outdoor live stream camera. They’re best for streaming high-action events and first-person sporting activities, such as skateboarding, hiking, and mountain biking. You can easily put them on your helmet or a selfie stick. You can also mount them on a drone to capture amazing aerial shots.

4. Camcorders

Camcorders are our top choice when it comes to live videos because that’s what they’re originally built for: to record videos. Aside from their ergonomic design, they’re also very easy to set up. This makes them perfect for filming longer streams or handheld shooting.

Plus, most camcorders come with 4k resolution output, giving you the highest video quality possible. If you want to produce a lot of live video content with clean HDMI output without compromising video quality, this is the perfect camera for you. But take note that features vary widely depending on price point.

5. Smartphone cameras

Smartphones come with a built-in camera and microphone. And with their ability to connect to the Internet and run apps, they’re the perfect all-in-one device for live streaming. Smartphone technology has gotten so much better in recent years, so you can expect a decent stream quality. But, just like webcams, smartphone cameras also have their limitations, including the most expensive ones.

For example, video quality suffers in low-light conditions, so make sure to stream in a well-lit room. Or consider getting lighting equipment, such as ring lights. Audio quality is also generally poor, especially when used in places with lots of ambient noise. Zoom and other video customizations are basic or non-existent.

Nothing beats professional-grade cameras. But for basic consumer-level streams, smartphone cameras are good enough.

6. IP cameras

IP cameras have their own IP address, giving them the ability to connect to the internet even without a computer. As long as they can connect via Ethernet or a wireless network, you can place them anywhere. They also have their own power source and can run 247, which is why they’re often permanently installed and used as security cameras in conference rooms, churches, and other public establishments.

IP cameras offer more versatility than webcams, but they’re more complicated to set up and use. For starters, you’ll need an encoder because most IP cameras aren’t suitable for live streaming. They’re also pricier. If you want the best IP camera for live streaming, you’ll need to shell out a few hundred dollars.

How to Choose the Best Camera for Your Needs?

Just because your smartphone has a camera, it doesn’t mean you should use it to capture all types of live events. Different types of events require different kinds of cameras to get the highest video quality possible. Your streaming goals and needs will influence your choices.

Best camera for live events

When streaming a live event, such as concerts, opt for a camera that can produce excellent video quality and accommodate long recording times. In live events, you won’t be needing a camera with an ergonomic and compact design because it’s often placed in the same area.

Any professional-grade camera, such as DSLRs, mirrorless cameras, or camcorders, will do. Just make sure to place them on a sturdy mount or tripod.

Best camera for sporting events

When covering a sporting event, you need a camera you can easily carry to follow fast-moving actions. It also needs to have superb image quality so you can capture all the movements.

If you’re planning to cover a live sporting event, look for a camera with a compact, lightweight, and ergonomic design, such as action cameras and camcorders. Action cameras are perfect for first-person sports activities, such as skateboarding, while camcorders are best for capturing traditional court sports.

Best camera for outdoor streaming

Smartphones and action cameras with built-in 4G are great for non-traditional streams in the great outdoors. Their compact and lightweight design makes them easy to carry anywhere. You don’t need cables, a computer, or a video encoder to make them work.

You only need to connect them via mobile data or WiFi to start live streaming. Take note that most smartphone cameras produce poor image quality in low-light conditions, so make sure to stream in well-lit areas.

Best camera for mobile streaming

When preparing a live stream event for mobile viewers, your setup will be very similar to those for traditional live events. Make sure you use the right streaming software. This will ensure that your video is streamable on all devices.

For events where the person operating the camera needs to move around a lot, we suggest you go for a compact camera designed for capturing dynamic shots, such as a DSLR or mirrorless camera. Camcorders or smartphones with 4k streaming capabilities are also good choices.

What to Look for When Looking for a Live Stream Camera

Now that we’ve seen the different types of cameras and where you can best use them, let’s take a look at some of the important factors to consider before buying one.

  • Output resolution
  • Mobility and portability
  • Ease of use
  • AC charging capability


We can’t tell you what type of camera to get. Only you can say what you need. But if you already have a webcam lying around somewhere and you only need to do simple broadcasts, you may want to start with that. No need to spend money when you don’t need to.

You might even be surprised at how nice the quality of your webcam is once the color settings and lock-in focus get adjusted the right way. When you finally have the budget or your streaming goals have outgrown your webcam, you can eventually upgrade to a professional-grade camera.

With so many available cameras, you’ll never lack options—whether you’re looking for the best wireless live stream camera or gaming camera for YouTube.