Streaming content on YouTube is becoming a national obsession.
It’s believed there are 197 million YouTube users in the US, watching in the region of 500,000 different unique streamers. Many of those streamers are making a living from YouTube, with their pay-per-view system.
To make money, a streamer must be consistent in terms of their output, regularly uploading videos. A top streamer needs to ensure the quality of their content is good, both what they’re streaming about, and the technical aspects. That means clear sound and, most importantly of all, high-quality video footage.
Many people will use a webcam for their streaming. Something like the Logitech C920 is one of the good, solid entry-level webcams with a great picture. Those that wish to take their streams to the next level can use mirrorless cameras, the sort designed for ‘proper’ photography. Almost all can be repurposed for digital streaming.
Why use a mirrorless camera?
Mirrorless cameras offer several unique advantages that put them above a standard webcam, both external such as the Logitech or the Mac inbuilt cameras. Firstly, they film in great quality. These cameras are used by the world’s best photographers to get pin-sharp images, and the technology that powers them is just as good for videos. You can also use different lenses to change the depth of focus – that means being able to have the subject crisp and clear in the foreground, but the bokeh effect blurring the background. That comes not only from the lens but also the different settings, such as the aperture, which helps you create a more bespoke image for your viewers. They also tend to have a high frame-per-second (FPS) count, as well as improved colors and strong low-light settings.
Which mirrorless cameras are best?
The mirrorless camera market is packed with choices, and it can be daunting to know which to buy and how much to spend. There’s a wide range of mirrorless cameras, and you could end up spending thousands of dollars on something that isn’t entirely suitable. Something like the Sony Alpha a7 IV is a great choice. It has improved levels of color gradient compared to older models, which means better skin tones, bringing the streamer to life on screen. At around $2,000, it isn’t a cheap option, so there’s also the Panasonic Lumix GH5 II. It’s around half the price, but still has a 20.3MP Digital Live MOS sensor and records 4K video at 60fps, making it great for streaming.
There are other options, and much depends on your budget. The Nikon Z6II and the Canon EOS R6 are both from reputable suppliers with a long history of producing strong products in the market, and both can also be used for streaming. However, you’re looking at four figures for each, so the latest mirrorless camera model is only an option for the most serious of streamers.
What are the drawbacks?
The high cost does make them a tough sell over the Logitech C920, which is under $100, but their versatility and quality mean they’re still popular at the higher end of the streaming world. There are other drawbacks, though – some cameras may not be compatible with streaming, especially older models which were built purely with picture quality in mind. You’ll also need to investigate other equipment you need to make the system work – they’re not plug-and-play like some of the specific webcams you can buy.
Using a mirrorless camera for a live stream is not something a beginner should consider. However, if you’re one of the top streamers in your field, or your YouTube channel is earning money, and you’re looking for the next level, then it’s certainly a viable option that will enhance the quality of your productions.