DSLR vs. Webcam: Which Is Better for Streaming?

If you’re thinking about starting your own web stream, you’ve probably wondered whether it’s best to invest in a DSLR camera or a webcam. There are multiple reasons why people choose one or the other — each has its benefits and drawbacks. How can you make the right choice?

To make the choice between a DSLR or webcam for streaming, consider how much you’re willing to spend and how much picture quality matters. DLSRs provide superior image quality and freedom for adjustments. Webcams are cheaper, easier to use, and take up less space, but offer lower image quality.

Making the right choice is all about the size of your budget and how much effort you’re willing to put into the quality of your stream. This article will walk you through all the things that you need to consider to make the best purchase for your specific needs.

DSLR Webcam

Should You Get a DSLR or a Webcam for Streaming?

For quality streaming, choose a DSLR. On a budget? Go with a webcam. DSLRs offer great image quality and more control in how the stream turns out — but they’re bulky, expensive, and there’s a learning curve. Webcams don’t provide high-quality video, but they’re small, cheap, and easy to use.

In this section, we’ll closely compare the benefits and drawbacks of using a DSLR or a webcam for your streaming needs to help you make the right choice.

Are DSLRs Better for Streaming?

DSLR cameras are better for streaming if you want professional-looking videos, more control over the final image, and the freedom to shoot in poor lighting. Additionally, DSLRs double as a photography camera. However, DSLRs take up more space, cost more, and may be difficult for novices to use.

If you’re a video or image enthusiast, then you should probably go for a DSLR camera.

However, if you’re not sure if spending the extra money and effort will be worth it, consider the pros and cons of using a DSLR for streaming.

Benefits of DSLR Cameras

The major benefits of using a DSLR for your streaming include:

  • Better image quality. DSLRs pack a more advanced mechanism. They reflect light from a lens into a mirror and then an image sensor. The image processor converts that into the appropriate format. This allows for superior overall image quality.
  • Great for low lighting. DSLRs have very large sensors, which allows them to capture more light. This means you’ll be able to use them in dark environments. If you’re picturing a dramatic setup with dim lights, then you pretty much need a DSLR or something similar.
  • More control over your image. DSLR cameras allow you to manually adjust settings like shutter speed, ISO, and aperture. If you want your camera to be optimally adjusted for your setup, these details matter.
  • Interchangeable lenses. DSLRs allow you to switch lenses at any time. Specific lenses can get you more depth of field, wide-angles, different shutter speeds, and other tweaks.
  • A lot of available extra gear. DSLR lets you add plenty of upgrades and quality of life improvements to your setup. Besides switchable lenses, there is a wide selection of mounts, flashes, triggers.
  • Can also be used as a regular camera. If you buy a DSLR for your streaming setup, you’re also getting an excellent camera for typical photography use. If you like taking pictures, then you’ll be getting a lot of use out of your DSLR.

Drawbacks of DSLR Cameras

The potential drawbacks of using a DSLR for your video streaming include:

  • Prone to heating. DSLRs aren’t always designed for continuous use, and it’s possible to wear out their mirror due to overheating. This issue can be solved by buying a mirrorless camera, which we’ll discuss in the next section.
  • More expensive. DSLR cameras are more complex machines and thus more expensive. A budget but reliable DSLR won’t go under $300.
  • Difficult to use. DSLRs are photography cameras, and they come with a myriad of options to adjust your image. If you haven’t had experience with one, you might feel a little overwhelmed at first. In any case, the learning curve will be steeper.
  • Not always compatible. Before buying a DSLR, you’ll have to make sure it’s compatible with the software you’ll use to link it to your computer.
  • Might need extra gear. Just buying a DSLR will often not be enough. You’ll probably have to buy an adequate lens for your needs and a proper stand. If your computer isn’t powerful enough, then you’ll need to buy a capture card. All those expenses add up to the final cost.

Product Recommendations

If you’ve decided on a DSLR for your streaming needs, here are a few of my recommendations for a quality camera:

Canon EOS REBEL SL3: Canon’s EOS line on Amazon.com is a favorite for many vloggers and streamers. It has extremely fast autofocus and comes with software to turn it into a webcam. You can also directly connect it via HDMI.

Sale
Canon EOS RP Full-frame Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera + RF24-105mm Lens F4-7.1 IS STM Lens Kit-- Compact and Lightweight for Traveling and Vlogging, Black (3380C132)
1,020 Reviews
Canon EOS RP Full-frame Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera + RF24-105mm Lens F4-7.1 IS STM Lens Kit-- Compact and Lightweight for Traveling and Vlogging, Black (3380C132)
  • Compact, Lightweight and High-Quality RF Lens with a Versatile Zoom Range of 24-105mm
  • Optical Image Stabilization at up to 5 Stops of Shake Correction
  • Maximum Magnification of 0.4x and Minimum Focusing Distance of 0.66 feet in Auto Focus

Last update on 2022-10-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV: With a full-frame lens and a range of professional features, this is the top choice for the job (available on Amazon.com). You’ll be able to record 4k video at up to 120 frames per second.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera Body
844 Reviews
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera Body
  • New 30.4 Megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor for versatile shooting in nearly any light, with ISO range 100-32000; expandable up to 50-102400 (equivalent ISO).
  • 4K Motion JPEG video (DCI cinema-type 4096 x 2160) at 30p or 24p; in- camera still frame grab of 4K 8.8-Megapixel images; multiple video options include Full HD up to 60p, and HD up to 120p.
  • Superb Dual Pixel CMOS AF for responsive and smooth AF during video or live view shooting; LCD monitor has a full touchscreen interface, including selection of AF area.

Last update on 2022-10-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Canon EOS 4000D: This affordable camera on Amazon.com is perfect for those who want to get into DSLRs without breaking the bank. You’ll be able to shoot at 1080p at up to 30 frames per second.

Sale
Canon EOS 4000D DSLR Camera w/Canon EF-S 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 III Zoom Lens + Case + 32GB SD Card (15pc Bundle)
1,470 Reviews
Canon EOS 4000D DSLR Camera w/Canon EF-S 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 III Zoom Lens + Case + 32GB SD Card (15pc Bundle)
  • This DSLR Camera Package Includes- LP-E10 Battery , LC-E10 Charger , Lens Caps And Body Cap ,Canon Neck Strap, Transcend 32GB High Speed Memory Card, Digital Slave Flash, Spider Flexible Tripod, USB Card Reader, 58mm UV Filter, Padded Shoulder Bag, Lens Cleaning Cloth, And Includes :
  • Canon EOS 4000D DSLR Camera Body (International Version )- 18.0MP APS-C CMOS Sensor,DIGIC 4+ Image Processor, 6.8 cm (2.7") TFT LCD, approx. 230 K dots,,Full HD 1080p Video Recording at 29.97fps ,9 Point Auto Focus,Dual,Up to 3 fps Shooting and ISO 12800 ,Built-In Wi-Fi, Scene Intelligent Auto
  • Canon EF-S 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 DC III Zoom Lens - EF-S-Mount Lens/APS-C Format, 28.8-88mm (35mm Equivalent) ,Aperture Range: f/3.5 to f/38 ,One Aspherical Element ,Super Spectra Coating ,Micro Motor AF System , Rounded 6-Blade Diaphragm

Last update on 2022-10-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

For more information, check out some of my other articles:

Are Webcams Better for Streaming?

Webcams are better for streaming if you need a compact, easy-to-use camera that won’t hurt your budget. While webcams cannot produce the impeccable image quality of a DSLR, many newer models offer decent-quality video. However, you’ll have far less control over how the video appears.

Webcams are small, affordable devices that can be attached to your computer without any extra setup. Naturally, they won’t give you the professional, high-quality look that DSLRs can reach.

But that’s not the point of a webcam. The advantage of webcams is that they can give you decent-looking videos for very cheap. If you’re on a budget, you probably can’t spend more than $500 on a camera, especially if you also need to buy lighting gear and a microphone.

That’s why webcams are a great choice for many people, especially if you’re starting.

Benefits of Webcams

The benefits of using a webcam for video streaming include:

  • Low budget. Webcams are single-function devices, and they don’t aim too high. Since they don’t have fancy components or settings, they’ll always be much cheaper than DSLRs.
  • Easy to use. Most webcams are made to be plug-and-play. They are ready to be used right after connecting them. At most, you’ll need to install a driver, which will usually come with the device.
  • Don’t take up space. Webcams have a very small footprint. They usually sit at the top of your monitor and don’t occupy any extra space. If they come with a tripod, these tend to be small.
  • Great compatibility. Good webcams are compatible with all major programs and operating systems. And if they aren’t, then it’s usually displayed on the box.

Drawbacks of Webcams

While there are many benefits to using a webcam, there are also some drawbacks, including:

  • Worse image quality. Because of their size and low cost, webcams simply can’t output the same image quality as a DSLR. Some of them can reach high resolutions, up to 4K. But things like dynamic range and color depth will be lacking when compared to DSLRs.
  • Limited adjustments. Webcams will have little if any image adjustments. If you’re having issues with your lighting or want to change how your stream looks, there’s not much you’ll be able to do on the hardware side.
  • Bad for low lighting. Because they are so compact, webcam sensors can’t get very wide. This means it won’t be able to capture as much light and thus will perform poorly in dimly lit environments.
  • They are single-use. Webcams are good for streaming and video calls, but not much else. You obviously won’t be able to use it as a photo camera.

Product Recommendations

If you’re in the market for a quality webcam, then consider a few of the following recommendations:

Logitech StreamCam: As you might have guessed, this camera from Amazon.com is made specifically for streaming. It’s reasonably priced and can capture video at 1080p at 60 frames per second. Also, it comes with a handy, versatile mount.

Last update on 2022-10-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000: You won’t find something better than this at this price. The pick for those on the tightest budgets (available on Amazon.com).

Sale
Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000
341 Reviews
Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000
  • True 720p HD video - Post true HD video to online video sites.
  • 16:9 widescreen - For cinematic video recording.
  • TrueColor Technology - Automatically delivers bright and colorful video, in virtually all lighting conditions.

Last update on 2022-10-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Logitech C922 Pro Stream: With great autofocus and image correction, this is an excellent mid-range webcam. One of the most popular webcams out there.

Sale
Logitech C922 1920 x 1080pixels USB Black Webcam
8,259 Reviews
Logitech C922 1920 x 1080pixels USB Black Webcam
  • Full HD streaming: Logitech C922 provides two streaming qualities to choose from. Whether you're after full HD 1080p at 30fps, or 720p at 60 fps, your audience will always be able to see you clearly. It covers all of the action with 78-degree field of view
  • Multiple mounting options including tripod: This HD streaming webcam comes equipped with a versatile tripod. Mount the USB streaming camera on your LCD screen, notebook, table top or on your tripod
  • Auto-lighting corrections: Alongside full HD streaming over wifi, this gaming webcam is equipped with autofocus and instant light correction, producing a clean-cut high definition image for viewers, even in low light

Last update on 2022-10-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

For more information, check out some of my other articles:

Are Mirrorless Cameras Better for Streaming?

You might have heard about DSLR mirrors wearing out after recording for long sessions. This is a reason why many streamers opt for mirrorless cameras instead.

Mirrorless cameras are just as good as DSLRs for streaming but can be more durable. Streaming for many hours can wear out DSLR mirrors over time. Mirrorless cameras don’t have mirrors, so they can easily stand long sessions. However, their autofocus isn’t nearly as good.

Mirrorless cameras are very similar to DSLRs. DSLRs cameras have been around since the 1990s, so there’s a lot of gear and options for them. Meanwhile, mirrorless cameras are a more recent technology and have slightly less gear available for them.

The main difference is in how you picture the image on your camera. DSLR has a mirror that reflexes light into an optical viewfinder, which lets the user literally see through the camera’s lenses.

Mirrorless cameras, as their name suggests, lack that mirror. Light goes straight into the digital sensor. You use an LCD to see through the lenses. They sport the same sensors as DSLRs, so they’re on equal footing in terms of image quality.

But here is the key difference for streamers: filming for several hours on a DSLR can wear out its mirror in the long term. Buying a mirrorless camera avoids that issue entirely. They are made for long filming sessions.

Here are other differences that matter when it comes to streaming:

  • Autofocus: DSLRs use a technology called phase detection, which allows them to have fast and accurate autofocus. Mirrorless uses contrast detection for autofocus, which is significantly slower.
  • Size: Because of their simpler mechanism, mirrorless cameras tend to be smaller. This can be an advantage if you have a small desktop.
  • Cost: The technology for mirrorless cameras is newer, so they tend to be more costly. However, they’re starting to catch up with DSLRs in terms of value.

The Panasonic LUMIX GH5 on Amazon.com is an excellent mid-range choice for a mirrorless camera. It lets you record 1080p video at up to 180 frames per second and has great image stabilization.

Panasonic LUMIX GH5 4K Digital Camera, 20.3 Megapixel Mirrorless Camera with Digital Live MOS Sensor, 5-Axis Dual I.S. 2.0, 4K 4:2:2 10-Bit Video, Full-Size HDMI Out, 3.2-Inch LCD, DC-GH5 (Black)
394 Reviews
Panasonic LUMIX GH5 4K Digital Camera, 20.3 Megapixel Mirrorless Camera with Digital Live MOS Sensor, 5-Axis Dual I.S. 2.0, 4K 4:2:2 10-Bit Video, Full-Size HDMI Out, 3.2-Inch LCD, DC-GH5 (Black)
  • Professional photo and video: 20.3 Megapixel micro four thirds sensor with no low pass filter to capture sharp images with a high dynamic range and artifact free performance
  • Splash or Freeze Proof Design: Freeze proof to 10 degrees the durable magnesium alloy body withstands heavy use in the field; Splash or dust proof construction with weather sealing on every Joint, dial and button
  • Dual image stabilization: 5 axis dual image stabilization corrects all lenses, including classic lenses not equipped with O. I. S, to eliminate Blur and nearly eliminate body and lens shake in both photo and 4K video recording

Last update on 2022-10-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you want something more affordable, take a look at the Panasonic LUMIX G7 also available on Amazon.com. It has excellent 4k recording capabilities inside a compact frame.

Sale
Panasonic LUMIX G7 4K Digital Camera, with LUMIX G VARIO 14-42mm Mega O.I.S. Lens, 16 Megapixel Mirrorless Camera, 3-Inch LCD, DMC-G7KK (Black)
1,632 Reviews
Panasonic LUMIX G7 4K Digital Camera, with LUMIX G VARIO 14-42mm Mega O.I.S. Lens, 16 Megapixel Mirrorless Camera, 3-Inch LCD, DMC-G7KK (Black)
  • Professional photo and video: Performance: 16 megapixel micro four thirds sensor with no low pass filter to confidently capture sharp images with a high dynamic range and artifact free performance; Wi-Fi: IEEE 802.11b/g/n, 2412 MHz, 2462 MHz (1 11 ch), Wi Fi / WPA / WPA2, Infrastructure mode
  • 4K video Capture: 4K QFHD video recording (3840 x 2160) with 3 unique 4K ultra HD video pause and save 4K photo modes extracts individual high resolution Photos from 4K ultra HD video filmed at 30 frames per second to capture split second moments
  • Intuitive Controls: Easily control aperture and shutter settings with the front and rear dials while making White balance and ISO adjustments on the fly; Assign favorite settings to any of the six function buttons (six on body, five on menu)

Last update on 2022-10-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Are Camcorders Better for Streaming?

Camcorders might not be what you came for, but they are worth introducing as a third option.

Camcorders are the most convenient option for streaming. DSLRs can have heat issues after long sessions, but camcorders are built to record video for many hours. They don’t have as many customization options, and their lenses don’t get as wide, but it’s the top choice for streaming for most people.

Camcorders are built from the ground up for recording video. This makes them perfect candidates for streaming.

DSLR may have trouble with overheating and shutting down after long sessions. Camcorders, on the other hand, have no limits for recording for many hours.

Lenses in camcorders aren’t as wide as those in DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, at least not until you get to the very high end. This means you won’t have as much freedom with lighting, and image quality might not be as high.

However, camcorders are easy to set up, have great image stabilization and fast autofocus. Depending on who you ask, they are overall the best camera for streaming.

Regarding cost, there’s a huge margin.

You can go for a mid-range camera like the Panasonic HC-V770 on Amazon.com. This camcorder will give you great image quality plus several features aimed exclusively at recording.

Sale
Panasonic Full HD Video Camera Camcorder HC-V770, 20X Optical Zoom, 1/2.3-Inch BSI Sensor, HDR Capture, Wi-Fi Smartphone Multi Scene Video Recording (Black)
389 Reviews
Panasonic Full HD Video Camera Camcorder HC-V770, 20X Optical Zoom, 1/2.3-Inch BSI Sensor, HDR Capture, Wi-Fi Smartphone Multi Scene Video Recording (Black)
  • 20X Optical Zoom: Long 20X zoom draws in the scene from far away; Compatible with Remote Pan Tilt Cradle (optional); The focal length is 4.08 to 81.6 millimeter; The still image is 1/2 to 1/2000 and the standard illumination is 1400 lx
  • HDR Movie Feature: Exclusive high dynamic range feature suppresses blown highlights and blocked shadows for crisper and clearer videos camcorder
  • Wireless Twin Camera: Wirelessly connect your smartphone's video camera as a sub-camera for a picture in picture video effect

Last update on 2022-10-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you can spend more, go for the ZeeTech Canon Vixia HF G50 also available on Amazon.com. At this price point, you’re getting image quality on the same level as similarly priced DSLRs. The wide lens allows you to record in low light conditions, and it offers some customization.

Canon Vixia HF G50 UHD 4K CMOS Sensor Video Camcorder with 32GB SanDisk Memory Card + UV Fliter + ZeeTech Accessory Bundle
  • Canon Vixia HF G50 UHD 4K Camcorder (International Model) - 1/2.3'' UHD 4K CMOS Sensor, Record up to UHD 4K30 Video, DIGIC DV 6 Image Processor, 8-Blade Circular Aperture, Dual SD Card Slots, 5-Axis Image Stabilization, Slow- & Fast-Motion, Interval Recording, 29.3 to 627mm, 20x Optical Zoom in 4K, 3'' Touchscreen LCD, Tiltable EVF.
  • The VIXIA HF G50 camcorder features a Genuine Canon 4K-compatible 20x Optical Zoom lens. It offers a 35mm equivalent of 29.3–601mm, with a minimum object distance of just 23.6 inches (600mm) and 0.4 inches (10mm) at wide end. Incorporating advanced elements and coatings, it helps reduce flare, ghosting and other distracting effects to deliver sharp, clear images with minimal distortion.
  • This VIXIA HF G50 camcorder incorporates Canon's DIGIC DV 6 Image Processor, which is integral to providing high image quality, advanced performance and convenient operability. It also captures high amounts of light for brighter, virtually noise-free images even in dark scenes. This advanced core technology component provides the image-processing power and speed that enables features such as 4K UHD video acquisition, image stabilization and slow and fast motion recording.

Last update on 2022-10-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re a new streamer or want to step up your gear, you’ve likely considered both a DSLR camera and webcam.

DSLRs provide higher quality results and are more professional. However, they’re also more expensive, difficult to use, and may require extra gear. Webcams, on the other hand, provide decent quality video, are compact, and are easy to use — but the picture quality is lacking compared to a DSLR.

You might also consider mirrorless cameras and camcorders.

Now that you know what to expect from a DSLR and webcam, you can pick up the device that works best for you.

Sources

Vinnie

I'm Vinnie, and I'm here to support you to create your own studio at home, whether it’s for photography, recording audio, podcasts, or videos!

Recent Posts