If you’ve ever ventured into live streaming, you’ve inevitably asked the question “what type of camera will work best to live stream my performance?”

The answer depends on a few variables: what you can afford, the aesthetic or quality of visuals you’d like, and where you’re at in your music career. If you’re more established in your music career you may be looking for a professional camera set-up. But if you’re just getting started there are some easy, affordable options that can get you high-quality results. 

Here’s a look at three options: 

  1. Live-stream with your Smartphone 
  2. Live-stream with your Webcam 
  3. Live-stream with a DSLR, Mirrorless Camera 

Read on as we weigh up some of the benefits and drawbacks of these three camera set-ups:

Smartphone

Approximate cost: $700+ USD for most popular i.e Apple and Android smartphones.

It’s true that you don’t need a fancy camera to live-stream. For starters, the beauty of a smartphone is it’s likely something you already own and are familiar with using. 

The pros of using a smartphone for live-streaming:

  •  You probably already have one
  • Your smartphone is wifi-enabled and/or connected to a cell network for remote streaming options. 
  • Frankly, it’s a decent camera. And you can use camera apps such as Filmic Pro to get to near pro-level visuals (Many are equipped with a host of pro-level adjustments, the same ones you would find in a DSLR camera.)
  • You can attach high-quality lenses to boost your setup.

The cons: 

  • By using your in-built camera, you won’t be able to use your phone to capture any moments from your stream. 
  • The small screen is limiting. Features that would be otherwise available on a larger screen like chat boxes, additional browser tabs, etc are less accessible on a phone. 
  • While camera quality is good, there’s much better. It will never be quite up to par with mirrorless, DSLR, or action camera (i.e. GoPro)”
  • Recording your sets will take up a lot of space on your device. 

Webcam

Approximate Cost: Quality brands start at $50; many options available in the $100-300 range.


First off, a webcam can be internal and external to your laptop. The built-in camera on your laptop delivers a lower quality stream than your smartphone. The only pro to this option is that it’s built-in and ready to go. It suffices for a quick FaceTime or Zoom call, but it’s certainly not meant to capture you performing a masterpiece. It’s still an option at your disposal but if you value higher quality visuals, this is the lowest on the list. 

Additionally, you could purchase an external webcam, here a few webcam options that are budget-friendly:

The pros of an external webcam are: 

  • They are lightweight, compact, portable, and often equipped with a clip that you can mount just about anywhere (and play around with some interesting angles)
  • For the quality they deliver, they are somewhat inexpensive, especially when compared to other external cameras 
  • The hard disk on your computer has more space than a phone if you’re planning to record your streams. 

Some cons:

If you’re using an older computer to perform and stream, a webcam could be resource-heavy on your computer. This is especially true if you’re a DJ with gear like turntables, a mixer, and a sound card. With that said, newer computers are meant to run multiple programs at once, so depending on your set-up and situation this might not be an issue.  

DSLRs, Mirrorless and Actions Cameras

Approximate cost: the average cost of a DSLR is $719. But start at $300 and go up to $1000+. 

When it comes to having the most flexibility for your visual set-up, there’s nothing that will beat a quality stand-alone camera. It’s simple really, all other options are meant to be ubiquitous, while a stand-alone camera's sole purpose is to make what it captures look good. And in this case, that’s you!

Options include many consumer-level SLR and Mirrorless cameras, including action cameras like a GoPro or offerings from DJI. For the most part, as long as these cameras have a USB or HDMI output, you can connect them directly to your computer. 

A few popular options: 

Now the pros of DSLRs, Mirrorless and Actions Cameras: 

  • Picture quality is second to none… and even then, you can still make it better. On most DSLR and Mirrorless cameras, you can swap out lenses to improve your lighting or viewing angle. 
  • More accessories. From various tripods, mounting brackets, microphone rigs, compact light attachments (the list goes on and on) there really is no end to what you can connect/attach to a camera to streamline your video set-up. (Note, this can also be an added plug-in for your smartphone)
  • Recording your set is straightforward, and unlike your phone, you can pop in a 64GB memory card and record for days.

And the cons: 

  • Pricing. This route may be the most expensive option without a doubt. 
  • As mentioned, most of these cameras have a set-up with a tripod, cables, and assorted other accessories to get things dialed in. So this adds another level of complexity if you’re new to live streaming. 
  • An external camera setup can also be resource-heavy if you are using one computer to stream and DJ. If you have a separate device or computer dedicated to streaming, you’re all good.
  • While all cameras have AUTO mode and “set it and forget it” settings, these things are not always ideal. There will always be a learning curve when it comes to any hardware, and in the case of a camera, some basic photography skills will help. 

That’s it!

When you’re ready to start live-streaming, it’s our advice to start simple. For some, this might be a phone; for others, it might be an entry-level camera. Wherever you are in this journey, use what works for you, and what won’t require a large initial financial investment. You can always upgrade as you evolve down the path of live-streaming. But the best advice is to just start! And if that means using what you’ve got, then do just that.

Now go get equipped and go live!