If you happen to don’t have already got a laptop computer with a built-in webcam — or the one in your laptop computer isn’t superb — you would possibly want a standalone webcam. Possibly it’s to have the ability to present your face throughout work or faculty. Possibly it’s for chatting with pals, or for facet tasks, like reside streaming or recording your self.
If you happen to don’t wish to truly buy a webcam, there are a number of routes to take. You will get artful along with your cellphone (and spend hardly something or nothing in any respect) through the use of an app that’ll fool your computer into thinking it’s a webcam. Or you’ll be able to go within the complete other way and connect a pricey DSLR or mirrorless camera to your computer to make use of as a webcam — an excellent one, at that.
However assuming you merely wish to buy a webcam, our objective is to make it simpler so that you can discover the one which matches your wants and your price range. Right here, I goal to decipher which USB webcams are price your cash.
We examined in style fashions from manufacturers like Logitech, Microsoft, Dell, Razer, Elgato, and extra. As soon as the mud settled, we landed on a semi-affordable webcam that we predict is the most suitable choice for most individuals. That’s the Logitech C920S Professional HD, which often prices about $60. It helps 1080p decision seize at 30 frames per second, and the visible high quality is passable in most lighting circumstances.
In case you have some additional money together with a need for higher video high quality and extra options, take a look at Logitech’s StreamCam. It additionally helps 1080p decision, however with a sooner 60 frames per second seize. This mannequin is loaded with intelligent options, like an elective mode that may mechanically observe your face across the body. It additionally ships with versatile mounts, one on your monitor, and one other for a tripod.
Every digicam’s video high quality was judged through the use of it with Zoom (the place footage is vulnerable to compression, as it’s with different web-based video calling apps), in addition to with OBS Studio or VLC to see the way it compares with a locally-stored recording.
Logitech C920S Professional HD
The perfect webcam for most individuals
Works with: Home windows, Mac, Linux, Chromebook
Often priced round $60, Logitech’s C920S Professional HD gives higher video and mic high quality than others that I examined on this value vary. This mannequin can document in 1080p decision at as much as 30 frames per second, and whilst you gained’t have a difficulty discovering different similarly-priced webcams with these specs, the C920S Professional’s out-of-box coloration stability, publicity, and comparatively quick auto-focus made it stand out from others I examined.
The image high quality has enough element, and even in my comparatively darkish house, the C920S Professional had no bother making my facial options look sharp. Nevertheless it wasn’t a flawless presentation total, as is to be anticipated for the value. In less-than-ideal lighting situations, the C920S Professional made my pores and skin look over-saturated, with purple spots the place the webcam couldn’t compensate for the shortage of lighting. Although in a piece or play setting flush with pure mild, this was noticeably much less of a difficulty.
Image high quality apart, the C920S Professional has a number of welcome options, like a beneficiant 78-degree subject of view, standing lights that activate when the webcam is being utilized by an software, and an included privateness shutter that can provide you assurance that you simply’re not broadcasting except you wish to be. Another good options at this value embody its sturdy articulating stand, which may sit atop your monitor or simply as simply screw right into a tripod. It’s only a nice worth for the value.
Different webcam choices you would possibly like for beneath $100
Microsoft Fashionable Webcam
Works with: Home windows 10, and in a extra restricted vogue, macOS
Just like the Logitech C920S Professional, the Fashionable Webcam guarantees 1080p decision recording at as much as 30 frames per second. In contrast on to the Logitech, Microsoft’s webcam didn’t produce as sharp of a picture. It was, nevertheless, in a position to produce a extra true-to-life search for my lighting situation due to its HDR setting.
HDR has some advantages, nevertheless it may also include a couple of cons relying in your lighting. Whereas the Fashionable Webcam did an admirable job of taming the beautiful intense backlight that I’ve behind me through the day, it didn’t appear to have many tips to make me look my finest in different methods (no less than with out tweaking the image with the Microsoft Accent Heart app). By means of the lens of the Fashionable Webcam, I seemed like I work in a dimly-lit basement house — which I do, however I’d fairly not be reminded of that reality. As with the C920S Professional, this ought to be much less of an issue for individuals who haven’t any scarcity of pure mild of their room.
I recognize that the Fashionable Webcam’s stand permits you to dangle it over a monitor, or screw it right into a tripod. And it will get bonus factors for having a bodily privateness slider. This webcam additionally has a built-in microphone, nevertheless it surprisingly isn’t enabled by default. If you happen to’re utilizing Home windows 10, you’ll must obtain and allow that setting inside the aforementioned Accent Heart app. If you happen to’re utilizing a macOS pc, nicely, you’re caught with a webcam that lacks a microphone. Contemplating that this webcam prices $69.99, I feel you’re higher off with Logitech’s C920S Professional.
Logitech C270 HD
Works with: Home windows 10, macOS, Android, Chrome OS
If you happen to’re actually in a pinch, and your principal necessities in a webcam are merely that it’s dependable, very inexpensive, and it has a microphone, you would possibly wish to take a look at the Logitech C270 HD. It’s in no way a stunner with regards to video high quality — it’s solely able to 720p decision at 30 frames per second — so that you’ll get a reasonably fuzzy picture it doesn’t matter what your lighting state of affairs is. You’ll get the perfect image when you have it related in a well-lit setting.
The C270 HD’s bulkier design will seemingly overlap your monitor’s display, in contrast to the choices above. It’s a minor comfort that its monitor mount doubles as a stand of types, so it might maintain itself up in your desk or a desk. Being an inexpensive webcam doesn’t mandate that it shouldn’t have good design, although, so hopefully Logitech improves this facet particularly for the following iteration.
This isn’t essentially the most glowing advice, however I perceive that spending extra isn’t one thing that some folks might wish to do. Most individuals ought to spend $60 on our high choose, however in case you simply need one thing that will get the job achieved with out making a big funding, the C270 HD will do exactly that.
The perfect webcam for individuals who want higher image high quality
Works with: Home windows 10 and macOS
If you happen to’re snug spending someplace within the $150-$200 value vary, your webcam choice will confide in units which have sharper image high quality and different options which will make them price the additional price. Logitech’s Streamcam isn’t the latest webcam to be launched, nevertheless it stands out as being an incredible worth total.
For one, it’s compact, and its image constancy can attain 1080p decision at 60 frames per second. To my eyes, the Streamcam had solely barely improved readability, publicity, and coloration copy over the cheaper C920S Professional talked about above. Nevertheless it simply takes the win with its far more fluid seize at 60fps. The Streamcam additionally has a built-in twin omnidirectional mic and a quick auto-focus characteristic. For individuals who’d fairly have a hard and fast focus webcam that isn’t always trying to find objects in movement, Logitech’s Seize software program permits you to swap off the auto-focus, along with a number of different picture-tweaking settings.
These are all nice to have (and what it’s best to count on in a $100+ webcam), nevertheless it’s the additional options that put this one on the high. The Streamcam can document in panorama or portrait mode, which can prevent a step if you edit clips which are made for cellular viewing. It consists of two stands, one that may mount it to a tripod and one other, extra versatile one which rests in your monitor. The latter stand helps a beneficiant quantity of vertical tilt, in addition to panning from left to proper. Lastly, the Seize software program means that you can activate an AI characteristic that may observe your face because it strikes inside the body.
In case you have an older laptop computer, one facet of the Streamcam which may trigger bother is that it plugs in by way of USB-C. So, in case your pc doesn’t have a USB-C port, you’ll must buy a USB-C to USB-A adapter. Additionally, there are different higher-end webcams that supply wider fields of view than the Streamcam’s 78 levels, so you could wish to look elsewhere if you wish to seize a picture that encompasses extra of your room or desk setup.
Different choices you would possibly like within the $100-$200 vary
Works with: Home windows 10 and macOS
The Streamcam is a troublesome webcam to beat, but Elgato’s Facecam comes shut. It has an incredible stability of efficiency and options — providing barely better-looking video high quality than Logitech’s webcam — however its lack of a microphone mixed with its increased, $199 price ticket makes it robust to suggest to most individuals.
The Facecam has related specs to the Streamcam. It will probably document at 1080p with as much as 60 frames per second, and you’ll customise the way you look in its companion software program. After some tweaking to the numerous settings in Elgato’s Digicam Hub app, I most popular how the Facecam made me look with my lighting setup (although its default settings out of the field weren’t nice).
There are a couple of issues, although, minor as they could appear to some folks. As I’ve already talked about, the Facecam prices somewhat extra, and for the value, its lack of a microphone shocked me, even when it is probably not a difficulty for individuals who already use a standalone mic or a headset. And the Facecam’s boxy design gained’t precisely mix in with each setup.
Regardless of its flaws, there’s a lot to love right here. The Facecam helps an 82-degree subject of view that’s somewhat wider than the Streamcam’s, and the fastened focus signifies that the lens gained’t be always going out and in of focus as you progress round. The Facecam additionally produces footage that appears noticeably much less grainy than another webcam that I examined for this information. Another issues I like about this mannequin are that it features a privateness cap and the webcam itself has a tripod thread on its backside, so you’ll be able to simply mount it to a tripod.
Whether or not you’re prepared to forgive the Facecam for its lack of a mic, or if it wasn’t an issue for you within the first place, I’d nonetheless suggest ready till this one drops a bit in value.
Dell UltraSharp webcam
Works with: Home windows 10 and macOS
Dell’s new, cylindrical-shaped Ultrasharp webcam is an alternative choice with no microphone and a excessive value. However judging on appears alone, Dell’s appears definitely worth the $199. The Ultrasharp is well-constructed, and consists of two stands (one monitor mount, one tripod mount) that may magnetically snap into its backside, making the setup quite simple. It additionally ships with a privateness cap that snaps on magnetically. It appears and looks like a $200 webcam ought to.
Surprisingly, although, the Ultrasharp offered the worst out-of-the-box efficiency of the webcams that I attempted. Making changes utilizing the Dell Peripheral companion app positively helped to carry the standard extra into the territory that I anticipated, contemplating the excessive value. This mannequin is able to 4K decision seize at as much as 30 frames per second, and if you’d like extra frames per second, it provides you the choice to bump it all the way down to 1080p decision to get 60 frames per second. Regardless of having related specs to among the units above, the Ultrasharp yields footage that’s somewhat blurry and grainy, and bumping down the decision to 1080p didn’t appear to yield the marketed 60fps.
That mentioned, it does have some options that you could be be searching for out. Just like the Streamcam, there’s an AI-driven characteristic that may maintain you within the body as you progress round. It additionally helps Home windows Hey facial recognition for logging into your machine securely. If you would like a large subject of view, the Ultrasharp helps as much as 90 levels.
All in all, whereas the Ultrasharp would possibly enchantment to individuals who need a fancy-looking webcam with some attention-grabbing options, sadly, the general efficiency doesn’t match the match and end.
Razer Kiyo Professional
Works with: Home windows 10
The differentiating characteristic of the lens-shaped $199 Kiyo Professional, in comparison with different higher-end webcams, is its super-wide 103-degree subject of view. It means that you can see extra of your work or play house, in addition to extra of you. It can be set to 80 levels or 90 levels, if you wish to tweak the look.
In any other case, its specs will look acquainted in case you’ve made it this far down the information. It helps 1080p seize at 60 frames per second, and there’s an HDR mode that knocks the framerate all the way down to 30fps in alternate for a extra balanced-looking picture. During my testing earlier in 2021, I assumed it did a greater job than the webcam that I’ve used essentially the most through the pandemic: the one constructed into my 2019 MacBook Professional.
That’s underselling it a bit, although. It’s principally on par with the Logitech Streamcam in its capacity to supply a satisfying image with good publicity, though the picture was fuzzier than I’d have favored for the value. Image high quality apart, the construct high quality is superb, and its stand permits you to simply mount it in your monitor, or connect it to a tripod. However, this is likely to be a extra enticing choice if it’s discounted.
Images by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge