Top 5 Webcams
There are lots of reasons why webcams have become popular both in the home and in the office environment. The opportunity to set up a video conference so that members of a board, as well as staff members, can participate in meetings from anywhere in the world is one of the reasons why this device is so popular. In the gaming industry, a lot of gamers have found a way to monetize the use of this device by streaming games onto the internet.
A lot of people are still buying into this technology. This has given rise to the need for high-quality webcam selection. With so many popular companies including Logitech and Microsoft offering some high-quality webcams, how do you decide on a webcam that meets your demands?
This article will help pick out a webcam that can meet all the needs of your streaming and video conferencing desires. Information like what is a webcam? working of a webcam, types of webcam available in market, features & benefits. Lastly, we have mentioned FAQ and our top 5 recommendations to help you choose the right one.
Our pick for the best webcams on the market
What is a webcam?
The popularity of the webcam is often attributed to the low cost of production. They are commonly used in computers as videophones, security surveillance, creating video links, video broadcast, and more.
Webcams can be traced back to the Cambridge University Computer Science Department in 1991 while the first commercial webcam, the QuickCam was produced in 1994.
How does a webcam work?
The way a webcam works is very similar to the functioning of a digital camera. On the front of the webcam, there is a small lens. Through this lens, the device is able to capture light with an image-sensing microchip which has microscopic light-detectors built-in. The image sensing microchip can be either a CMOS image sensor or a charge-coupled device (CCD).
The image sensor and its circuitry perform the conversion of the picture into a digital format. A digital format is usually a string of ones and zeros which the computer can easily understand. A significant difference between the webcam and digital cameras is the absence of a flash memory card or built-in memory chip in a webcam. The design of the webcam eliminates the need for such a memory. The webcam doesn’t need to store the pictures. In the case of the webcam, it transmits the images to a computer as soon as it captures it. This is why a USB cable is available on most eternal webcams.
The functions of the USB on a webcam include a power supply to the webcam from the computer as well as transfer digital information from the webcam image sensor to the computer. There are other webcams which make use of Wi-Fi for wireless connectivity.
Conversion of a picture into a digital form by the image sensor
As soon as an object comes close to the webcam lens, the light comes into the webcam lens. This light or picture then falls on the image sensor. The image sensor then splits this picture into individual pixels which it then converts into a numeric format. The conversion of the image to digital form is done differently in CMOS and CCD chips. While they both first convert the light rays to electricity, CCD chips transfer the electrical signals to one or more different chips for conversion into digital signals.On the other hand, CMOS chips perform the conversion into both electrical and digital signals on a single chip. A simple difference between both chips is that a CCD chip is an analog while a CMOS chip is digital. The CMOS chips have become quite common in webcams and mobile phone cameras because they are cheaper to produce in large volumes and also work much faster than the CCD chips.
In summary, light falls on an image sensor which measures the amount of light which falls on each pixel. This measurement is then stored as a string of numbers which is transmitted to the computer.
Benefits of a webcam
Training and education
Online courses and distance learning have become a popular way of learning and webcam have a significant impact on most online courses. Through the use of a webcam, it is possible for students to interact with the lecturers taking a particular course when necessary. It is possible to get more insight on a particular topic from the lecturer who is able to explain using diagrams and visual sketches of various concepts. Online study groups are also easy to organize through the use of webcams.
This function is very beneficial to individuals who run websites. Through the use of website stills, it is possible to update the images on a website at regular intervals. By installing special software, an image is captured through the webcam by the software at preset intervals. A copy of this image is then uploaded to the website through an FTP (file transfer protocol) process. Once the software uploads a new image to the website, it deletes the older image on the website. As a result, only the latest image is available for viewing on the website. By enabling a ‘meta refresh’ on the website, it will automatically reload after a number of minutes to ensure it is displaying the updated image. Most individuals who run a gardening website make use of this function.
Plug and Play technology
Although this is only applicable to external webcams, it is still very beneficial. This feature simply implies that the device will automatically install its drivers as soon as it is plugged into a computer. In addition, it only needs to perform this process once. So if you need to travel away from home, you can simply carry the webcam in your bags, connect to any system, and continue your regular activities. This is also another convenience you get from an external webcam which is not available on integrated webcams.
Opportunity to monetize live streams
Through the use of webcams, it is possible to make money off live streaming. This includes live streaming content on video sites like YouTube. Most people who live stream on YouTube usually make a lot of money when they are able to gain a lot of subscribers to their channels. Another popular streaming network is Twitch. This video site is very popular among individuals interested in video game streaming. By streaming their gaming sessions, other players can tune in to watch in order to improve their strategies, learn new strategies, or simply have fun.
This is a very important use of webcams in work environments. Video conferencing is a very easy way to connect colleagues and experts from all over the world. When there is a meeting in the workplace, it is possible that some members may be traveling for work reasons or will be unable to attend due to their schedule. Video conferencing makes it possible for all members to be a part of the meeting regardless of location.
Do you want to set up a home or office surveillance? Then you can use webcams to set up an office or home monitoring system easily. There are a number of webcams which come with security features like a motion sensor. Such webcams will immediately start recording as soon as motion is detected. The ability to connect more than one webcam device to a computer also makes it very easy. As a result, users can monitor various areas and easily switch between the webcam views.
Types of Webcams
Like most devices available on the market, there are also different types of webcams available. This allows users to make a choice depending on how they intend to use the webcam.
This is also known as the integrated webcam. This type of webcam is common on most laptops and also on some All-in-one desktop computers. In most cases, it is present at the top of the computer screen frame while the webcam driver is pre-installed on the computer operating system. Unless you take time actually to move the laptop or computer monitor around the room, the built-in webcam is stationary. Like most computer accessories, excellent webcams are available on the market in case you own a desktop computer which lacks an integrated webcam.
As the name implies, this is a webcam which you purchase separately and then connect to your computer. These types of webcams are available in two forms. This can either be a free-standing webcam or a clip-on webcam. The free-standing webcams are usually set-up on a flat surface while the clip-on webcams are easy to mount on most flatscreen monitors. These webcams come with an installation package to enable it to function on the computer while they are connected through a USB port. A significant benefit of external webcams is the option to choose a high-end model during purchase. Some high-quality features which you can find on some of the better webcams include pan, tilt, zoom, and facial recognition. These may also incorporate a glass lens rather than a plastic lens which is common on cheaper webcams.
Webcams with Microphone
These combo units come with a microphone integrated into the webcam design. What are the major benefits? In addition to saving some money, it is also a great choice for recording audio presentations and for video chats. Nonetheless, an external microphone with higher quality may be necessary for better audio recording. One of the features to look out for when shopping for such webcams is one with a noise cancellation feature on the webcam. This provides clarity on your conversation.
Features to look out for
Like with most cameras, the image quality of a webcam depends mainly on the quality of the lens. Webcams available on the market usually use either a plastic lens or a glass lens. The webcams using a glass lens provide a better image quality than those with a plastic lens. You also get a better low light performance with a glass lens. The quality of the image can also be improved by the size of the lens. A larger lens produces a higher quality image.
Most individuals looking to purchase an external webcam will usually opt for one with a clip-on mount. Although this is quite easy to use, you need to ensure that the webcam mount is suitable for the screen size you intend to mount it on. There are also certain webcam models which provide various mounting attachments for wider application. Some available mounting options include:
- Camera Pivot Mount
- Mounting Clips
- Camera Tripod Mount
You always need to consider various scenarios when purchasing a gadget. Portability is a vital factor you need to consider since you may have to carry the webcam along with you either when traveling or to and from your office. It is important you choose a model which is lightweight and small.
It is common to notice a signal noise during a digital or analog transmission. This can greatly reduce the quality of your audio output. Noise reduction technology helps in canceling the signal noise generated during transmission. Although webcams with microphones offering noise reduction usually come at a higher price, they are well worth the cost.
The High Definition (HD) or 720p is an excellent choice for online video chats. The image quality is better and it offers high-quality details on the picture.
Why do you need the webcam? Answering this question can help determine if you need a webcam with a built-in microphone. It is necessary for both broadcasting and video chatting. Remember that a microphone is a feature which is not available on all webcams. There are certain benefits of this type of webcam including the money you save since you don’t need to pay extra for an external microphone. You also get to connect two devices using just a single USB port.
Not all webcams are compatible with the Mac operating system. This can be a limiting factor in the purchase of a particular webcam. If you own a Mac computer, it is important you carry out extensive research to determine if a webcam is compatible with your computer.
Some of the security features available on a webcam include facial recognition and motion detection. If you will need these features for your daily activities, then you should check for a webcam offering these features.
Pan and Tilt
If you intend to use the webcam for broadcasting purposes, then the quality of your video will be greatly reduced if you need to move the camera around manually. A pan and tilt function on a webcam which you can control using your computer can provide greater output quality. During recordings, there will be no need to come in contact with the camera.
In addition to the OS compatibility, webcams also have system requirements which a computer must meet to utilize the webcams functionalities fully. Most webcams require a minimum of 1GB RAM and a computer processor speed of at least 1GHz. These recommendations vary depending on the webcam but most modern computers should easily meet most requirements.
The blurring of images is a problem which is quite common when using a webcam. It is noticeable when you have to change position in front of the camera. The face tracking is a feature which locks the webcam on your face and ensures that it follows the face around throughout the session. As a result, images remain sharp and smooth for a better video chat experience. It is able to do so using a technology which enables the webcam to recognize the face of a human digitally and track the face.
Most of the webcams available on the market connect using USB cables. There are a few models which offer wireless connectivity. Which connection type would you prefer to use?
The video effects on most webcams are usually an additional feature you enjoy as a result of the webcam software. If you enjoy recording a video on your webcam while setting up a special effects background or you enjoy using avatars, then you should consider the webcam software carefully. There are certain webcam models whose software help to complement your creative imaginations.
This is the number of pictures the webcam is able to take before transferring the images to the computer. The frames per second (fps) is the unit for measurement of frame rate. For a webcam which has a specification of 60fps, this implies that the webcam takes a total of 60 pictures every second before it transfers it to the computer.
1. Logitech C922 Pro Stream Webcam – Our pick for best streaming
Logitech company is well known for providing quality webcams in the market. this logitech webcam focuses mainly on online entertainment streaming. This includes streaming on sites such as Twitch and YouTube. It is capable of recording video content at 720p and 60fps as well as 1080p and 30fps. In addition to a mount which easily holds the webcam atop a computer screen, there is a tripod in the package for placing the webcam on a plain surface.
- This webcam comes with a tripod to give users an option when deciding to mount the device
- There are two omnidirectional microphones on each side of the webcam for better audio recording
- It has an automatic light correction technology which allows it to record videos clearly in rooms with dim lighting
- Choose any background scene you desire for your live image with the background replacement technology
- The webcam has a frame rate of 60fps at 720p while it offers 30fps at 1080p
- There are two white LEDs to indicate that the webcam is powered on
- It has a great autofocus feature which offers images with high clarity
- The webcam has an H.264 advanced compression technology which reduces the network bandwidth requirement
- The tripod base has rubberized legs which prevent damage to any surface and also hinder it from sliding
- It is an excellent choice for anyone who intends to stream videos on sites like YouTube and Twitch
- It comes with the XSplit software along with a 3 months premium license
- Background replacement technology which is powered by personify allows you to integrate your live image with any background Scene
- Although it is designed for streaming, it does not come with the Logitech Gaming Software
2. Segolike 12MP USB HD Webcam – Best for low light conditions
Another great addition with a number of excellent features, this webcam is quite a great addition for its use in low light conditions. The inclusion of 3 LED lights in the design of this webcam makes it a real gem in the dark. Now you don’t need to depend on the light from your computer screen alone, the webcam will ensure you get proper lighting during a video conference.
- There are 3 LED lights which makes it suitable for use in low light conditions
- A microphone is built-in and features noise cancelation technology for clarity during use
- It has an auto color correction and auto white balance for high-quality video output
- The camera has a 12MP specification which provides a good image output
- The autofocus on the webcam minimizes the need to manually adjust the lens during use
- It has a high-quality glass lens for better performance in low light conditions
- It uses a CMOS chip which is much faster in transmitting images and videos
- The webcam is adjustable in the vertical direction to an angle of 30-degrees
- It provides a still image output of 12MP
- The driverless DSP chip in the webcam provides high-speed signal manipulation
- In addition to the clarity, the microphone also has a range of 10m
- The LEDs on the webcam make it very useful in low light conditions and for use in the dark
- At 640 x 480 resolution, the webcam resolution is quite low
3. Logitech C310 HD Webcam – Our pick from the expensive range
Another great product from Logitech is Logitech C310 HD Webcam. This logitech webcam includes keyboards, mouse, gamepads, and many more. Another reason why people like the company is because its customer support is very responsive. From the various webcams which the company offers, the C310 has our attention for some of the great features which it offers.
- The software allows users to zoom and pan in any direction when setting up the webcam
- The inclusion of a motion detector in the webcam software allows the use of the webcam as a security camera
- The Logitech RightLight 2 technology makes it possible to use this webcam effectively in low lighting conditions
- Its built-in microphone offers voice clarity and also covers a wide range as it can pick up the sound if the user is moving around the room
- It uses a 5MP camera
- It has an automatic light correction which adjusts contrast and brightness depending on lighting conditions
- Users can record videos and take pictures of images directly to the hard drive if there is no camera app available on the computer
- It has a 5-ft long USB cable which will easily get to any USB port without dragging the webcam out of place
- Proper customer support with an email link and phone number available
- Step-by-step prompt to get users started on how to use the webcam with ease
- The small focal length of this webcam makes it great for use in indoor photography
- The webcam doesn’t have a mount for tripods
- Difficulty when mounting the webcam
4. BEBIG Desktop USB 12MP HD Webcam – Our pick from the Low range
The BEBIG webcam is an entry-level webcam which is a great pick if you are on a strict budget. In a clear case of getting what you pay for, you can expect it to meet all the specifications of a high-range webcam but it still measures up to the standard. It has a 12MP camera as well as a built-in microphone which make it possible to use out of the box.
- It offers a dynamic resolution of 640 x 480 pixels resolution
- An aspect ratio of 16:9 for widescreen video
- It rotates 360-degrees in the left and right direction while it moves 30-degrees in the up and down direction
- Lightweight cable to prevent dragging the webcam from its mounting position
- The webcam has a high quality glass lens for better performance in all lighting conditions
- It offers a High Definition 12 MP camera with true color images
- The focal length of the webcam is manually adjustable
- The body is made from a durable plastic
- It has a built-in noise cancelation microphone for clarity when speaking
- It records videos up to 30 frames per second
- The camera focus is easily adjustable with a rotating ring on the lens of the webcam
- The joint on the mount is similar to a ball joint which allows webcam movement in both the vertical and horizontal directions
- It uses a clip mount which is very easy to use on flat computer screens or monitors
- It is compatible with various Windows operating systems including Windows 10, Windows 8, and Windows 7
- There is an auto color correction and auto white balance feature on the webcam
- Low image quality in a darkened room
- There is noticeable motion blur if you move during a video session
5. Logitech C270 HD Webcam – Our Pick from the middle range
Another entry from Logitech, the C270 is an affordable webcam with some features which are difficult to find in high-end webcams. The motion detection feature that logitech wecam offers is one of such excellent features which make this product a very versatile addition to this list.
- It has a resolution of 1280 x 720 for HD video quality when during video conferencing or webcam chat
- Logitech Fluid Crystal Technology, Photos: Up to 3.0 megapixels with enhanced software
- There is a pan, tilt, and zoom control for easy adjustment of the webcam for better video output
- A motion detection feature allows its use as a security camera in the home or workplace
- Face tracking feature enables the webcam to detect human faces with ease
- The small size of the camera will ensure it doesn’t cause any obstruction when mounted on the monitor
- It has a hinged mount which allows users to clip the webcam onto the computer monitor or laptop screen
- A built-in microphone with a very high-quality sound recording
- The Logitech Webcam Software provides additional settings which make the webcam more versatile and easy to use
- The motion detection is very effective as the webcam is able to immediately begin recording a video as soon as there is a slight motion
- It has a great microphone which provides excellent clarity
- There is a green LED indicator to show when the webcam is broadcasting a video
- Features like face tracking, motion detection, pan, zoom, and tilt, are only available after installing the Logitech Webcam Software
- No image frames or video effects when using the webcam
- The mounting of the webcam only allows users to manually adjust in a vertical direction
Frequently Asked Questions
1. My laptop has an integrated webcam; can I still make use of an external webcam?
Yes, you can. All you need to do is disable the driver for the integrated webcam on your computer. Once this is done, you can install the driver of the external webcam and then connect.
Although you can have more than a single webcam working on a computer, it usually slows down the computer. This is why we recommend disabling the integrated webcam.
2. Is it possible to use multiple webcams on a computer?
Yes, it is possible. This is quite common with individuals who decide to set up a home monitoring system. The computer will often allow users to switch between the views of each webcam as they are in use.
3. Can a webcam be hacked? How do I prevent it?
Cybersecurity threats have become common news today. This threat is spread over various means including ransomware, a phishing scam, and data breaches. It is also common to hear of someone remotely gaining access to a webcam. This access has nothing to do with the manufacturer of the webcam.
To solve this problem, there are a few steps you can take as an individual. One of such steps is to cover up your webcam after use. This is a viable option if you make use of the built-in camera on your computer monitor or laptop. In the case of an external webcam, an easy way to solve this problem is to disconnect the webcam cable after each use.
If you use a built-in webcam, then having a powerful security software can also protect you against the dangers of hackers.
4. Can I use a webcam with a smart TV?
The short answer is YES.
For the long answer, it will depend on the webcam. The designs of webcams usually differ and so does the compatibility of these webcams. There are a few webcams whose design support their use with Smart TVs. Other webcams, like Logitech webcams, usually do not support its use on Smart TVs. These webcams are designed for use on PCs only. This is similar to how some webcams are compatible with Mac OS. If you intend to make use of the webcam on a smart TV, then you should carefully carry out your research to ensure it is compatible with smart TVs.
5. What is the common webcam recording format? Can I change this format?
The format which most webcams commonly record is the MP4 format. This is also the recommended format for the video recording. There are a few programs which do not accept the MP4 format so there will be a need to change the recording format. In some cases, getting the right software can change the recording format of the webcam. If this is proving difficult, an easier way is to get any software which can convert MP4 videos into other formats.
6. Is it possible to use the webcam microphone without using the camera for voice activation?
When you say voice activation, this can usually mean for Cortana or Google Chrome. The good news is that it is possible to make use of the built-in microphone for such purposes without having to make use of the camera.
7. A lot of webcams don’t say anything about sound output, what does this mean?
Most webcams only advertise a built-in microphone for sound input because they actually do not have any form of speakers to provide an output. Webcams depend largely on the output of your computer to provide the sound from the other end of the webcam conversation. The quality of the output sound will usually depend on the quality of your speakers.
8. I have an external microphone available; do I still need to use the built-in microphone?
No. Like with any software on your computer, there will usually be a notification requesting for your input/output preferences. In such a situation, simply select your external microphone to ensure that the built-in webcam microphone is not used while the webcam is in use.
9. Will the resources requirement of a webcam slow down a computer?
Most webcams usually have minimal requirements. If you have a webcam which is slowing down the operation of your computer, then the problem may have a lot to do with the computer itself.
10. What does the Megapixel specification tell me about the webcam?
The megapixel is simply the resolution of the webcam. The reason why you may find it on the specification of webcams is that some users find it easier to understand the megapixel specification rather than the HD resolution specification.
11. Does a natural light source improve the image quality of the webcam?
Yes. Unless you have a high-quality light kit, having a natural light source is the best option when making use of a webcam. This can be light from the window. Lighting is often a good determinant of the output quality when using a webcam.
12. What does photo interpolation mean?
There are a few webcams which may have very low specifications but consistently produce an image and video outputs which are of very high quality. Such webcams usually depend on the software that comes with it. Such software usually has the capability to digitally enhance the image or video quality of the webcam. A webcam which offers a 25MP interpolated photo capability is only able to do so thanks to the software which has the capability to enhance the quality of the photo to 25MP.
13. What are some designs features to look out for when buying a webcam?
An important design consideration which can affect how you use a webcam is its ability to tilt vertically and rotate horizontally. This is a feature which will minimize the need to remove the webcam from its mounting position and set it up differently when you need to take a video or image from another angle.
Selecting a webcam will depend mainly on your needs as well as your budget. If you simply want a webcam for home surveillance or uploading pictures onto your website, you may not need to spend as much as an individual looking to monetize video games streaming using a webcam.
Carefully analyzing the various features you need from a webcam can also help get you the best option.
In this article, we have chosen some of the best webcams you can find on the market as a recommendation. If you are best budget webcam and are in need of a simple webcam for basic use, then the BEBIG Desktop 12MP HD webcam is a good choice. At its current price, it is the best option for anyone on a budget.
If you will be moving around the room during the video session and do not want to step out of the frame, then a good option which is excellent for wide angle video recording is the Genius 120-Degree Ultra Wide Angle Full HD Conference Webcam.
The Logitech C310 HD Webcam serves as our pick from the expensive range. In addition to the high-quality software from the manufacturer, you can also expect a great customer support service after purchasing this webcam.