Wednesday October 05, 2022

The best webcam you can buy right now

A standalone webcam might be necessary if your laptop doesn’t have a built-in camera. It might be to be able show your face at work or school. There are many options. You can be creative with your phone and spend very little or nothing by using an app that fools your computer into thinking it is a webcam. You can also connect a high-end DSLR or mirrorless camera directly to your computer to be used as a webcam.
If you are simply looking for a webcam, we aim to make it easier to find one that suits your needs and budget. Here’s how I will help you determine which USB webcams are worth the money.
We tested models from popular brands such as Logitech, Microsoft and Dell. After much research, we settled on a semi-affordable option that we believe is the best for most people. The Logitech C920S PRO HD is a webcam that usually costs around $60. It can capture 1080p resolution at 30 frames per second and provides satisfactory visual quality in all lighting conditions.
Logitech’s StreamCam is a great option if you have extra money and want to enjoy better video quality and more features. It supports 1080p resolution and captures 60 frames per second. The model comes with many clever features, such as an optional mode that automatically follows your face around the frame. It comes with two mounts: one for your monitor, and another for a tripod.
The new addition to the list is the invite-only Opal C1, currently available for $300. It was my first review in late 2021, and I have been using it as my main webcam since then. It’s great. However, the webcam’s software remains in beta and will not be fully compatible with Windows until late 2022. Opal will soon start charging a monthly subscription fee for access to premium features. Keep that in mind when you shop.
Note: Each camera’s video quality has been evaluated by zoom (where footage is susceptible to compression as with other web-based video calling applications), as well OBS Studio and VLC to compare it with a locally-stored recording.

Logitech C920S Pro HD
The best webcam available for most people
Works with: Windows, macOS Linux, Chromebook
Logitech’s C920S Pro HD is usually priced at $60. It offers better video and mic quality than other models in this price range. This model records in 1080p resolution at 30 frames per second. While you can find similar-priced webcams, the C920S PRO’s out-of box color balance, exposure and fast auto-focus make it stand out among other models I tested.
The image quality is excellent. Even in a darkened apartment, the C920S Pro was able to make my facial features appear sharp. It wasn’t perfect, but that is to be expected given the price. The C920S Pro made my skin look too saturated in low-light situations. It also caused red spots that the webcam couldn’t correct. This was less noticeable in an environment with natural light, such as a workplace or play area.
The C920S Pro’s picture quality is not the best. However, it has many welcome features like a large 78-degree field, status lights that illuminate when an application is using the webcam, and a privacy shutter that will ensure you aren’t broadcasting unless you choose to. The strong articulating stand can be used to mount your monitor, or it can be used as a tripod. It is a great value for money.

Logitech C920S Pro HD

The C920S Pro HD records in 1080p at 30 frames per minute. It features a 78-degree field view and two microphones for stereo recording. It comes with a lens cover to protect your privacy.

$70

Best Buy

$70

Target

You might also like other webcam options for less than $100

Microsoft Modern Webcam
Works with: Windows and, in a limited way, macOS
The Modern Webcam promises 1080p resolution recording at 30 frames per second, just like the LogitechC920S Pro. The Microsoft webcam produced a less sharp image than the Logitech. However, it was able to produce a more true to life look for my lighting situation thanks to its HDR setting.
HDR can have some advantages, but it may also have some cons depending on how your lighting conditions. The Modern Webcam did a great job of controlling the intense backlight behind me during the day. However, it didn’t seem to have any tricks that would make me look better in other ways (at most without changing the picture with the Microsoft Accessory Center App). The Modern Webcam’s lens made me look like I was working in a basement apartment. I know that I do, but I don’t want to be reminded. This should not be a problem for those who have plenty of natural light in their rooms, as it is with the C920S Pro.
Modern Webcam’s stand allows you to hang it over a monitor or attach it to a tripod. It also has a physical privacy slider, which is a bonus point. The webcam also features a microphone built in, but it isn’t turned on by default. You will need to enable the setting in Windows 10’s Accessory Center app. If you have a macOS computer, your webcam will not work with a microphone. This webcam is $69.99. I think Logitech’s C920S Pro is a better choice.

Microsoft Modern Webcam

$50

$70

29% Discount

Modern Webcam records at 30 frames per second in 1080p resolution. It has a 78 degree field of view and a privacy slider that can be used to cover the lens. The microphone is not turned on by default.

Logitech C270 HD
Works with: Windows OS, macOS, Android OS, Chrome OS
The Logitech C270 HD is a good choice if you are in a pinch and need a webcam that is reliable, affordable, and has a microphone. The C270 HD is not a great choice for video quality. It can only record 720p at 30 frames per seconds, so it will produce a fuzzy image regardless of the lighting conditions. The best picture will be achieved if the camera is connected in a well-lit area.
Contrary to the other options, the C270 HD’s larger design will likely cover your monitor’s screen. It is a minor comfort that the monitor mount doubles up as a stand so it can be held on to a desk or table. Logitech hopes to improve this aspect of the webcam’s design for the next version.
Although this is not the best recommendation, I understand that not everyone wants to spend more. The C270 HD is a great choice if you are looking for something that does the job without spending a lot.

Logitech C270 HD

$25

$40

38% Discount

The C270 HD can shoot at 30 frames per second in 720p resolution. It has a 55-degree field view and a mono microphone.

$25

Best Buy

$25

Logitech

$25

Target

Logitech Streamcam
The best webcam for those who require better picture quality
Works with: Windows and macOS
If you are comfortable spending between $150-$200, your webcam options will be more limited. You’ll have the option to choose devices with sharper pictures and other features that might make it worth the extra money. Logitech’s Streamcam may not be the newest webcam, but it is a great value overall. It’s currently $79.99 at GameStop.
It’s small and compact. It can also capture 1080p resolution at 60 frames per seconds. The Streamcam was only marginally better than the C920S Pro, which had a lower resolution, exposure, and color reproduction. It is easily the winner with its 60fps capture. The Streamcam also features a fast autofocus feature and a dual omnidirectional mic. Logitech’s Capture software allows you to switch off the autofocus and adjust other settings.
These are all great features and what you should expect from a $100+ webcam, but it’s the extras that make this one stand out. The Streamcam can record in either landscape or portrait mode. This may come in handy when editing clips for mobile viewing. There are two stands that can be used to mount the Streamcam to a tripod or a more flexible one that can be used to rest on your monitor. The second stand allows for a large amount of vertical tilt and can also be used to pan from left to right. The Capture software lets you activate an AI feature that will follow your face as it moves around the frame.
The Streamcam plugs in via USB C if you have an older laptop. If your computer does not have a USB C port, you will need to purchase a USB C to USB-A adapter. There are also higher-end webcams with wider viewing angles than the Streamcam’s 78 degree. If you want to capture a larger image of your desk or room, you might consider other webcams.

Logitech StreamCam

The Streamcam supports 1080p resolution and 60 frames per second. It features a 78-degree field, two omnidirectional mics, and a 78 degree field of view. StreamCam connects via USB, which is a major advantage over other options.

You might also like these other options
Cameron Faulkner/The Verge

Opal C1
Works with: Windows, macOS (plug-and play for now, full Windows compatibility to follow in 2022).
The Opal C1 webcam is unique. It is unique by design, but it is not what makes it stand apart from the rest of our models in the buying guide. It borrows some techniques from smartphones to improve its image quality. It is a 4K-capable camera and borrows the same lens as Google’s 2016 Pixel phone. This alone will provide good video quality. However, the C1 is most benefitted by its software and machine-learning features. These allow this webcam to accurately bokeh and face track and to pick the best automatic picture settings to make your eyes look great.
This webcam is a great choice for those looking for a webcam with high quality video and interesting features. However, it has some limitations that other webcams do not have. It costs $300 and you must have received an invitation from Opal to purchase one. Even if you do get the long-awaited invite, the app is still in beta and sometimes acts a bit strange. The company’s future features roadmap is even more exciting than what is currently available to buyers.
It hopes to have the Opal C1 recognize gestures used to issue commands. For example, the peace sign is used to log out of video calls. It hopes that the C1 can help you stop using verbal crutches such as “uh” or “uhm” after a meeting by providing post-meeting breakdowns. These features were discussed in my review. You can also see this YouTube video, which shows you some good webcam options.
Access to some of these features will be $4 per month, unless Opal decides that charging is necessary. The C1 will continue to work as a standard webcam until Opal decides to charge for paid access. However, we don’t know how many additional features you’ll get with the C1 since Opal has not yet disclosed that information. These are the things you should keep in mind when purchasing the Opal C1.

Opal C1

Opal’s C1 webcam is a $300 model that produces DSLR-like video quality thanks to its clever combination of hardware and software. It is currently only available to invitees, and the software is in beta.

$300

Opal (invite Only)

Elgato Facecam
Works with: Windows and macOS
Elgato’s Facecam is a good alternative to the Streamcam, but it’s hard to beat its price. It offers a great balance between performance and features, with slightly better video quality than Logitech’s webcam. However, the $199 price tag and lack of microphone make it difficult to recommend to most people.
The specs of the Facecam are similar to those of the Streamcam. The Facecam can record at 1080p and 60 frames per second. You can also customize the look using its companion software. I was able to adjust the settings in Elgato’s Camera Hub app to make the Facecam look better with my lighting setup.
Although there are some issues, they are not as severe as you might think. The Facecam is more expensive than the other models. I was also surprised by the lack of a microphone. This may not be a problem for those who already have a headset or a standalone mic. The Facecam’s unusual design will not blend well with any setup.
There is much to love about this camera, despite its flaws. The Facecam has an 82-degree field view, which is slightly wider than the Streamcam’s. Also, the fixed focus means that the lens will not be constantly moving in and out of focus while you move. The Facecam produces footage that is noticeably less grainy that any other webcam I tested for this guide. The Facecam also has a privacy cap, and the bottom of the webcam has a tripod thread so it can be mounted to a tripod.
Regardless of whether you are willing to overlook the Facecam’s lack of a microphone or if it wasn’t a problem in the first instance, I recommend waiting until the price drops.

Elgato Facecam

$170

$200

Save 16%

The Facecam records in 1080p at 60 frames/second. It features a fixed focus lens that has an 82-degree field. This model does not have a microphone built in.

Cameron Faulkner/The Verge

Razer Kiyo Pro
Works with: Windows
The $199 Kiyo Pro is a lens-shaped webcam with a 103-degree view. This makes it stand out from other higher-end webcams. You can see more of your work and play space as well as you. You can adjust the angle to 80 or 90 degrees to customize the look.
Otherwise, the specs will be familiar if you have made it this far. It supports 1080p capture at 60 frames/second, and an HDR mode reduces the framerate to 30 frames per second for a more balanced image. It did a better job than my webcam from the pandemic, which was the one that came with my 2019 MacBook Pro.
It’s not a bad deal, but. The image quality is comparable to the Logitech Streamcam’s, but the image quality was less sharp than I would have liked given the price. The build quality is excellent and the stand allows you to mount it on your monitor or attach it with a tripod. This might be a better option if the price is lower.

Razer Kiyo Pro

$100

$200

Save 51%

The Kiyo Pro is an ultra-lens-shaped webcam capable of capturing 1080p resolution at 60 frames per sec. The ultra-wide field of view is 103 degrees. However, it can be adjusted to 80 degrees. The Kiyo Pro comes with a mic built in.

$100

Amazon

$100

Best Buy

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