Many modern laptops feature great built-in webcams. Of course, this is fine, however, the features are somewhat limited. I once depended on my laptop’s webcam ending me with something far from what I’d expected.
I told myself had I been informed then I would have decided on the right model. So by the time I really needed a better webcam, I dared myself to what should I look for when buying a webcam, or what I needed a webcam for.
When you’re relying on your computer’s camera, haven’t you noticed why the angle between your face and your laptop doesn’t look great? Well, that’s what a fixed webcam can most offer. An external webcam renders the properties that help you look and sound your best on the screen.
The challenge now is how to find a suitable webcam with all the perfect models on the market today. Let’s talk about that.
–>> You might be looking for a webcam for remote learning. We found and reviewed the best 10 models for 2022.
What Should I Look For When Buying a Webcam?
You want a webcam with the best picture quality. Resolution means the amount of detail that a camera can capture which is measured in pixels per inch or PPI. The more pixels your webcam has the more details it lends even larger pictures can come up nicely without becoming blurry. In short, the higher resolution provides clear images.
There are three resolutions you need to know:
- High definition (HD, 720p) has a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. This is the typical Skype, Zoom, Facetime, and other live video streaming.
- Full high definition (FHD, 1080p) measures 1920 x 1080 pixels and are mostly used to record a professional-looking presentation.
- Ultra-high-definition (UHD, 4K) has a higher resolution of 3840 by 2160 pixels and can produce sharp-looking video images, visibly a lot sharper than 1080p.
So you have to look at the megapixels – at the least, a webcam should have 640 pixels by 480 pixels. That’s the average. Megapixel is a term commonly used to indicate the maximum supported value. For instance, a full high-definition camera (FHD) webcam with a resolution of 1920×1080 has the ability to capture up to 2073600 pixels or 2.0736 megapixels.
The best webcam for remote learning is a 1080p webcam.
2) Frame Rate
Another indicator of video quality is frame rate, which counts the number of frames per second (FPS). It regulates how many still photos or video frames a camera can record in a single second of video. If 30 frames per second (fps) indicates 30 frames are recorded for every second of video, then 60 fps records 60 frames for every second of video.
The higher the frames, the smoother the video recording or streaming will be. While a minimum of 15 fps is enough to stream video, higher frame rates (60 fps and over) deliver smooth footage and larger file size. A lower fps rate, on the other hand, may create an uneven and broken video and inconsistent audio.
For example, to record someone broadcasting on camera, the 1080p at 30 fps setting is preferred, while gamers streaming may find 720p resolution video at 60 fps at least fine. For teaching online, at least 30 FPS is recommended although 60 FPS will obviously be more natural and smoother movement of people and objects between frames.
Not many models provide 60 fps or more. So spend time scrutinizing the packaging or ask the manufacturer about frame rates. The NexiGo N660P is an autofocus webcam with 60FPS 1080P video capture resolution.
3) Lens &Autofocus
At the very least, your webcam should be able to refocus. This is due to the tendency for light and glare to degrade picture quality whether filming or broadcasting in a house or business. Lenses on webcams with autofocus can focus on certain points or change to provide a crisper image at any distance from the camera.
Since it can distinguish between people, windows, and walls and can carry out the necessary adjustments for a livelier image, this is unquestionably preferable. The autofocus mechanism can hold a target “focused” toward the lens and not lose it while you are instructing in real-time online.
Unless you stop moving, it could be difficult for your webcam to identify you as the target if it lacks this capability. When focusing on moving targets, autofocus could be more dependable than manual focus.
Nowadays, the majority of webcams include autofocus capabilities. A built-in ring-light is positioned around the lens of higher-end versions like the Razer Kiyo to eliminate shadows and enable customizable levels of illumination and low light. Every webcam’s performance is impacted by its lens. If you’re debating whether plastic lenses are worthwhile, I advise switching over immediately to a glass lens for a surely improved performance.
4) Field of View (FOV)
The field of view of a webcam measures the width of the area that the focal length of the lens and the sensor size can capture. If your webcam has a wide-angle lens it follows that it has a larger field of view and a maximized image. A webcam with a decent FOV means that the object being imaged totally fills the sensor of the camera and the image created is shown on a monitor at full display.
This is why the FOV of webcams generally ranges between 90 degrees and 180 degrees and is measured in degrees:
- 60 degrees ideally capture one person.
- 78 degrees is wider and can capture two people.
- 90 degrees is great for huddle rooms with people seated and a whiteboard.
- 180 degrees go for larger conference halls with audio and video conferencing.
The greatest webcam designs are those that are made to be portable so you can transport the device anyplace you go in a tote or backpack. These webcams are globally compatible with a wide range of devices and connect via USB. You can live broadcast in a classroom, office, home, or anywhere outdoors since the device is not fixed to your monitor.
Larger lenses on portable (USB) webcams allow you to adjust the distance from your monitor for a wider field of view or to precisely adjust the focal length for close-up or distant objects. You can photograph a group of individuals seated at a conference table. Portable cameras are less likely to overheat since they may be quickly disconnected from and reconnected to any computer.
How Can I Look Better on a Webcam?
1) Make sure you have adequate light so that your face can be seen clearly and brightly. Check where your light is coming from even though more light is better. You can be obscured by shadows or have too much glare from your background light. Just a little above the camera provides the finest lighting.
2) Position the camera at eye level. Your audience would like to focus on you instead of your chin or nose. Take a box or stack some books to raise your laptop slightly higher and in line with your eye if it is too low.
3) Stand an arm’s length away from your screen. Most modern webcams have broad angles, which means that when you’re particularly close to the camera, they can distort figures like an elongated chin and nose or make your face larger or longer. To reduce the image and appear more natural, lean back a little.
4) Use manual settings for color and exposure. You can adjust specific settings for brightness and saturation. If for example, your forehead looks so shiny or blown up on cam, you can choose the right exposure. This app though poses a lot of compatibility issues. It would be best to find something that’s going to work for your setup.
5) Get a clean background. A clean-looking background sends a positive and happy message to your viewers. It provides a plain and clear ambiance that does not divert the attention of your viewers to the clutter, decors, or what’s on your background than focusing on you and what you’re saying.
6) Be presentable. This is very practical and means you also have to present yourself in proper clothing, well-combed hair, clean and lively face. You don’t want to see someone on cam who looks sleepy and who seems to have just jumped out of bed.
The clarity of the video that a webcam records may be the most crucial component. This is understood in terms of resolution and frame rate for digital video. A higher frame rate makes motions on the screen appear smoother and results in clearer visuals. The resolution and frame rates that webcams can provide have a direct impact on their pricing.
That means you need to invest in one of the best webcams with higher resolutions. Most built-in laptop cameras have 720p which is enough for streaming, but some conference calling software may restrict your broadcast quality to 1080p resolution and 30fps.
This makes investing in a modern webcam should be on a top standard or that with the ability to crop your frame and keep it sharp – your face should be visibly bright and clear. Although going for a 4K model is beyond the basic need for plain broadcasting; the 4k sensor, autofocus capacity, and high dynamic range can give you beautiful videos.
In this case, you would love the Logitech Brio if you’re a teacher requiring large videos or streaming in a wide range of lighting conditions. You’ll benefit from its 5x HD zoom and autofocus along with the finest 90 FPS.
Watch this video on How To IMPROVE Your Webcam Quality.
1) Why should I buy an expensive webcam for remote learning?
A high-end webcam improves your video quality when you’re teaching online. The webcams on the list above are some of the top models from reliable manufacturers. Only webcams with the best focus, low light correction, range of view, colors, frame rate, and screen area should be used by online teachers.
An expensive webcam obviously carries features that let you move smoothly, confidently, and with ease. This does not only upgrade your teaching online performance, but it is also helpful if you ever need to create YouTube video lessons, hold a parents’ meeting, or do live streaming for high-end projects.
2) Why would I need a 1080p if a 720p is fine?
The 720p resolution is typical in most built-in webcams found in laptops and desktop computers. Yes, this resolution is fine, however, it may disappoint you if the sensors are not up to your expected capture and video quality.
A 1080p resolution is a standard resolution for good-performing webcams. It delivers a Full High Definition (FHD) measuring 1920 x 1080 pixels that you may need for recording a professional-looking presentation. A 720p means High Definition (HD) with 1280 x 720 pixels, and while it goes for typical online broadcasting, top conference calling software may restrict your broadcast quality to 1080p resolution.
If you’re planning to buy an external webcam, why not go for the 1080p resolution that improves the resolution of the 720p signal more than two times over?
3) Can you differentiate “Manual Focus” and “Autofocus” in webcams?
Manual Focus is a feature that allows you to adjust your camera focus by hand, while Autofocus offers a precision focus in and out automatically. Manual may be preferred for selfie captures, but for moving images, Autofocus performs better.
For example, if you’re shooting a large video and you want to stabilize the camera to focus on a scene, you can do this by placing the focal point on various parts of the frame at a quick tilt easily. This is an incredibly powerful technique if ever you need to focus on very specific scenarios.
4) Why is my webcam lagging?
Video call lags may be caused by your signal, your internet connection, or traffic. Check the speed of your internet connection. You might need to upgrade to a more expensive Internet service plan if your connection frequently drops below the advised speed. Smooth video capture may also be impossible with your webcam’s sensors. It frequently has to do with bad lighting and poor resolution.
The best solution is to shift to an external webcam.
5) Why do built-in webcams perform less?
Built-in computers often have smaller sensors and lenses, which are crucial components for producing good, detailed photos. Built-in webcams were initially designed for sporadic conference calls and casual chatting rather than the necessity for high-tech features that exist now.
There is no longer a need for additional setup because built-in webcams come with all necessary software and drivers already installed, so what you see is what you receive. A high-end external webcam will better meet your needs than a basic internal webcam if you’re seeking for greater sound and picture quality.
The big difference is that external webcams require an additional outlay for software installation, but these webcams can provide more space for lenses and other electronics, and better resolutions including quality photos, videos, and audio.
Want to learn some computer troubleshooting tips? We have 10 fixes for common computer problems.
Do you have suggestions about what to look for when buying a webcam? Share them in the comments.