We spent over 40 hours researching and evaluating 10 webcams. We worked with webcams that had varying lens materials, focus types, mount types and feature sets to see how well they could capture and relay video and audio, as well as how easy they are to use. We recommend the Logitech HD Pro C920 as the best webcam for anyone needing a quality webcam for streaming, vlogging or professional endeavors, and also for techies. Along with being exceptionally easy to use and having unbeatable video quality, it also offers the most features and has a high-quality, smart design.
The Genius WideCam F100 offers 1080p video at 30 fps, equal to the C920. However, it lacks some key features like digital zoom, face tracking and motion detection. If those aren’t a big deal for you, then the F100 is a solid choice worth considering, especially since it’s fairly inexpensive.
Video & Audio
Video resolution is essentially the number of pixels in your video. The more pixels you have, the clearer and more detailed your picture will be.
Video is made up of a series of images, or frames, played in quick succession to give the appearance of motion. The number of frames that your camera can capture per second determines how quickly these frames can be displayed and how smooth your footage will appear.
Often there are many other factors that influence the image quality of a particular PC camera, whether it’s the lens, your internet speeds, compression or sensor issues. For this reason, we tested each webcam’s video and audio quality and assigned each a score based on their performance. This, combined with your new-found knowledge of resolution and framerates, should help you select the webcam that’s best for you.
Autofocus is precise and convenient, but it’s the most expensive of the three. Manual focus is less convenient but still allows for precise focusing and is typically less expensive. Just keep in mind that it’s up to you to readjust the focus if you or the camera move around too much. Fixed focus is the cheapest of all three options and is pretty convenient, considering you’ll never have to adjust it, but it’s much less precise and flexible than the other two options.
Noise reduction cancels ambient noise by focusing on the frequencies of human voices and turning others down. This can help filter out sounds like air conditioners, dishwashers and vacuums. If you live in an area with lots of ambient noise, getting a camera with a noise reduction feature is a solid idea.
Webcam lenses are made of either plastic or glass. While plastic is obviously the less expensive option, it’s much more prone to scratching than glass and tends to produce lower image quality overall. The best webcams use high-end glass lenses that are resilient and produce the most visually pleasing images.
Another way to get a little more control is to get a webcam that allows for both up and down tilting and left and right panning. Most models will allow you to tilt the camera, but only the most flexible allow for both. It’s not a huge issue, but rather a nice feature that you might as well have if you can.
Webcam warranties typically last between one and three years, though some offer a lifetime warranty and some none at all. The most inexpensive models are usually the ones that don’t offer a warranty, and so if it fails, at least it wasn’t an expensive investment. Whether or not you take that risk is up to you.
What Else Is Important When Selecting a Webcam?
Although most people use webcams for simple things like video-chatting or taking a quick photo, there are those that allow you to do just a little bit more. Some cameras, for example, have a motion detection mode that automatically initiates recording when movement is sensed. This could help you keep tabs on what’s going on around your computer without having to be in the room.
You may also want to take a look at the included software offered by your webcam. Although most people likely have similar, photo-booth type software on their computers, it may be beneficial to you if you don’t.
Webcams offer a wonderful way to achieve a little more freedom in the way you stream video on the internet. Being detached from your computer means you can set them up wherever you like – on a tripod, on your desk or just right on your monitor like a built-in webcam. They can also offer an upgrade in features as well as image and sound quality. Of course, they’re also great for those who don’t have a camera at all and just want something that works.