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best webcams

The Best Webcams in 2021

Author: Robert Wilson

Electronics & Peripherals Expert

Do you like to hold video conferences or do a lot of Skype and need a solid webcam? Then you should definitely get a webcam. With a webcam, you can record videos like a video camera and save and edit them on your PC. You can easily attach the small camera to your PC without it taking up a lot of space.

If you are looking for the perfect webcam, you should definitely read our webcam test. We will introduce you to many different models and explain all the advantages and disadvantages to you. This makes it easier for you to decide on a new webcam according to our guide.

  • A webcam is a camera for video conferencing and video chats that you can mount on a screen or laptop.
  • In principle, a distinction is made between classic webcams and network cameras. A network camera can record and process video and image material without a computer.
  • In addition to the price, the resolution and frame rate of the videos and additional functions such as autofocus, HDR and zoom also play an important role in the decision-making process.

Best Webcams

Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920

 Our Pick
Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920
24,244 Reviews
Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920
  • Full HD 1080p video calling (upto 1920 x 1080 pixels) with…
  • 720p HD video calling (upto 1280 x 720 pixels) with…
  • Video compression, Built in dual stereo mics with automatic…
  • Compatible with: Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10 or later;…

This webcam from Logitech convinces with its Full HD videos and a Full HD glass lens, which ensures razor-sharp recordings and has a high-quality autofocus function. The webcam system has two microphones and makes audio recordings with stereo sound.

Customers are particularly enthusiastic about the modern and timeless design of the webcam and the joint of the bracket, which can be attached to various screens.

Logitech C270

 Our Pick
Logitech C270
12,261 Reviews
Logitech C270
  • Logitech C270 3MP 1280 x 720pixels USB 2.0 Black Webcam

This Logitech webcam provides great widescreen recordings and is ideal for video conferences. The built-in microphone filters out background noise and ensures good sound quality. In poor lighting conditions, the camera adjusts automatically and still ensures a sharp image.

Customers are particularly enthusiastic about the ease of use of the camera and the fact that it can be used immediately. In addition, the webcam is very stable and can be attached to various screens.

Logitech C925-e Webcam

 Our Pick
Logitech C925-e Webcam
2,670 Reviews
Logitech C925-e Webcam
  • Business-grade HD video: Full 1080p HD video, autofocus and…
  • Easy-to-use: Plug-and-play USB connection to Windows PC or…
  • UVC H.264 encoding: Frees up system bandwidth and delivers a…
  • 78-degree field of view: See more in true widescreen without…
  • Built-in omni-directional microphones: Dual stereo mics for…

Logitech BRIO Ultra HD Webcam

 Our Pick
Logitech BRIO Ultra HD Webcam
7,653 Reviews
Logitech BRIO Ultra HD Webcam
  • Spectacular video quality: A premium glass lens, 4k image…
  • Look great in any light: Right light 3 automatically adjusts…
  • 4k streaming and recording windows: Works with camera for…
  • HD 5X zoom: Digitally zoom, pan, and choose from three field…
  • Enterprise ready: Certified for Skype for Business and…

AUKEY FHD Webcam

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AUKEY Webcam 1080p Full HD

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Frequently Asked Questions: Webcams

What are the advantages of a webcam over cameras or camcorders?

Everything that can be achieved with a webcam can also be done with professional cameras with additional hardware. In most application areas such as video chat, however, better image quality is not really worthwhile.

The image will be compressed again when it is transmitted over the Internet. In addition, most private users do not have enough bandwidth for better video quality. In summary, a webcam offers you advantages over cameras, camcorders and smartphone cameras in the following areas:

  • Video conference / video chat
  • Live streaming
  • Cheaper

Which is the best webcam?

There is no answer to this question without knowing your webcam requirements. For example, a Logitech Brio 4K can score with a high resolution, but a Razer Stargazer with its additional function, the 3D scanning and the associated removal of the background without a green screen.

All high end webcams have their advantages and disadvantages and we want to help you find the best webcam for you. Below you will find our overview of various purchase criteria.

What are the most important functions?

A webcam with a good resolution is essential – the lower the resolution, the grainier the image will appear on your chat partner. A good resolution to start with is 640 x 480px.

Just as important as the resolution is the frame rate, i.e. the number of images per second that can be recorded by the webcam. Webcams with a low frame rate generate an image that is perceived as jerking on the viewer’s screen.

For videos you should achieve at least 24FPS (frames per second), values from 30 and higher are better.

The auto focus is very important for video chats. A webcam with autofocus can track people and bring them into focus. The additional investment is particularly worthwhile for users who cannot sit still during video chats.

Cameras in the higher price segments also offer automatic light setting in dark rooms, zoom functions and face recognition. The most important of these three functions is of course the automatic light regulation.

Is the webcam microphone good enough?

Whether the internal microphone of a webcam is sufficient depends entirely on the area of application and the requirements. Basically, more expensive webcams have built-in microphones that meet most requirements.

For some, however, the internal microphone is not enough as it often picks up background noise. This can be remedied by very cheap headsets. Since the microphone in a headset is much closer to the sound source, it can be understood more clearly and most of the background noise can be eliminated.

The internal microphone is actually sufficient for network cameras that are used as surveillance cameras. In addition, IP cameras rarely have a connection for external microphones.

What kind of PC / Mac do I need for a webcam? (System requirements)

For HD video conferencing, at least 2GB of RAM and a dual-core processor are highly recommended. But basically almost all webcams will run on any reasonably up-to-date computer.

Above all, the compatibility with your operating system must be taken into account, as not all webcams (can) provide the same functions on all systems.

The connection type is also very important. Before buying, you should consider how the webcam connects to the computer. Most webcams can be connected with a USB 2.0 cable, others already use USB-C and a few connect wirelessly via the internal network or via Bluetooth.

What kind of connection speed does a webcam need?

How much bandwidth a webcam needs for a video chat depends, among other things, on the resolution. When it comes to bandwidth, the upload speed, which is not as high as the download speed in many places, has to be taken into account.

Video telephony (SD)
500 kbit / s

Video telephony (HD)
1.5 Mbit / s

Since Skype is one of the most popular programs for video telephony, we have adopted its recommended bandwidths. Skype requires a minimum download and upload speed of 400 kbit / s for standard quality and 1.2 Mbps for HD quality.

Should you get a webcam?

A webcam is useful for anyone who uses. Video chat with family or friends in another city. A webcam is also becoming more and more practical in business areas such as in job interviews, customer contact or when working from home. Network cameras are suitable for anyone who wants to monitor a certain area.

Types of Webcams

By and large, one can distinguish between two different types of web cameras:

  • Webcam
  • Network camera (outdoor webcam)

Each type of webcam has different strengths and weaknesses due to its construction. Depending on the goal you are pursuing with the acquisition of a webcam and in which area the webcam is used, another type of webcam is best.

In the following section we would like to help you to find out which type of webcam is best for you. To make this as easy as possible, we are going to introduce you to the types of webcams mentioned above with all their advantages and disadvantages.

Many uses of webcams

The term webcam may be a bit misleading here. This subdivision means a low-cost camera with a connection to the PC. Mostly webcams are used to offer pictures on a website at regular intervals, to see each other during a video chat or to take photos and video recordings offline.

Other areas of application include video monitoring of places such as childcare centers, offices and private areas as well as use as a cheap alternative in astrophotography and, in recent years, as a live stream camera on platforms such as Twitch & Co.

While a webcam is often already built into the screen in laptops, with a desktop device a web camera is usually connected externally via USB and then placed on the screen.

Advantages

  • Many different uses
  • Inexpensive
  • Easy handling
  • Can record video & picture

Disadvantages

  • Requires a connection to the computer
  • Enable espionage
  • Mostly poor audio quality

Since these small cameras do not cost much, the audio quality usually leaves something to be desired, which is why an external headset is often used for video chats / video conferences.

Webcams are very easy to use and have the advantage that you can just leave them there after use. However, for reasons of espionage and hacker attacks, we recommend turning off or covering the webcam completely after use, but more on that later.

What is a network (IP) camera?

Network camera or Internet Protocol (IP) camera is a subtype of the webcam that does not require a connection to a computer, but can independently send data to the network. Due to the freedom that a network camera offers, it is particularly suitable as a surveillance camera in a closed network.

While a normal webcam can only receive instructions from the PC to which it is connected, a network camera offers the possibility of being addressed by other stations.

Advantages

  • Excellent surveillance camera
  • Addressable from a distance
  • Does not require a connection to a computer

Disadvantages

  • Expensive
  • Requires high network speeds
  • Enable espionage

Network cameras are also often used as an outdoor webcam. This means that there are also special models that can work in a wide variety of conditions. There are even webcams with a heated housing for the winter. This means that the home, workplace or parking lot can be monitored continuously – but the whole thing has its price accordingly.

IP cameras are also very often used as so-called weather cams or weather cameras to show the current weather at a certain location on the Internet.

Webcams: Purchase Criteria

There are many different purchase criteria that can be used to compare webcams with one another. In summary, these are:

  • Resolution & Format
  • Frame Rate (FPS)
  • Autofocus
  • Connection
  • Zoom and Recording
  • Camera Lens
  • HDR
  • Extra Functions
  • Design & Size
  • Operating System Compatibility

The most important functions have already been covered a little earlier. This includes the resolution, the frame rate or FPS and also the almost unmatchable autofocus. In a webcam, the well-known weak link principle counts. The end result is only as good as the weakest link in the chain.

So take a good look at all the recommendations and choose a good mix of the purchase criteria that are most important to you. In the following paragraphs you will find a short description of all purchase criteria and a recommendation for casual users and for users with more requirements.

Resolution & Format

The image resolution is the specification of the maximum image size of a webcam. It is given by the number of pixels or by the number of pixels in width and height. The resolution also determines the so-called format or aspect ratio.

The classic 4: 3 image format is mainly known from older films or amateur films. 4: 3 has long been the standard for analog television. The new standard has been the 16: 9 widescreen format since the 1990s.

As mentioned above, the resolution is directly related to the image format. The well-known 640 x 480px is a 4: 3 format, while the newer HD standard 1280 x 720px has the widescreen format 16: 9.

When it comes to resolution, the following applies: the more pixels, the better. The image format is basically up to you, although you have to consider that most HD webcams are only available in 16: 9 formats.

For users who now and then with their friends via Skype or similar. Video chatting, a resolution of 640 x 480px or more is recommended. A really sharp image is only obtained from an image resolution of over 1280 x 720.

Frame Rate (FPS)

The frame rate describes the number of individual images that are recorded or played back in a certain period of time. A sufficiently high image frequency enables the viewer to perceive the individual images shown one after the other as a continuous image sequence. So a video is created. 

From around 16 images per second, the human brain perceives a sequence of images as a (jerky) sequence. In movies, the golden standard of 24 frames per second counts. On television (Europe), the common playback frame rate is 25 FPS.

For normal video chats, webcams with at least 24 frames per second are suitable. More demanding users will find good results from 30 FPS. If you only use the webcam for still images, i.e. photography, you don’t have to worry about the frame rate.

Autofocus

we recommend never doing without the autofocus. However, there are still a few things to consider.

A distinction can be made between the so-called single autofocus and the continuous autofocus.

  • The single autofocus focuses on an object and remains in focus, even if the lens moves further forwards or backwards.
  • The continuous autofocus focuses on a certain object (usually automatically on an object in the middle) and adjusts the focus if the object moves forwards or backwards accordingly.
  • Face recognition is a sub-category of the continious autofocus. Instead of the web camera focusing on the wrong object or background, the camera recognizes faces and can thereby focus on the person.

For video chats, it is worth investing in a webcam with continuous autofocus. Face recognition is only really important if you use the webcam professionally.

In addition, not all autofocus is the same. Each manufacturer has its own technology for good and fast autofocus. So some are much faster and more accurate than others. It’s best to look at this on a case-by-case basis and look for a short test recording with the autofocus on YouTube.

Connection

The connection is very important for easy plug and play. You should also make sure that an appropriate port is available on your computer / Mac. Otherwise there are also USB hubs for such cases.

A somewhat outdated USB 2.0 interface is still sufficient for the connection. More professional devices can also require USB 3.0 or something similar. Network cameras are usually connected to the network via LAN or WiFi.

Zoom and Recording

Every webcam has a certain recording window. This ranges from webcams that can capture a large area to cameras that just barely manage to depict a face.

This area of the image is very important and it all depends on what you want to capture with the webcam. A large image area makes more sense for security cameras than for video chat users. Some webcams also have a digital zoom function. This reduces the so-called FOV (field of view). The result is an image with a narrower angle of view.

Camera Lens

The type of camera lens installed will significantly determine how good or bad the picture will ultimately look. Some entry-level models have built in cheap plastic lenses, but in the long run it is much wiser to use glass lenses. These catch more light and can therefore produce a clearer picture.

HDR

In photography, high dynamic range is a high-contrast image, i.e. an image with a high dynamic range. Most cameras use a little trick to do this by taking the same image several times in a row with different brightness settings and then superimposing them.

The overexposed images make details in the shadows more visible. The underexposed images can better capture bright areas (e.g. the sky). The result is an image with details in the highs and lows.

HDR is a function for demanding users. So if you’re planning on holding a video conference in a room that doesn’t have a lot of light (or with too much light, such as a studio), HDR is pretty helpful.

Extra Functions

RightLight 3: A new technology from Logitech that improves image quality in poorly lit rooms. Intel Real Sense: This technology uses various “feel” techniques to create a 3D image with depth.

While this technology is used in virtual reality and robot development, among other things, it has a different purpose for webcams. It can distinguish a person from the background and accordingly cut you out from a background – without any green screen.

Design & Size

With a webcam, it is generally not the design that matters, but rather the functions. Because the finished picture has nothing to do with the recording – and accordingly your Skype partner will not see your recording device.

Nevertheless, the design can of course be a decisive reason for the purchase. This of course includes the color as well as the size. If the webcam is also taken when traveling, a smaller case is of course desirable.

Operating System Compatibility

Basically, with the right interface, almost every webcam runs on every system. Nevertheless, there are of course some exceptions (especially with Linux, for example). A look into the manual is definitely mandatory before buying.

It is also important to note that just because the webcam runs on the current operating system does not necessarily mean that it will run on the next version. However, if the webcam is supported on the operating system, it is fairly certain that it will also run safely and stably on the next versions.

It should also be noted that some extra functions (see above) are not necessarily offered on every operating system.

Facts about Webcams

Can you hack a webcam?

It is possible to activate a webcam without you noticing. As a rule, notebooks with an integrated webcam have a signal LED which indicates as soon as the webcam is active. With the appropriate tools, however, hackers have already managed to access a webcam without the light coming on.

In order to hack the webcam, the hacker first has to get into your network. A well-secured network reduces the chances of someone gaining access to your webcam.

Should you cover your webcam?

Both the head of the FBI and Mark Zuckerberg tape over their webcam. And you should do that too. Practically any commercially available webcam can be masked off with a simple post-it note. In the past, IT experts have succeeded several times in enabling cameras to be activated remotely without the light going on.

So in order not to be reluctantly filmed in front of your own computer, it is worth taking certain measures in advance. This can be done by masking the camera or simply by unplugging an external webcam.

How can I record with a webcam?

There are numerous tools and programs for virtually every operating system to record a video or image from a webcam. On Windows there is the very simple and simple program Simple Webcam Recorder. Other options are the VLC Player, Windows Movie Maker or Free Webcam Recorder.

A very good option for users who work with several operating systems is OBS Studio. It’s available for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS, and it offers far more options than most of the programs mentioned above.

How do you use a webcam as a surveillance camera?

With a cheap webcam as a surveillance camera, you can monitor your home via video without much effort. All you need is a webcam and appropriate monitoring software such as the free iSpy. This allows you to monitor multiple cameras on Windows at the same time.

There are also monitoring options in order not to record unnecessarily many videos or pictures. How the camera reacts only for movements in the picture and only then records a picture, sends you e-mails or an SMS in the event of suspicious movements and can also upload the pictures and videos directly to a server in the network.

How do I set up my webcam (for best results)

With a little effort, it is possible to make a good impression with your webcam. Most of them place their webcam too far down. Usually, when you’re filmed from under your chin, you’re not at your best.

The webcam is best at eye level or a little higher. Grab some books and set the webcam at the correct height. Light should always come from the front or slightly from the side. But be sure to avoid too much lighting from behind.

Last product update on 2021-09-23 | Source: Amazon Affiliate