A webcam is a digital device that transmits image or video through a computer to the internet. It can be built into the computer or attached to its monitor.
This easy-to-use gadget allows you to interact with people long distance. You can also use this as a still camera for quick photos or recordings of yourself.
Are you planning to buy a webcam, but feel overwhelmed with so many brands, types and choices in the market?
That is why knowing what to consider when buying this device could be helpful. Do not worry, as today’s article will help you do that!
1. Webcam Resolution
The first thing to consider when choosing a webcam is, undoubtedly, its resolution. Just like any devices with a camera, higher resolutions mean better quality images.
We recommend a video capture resolution of 720p at the minimum, as most webcams today only support HD video capture.
Lower resolutions mean you will have grainy images that are not desirable when you are at online conferences. The benchmark would be a 1080p webcam. The good news? These are becoming more affordable!
2. Frame Rate
Just as important is the frame rate, as this will determine how smooth the images appear on screen. Most high-quality webcams can deliver between 30 to 60 fps in good conditions, including ample and uniform lighting.
15 fps is the bare minimum for a webcam to stream video, although you should not go with this for professionality reasons. Note that webcams with a higher frame rate are usually more expensive.
See also: Sony α6400 Mirrorless Camera Review
3. Video Compression
You might realize that video streams involve massive amounts of data, which is why video compression is used to transfer HD images. The H.264 Advanced Video Coding (AVC) standard comes with most heavy-duty webcams.
This lets you stream high quality videos but with lower bit rates. Moreover, this means you can enjoy the real resolution and frame rates even as H.264 eases the CPU’s load of encoding and decoding.
4. Webcam Field of View
You should also consider the FOV or field of view, which determines the width area that a webcam can capture. Several common types of FOV vary from 60-degrees to 90-degree, which can capture one person to an entire group of people.
For larger coverage, go for webcams with a wide-angle lens as these boast a broader field of view. Meanwhile, some webcam models have a vertical video mode to capture content specifically for Instagram stories.
There are several types of lenses in a webcam, which can affect how it performs. More affordable and entry-level webcams use plastic to make its lenses.
However, a glass lens is not actually much more expensive, despite its significantly better performance. In addition, some lenses also come with an optical zoom function for better quality close-ups that are not pixelated.
This may not be the priority when choosing a webcam but having an autofocus feature could be something that tickles your fancy. The fact is that most of us cannot sit perfectly still when we are recording or streaming our video.
So, it is important to get a webcam that can refocus as it adjusts to your movements and shifting positions. This will make sure that your image does not appear blurry or out of focus.
7. Webcam System Requirements
Webcam system requirements are an important factor to look at, because not every webcam can work with every computer. This is why you should know what your computer and operating system are, and check if the webcam is compatible.
Finding a webcam for Windows is usually easier than looking for one for Mac or Linux. Requirements could include the processor speed, memory and hard drive specs. New computers would probably meet these requirements easily.
How much to spend on a webcam depends on your personal budget and whether you plan to use it for personal or professional use. The price of webcams can vary wildly depending on its features.
While it is wise not to overspend and buy the most expensive webcam you can find, remember that quality matters in the long-term. You can save costs by using the same webcam for many years.
Overall, choosing a webcam is a simple job if you know what to look for. Pay attention to the resolution, frame rate, video compression, field of view, lens and autofocus, among other factors.
This will ensure that you will buy the best webcam to suit your specific needs. Good luck!