A webcam is often considered to be a recreational device, a handy tool that allows you to talk to family, friends, and loved ones hundreds or thousands of miles away. What many people don’t realize is that webcams have a very potent practical application in the workplace as well.
Unlike a lot of workplace tools, there is really only one practical use for a webcam, and it’s rather self-explanatory. That doesn’t make it’s practical use any less valuable, however.
A stapler also has only one practical use, and no one whose ever had to print off a large string of documents questioned the usefulness of the stabler.
Although webcams in a professional setting are used to talk face-to-face with distant clients or with managers with a lot to juggle on their plate, they have another, more wide-scale application as well.
Some advanced webcams offer the ability to connect an entire conference of people to a single user on the other end. This is especially helpful when an out-of-state CEO or manager needs to brief their clients on happenings with the business.
There is, of course, another avenue for webcam use which I failed to mention above. That is, of course, their importance to internet bloggers and YouTube sensations. Considering that Justin Bieber himself got his big start singing on a webcam, this is hardly a profitless use. Whether you’re striving to be the next internet sensation or just want to keep in touch with your fans, a good webcam is invaluable.
Things to Consider
It’s all well and good to ruminate on the importance of buying a quality webcam, but if you’re reading this guide you’re probably already looking for help anyway. Below are five things to remember when shopping for a webcam. Not all items on this list will apply to everyone, but most of them are universal.
1. Recording Quality
Recording quality is hands-down the most important thing to look for in a webcam. If you’re rocking an old webcam with 480p, it’s time to throw it in the trash and invest in HD. There’s no guarantee your viewer’s internet connections will be good enough to watch your streams in high-definition, but that’s no reason not to give it your best. Besides, we recommend getting WiFi mesh network system for fast internet anyway.
2. Recording vs. Streaming
There is a very fine line between recording a file to be uploaded later and streaming video chats in real time. Just because a camera can record in 1080p, that doesn’t mean it can stream at that resolution. Whether you live stream on twitch or video chat with Japanese clients, this is an important distinction to remember.
3. Microphone Quality
This is another important quality for any user. That said, vloggers and streamers may have more control over their environment than someone at the office. If you work in an office that frequently sees a lot of background noise, make sure your microphone has good noise reduction technology built in.
4. Zoom Quality
Whether intentionally or accidentally, zooming in can have a major effect on the quality of your video footage or conference call. If you do expect to zoom in a lot, it helps to have a camera with a good auto-focus to keep things from getting too blurry.
5. Field of View
Whether your YouTube audience appreciates panoramic footage of your dogs being dogs or you need to capture six bodies for a video conference, a wide field of view is very important. This isn’t going to be a major concern for everyone, of course, but it’s worth bearing in mind.
For our editor’s pick, we tried to find the most advanced, well-rounded camera on the market. WE picked the Logitech BRIO – it utilizes state-of-the-art 4K technology and it is competitively priced.
Unless you’re looking for a conference-ready webcam, the Logitech Brio is your best bet. There isn’t a lot of software support for 4K technology yet, but that is certain to change, and when it does, you’ll be ready for it.
Not everyone needs a fancy, high-tech webcam with all the latest gadgets and technology. If you only need a webcam for the occasional video conference, the Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000 is an excellent choice for a high-quality, inexpensive model.
Equipped with a 720p HD camera, this LifeCam HD-3000 is able to both record and stream at this resolution, ensuring that your image will be streaming live and clear, whoever might be watching. A noise reducing microphone minimizes some of the inevitable background noises life produces, and TrueColor technology produces bright, vivid quality colors every time.
Thanks to a universal attachment base, you can attach the LifeCam to your MacBook or set it atop your gaming tower. Video streams at 30 fps, and the webcam is compatible with all Windows operating systems from XP to Windows 10.
To ensure 720p recording, your computer needs to meet the following specifications: Intel Dual Core 3.0 GHz or higher, 2 GB of RAM, 1.5 GB of hard drive space.
The Logitech HD 615 is the first of many Logitech webcams on this list. A budget model like the LifeCam, the C615 has the added ability to record – but not stream – at full definition 1080p, and is compatible was Mac OS X operating systems as well as Windows ones.
In addition to 1080p recording and 720p live streaming, the C615 has a 360 degree rotational base, allowing you to swivel the camera wherever you might be seated, as well as affording your conversant or audience a broader view of the streaming/recording area. A built-in microphone works to cancel out background noises, providing you with a clear dialogue.
A drawback of many webcams is that they perform poorly in inadequate lighting. The C615 works to compensate for this with automatic light correction. It can’t fix every problem, but it can often do enough to eliminate a frustrating ray of sunlight you can’t screen out.
Please note that you will need at least 4 GB of RAM in order to record in 1080p. While this is standard for most computers, older models may not be up to the task.
With the Microsoft LifeCam Studio, we’re getting into serious business. The last two webcams were most suited for bloggers or casual use, but the Studio steps it up with some serious power and performance critical to giving you an edge in your all your professional pursuits. Built with a cast aluminum body, this LifeCam is built to last.
To start, the LifeCam Studio dispenses with the traditional webcam design for something sharp and in focus, a webcam that screams professional. It is outfitted with a powerful 1080p Full-Definition camera with advanced precision optics for clear auto-focusing and sharp images, and TrueColor Technology offers bright, vivid colors every time.
A high-fidelity microphone cancels out white noise while providing crisp, clear audio during conference calls which are streaming at 720p. Best of all, the LifeCam Studio is optimized for Microsoft Lync, an enterprise-ready unified communications platform. With Lync software, you will be able to broadcast at high definition, and you’ll be sure to make an impression on everyone you talk to.
With the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920, we begin the long monopoly Logitech cameras have on this selection – the last seven cameras are all from Logitech.
The C920 takes full advantage of the latest software to offer incredible 1080p live calling with the latest Windows Skype, as well as recording in 1080p as well. For all other streaming/video calling software, streaming is available at 720p.
H.264 video compression technology powers the camera, leading to faster uploads than ever before, making it easier for you to share your videos with your fans. Advanced video capture improves mage quality and frame rates while two stereo mics allow you to be heard like never before. All the while, your mics are working overtime to filter out unwanted background noise.
Proprietary Logitech software is also included for Windows computers, providing motion tracking, face detection, panning, tilting and a variety of other features. If you’re ready to take your YouTube channel to the next level, this is the way to do it.
With the C925e, Logitech has produced a business-worthy webcam that, while lacking the professional appearance of the Microsoft Studio, provides business professionals with a truly powerful web camera. Optimized for Microsoft Lync, this Webcam is ready for action.
1080p video allows you to record, stream and conference all at HD resolutions, providing you have the necessary software. With built-in auto-focus and advanced lighting correction technology, you’ve never looked better. H.246 video compression makes uploads go more quickly, ideal for those who need to send in video progress reports in a timely fashion.
Even more impressive is the wide scope of the camera. With a 78 degree view, you can capture more than ever before, allowing you to watch your own footage in real widescreen. Dual stereo microphones work with omni-directional senses to pick up your voice even if you step away from the screen for a minute.
If you want a powerful, effective business-grade web camera, it doesn’t get much better than this.
After a certain point, it gets hard to imagine how Logitech will continue to add advancements, refinements and improvements to their cameras, but they always seem to manage somehow. Their C930e is no exception.
The C930e comes with everything you’d expect from a Logitech webcam at this price: Business-grade 1080p recording and streaming at 30 frames per second, UVC H.264 Encoding to limit bandwidth usage and compatibility with the latest Skype and Microsoft Lync software.
So what’s different this time? Once again, the scope of the camera is improved. With 90 degrees radius of viewing, the C930e can even be used for multi-person video conferences. The C930e is an excellent web camera, and you’re not likely to be disappointed.
There was only one place webcam design could go: the realm of 4K resolution. The latest in video technology, 4K is taking the multimedia by storm. The Logitech BRIO is the natural extension in the quest for the ultimate webcam.
In addition to 4K recording, the BRIO can also record/stream at 1080p and 720p as well. Logitech’s new RightLight 3 with HDR (High Dynamic Range) technology helps you to look better than ever before. Whether it’s brightening up a dim room or clearing up the glare from your monitor, RightLight 3 ensures you look your best at all times.
That’s not all BRIO can do. Thanks to infrared technology, BRIO is capable of advanced facial recognition, allowing you to protect your computer login with the safest password of all – your face. 5X digital zoom allows you to close in for precision shots, and three angle options – 65, 78 and 90 degrees – give you control over how much of your surroundings you reveal.
In every single respect, the Logitech BRIO is a clear and marked improvement over less expensive webcams. It’s price and performance will be overkill for some people, but for those who make a living off of showing their face on a camera, it’s worth it.
A few of the webcams in this list have afforded 90-degree angles, allowing for minimal group conferencing. The Logitech Conference Cam BCC950 seeks to offer a better solution. Since it’s difficult to operate a webcam in the middle of a conference, the BCC950 comes with a remote controller that allows you to adjust audio input levels, as well as tilt the camera to focus in on individual speakers.
This 1080p resolution conference camera has an extended camera head that can tilt around 180 degrees, providing everyone with an opportunity to be seen. Moreover, it comes with speakerphone audio, facilitating small group conferences by picking up voices without them being in close proximity to the camera.
With options for 78-degree as well as 180-degree visibility, the BCC950 is flexible, and the duplex speakerphone combines with a noise-cancelling microphone to provide much-needed clarity to a busy conference call. The mic has omni-directional pickup sensors, as well as echo cancellation, minimizing distraction vibrations.
The BCC950 has been optimized for Skype, Microsoft Lync and several other video streaming software products, making the BCC950 ideal for businesses the world over. There is no better conference camera for the price.
I like this webcam. It has a modern, sleek design, and it is fittingly dignified for a workplace setting. Unfortunately, Logitech did not outfit the ConferenceCam Connect with the ability to rotate it’s camera head. While it is still suitable for small-group video conference projects, it is slightly more limited than the BCC950, even for all its superior technology.
The 1080p camera comes with autofocus as well as digital panning, tilting and zooming,. It also comes with a remote control, making it easier to adjust the camera’s settings while working in a group. Perhaps the best feature of the camera is its 360-degree microphones, allowing it to pick up and record voices no matter where they may be sitting in relation to the camera.
The other thing I really like about this camera is its ability to project images onto a widescreen display, allowing you to share thoughts, ideas and projects more easily. In addition to its USB port, it is also outfitted with BlueTooth and NFC mobile device pairings, allowing you to connect with multiple devices.
There really is a lot to like about this camera. That said, the price is a little steep, and it could have done with another feature or two to help sell me on that additional cost.
I’m going to be totally honest. Trying to sell you on a web camera that costs almost $1100 is no easy task. The Logitech 960-001201 is easily the most advanced web camera I’ve ever seen. I’m just not entirely convinced it’s worth it’s asking price. Ultimately, though, my job isn’t to tell you what to buy, but inform you of your options. And for those who have the capital to spend, this is certainly an excellent choice.
The only other true conference cam in this list is the BCC950. Unfortunately, that camera has a somewhat flimsy neck and is not equipped to handle 4K video resolution. The 960-001201 is, and it can stream in 1080p and 720p as well.
The camera also boasts an impressive 120 degree field of view, able to capture a wide arc perfect for a conference table. Also helpful is the extended audio system. The camera’s three microphones can extend as much as 8 to 14 feet out from the camera, able to pick up the voices of those furthest away from the picture.
Thanks to its intuitive design, the 960-001201 is also able to act as a speakerphone, and with its ability to connect with Bluetooth-enabled devices, this is a perfect feature.
For all the admirable features present in this camera, it still costs over $1000. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether its worth taking the leap, but for what its worth, the camera performs admirably.
There are a lot of different cameras on this list, and some of them vary in price by hundreds of dollars. I can’t speak for every individual’s needs, but if you want the latest in webcam technology, I still recommend the Logitech BRIO. It provides 4K resolution, and it still remains affordable. You can’t go wrong there.