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January 15, 2018

The best webcams

by John_A

Whether you’re broadcasting gameplay or conducting a video conference, there’s always the need for a webcam, even if you just want to take a profile picture, or a snapshot of you and your child enjoying a PC-based game. That’s where our list of the best webcams comes in. 

Logitech manufactures all but one webcam on our list. That’s not surprising given Logitech’s dominance in the webcam market for the last decade. Sure, there are other solutions on the market, but Logitech remains as one of the best-selling brands, even in the keyboard and mouse markets.

Our Pick

Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920 ($80)

To kick off our roundup, Logitech provides a solid camera for a decent price. It supports a 1,920 × 1,080 resolution at 30 frames per second (FPS) while video conferencing with Skype for Windows, and a 1,280 × 720 resolution using Apple’s FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, and other clients. If you’re simply recording video, you can take advantage of the higher Full HD resolution due to support for the H.246 video compression codec. Images can be captured using a “natural” 3MP resolution, or “software enhanced” up to 15MP. 

The camera’s five-element glass lens is complemented by a 20-step auto-focus, automatic low-light correction, two integrated microphones with automatic noise cancellation, and a 78-degree field of view. You can attach it to your monitor, laptop, or even a tripod using the provided universal clip, and a 72-inch cable requiring at least a standard USB-A 2.0 port on the parent PC. You’ll also need an Intel Core 2 Duo 2 processor at the very least to stream video at 1,280 x 720 resolution or higher. 

Logitech’s downloadable software for Windows includes face tracking, motion detection, controls for pan, tilt, and zoom, and controls for capturing video and photos. It doesn’t filter out your background, but there are plenty of other settings to adjust including gain and white balance. Presumably this camera works well on the Xbox One, but Logitech’s Amazon listing says its works on the PlayStation 4 as well, although the console isn’t mentioned on Logitech’s product page. 

Requirements: 

 

VGA Minimum 

VGA Recommended /
HD Minimum
 

HD Recommended 

OS :

Windows 7/8.1/10
MacOS 10.6+
Chrome OS
Android 5.0+ 

Windows 7/8.1/10
MacOS 10.6+
Chrome OS
Android 5.0+ 

Windows 7/8.1/10
MacOS 10.6+
Chrome OS
Android 5.0+ 

Processor: 

1GHz CPU 

2.4GHz Core 2 Duo 2 

 

2.6GHz 4-core i7 

Memory 

256MB 

2GB 

4GB 

Buy one now from:

Amazon

For 4K

Logitech Brio ($200)

If you’re looking for a 4K solution, the Logitech Brio is the camera for you. It supports three resolutions for video calling: 4,096 x 2,160 (30 FPS), 1,920 x 1,080 (30/60 FPS), and 1,280 x 720 (30/60/90 FPS). It also provides a default field of view of 90 degrees, but you can adjust the camera to 65 and 78 degrees using Logitech’s downloadable software. This free software provides pan, tilt, and zoom controls as well. 

As for other features, the camera provides a 5x digital zoom when using the Full HD resolution, an image resolution of up to 9MP, auto-focus, an external “privacy” shutter so the camera isn’t always staring at your face and surroundings, and built-in omni-directional microphones with noise cancellation support. You can mount the camera on a desktop monitor, laptop screen, or use the universal clip to mount the device on a tripod. It requires a USB-A 2.0 connection for all resolutions except for Ultra HD, which requires a faster USB-A 3.1 Gen1 port. 

Outside the Ultra HD resolution support, Logitech’s camera includes a feature called RightLight 3. This component relies on High Dynamic Range technology to provide the best image, whether you’re sitting in a low-light office, in a high contrast area, or in direct sunlight. The camera includes both optical and infrared sensors, enabling owners to take advantage of password-free Windows 10 access via Windows Hello and facial recognition. The camera ships with a custom carrying case for safe travels during business trips. 

Read our full Logitech Brio review

Requirements: 

OS: 

Windows 7/8.1/10MacOS 10.10+Chrome OS 29.0.1547.70+ 

Memory: 

2GB 

Connection: 

USB-A 2.0
USB-A 3.1 Gen1 for 4K 

Buy one now from:

Amazon

For Business 

Logitech C930E ($130)

Although Logitech’s Brio is great for office environments, it’s also more expensive. The Skype-optimized Logitech C930E is “certified” for business, serving as an official compatible product for Skype for Business and Cisco Jabber. According to Logitech, the camera also provides “enhanced integrations” with other business-class communication software such as Zoom, BlueJeans, Lifesize, and several other solutions. 

On a hardware level, the camera supports video calling at 1,920 x 1,080 and 1,280 x 720 resolutions, a field of view at 90 degrees, and a 4x digital zoom in 1080p mode. It relies on the H.264 codec for video compression, and RightLight 2 technology to produce the best visuals in low light, high contrast, and direct sunlight conditions. It’s backed by two integrated omni-directional microphones although the product page doesn’t mention noise reduction. 

Other notable features provided with Logitech’s business-focused camera include an external privacy shutter to prevent the weird boss from watching your every nose pick, and a universal clip for mounting the camera on a desktop monitor, laptop screen, or tripod. It’s even compatible with software that supports UVC 1.5 video encoding for businesses that don’t allow third-party drivers installed on their Windows PCs. The camera requires a USB-A 2.0 connection or better. 

Requirements: 

OS: 

Windows 7/8.1/10MacOS 10.7+Chrome OS 29.0.1547.70+ 

Memory: 

2GB 

Connection: 

USB-A 2.0 

Buy one now from:

Amazon

For Streaming 

Logitech C922 Pro Stream Webcam ($100)

Let’s face it: you can’t use just any webcam for your broadcasts. It not only needs a high resolution and great microphones, the camera needs to support background replacement so all your viewers see is the gameplay, and your pretty mugshot. The C922 Pro Stream Webcam does just that for a decent price, providing a highly-optimized streaming and recording experience for any broadcaster, whether the subject is gaming or a Windows how-to demonstration. 

For gamers, it’s optimized for the XSplit and Open Broadcaster Software solutions. It provides a 1,080 x 720 resolution at 30 FPS, and a 1,280 x 720 resolution at 30/60 FPS. These resolutions are backed by a 20-step autofocus, a field-of-view of 78 degrees, two integrated omni-directional microphones, and automatic low-light correction. The camera connects to the parent PC via a 72-inch cable with a USB-A 2.0-compatible connector, and even includes a tabletop tripod if you don’t want to mount the camera on your screen. 

The built-in background replacement component is powered by Personify for Windows 7 and newer. All other aspects are handled through the Logitech Gaming Software desktop client, such as setting the zoom, white balance, gain, exposure, and so on. Unfortunately, for gamers lurking in caves, it doesn’t work in complete darkness, and there’s no on-board storage for saving your settings directly to the device. There’s also no privacy shade either, so make sure the broadcast ends before picking your face. It’s compatible with Android and the Xbox One consoles, too. 

Requirements: 

OS: 

Windows 7/8.1/10MacOS 10.9+Chrome OSAndroid 5.0+Xbox One 

Buy one now from:

Amazon 

For Any Budget

Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000 ($40)

If a cheap camera is what you seek, Microsoft has the solution for you. The LifeCam HD-3000 is a small, mountable device supporting video chat with a 1,280 x 720 resolution at 30 FPS. Naturally, it’s certified for Windows and Skype, making it an affordable solution for Windows-based PCs in the home or office. Amazon lists a second, business-focused version too for $1 more, although there doesn’t appear to be any differences in hardware. 

According to Microsoft, its budget-oriented camera relies on TrueColor technology to produce “bright and colorful” video in most conditions by supporting a 24-bit color depth. The cameras is backed by two omni-directional microphones, a 4x digital zoom, and a 1MP still image resolution. But unlike the other cameras on our list, Microsoft’s solution has a fixed focus ranging from 11.8 to 59 inches in length. 

Given this is a no-frills solution, the feature list basically stops there. There’s no tripod support, meaning the device focuses on adding video chat support to desktop monitors and laptop displays. Microsoft lists two sets of requirements: one for standard use, and one for streaming video in the 720p resolution. Both need a single USB-A 2.0 port or newer on the parent PC. 

Requirements: 

 

VGA 

720p 

OS: 

Windows XP SP2 to Windows 10 

Windows XP SP2 to Windows 10 

 

Processor: 

Intel Dual-Core 1.6GHz or higher 

Intel Dual-Core 3.0GHz 

Memory: 

1GB 

2GB 

Storage: 

1.5GB 

1.5GB 

Buy one now from:

Amazon

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