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If you’re looking to start up a streaming channel or create content for YouTube, there’s no way around it — you’re going to need a quality webcam.
While most models will simply get the job done, small details matter in a big way. Lower-end cameras don’t possess the sharpness and superior color of the better ones. Sometimes certain settings can be adjusted and altered, but there’s only so much you can do to correct what it naturally sees.
Not all web cameras have the ability to “green screen” either, where you can put up a custom background or moving image of your choosing for each video behind you. So be sure to check if that’s something you’ll need to have. Attempting green screens on some cams that can’t handle it results in bizarre visual effects, as it doesn’t know where the background ends and you begin.
Sound is crucial, too. Even if you’re well-lit, low-quality audio can ruin an otherwise professionally shot piece, and send viewers looking for another channel. The higher-end of these cams contain some nice mics that not only pick up, but isolate your voice, toning down unwanted background noise. But for setting up a new series or to really get professional, it’s best to consider getting a dynamic or condenser mic too. Same goes for lighting. Some models include a light to directly illuminate your face, but for a really balanced brightness, it’s best to go with external lights.
Even if you’re not streaming, video calling and conferencing has become a part of everyday life, and a good webcam can make a huge difference in how you look and sound to the other callers. Since Zoom’s max streaming (as of this writing) is at 1080p, you won’t need to splurge on a 4K cam if that’s all you’ll be using it for.
These picks come with all sorts of helpful attributes to find that perfect fit for your broadcast and your budget.
1. Poly Studio R30 4K Video Conference System
Poly continues to innovate and excel with each new generation, going far above and beyond just a simple webcam. The UltraHD 4K camera on the R30 delivered clear and crisp colors and resolution, even in low-light conditions. Framing and tracking is automatic, or customizable to stay centered on the speaker or the group as a whole, with a wide 120º FOV.
Setup is simple too, with USB-A and USB-C cables, and a secure clamp to attach to most monitors, and the Poly Lens Desktop App adds even more features at your fingertips, while still working with common conferencing platforms like Teams and Zoom.
Audio comes through with plenty of volume, picking voice with three internal mics, and even lowers distracting background noises so the speaker is always the main focus.
2. AVerMedia Live Streamer CAM 513
The 4K-capable 513’s 1080p picture quality is crystal clear, matching up to a DSLR in some cases. Design-wise, it’s pretty practical, with a privacy shutter that you can flip down as soon as you’re done streaming, and there’s a USB port on the back, making it way easier to plug or unplug cables by feel alone. The bubbled lens gives a super-wide angle shot at 94 degrees, though you’re not able to adjust it. However you are able to swivel and move the camera around on its flexible base to get that exact framing shot you’re after, something that’s previously been somewhat of a rarity for big monitor-mountable webcams.
3. Logitech BRIO Ultra HD Webcam
Logitech’s been innovating and staying at the top of tech for years, so it’s no wonder the company’s Brio camera has become a favorite of streamers. It’s a 4K UHD webcam, with 5X zoom and a built-in auto-focus. A single USB-C port connects in back, and clipping it onto a monitor is simple. Meanwhile, it also comes with a privacy screen for when you’re done streaming, and you’ll also get a small carrying case for taking on work trips. This Logitech cam looks sleek with a full metal body. Plus, it comes with built-in dual mics that are spatially efficient.
4. Poly Studio P15 Personal Video Bar
“Video Bar” is definitely a more fitting name than just “webcam” for this alternate option from company Poly.
The P15 provides a 90-degree field of view along with automatic camera framing which can follow and frame you if you’re moving around.
Poly’s software offers a whole bunch of options for controlling settings, such as adjusting the “acoustic fence” which limits background noise, multiple microphones, and enabling NoiseBlock AI to cut down on unnecessary sounds like keyboard clacking and papers rustling (and works exceptionally well). Brightness, contrast, saturation and sharpness are fully at your fingertips too, along with zoom magnification, camera movement and the speed by which it tracks you.
The built-in, integrated privacy shutter is satisfying to switch open and snap closed for every call or streaming session. A mount is included too, but it’ll screw onto a tripod or gooseneck no problem.
The P15 was made with video calling in mind, and works smoothly with typical applications like Microsoft Teams. Judging by its size alone, this may look like it’s suited for a conference room with multiple people, but really works better for an individual streamer with its outstanding automatic framing, zooming, tracking and noise reduction.
5. Razer Kiyo Streaming Webcam
The Razer Kiyo camera has something you might not see with other cams: a built-in, 5600K light.
While we still like using a separate light, this cam will get the job done to provide some extra brightness to any video call or livestream. It’s dimmable and adjustable, too, to find the most flattering light, eliminating shadows and automatically focusing.
The video capture resolution is 1080p at 30fps, and it holds up well even in low lighting conditions. Plus it’s travel friendly — simply fold it up and easily fit it into a backpack’s small pouch, or your own pocket.
6. Jabra PanaCast 20 4K Video Conferencing Camera
Jabra’s devices have always thrived when it comes to connectivity and convenience. Their build quality feels solid, and everything we’ve tried from them has been reliable and long-lasting.
This compact 13 MP webcam is ideal for streaming and web meetings, and has the AI power to automatically adjust lighting, zoom, and keeping the picture focused on the speaker, following your movements and making sure you’re always in frame.
It’s compatible with all major operating systems, and comes with its own special carrying case too.