The first records of webcam technology date back to 1991, a year later the first commercial webcam was launched. A lot has happened since then, the development of the Internet and new mobile technologies have created a society in which cameras are omnipresent in almost every environment. Today, we can find a large array of devices that come with integrated cameras.
Even in devices where the integrated camera is a secondary feature, those cameras keep offering better specs and performance. It is no news that almost every device nowadays comes with a built in camera; yet webcams are still widely popular and relevant in many fields. Their main use to be in videoconferencing with friends and family in a work or home environment.
- 1 Key Facts
- 2 Ranking: The best webcams on the market
- 3 Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about webcams
- 3.1 What is a webcam exactly?
- 3.2 A little about the history of the webcam
- 3.3 What are the main applications for webcams?
- 3.4 What are the advantages and disadvantages of webcams?
- 3.5 How to use a webcam?
- 3.6 Who can benefit from using a webcam?
- 3.7 What different types of webcams are there?
- 3.8 What are the best programs for webcams?
- 3.9 What type of care does a webcam require?
- 4 Purchase Criteria
- 5 Summary
- Their most common application is in making video calls, weather these be personal or professional.
- Overall, these cameras are not much different from the rest of digital cameras available on the market.
- One of their great advantages is that they can be used in different devices. In addition, because they are small and lightweight, they can be easily transported.
Ranking: The best webcams on the market
Up next, our ranking of the best five webcams available on the market to you today. Each of these models offer features that make them stand out and note worthy. They one thing they have in common, they all offer great value for your money. Now all you have to do, is choose the best one that suits your needs.
No. 1: Logitech, C270 HD Widescreen Webcam
If your need for a webcam is for standard tasks, such as videoconferencing, and you also don’t want to make a big investment in this kind of tech, then this is the product for you. The drawbacks of the price point: it comes with a field of vision of only 60d and a 3MP resolution. With the Logitech C270 HD you will still be able to enjoy HD 720p video quality at a truly unbeatable price.
Keep in mind the affordable price when looking at it’s field of vision of 60º, lack of autofocus and low resolution of 3MP. With this camera you can still enjoy HD 720p video quality and it offers you a great built in microphone.
Another great feature on this piece of tech is that it automatically adjusts to the lighting conditions in the environment, and it also comes with a built-in microphone. All in all, this is an affordable product that will perform the basic tasks of a videoconferencing webcam very well.
No. 2: Logitech, C920 HD Pro Webcam
This is another great camera with an exceptional value for your money. It features an HD glass lens and a fast autofocus system. With this camera, you will be able to enjoy clear and fluid images at a 78º field of vision. Moreover, this tech incorporates two microphones that allow you record audio in stereo mode.
With this device you can record video in Full HD, 1080p at 30 fps (or 720p at 60 fps) and take pictures with a 15MP resolution. It is also equipped with automatic HD light correction software. This camera is especially designed for live streaming and doesn’t require software installation. Just plug into your computer’s USB port and you’re ready to go!
No. 3: Microsoft, Lifecam HD – 3000 Webcam
Agreat camera for posting true HD video to online video sites. It boasts of a 16:9 widescreen that allows you record cinematic video at 30 frames per second. It also features TrueColor technology, which automatically delivers bright and colourful video, in virtually any lighting condition.
It also comes with a universal attachment base so that it is compatible with your desktop, laptop and even notebook computers. This HD camera gives you bright and colourful video you can easily share and post on your favourite social profiles.
No. 4: Creative Labs, Live Cam – Chat HD
This item from Creative Labs is an inexpensive option ideal for videoconferencing. Even though it’s very affordable, it still offers you the possibility to record and broadcast in HD quality video at 720p and 30fps. In addition to being very easy easy to use, it comes with a microphone with a noise cancelling system. This camera has a resolution of 5.7 MP and with it you’re able to upload videos and photos to social networks with the click of a button.
A feature that is noteworthy and unique to this product is that it’s equipped with a parental control system, which means you won’t have to worry about any unauthorized use by the more vulnerable of the house. This camera has great consumer reviews and is the ideal choice if you’re looking for great technology while not wanting to complicate your life with extra features and technology you don’t actually need.
No. 5: Logitech, C922 xPro Stream HD Webcam
With the Logitech C922 Pro Stream webcam, you can choose between filming in full HD 1080p at 30 fps or HD 720p at 60 fps. It also has an HD lighting correction software and a fast autofocus system. The lens on this camera is made of glass and has a 78º field of vision. It has two omnidirectional microphones that enable premium stereo audio quality.
Moreover, this camera comes with an adjustable table tripod with a swivel and extendable stand that reaches up to 18.5cm in height. An added feature, is that this camera comes with a three-month premium license for XSplit and thanks to its H.264 compression system, it allows you to quickly upload material to the Internet.
Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about webcams
When choosing a webcam, it’s essential that you take into account a number of important aspects. Keep in mind, there are many models of webcams to choose from, each with specific and unique characteristics. This can make it hard to know and distill exactly what you’re looking for. For this reason and to facilitate your search, in this section we address the most frequently asked questions from buyers.
What is a webcam exactly?
A webcam, is a small digital camera that connects to a computer to capture images, videos and broadcast it over the internet. This content can be transmitted over the internet through a web page, or directly to another device through different means and programs.
In general, webcams are made up of a lens, an image sensor and the electronic circuits necessary for their proper functioning. Broadly speaking, they don’t differ much from the rest of most digital cameras. It is for this reason that their name, and how they are differentiated from other cameras and models is by the software that they come equipped with.
A little about the history of the webcam
The first recorded webcam was used by the Department of Computer Science at the University of Cambridge back in 1991. A year later, in 1992, the first commercial webcam called XCam was released to the general public. There is no doubt that its performance and capabilities has improved considerably since then.
What are the main applications for webcams?
The most common use of a webcam is to make video calls through Skype or similar programs. Although, as you may imagine, this is not its sole application. These devices are also often used to record YouTube videos and other types of content. They can also have other uses, like serving as a surveillance camera or to broadcast live video.
Nevertheless their applications don’t just end there and new technology is constantly emerging. Now for example, their use is highly valued in certain areas of scientific research such as astronomy, cognitive psychology or neuromarketing. Finally, it should go without saying that they are also widely popular in the world of video games, so much so, there are specific models built for gaming.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of webcams?
For starters, a quality webcam gives you a camera with much better features than most of the standard cameras in laptops. In addition, since they are a standalone device they can be used with different equipment and in different places.
With webcams you can make video calls, broadcast live video or even perform surveillance tasks at home or in the office. The great thing is that you can certainly choose the webcam that best suits your needs. It is not in vain that they offer so much more flexibility than the cameras built into laptops, smartphones or tablets.
How to use a webcam?
The best place to start would be to fixing the camera where you want it to be. If you use it on a laptop, you can attach it to the centre or one of the sides of the screen. Of course, the next step would be to connect the camera to the computer and turn it on. If the camera requires specific software, you’ll have to install it before you can use it.
In the worst case scenario, you may have to configure some technical aspects of the webcam or your computer software. Sometimes you’ll have to adjust more basic parameters such as brightness, contrast, resolution level, or the number of frames per second (fps). It is always advisable to do a test run before starting to use it fully.
Who can benefit from using a webcam?
In this digital age, you may need a webcam because your laptop camera doesn’t give you the features you need. Or because you have a desktop computer, which simply don’t usually come with built in cameras. You may also need a webcam if you want to record videos and stream content. You can even benefit from a webcam if you’re looking to install a security camera.
What different types of webcams are there?
Webcams can be divided into two main categories. On the one hand, there are webcams designed mainly for videoconferencing. On the other hand, there are the models that are designed to perform live streaming. The former are much cheaper, while the latter offer better performance at a much higher cost.
|Webcams for videoconferencing||Webcams for video streaming|
|Price||They are much cheaper, as they are more simple devices with more basic technology.||Their price is usually considerably higher.|
|Performance||They offer a smaller resolution and less features.||They offer much better features, and they especially allow you to enjoy video at much higher resolutions.|
What are the best programs for webcams?
There are many programs in varied fields that enable you to get the most out of your webcam. Of course, if you’re going to videoconference with someone, you’ll probably be using Skype or something similar. If you want to record videos and take pictures, you may be interested in YouCam, as it allows you to add a lot of effects. More and more programs keep emerging that benefit form the use of a webcam.
Another really interesting program is FLV Enconder. With this program you can easily upload the videos and photos you capture with your webcam to the internet.
If you’re looking to use your camera for surveillance tasks, you can use AtHome. If you’re looking to edit a video you made with your webcam more professionally, for a powerful and complete editing tool, you always have Photoshop at your disposal.
What type of care does a webcam require?
The main aspect to consider and pay close attention to with webcams is privacy and the security of your computer and equipment. To make sure you’re protected, you should have a good antivirus installed onto your devices, this is to prevent others to pirate the signal from the webcam and use it to spy on you. For this reason, it’s always advisable to only turn it on when you’re going to use it.
In this next section, we will discuss and analyze a series of important criteria you should take into account before choosing a webcam. Some of these purchase criteria are relevant anytime we make any kind of purchase. Others on the other hand, are specific to this type of device and of then unknown or overlooked by the general public.
- Intended Use
- Design and quality of materials
- Opening f
- Lens quality and field of vision
- Frames per second
What are you planning to use the webcam for? This is the first question you should be asking yourself. You won’t need the same camera for videoconferencing as you would for live streaming. In the first instance, buying a low-end model of a recognized brand would probably suffice and meet all your needs. In the second instance however, you would be opting for a high-end webcam with features specific to cater to your needs.
For streaming in particular you’ll need a Full HD resolution, 1080p at 30 fps. Furthermore, it would probably be of interest to you that the camera has the widest field of view possible. As a point of reference, it should ideally reach a 4K resolution at 30 fps. It goes without saying that the better the performance and features, the higher the ticket price.
Design and quality of materials
We live in a world where image is important and sometimes it even takes precedence over many other aspects of life. Tech industries are no stranger to this trend, for this reason webcam manufacturers make sure to constantly revise and take care of the design of their devices. Todays technology doesn’t only seek to be practical and functional, it is a requirement it also be pleasing to the eyes.
As far as the quality of the materials is concerned, this is an aspect you mustn’t overlook. It will especially affect the durability of the device you purchase. Remember what is often said “cheap is actually expensive”. For this reason, our advice to you is that you make sure you are buying a good quality product.
As with any camera, it is always important that the webcam you acquire has a high resolution. If the resolution is too low, the image displayed will be granular and blurry. Our suggestion is that you opt for a video resolution no lowed than 720p. Nonetheless, if the camera is intended for a more professional use, you should opt for models with 4K resolution.
The opening f of the chamber is the hole through which the light passes. It determines how much of the brightness that actually ends up in a camera’s sensor. A greater aperture, which is represented by a smaller value in the number f, will allow more light to pass through. Consequently, a smaller opening (larger value in the number f) will let less light through.
Lens quality and field of view
Logically, the type of lens affects the performance of the webcam. Although you can find webcams with plastic lenses on the market, it is recommended that you opt for one made of glass. In this way, you will get many better features without involving a big increase in the price of the webcam.
The field of view of the lens is related to the amplitude of the plane picked up by the camera. In general, it is usually between 90º and 180º. If you need the camera to make video calls with friends and family, 90º is more than enough. However, to record streaming video, you’re going to need a much larger field.
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Webcams nowadays usually have automatic focus. However, as you may guess, some of these features perform better than others. If this is something that is important, the cameras ability to focus should be quick and precise. In some high-end devices, you are even able to configure this aspect and adapt it to your specifications.
Frames per second (FPS)
When recording videos with your webcam, it is important to take into account the number of frames per second it is able to capture. Our advice is that the webcam you choose allows you to record at least 30fps at 1080p. Keep in mind that generally a higher resolution implies a lower rate of frames per second.
Connectivity and mounting
One of the great advantages of webcam devices is that you are able to use it on different devices. For this reason, it’s important that you it has a variety of options for connectivity and mounting.
A webcam with connection to a USB port has a much higher transfer rate than wireless ones.
Alternatively, you may be interested in having a camera that also has WiFi and Bluetooth connecting capabilities. If you opt for this option, remember that its transfer speed is obviously much lower than that of one connected through a USB port. Nonetheless, if you have a computer that doesn’t have these ports, or enough of them, your best bet is one of these wireless devices.
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Having a microphone incorporated has become the standard in webcam technology. It is good practice to make sure it at least comes with a standard microphone, and if you need something more specific, make sure to check out all it’s specifications. Always taking into account the devices specifications is always useful, weather you’re looking for a microphone or not.
Before buying a webcam, make sure it is compatible with your operating system and hardware. Not only that, make sure to check that their specifications are not limited by the hardware or software on your computer. There is no point in buying a high-end webcam if your computer is not going to be able to support it and you wont be able to take full advantage of all its capabilities.
On that note, plug and play devices are super easy to use, as the name may suggest, these products allow you to use them as soon as you plug them into your device. They are great because you don’t have to install anything, make tedious configurations or keep up with annoying updates. Just keep in mind the plug and play devices are often simple, and of course, if you’re going to make professional use of the webcam, you will have to make certain adjustments to taylor the device to your needs.
The use of camera devices is more and more normal in all aspects of our lives. Webcams in particular, are ideal for tasks such as videoconferencing with friends, taking classes remotely, hosting business meetings via video calls or streaming live broadcasts. All this with the added advantage of being able to connect them to many different devices.
It is easy to find many ways in which having webcam can be useful. Regardless of whatever the reason you’re looking to purchase one of these devices, it’s always a good idea to have all the information you need in order to make a good purchase. With these cameras, be sure to consider important technical aspects such as resolution, field of view, compatibility, and compatibility.
We hope you found this guide useful. If you think there is value in this information, we’d appreciate it if you’d share it with your friends and leave us a comment.
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