How To Choose the Best Webcam

You want to be able to have video conferences and you don’t want to look silly while doing it. The webcam you choose matters, whether you’re doing important work calls with a LogiTech pro cam or just hanging with family and friends. Specs on webcams can be confusing though, which is why this guide is here to give you all the info you need to know to make an informed purchase on your new favorite video technology.

Dimensions

Although this is often the first specification listed on a webcam, it’s really not very important. This just tells you how wide and tall the webcam is. Since these cams are all designed to fit unobtrusively on top of a monitor or laptop, this is really only relevant if you want it shipped to you and are worried it won’t fit through the mail slot on your front door.

Resolution

Resolution is much more important. This refers to how much information the cam can pick up at a time. It is measured in pixels and usually shows up as a ratio like 16:9 or as a number like 1080p. Brands like LogiTech have pretty much stopped selling anything below 720p because it looks blurry and pixelated to your viewers. On the other hand 2160p gets up to 4K, which is only really helpful if you are using software that can process it (sorry Skype) and your viewers also have 4K monitors, but that’s really their fault. You tried.

Frame Rate

Frame rate is related to resolution in that it can make things blurry if it’s low. Frames are kind of like photos that are taken every fraction of a second. Many movies are shown in 32 frames per second (fps), but viewers can tell the difference between 30 and 60. If you always want seamless motion, a higher fps will ensure that any jerkiness is probably caused by your computer’s processor, not the webcam.

System Requirements

This spec tells you what operating systems and ports work with the webcam. Check the “about” info on your computer if you’re not sure it will be compatible. Brands like LogiTech usually have certain software for their webcams, so make sure your system can run various features as well.

Field of View

If you held up a mirror level with your webcam, chances are the video from the webcam would show a larger picture than a mirror of the same size. That’s because 1:1 field of view is about 50mm while most webcams have 60mm or higher. Some webcams have adjustable focal ranges (think zooming out), but if you’re getting a cam with a fixed focal length, it helps to know if you want the field of view to include just you (60) or a whole room (90 or more).

Lens Material

Here there are really only two options–plastic and glass. While glass is more durable, plastic is cheaper, so you can choose what’s most important to you.

Audio

Brands like LogiTech currently only make webcams that include microphones of some sort. These audio devices vary a lot based on whether they’re little pinhole mics or dual-mic surround sound experiences. For professional, natural sound, better mics are a must, but if you really want the best sound, invest in a quality external mic instead of trying to get that two-for-one deal.

Mounting

Many webcams have little folding sections that allow them to rest lightly on top of the screen. If you’re worried yours might just fall off, though, you can also get webcams with tripods, clamps or even magnets like the LogiTech 4K Pro Magnetic.

Auto Lighting and Focus

While you could spend a lot of time manually tweaking your webcam settings, the best webcams have high-quality automatic features so that when you shift in your seat or someone turns on a lamp near your face, the webcam adjusts so you still look in focus and natural.

Now you know what most of the terms mean, so it’s up to you to figure out what works best for your situation. LogiTech offers some of the most popular webcams, but as long as you’re getting the specs you need, it doesn’t matter what brand name you select. Calculate if you’re primarily using the cam for work or for chatting or even if you need high quality for streaming, then choose the technology that fits your needs and budget.