With the world engulfed by Covid-19, most offices, schools, and universities have shut down and no one seems to know if or when things will return to normal. As a result, these institutions and offices are conducting online conferences, meetings, and classes. If you are a student, lecturer, employee, or business owner, you need a webcam.
What should you keep in mind when buying a webcam?
Why get a webcam?
Most laptops these days come with a webcam. However, the quality entirely depends on the laptop model. In most cases, they aren’t all that great and are known to capture grainy images and audio. You may want to consider investing in a high-quality webcam if you want to avoid this problem.
An excellent webcam helps you capture high-quality videos and eliminate the grainy footage or image quality you get with the in-built webcams on your laptops. The added advantage is that you can also place the webcam in any position or angle that you want, unlike the in-built webcams that come with laptops. Investing in an excellent webcam is worth it, now more than ever, since everything is online now.
What to keep in mind before getting a webcam?
There are a few things you should keep in mind as you look for a webcam. Here are those factors:
You need to ask yourself why you need the webcam. You can choose between standalone (external) cameras, in-built cameras that come with laptops and handheld devices, and network cameras that are used in surveillance systems.
Webcam sensors. Your webcam’s sensors make a difference when it comes to resolving pixels.
While 1080p is a decent resolution that you can get from a decent webcam, if you want really high-quality and the option to crop the frame, you have to invest in a 4K resolution webcam.
The next thing you need to consider is the frame rate. A high frame rate is essential for smooth playback. While 30 Frames Per Second (FPS) is decent, it is not ideal. For smooth and natural playback, you need to be looking at a webcam that runs at 60 FPS. Of course, you need to conduct a webcam test before you purchase one.
The lens decides the amount of light that reaches the camera’s sensor, which is crucial since this determines the quality of the video. This is known as aperture size, and is measured as ‘f/(Number).’
The lower the number, the wider the aperture, which means it allows more light in. You can find webcam lenses between f/2.0 to f/2.8. Some webcams do not mention the aperture size, in which case, you can assume it is not wide.
The lens also determines the camera’s field view, which is vital when you consider the frame. Sometimes, you may want a narrow view to film only the face and crop out the background. If this is the case, you need a high-resolution webcam. In other cases, you may need a wider field view to capture the entire conference room. A webcam’s field view generally ranges from 65 to 90 degrees.
Relatively cheaper webcams generally have fixed focus, which means that the camera lens will not move or adjust the frame. Instead, you can expect them to capture videos in a fixed range. This should suffice if the subject is right in front of the camera or a few feet away. However, you run the risk of having a blurry video if you do not focus it correctly.
On the other hand, expensive webcams have auto-focus, which means the lens will adjust to ensure the subject is shown clearly from even relatively larger distances. With webcams like these, you do not have to worry about closing the distance or capturing images or video from too close. Ideally, you should get one of these.
Besides good video quality, you need to make sure your webcam has a decent in-built mic to capture good audio. Decent webcams usually have good microphones built in them that capture and deliver good quality audio. That said, you still need to conduct a mic test as well before you buy a webcam.
If the webcam does not have an in-built microphone that works for you, consider opting for an external microphone or USB microphone. An external mic produces high-quality audio.
Your other options include getting a headset with a mic that you use for gaming or for video calls. These headsets are good enough for regular audio and video calls that you would make for work and university.
In conclusion, these are the primary factors you need to take into account when looking for the best webcam for your budget and needs. As far as audio goes, you do not need a high-quality mic unless you plan on starting a podcast.
You can either go to the store and ask someone to recommend a mic or look up reviews online and order it. Either way, you are better off listing a bunch of options and choosing the one that works for you after you compare their specifications. If you are getting a laptop, however, you will get an in-built mic as mentioned, which means you need to have an excellent laptop to expect a high-quality webcam or you need to spend extra on an external webcam.