Laptops and other bigger displays that are available nowadays are all equipped with webcams, yet there are multiple reasons for users to get an external one. The ones that are usually shipped as internal webcams don’t reproduce the intended video quality that results in a poor video calling experience. The “perfect” high-quality webcam is very important for various reasons that include — webinars, online classes, video podcasts, business meetings or talking to family and friends. Here we have discussed some of the most important features that you need to keep in mind before buying a new external webcam.
A high-resolution webcam is important as lower resolutions produce grainier images on the screen. Luckily, most modern external webcams support only high-definition video recording. You must always choose a webcam that supports at least 720p or higher. A webcam that supports a 1080p resolution is always better as these are getting common and cheap.
A webcam with a high frame rate is important because lower frame rates cause videos to stutter and freeze often. Frame rate is measured in frames per second, which is denoted as fps and to stream a video you will need a minimum of 15 fps. It is recommended to have a minimum frame rate of 30 fps or higher, while a frame rate of 60 fps would be ideal, but it’s not commonly available in lower budgets.
The performance of a webcam also depends on the type of lens it uses. Entry-level webcams come with plastic lenses but it’s always wise to go for a glass lens which will not only boost the performance but it won’t even raise the price significantly. It is also better to get a webcam that can take still images with at least a 2MP lens. Most models that are commonly available nowadays come with a 15MP or higher lens.
Another standard feature in webcams are built-in microphones and it’s not hard to find a webcam that comes with two or more built in microphones. Microphone quality has improved over the years and most ones nowadays are omnidirectional, that can record from every direction around the camera. These types of microphones can be found in most mid-range and premium webcams.
Motion sensing is an additional feature that can turn a webcam into a security system. Some models have this feature built-in and if it doesn’t, you might be able to download software to get this feature, if the manufacturer has a provision for it.
Auto-focus is another additional feature that you can consider as most people don’t sit at perfect positions while recording. A webcam with auto-focus will refocus in this situation (at least a little) to deliver a better output.
This feature is totally the discretion of the user as one might want to add this feature depending on their type of video chatting. Many webcams come equipped with these features while there are other brands that provide special effects software that can be downloaded.
High-Definition vs Ultra HD
Most webcams record high-definition videos and if you are using it to post videos on social networking platforms, low-quality clips won’t get you a lot of traction. A quality webcam that records at 720p is easily available for a reasonable price. So, it is better to get an HD camera, even if you want it for casual video calls.
Although, it is advisable to invest a little more and get a full HD 1080p camera if you are into more professional work like streaming videos on Twitch and uploading YouTube videos. These cameras are widely available and won’t even dig a huge hole in your pocket. Webcams that record up to 4k Ultra HD videos are the ideal ones if you don’t want to make any compromises on your video quality.
It is important to note that these webcams can only be helpful if the display supports these resolutions. These cameras can be important if online content creation is something that you do for a living.
Webcam System Requirements
Not every webcam is compatible with every other computer or operating system. Always ensure that the webcam you are looking to buy is supported by your computer and the operating system. Most webcam manufacturers enable their cameras to work on Windows while Mac and Linux users have to be more careful before buying one. Finding a camera for Mac or Linux (including Chromebooks) might need some research.