Our top picks for video conferencing cameras for any budget.
Many of us could do with a better webcam. In fact, if you’re reading this article, we’re betting that you’re one of thousands of people who’s been relying on a default laptop camera, and are searching for a better way. With no further ado, here are some of the best video conferencing cameras of 2021, and some tips to guide you during your search.
For those who are totally new to the wonderful world of video, the “resolution” is the number of pixels that appear on the screen. The higher the resolution, the clearer—and more professional—the video will appear. Generally speaking, 720p (“p” meaning “pixels”) is thought to be a good, high-definition resolution; 1080p is even better; and 4K the best. With that said, though, we recommend taking your bandwidth into consideration before springing for a 1080 or 4k option. If your internet connection isn’t very reliable, you might be better off settling for a lower resolution, with less interruptions, than a stuttering high-def model.
The “frame rate” refers to the number of frames that appear per second of video. The higher the frame rate, the more smoothly the movements will flow in the final product. Most movies and TV shows are shot at 24fps (“frames per second”), since this is believed to be the frame rate that most closely mimics real life movements. However, if your budget it rather tight, and all you’re planning to do is some basic video conferencing, a 30fps or 60fps camera should suit you just fine.
A movement-tracking webcam, also called an auto-tracking camera, is one that can swivel to focus on whoever’s moving or speaking during a video. Though this feature is especially helpful for those who have to move across a large space as they speak, like university professors, movement tracking is most commonly used during remote meetings to keep the camera pointed on whoever holds the floor. This can help meetings feel more organic, as viewers will see a “close-up” view of one speaker a time, rather than a zoomed-out view of the entire room. However, if this feature is important to you, just be sure to do your research; some cheaper models can be frustratingly slow to track, causing more issues than they solve.
For the majority of remote employees, a camera’s field of view isn’t a major consideration—let’s be honest; the less your coworkers can see of your possibly-less-than-sparkling home office, the better. However, professionals in certain industries might benefit from a full-view or panoramic option. For example, if you were leading a remote gym class, you might want your students to see the entire room you’re training in for a truly immersive experience. Like everything else on this list, it all depends on your individual needs.
Lighting is usually one of the less-considered aspects of video conferencing which is a shame, because good lighting can do a lot to help inspire confidence in you and your business. While one of the best ways to improve your lighting skills is to study up on it, a smart lighting webcam can help by automatically balancing harsh shadows and brightening dark exposures. Video cameras with a “highlight active participants” feature can even keep the spotlight on whoever’s speaking/moving at a given time, just like the movement tracking feature mentioned above.
Audio quality can be just as important as video when it comes to web conferencing, if not more so. A good video conferencing camera should come with a microphone that helps filter out background noises, so your voice can come through clearly without being impeded by traffic/barking/your neighbor’s lawnmower. Additionally, you should have good speakers, so you can hear your meeting guests just as well as they can hear you.
Now that you know what to look for, here are some of our favorite video conferencing cameras available on today’s market. While we’ve attempted to provide a wide range of manufacturers and pricing options, all of these options share one key feature: they’re well worth the money.
With its built-in, circular ring light equipped with 12 powerful LEDs, the Razer Kiyo, starting at $99, is probably the best option on this list when it comes to illumination. The unique lighting design provides a flattering view of your face during calls, and you can further hone your visual appeal with adjustable intensity and daylight adjusting tools. The camera itself is no slouch, either, capturing video at an impressive 1080p resolution and 30 frames per second. If you’re on a tight budget and are happy to settle for a tiny bit less, a 60fps at 720p option is also available.
We've been fans of the Logitech Brio 4K for a long time and it's easy to see why. Priced at $199.99, this webcam is easy to use with intuitive presets. You can modify everything from the frame rates to the angle of your shot with the advanced settings panel. The Logitech Brio 4K uses HDR technology to automatically adjust to any lighting environment. The 4K resolution delivers detailed videos, and it boasts facial recognition features for effortless access and security.
The LifeCam Studio is intended for professional use, and looks it, with a rather industrial design resembling that of a CCTV camera. The LifeCam’s video resolution can be set at 1080p for a high-definition, widescreen experience, or at 720p, which can help bandwidth-limited calls flow more smoothly and cleanly. The LifeCam Studio also boasts a built-in microphone; a 360° rotation capability; and Microsoft’s patented TrueColor system, which automatically adjusts to provide the optimum light and exposure settings while users are filming. You can pick one up for $99.95.
This little gadget proves that it’s not necessary to break the bank in order to achieve a good, smooth-flowing video that’s a definite upgrade over anything shot on a laptop camera. You can pick one up for less than $150. While the resolution of the Lifecam is restricted to 720p at 30 frames per second, that’s still high definition; and, let’s be honest, broadcasting your face in movie-quality HD is definitely more of a “want” than a “need” as far as video conferencing goes. Much more important are the audio quality, setup capabilities, and lighting options, and the HD-3000 delivers with a built-in microphone, easy-attachment mount, and low-light adjustment capability. No, you’re probably not going to be winning any Oscars with it, but why spend more for bells and whistles when the essentials will do?
If looking for something in the $500-$600 range, the Mevo Plus is a great mid-priced webcam that’s especially great for travelers. This small-but-mighty device can stream live video to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and more in 1080p HD, from virtually anywhere, thanks to its Wi-Fi and LTE capabilities. For basic video conferencing, all you need is an Android phone (version 6 or higher) or an iOS (version 9.3 or higher); users can also access extra features with an optional $180-per-year subscription plan. As we said, the Mevo is perfect for jet setters and frequent flyers, as its mobile editing suite allows you to zoom, pan and cut on the go; and at only 2.5 inches tall, it won’t take up too much room in your carry-on.
If your heart is set on getting the absolute best in video conferencing technology, no matter the cost, it’s hard to beat the Meeting Owl Pro for performance, versatility, and ease of use. This sleek device offers every feature you could want from a video conferencing camera, including a 1080p resolution; 360° rotation capability; 360° tri-speaker; automatic focusing and highlighting tool; automatic volume equalizer; and more. The dreaded “can-you-hear-me-now” pre-meeting hassle is eliminated by the camera’s 8 smart microphones, which can pick up any voice in an 18-foot radius. Even the setup is a snap, with no installation or downloading necessary—just plug in the USB, and go. All of this doesn’t come cheap, though; the newer Meeting Owl Pro retails at $1,000, while the original Meeting Owl is available for $800.
Owning a great video conferencing camera is just the first step in hosting a quality meeting or webinar. You also need a simple, powerful video conferencing software you can rely on. From trailblazing startups to enterprise businesses, Livestorm enables companies around the world to design, create, and implement world-class video communication strategies. Click here to learn why over 3,000 companies trust Livestorm to host their webinars and online meetings, and check out our blog for more tips and tricks designed to help you succeed in the world of remote business.
Molly Hocutt has been a Content Manager at Livestom since 2019. She has more than five years of experience in SaaS content writing and B2B marketing.
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