How to Buy a Good Webcam

Finding a good webcam can be difficult when you’re on a budget. Unfortunately, not all SD or HD webcams are created equal. Some of them are really very terrible, especially if they seem under-priced for the features advertised on the packaging. When the webcam feature list says it’s a 1080p webcam, it probably has the same size sensor and roughly the same overall quality as one that maxes out at 640×480. In stead of getting a cheap webcam, I’m going to show you how to buy a webcam with good features at a reasonable price.

One common issue with budget webcams that bite off more than they can chew resolution-wise are hot pixels which appear as tiny white, red, or blue spots on the image that don’t go away unless the subject and background is very brightly lit.

Logitech has some solid options at decent prices. At the time of this writing, their software is far from perfect though the image quality is generally very good. For standard definition streams, the Webcam Pro 9000 has outstanding quality. If you plan on having a high definition upload, the C910 offers 1080p resolution video with vivid color and high image quality. The software and drivers for this particular model is difficult to set and work with. White balancing, at the time this is written, can’t be manually set which results in random shifts in color during streaming, especially in a backlit environment. Some other well known webcam brands are Cretive, HP, and Microsoft.

As far as features go, you want to make sure your webcam is made to withstand a decent framerate at its maximum resolution. Some cams say they support HD, but at 10 frames per second, that’s not very useful. Another thing to consider is a glass lens vs. plastic. Plastic lenses, though cheaper, are notorious for being blurry. A glass lens will give you a sharper image and avoid accidental scratches a bit better.

One rule of thumb when it comes to webcams is if it isn’t a major brand and it’s cheaper than their brand name equivalent, you’re going to get what you pay for. If all else fails, checking user reviews prior to purchasing may be the best way to really get a feel for what you can expect.

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