Webcam Recommendations

I give trainings for a living. These have now gone online via Zoom. What recommendations do you have for a webcam the isn’t too expensive, but will still look professional.


PS. My machine is a 13” MacBook Pro. Brand new 2020. I’m posting this while waiting on the Migration Assistant!

I don’t know what ‘too expensive’ means but I’d carve out some of my time and budget for a clean background and good lighting too.

The Logitech C920 is a pretty nice camera, if you can find it in stock somewhere. Typically in the $70-ish range. This is the sort of purchase you probably won’t have to re-make for a rather long time.

If you don’t have cash to drop on that, and you have an iPhone / iPad, the built-in cameras on those are pretty decent - just find a way to anchor the device in place.

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I’ve done all I can with lighting and my background is good. It’s not about lighting, it’s about the quality of the camera. I’d also like the camera to be mounted higher than I want my laptop to be, so I can type comfortably in the middle of meetings. (I don’t want to deal with a Bluetooth keyboard). I think we’re going to be Zooming for a while and I’m looking to make an investment.

A quick Amazon search brought a few other options, but not the C920. One question… I have a rural WiFi connection that is at best 5MB/second. I’ve been able to do fine with Zoom meetings, but these cameras with the better picture, do they require more from my network?

The Logitech C920/C930 include a threaded camera mount. You can then attach it to some critter like:

and you’ll be able to articulate / adjust it. That’s the exact model I have, and it works well. :slight_smile:

The C920 is what I have, and I’ve seen it for sale some places yet. The C930 is the newer (and slightly more expensive) camera.

Zoom has a page about bandwidth requirements here:

Might be helpful to make sure Dropbox, online backups, etc. are all switched off before jumping on calls. :slight_smile:

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Thanks for the camera recommendation. I couldn’t find out from that Zoom Link if a webcam takes more bandwidth. I would think that wouldn’t be Zoom specific. Occasionally I need to use other platforms too, so broad support (MS Teams, Google Meet, etc) is critical.

Under “bandwidth requirements”:

For group video calling:

  • 800kbps/1.0Mbps (up/down) for high quality video
  • For gallery view and/or 720p HD video: 1.5Mbps/1.5Mbps (up/down)
  • Receiving 1080p HD video requires 2.5mbps (up/down)
  • Sending 1080p HD video requires 3.0 Mbps (up/down)

So you’re at the edge of your bandwidth, most likely. You might want to run an actual speed test to confirm where you’re at.

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I’d check the Wirecutter reviews, but last I heard, because of current circumstances their top picks have been sold out for a while.

Also see what Apple Stores sell - Apple tends to pick the better peripherals (then sells them at list price) - and price them around the web.

Also, if you have a good quality DSLR or mirrorless camera, many of them can be connected and used as webcams.

Finally, I’d definitely do a search on YouTube, not only for reviews of streaming hardware but also to see which videos have quality you like, and then see if the YouTubers filled the ever-hungry content-maw with videos of their setups.

But it’s also important to know your budget… and articulate it if you’re looking for recommendations.

One more note - video bandwidth depends on the compression technology used to transmit it. So it is possible for different platforms to use different amounts of bandwidth, although I would hope at this point that the platforms have settled on some sort of reasonable standard. Can’t speak to that authoritatively though.

Oops I missed that. The problem with my bandwidth is that it’s not consistent. I’m at the edge of my bandwidth now, without a webcam. From the sounds of this, I should keep my money and use the potato cam that is built in. Bummer.

I’ve tried this and it doesn’t seem to work for the dummest reason! Sometimes, I can’t seem to find rhyme or reason, my phone will be rotated the wrong way on people’s screens. Other times it is just fine. I like to do this with the phone in landscape so the people on computers get the best view, but it all goes wonky sometimes and I can’t for the life of me figure out why. I do not have rotation lock turned on!

Well, there are two things involved with a camera. The first thing is the resolution of the image. The second thing is the auto-focus, image quality, etc.

You’re probably not going to get leaps and bounds better without upping your bandwidth, but it’s worth considering.

And if you ever have the opportunity to pre-record a training to post online, the nicer cam will definitely help. It’s only the live streaming you’ll have issues with.

But yeah, at this point it sounds like you might be better to just save your $$$.

The only thing I can come up with on this is that occasionally I have issues with my device recognizing the current rotation - but that’s visible on my screen, not just to people online.

That sucks, man.

I picked up a C920S at a few weeks ago. It was perpetually out of stock, but I used their app and set an alert for when it came back into stock - got one at 7 AM, ordered within 5 minutes, out of stock again by 7:25.

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I’d do it in a heartbeat if I could. 5MB is the best that is available in my area. Rural America in the mountains. It’s beautiful, but I’m lucky to have 5MB. Thanks for saving me some cash and headache!

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Also managed to snarf up a real C920S a couple months ago during a short window of availability on Amazon.

Or, you could buy this one of many counterfeits on Amazon.

(Shopping on Amazon is like browsing in a bazaar of thieves these days.)

Consider a camera with a zoom lens so you can aim and crop to your face or subject you want to show. Also a longer focal length will blurr the black ground a bit better then the infinite depth of field from the usual wide angle webcams.

8 Magepixel 5-50mm Varifocal Lens Webcamera Super High Difinition 3264X2448 with Sony (1/3.2”) IMX179 Image Sensor USB with Camera Industrial Housing Web Camera for Linux Windows Android Video Camera