Having one of the best webcams is a vital part of any home office. With many people working from home and isolating themselves to avoid the coronavirus, video calls have become more important than ever thanks to services like Zoom and Skype. A good quality webcam makes a huge difference here. The best webcams are also useful if you're planning on streaming on platforms like Twitch and YouTube, and if you get really desperate, they'll even double as a standard camera too.
So, what should you look for in the best webcams? That depends on what you plan on using it for. If you just need something for the occasional family Zoom chat, there are some great budget options out there that are easy to use and have decent specs. Alternatively, streamers and home workers need a higher quality camera so they can look more professional for their fans or work colleagues. It's a similar case for anyone recording video for YouTube or other video platforms. As a minimum, you'll need a 1080p resolution webcam with a 4K webcam even better if you can afford it.
The best laptops come with a built-in webcam but they're generally just fine and offer nothing special, so it's worth investing in a dedicated solution. Home computer users will also need a standalone webcam too as one isn’t built in usually.
When it comes to the best webcam brands, you can't go wrong with Logitech. It's dominating the space thanks to an extensive range of high-quality webcams, ranging from budget options all the way up to 4K powerhouses. There are still some great alternatives from other manufacturers too though, so do consider shopping around.
1. Logitech C922 Pro Stream: Best webcam overall
When its products take up four out of the five slots in our guide, is it any surprise that a Logitech webcam topped our list of the best webcams? The Logitech C922 Pro Stream is the perfect jack of all trades webcam offering great image quality and features, while keeping the price reasonable. The build quality is fantastic too, as we’d expect from Logitech.
The Logitech C922 Pro Stream can be used in either 1080p resolution at 30 frames per second or 720p at 60 frames per second modes, giving you the choice between image quality and smoothness, depending on what you’re using it for. It also has some great features like digital zoom and auto-focus, which help you get the most out of your webcam with minimal effort.
It also comes with a dual microphone set-up, which offers superior audio quality over a single microphone. The most impressive feature though, is the price. At just $99, the Logitech C922 Pro Stream is affordable, without skimping on the quality. That’s why the Logitech C922 takes the top spot as our best webcam.
2. Logitech Brio Ultra HD Webcam: Best 4K webcam
It’s somewhat bizarre that most webcams are still sitting in the 1080p or lower camp these days, when we consider how prevalent 4K technology is today. Luckily, there are a few 4K webcams out there and the Logitech Brio Ultra HD Webcam is the best of the bunch for our money.
The Logitech Brio Ultra HD Webcam has a fully ultra HD lens which can record and stream video at 4K resolutions at 30 frames per second, or at 1080p at 60 frames per second. There are also a host of extra features including auto-focus, digital zoom, and RightLight - proprietary software that automatically adjusts lighting and contrast on the fly to make sure you look perfect in front of the camera.
As with all the Logitech webcams we tested, the Logitech Brio Ultra HD Webcam has premium build quality and an understated look that manages to be classy without looking boring. The price is steep, but the quality you’re getting here is undeniable, and this is one of the best webcams for anyone looking to futureproof themselves too.
3. Logitech Streamcam: Best webcam for streaming
One of the most stylish looking webcams we’ve reviewed, the Logitech Streamcam has an air of sophistication around it that none of the competition can match. Its styling is very reminiscent of the Amazon Echo. Fortunately, it isn’t all looks and no luster - the Logitech Streamcam is a fantastic bit of kit.
Like most of the best webcams we reviewed, the Logitech Streamcam is a 1080p HD camera, but unlike most others it’s capable of streaming at 1080p and 60 frames per second, making your video image look much smoother in motion. This is ideal for burgeoning streamers, but it’s also great for normal video calls too. The Streamcam is also super easy to set up, so it’s perfect for beginners.
The microphone isn’t anything to write home about though, and the price is a little steep, especially when you consider that you can get Logitech’s 4K Brio webcam for just $30 more.
4. Razer Kiyo: Best webcam for gamers
Razer has built its brand on the back of gaming peripherals, so it may seem strange to see it enter the webcam market, until you think about streaming. Streaming while playing games is an enormous market, so it makes sense for Razer to want a slice of that pie. Luckily this isn’t just a quick cash grab, as the Razer Kiyo is a surprisingly good webcam with a nifty party piece - the Ring Light. This is what earns it a place on our list of the best webcams.
The Raser Kiyo has a ring-shaped spotlight that surrounds the camera lens, ensuring that the subject is always perfectly illuminated in the center of the frame. The camera itself is great too, offering 1080p video streaming at 30FPS, or 720p at 60 FPS. The microphone lets the side down somewhat though. It’s fine for voice calls, but streamers should probably look into getting a separate mic.
5. Logitech HD C615: Best webcam on a budget
If the Logitech HD C615 gets any older, Indiana Jones is going to insist that it belongs in a museum. And yet, despite its senior age, the Logitech HD C615 remains an excellent choice if you’re looking for one of the best webcams on a budget.
While the Logitech HD C615 is only capable of streaming video at 720p, that’s fine for most people and in line with what built-in webcams on laptops typically manage. It can still record video in full HD though and the image quality is pretty good for a camera this cheap.
There are some sacrifices that you’ll have to make in the name of cost cutting though - the Logitech HD C615 can only stream video in 720p resolution (though it can still record video at full HD). You also give up on fancy extras like digital zoom.
What to look for when buying one of the best webcams
When you're browsing the best webcams, consider the quality of the camera, the microphone and the build. Webcams costs as little as $5 on Amazon, but these models have either poor cameras or poor construction. The most popular and highly rated webcams fall between $30 and $100. However, if you use your webcam often and need the highest quality video, audio and manoeuvrability, choose one that costs between $500 and $950. These webcams have the best cameras as well as robotic frames and bases with remotes to adjust the camera from a distance.
Video resolution and frame rate are some of the most important specifications to consider when looking at the best webcams. You should also look at still image resolution if you frequently take pictures. The webcams we compared top out at 1080p, which is high enough to create clear, detailed pictures. However, because of how much it costs to build webcams with that kind of quality, most less expensive models have lower resolutions. Webcams at lower price points more commonly shoot 720p video.
Similarly, lower price models shoot at slower frame rates. The webcams we tested max out at 30 frames per second (fps) at their highest resolutions, which works for most applications. More expensive webcams can handle up to 60 fps, which is useful for layering player video over a 60 fps video game stream, for example. Recently, webcams capable of 4K video quality have become less prohibitively expensive as well.
Another facet of video quality is the webcam’s software features, including light adjustment, color correction and face tracking. These features make up for bad or weird lighting and prioritize your face as the visual focus, as opposed to anything in the background. You shouldn't have to fiddle too much with a high quality webcam's settings for these features to work.
Though you probably won’t get fantastic audio, even from the best webcams, your device should have at least decent sound quality so you can video chat. To that end, choose a webcam with at least one microphone and noise reduction, which is programmed to isolate the human vocal range and reduce the volume of ambient noise. However, for higher sound quality, you may need to invest in separate equipment like a standalone mic or a headset with an integrated mic.
There are three types of focusing systems available to choose from: autofocus, manual and fixed. Each system has its pros and cons. Auto and manual focusing lets the camera’s focal point be adjusted. Fixed focus lenses only focus on a single spot and can’t be adjusted.
Autofocus is the best, most powerful option as it automatically keeps you in focus, even if you’re fidgeting or moving around. Because it does all the heavy lifting for you, an autofocus system is great for beginners and advanced users alike, but it generally costs more. This is a critical feature to have if you’re streaming or doing video-intensive recording, as it works automatically to get the best picture. You can keep concentrating on your conversation or game without needing to worry about constantly adjusting the focus.
Manual focus also allows the camera to be adjusted to the optimal focal point. It gives you full control over where to focus, but you’ll have to adjust it every time you move or want to change the focal point. Having total control lets you create the perfect shot. Manual focus is found on pricey and budget-friendly options alike. Fixed focus, on the other hand, has a predetermined focal range that you can’t adjust. This option requires less technology to be built into the webcam, so it’s typically what’s found in lower-priced devices. It’s also a great option for novice users or those who know they’ll be sitting still while using the webcam.
Whether your webcam’s lens is made of glass or plastic also has an impact on the overall image quality. Glass, obviously, is the higher-quality material, but it contributes to a higher price. The best webcams use high-end glass to create resilient, crystal-clear video and photos. Plastic lenses are less expensive but are easily scratched and make for lower image quality.
How the webcam can be mounted is another factor to consider. Most devices can be mounted atop your monitor using an included clip or placed on a desk. One downside to this mounting style is lack of mobility, but many allow minor tilt and pan adjustments. These options work for most users. Some of the best webcams also have universal mounts that give them compatibility for being mounted on a tripod. Typically, these units can still be mounted on a desk or on top of a monitor, but it gives you more flexibility, depending on your needs.
Should you even buy a webcam?
Many laptops have webcams built in. However, they usually aren’t as powerful and feature-rich as standalone units, nor do you have control over what kind of focus system or video capture speed it has; however, few people choose a computer based on the integrated webcam.
If you just need a simple webcam and could use the camera built into your computer (or smartphone), you don’t need an external webcam, but if you’re live streaming your video game channel, vlogging or having a conference call, having a high-quality standalone webcam that you have control over can really make a difference in your video and audio quality.