The best webcams give you your moment in the limelight, whether you’re streaming out to thousands of people or chatting with your family over Zoom. With so much of the world still working from home and many people still self-isolating to protect their loved ones during the pandemic, the best webcams have become a social lifeline for people, letting them keep in touch with friends, family, and colleagues.
But what should you be looking for in the best webcams? There are a lot of choices out there, with different models suited to different people and price points, so it comes down to what you need a webcam for. If you’re looking for something to help you keep in touch with your family or to join work meetings, then there are some great cheap webcams that are easy to use and offer 1080p video quality.
Pricier models are available, and they offer great features like 4K video quality, 60FPS options, better microphones, and premium build quality. These are mainly aimed at live streamers, professional vloggers, and YouTubers, but they can also be great for home workers - it always pays to look your best for potential clients, customers, and your boss.
It’s also worth noting that the best laptops usually come with a built-in webcam. These are fine, but usually don’t offer the same quality as a standalone webcam, so it can be worth upgrading even if your device has a camera built-in. Home computers will almost always need a standalone webcam though.
Finally, it’s worth noting Logitech’s dominance in the webcam space. Look at our list below and you’d be forgiven for thinking this is the best Logitech webcams guide. In reality, Logitech just makes excellent products and has cornered the webcam market with everything from cheap Logitech webcams to premium 4K models. There are other brands out there that make excellent webcams too though.
Best webcams 2021
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
Webcam costs vary depending on build quality, image resolution, frame rate, and microphone quality. You can get a bargain basement webcam for as little as $10, but it’s not going to offer great image or audio quality. Most decent webcams cost between $30 - $100, with premium 4K models going up to around $200. We wouldn’t recommend spending more than that unless you’re doing a serious amount of video recording work.
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. Most of the webcams that we reviewed offer a 1080p resolution, which will offer you a clear and detailed image. Some of the more expensive models offer 4K video resolution. These look exceptionally good, but you pay for the quality. Webcams at lower price points more commonly shoot 720p video, which is fine for casual use but can look a little grainy and low detail.
Likewise, frame rate is another consideration. Most webcams will work at 30 frames per second, which is a decent frame rate for everyday use in video calls. More expensive models will work at 60 frames per second, which gives a much smoother, more fluid image. These are ideal for streaming video or recording footage for YouTube.
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.