What’s the point of putting effort into nice content when the blocky facecam looks like it’s being shot with a potato?
Let’s take a look at the top 5 webcam options for streaming and YouTube (and Zoom calls, too)!
Every Ugly Detail
There are some things that we aren’t really going to touch on too much with this guide, as we would start falling down a deep rabbit hole—and that’s lighting and green screens.
Although lighting and background are things that we might revisit in the future (maybe sooner than you think), getting the right setup with your camera is half the battle! So, in this guide we’re going to list the top 5 webcams for YouTube and streaming and Zoom and whatever else, focusing primarily on the video performance of the camera across a range of possible budgets.
Now, with that all being said, let’s take a look at our picks!
Our Top 5 Webcam Recommendations
– Logitech C310 USB ($45)
When you just need something that isn’t an unbranded mess, the C310 covers the basics. This only provides a 720p video output, but if you’re a person whose stream will usually (or even always) have your facecam small and in the corner, that’s okay. The auto-focus is pretty solid, so long as you’re in a well-lit area. The camera will compensate for poor light quality on your face reasonably well, but it doesn’t have the greatest dynamic range on account of the small sensor and lens. However, this is the best option of the entry-level bunch.
– Logitech C920 HD Pro ($80)
An upgrade to our entry pick in every way, here’s the extremely popular C920 webcam from Logitech. Providing you with widescreen Full HD 1080p at 30 FPS, this camera gives a much more detailed image while providing a sharper overall look to the video thanks to the improved optics. If you are able, we would recommend buying this over the first pick, as it’s well worth the money!
– Microsoft LifeCam Studio ($159)
We’re stepping up into the “business” webcams with the popular LifeCam Studio. Although the full RRP is listed here, it is always worth looking at things like holiday deals (and back-to-school deals, at the right times), as this is one that Microsoft often promotes, making this an even better upgrade for the price! The larger sensor and lens allows for improved auto-focus while offering 1080p 30 FPS output.
– Logitech BRIO Ultra HD ($268)
This is essentially the very top of the compact webcam design. It features 4K 30 FPS, 1080p 60 FPS, and 720p 90 FPS video output, as well as a whole host of software tools allowing for easy control of your video. You can’t really go wrong with this camera if you just want a compact, high-definition setup without getting into the silly money.
– Canon EOS M200 ($549)
Speaking of getting into some more serious spending, we are picking the Canon M200 as our serious, professional video upgrade choice.
We’re now making the jump into a solid APS-C mirrorless camera. It features the same rough frame rate stats as the option above, while also supporting much higher resolutions for photography. And it outputs 4K on a clean HDMI signal (so you see just the image and none of the camera interface on the stream). The camera comes with a nice lens in the EF-M 15-45mm. If you want that classic blown-out background look, however, you may want to consider purchasing the camera body instead, and picking up the EF-M 22mm f/2
As this is a more serious camera, we can really take advantage of a much more advanced feature set from Canon—including eye and face detection and tracking auto-focus. So, even if you’re super energetic and are constantly jumping around, the camera will keep you in focus! Plus, that larger APS-C sensor allows for improved dynamic range and detail over smaller webcams. The monitoring screen flips up too, so we can see what the camera sees while we’re streaming the footage.
Although you could run the camera off of its battery, it’s advisable to get a mains power adapter to run the camera constantly off a wall outlet without worrying about checking on your battery.
If you’ve never looked into cameras before, it’s worth pointing out that the example directly above is very much an entry-level camera—although it would indeed constitute a top-tier webcam.
You get another jump in image quality when you get up to full-frame cameras (like the Canon EOS RP for $1300), and that’s before we start talking about cinema cameras (looking at you, Linus, with your fancy RED cameras).
The point here is go for something that is reasonably within your budget. You can always invest in a camera system later if it starts to make financial sense! Until then, folks probably aren’t going to expect a studio-quality setup for someone starting out.
Yet, what do you think? Are there other webcams or cameras in general that you think we should add? Do you fundamentally not agree with our ‘Top 5 webcams for YouTube and Streaming’ list? Let us know in the comments!