8 best webcams for video calls and streaming

No matter what your budget is, these handy gadgets are a must for the ‘new normal’

Jacob Little
Monday 12 April 2021 15:12
<p>If you’re looking to create content for videos or stream games, an HD or 4K webcam is a must-buy</p>

If you’re looking to create content for videos or stream games, an HD or 4K webcam is a must-buy

Most of us have spent the past year adjusting to the “new normal”, especially when it comes to working online. But even as offices start staggering their return, many of us may opt to continue working from home, which is why having a good webcam is a must.

Though there’s always the option to access the inbuilt webcam on our laptops, if you’re using a desktop office set-up you may not already have a webcam installed. And even if you do have access to one, there are a number of benefits to using an external webcam.

A dedicated webcam allows you to be sure of quality visuals when on camera in a work, gaming or streaming setting. Although in-built cameras often are good enough for casual conversations, if you’re looking to create content for videos or stream games, an HD or 4K webcam is a must-buy.

Similarly, they tend to have a great field of view and can capture wide angles. This is especially useful if you’re streaming games, want to capture a large amount of your surroundings or have group or team conference calls where you want to get a lot of people into the frame.

You’ll also want your webcam to be pretty sturdy. Many of those we tested were well built and stayed securely in place when using their stand or the clips that attach to your computer monitor. We also like them for their inherent flexibility – by being standalone they may be placed wherever is most convenient for you to get the best angle.

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We tested these webcams featured in this list on a range of home calls using Zoom and Google Meet. We also tested them in personal calls, recording videos and taking photos using the inbuilt Windows apps.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Logitech C922 pro HD stream webcam

Key Specs: Camera, 1080p, Auto Focus

System Requirements: USB-A, Windows 7 or later or Mac OS X 10.10 or later

Dimensions (mm): 44H x 95W x 71D

The thing we liked about the C922 is that it does everything across the board very well – including being a sub-£100 model with some of the features of many of the more expensive webcams on this list. It’s easy to set up and use, very crisp in terms of HD camera quality and clarity.

It’s probably one of the best on this list in terms of content creation, live-streaming and capture, with a dedicated app allowing users to create their own material very easily. Highly recommended.

Poly studio P5

Key Specs: Camera, 1080p, Auto Focus with 4x Zoom

System Requirements: USB 2.0 port, Windows 8.1 or later, Mac OS X 10.7 or later

Dimensions (inches): 2.4W x 1.7H x 2.7D

This is a professional-grade webcam, which we were impressed with due to its size and incredibly easy USB connectivity. Looks-wise, it perhaps doesn’t hold up quite so well – it reminded us of the webcams that used to ship with 2000s personal computer set-ups.

However, the visuals on screen are crystal-clear, and the automatic low-light compensation works extremely well. The directional microphone works well, too. We’d recommend this as one of the best no-nonsense webcams out there.

Logitech brio

Key Specs: Camera, 4K 30fps, Auto Focus with 5x Zoom

System Requirements: USB A Plug-and-Play, Windows 7 or later, Mac OS X 10.10 or later

Dimensions (mm:) 27H x 102W x 27D

If you’re after ultra-high definition and crystal-clear performance from your webcam, we’d really recommend the Logitech brio. It’s been designed with content creators in mind who have, over the past few years, been the fastest growing sector of people investing in high-quality camera equipment.

The reasons we liked it, apart from the quality, however, were fairly perfunctory. The stand is a useful addition if you can’t attach it to the top of your screen, and the Windows Hello functionality is great at allowing you to speak directly to the camera to activate Windows apps and programs. We liked the wide-angle too. However, we did find it struggled to adapt to some lighting conditions.

Logitech streamcam

Key Specs: Camera: 1080p, Auto Focus

System Requirements: USB Type-C port or USB-C to USB-A adapter (sold separately), Windows 10 or Mac OS X 10.14 or later

Dimensions (mm): 85H x 58W x 48D

The best features of the streamcam aren’t necessarily related to the video quality itself, but more how they enhance it. The camera features facial tracking, smart exposure and an auto-focusing mode, which we found to work well.

Like some of the others on this list, though, it’s perhaps slightly out of the price range of regular office users, and like the Brio (£179.99, Amazon.co.uk) featured above it only connects via a USB-C cable so doesn’t offer any of the benefits of some of its wireless connectivity counterparts. However, this may not be a problem for many buyers of the as it’s likely to be largely desk-bound.

Trust gaming GXT 1160 vero streaming webcam

Key Specs: Camera, 1080p, Fixed Focus

System Requirements: USB 2.0, Windows 7 or later

Dimensions (mm): 50H x 104W x 20D

Trust are quite well known in the PC world, having been set up in the early days of home computing to provide a good range of value-for-money equipment. This vero streaming webcam is at the lower end of the price spectrum, but still boasts 8-megapixel 3840x2160 resolution, autofocus and automatic white balance.

It’s rectangular in shape, allowing it to fit in an in-built microphone, and also an integrated clip for popping on top of your monitor or laptop display. A good lower-cost option.

Razer kiyo pro

Key Specs: Camera, 1080p HDR at 30fps, Auto Focus, Adaptive Light Sensor

System Requirements: USB-A 3.0

Dimensions (mm): 171H x 196W x 171D

At the entirely other end of the streaming-cam spectrum is this offering from Razer. We know £180 might seem like a lot, and for many average office users it will be, but this is a webcam that only the dedicated streaming and professional gamers will entertain.

It is a very impressive package, with a smooth 60fps, HDR and all the usual autofocus and face recognition abilities you’d expect. It may suit people recording professionally too, as although it does require USB 3.0 (a faster type of USB connection), it does mean image-making and taking is seamless and stress-free.

Microsoft lifecam HD-3000

Key Specs: Camera, 720p HD, noise cancelling microphone

System Requirements: USB 2.0

Dimensions (mm): 2H x 3W x 1D

Although it’s only a 720p system, rather than full 1080p HD, the Microsoft lifecam HD-3000 is a good budget option and is perfectly suited to Skype, Zoom, Meet or Teams meetings. The microphone, whilst not the most crystal-clear in terms of quality, does feature noise-cancelling so that does boost the sound somewhat. It’s in true 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio too, so you’re able to get more in the frame when on calls or creating content.

Logitech C930e business webcam

Key Specs: Camera, 1080p 30fps

System Requirements: USB-A Plug-and-Play, Windows 7 or later or Mac OS X 10.7 or later

Dimensions (mm): 43H x 94W x 71D

Another offering from Logitech, this webcam option is more focused on the business user, with an ultra-wide 90-degree field of view perfectly suited to conference calls or displaying a generous amount of your workspace.

We think the wide field-of-view here would be a great option for people wanting to be on one call together while observing workspace social-distancing requirements. Dual integrated microphones capture audio well from a number of different angles.

The verdict: Best webcams

Our choice on this list is the C922 pro from Logitech, which manages to be a great all-round camera for less than £100. It’s good for streaming and general webcam use, and the fact it can be attached to a tripod is also impressive. Setting up took a matter of seconds.

Other options we liked were Logitech’s brio, although we found the 4K to be slightly redundant, and their C930e business camera, if you’re in the market for a wider field-of-view for conference rooms.

For more working from home saviours check out the essentials the IndyBest team can’t live without: From coffee machines to laptop risers

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