Buying a webcam is like buying a used car. It can end up being a lemon, or your “old reliable”. Even if you bought a used cam, my list of the best webcams will not include any lemons.
In the last decade, video chatting, and video publishing has skyrocketed. And although most online videos must be downloaded before viewing, live streaming videos are also popular.
I needed a webcam for a video project and decided to research the best webcams for streaming and not just for recording. I’m not referring to Camcorders, I’m speaking about cameras made for live broadcasting.
So here they are, and in no particular order:
1. Logitech C920 HD Pro WebcamThis webcam is made by Logitech. It's video resolution is 1920 x 1080p. It has Logitech Fluid Crystal Technology and noise reducing dual stereo mics build right in. It allows uploading to Facebook and YouTube with a single click. It also has 15 megapixels photo capture and is Skype, Yahoo, Live compatible. -> Buy on Amazon
2. Microsoft LifeCam Studio 1080p HD WebcamThis webcam is made by Microsoft. It's video resolution is 1920 x 1080p. It has Auto Focus lens, TrueColor technology for any lighting situation and ClearFrame technology. It also has a high-fidelity microphone and is Skype certified. This cam is also Microsoft Lync ready and has 4 GB of Ram for fast streaming. It's rated 4.1 out of 5 stars. -> Buy on Amazon
3. Mevo Live Event Camera for iOSThis webcam is made by Mevo. It's video resolution (VGA) is 720P. It allows live streaming virtually anywhere via Wi-Fi or LTE. This device is made for iOS devices with iOS 9 or higher, and is the first camera to stream to Facebook Live. It also features built-in stereo microphones with dedicated DSP. -> Buy on Amazon
4. Logitech B910 Hd WebcamThis webcam is made by Logitech. It's video resolution is (720 x 1280p) at 30 fps. It has a 78-degree wide-angle field of view. It also has 5 megapixel photo capture capabilities. -> Buy on Amazon
5. Apple iSight Video Conferencing WebcamThis webcam is made by Apple. It's video resolution is 640 x 480p at 30fps. It has a Built-in noise-suppressing microphone. It only weighs 2.3 ounces. -> Buy on Amazon
6. uCorder IRDC250 Wearable Video CameraThis webcam is made by uCorder. This is more of a portable device. It's video resolution is (640 x 480p) at 25 fps. It comes with a built-in Flash memory of 2 GB. It weighs only 1 pound.
7. iHome MyLife Notebook WebcamThis webcam is made by LifeWorks. It has a 5.0 megapixel max resolution. It also can track motion and comes with a built-In microphone. It weighs 1/4 of a pound. -> Buy on Amazon
8. Logitech B990 HD WebcamThis webcam is made by Logitech. It's video resolution is 720p at 30fps. It has a 78-degree wide-angle field of view. It comes with dual mics for natural wide band audio. It weighs 14 ounces. -> Buy on Amazon
9. Logitech 2Mp Hd Webcam Pro 9000This webcam is made by Logitech. It's video resolution is 720p. It has 8 mega pixel photo capture capabilities. It also has a 75 inch wide-angle lens. It has RightLight2, RightSound and AutoFocus Technology. -> Buy on Amazon
10. Logitech HD Webcam C310This webcam is made by Logitech. It's video resolution is 1280 X 720p. It comes with a built-in mic with Logitech RightSound technology. It can do up to 5MP photo capture. Another feature is 1-click Facebook and YouTube HD-upload. -> Buy on Amazon
The biggest problems with webcams are video quality, and hardware encoding. These are serious concerns when considering the output of live streaming video for video chats, seminars, and other important forms of broadcasting.
Often the specific problems include speckling, and color gradient inconsistencies. These issues are usually a result of severe processing of the video before it gets to the end user.
The processing of these streams include compression of the video to allow smoother streaming on multiple devices, which is often done by YouTube when a video is uploaded. These types of treatment are also done on live videos.
If the video is low quality at the time of production, then gets processed a few times before delivery, it will produce a low grade user experience. Try to create the highest quality videos when possible.
There are potential USB compatibility, and PC performance issues as well. With high quality video specifically, the hardware on your computer must be able to handle the device. It is the first level of processing and the most critical.
Community streaming websites like Twitch often need h.264 encoded videos for improved framerates, which cams like the C920 may be perfect for – read more about this here.
The top webcams on the market can do 720+ pixel HD Video at 15-30fps.
And computers have live firewire, and live USB inputs to receive the video data. Most computers have USB 2.0 ports, so you do not need to worry about that.
Firewire based cams are great for streaming, and can also be used with Camcorders.
Check your computer for the Firewire port before buying anything. Check the package of your webcam, or camcorder for the Firewire connector, it is often supplied.
No Firewire port? You can install a PCI card with Firewire ports. There must be an available slot on your motherboard for this upgrade.
Remember, it takes lots of CPU power to encode videos in real time for good quality streams.
You should look at the detailed technical specifications of these cameras on retail websites to make the best choice for your computer.
To Sum it Up
These are some of the best webcams for streaming, but there may be better cams on the market. I did not try all of these webcams myself.
Based on the specs, user feedback, and my personal experience with webcams, these cams stack up well against lesser quality/cheaper devices.
The device you buy should be perfectly compatible with your computer’s system. Don’t leave it to trial and error. Remember, H.264 video compression is the popular encoding format today, so make sure your camera can support this.