Best webcams 2021: top picks for working from home
The best webcams are a boon to a lot of people, and the past year has proven this. These nifty peripherals have had a resurgence, allowing everyone from friends and family to colleagues to easily connect online when they couldn’t do so physically. There’s been a huge surge in demand due to many being unable to leave their houses and the rise in folks working from home. In fact, the need for them has increased many times over, they were impossible to buy a few months ago.
Luckily, the best webcams are now back on the shelves and readily available for anyone who needs them. With the world slowly starting to reopen, stock availability has massively improved which means you might finally be able to buy a product from Logitech, Razer or Microsoft. Excellent cheap webcams are back in stock as well, and they are just as great an option for things like conference calls at work or staying in contact with loved ones.
With so much of our day-to-day life moving to online spaces, having clear video conferencing sessions is becoming an essential requirement to our computing setup. Even those using the best laptops of 2021 or all-in-one computers already equipped with their own webcam will find a dedicated web camera with high resolution and better features an appealing proposition. So, take a look at our top picks of the best webcams, alongside our price comparison tool to help you find the cheapest prices.
With Prime Day 2021 coming soon, you’ll find some of the best webcams at much cheaper prices than ever. Since we’re keeping track of the best Prime Day deals, keep checking in with us in the days leading up to June 21 and 22.
The best webcams of 2021:
The Logitech C920 has been one of the best webcams on the market since its release in January 2012, consistently beating out rival products that promise more affordability or better performance – and for good reason. This is a beloved favorite across the entire spectrum of streamers, content creators, and office professionals alike, and when cost, quality, and performance are all calculated, the C920 is still the best overall achiever across the board.
With crisp 1080p HD resolution and fantastic lighting and color detection at an affordable price, this fan-favorite webcam hits a spot in the market that struggles to see any substantial competition and is still one of the best performing webcams on the market today.
Edging out ahead of the competition for the best streaming webcam is the Razer Kiyo Pro, the latest addition to Razer’s webcam family. This beast doesn’t come cheap but it delivers a performance worth every penny. You can choose between three different fields of view for different scenes in your Livestream, and select either a smooth 1080p 60FPS option for gameplay or a high-res ‘HDR’ mode for improved video quality during Zoom sessions.
Check out our review of the Razer Kiyo Pro here.
The Logitech StreamCam won’t just have your back when you’re video conferencing, video chatting with families and friends, and live streaming your games. This feature-rich 1080p webcam has many tools to offer for your content creation needs as well, including auto-focusing, smart exposure, facial tracking, up to 60fps frame rate, and a flippable design so you can take photos and videos in 9:16 format. You can even mount it on a tripod, and it uses USB Type-C for fast and more efficient video transfer speeds.
The Microsoft LifeCam Studio is one of the best webcams out there. Aimed at users with large displays, it features a familiar configuration of 1080p recording and 720p live video calling. It rotates 360 degrees, and can be mounted on a tripod with autofocus. The wideband mic delivers crystal clear audio, and Microsoft’s TrueColor system will shift the exposure dynamically to keep you well lit, making it a great choice for business conferencing and presentations.
The Razer Kiyo might look weird, a testament to Razer’s unique designs, but it’s still one of the best webcams out there for streaming – which is unbelievably popular in this day and age. With the Razer Kiyo, Razer has stripped away a lot of the bells and whistles that more premium webcams offer, focusing instead on what matters most to game streamers and YouTube vloggers – good image quality and lighting through a “Light Ring”. You don’t need to spend a ton of time configuring the stream – just plug in the Razer Kiyo and get to work.
If you’re an aspiring journalist, or even if you’re just trying to capture footage in the wild, Mevo might be one of the best webcams for you. Either the Mevo or Mevo Plus will allow you to capture footage live, no matter where you are in the world – as long as you can connect to a mobile network. Plus, because Mevo is small and inconspicuous, it won’t distract your subject during an interview.
It isn’t the most attractive webcam, but the LifeCam Studio isn’t really designed to be attractive. Instead, it’s made for business conferencing and presentations, with its 1080p recording, 720p live video calling and wideband mic to deliver crystal clear sound. This is a serious peripheral – one that requires a powerful PC for max settings – but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking bells and whistles. For instance, it comes with 360-degree rotating capabilities and Microsoft’s TrueColor system, which will shift the exposure dynamically to keep you well lit.
Read the full review: Microsoft LifeCam Studio
Have you ever looked at a webcam in disgust because it just can’t hold up to your smartphone? Well, the Logitech Brio might be the webcam you’ve been looking for. With a 4K UHD resolution and HDR, the Logitech Brio has brought high fidelity to the world of the best webcams. If that wasn’t enough, it also boasts Windows Hello functionality and an easy to use stand, which will let you position it to capture your best side.
The Logitech HD Webcam C310 is a solid option for those who just can’t splurge on a webcam. It’s perfect for anyone just needing to get onto that Zoom or Skype call and be seen clearly. And, while it does only shoot in 720p, the C310 does come with Logitech’s RightLight 2 auto-light correction technology so you’ll always be shown in the proper light. With its noise-reducing mic, you’ll also be heard clearly from up to 5 feet or 1.5 meters away. This may not be a streamer’s top choice but it’s a quality pic for anyone on a budget.
The C930e claims to be Logitech’s most advanced HD webcam yet, so it isn’t surprising that it’s also one of Logitech’s most expensive offerings. However, unlike traditional webcams, which rely on the PC for all the heavy lifting, this unit does the video encoding itself, which should in turn result in better video quality. The wide, 90-degree field of view means it’s well-suited to business video conferencing and presentations. And of course, it’s Skype-certified for PC and Mac.
What should you look for when buying a webcam?
In this bizarre new world of home working, you may feel a little overwhelmed when looking at webcams to buy – after all, all these cheap models on Amazon look the same right? Webcams are usually marketed with resolution (720p, 1080p, 4K etc) and framerates because this is the most important factor for most people when buying a product, but there are many other considerations that make a webcam ‘good’ or ‘bad’.
The first thing to consider is what you need your webcam for.
For working professionals or office staff, most conference calling software such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams will restrict your broadcast quality to 1080p resolution and 30fps to preserve bandwidth. Google meets goes a step further and restricts your quality to 720p as this is the standard resolution on most built-in laptop cameras.
If you’re planning on using a webcam purely for these work-related calls then there isn’t any point in buying a powerful 4k model as you simply won’t see the benefit. The light and color detection will vary for each model though, so you’ll still see a variance in recording quality depending on what webcam you buy.
For content creators such as YouTubers or Streamers, there is a range of powerful webcams available, with some reaching 4K resolution and 60fps for buttery smooth video. These webcams are overkill for occasional use, but with features like a variable field of view (or FOV) and adjustable resolution or and zoom, the extra cash could be a worthy investment to your hobby.
What about those cheap webcams on ___?
Our list is heavy on big brand names such as Logitech for good reason. Reputable brands have been tested across many different devices to make sure that the products are compatible with different graphics software. This is why you may see different quality if you use the same camera on a desktop and a laptop – the webcam hardware communicates differently with different devices.
Logitech, Razer and other well-known webcam manufacturers can provide a product that is more likely to work well across a wide range of different machines, so whether you’re looking to run your camera on a new gaming desktop or an old Chromebook, you should see similar results.
A cheap 1080p/30fps webcam from Amazon or eBay may disappoint you if the drivers and sensors are not up to the same standards as trusted products on our list, so don’t take the resolution and framerate as gospel that you’ll be getting great video quality.
How to make your webcam look better
Even the most expensive webcam can look terrible if you don’t take your environment into consideration. Lighting can make a cheap 720p webcam look almost HD, and this doesn’t have to make a dent in your wallet.
Natural lighting is prized by photographers for being better than most expensive studio lights, so where possible try and record in front of a window. This will not only illuminate your features and make you pop against your background, but it’ll illuminate background ‘noise’ – the fuzzy static effect seen when webcams are trying to film in low lighting conditions.
You can also replicate this using studio lights if you work in darker environments away from a window. You can also use cheap desk lamps in a pinch by directing them against a wall to reduce the harshing lighting and create a diffused appearance.
Always make sure your background looks nice. This doesn’t mean you need to do anything fancy (unless you’re a streamer and have the budget for some fancy LED lights and gamer swag), but you need to make sure you’re the focus of the broadcast. Tidy up any mess, don’t sit behind an open door and make sure you don’t sit behind any other light sources. This will usually throw off the light sensors in your webcam and reduce your film quality.
Bill Thomas has also contributed to this article