Some things you shouldn’t skimp on; instead, you should pimp on. If you’re webcamming, the camera is one of them.
The camera makes a big difference in webcamming. You can’t do business without it, and the built-in cam on your laptop isn’t gonna cut it if you’re trying to give fans a great show or stay comfortable in those pretty, yoga-like poses.
At the very least, you should have a good quality camera with settings software that makes it easy for you to learn to adjust light and exposure levels. And you should have a tripod or two, which will help give your stream steady quality and professional polish, plus give you more freedom to move around and get creative. Amazon has some inexpensive tripods worth taking a look at.
But with so many choices, how do you know which webcam will give you the best bang for the buck?
There are lots of Top Ten lists to check out, but remember to look at more recent lists so you’re looking at the most current equipment. Consumer Reports, considered the standard for rating all types of products, is a subscription site, but if it’s worth $6.95 to you for a month (and they will try to auto-renew you), you can start there. Consumer Reports provides all sorts of helpful information, including product specs, comparisons and impartial reviews.
Other lists are readily available online, including Top Ten Reviews, which gets props from people in the know. Don’t forget to check consumer reviews on Amazon — and while you’re there, create an Amazon wish list and add a new, high-end camera. One of your fans just might gift it to you, and then all of your fans will be able to see you even better.
On Amazon’s bestselling webcam list right now, seven of the top 10 cameras are manufactured by Logitech, a consumer brand popular with webcammers, vloggers and gamers. At the top of the list: Logitech’s HD Pro C920 ($67.99), which comes with the latest version of Skype and other supported video-calling clients (FaceTime) built in. The product is able to record video in full HD (up to 1920 x 1080 pixels) on PC or Mac.
Tech hardware vlogger Andy Slye gives an in-depth analysis and demo of the HD Pro C920 and, like other reviewers, recommends an external microphone for improved sound quality. But in terms of video and images, the C920 is popular for HD quality at under $100.
Of course, lighting makes a huge difference in image quality, so once you decide on a lighting set, it’s back to the camera’s settings to adjust levels. Don’t leave the settings on default. If you’re using Skype or other video-calling platforms, connect with a friend and have them evaluate your onscreen look. Here, Make Knowledge Free demonstrates how to adjust levels for the HD Pro C920. Demonstrations for other camera models are all over YouTube.
By the way: Logitech didn’t pay us to pimp their cam, but a quick internet search yields plenty of positive reviews for the product. Lots of other choices exist, though. One that comes in at half the price of the C920 is the Genius Widecam F100 ($30.69). The product offers widescreen capabilities for video conferencing … or whatever else you can dream up. It also features manual focus, which some reviewers felt lukewarm about, but shouldn’t be a problem for cammers. Reportedly, the F100 gives great image quality on a budget, as well as being PC- and Mac-compatible.