At this point, it’s safe to assume that Zoom meetings and video calls are here to stay. There are 11 million daily video conferences in the US alone, and Zoom has a substantial 40% market share as of writing.
This raises questions like what is the best webcam right now? And do you even need to invest in a dedicated video meeting camera at all? This article will answer those questions and provide you with everything you need to know before getting a shiny new webcam.
Lastly, we’ll cover other pertinent questions regarding webcams. Let’s zoom right in.
What Is a Webcam?
First, let us quickly touch on the basics for the uninitiated. A webcam is a digital camera that captures images or video and then streams the data to the Internet. Of course, there is a bunch of technical trickery going on in the background. But in essence, you can think of a webcam as an internet-connected camera.
And why would you want that? It turns out there are a vast number of personal and business reasons to embrace the exploding video meeting and conferencing trend.
Humans are social creatures. We thrive when we feel connected. And while video can’t entirely replace physical presence, it’s currently the next best thing. Staying connected is also great for our mental and emotional health. And, of course, video enables effective, instant, low-cost communication across the globe. Webcams open a whole avenue of opportunities in education, healthcare, content creation, streaming, and more.
Do You Need a Webcam for Zoom Meetings?
That’s all dandy, but do I even need a webcam, you might be thinking. Great question. As we shall cover more in detail later, most of us already have multiple cameras at our disposal. But those devices, while better than nothing, can often lead to lesser quality communication.
They are also prone to technical risks like disconnecting and running out of battery. Moreover, phone screens are simply not practical for viewing visual data like dashboards, graphs, or colossal spreadsheets from finance.
Here are some reasons why you might want to upgrade your webcam game in 2021:
- First impressions last – video amplifies this effect.
- Clearly seeing and understanding presented data is crucial.
- Connectivity issues could prove disastrous.
- Getting your voice clearly heard is a huge plus.
- After the initial setup, you can instantly jump on calls.
- Stay connected with your family, team, and business partners.
Mega Review – 10 Best Webcams for Zoom Meetings
Now that we’ve covered the basics let’s jump straight into the review. Here you’ll find our ultimate, freshly handpicked top webcams for any budget or use case you could think of. Whether you’re going to do daily Zoom meetings, webinars, or live streaming on Twitch, we got you covered.
Overall Best Webcam in 2021: Logitech C922 Pro Stream
The overall winner webcam on our list is the Logitech C922 Pro Stream. Not only is it a reliable camera that will provide excellent quality for Zoom meetings and video conferencing. This device is also highly capable of streaming live feed and even has advanced features like background removal.
While the C922 doesn’t have 4K capability, it captures a crisp 1080p image. There is also a stereo microphone for superb audio and a convenient stand that enables different mounting options.
Twitch users might like the following fact. The unit comes with a 3-month license for Xsplit, a well-known, competent streaming solution for podcasters and gamers alike. Best of all, it works on Windows and Mac alike.
Moreover, the Logitech C922 camera has a wide 78° field of view that works great to help convey body language during meetings. Just remember to wear pants, and you should be good! It’s worth noting that the Logitech C922 is often available on sale at up to 50% off.
Good balance of specs and cost
Supports advanced facial recognition
Lacking privacy shutter
Might be too expensive for some
Runner Up: Logitech C920 Pro
Yes, the next pick on our list of the best Zoom webcam goes to another Logitech product. While the C920 doesn’t have the bells and whistles of the C922 Pro Stream, it is still an excellent webcam.
Let’s be honest. If you’re only going to use your Logitech webcam for the odd video call or online meeting, 60 fps might be over the top. The streaming features are also entirely obsolete for many users. Suppose you’ll only be doing professional video calls. In that case, The C920 Pro is a solid choice for you.
There is still 1080p to help you bring out your best self – and that same proven Logitech design and build quality. Except for high frame rate streaming and Xsplit, the C920 is essentially the same as the C922. Oh, and it’s slightly cheaper, too.
That’s why the Logitech C920 has earned its place as a staple tool in offices all over the planet. Yes, even including the home ones. And don’t worry. If you decide to pick up streaming, the C920 is up for the task – just not quite at the same level as the C922.
Perfect choice for most users
Inexpensive compared to C922 and other similar units
A massive improvement over most built-in webcams
Only 30p frame rate
No privacy cover
Low availability due to popularity
Best Seller: NexiGo N60 USB Computer Camera
Suppose the privacy shutter is, along with outstanding performance, a deal-breaker for you. In that case, you might want to consider the NexiGo N60 webcam. It has a design similar to that of the Logitech line-up and works both with PC and Mac.
As mentioned, you can rely on stellar visual performance with the NexiGo N60 USB webcam. That’s because it offers 1080 at 30p. Moreover, it has an ultra-wide viewing angle of 84 degrees. Another feature we reckon you might appreciate is the vertical adjustment option. The swivel mechanism allows you for good framing, regardless of your height.
In terms of audio, the N60 has a trick up its sleeve. There is a noise-canceling microphone that means better voice clarity thanks to removing background noise. The N60 HD webcam might not be specifically designed for hardcore streamers in mind. But on the other hand, it offers automatic exposure adjustment. Meaning you can focus on the meeting and not worry about low light too much.
A solid alternative to Logitech
Excellent sound quality
Automatic lighting adjustment
The design is somewhat a clone of Logitech
Not yet the same reputation as the big brands
The Perfect Cam for Serious Gamers: Razer Kiyo Pro
If you’re into computer gaming or streaming, you are familiar with both the Logitech and Razer brands by now. The company specializes in high-performance computer peripherals for gamers. But this product is neither a headset, a programmable keyboard, nor a gaming mouse. Instead, it’s a streaming-oriented webcam, well-suited for hardcore gamers.
While the Kiyo Pro is about twice the price of a Logitech C920, the specs, features, and design entirely justify the lofty price tag. Of course, it is no match for a DSLR camera, but it does perform on par with the Logitech models on this list – plus, it has some distinct features you won’t find anywhere else.
Design-wise the webcam is refreshing yet practical, with a flat, spherical shape. And in terms of image quality, The Razer Kiyo Pro delivers, oh well, Razer-sharp 1080 output at 60 fps. On top of that, it also has an automatic light adjustment feature.
As for audio quality, the camera has an omnidirectional microphone. This design choice has its own pros and cons, depending on the use case. If you’re going to use the Kiyo in a large room with many open, hard surfaces, you might want to attach an external microphone.
Still, the Razer Kiyo Pro is not perfect. Its autofocus tends to hunt around, and there is no privacy cover. Those shortcomings aside, the camera is an overall great performer in a compact plug & play package. Oh, and it comes with a convenient, built-in ring light which is excellent for Zoom meetings and selfies alike.
Sleek, durable design
Multiple FOV options up to 103 degrees
1080 60p video capture
Good customization options via the Synapse software
Lacks privacy cover
Autofocus tends to hunt
The price could be prohibitive to some
Best Budget Webcam for Skype Meetings: Microsoft LifeCam for Business
This next webcam on our list means business – precisely as its name implies. Not only does it somewhat resemble a tiny surveillance cam – it certainly packs a punch, too. Sadly, it doesn’t sound like a Terminator (yes, LifeCam HD 3000, I’m looking at you).
The Microsoft LifeCam for Business is compact and built of lightweight aluminum. While it can technically support 1080p, the native resolution of 720 is adequate for business meetings. For the resolution upgrade, you’ll need to install an extra bit of software.
We also love that the LifeCam can rotate a full 360 degrees – providing ultimate flexibility with composition. The stereo microphone picks up your voice clearly and with a decent body and presence. However, it picks up (but doesn’t cancel out) background noise, too.
All in all, the LifeCam is a great webcam at a very reasonable price point. The high-quality optics ensure excellent image quality. There is even a battery that promises up to 500 charges before needing a replacement.
Vivid and clear image quality
Fully rotatable 360 degrees
The mounting clip doesn’t fit most modern laptops
Requires Microsoft Lifecam Studio for full resolution
Best 4K Webcam: Logitech Brio
If ultra-crisp, high res video quality is what you’re after, Logitech Brio won’t disappoint. It’s capable of 4K over the USB Type C that works with both USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports.
The Logitech Brio features a premium-looking, polished black face, accompanied by an equally black body. It also has multiple field-of-view options and 5 X digital zoom, which will help you stay in the frame at any given time.
The Brio is a solid choice for streamers, Zoomers, and Skypers alike. It even offers Windows Hello support for your convenience and security. Furthermore, the webcam ensures excellent quality images and video in most conditions, thanks to Logitech’s proprietary RedLight 3.0 with HDR.
Of course, all of those attractive features are not exactly cheap—the Logitech Brio webcam clocks in at around $199. But, luckily, it is sometimes on sale at 15% off or more.
Unmatched video quality
Classic, clean design
Reliable facial recognition
Still no privacy shutter
The price tag
The Perfect Camera for Team Meetings: Meeting Owl Pro – 360 Degree
Perhaps you’re attending online meetings with multiple in-person participants. In that case, the Meeting Owl Pro should definitely be on your camera shortlist. That’s because it is designed specifically with corporate users in mind.
Of course, the Meeting Owl Pro is not exactly compact. On the other hand, it can automatically focus on the speaker, thanks to cutting-edge AI technology. No more fiddling and awkward picture layout – it’s all neatly and effectively managed by the camera itself.
The Owl Pro now has a range of 20 feet, which is impressive, to say the least. And it comes out loud and clear, with the built-in speaker system. Best of all, the Meeting Owl Pro conference camera is dead-simple to set up and use. Simply connect to WiFi and to your device, and you’re ready to rock n roll.
Naturally, the price tag reflects that this impressive team meeting camera is mainly aimed towards the corporate and enterprise user.
The unit is priced at one thousand US dollars- but can often be deducted as a company expense. Also, it’s actually not an unreasonable price-point, given the impressive capabilities it offers. When it comes to clear, seamless communication across teams, the Meeting Owl Pro is the best value option at the moment.
Fantastic for team meetings
The clever AI engine makes your life easier
Effortless to set up and use
Well-integrated with most conferencing software
Likely reserved for the boardroom
The Camera Crew for Your Pocket: MEVO Plus
Sometimes, more is more. Suppose you’re looking for an intuitive camera system capable of reproducing actual multi-camera edits. If so, then the MEVO Plus is as good as it gets. And that’s pretty darn good. It even lets you effortlessly control the whole process straight from your iPhone.
What’s so magical about the MEVO Plus camera, you say? Except for the astronomical price tag, it’s a unique combination of exceptional design and clever software. The MEVO experience is simply unmatched in terms of sheer capability and convenience in a super tiny package.
That said, even the MEVO Plus has some flaws that are worth noting before you invest in this top-notch streaming camera. Namely, the resolution can dip all the way down to 720p when zoomed in. Also, the battery will last no longer than one hour of shooting. Although, there is a quick-charging 10-hour battery back available as an extra purchase.
Suppose you can swallow those pitfalls and the hefty price tag. Then you should know that MEVO Plus is capable of streaming, video conference, and podcasts, like no other product. Those looking to stream live events might want to look into the MEVO Start Live Event camera instead. And smartphone users will be glad to hear that the MEVO Plus is now available for Android and iPhone.
Complete yet compact streaming setup
Ease of use
One of the most expensive solutions on the market
Overkill for most users
Best Cheap Webcam for Any Platform: NexiGo StreamCam
The 2021 NexiGo StreamCam is yet another smash hit within the Zoom community, and understandably so. The StreamCam offers excellent Full-HD streaming in 1080p at 30 fps. In the audio department, there is a microphone with active noise cancellation.
The camera works with practically any recent computer, be it Windows, Mac, or even Linux. But that’s not all – the NexiGo StreamCam also has a built-in LED light similar to the Razer Kiyo Pro. Finally, there is an automatic light adjustment feature, although it requires installing an app to work.
However, if you value security and privacy, you should know that the privacy shutter is really flimsy. So much, in fact, that the camera ships with two of them. Whether the manufacturer is expecting it to fall off remains unknown.
With that out of the way, this camera has some handy features in a compact and modern design, and it’s cheaper than most Logitech webcams while offering similar performance.
Active noise reduction
Full HD video footage
Good attachment clip
Built-in light ring
Privacy cover as good as useless
Needs third-party software to gain full functionality
Bonus Pick: The Camera You Already Have!
We felt like this one was worth mentioning, as many of us already have more than adequate cameras nowadays. And I don’t only mean photographers and videographers, but even lay people with modern smartphones and laptops.
Even though a dedicated webcam is nice to have, setting up a digital SLR camera would blow anything else out of the water in terms of image quality. And, if you opt for a Sony alpha or one of Canon’s bodies with Dual Pixel AF, you can bet it’s going to be pin-sharp, too. Couple this with a wide lens, a battery grip, and a tripod, and you have a podcast and video meeting monster setup.
Even the average laptop webcam is rapidly bridging the gap in terms of microphone and video capabilities. This means that you can often rely on the built-in one in a pinch – and reserve your dedicated webcam for the most important calls, meetings, and streaming sessions.
Pre-existing, familiar product
Serves multiple functions
No opportunity cost involved
Always with you
It can be either too bulky or bad in low light
Requires some setup vs. permanently mounted camera
Battery life, distractions, and connectivity could be an issue
The Best Webcam Accessories for Zoom Meetings
LED Light: 10″ Ring Light with Tripod Stand
Poor lighting conditions can be annoying to behold. Needless to say, they also heavily impact the quality of web-based communication and can even damage trust. A compact LED light is inexpensive and can do wonders to boost image quality.
Webcam Stand: InnoGear Webcam Stand
If your camera doesn’t have a usable clip, you might want a stand or tripod to place it in a good spot. Optimally, try to position your webcam at eye height and facing a clean, distraction-free background. That is, of course, if you don’t set up in front of your bookshelf or the proverbial fern.
“Can you hear me?”
Microphone: Blue Yeti USB Microphone
Granted, some webcams have great onboard mics. But what if you have a significant fan noise, digital feedback, or other distracting sounds? In that case, a dedicated microphone could be the perfect solution. If you’re a podcaster or streamer – at least do it for your audience. You’ll be glad you did, and so will they.
Key Features to Look for in a Webcam for Zoom Meetings
If you’re suffering from information overload, it’s perfectly understandable. Let us quickly run over the key concepts to keep in mind when picking a new webcam:
Resolution – Essentially means detail/clarity. The higher the number, the better.
Auto-Focus – It does what it says. Namely, automatically focusing on your face/eyes. Particularly important for 1:1 conversations and presentations.
Microphone – Try to notice what potential ambient sounds there are in your ‘Zoom room.’ Many of those can be effectively combated with active noise cancellation and close-mic placement. A lapel microphone is an inexpensive and compact option that can make a huge difference. Conversely, an omnidirectional microphone might be the best option for multiple in-person participants.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How Can I Improve Video Calling Quality on Zoom Meetings?
Although having one of the best webcams for Zoom can make a lot of difference, lighting, noise, and the internet connection can severely impact the calling quality. Here are some quick tips to help you out.
- Minimize sunny windows behind you – find another wall, or close the curtain.
- Better yet, have the light source come from your side.
- Ensure that your face is well lit.
- Consider stopping all downloads and heavy background processes.
- Make sure your machine doesn’t update mid-call (True story.)
- Before your Zoom meeting: try a mock shot to check how the image looks.
- Avoid awkward slowdowns – make sure any software, drivers, etc., are ready ahead of time.
- On slow networks, avoid turning into a slide show by reducing the resolution.
- Use a fast network if you can (+10 Mbps should be enough for HD video.)
- Consider a plan B (mobile hotspot) to mitigate connectivity problems.
- Lastly, remember to do a quick soundcheck before joining.
How to Look Better on Zoom?
Several features in Zoom will help show your best self. Simply flick on HD, adjust the lighting, and enable noise reduction in the video settings menu. Furthermore, you can choose from three filters named Boost, Cream, and Seafoam. Those filters will smoothen out your skin. Feel free to experiment with all three to find which one works best so that you can look your best.
Do Webcams Need Special Software?
Some cameras are plug n play, meaning you literally plug the device in, accept the permissions, and you’re ready to Zoom away. Other webcams require proprietary or third-party software to enable all features. Still, they generally work to some extent upon plugging in, too.
What Is a Good Webcam Resolution?
In the best-case scenario, you have a high-speed Internet connection. If so, then the highest available resolution is the way to go. Otherwise, Full HD 1080p is sufficient in most circumstances. In any case, it’s better to have a well-composed and well-lit shot than having an expensive 4K webcam streaming a dark, cluttered, and noisy image.
What Are the Best Zoom Alternatives?
While this review article revolves around Zoom, it is known that the platform has been previously involved in dubious security and privacy practices. Thankfully, there are many alternatives to try out:
- Jitsy & Jitsy Meet
- Skype for Business
How Do I Deter Hackers From my Webcam?
Security and privacy are a growing concern for many users. Luckily, you can significantly reduce the risks with a few easy tips.
- Use unique, strong passwords
- Kill your zombie accounts
- Never click on suspicious links
- Use a firewall
- Software VPN as a minimum
- 2 Factor Authentication (2FA)
- Cover or disconnect your webcam when not in use
There is practically no limit to the severity of security measures you can deploy from here, depending on your threat model. The above, however, would place you in the upper tiers – relative to most Internet users.
While many of us have several Internet-connected cameras, investing in a dedicated webcam could be a wise business decision. But having one of the best webcams for Zoom meetings won’t help you if your light, sound, and framing are way off. By having a proper, reliable setup, you not only send a good signal. You also stay better connected, achieve better communication, and, best of all – make your life and work easier.