In the era of hybrid work, it is important to consider the features that come to make the best professional webcam most suitable to your needs. Nowadays, most of us hold numerous online meetings, even if we work from an office. It is no secret that online learning and remote working are here to stay, even in the post-coronavirus era.
In order to fully prepare and have an effective remote workspace, you need to acquire both suitable software applications and computer accessories. Webcams are one of the most essential computer accessories to own nowadays. However, figuring out how to choose a webcam suitable to one’s needs can be difficult. In this article, we will specifically cover what to look for in a webcam by discussing seven of the most important professional webcam features.
Resolution and frame rate
Resolution and frame rate are often the first factors considered before purchasing a webcam, and for good reason. They are the most important ones.
What is the difference between webcam resolution and frame rate?
A webcam’s resolution is measured by the number of pixels it displays on a screen. Webcams with a higher resolution produce better image quality. The frame rate is the number of frames played per second. The higher their frame rate is, the smoother the displayed video becomes. Both the resolution and the frame rate of a webcam are important, but the degree of their importance depends on a person’s intended use for the webcam.
Common webcam resolutions
The most standard resolutions are 360p, 480p, 720p, 1080p, and most recently, 2K and 4K. And as for frame rates, 30fps and 60fps are the most common ones, with 120p being on the rise during the last recent years. There are varying combinations of picture resolution and frame rates among the webcams on the market since each is designed for different purposes and is suitable for various people in different situations and conditions.
For instance, most video calls over Skype, ZOOM, and other collaboration software applications stream in 720p video, so a webcam that supports such quality suffices for this particular purpose. The Rapoo C260 is a decent option with great value for these types of business purposes. Full-HD 1080p resolution, on the other hand, is usually used for recording professional-looking presentations and many other business areas in which having good quality is more important. Logitech C920 is probably one of the best full-HD webcams at 1080p resolution.
Common webcam frame rates
The frame rate is most important for video game streamers, for whom smooth-looking footage is essential. In these cases, 720 resolution at 60fps webcam footage is preferred. However, YouTube content creators who do not anticipate a lot of movement in front of the camera might prefer 2K picture quality at 30fps. For these purposes, the Rapoo C280 is one of the best professional webcam options.
Some webcams support higher frame rates such as 120fps, but they come with a premium price. These models are suitable for specific conditions and professional jobs that require very smooth footage with the utmost quality. Delivering 4K Ultra HD quality with HDR, the Logitech Brio is one of the best Logitech webcams for home offices. Brio is also among one of the best professional webcams because it offers varying resolutions at various frame rates.
One of the key features to pay attention to when deciding on what to look for in a webcam is the autofocus capability. This is an excellent feature for those who live with their family members and work or study from home. Using autofocus, such individuals can keep the focus of the webcam only on themselves as they sit in front of the camera, preventing unnecessary background distractions from being portrayed in their image.
While almost all new webcams have the autofocus feature, the speed of detection and precision vary in each model. High-end webcams, such as the j5Create 4K Ultra HD Webcam, often come with a faster and more precise autofocus feature, whereas budget webcams tend to struggle when focusing on the main subject. Since the best high-quality webcams are more expensive, you should pay attention to how accurate and capable you need the autofocus capabilities of your webcam to be.
Even though most individuals nowadays might have a separate headset, many webcams come with a built-in microphone. These types of webcams have their pros and cons, which is why you need to consider a few things about their built-in microphones before making your purchase.
The majority of webcams on the market always come with at least one built-in microphone. For many people, these webcams decrease the need for a headset or a separate microphone. They are considered ideal for those who rarely have remote conferences or phone calls.
There are also dual-mic webcams with two microphones on both sides of their lens, providing a more natural-sounding audio feed to users. These models may be more appropriate for content creators and professionals who have video calls and live streams more often. Yet again, built-in microphones, no matter how high-quality and well-designed they are, can only get you so far. More professional content creators are better off with a decent headset or desktop microphone.
Digital video streaming, especially when using the best professional webcams with high resolution and picture quality, creates plenty of data. Even if you want to stream HD videos in real-time over an average internet bandwidth, the video must be compressed.
What is video compression and what does it look like in webcams?
Video compression encodes video files to reduce their file size by removing all the redundant data in a video file, making it much easier for video files to stream and transmit over the internet quickly. It is also worth noting that video compression does not decrease your video’s resolution or frame rate at all.
Most professional webcams are designed with the H.265/HEVC (High-Efficiency Video Coding) or H.264/AVC (Advanced Video Coding) standard to deliver high-quality videos at smaller sizes. Some webcam models lack proper internal video compression, creating large files that are tough to share or straining your computer’s processor to compress a video.
Field of view
Field of view (FOV) represents the size of an area that a webcam’s camera can detect. There is no specific standard for the range of a webcam’s FOV. Some webcams have a narrow FOV, suitable for those who only want their face to be displayed when using their webcam. Others have a wide range of views that allows for multiple people to be present in front of the camera.
What are the most common FOVs?
Some of the most common FOVs are 60, 78, and 90 degrees. If only one person intends to sit in front of a webcam, one with a 60-degree FOV should be enough. For two persons facing a camera, a 78-degree FOV is great. If three or more people intend to sit or stand in front of the webcam without having to go too far away or sit uncomfortably close, picking up a webcam with a 90-degree FOV is recommended. A 90-degree FOV is also suitable for those who wish to show a whiteboard or a conference room table.
Design, material, and lens
There are two key factors to look into when you are analyzing a webcam’s body: its design, the material used for making it, and the quality of its lens.
Webcam design and material
A webcam’s body material is typically made of either metal or plastic. Metal, compared to plastic, can withstand wear and tear much better and possesses higher durability. Therefore, heavy lenses in high-end webcams are attached to metal bodies. On the other hand, plastic bodies make the camera webcam lighter in weight and size and are naturally more affordable.
However, even though plastic bodies are more lightweight, they might actually not be the best for those who carry a webcam around, especially when traveling. A metal body is much more capable of protecting the lens than a plastic body is, so it is better to use a webcam with a plastic body if the user does not intend to travel with the webcam.
Webcam lenses are typically made of plastic or glass. Plastic lenses are less expensive and are mainly used in average-quality webcams, whereas the best professional webcams use glass lenses. Using plastic allows webcam manufacturers to produce strongly aspherical lens elements, which is almost impossible to do with glass. Therefore, some of the most modern, high-performance lenses from popular manufacturers contain hybrid aspherical elements.
On the other hand, glass lenses are very resistant to scratching and have great optical properties. So, generally speaking, plastic lenses are an adequate option to use for ZOOM or Skype. And if you want a camera with aspherical lenses, plastic lenses are your go-to choice. However, those of you who are looking to use professional webcams might be better off with glass lenses.
Webcam software controls allow you to manually control your webcam functionalities and enjoy using various software-based benefits. For instance, using software controls, you may digitally pan, tilt, or even zoom the lens in and out. Software controls in many webcams also allow you to adjust the brightness, color intensity, contrast, and much more in your videos. So it is worth checking the supported software applications for the webcam you may consider purchasing.
Webcam features are very varied and different, which can make the process of figuring out how to choose a webcam difficult. By considering the above features, one would have an easier process choosing the best professional webcam for their needs. Although resolution, frame rate, and the quality of the lens might be the most important factors for the majority of people when determining what to look for in a webcam, it is important to remember that other features should be considered as well, such as the webcam’s design and field of view.
Apart from webcams, you might also be interested in acquiring a headset to be fully prepared for teleworking or remote learning. In that case, be sure to read our article about quality headsets. Furthermore, if you are interested in reading more about any of the products mentioned in this article, please check out our products page.