Webcams used to be pretty straightforward: Logitech served most people’s needs with mainstays such as the Logitech c920 and the Logitech Brio 4K; while specialty manufacturers like Razer addressed the gaming/streaming market.
But then the pandemic happened, and suddenly a large percentage of office work was indefinitely remote. Companies raced to enter the market as standalone webcams were snapped up — stock was so limited for most of 2020 that what you bought was based on availability, not quality.
Now it’s 2022, and things are finally starting to change. Webcam stock has mostly stabilized, so it might be time to swap out your pandemic cam for something that will make you look and sound fantastic in any lighting situation. We’re finally able to confidently list the best webcams of 2022, for work, play, and everything in between.
Here are a few details to keep in mind when shopping for the best webcam.
- Streaming vs work cam: The webcam market is mostly split into two categories: Work and livestreaming. Livestreaming webcams are more expensive — some can run as high as $500 — and include features such as 4K, professional-level microphones, and wide-angle lenses.
You probably won’t be able to take advantage of these features in a home office, however, because video compression and lag are still issues in most conference call apps — 1080p, or even 720p, is the most your colleagues will ever see.
- The best webcams on the market used to always include some sort of built-in microphone, but it’s more of an afterthought — not a feature. Webcams are usually situated above and away from your face, so even if the mic was good (and it usually isn’t), it’s not ideally located to pick up your voice. Recently we’ve been seeing webcams without microphones (even from larger companies, such as Dell), so we definitely recommend picking up one of the best gaming headsets or best gaming microphones so you’ll sound as good as you look.
- Lighting is a bonus: While built-in lighting isn’t a standard feature on most consumer-level webcams quite yet, manufacturers like Razer are doing their best to change that. It doesn’t matter how capable your camera is if your office’s lighting is too dark to take advantage of it.
Best Webcams 2021
Logitech’s C920 has been the gold standard for webcams since it launched way back in 2013. Even after seven years, it’s still arguably the best webcam for video conferencing. There are other versions of the camera: The C920S, which has a privacy shutter, and the C922, which is designed for streaming.
All versions of the Logitech C920 have the same excellent 78-degree field of view lens that can show not only you, but the room behind you or the people sitting next to you. The 1080p sensor picks up plenty of detail even in low light and its color reproduction was once the best on the market. Senior Editor Andrew Freedman wrote a Logitech C920 review for Laptop Mag back in 2016 and he was impressed with both the image quality and width.
He also noted that the camera’s dual microphones picked up clear sound — though, in a crowded office they also picked up some background noise. But If you’re in a quiet room, they should be fine for casual calls.
Time has caught up to this camera a bit: More recent rivals make its color reproduction look washed out. But it’s a solid, consistent performer that will serve you well.
The Microsoft Modern Webcam is cheaper and more available than the Logitech C920; it also has more features and better, more accurate color reproduction than its older competitor.
The Microsoft Modern Webcam’s monitor mount can be shaky on some monitors, especially those that aren’t flat along the back (but you can get it stable with some artful balancing). The sliding physical camera shutter gives this webcam a premium feel.
The Microsoft Modern Webcam comes with an intuitive — but not particularly powerful — app that’s designed to look like a Windows menu. The app is where you’ll adjust most of this camera’s special features, including HDR and flicker reduction powered by its ability to capture footage at 60 fps. This webcam’s 1080p @ 60 fps capture is a big get for streamers, especially since many gaming-focused webcams cost upwards of $100.
It’s unfortunate that you can’t swivel or rotate this camera for better shooting angles. While the C920 shares that limitation, there are lower budget options with this flexibility. But if you want a camera in the C920’s space that doesn’t wash out colors as much and has more options, the Microsoft Modern Webcam is an easy choice — so long as your monitor isn’t too curvy on the back.
If you have money to spare, the $199 Dell Ultrasharp Webcam is an easy frontrunner. This camera has loads of features, including 4K @ 30 fps and 1080p @ 60 fps recording, HDR, and even optional AI that helps keep you in frame. It also features three different field of view options, and lots of customizability thanks to the ability to turn on manual focus and zoom sliders. But where this camera really blew us away was on image quality. Regardless of which resolution you pick, this camera’s footage looks sharp and has the most flattering lighting and colors we’ve seen yet — no artifacts or weird pale or yellowish tones found here.
There are a few issues in the build. While the camera itself feels sturdy and looks stylish, it has a lot of small parts you’ll need to swap in and out. The monitor mount and tripod mount are two separate pieces, for example. You can easily change them in and out since they both fit into the same magnetic slot, but once you add in the magnetic webcam cover, that’s a lot of extra stuff to keep track of. The monitor mount also lacks feet, which means it can feel unstable. I didn’t feel like it was going to fall off my monitor, but it took some work to get it to that point.
Still, that’s all worth it for this almost mirror-like image quality. This is definitely one of the more expensive cameras on this list, but given all of this camera’s features and how little you have to work to make its footage look good (although there are plenty of post-processing options), it easily justifies its price.
The Razer Kiyo Pro is Razer’s 2021 update to the Razer Kiyo, and it adds plenty of new features that will be very helpful for content creators and amateur filmmakers alike. These include HDR recording, the ability to capture footage at 1080p @ 60 fps, a light sensor that adjusts how much light the webcam captures to make images as flattering as possible regardless of lighting, and a microphone with headset-level audio quality.
All of these features come at the loss of the original Kiyo’s ring light and a new $199 price tag. While the light sensor impresses enough to make the loss of the ring light sting less, that new cost limits the camera to creators who need its extra features instead of a more everyday audience.
The Kiyo Pro’s features can also be a touch difficult to access, because you’ll need Razer Synapse to change settings like field of view or how warm/cool your photos are. And to access 60 fps recording, you’ll need to set that up separately in your recording software.
The price also puts the Kiyo Pro on par with the Logitech Brio 4K, which has the benefit of capturing footage in, well, 4K. But given that most streaming platforms don’t support 4K yet, the Kiyo Pro’s other features do help justify its cost despite its 1080p max resolution.
The Kiyo Pro’s image quality is still excellent, and its 60fps recording is great for game streamers while its HDR capture makes it more appealing to just about everyone. Most people can probably make do without these bells and whistles, but if you want something premium and aren’t sold on 4K, the Kiyo Pro is a solid bet.
Like its popular sibling, the Logitech C920 / C920S, the Logitech C930e has excellent image quality with superior color reproduction, sharpness and low-light performance. However, it one-ups the C920 series by providing a Carl Zeiss lens that has a 90-degree field of view.
One of the very best webcams you can get at any price, the C930e also comes standard with a privacy shutter. Its dual, omni-directional mics also provide better noise cancelling than the C920. The main advantage that the C920 and C920S have is price, as the C930e’s MSRP is $129 as compared to $69 for the C920S.
The Logitech StreamCam is a premium option, aimed at giving streamers and other content creators everything they need in one package. The focus here is more on convenience than pure quality, however.
The StreamCam is a special contender on our list in that it supports all resolutions from 240p to 1080p, and is able to stream or record each at any frame rate from 5 to 60. Though most will, of course, want to use the highest setting of 1080 60 fps, this lets those with low bandwidth customize their usage to their liking.
It also comes with a built-in omnidirectional microphone, complete with a small noise filter, as well as a white indicator LED, a standard tripod mount (in addition to a monitor mount), auto-focus and exposure, USB-C connectivity, and streaming software for fine-tuning filtering and other capture details. Those who prefer vertical video can also remove the camera from its mount and physically rotate it to shoot with full HD 9:16 video.
At $170 officially, the Logitech StreamCam usually sells for just $30 less than the Logitech Brio 4K Ultra, but since most streaming platforms don’t support 4K yet, its unique bonus features still make it an enticing buy.
The Logitech Brio 4K has been the name in 4K webcams since it was first introduced in 2017, but that doesn’t mean it gets a free pass. While its image quality is hard to argue against, Tom’s Hardware Senior Editor Andrew Freedman still had problems with it back when he reviewed it for Laptop Mag.
But let’s start with the positives. The first being right there in the name: this camera captures high quality 4K footage. That alone makes it stand out on this list, since even our premium contenders mostly top out at 1080p. In his review, Andrew praised the Brio 4K’s color accuracy and field of view. But this camera can also do 1080p @ 60fps recording, letting it compete with the Razer Kiyo Pro as well.
Andrew did feel that the Brio 4K fell behind even the Logitech C920 in a dark room however, and had some gripes with the build quality. The monitor mount, for instance, didn’t feel as if it attached securely, and the optional, detachable privacy cover came across as a cheap afterthought, even leaving residue on the camera.
There’s also the question of who needs a 4K webcam. Since most livestreaming apps top out at 1080p, the audience for this camera is going to be niche. Its 60 fps option and high quality lens helps it maintain some relevance at 1080p, but it lacks the creature comforts of the Logitech StreamCam or Razer Kiyo Pro.
Still, there’s no denying that this camera probably produces the prettiest images and video on this list. Assuming you can find a use case for it.
Elgato’s long been a contender in the streaming realm, with capture cards and stream decks that make it a popular brand among content creators, but the Elgato Facecam is its first webcam. With that comes a few first-time jitters that need to be worked out, but the Elgato Facecam still has unique advantages that might justify its lack of features elsewhere, assuming you’re part of its target, hardcore steamer audience.
At $199, the Elgato Facecam costs as much as the Razer Kiyo Pro and the Dell Ultrasharp webcam, but it doesn’t have 4K or HDR. What it does have is 1080p @ 60 fps recording, a fixed focus lens, and live ISO information in its software. While 1080p @ 60 fps footage isn’t unique to this camera, those last two features are rare even on other specialty equipment. But if you spend hours in front of a desk broadcasting to viewers every day, they might be plenty useful for you.
The Elgato Facecam’s fixed focus lens is optimized to depict any subjects within 3 to 5 feet of the lens with perfect clarity, which is perfect if you’re just showing off your streaming space. This lets you quickly move about your space and bring new objects on screen without waiting for autofocus to catch up. Meanwhile, the live ISO feed lets you easily adjust your room’s lighting.
Still, those are hardcore features that even a good deal of streamers probably won’t be interested in. The Elgato Facecam’s build also comes with some compromises, in that the plastic feels cheap and the camera itself is pretty topheavy on its monitor mount. Plus, given its lack of more generally applicable features like HDR, which other cameras at this price point do have, we can’t recommend this for everyone. But to its target niche, it’s unique strengths might be worth its lack of consideration elsewhere.
Read: Elgato Facecam Review
The Ausdom AW651 is Ausdom’s most recent webcam, and it makes for a more powerful yet affordable alternative to other 1080p and above webcams from major brands like Logitech. At about $10 more than the MSRP for the Logitech C920, this camera offers both 1440p capture at 30 fps and 1080p capture at 60 fps. While the camera’s sensor can produce overly sharp images and it resorts to distributing clunky freeware rather than coming up with its own software, it is a technically capable device that offers a lot of capability for its price point.
This camera produced bright footage with accurate colors when we reviewed it, in part thanks to its ability to capture at 1440p. If you prefer to shoot at 1080p, you can also capture footage at 60 fps with this device, which will be useful for game streamers. HDR is another feature here, and in a nice touch, this camera comes with a tripod and can also rotate 360 degrees. Its tilt is a bit more limited, ranging from 180 degrees when pointing down to 30 degrees when pointing up.
This camera’s software is its biggest problem, since it suggests you use a freeware program called Amcap to configure it. This is a powerful but clunky program that reminds you of the small company jank Ausdom still can’t quite escape from, and while you can use the Windows camera app instead, it’s not quite as powerful. Luckily, there’s other freeware solutions like OBS or Nvidia Broadcast that you can use to configure this device instead.
Read: Ausdom AW651 Review
The Opal C1 webcam is both an exciting indication of things to come in the future of webcams overall and also a niche product that probably won’t appeal to most users. If money is no object, then yes, this camera probably takes the best photos and video on this list. At the same time, it costs $300, its software is Mac-only, and said software costs $4 a month.
It’s an easy-to-use software suite, sure, and there are convenient features such as bokeh and an AI powered touch-up function. But we’ve seen similar functionality for cheaper elsewhere, and it doesn’t make you sign up for yet another “service.”
What makes the Opal C1 worth keeping an eye on is its focus on “computational photography.” This is a technique primarily used in smartphones, and it’s why your iPhone’s camera usually captures better looking footage than the webcam attached to your $2000 laptop. Sure, the camera sensors themselves are powerful, but the real magic is the small edits your phone does in real-time to beef up an image before you even see it.
Webcams, for the most part, don’t employ that trick, and that’s because they usually don’t have beefy processors of their own. The Opal C1, meanwhile, uses the Intel Myriad X, a VPU that specializes in on-device neural networks. The result is stunning, and even if photography purists will decry the lack of neutrality that comes with your camera editing your photo before you even see it, it does a great job of showing you in your most flattering light. It’s just probably not so flattering that it’s worth $300+. Still, it’s tech we want to see other brands look into incorporating into their own webcams in the future.
Read: Opal C1 review
Sometimes, you need a bit more from a webcam, but don’t want to break the bank. Usually, recording at 60 fps or in HDR requires you to spend up to almost $200, but Anker’s new PowerConf C300 packs those features at a much more affordable $130 price point.
You’ll have to deal with some laggy software to access most of them, and the included detachable, adhesive camera shutters are so cheaply made that you might as well not use them at all. But with fidelity that frequently beats the Logitech C920 and lots of customizability, including multiple field of view options, this is a great choice for those who like to tinker. There’s even automatic AI framing to help you keep your shots focused on you as you move about, although it’s a little tricky to actually trigger it.
Other Webcams We Tested
- Razer Kiyo: The base Razer Kiyo is still a good webcam, and is one of the few cameras from a reputable company that has an included ring light, but at this point is old technology. While it no longer costs $100, its capabilities are far behind that of the Razer Kiyo Pro, and aren’t definitively better than other 1080p standards like the Logitech C930e.
- Ausdom AW635: The Ausdom AW635 was a more valuable camera towards the beginning of the pandemic when stock on basic mainstays like the Logitech C920 was more difficult to find. Now that stock has normalized, its borderline unacceptable image quality has less appeal.
- Aukey 1080p: This one was a hard omission, but as its primary role on this list was as a Logitech C920 clone, it doesn’t serve as much purpose now that webcam stock has stabilized. Paradoxically, it can be a bit hard to find now, which also makes it harder to recommend, but it is roughly on par with Logitech’s budget cameras, if you can find one.
- AnkerWork B600 Video Bar: This webcam has strong visual fidelity and a number of conference-call friendly features like a speaker and a built-in light bar with touch controls, but its price makes it a poor option for anyone who doesn’t need those extras.
How We Test
We test each of our webcams by inspecting its specifications, finding suitable competitors for its price point and capabilities and then shooting test photos and footage in a number of lighting conditions. We first shoot in a neutrally lit home office during the afternoon, then we draw the curtains and shoot again to see how our camera deals with darkness. To get an understanding of how our cameras handles being saturated with light, we also point them towards the office window during the final phase of testing.
If a camera comes with software, we may repeat our testing with various settings tweaked, to make sure we accurately depict all of its abilities. Finally, we also inspect a camera’s build quality and how easily the lens can be moved, adjusted or covered.
Finding Discounts on the Best Webcams
Whether you’re shopping for one of the best webcams or one that didn’t quite make our list, you may find savings by checking out the latest Logitech promo codes, Newegg promo codes, Amazon promo codes, Razer promo codes or Micro Center coupons.
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