More than ever, web cameras have become integral additions the home office. They are key items keeping us connected during a socially distanced age. Online work and school environments, like we never could have imagined prior to the events that unfolded last year, have become a new norm. And webcams are the very way we’ve stay engaged with colleagues, classwork, and especially friends and loved ones. Not only have many fields of work and classrooms moved online around the globe, but too, conferences, DJ sets, birthday parties, holiday dinners, interviews, religious gatherings and doctor’s appointments! Wherever there was once a gathering of people, there is now a Zoom link.
Along with the increase in demand for these items, has also sadly come price gouging. We have famously seen this with hand sanitizer, and certain bathroom products in recent times too. Store shelves are being swept of webcams. Or, when available, stock is being sold at steep prices that make them unaccessible to the many Americans who are relying on them to stay working, make interviews, complete degrees and check-in with family members during this period of economic hardship.
Unfortunate circumstances aside, webcams are valuable, versatile devices, used for a variety of purposes. And at that, they can be complex electronics to ponder. After all, they are literal cameras that stream your image (and sometimes voice) in real-time to anyone around the world. So, what should you be searching for when making a webcam purchase? Well, there are some things to consider.
Classification of webcams
Integrated webcams are also known as built-in webcams. Due to portable design, laptops and some other computers have integrated webcams located at the top of the screen or monitor. These cameras tend to provide lower image quality but can manage video calls from a starting point perspective.
External webcams also known as standalone webcams, are easy to set up and provide superior video quality and a professional feel. New versions of these cameras include built-in microphones, and are available on the market with optimizing features like high frame rate, digital zoom and autofocus.
Why do you need a better webcam?
Visual communication is an intrinsic part of our life. As our day-to-day life makes the shift toward digital spaces, clear video capture is becoming an important part of our computing setup. Webcams have simply become one of the most used accessories on our computers. And good quality webcams can provide a means to improve communication.
Now, do not focus on ‘any camera’. Take a look at these features you should familiarize yourself with before making a webcam purchase.
Resolution and Frame Rate
The most important feature we need in the webcam is the clarity of the video it captures. Digitally, we define this in terms of resolution and frame rate. For a clear quality video, you need high resolution and high frame rate. High frame rate makes for more fluid video movements on screen.
Resolution measures the number of pixels. It means, the number of dots or pixels captured in an image on screen. Some common resolutions are 720p, 1080p, and 2K (2000p). Most of the calls over video conferencing apps like Zoom, Skype and Google Hangouts stream in 720p video. You can upgrade this standard by implementing a higher-resolution external webcam, and standing out in a professional manner.
The other metric for video quality is Frame Rate, which specifies the speed at which individual images make up a video displayed on the screen. Frame Rate is measured in FPS (frames per second). For smoother videos, you need higher FPS. The top quality webcams on the market can stream up to 30 frames per second (FPS) and transmit your video in real-time seamlessly.
Webcam Field of view
A webcam field of view (FOV), expressed in degree, indicates the width of the area that its lens can capture. It ranges from 50-120 degrees. You will want to select a broader FOV if you want to capture multiple people, or an entire conference room. Take these examples of FOV (field of view) into consideration:
60-degree captures one person.
78-degree is wide enough to capture two people.
90-degree is suitable for capturing a conference room table.
Autofocus and Low Light Correction
High resolution does not always indicate consistent, high quality video. Why? Because most webcameras work by capturing light, and have trouble in low lighting conditions.
Better quality webcams include special features like low light mode, color boost and/or can even adjust exposure. That way you can take the best videos, even in dim or harsh lighting. Digital zoom and intelligent auto focus are some features which make webcams stand out.
There are three types of focusing systems on webcams. Manual focus lets you adjust by hand. Fixed focused camera is preset to a specific focus range. And auto focus webcams use intelligent subject identification to focus in and out automatically. Auto focus is quickly becoming the standard for high quality webcams, but some users prefer manual focus to have more control.
Professional grade optics
The webcam that uses professional-grade optics gives you good image quality. Webcam lenses are available in glass or plastic. Glass-made lenses show a preference over plastic, as it's often worth it for sharper and more excellent videos.
Some, like the three webcams in our ZGEAR Connect Webcam collection, feature a high-gradeglass lens to capture crystalline video, but also a plastic cover to protect the delicate piece from scratches and dust particles. Combined, we found this to be a great combination.
Some webcams are not just a camera, but a microphone too! Ideal integrated microphones will include noise reduction technology, to filter out background sound. And then there is DSP (digital signal processing) in high end web cameras which 1.) eliminates background noise, 2.) processes your audio in a way that you or the other party do not receive feedback or sound delay (Automatic Echo Cancellation) and 3.) sound balance that processes audio in a way to receive it, and output it in a most clean, pleasant style.
A well-designed mounting system allows you to attach your webcams easily to any given monitor or screen. You will be able to place your webcams at a higher angle than your current camera view, which may be more flattering and should be less susceptible to obstructions.
ZGEAR Connect Webcams
As we covered, there are many uses for webcams these days ranging from professional business applications, to school, healthcare and even fun.
ZGEAR Connect offers a family of three webcams at very accessible pricing and can cover any purpose.
Our ZGEAR Connect HD 720p Resolution Webcam comes in for a great starter deal; only $19.99 and features standard, high-definition video streaming and audio in one. It is a perfect option for video calling, attending class and having the correct set-up for interviews and professional applications alike. It is also a great deal when looking for something to connect you with friends and family.
In the case you would like to upgrade your video quality and standout professionally, our ZGEAR Connect Full HD 1080p Resolution Webcam features top-tier 30 frames per second (fps) capability, and a custom focus lens that does give you control over your image. It also features a microphone, this one with noise reduction technology.
And finally, impress your colleagues or viewers with our ZGEAR Connect Pro HD Resolution Webcam that features 2K (2000p) Resolution which makes this product ideal for seamless live streaming and recording remarkable web content. It features a Digital Signal Processing (DSP) microphone for the best possible audio transmission and an auto focus lens that intelligently brings your greatest image into view.
ZGEAR Connect Webcams have all the hi-tech features you need for professional web camera applications. They come ready to use out of the box with Plug-And-Play USB cable connections, and we are happy to offer them, through our extensive history in electronics, for deals that make them highly accessible for all.