(Pocket-lint) - Whether you're an aspiring streamer or simply want to look your sharpest on work video calls, a top webcam is essential.
Since most of the options that come built-in with laptops, all-in-one computers and other monitors rarely excel past dedicated webcams, it can prove an invaluable tool in improving the quality of your stream.
That's why the Pocket-lint team has been testing some of the top webcams you can buy right now, with the options below able to reach at least 720p HD, with some offering 1080p Full HD and even 4K Ultra HD.
From our experience, though, this is a very crowded market. Since the specs lists of different models can sometimes look identical at first glance, it makes it hard to choose the right webcam for you. That's why, as well as giving our quick verdicts on each of the tested options below, we've also included some things to consider before you buy.
In our picks below, we've whittled things down to give you only the very top webcams to consider, with something for every budget. Let's explore them.
Our Top Pick
- Great customisation
- Outstanding picture
- Costly option
Elgato's Facecam is an enthusiast-level webcam with some serious specs that include a large Sony Starvis CMOS image sensor and an Elgato Prime Lens with an f/2.4 aperture and 24mm full-frame equivalent focal length.
It captures fantastic visuals and is highly tweakable too. Thanks to Elgato's Camera Hub software which lets you adjust everything from exposure compensation to white balance, shutter speed, ISO and more.
The fixed-focus design also ensures you're always in the picture.
Webcams we also recommend
Not every webcam we test can be our top overall recommendation, but that doesn't mean there aren't other options to consider. Below, we'll detail some of the other webcams we've tested.
- Perfect features for streamers
- Full HD at 60FPS
- Won't connect via a USB hub
The Logitech Streamcam is one of the many fantastic webcams we've tested from Logitech.
This one is a bit pricier than others, but is designed specifically for streamers, with a number of features that make it powerful and useful. It's not only capable of 1080p video capture at 60FPS, but also has different mounting options that mean it can be used in both landscape and portrait modes.
You can use the Streamcam to capture square portrait-style videos that are perfect for Instagram and the like. It also comes with Logitech's Capture software that allows you to do all sorts of things including adding filters, text overlays, other sources and more.
Highlights for us though are the superb autofocus capabilities and video capture quality that make the Streamcam well worth owning.
- Superb value
- Privacy shutter
- No great customisation options
The AVerMedia PW310P is a nifty webcam with a pleasing feature set.
We found it's not only good at capturing footage (1080p 30FPS) but also has other highlights including a dual microphone setup, hardware privacy shutter and a tripod mount too.
The auto-focus is decent and the 73-degree field of view also makes it nicely capable. Another thing we really like about this one is the way it'll rotate 360-degrees on its stand should you need to spin it about for whatever reason. All told, a very appealing package that won't break the bank.
- Excellent field of view
- Privacy shutter
- Not the cheapest pick
AVerMedia gets another spot on our list with this excellent camera, which is a little pricier than the one above but has some nice upgrades.
For one thing, it's got a massive 95-degree field of view, so is perfect if you want to show off your office or streaming den. Video quality is 1080p, but also manages 60FPS to provide really smooth video, and has a privacy screen for your peace of mind.
We've loved using it, and it's earned a permanent place atop our monitor.
- Top-level picture quality
- A very solid field of view
- Seriously pricey
This Logitech option is likely to be outside of most people's imagined budgets, but brings the increasingly important option of 4K video to the table. It's also got HDR on board, making for picture quality that seriously impresses.
There are a few nice touches, like Windows Hello to let you get into your PC with a glance, plus a 90-degree field of view to get good viewing angles. It's pricey, but if 4K is a priority for you, it's a great shout.
Other products we considered
The Pocket-lint editorial team spends hours testing and researching hundreds of products before recommending our best picks for you. We consider a range of factors when it comes to putting together our best guides including physically testing the products ourselves, consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. Many of the devices we consider don’t make our final best guides.
These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5:
How to choose a webcam
Cameras of any kind are a very complex area to delve into, with plenty of things to consider before buying. Naturally, webcams are no different. In the interest of brevity, we’ll stick to the basic things to know before you buy, but understand that - at least for those serious about their webcam’s performance - there’s plenty more to discover.
What resolution and frame rate do you need?
It’s easy to get carried away with the crystal-clear resolutions and high frame rates provided by expensive and modern webcams, so it’s important to know exactly what you’ll be using it for.
If it’s just for a few work video calls per week, you likely don’t need 4K resolutions - nor do you need something with a range of mounting options that are more suited to streamers. A resolution of 1080p with either 30FPS or 60FPS is more than enough for modest users.
For those who are going to use a webcam more often, though, the markup and more advanced specs are very much worth it. You’ll receive a better picture, better customisation options and design features like a privacy shutter, typically.
What field of view do you require?
While the range of your camera isn’t the most important factor, it is still something to consider when deciding between different webcams. Put simply, a 60-degree FOV is enough to capture one person sitting in front of a computer.
Anything slightly more than that will likely be able to capture two people sitting side-by-side if it’s mounted to a monitor, and anything above 90-degrees can show off multiple people or your wider space.
Also consider that some webcams - typically streamer-driven options - can also flip to 9:16 portrait, rather than being locked into a 16:9 landscape.
How are you mounting your webcam?
This is a super straightforward consideration, but you’d be surprised at how clunky this process can actually prove. We’d recommend checking out exactly how your webcam fits onto your laptop or monitor - or stands by itself - since our experience tells us that cheaper options usually aren’t the most adjustable or stable.
Also, as a side-note, make sure to look into how your webcam will actually connect. Often, webcams won't work through USB hubs or adapters, meaning you'll have to have a direct connection to your computer.
Is webcam privacy important to you?
Some webcams offer better privacy features than others, whether this is a shutter that closes when the webcam is not in use, or a light to indicate if it is. Since you’ll likely keep your webcam fixed to your monitor even when it’s not in use, these features can reassure you that nobody is hacking into your stream without your knowledge.
More about this story
Every webcam in this list has been tested in real-life situations, just as you would use it in your day-to-day life.
In order to try and decipher which is the best webcam, we tested each of the above picks over an extended period of time - on work calls, personal calls and streams - and continue to do so. By performing our tests this way, we’re able to get to grips with each model’s level of picture customisation options, the field of view and, more generally, how easy they are to set up and use.
As we do with all of our buyer’s guides, we also try and measure the value of a product against its competitors and the wider market. Ideally, this allows us to provide a mix of webcams that are available at different price points and with different feature sets, and not just the most expensive options.
At Pocket-lint, we’re not interested in providing the extraneous details or number crunching in our guides; we just want to give you an easy to understand review that helps you pick the right option for your needs. Our verdicts are concise, but rest assured these picks have been put through their paces.