(Pocket-lint) - The best webcams allow you to look your sharpest on work video calls or streams.
To help you make the right choice for your needs, the Pocket-lint team has been testing some of the top webcams you can buy, with the options detailed below able to reach at least 720p HD, with some offering 1080p Full HD and even 4K Ultra HD, too.
This is a very crowded market, though. 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 one.
We've whittled things down to give you only the very top webcams to consider, with something for every budget. Let's explore them.
What is the best webcam?
Our Top Pick: Best Webcam
- Lovely 4K image
- 3-axis gimbal with AI tracking
- Very expensive
The Insta360 Link is a webcam unlike any other, it has a built-in 3-axis gimbal which means it can follow you around the room. Think of it like a tiny robot camera operator, who's always on hand to get the perfect shot.
You can also easily show a top-down view of your desk, or get a clear view of a whiteboard, which is handy for those teaching via Zoom.
The image clarity is pretty much unrivalled, and phase-detection autofocus helps to avoid any blurry shots. The only downside, really, is the cost - it's a significant jump from any of the other webcams on our list. For the right person, though, it'll be worth the expense.
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.
- 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.
- 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, this is 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.
Other products we considered
When trying to figure out what we believe are the best webcams on the market, we spent hours using them on calls and playing around with the settings. We consider a number of factors when it comes to recommending webcams - and also when a new device enters our top five selections. It's not all judged on our testing, either - we also try to take into account consumer reviews, brand quality and value.
In all of our roundups, there are also many products we test that don't make the final cut. Since they may be the right fit for some people, however, we've listed them below.
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 webcams are the best, 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.
What we always tend to avoid when compiling these picks are needless spec comparisons and marketing lines; we just want to provide an easy to understand summary that gives you an idea of what each product is like to use. Our verdicts are concise, but this is purely in the interest of brevity.