Best webcams of 2021 – CNN Underscored

Today’s article is about the best webcams of 2015. We made a list of the most popular webcams, and we will discuss their features and why they made it to this list. Blog Post:

In the coming decade, we’ll likely see a landscape of cameras that can see more than regular eyes ever could. The best webcams of 2021 will have resolutions so high that a stream from the device will look like a virtual reality program, with more information, more clarity and more details than any human could process.

(CNN) –

A good webcam will help you avoid a blurry image on an important video call – and with working from home becoming the norm for many of us, a good quality camera is more important than ever. Almost all built-in webcams on laptops are terrible, and if you work with a desktop computer, you need a webcam to stay visible during important zoom chats. Webcams are also an integral part of any content creator’s toolbox. They allow Twitch streamers and YouTube pros to connect with their fans through fluid, high-quality video.

With the plethora of webcams available, ranging from affordable models under $50 to high-end cameras of $200 for content creators, it can be a challenge to find the right camera for your needs. But don’t worry, we’ve spent a few weeks testing the 11 most popular webcams currently available to help you decide.

We used these cameras in real life for video calls and Twitch streams, and did a full comparison to see how the video and audio quality performed under different conditions. We’ve highlighted the key technical features (1080p cameras are much sharper than 720p cameras, for example, and webcams recording at 60 frames per second produce much smoother video than cameras at 30 frames per second), but we’ve also indicated how all of these features fit into real-world applications.

The Logitech C920S, worth $69, is the big winner in our test. It offers excellent image quality and a robust, versatile design at an affordable price. The C920S’s camera gave us sharp images in both bright and low light, and it comes with handy accompanying software that lets you customize your shots.

If you’re on a tight budget, the $39 Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000 offers some very impressive features for a relatively low price. Particularly suitable for notebook users, this lightweight camera offers thermal performance and a field of view that rivals more expensive competitors in some aspects.

For content creators looking to invest in a high-quality camera, there’s no better Logitech StreamCam for $169. This striking camera streams 1080p video at 60 frames per second for ultra-smooth Twitch streams, and has the unique ability to switch to portrait mode when you want to capture TikTok’s next viral hit.

Finally, for those looking for perfection, the $199 Razer Kiyo Pro is our elite choice. It also shoots in 1080p at up to 60 frames per second, but stands out for its advanced light sensor that delivers beautiful images even in low light.

Mike Andronico/NCC.

A quick statistic:

  • Video quality: Up to 1080p at 30 frames per second
  • Field of view: 78 degrees
  • Works with : Windows, Mac, Chromebooks
  • Warranty: 2 years

The Logitech C920 is the best webcam for zoom meetings, casual meetings and simple live streaming. The new C920S is simply an improved version of this camera that offers a privacy shutter at a lower price. This camera sets the standard for image quality for its price, delivering warm, realistic photos and video in well-lit or dark rooms.

The C920 records video in 1080p resolution at 30 frames per second, which gave us a smooth and clear experience for Webex calls and video recordings. The Logitech camera also offers a solid 78-degree field of view, which is about average for our test pool in terms of covering most of the room. In our tests, the C920 took up most of the room. While the viewing angle was generally similar to that of our MacBook Pro’s built-in webcam, the improvement in clarity and detail was immediately noticeable.

In natural light, the Logitech C920 delivered sharp, realistic images. The only downside is that our faces were sometimes a bit blurry in bright sunlight – a problem not unique to the Logitech camera. Fortunately, the C920 also performed well in low-light conditions, thanks to the built-in RightLight 2 technology that automatically adjusts to the light conditions in the room. Our low-light photos were definitely grainy, but still brighter and warmer than many of our competitors in similar lighting conditions.

In terms of design, the C920 has a sleek, unobtrusive design that will fit into any home office without being too obtrusive. Its flexible clip allows it to be attached just as easily to a computer monitor as to a laptop screen, and it can be mounted on virtually any tripod. If you choose the C920S model we tested, you also get a protective plastic curtain that covers the camera when not in use.

We generally recommend a separate microphone for calls, but the C920’s built-in dual microphone is sufficient if you need it. Although our voice sounded a little fuzzy and distorted when we recorded it, it was still loud and clear enough for everyday conversations. However, our MacBook’s built-in microphone sounds much cleaner, which was a common theme in our test – even the highest quality cameras we used had unsatisfactory sound.

The Logitech C920 also uses Logitech’s Capture software, which offers many interesting and useful options for customizing the look of the device and taking photos and videos. You can fine-tune focus and white balance, adjust settings like brightness and contrast, and manually zoom in when you want a sharper picture.

Streamers can use the chroma button option to mute the background when using a green screen, and you can apply different filters, text overlays and frames to capture custom videos. If the C920 works well right out of the box, Logitech Capture is a user-friendly, easy-to-use program for adjusting image quality and an affordable way for inexperienced YouTubers to record some quick videos.

When you consider that you get all of this for only $69.99, the Logitech C920 is a great choice for anyone who needs a reliable webcam that will give you a clear and professional image on conference calls. One small note: Oddly, the retail price of the Logitech C920S ($69), which includes a privacy shutter, is lower than the standard C920 ($79), even though both variants have the same camera. So definitely buy the C920S – you get more for less.

Mike Andronico/NCC.

A quick statistic:

  • Video quality: Up to 720p at 30 frames per second
  • Field of view: 68.5 degrees
  • Works with : Windows, Mac
  • Warranty: 3 years

If you’re looking for an inexpensive webcam to look presentable during your daily zoom meetings and spend as little money as possible, the Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000 is hard to beat.

The HD-3000 is one of the smallest webcams we’ve tested, with a lightweight and flexible design that seems especially ideal for work on the go. The flexible rubber mounting clip makes it easy to attach to your monitor and laptop, and the small rectangular frame won’t distract you when you’re working on important stuff. This compact design has one drawback: unlike many webcams we’ve tested, the LifeCam HD-3000 can’t be mounted on a tripod.

Microsoft’s camera shoots 720p video at 30 frames per second, and while it doesn’t offer clearer 1080p resolutions than more expensive webcams, it still produced high-quality photos and videos in our tests. The LifeCam HD-3000 gave us a warm, almost realistic image in bright natural light and recorded smooth video at 30 frames per second. Images shot with the HD-3000 appear noticeably darker in low light, but retain an impressive level of detail and color accuracy.

But where the LifeCam HD-3000 really stands out from its main budget competitor – the equally excellent Logitech C310 – is the viewing angle. The webcam’s 68.5-degree viewing angle covered most of our small room, while the C310’s 60-degree viewing angle allowed us to cover our face and little else.

Of course, such a cheap webcam also has some drawbacks. The LifeCam HD-3000 has no accompanying software, so what you see is what you get in terms of camera quality. The built-in microphone was also inadequate, recording our voice at low volume and producing a constant hum that could be annoying during meetings. This is not a problem – just make sure you use your laptop’s built-in microphone or a dedicated microphone.

Despite these drawbacks, the Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000 is an excellent buy and will at least significantly improve the quality of most laptop webcams. This is the cheapest webcam we tested, with an affordable retail price of $39.99 that often drops to $30 or less.

Mike Andronico/NCC.

A quick statistic:

  • Video quality: Up to 1080p at 60 frames per second
  • Field of view: 78 degrees
  • Works with : Windows, Mac
  • Warranty : 1 year

As the name suggests, the Logitech StreamCam is designed for enthusiasts who are serious about their gaming on Twitch or YouTube. But it is also an excellent all-round webcam with a unique trick that no other camera in our test panel managed to pull off.

StreamCam can record video in 1080p resolution at 60 frames per second, which means you don’t have to compromise on detail and vice versa. Logitech’s premium webcam produces the silkiest, most lifelike video of any webcams we’ve tested and offers rich, accurate color. The StreamCam also had one of the best autofocuses of any camera we tried. She quickly recognized our faces and produced a clear, sharp image every time we streamed on Twitch or participated in a conference call. However, it is a bit of a failure in low light. So you should consider external lighting if you want to integrate it into your power system.

StreamCam has the unique ability to switch between landscape and portrait mode, making it ideal for capturing high-quality videos for mobile platforms like TikTok and Instagram. Switching between modes is no problem either: simply remove the StreamCam from the mount, position it vertically and it will automatically align to record 9:16 portrait video that looks great on mobile phones. And if you can’t get the right angle of your monitor or laptop screen, StreamCam offers full support for tripod mounting.

StreamCam is not only easy to set up, but it is also a clear winner when it comes to looks (at least if a cool looking webcam is important to you). The Logitech camera has an attractive plastic and mesh design and is available in graphite and white, so you can choose the model that best suits the mood of your playroom or video studio. The StreamCam also has one of the best built-in microphones among the webcams we’ve tested, offering good volume and clarity at the cost of low echo.

With Logitech Capture, the StreamCam has access to the same configuration features as the C920, plus a few extra tricks. In addition to the ability to adjust color, brightness, and sharpness, StreamCam owners can take advantage of features like image stabilization (in case you accidentally bump into a table) and auto-cropping (which follows your head to keep you in the picture). There’s also a handy option to correct the backlight if you’re drowned out by the light behind you, and the ability to switch between mono and stereo sound.

The Logitech StreamCam may be a $169 investment, but its exceptional flexibility makes it one of the best webcams for streaming video games, making fun YouTube videos, and even recording for TikTok.

Mike Andronico/NCC.

A quick statistic:

  • Video quality: Up to 1080p at 60 frames per second
  • Field of view: 103 degrees
  • Works with : Windows (full software support), Mac (partial)
  • Warranty : 1 year

If you want to invest in a camera that makes you look good in any light, the Razer Kiyo Pro is one of the best high-end options.

Like StreamCam, Kiyo Pro can also record clear 1080p video at 60 frames per second. The result is always great photos and videos with high brightness, rich colors and smooth frame rates. It’s also possible to enable HDR (High Dynamic Range) at 30 frames per second, which allows for significantly richer colors if you’re willing to sacrifice a higher frame rate. It also offers a wide field of view of up to 103 degrees, making it ideal for small-group conversations during office meetings.

But where the Kiyo Pro really shines is with its adaptive light sensor, which easily took the best low-light photos of any camera we tested. The advanced Kiyo Pro lens uses the same STARVIS technology used in some surveillance cameras to deliver clear, sharp images, even in the dark. Photos and videos, no matter how bright your room is.

The photos taken with the Kiyo Pro in low light were impressively realistic, as the camera was able to accurately capture our skin tone, facial hair and bright yellow shirt, even in minimal natural light. Only the Logitech Brio ($199) comes close in this area, but we prefer the warmer, less overexposed shots we took with the Kiyo Pro in low light.

The Kiyo Pro is one of the most impressive webcams we’ve tested, with a 360-degree rotating lens and a tripod mount. You also get a protective cover against prying eyes, which adds value to the high price. Just know that this device is almost comically large if you appreciate subtlety.

The Razer Synapse 3 software allows you to customize the Kiyo Pro to your needs. You can adjust settings like brightness, contrast and saturation manually, or switch between ready-made profiles like cool, bright and warm. If you really want to add the finishing touches, you can also play around with features like zoom, pan and tilt to get the perfect shot for your stream.

Synapse isn’t as robust as Logitech’s recording software, but it does make it easy to customize the look of the camera, and the built-in profiles are a nice touch. Small but important drawback: the latest Synapse software only works on Windows. This means that you cannot tune Kiyo Pro’s video output on a Mac.

Talk about disadvantages: The Kiyo Pro has one of the weakest built-in microphones we’ve tested. Although it picked up our voice with decent clarity, the volume was too low to be reliable for video calls or Twitch streams. As mentioned earlier, it is not advisable to rely on the built-in microphone of a webcam. Kiyo Pro is intended for those who likely already have or plan to purchase a high-quality USB microphone for their setup.

All nuances aside, the Kiyo Pro offers a lot for its hefty $199 price tag, especially when you consider that its superior adaptive light sensor can eliminate the need to purchase an external light. If you want to look good when streaming on Twitch or giving an important online presentation, you get great video quality for your money.

We tested each of these webcams in a combination of daily use and formal comparisons. To assess image quality, we used Open Broadcaster software to take photos and videos of each webcam under different lighting conditions, including natural light and low light. To evaluate each webcam’s built-in microphone, we used Audacity to record and compare clips of our voice in each camera.

For webcams with associated software, we downloaded the respective program and tried all the basic settings and functions. We also connected each webcam to a MacBook Pro and a Windows 10 PC to make sure it worked properly with both operating systems.

We used these webcams in our daily lives, for video calls on platforms like Webex and Discord, and for streaming on Twitch. Finally, we evaluated factors such as the ease with which each camera can be mounted on different surfaces and the availability of useful accessories.

Here’s a breakdown of the categories and sub-categories we reviewed these webcams for.

  • Image quality with a maximum of 50 points : Video quality and frame rate (20 points), resolution and angle of view (10 points), colour and brightness (10 points), auto focus (20 points)
  • Software and features – up to 20 points : Software (10 points) and compatibility (10 points)
  • The design receives a maximum of 10 points: Design (5 points), mounting options and accessories (5 points)
  • The quality of the microphone was evaluated on up to 10 points: Total (10 points)
  • The guarantee received a maximum of 10 points: Total (10 points)

Logitech C310 ($36, initially $49;


The Logitech C310 is a very serious contender for the budget crown, with excellent picture and sound quality for the price. However, the LifeCam HD-3000 has the advantage due to its superior field of view and even lower price.

Razer Kiyo ($99;


The Razer Kiyo is the only full-size webcam with a built-in ring light, which is handy for getting good lighting without an external device. However, the basic 720p picture quality is inferior to similarly priced competitors.

Logitech C922 ($99;


The Logitech C922 is a slightly improved version of our top pick, the Logitech C920, and offers a higher maximum frame rate of 60 frames per second, three months of XSplit Premium streaming software, and an included tripod. These benefits are great for broadcasters, but most people will be satisfied with the cheaper C920.

Ausdom AF640 ($88, originally $99;


This popular, name-brand competitor from Logitech did surprisingly well in our tests. It offers good picture quality for its price and a very flexible design that can rotate 360 degrees. But the photos were often too blurry, especially in low light.

Microsoft LifeCam Studio ($64, initially $99;


Microsoft’s mid-range webcam takes reasonably detailed photos and videos at 1080p resolution, and even comes with a handy carrying case for use on the go. But for that price, you can get brighter, higher quality, more versatile webcams.

Logitech C930e ($129;


The Logitech C930e took some of the best photos of all the webcams we tested, and its wide 90-degree viewing angle is perfect for small meeting rooms. However, the relatively high price and niche nature make it difficult to reach non-commercial users.

Logitech Brio ($183, originally $199;


The Logitech Brio camera took one of the top spots in our test because it can take big, sharp photos and even record 4K video. However, the feature set and price are a bit excessive for the average user, and for this price point we prefer the more practical adaptive lighting features of the Razer Kiyo Pro.

Read the rest of the CNN Underscored practice test:

This source has been very much helpful in doing our research. Read more about best webcam with privacy shutter and let us know what you think.

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