This article was last updated by Digital Trends computing editor Luke Larsen on September 4, 2020.
Laptop webcams suck. If you’re stuck doing Zoom calls or web conferencing from your home, you’ll need a decent external webcam.
The is the best choice. It’s affordable and provides crisp image quality. If you need a higher resolution or a streaming-specific option, check the full list below.
The best webcams at a glance:
Why should you buy this: It’s a solid 1080p webcam at a decent price.
Who’s it for: It’s perfect for work-from-home employees.
Why we picked the Logitech C920S:
Logitech’s C920S is a solid camera for a decent price. It supports a 1,920 × 1,080 resolution (at 30 frames per second) during Skype or Zoom calls. Meanwhile, it can do 1,280 × 720 resolution while using Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, and more. If you’re simply recording video, you can take advantage of the higher Full HD resolution. Images, however, are captured using a “natural” 3-megapixel resolution or are “software enhanced” up to 15 megapixels.
These abilities are facilitated by an excellent glass lens backed by 20-step autofocus, automatic low-light correction, two integrated microphones with automatic noise cancellation, and a 78-degree field of view. If you’re worried about cam privacy, there’s a physical shutter you can flip down when the cam isn’t used.
Logitech’s downloadable software for Windows includes face tracking, motion detection, controls for pan, tilt, and zoom, and controls for capturing video and photos. It doesn’t filter out your background, but there are plenty of other settings to adjust.
Why should you buy this: It provides crisp, high-quality web conferencing.
Who’s it for: Anyone doing professional recordings or high-end web conferences.
Why we picked the Logitech Brio:
If you’re looking for a 4K solution, the Logitech Brio is the camera for you. It supports three resolutions for video calling: 2,160p (30fps), 1,080p (30/60fps), and 720p (30/60/90fps). It also provides a default field of view of 90 degrees, but you can adjust the camera to 65 and 78 degrees using Logitech’s software.
As for other features, the camera provides a 5x digital zoom when using the Full HD resolution, an image resolution of up to 9MP, auto-focus, an external “privacy” shutter, and built-in omnidirectional microphones with noise cancellation. You can mount the camera on a desktop monitor, laptop screen, or use the universal clip to mount the device on a tripod.
Outside the camera’s Ultra HD resolution, it includes a feature called RightLight 3, which relies on High Dynamic Range technology to provide the best image, whether you’re sitting in a low-light office, in a high contrast area, or direct sunlight. The camera supports Windows Hello facial recognition too.
Why should you buy this: It locks in well with professional conferencing ecosystems.
Who’s it for: Business professionals.
Why we picked the Logitech C930e:
The Logitech C930E is a “certified” product optimized for Skype for Business and Cisco Jabber. According to Logitech, the camera also provides “enhanced integrations” with other business-class communication software such as Zoom, BlueJeans, Lifesize, and several other solutions.
On a hardware level, the camera supports video calling at 1080p and 720p resolutions, a field of view at 90 degrees, and 4x digital zoom in 1080p mode. It relies on the H.264 codec for video compression and RightLight 2 technology to produce the best visuals in low light, high contrast, and direct sunlight conditions. It’s backed by two integrated omnidirectional microphones.
Other notable features include an external privacy shutter, a universal clip for mounting the camera, and compatibility with software that supports UVC 1.5 video encoding for businesses that don’t allow third-party drivers installed on their PCs.
Why should you buy this: It’s a webcam with the specific gaming features streamers need.
Who’s it for: Gamers for livestreams.
Why we picked the Logitech C922 Pro Stream Webcam:
Let’s face it: You can’t use just any webcam for your broadcasts. It not only needs a high resolution and great microphones, but it also needs to support background replacement so all your viewers see is the gameplay and your mugshot. The C922 Pro Stream Webcam does just that for a decent price.
For gamers, it’s optimized for the XSplit and Open Broadcaster Software solutions. It provides 1,080 x 720 (at 30 fps) and 1,280 x 720 (at 60 fps) resolutions. These are backed by 20-step autofocus, a field-of-view of 78 degrees, two integrated omnidirectional microphones, and automatic low-light correction. It even includes a tabletop tripod if you don’t want to mount the camera on your screen.
Most stream management features are handled through the Logitech Gaming Software desktop client, such as setting the zoom, white balance, gain, exposure, and so on. The cam does integrate Chromacam technology for its background replacement options, or you can simply run it independently. This camera does not include a privacy shutter.
Why should you buy this: It’s a webcam with built-in lighting.
Who’s it for: Anyone doing streaming that needs better lighting.
Why we picked the Razer Kiyo:
As a mere webcam, the Razer Kiyo impresses. It offers up to 1080p resolution at 30 fps and an autofocus component that comes in handy when moving closer to the cam or adjusting its position. The Kiyo is also compatible with Streamlabs tools, OBS, XSplit, and other popular platforms for customizing your streaming setup just the way you like.
But the real draw here is the light ring circling the webcam to provide extra illumination. The 5600K light is easily adjustable via the bezel — simply twist it like adjusting a camera lens — to control the brightness levels. It’s designed to work well in low-light settings when necessary.
Razer’s Kiyo is an ideal choice for cosmetics streaming given you need top-quality illumination around your face to stream high-quality content. It also works well for any detailed streaming where you plan to show product details close to the webcam for unboxings, technical instructions, etc.