Cameras for webcams

With so many of us now using webcams for calls on Zoom, Skype and Teams the issue of improving the camera image (and making ourselves look better) is becoming more important. And while some of the upcoming blogs will concentrate on other aspects of better webcams, such as  good lighting, sorting out the background, what to wear on camera etc – this blog will specifically focus on getting a better camera image.
There is no doubt that for a better webcam image you need to start with a good quality webcam, and usually this means not using the camera that is fixed to your computer but to buy yourself a HD webcam that will work at either 720 or 1080 resolution. There are many brands on the market and nearly all of them will be compatible with operating systems on both Mac and PC and will range in price from £50 upwards for a good camera. Do your research and look for impartial reviews, check the camera is compatible with your specific computer – then take the plunge. Most off-the-shelf webcams will come with a clip to allow you to move the camera around to get a more flattering angle and as a rule you want the camera to be positioned at least in-line with your eyes and possible slightly above.
Cameras for webcams 2
Cameras for webcams 1
Once you have invested in a new webcam and plugged it in the next thing to do is to go into your computer preferences and make sure you have the right settings enabled to get the best out of the camera. The way to do this will vary depending on your computer but always make sure the  HD function is turned on (some computers default to SD) and also make sure your computer automatically switches to your new camera and not the built in one. And finally always remember that if you use a service such as Zoom or Skype then open up the preferences for each one and double check that the video settings are set as high as possible before you join an online video call. Often online web services will automatically default to a lower-resolution than your new camera is capable of giving you unless you go into the preferences and change them manually. TIP: Currently Zoom only allows users to select HD webcam if you are a ‘Pro’ user and then it will only work with two people on the web-call. More than two and it will scale you down to SD to save on bandwidth. In time this will probably change but it is still worth investing in a HD webcam as picture quality is only going to improve in the future.
Once you have a good quality webcam up and running you will then need to look at some of the other aspects of improving your video such as arranging your background, better lighting or sound –  and we will look at these in future blogs.