7 Important Webcam Features

Look for these features to get the best webcam possible

An IP webcam perched on top of a television

 Tetra Images/Getty Images

Here are seven details to pay attention to when shopping for a webcam.

Frame Rate

A decent webcam will have at least a 30 frames per second (fps) frame rate. Anything less than this is just out of date and can result in juddering images.

For the smoothest video possible, look for a webcam that supports 60 fps recording. They're becoming much more common, and the increase will look much better on modern monitors.

Resolution

Many webcams now have 720p and 1080p high-definition capabilities. On the really high end, you can even find 4k webcams, but they come with a premium price tag. What's important to note is that you will need an HD-capable monitor in order to witness the true high definition. That shouldn't be a challenge for 1080p and below, but 4k monitors still aren't too common.

Available Resolutions on a Webcam

Most webcams are also now able to capture still images, and the capabilities of this function can be determined by the number of megapixels the model promises to capture. As with standard digital cameras, however, the quality of an image is affected by more than just megapixels.

Autofocus

Autofocus works by automatically focusing the subject while it moves around. Although this can be an invaluable feature, it can also hang things up while the camera takes the time to focus. Some webcams allow this feature to be turned off -- a handy option should you need it.

Microphone

Check if the webcam has a built-in microphone. How strong of a mic you require will depend on the type of videoing you'll be doing. Most video chatting (such as Skype) can be done adequately with a webcam's built-in mic. Webcam microphones have advanced quite a bit in recent years. Check for features like dual microphones and omnidirectional mics that can record audio from every direction.

Seriously high-quality recording for webisodes or other higher-tech films will still require an upgrade. For those situations, you may want to invest in an external microphone.

Video Effects

Do you like to use avatars or special backgrounds while recording? Some models come with software that allows you to get silly with your filmmaking.

Lens

A high-end webcam will have a glass lens while a more moderately priced model will have a plastic lens. As with microphones, whether this difference matters will depend on the type of recording you'll be doing. Most plastic lenses are perfectly adequate for Skype and other video chat software. For more professional video production, consider investing in glass.

Camera Lens
 Pixabay

Construction

Are you using a laptop or a desktop computer? Do you have a lot of space on your desk, or will you need something that can clip to your monitor? Will you need a rotating head, or do you plan to remain stationary while filming? When choosing a webcam, you will need to decide just how much maneuverability you require from the body and lens.

Another factor to consider is the durability of the webcam A plastic webcam may be fine if you don't plan to tote it around with you, but an all-metal construction will hold up longer for travelers.