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 Anything less than this is out of date and images may shake and vibrate. For the smoothest video possible, look for a webcam that supports 60 fps recording. These are becoming more common, and the increase will look better on modern monitors.

Resolution

Many webcams have 720p and 1080p high-definition capabilities. On the high end, you'll find 4k webcams, but they come with a premium price tag. You'll need an HD-capable monitor to see 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

Autofocus

Autofocus works by automatically focusing the subject while it moves around. Although this can be an invaluable feature, it can also slow things up while the camera takes the time to focus. Some webcams allow this feature to be turned off.

Microphone

Check if the webcam has a built-in microphone. How strong of a mic you require depends on the type of video. Most video chatting (such as Skype) can be done adequately with a webcam's built-in mic. Check for features such as dual microphones and omnidirectional mics that record audio from every direction.

High-quality recording for webisodes or other higher-tech films requires an upgrade. For those situations, 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 has a glass lens while a moderately priced model has a plastic lens. As with microphones, whether this difference matters depends on the type of recording you'll be doing. Most plastic lenses are adequate for Skype and other video chat software. For professional video production, invest in a glass lens.

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 clips to your monitor? Will you need a rotating head, or will you remain stationary while filming? When choosing a webcam, decide 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, but an all-metal construction will hold up longer if you travel with your webcam.