The best webcams became a must-have at the start of this year, and have only become more essential now that working and learning from home is the new normal. These cameras are critical for communicating easily during important work calls, and an essential part of any aspiring YouTuber or Twitch streamer's toolkit.
Even if your laptop has a built-in camera, you'll want a dedicated webcam for showing up clearly during conference calls. And if you're a content creator, there are several high-end models that will allow you to capture in 4K or broadcast at a smooth 60 frames per second.
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Better yet, some of the best webcams offer a variety of neat software customization options. This includes the ability to change your picture quality on the fly, add fun filters or even eliminate your background with a virtual green-screen effect.
The sheer amount of webcam options out there can be overwhelming, and there's a big difference between an affordable camera and one that's just cheap. So here are our picks for the best webcams you can buy right now, as well as some tips on what to look for when adding a webcam to your setup.
Black Friday 2020 deals on webcams
We're expecting plenty of Black Friday deals on our favorite webcams, and you won't have to wait until the end of November to get them. Many retailers are starting their sales events early, so be sure to check back frequently for the latest discounts on top models.
What are the best webcams right now?
Our pick for the best webcam overall is the Logitech C920, which offers crisp 1080p video at 30 frames per second. The C920 also features dependable dual microphones for capturing your voice, and a flexible design that’s ideal for laptops, monitors and tripods. If you need better quality, the Logitech C922 Pro Stream packs 60 frame-per-second video and automatic background removal into the same sleek and versatile design.
The Logitech C310 is a popular budget option that records at 720p, as is the Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000. If you’re looking for the best webcam for content creation, the Razer Kiyo is a great choice that features a built-in ring light that helps illuminate your face while you stream.
We’re also big fans of the Logitech Streamcam, which delivers smooth 60 frame-per-second video capture for streamers and YouTubers and has a variety of advanced software customization features. And if you want 4K, we recommend seeking out the higher-resolution Logitech Brio.
It’s worth noting that webcams are in incredibly high-demand right now, so the best webcam for you right now just might be the one that major retailers are still carrying.
The best webcams to buy today
There’s a reason you’ve probably seen the Logitech C920 in just about any conference room -- this is the best webcam you can buy overall. The C920 records sharp videos at 1080p and 30 frames per second, and has a wide 78-degree field of view that’s ideal for both solo conference calls and large meeting rooms. Its sleek black design is equally ideal for clipping to displays or attaching to tripods, and its companion software offers customizable backgrounds and avatars.
If you need something higher-end for gaming, the Logitech C922 Pro Stream webcam is an enhanced version of the C920 that touts 60fps video recording at 720p. But if you’re just seeking the best overall quality for video calls, the Logitech C920 is the way to go.
A popular affordable option, the Logitech C310 offers solid 720p picture quality within a simple design that should mount just fine on most monitors and laptop screens. The C310 can automatically adjust to lighting conditions to get the best possible picture, and with the included Logitech Webcam Software, you can use it to customize the frame or set the webcam up as a motion detector. You’ll have to spring for something more expensive if you want 1080p video or tripod mounting options, but if all you need is a solid camera for everyday video calls, the C310 is one of the best webcams for most people.
One of the best webcams under $50, the Microsoft Lifecam HD-300 offers 720p video recording for everyday video calls and group chats. The camera is enhanced by Microsoft’s LifeCam software, which offers a variety of filters and effects for customizing your look as well as options for customizing the default resolution. You can also use the app to easily capture photos and videos to your hard drive or share them to social media. The LifeCam HD-3000 is Skype certified, which is worth keeping in mind if you primarily use Microsoft’s online chat app to stay connected.
If you’re a serious streamer or avid content creator, the Logitech StreamCam is one of the best webcams you can buy. This high-end webcam records at 1080p at a smooth 60 frames per second, making it ideal for Twitch streams and high-quality YouTube videos. The StreamCam has the unique ability to be mounted in both landscape or portrait modes, so you can use the latter orientation to shoot content for platforms like Instagram and TikTok. This excellent streaming webcam offers a high-speed USB-C connection, a variety of mounting options and 3 months of XSplit Premium streaming software. Its refreshingly attractive design, which comes in white and charcoal, is also a great touch.
Good lighting can mean the difference between a dark, blurry image and a bright and clear one, and the Razer Kiyo packs an elegant built-in solution to this problem. Built for gamers but ideal for any setting, the Kiyo features an integrated ring light that helps illuminate your face as you hop on video calls or broadcast games online. This webcam can record at 30 frames per second at a crisp 1080p or a smoother 60 fps at 720p, making it one of the best webcams for gamers and serious content creators. The Kiyo is on the pricier side of things, but if you find yourself working in low-light environments and don’t want to purchase an external light, it’s well worth the investment.
If you’re looking for the highest video quality you can get from a webcam, the Logitech Brio is among the best in its class. This premium webcam allows for 4K ultra video recording at 30 fps or 1080p video at 30 fps, making it ideal for professional-grade Twitch streams or crystal-clear conference calls.
The Brio supports up to 5x HD zoom, allowing you to zoom in on yourself and crop out unwanted background fodder while maintaining sharp image quality. And thanks to the cameras RightLight 3 and HDR support, you’ll look highly visible even in less than ideal lighting conditions. Whether you’re a content creator that’s looking to make polished video or simply want to be seen as clearly as possible, the Brio Ultra HD is hard to top in this price range.
How to choose the best webcam for you
When looking for the best webcam, you should consider a few key factors including resolution, framerate and price. If all you’re doing is a few daily video calls, a 720p camera that records at 30 frames per second will do the trick just fine. Entry-level cameras such as the Logitech C310 and Microsoft Lifecam HD-3000 are ideal for this use case.
If you’re using your webcam for content creation on platforms such as YouTube, Twitch and Facebook Gaming, you should aim to get a webcam that shoots in 1080p. Many top webcams such as the Logitech C920 and Razer Kiyo shoot at 1080p at 30 frames per second. But if you want the most immersive quality for streams and videos, you should go for a camera that can handle 1080p at 60 fps, such as the Logitech StreamCam.
It’s also worth considering any special features a webcam has. The Razer Kiyo has a built-in ring light, making it ideal for folks who are recording in low-light rooms and don’t have a separate light handy. Logitech cameras generally have robust software options for customizing your shots, and the StreamCam can shoot in both landscape and portrait modes, which is worth considering if you’re shooting video for mobile consumption.
Can't find the best webcams?
Webcams are still in incredibly high demand, and many of the best options out there have been rapidly going in and out of stock. Fortunately, there are some alternative options to consider if you can't find a webcam.
There are multiple ways to use your phone as a webcam, thanks to third-party software that syncs your smartphone to your PC. Check out our guide on how to use your phone as a webcam for more.
Sony also recently released a special new Imaging Edge application for Windows that allows you to use dozens of the company's cameras as a webcam for conferencing and livestreaming. These include the Alpha 9 II, Alpha 6600 and RX series.