Selecting a webcam for live streaming

Selecting a webcam for live streaming

During our last article, we reviewed many of the different meeting and webinar platforms that people use to expand the reach of their message online. Before we can continue the journey of how to share your message online, we need to discuss what equipment you need to come across looking like a pro. In this article, we are going to break down the first of three important topics you should consider when getting started recording video and going live online.

  1. Camera
  2. Lighting
  3. Microphone

Over the past couple of years, I have spent a lot of money on equipment that I thought would be good enough, only to discover that good enough never met up to my expectations.  Fortunately, those experiences have provided me the opportunity to help save you both time and money.

Camera. We all have watched YouTube videos that suffer from poor video quality, and quickly switch to a different video. If you are just getting started, you are likely trying to avoid making the same mistakes. Below, we discuss the differences between internal and external cameras.

Integrated webcam. Depending on your preference between laptops and desktops, you may already have a web camera integrated in your current setup. While a built-in webcam will handle the task at hand, you may still wish to upgrade your gear to something external and easier to use.

For example, the model of Dell laptop that I currently use decided to place their webcam in a very awkward location, making it nearly impossible to use for a live stream event. With the webcam located so close to the keyboard, I would need to use a wireless keyboard and mouse to avoid seeing my fingers in the video all the time, and I would need to prop the laptop up on boxes to raise the camera to be at eye level. Instead of fighting with the limitations caused by built-in webcams, I would suggest purchasing an external USB webcam.

USB Webcam

Logitech C922x: $99

This webcam has been very reliable for me for the past couple years, which is why I purchased one for each of our team members to use. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, this product is in high demand and pricing has increased on sites like Amazon. Your best bet is to go straight to the Logitech website and buy it directly, or check your local Staples or Office Depot stores.

One of things I like best about this camera is the ability to attach it to a tripod mount, or to position it right above any monitor on your desk. The goal is to get the camera as close to eye level, so you always look like you are staring into the camera, even if you are watching the monitor instead. If you can’t manage to get the camera right at eye level, just remember to occasionally look directly into the camera, so that the person on the other end of the video call feels like you are looking right at them!

An additional benefit of this Logitech web camera is its dual microphone system. This advanced microphone will dramatically improve the quality of your audio, but we will cover that in our next section.

DSLR Camera – Camera + Video Capture Card: $400+

If you really want to take your video quality to the next level, you may want to invest in a DSLR Camera like the Cannon Rebel T7 ($399.00+). This method is much more expensive, and requires additional parts to be able to use the camera for live streams, but it also has the sharpest picture quality.

Not all DSLR cameras are created equal, though, and you will want to look for the following features, while buying, to make your recording process is more efficient and enjoyable.

  • Power options: If you plan to use your camera as a webcam, you need to consider how it will be powered throughout the day. This usually leaves you with two options: batteries with a charger, or a battery adaptor that can be plugged in all day and stay charged.
  • Clean HDMI output: While the term may sound obvious, you will be surprised to learn that not all cameras have this. A Clean HDMI output means that you can remove all the on-screen details, such as battery power and ISO settings, and record or display a video signal clear of any of that information.
  • Smart app: This year, Cannon revolutionized the camera industry by introducing “EOS Webcam Utility,” which allows any Windows 10 computer to recognize the camera as a webcam, without purchasing additional equipment, such as a video capture card. 

Elgato Cam Link 4k: $149

The Elgato brand has quickly become the go-to resource for gamers and live streamers. The Elgato Cam Link offers a way for people to import an HDMI signal into their computer. If your camera does not offer a smart app to display your video on your computer, this little adaptor will allow you to quickly plug into any USB 3.0 port and connect your HDMI cable.

As you can see, there are many different options to choose from when purchasing a webcam for your setup. While a quality camera is extremely important for great video, the extra money you spend can’t make up for a poorly lit environment. Be sure to check out our next chapter, where we discuss the different types of lighting available to make your video shine like the pros!