There is hardly a computer that does not have a built-in webcam. The same, of course, applies to mobile phones and tablets, but the requirements are slightly different. In a computer, you should have the best possible image of the person sitting in front of the screen. In mobile phones and tablets, the front camera should also be able to be used to take high-resolution selfies. It requires a much higher resolution than a webcam needs. But there are exceptions.
In the past year, many of us have established our offices at home. The requirement to be able to video call has exploded. We Zoom, Teams and Webexer use Whereby, Pexip and other software.
In the first wave of home office sales of webcams increased 500 percent. It sold out quickly at first, and sales are still high.
for the big screen
Many people soon realized that sitting at home at their laptop wasn’t entirely ideal. It would have been better to connect it to a larger screen with a keyboard and mouse. At the time, a computer’s built-in webcam wasn’t very useful. If you are going to use it from the side or under the big screen, the photo you sent will not be very personal. It’s best to put the picture of the person you’re talking to as close to the camera as possible. Then it’s like eye contact, even if you don’t see directly into the camera.
Most webcams are meant to shoot you alone. But there are more and more who are also designed for small meeting rooms and who can shoot on a larger area.
What does a good webcam do? Of course a good picture. Whether the camera needs a microphone is a matter of taste. Sound is always better for you and those you talk to if you use a headset. Contrary to many people’s beliefs, sound is always better with a cheap wired headset than with an expensive Bluetooth headset. This device must take the audio stream and compress it before sending it, then decompose it on the other side. Both require a processor, result in slight delays and reduce quality.
Another tip is to use a headphone with an acoustic barrier. The microphone, of which there may be several, should be near the mouth.
How much resolution do you really need for video communication? If all else is correct, it will be kept at 720p, but most have 1080p or more. There are some limitations under the hood that are good to know. Depending on the platform you’re using, whether it’s a separate program like Zoom and Teams or a web app like Whereby or Google Meet, both computing power and a good network are required.
When you see yourself on video, you look at the image that the camera produces. This is not the image that the interviewer sees. While watching the video stream directly from the camera, you see – or they – the image that went through the “video mill”. Here you rely on communication on both sides. Participants often sit on a wireless connection and have computers with slightly different processor performance. The most stressful thing is not to process and send the video stream, although it is usually transmitted in three different resolutions, so that the receiver can choose the best compromise. The most demanding thing is receiving, unpacking and serving several video streams.
Then your image can be somewhat reduced compared to what you think others see.
Is there a big difference between the different cameras? The image from the camera is processed and compressed before being sent. Yes sure. We were actually surprised at how much difference there is. The image sensor itself and the electronics in the camera have a very big impact on what appears. The better the starting point, the better the end result, even if everything is presented at the end with the same precision.
It is possible to connect to a higher resolution, such as 1080p, but it costs more. The best thing then is to have a point-to-point conversation that doesn’t revolve around the server, but limits the number of people you can talk to at a time.
Most of these cameras look straight ahead and cannot zoom in. This means that what the sensor sees is what the receiver gets. If you have a higher resolution, some cameras can take advantage of some sort of zoom function by extracting a section on the larger sensor. The Norwegian-made Huddly camera is remarkable in this respect. It has a 12MP sensor that allows you to digitally zoom in and move the image around the sensor without the resolution being less than 720p. The Logitech 4K Brio Camera has a similar advantage.
- We have used Whereby developed by Norwegian as a testing platform. Here it was easy to choose between which cameras were connected to the USB hub. Also, we can choose the resolution of different cameras.
- We tested the cameras, apart from HP’s built-in cameras – which stopped at 720p, with a resolution of up to 1080p.
- Some cameras, especially the Huddly, sent clearer, higher-resolution images. It may be fine when you talk 1:1, but in meetings with many participants it is often a waste of time.
This is a “mini” conference room camera in the form of a compact and practical block that is easy to hang on top of a monitor. The camera and software is made in Norway and comes with a small app that makes it possible to place clips in up to 1080p resolution on a large 12MP sensor. The sensor has a wide angle of 120 degrees horizontally. It allows a great deal of flexibility in how the section is placed on the sensor. The camera has a built-in processor that uses artificial intelligence to adjust lighting conditions and filter noise.
The Huddly One is the most expensive camera in the test, but it’s also the best and most flexible. The application that allows you to zoom in and adjust the image is very good.
The lowest price in the price guide is 4,070 kroner.
Logitech Brio Ultra HD Pro Webcam
This is Logitech 4K, the camera we had high hopes for. The camera comes with comprehensive software that allows you to zoom in and adjust the image. It can actually be somewhat of a good thing, and Logitech should take a look at how Huddly elegantly solved it. The camera has a field of view of up to 90 degrees. The picture will be fine, but not quite as good as Huddly. Still: This costs half, and if the budget doesn’t allow Huddly, this is the best option.
The lowest price in the price guide is 1,920 kr.
eMeet C980 Pro HD Camera
This rather large camera is a complete system with four so-called AI microphones, two speakers and a 1080p camera that looks 90 degrees forward. Basically impressive product, but then there were the pictures. They didn’t quite keep the goals. You won’t be the prettiest version of yourself with this.
It seems as if the camera has a very large contrast, so, among other things, the grooves in the face are very exaggerated. It would have been nice if a program was developed that could modify it.
The lowest price in the price guide is 1099 kr.
Sandberg Streamer USB Webcam Pro
This camera is special because it has a chandelier around the lens that lights up the user. Without seeing any difference. The camera has a 2-megapixel sensor and a not too wide angle of 80 degrees. It has two built-in microphones and is claimed to have automatic light correction. Unfortunately, as the only camera, it gives off a strong yellow finish. Regardless of the lighting conditions in the room. If not everything turns yellow, one can suspect that you have jaundice.
The lowest price in the price guide is NOK 621.
Sandberg Motion Tracking 1080P Webcam
Sandberg’s other camera is a really cheap camera that stands on a tripod. It follows your movements in that the top of the small “barrel” that houses the camera itself, rotates back and forth up to 270 degrees. Funny, but not particularly useful. In addition, this is a camera that will see you from the bottom up, after which it can easily stand in the way of the big screen. Despite this, it takes decent photos with a wide angle of 110 degrees.
The lowest price in the price guide is NOK 746.
HP Dragonfly Gen 2
For testing, we used the new HP Dragonfly Gen 2, which has a built-in camera. Admittedly, it’s only 720p, but it gives a good result. The problem, of course, is that it’s okay as long as you’re only working on your computer, but not when you’re on a bigger screen. Then it gives a bottom-up picture unless you have your computer on a pile of books.
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