It doesn't matter if you're video conferencing with coworkers, chatting with family members, or connecting with a streaming audience — we all want to look good (or, at the very least, presentable).
Pre-pandemic, webcams were mostly an afterthought — built into your laptop's bezel as a convenience, nothing more. They weren't good, but we didn't use them enough to care. But since the pandemic made remote working routine, the market for external webcams has exploded. And while we're slowly returning to offices in the post-pandemic era, it looks like remote working is likely to stick around (at least part-time).
The good news is that the external webcam market also looks like it'll stick around — the pandemic spawned a slew of new webcams (and webcam makers) and spurred innovation. Today's webcams range from standard HD (1080p) to 4K resolution and have increasingly larger lenses and sensors, and many feature impressive internal AI-powered tech that can do everything from improving low-light performance to tracking face and body movement.
It's impossible to recommend one or two perfect webcams for all users, because there are so many different ways to use webcams these days. And it's not as easy as going for the highest specs: most of the common video conferencing platforms (e.g. Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, etc.) don't support higher than 720p or 1080p video anyway. Plus, if you've never looked at a close-up of your face in ultra-high-def 4K video — trust me, you don't want to.
We've tested dozens of webcams, inspecting build quality, capturing photos in a variety of common lighting conditions, and playing with settings and software to determine the best webcam for you — whether you're trying to appear professional while working from home in sweatpants, or creating content for millions of viewers.
Quick Shopping Tips
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Here are a few details to consider while you're shopping for the perfect webcam.
- Resolution: It's easy to be wooed by that 4K label, but make sure you actually want — and can use — an ultra high-res webcam. Common web conferencing apps such as Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams limit your outgoing video stream to 720p or 1080p, so it's unlikely your coworkers will benefit from that extra quality unless you plan on zooming (higher-res webcams will offer more detail in zoomed-in shots).
- Field of View (FOV): Webcams with wider FOVs show more of the room. This is good if there will be multiple people in the shot, or if you're planning on presenting using a visual aid such as a white board. It's not so good, however, if you have a thrown-together work-from-home setup and you don't want viewers to see the mess around you.
- Autofocus, auto white balance, and low-light correction: Most webcams look pretty good with a professional lighting setup, a thoughtfully-framed and curated set, and some manual software fine-tuning. But if you don't have the space, equipment, time, or patience to perfect your picture, look for a webcam that works well out of the box. We test webcams using both default and manually-configured settings, in a number of ideal and less-than-ideal lighting scenarios.
- Privacy cover: Privacy is a real concern — and not just from malicious hackers or spying governments. Internet security is important, but here's a more likely situation: you, accidentally turning your webcam on (or leaving it on) without realizing it. Yeah — something as simple as a physical privacy cover can save you from potential embarrassment, and all webcams need one.
Best Webcams 2023
It’s been over a decade since Logitech released a new webcam for non-creators — and while the Logitech Brio 500’s 1080p/30fps resolution may sound underwhelming, its performance is not. Armed with a flexible 90-degree field of view and Logitech’s RightLight 4 image adjustment technology, the Brio 500 produces an impressive, exposure-balanced image right out of the box.
We were especially impressed with the Brio 500’s auto-white balance, which is something almost all webcams struggle with — it wasn’t perfect, but it was almost as impressive as the auto-white balance seen on much pricier webcams, such as the Insta360 Link. Logitech’s RightLight 4 technology, which is designed to compensate in less-ideal lighting situations, did an excellent job of producing flattering, evenly-lit images in both low- and overexposed-lighting conditions.
The Logitech Brio 500 shows that resolution isn’t everything — it may have the same surface-level specs as older Logitech webcams, such as the C920s and C930e, but it produces much better images. For the average person looking to upgrade their webcam from whatever’s built into their laptop’s bezel, the Logitech Brio 500 offers the best out-of-the-box performance at a reasonable price ($130).
Most web conferencing apps limit your streaming resolution to 1080p or 720p, but that doesn’t mean a webcam with a higher resolution is wasted. If you plan on zooming in to crop out your background, you may prefer the 2K WB5023 Dell Pro Webcam, which is similarly priced to the Brio 500 and also offers impressive out-of-the-box performance.
Read: Logitech Brio 500 Review
The Insta360 Link is an AI-powered 4K webcam perched on a 3-axis gimbal, packed with a variety of capture modes and features that will appeal to content creators such as AI movement tracking, and offers incredibly impressive color reproduction and auto-exposure. This doesn’t come cheap, however — the Link is one of the most expensive webcams on this list with a retail price of $300.
The Link offers unparalleled image quality, thanks to its 1/2-inch sensor and 4K resolution. But — more importantly — the Link has some of the best auto-exposure, color reproduction, and auto-focus we’ve ever seen in a webcam. Most webcams have difficulty adjusting between different lighting scenarios (especially quickly), and while the Link isn’t perfect, it’s very good at adjusting on the fly. This, combined with the webcam’s 3-axis gimbal and AI-powered movement tracking, makes the Link a very powerful contender for content creators who move a lot, or for professional or educational presentations.
The Link is a very impressive webcam — maybe a little too impressive. Realistically, the Link is probably overkill for all but a very small user demographic. 4K resolution isn’t even possible in most web conferencing apps, and capture modes such as “portrait mode,” “top-down mode,” and “desktop mode” are fun to play with but aren’t terribly beneficial unless you already know how you’re going to use them.
Read: Insta360 Link Review
The Microsoft Modern Webcam is cheaper and more available than the Logitech C920; it also has more features and better, more accurate color reproduction than its older competitor.
The Microsoft Modern Webcam's monitor mount can be shaky on some monitors, especially those that aren't flat along the back (but you can get it stable with some artful balancing). The sliding physical camera shutter gives this webcam a premium feel.
The Microsoft Modern Webcam comes with an intuitive — but not particularly powerful — app that’s designed to look like a Windows menu. The app is where you’ll adjust most of this camera’s special features, including HDR and flicker reduction powered by its ability to capture footage at 60 fps. This webcam’s 1080p @ 60 fps capture is a big get for streamers, especially since many gaming-focused webcams cost upwards of $100.
It’s unfortunate that you can’t swivel or rotate this camera for better shooting angles. While the C920 shares that limitation, there are lower budget options with this flexibility. But if you want a camera in the C920’s space that doesn’t wash out colors as much and has more options, the Microsoft Modern Webcam is an easy choice — so long as your monitor isn't too curvy on the back.
Like most (all) ultra-high-res 4K webcams, the Elgato Facecam Pro isn’t for everyone — remember, web conferencing apps such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet, limit your outgoing stream to 720p or 1080p at most. The Facecam Pro is not only capable of producing a high-res 4K image, it’s able to output a 4K stream at 60fps. For context, other 4K webcams max out at 4K/30fps; the Facecam Pro is the first and only webcam capable of 4K/60fps streaming.
The Facecam Pro’s design isn’t particularly impressive — it’s bulky, boxy, and large — but the webcam is relatively lightweight and easy to maneuver, whether you place it on the included monitor mount or attach it to a tripod. It does lack a physical privacy cover, which seems like a pretty big oversight given how incredibly detailed and high-def the webcam’s picture is (plus, the Elgato Facecam came with a privacy cover).
It has a 90-degree field of view and an autofocus lens, and it comes bundled with Elgato’s Camera Hub software, which offers a surprisingly detailed amount of control over exposure, white balance, and framing. The Facecam Pro retails for $299 and is a good option for professional streamers and content creators who need 4K/60fps video and who are already part of Elgato’s streaming ecosystem.
The Logitech Brio combines 4K resolution with Logitech’s webcam expertise — it’s no surprise this webcam has been popular since it first debuted in 2017. The Brio features 4K/30fps resolution (1080p/60fps), a 90-degree field of view, 5x digital zoom, and great image quality, color reproduction, and low-light performance.
The Brio performs well, but it’s no longer the only 4K webcam on the market — and more recent contenders, such as the Insta360 Link and the Lumina 4K, are able to offer better auto-exposure, color reproduction, and auto-focused thanks to AI-powered software tweaks. But while newer 4K webcams are looking toward streamers and content creators, the Brio is more business-focused: It includes Windows Hello support and is optimized for use with business apps such as Google Meet, Zoom, and Skype for Business.
Of course, most business users don’t need — and can’t even use — a 4K webcam, because most web conferencing apps limit output resolution to 720p (or lower). (But even at lower resolutions, the Brio offers better image quality and color reproduction than its non-4K siblings, the C930e and C920s Pro.) The Brio is a good 4K webcam, but it could probably use an update, especially now that there are multiple 4K webcams on the market.
The Logitech C930e looks a lot like the C920s Pro — it sports almost the exact same build, except its faceplate is silver instead of black. The C930e is the “business” version of the C920s Pro — it has the same general specs with a couple of hardware improvements and it’s also “certified for use with business applications” such as Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Zoom, etc (though this probably meant more when the C930e debuted in 2013).
The C930e has the same sensor as the C920s Pro, but it has an upgraded lens with a wider field of view — 90 degrees versus the C920s Pro’s 78 degrees. This wider field of view is useful not only because it allows you to display an unnecessary amount of your home office, but also because it adds 4x digital zoom (the C920s Pro also offers digital zoom through Logitech’s Logi Capture software). Digital zoom is useful on a webcam because zooming in gives you some control over camera positioning (tilt/pan), which is handy if your webcam isn’t ideally positioned.
The C930e’s improved lens also improves image quality and color reproduction, as well as low-light performance, though the difference isn’t enormous (and may not even be that noticeable in many situations). The C930e has built-in dual mics that are omnidirectional, unlike the C920s Pro’s mics which are unidirectional. The C930e’s mics are a little better at picking up sound, but, again, this isn’t a dealbreaker (or dealmaker), since most people won’t be using their webcam’s mic anyway.
Razer’s first 4K webcam, the Kiyo Pro Ultra, has the largest sensor ever put in a webcam — a 1/1.2-inch Sony Starvis 2, with a wide f1.7 aperture — as well as 4x digital zoom, an adjustable field of view (72 - 82 degrees), and a nicely-integrated physical privacy shutter. It’s a large but relatively lightweight webcam, and it has the same detached-DSLR lens aesthetic as its predecessors.
There’s no question this is one of the best webcams we’ve ever tested when it comes to image quality — it has excellent auto-exposure and color balancing and a shallow depth of field that gives you a nice blurred-background effect without using software. Its impressive image quality was most apparent in our well-lit test setting, but it also did pretty well in our low-light and overexposed scenarios (once we tweaked some settings). The crispness and clarity of the picture is shockingly good, even compared to other 4K webcams — and while the average person probably doesn’t need (and can’t even use) such ultra-HD streaming, this does mean a better picture for lower-resolution streams, especially if you’re zooming and cropping.
The Kiyo Pro Ultra works with Razer’s Synapse 3, which offers pretty detailed control over the webcam with manual adjustments for focus, exposure, and color balance, as well as photo and video resolution settings and processing effects. Unfortunately, to adjust any of the Kiyo Pro Ultra’s settings in Synapse 3, you must have the in-app preview turned on, and Windows only allows you to use the webcam with one app at a time — so if you’re trying to set up an image in a program other than Synapse 3 (and you probably are), this quickly becomes a very frustrating process. While this may not be too much of a problem for the casual user, professional streamers and content creators would probably be better off with the Insta360 Link or the Elgato Facecam Pro, which are both similarly-priced 4K webcams with very usable software.
If you’re not quite ready to spring for a 4K webcam — and, let’s face it, you probably don’t need one — the Dell Pro Webcam (WB5023) is a nice compromise. This 2K QHD webcam records video at 1440p/30fps (1080p/60fps) and has a 78-degree field of view as well as HDR, 4x digital zoom, a built-in mic, and AI auto-framing.
The Dell Pro Webcam looks similar to its pricier sibling (but... cheaper). It has a plastic chassis, a magnetic lens cap, a non-detachable USB-A cable, and a built-in monitor clamp — it’s definitely less “premium” than the Dell Ultrasharp, but it’s well built and still looks relatively sleek sitting on top of your monitor.
The Dell Pro Webcam is a good plug-and-play webcam — it performed well (but not perfect) in all of our lighting scenarios. It was especially impressive in our low-light test scenario, as it’s one of the only webcams we’ve reviewed that has managed to adequately light both the foreground and the background in a near-dark setting. It also features Digital Overlap HDR.
Most video conferencing apps cap streaming video quality at 1080p, so a 2K webcam might not seem any more usable than a 4K webcam in that regard. However, a higher resolution webcam can still make a difference if you plan on zooming in (perhaps to crop out your background), so it’s not just content creators who can benefit.
The Logitech C920s Pro is the latest iteration of the classic Logitech C920, which originally launched in 2013. (The only difference between the original C920 and the C920s Pro is that the latter comes with an optional flip-up privacy cover.) Despite being almost 10 years old, the Logitech C920s Pro is a solid, consistent webcam that captures video at 1080p/30fps and has a 78-degree field of view.
The C920s Pro has a maximum resolution of 1080p, which might seem low if you’ve been looking at 4K webcams. But 1080p is plenty high for the average user — no video conferencing platforms allow streaming at anywhere near 4K in the first place (and many cap streaming resolution at 720p). The C920s Pro also offers decent color reproduction (its images look a little washed-out when compared with recent rivals’, however) and performs acceptably in both backlit and low-light settings.
The C920s Pro has built-in dual microphones, which are about as good as you’re going to find on a webcam (not great, but they’ll work in a pinch). It has a built-in monitor stand with a tripod mounting point, and a non-detachable 5-foot (1.5m) USB-A cable. It comes with an optional removable privacy shutter, which is always a nice touch if you’re paranoid (like I am). The C920s Pro is a very good webcam, and is still a competitive option even if it’s been around forever — but this may not be the case for much longer, thanks to the pandemic ushering in a new era of at-home workers and companies scrambling to get into the webcam market.
Other Webcams We Tested
- Razer Kiyo: The base Razer Kiyo is still a good webcam, and is one of the few cameras from a reputable company that has an included ring light, but at this point is old technology. While it no longer costs $100, its capabilities are far behind that of the Razer Kiyo Pro, and aren’t definitively better than other 1080p standards like the Logitech C930e.
- Ausdom AW635: The Ausdom AW635 was a more valuable camera towards the beginning of the pandemic when stock on basic mainstays like the Logitech C920 was more difficult to find. Now that stock has normalized, its borderline unacceptable image quality has less appeal.
Read: Ausdom webcam roundup
- Aukey 1080p: This one was a hard omission, but as its primary role on this list was as a Logitech C920 clone, it doesn’t serve as much purpose now that webcam stock has stabilized. Paradoxically, it can be a bit hard to find now, which also makes it harder to recommend, but it is roughly on par with Logitech’s budget cameras, if you can find one.
- AnkerWork B600 Video Bar: This webcam has strong visual fidelity and a number of conference-call friendly features like a speaker and a built-in light bar with touch controls, but its price makes it a poor option for anyone who doesn't need those extras.
Read: AnkerWork B600 Video Bar Webcam Review
How We Test
We test each of our webcams by inspecting its specs, design, and build quality, as well as how easily its lens can be covered for privacy. We also test the stability and flexibility of any built-in or included monitor stands.
We then shoot test photos in three lighting conditions: (1) well-lit, with bright lighting both in front of and behind the subject; (2) backlit/overexposed, with bright light behind the subject and one 27-inch monitor in front of the subject; and (3) low-light, with no lighting aside from one 27-inch monitor in front of the subject. Our home office lighting is completely controlled.
Our first round of shooting uses the camera's default, out-of-the-box settings. We then manually adjust the camera's settings using the camera's companion software, if applicable. If the camera doesn't come with software, we use a third-party application (YouCam 9) to adjust its settings. We take our photos using the Windows Camera app for consistency.
Finding Discounts on the Best Webcams
Whether you're shopping for one of the best webcams or one that didn't quite make our list, you may find savings by checking out the latest Logitech promo codes, Newegg promo codes, Amazon promo codes, Razer promo codes or Micro Center coupons.
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