Best Webcams for 2023 | Tom’s Hardware
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.
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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.
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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 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.
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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.
Read: Microsoft Modern Webcam 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.
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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
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).
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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.
Read: Elgato Facecam Pro Review
If you have money to spare, the $199 Dell Ultrasharp Webcam is an easy frontrunner. This camera has loads of features, including 4K @ 30 fps and 1080p @ 60 fps recording, HDR, and even optional AI that helps keep you in frame. It also features three different field of view options, and lots of customizability thanks to the ability to turn on manual focus and zoom sliders. But where this camera really blew us away was on image quality. Regardless of which resolution you pick, this camera’s footage looks sharp and has the most flattering lighting and colors we’ve seen yet — no artefacts or weird pale or yellowish tones found here.
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There are a few issues in the build. While the camera itself feels sturdy and looks stylish, it has a lot of small parts you’ll need to swap in and out. The monitor mount and tripod mount are two separate pieces, for example. You can easily change them in and out since they both fit into the same magnetic slot, but once you add in the magnetic webcam cover, that’s a lot of extra stuff to keep track of. The monitor mount also lacks feet, which means it can feel unstable. I didn’t feel like it was going to fall off my monitor, but it took some work to get it to that point.
Still, that’s all worth it for this almost mirror-like image quality. This is one of the more expensive cameras on this list, but given all of this camera’s features and how little you have to work to make its footage look good (although there are plenty of post-processing options), it easily justifies its price.
If you don’t need 4K resolution, Dell’s recently-released Dell Pro Webcam (WB5023) offers an excellent plug-and-play experience and still has better-than-HD 2K resolution.
Read: Dell Ultrasharp Webcam Review
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.
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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.
The Razer Kiyo Pro is Razer’s 2021 update to the Razer Kiyo, and it adds plenty of new features that will be very helpful for content creators and amateur filmmakers alike. These include HDR recording, the ability to capture footage at 1080p @ 60 fps, a light sensor that adjusts how much light the webcam captures to make images as flattering as possible regardless of lighting, and a microphone with headset-level audio quality.
All of these features come at the loss of the original Kiyo’s ring light and a new $199 price tag. While the light sensor impresses enough to make the loss of the ring light sting less, that new cost limits the camera to creators who need its extra features instead of a more everyday audience.
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The Kiyo Pro’s features can also be a touch difficult to access, because you’ll need Razer Synapse to change settings like field of view or how warm/cool your photos are. And to access 60 fps recording, you’ll need to set that up separately in your recording software.
The price also puts the Kiyo Pro on par with the Logitech Brio 4K, which has the benefit of capturing footage in, well, 4K. But given that most streaming platforms don’t support 4K yet, the Kiyo Pro’s other features do help justify its cost despite its 1080p max resolution.
The Kiyo Pro’s image quality is still excellent, and its 60fps recording is great for game streamers while its HDR capture makes it more appealing to just about everyone. Most people can probably make do without these bells and whistles, but if you want something premium and aren’t sold on 4K, the Kiyo Pro is a solid bet.
Read: Razer Kiyo Pro Webcam Review
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).
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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.
The Logitech StreamCam is a premium option, aimed at giving streamers and other content creators everything they need in one package. The focus here is more on convenience than pure quality, however.
The StreamCam is a special contender on our list in that it supports all resolutions from 240p to 1080p, and is able to stream or record each at any frame rate from 5 to 60. Though most will, of course, want to use the highest setting of 1080 60 fps, this lets those with low bandwidth customize their usage to their liking.
It also comes with a built-in omnidirectional microphone, complete with a small noise filter, as well as a white indicator LED, a standard tripod mount (in addition to a monitor mount), auto-focus and exposure, USB-C connectivity, and streaming software for fine-tuning filtering and other capture details. Those who prefer vertical video can also remove the camera from its mount and physically rotate it to shoot with full HD 9:16 video.
At $170 officially, the Logitech StreamCam usually sells for just $30 less than the Logitech Brio 4K Ultra, but since most streaming platforms don’t support 4K yet, its unique bonus features still make it an enticing buy.
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.
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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 Ausdom AW651 is Ausdom’s most recent webcam, and it makes for a more powerful yet affordable alternative to other 1080p and above webcams from major brands like Logitech. At about $10 more than the MSRP for the Logitech C920, this camera offers both 1440p capture at 30 fps and 1080p capture at 60 fps. While the camera’s sensor can produce overly sharp images and it resorts to distributing clunky freeware rather than coming up with its own software, it is a technically capable device that offers a lot of capability for its price point.
This camera produced bright footage with accurate colors when we reviewed it, in part thanks to its ability to capture at 1440p. If you prefer to shoot at 1080p, you can also capture footage at 60 fps with this device, which will be useful for game streamers. HDR is another feature here, and in a nice touch, this camera comes with a tripod and can also rotate 360 degrees. Its tilt is a bit more limited, ranging from 180 degrees when pointing down to 30 degrees when pointing up.
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This camera’s software is its biggest problem, since it suggests you use a freeware program called Amcap to configure it. This is a powerful but clunky program that reminds you of the small company jank Ausdom still can’t quite escape from, and while you can use the Windows camera app instead, it’s not quite as powerful. Luckily, there are other freeware solutions such as OBS or Nvidia Broadcast that you can use to configure this device instead.
Read: Ausdom AW651 Review
The Opal C1 webcam is both an exciting indication of things to come in the future of webcams overall and also a niche product that probably won’t appeal to most users. If money is no object, then yes, this camera probably takes the best photos and video on this list. At the same time, it costs $300, its software is Mac-only, and said software costs $4 a month.
It’s an easy-to-use software suite, sure, and there are convenient features such as bokeh and an AI powered touch-up function. But we’ve seen similar functionality for cheaper elsewhere, and it doesn’t make you sign up for yet another “service.”
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What makes the Opal C1 worth keeping an eye on is its focus on “computational photography.” This is a technique primarily used in smartphones, and it’s why your iPhone’s camera usually captures better looking footage than the webcam attached to your $2000 laptop. Sure, the camera sensors themselves are powerful, but the real magic is the small edits your phone does in real-time to beef up an image before you even see it.
Webcams, for the most part, don’t employ that trick, and that’s because they usually don’t have beefy processors of their own. The Opal C1, meanwhile, uses the Intel Myriad X, a VPU that specializes in on-device neural networks. The result is stunning, and even if photography purists will decry the lack of neutrality that comes with your camera editing your photo before you even see it, it does a great job of showing you in your most flattering light. It’s just probably not so flattering that it’s worth $300+. Still, it’s tech we want to see other brands look into incorporating into their own webcams in the future.
Read: Opal C1 Review
Sometimes, you need a bit more from a webcam, but don’t want to break the bank. Usually, recording at 60 fps or in HDR requires you to spend up to almost $200, but Anker’s new PowerConf C300 packs those features at a much more affordable $130 price point.
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You’ll have to deal with some laggy software to access most of them, and the included detachable, adhesive camera shutters are so cheaply made that you might as well not use them at all. But with fidelity that frequently beats the Logitech C920 and lots of customizability, including multiple field of view options, this is a great choice for those who like to tinker. There’s even automatic AI framing to help you keep your shots focused on you as you move about, although it’s a little tricky to actually trigger it.
Read: Anker PowerConf C300 Review
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.
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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