Best Webcam for Streaming
For almost a century, video content has been the primary mode of entertainment for most people in the developed world. And once the Internet appeared, it allowed for even more opportunities regarding the creation of multimedia content. For instance – in 2020, it’s perfectly realistic for anyone who can afford a couple of affordable pieces of equipment to create and post their videos for others to see online.
In fact, many have managed to create successful and lucrative careers out of making videos. And it’s not just short movies or other recorded content that you can share with others either. Over the course of the past decade, live broadcasting has gone from something exclusive to expensive studios to a pastime anyone can dabble in from the comfort of their home. All you need is a good webcam, and you’re good to go! In fact, we’re going to give you the gist of how to pick the best webcam for streaming right here!
What Is Streaming?
Deciding on the finest pick for the best webcam for streaming will mean one thing – a lot of research. There are plenty of models that will serve your basic purposes out there, but selecting the one which will fit you the best is no small amount of work. Luckily for you, we’re here to give you a quick rundown of the world of streaming webcams. But before we can do any of that, there’s one thing we need to tackle first; the question of what it means to “stream”.
Take a moment and remember what the Internet of yore used to look like. At first, most pages couldn’t offer anything much more than walls of text, and a few low-res images. Naturally, in the 21st century, things are quite different. Most of us consider high-speed Internet a basic human necessity, even a human right; just like water or electricity. And that sort of sudden availability has made a lot of changes in the way we consume our multimedia content; but also in the way that this content is created.
Streaming represents one of these new practices; the demonstration of the ability to see live videos that people film online in real-time. And all of that without the expenses that come with television studios! But is there a difference between streaming and downloading? Well, let’s say you’re going to download a film.
When you do that, you get a file that’s permanently kept on your computer’s hard drive, up until you decide to delete it. But if you want to stream it, you’ll be able to see the movie instantly, without waiting for it to download. However, you don’t get a copy of the file on your PC for re-watching. If you want to do that, you need to stream the movie again.
Webcam Vs Regular Camera
Now that we’re aware of what streaming entails – just what do you need to get a live stream of yourself up and running? As we’ve mentioned before, one of the great things about live streaming is the fact that you don’t need a lot of fancy equipment for a rudimentary kind of streaming. Barring anything exquisitely action-packed, you’ll be able to stream stuff like interviews or video podcasts using nothing more than a webcam!
Most people who have a laptop these days have a webcam that’s built-in with the computer. However, if you’ve ever had a Skype conversation on one of these, you’ve probably noticed they’re sorely lacking. They tend to have very low resolutions, and not a lot of versatility in terms of features. So, even if you own a laptop – we recommend getting an external webcam solely for streaming purposes.
Now, if you were to take a look at the webcam market a decade ago, you’d probably see nothing to write home about by today’s standards. The picture quality would seem laughable from our perspective. In those days, webcams were used for little more than a casual conversation with your loved ones or friends online. Sure, video conferences were used for work as well; but usually in corporations where video quality wasn’t paramount during a meeting.
Fast forward to today, and the situation is vastly different. As you’ll see below, shelling out for a decent webcam will mean that you get a lot of video quality in a small package. In fact, proper high-end models come with plenty of additional features that make them great cameras for live streaming, like zoom and dedicated audio recording.
As long as you want to stream something that’s mostly stationary and without a lot of quick cuts, a webcam will suit you just fine. Regardless of the type of content, you’ll find a lot of live streamers use webcams. From people recording gameplay and game commentary to those making podcast studios out of their bedrooms – everyone recognizes it as a neat piece of hardware. It should be noted, however, that webcams aren’t your only options for video streaming.
In this day and age, almost every piece of hardware is connected to the Internet. When the fabled Internet Of Things has found itself in our fridges and ovens, it’s not a huge logical leap to assume you’d find it in the average camcorder as well. And Internet connectivity in video recording devices means one thing – streaming capability.
That’s why many consider camcorders to be one of the more convenient hardware mediums for live streaming to the Internet. They’re definitely more portable than any webcam, and they can be used without being plugged in. Also, the market has more than enough to offer in terms of the different options and price ranges for anyone’s pocket.
On the other hand, you should always be aware of what camcorders are actually good for. In most cases, they’ll do the best job when you’ve got to make an outing and record content outside, for some sort of vlog or video addition to your blog. Generally, though, these are rare occasions when you actually decide to stream that content at once; it’s usually posted at a later date.
That’s why we don’t recommend them as your first choice for live streaming. Sure, they can be a nice investment once you start monetizing your live stream, but we don’t think they’re your best first purchase. There are plenty among the best webcams for streaming that will do the job equally well, and won’t require additional equipment for stabilization. Plus, their streaming software is usually more simplistic for the layman user. All in all, when it comes to live-streaming – a webcam is probably a better choice.
How We Chose the Best Camera For Live Streaming
Okay, so we’ve settled on the fact that we probably recommend getting yourself a good webcam for streaming. But as we’ve talked about before, the market is pretty saturated in terms of supply. There are literally hundreds of models out there, many of which are separated only by the slightest nuances.
With that in mind, before making specific recommendations on the webcams for different kinds of streaming; we’ll examine the most important among the less obvious criteria used to pick these models as the best webcam for streaming.
When you begin transmitting your live stream or podcast, chances are you may want to have some additional graphics on the screen. For instance, if you’re looking for additional funding, a widget linked to your crowdfunding platform which shows the range of donations in real-time is always a good choice. Or, if you’re doing a themed holiday stream, or making specific types of content like trivia questions; the possibilities are literally endless.
Because of all of this, if there’s one thing you need as a feature on your webcam – it’s clear video output. In other words, you don’t want to have any kind of hardware GUI visible on the screen once you begin broadcasting. Having the option to toggle different UI parts on and off is essential to you being able to creatively guide your stream.
Luckily, this is mostly a problem that some people have with camcorders and DSLR models. When it comes to webcams, a clear output is usually the default; unless you’re using additional software like Skype or Zoom which might have its own GUI on display. So, this won’t be too big of an issue regardless of which webcam you choose; but it’s still something essential you should be on the lookout for.
Best Streaming Webcam for Twitch
These days, plenty of gamers use platforms like Twitch to share their gameplay experience with the world. Heck, many of them end up earning a tidy sum off these streams or get recognized by e-sports teams if they’re playing competitive games. Without a doubt, Twitch is *the* place for gaming live streams on the internet. This is precisely why you will probably want to know how to best approach streaming there from a hardware perspective.
Before, we’ve gone into detail about what kind of content is good for streaming on a webcam. But sometimes, these guidelines may seem contradictory. For instance, we’ve said that webcams are not well-suited for dynamic, action-packed videos. So how does recording video games factor into that?
In reality, you have to remember that, even though you’re using a webcam for your gaming live stream, you won’t necessarily be recording the actual gameplay with the camera. In fact, you almost certainly won’t be doing that, as the video resolution of a video showcasing another screen would be unbearable to watch. Instead, you use the webcam to record yourself and your reactions; while the gameplay itself is recorded with a software screen recorder. Then, you set both streams up simultaneously, most often with a picture-in-picture mode, and voila!
With that out of the way, what’s a good webcam for Twitch anyway? If we were going to give you a specific example, it would be a camera coming from Microsoft. That’s right, making operating systems isn’t the only thing Bill Gates’ company does so well. After a decade spent developing the recording hardware for their Kinect console paraphernalia, Microsoft has proven to have the chops to make a great webcam. And they’ve done so with the LifeCam model!
Have no doubt, we’re talking about a 1080p webcam that’s great for making HD live streams and videos. Of course, when it comes to Twitch streaming, it’s important for your recording to be in line with the on-screen gameplay in terms of viscerality and fidelity. And that’s where LifeCam’s awesome autofocus comes into play. Plus, you’ll get a built-in mic that comes with the cam.
Best Budget Webcam for Streaming
While you pick and choose the one among many models that could rightly be dubbed the best webcam for streaming; the quality and range of features are far from the only thing you need to consider. At the end of the day, there are practicalities that you need to keep in mind beyond the live stream itself. For instance – budgeting. Many people who start out working on their podcast can’t afford fancy and hugely expensive cameras; that’s one of the many reasons why webcams are a great pick in this regard.
However, the fact that webcams have become much more advanced in the past decade does not come without its downsides. If we’re talking about the high-end models – they’ve become sometimes too expensive for the average user. So, if you’re looking for an affordable webcam that gives no quarter when it comes to quality either; we’ve got a suggestion for you.
Logitech has long been making affordable webcams at a decent level of quality, and their C922 model is one of the best examples of this tradition. For those setting out to make a normal livestream without too many bells and whistles, this model will more than serve your purposes.
There’s no doubt about the fact that this is a solid webcam. And its technical qualities aside, it won’t prove to be too stressful for setting up either. Barring any additional streaming software you’ll use, you only need to plug in its USB cable, and you’re all set! Of course, depending on your particular artistic expressions and style-based choices, you may want to tweak the default image settings on the cam. For such purposes, Logitech provides a solid software suite. Therein, you can change everything from autofocus settings to the brightness levels of the video.
Best Webcam for Streaming Video Games
Of course, Twitch isn’t the only place where you’d want to stream gameplay videos. There’s no doubt about the fact that YouTube and other less mainstream platforms have a solid user share in this niche as well. With that in mind, you might want to take a look at other camera models for streaming video games too.
For this kind of streaming, we’ll recommend another model from the oft-quoted Logitech. Their StreamCam model is definitely on par with anything in its price range when it comes to video game streaming.
And its makers gave it the streaming-focused name for a reason; right from the get-go, you’ll notice that whoever designed this kept the streaming community in mind. Firstly, we’re talking about a camera with astounding versatility and ease of use. If you want to switch between landscape mode and portrait, you can do so by simply rotating the actual camera.
Frequently Asked Questions About Webcams
We’ve given you a couple of examples of great webcams for streaming, as well as the different criteria you ought to use while selecting one. And now that you’ve got all the basic information you need, all that’s left is to go out there and start creating. Of course, the wealth of data we’ve given you doesn’t mean you don’t have follow-up questions. That’s why we’ve decided to answer some of the most oft-heard questions on the best webcams for streaming!
What Cameras Do Streamers Use?
This depends on a variety of factors, some of which we’ve already discussed here. That being said, the average streamer usually buys something like the C922 or C920 Logitech models; these won’t set you back more than a couple of hundred bucks. And the former also offers 4K HD streaming capabilities, which is obviously important.
What Is the Highest Quality Webcam?
Here’s a question that requires a more in-depth answer. Just what makes a good webcam? Well, there are some types of features whose value largely depends on your personal preferences. But there are also objective factors to consider, such as the price, the average framerate, and the highest possible resolution.
For instance, someone looking for a casual video-call camera won’t need much more than a 720p model and 30 FPS. That’s something you can easily get out of bargain-bin, entry-level models. But on the other hand, content creation is something entirely different. And if you intend for your videos to be live streams, the quality of the image becomes even more important.
With that in mind, you’d do well to find a 1080p camera like the Razer Kiyo, or the constantly mentioned C920. It’s important for your camera to allow for 30 FPS at the optimal internet speed. On the other hand, if you’re going to make a gaming-focused livestream, it may be jarring for viewers if your image is slower than the on-screen gameplay. Considering this, you should opt for a 60 FPS cam; the StreamCam we’ve talked about can manage that.
Can I Use My Phone As A Webcam?
If we had to look at the biggest technological advances of the past decade and a half, purely from an engineering standpoint – smartphones would take the top spot without a shred of doubt. They’ve gone from nifty but impractical gadgets in the range of the Bluetooth earpiece to something that amounts to an extension of your hand. These days, they’ve got the processing power of a miniature PC; so it’s no wonder people use them for all kinds of stuff.
In the past year or two, a few feature-length movies have been shot using an iPhone and even appeared in theaters, albeit in a limited release. And let’s not even mention the myriad vacation pics and selfies you can take at any moment. All of that makes you wonder – can you use your phone as a streaming webcam?
Unsurprisingly, the answer is yes. There are a couple of ways to do this. First of all, you may need a webcam for a conference call or a private video call with someone. This is the most common case. All of the video chat software that exists on computers has an iOS and Android version these days. Whether you need to make a Skype call with a distant relative or attend a meeting via Zoom – you can do all of that with just a few taps on your smartphone.
On the other hand, you may want to use your phone for an actual live stream to viewers, rather than to participants in a two-way conversation. If that’s the case, don’t worry – you can still do it via phone, but you’ll need some additional software and hardware. Well, the hardware is a bit of an overstatement – you won’t need more than a USB cable or a WiFi connection. But in terms of software, you’ll need additional streaming programs that will treat the video from your phone as a webcam. Don’t worry, most of this software is free, and you only need it for this basic function.
While all of this is true, we don’t recommend using phones for streaming if you’re anything close to serious about it. First of all, the camera on your phone isn’t suited for this kind of prolonged recording, especially if the video is streamed live, online. And even if it’s the best camera phone in the world, you may still need stuff like a tripod for additional stabilization, or studio lighting. We definitely recommend investing in an entry-level webcam instead.
A Final Word From Run Gun Shoot
As you may have realized by now yourself, choosing the best webcam for streaming will take some time. But if you take heed of all the advice we’ve given you here, and go about it in a systematic way; it won’t be long before you’ve got your perfect choice for video streaming!