I need to put together several high quality desktop web cam home office setups. What I've found online are either sub $100 "HD" web cams with mediocre audio/visual (Logitech/Microsoft) or very expensive subscription enterprise systems. I thought I would be able to find a high performance HD web cam for a few hundred dollars but no go.
My other thought is to go with a DSLR camera & separate mic (with existing PC & speakers) and run about $800 and would be awkward in placement in front of the monitor for sessions. I've spent months searching online for the right solution but I've yet to find anything. With the number of people working virtually and the proliferation of broadband, there must be a number of people like me noting wanting crap or expensive corporate systems.
I haven't actually tried any of them, but have watched many a review. The MS LifeCam Cinema looks like it has decent video image quality but has a crappy mic and doesn't let you use an external unless you use a PC mixing board. Supposedly the Logitech Webcam Pro C910 has a better mic but lesser image quality.
I did see a online demo with a Canon T2i and the the image quality was far superior to both and with an external mic it was great, but as I said, that route is $800 and would be bulky and awkward sitting in front of a monitor.
Believe me, I would to go for a suitable sub $100 option.
This is good to know. I see that almost everyone complains about the auto focus on the MS camera. Is this due to low light when it happens and is to be expected with equipment at this price?
Don't know about the focus, I don't use web cams at home and at work we just use video conferencing equipment. But if you find a camera you like, don't be put off by the mic, easy to change. Here are some screenshots in XP for it http://www.tinyeye.com/avsetup/soundsetup_xp.html, as you can see the Sound recording is a drop-down list, you'd be able to select the onboard audio input. One thing you may need to check is that the program you use for video will accept this default as well.