Webcams used to be a pretty cut and dry market. Logitech served most people's general needs with mainstays like the Logitech c920 and the Logitech Brio 4K, and premium manufacturers like Razer addressed niche markets like video game streamers. But after the 2020 pandemic shifted a whole new set of workers to telecommuting, companies raced to enter the market with their own, new options.
Stock was so tricky to find for most of 2020 that which webcam you bought was dependent less on quality and more on availability. But as we approach summer of 2021, that's finally starting to change. Webcam stock is stabilizing across all contenders, which means we now feel confident making a list of the all-time best webcams of 2021.
Quick Shopping Tips
Here’s a few details to keep in mind when shopping for the best webcam.
- Streaming vs work cam: The webcam market is mostly split into two categories: work, and livestreaming. Livestreaming webcams can run on the expensive side, sometimes up to $500, in exchange for additional features such as 4K, professional-level microphones, and wide-angle lenses.
But since video compression and lag are still problems for most conference call apps, you probably won’t need these features for a home office, with 1080p and often even 720p support being appropriate for most situations.
- The best webcams on the market always include some sort of built-in microphone, but that doesn’t mean the audio quality is always top-notch -- or even good. With webcams usually situated above and away from your face, it’s not uncommon for built-in mics to be quiet and include plenty of background noise or echo. Consider supplementing your purchase with one of the best gaming headsets or best gaming microphones.
- Lighting is a bonus: While built-in lighting isn’t a standard feature on most consumer-level webcams quite yet, manufacturers like Razer are doing their best to change that. It doesn’t matter how capable your camera is if your office’s lighting is too dark to take advantage of it.
Best Webcams 2021
An oldie but a goodie, Logitech's C920 has been the gold standard for webcams since it launched way back in 2013. Even after seven years, nothing has taken its place as the best webcam for video conferencing. There are other versions of the camera, notably the C920S, which comes with a privacy shutter, and the C922, which is designed for streaming.
All versions of the Logitech C920 have the same excellent 78-degree field of view lens that can show not only you, but the room behind you or the people sitting next to you. The 1080p sensor is excellent even in low light and its color reproduction is the best we've seen. Senior Editor Andrew Freedman wrote a Logitech C920 review for Laptop Mag back in 2016 and he was impressed with both the image quality and width.
He also noted that the dual microphones picked up clear sound, though in a crowded office, they also picked up some background noise. If you're in a quiet room, these should be fine, though.
At about twice the price of the standard casual use webcam, the Razer Kiyo is an entry-level model for professional streaming. Still, it’s far more approachable than other options like the $400 MeVo.
Its almost $100 price tag will net you standard 1080p recording at 30 fps, but also 720p recording at 60 fps. It also includes a built-in omnidirectional microphone, but it’s key feature is an adjustable ring light, which will help with dark offices.
Tom's Hardware Senior Editor Andrew Freedman wrote a Razer Kiyo review for Laptop Mag when it came out in 2017, where he praised this webcam's excellent image quality and flexible design. He also said the image capture was about on par with Logitech's C920 series, the industry leader.
If you’re willing to spend a small premium to get a name-brand webcam, this webcam will not only be great for conferencing, but also for game streaming if you want to start streaming on Twitch.
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 cost. While the light sensor impresses enough to make the loss of the ring light sting less, that new cost does limit the camera to creators who need its extra features as opposed to a more everyday audience.
The Kiyo Pro’s features can also be a touch difficult to access, as 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 plenty 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.
Like its popular sibling, the Logitech C920 / C920S, the Logitech C930e has excellent image quality with superior color reproduction, sharpness and low-light performance. However, it one ups the C920 series by providing a Carl Zeiss lens that has a 90-degree field of view.
One of the very best webcams you can get at any price, the C930e also comes standard with a privacy shutter. Its dual, omni-directional mics also provide better noise cancelling than the C920. The main advantage that the C920 and C920S typically have is price as the C930e's MSRP is $129 as compared to $69 for the C920S.
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 4K has been the name in 4K webcams since it was first introduced in 2017, but that doesn't mean it gets a free pass. While its image quality is hard to argue against, Tom's Hardware Senior Editor Andrew Freedman still had problems with it back when he reviewed it for Laptop Mag.
But let's start with the positives. The first being right there in the name: this camera captures high quality 4K footage. That alone makes it stand out on this list, since even our premium contenders mostly top out at 1080p. In his review, Andrew praised the Brio 4K's color accuracy and field of view. But this camera can also do 1080p @ 60fps recording, letting it compete with the Razer Kiyo Pro as well.
Andrew did feel that the Brio 4K fell behind even the Logitech C920 in a dark room however, and had some gripes with the build quality. The monitor mount, for instance, didn't feel as if it attached securely, and the optional, detachable privacy cover came across as a cheap afterthought, even leaving residue on the camera.
There's also the question of who needs a 4K webcam. Since most livestreaming apps top out at 1080p, the audience for this camera is going to be niche. Its 60 fps option and high quality lens helps it maintain some relevance at 1080p, but it lacks the creature comforts of the Logitech StreamCam or Razer Kiyo Pro.
Still, there's no denying that this camera probably produces the prettiest images and video on this list. Assuming you can find a use case for it.
At just $70, the Looca 4K webcam is one of the cheapest 4K cameras on the market, which makes it an ideal choice for people who prize quality regardless of the display resolution of the monitor. For instance, I don’t have a 4K monitor in my apartment, but that didn’t stop me from using this webcam on my FHD display to get some crisp visuals that almost rival the Logitech c920.
The big drawback here is the zoom, which focuses primarily on the face. That might actually be a plus if you’re only planning to use it for video conferences, but it’s not a great option for capturing your background.
The built-in microphone produces audio that is decently clear and loud, if a little on the sharp side. The included miniature tripod also attaches to the Looca securely, and can adjust to dozens of heights. It feels stable during use, as does the included cover, which you can attach to the camera simply by snapping it into its slots on either side of the lens.
If you don’t mind some zoom, this is easily one of the best webcams on this list.
The Ausdom AW635 is one of the cheaper webcams on this list, coming in at $53.99 on the official Ausdom Amazon listing. It’s half the size of the Logitech C920, records in 1080p @ 30 fps, and has a built-in omnidirectional microphone. What makes it unique is its zoom.
The Ausdom AW635 shoots zoomed-in video that fits about one head in frame, making it ideal for video chats, but not much else. There’s no way to control the zoom on the AW635, but if you want the focus to be squarely on you and not on your background, it will do that for you.
As for its video quality, its colors tend to appear lighter than in real life, its autofocus tends to be sensitive and frequently adjust and it’s more prone to glare than the Ausdom AF640. Texture also doesn’t come across well on the AW635, making it a better choice for casual use than business use.
It’s microphone, unfortunately, has a quiet, fuzzy and muffled sound quality.
But in a nice touch that gives it some added versatility, it will swivel 360 degrees. However, it won’t tilt up or down.
Its price still makes it cheaper than other options on this list, and while it might not be as reliable as the Logitech C920 or even the Logitech C525, it will work well if you don't want to break the bank.
The use case for this one is pretty cut and dry- it’s a knock off Razer Kiyo, and a pretty good one at that. We talked about the Razer Kiyo a little further up this list, but it’s essentially a 1080p webcam built for streamers. That means it has included ring lighting to help brighten up the face, a unique feature that Angetube has copied fairly well here.
With 4 brightness modes (including off), you’ve got plenty of control over your lighting here, and you also have great control over positioning thanks to the wide-ranging vertical tilt and the full 360 degree swivel. This means you can give your photos the best chance they have to come out well, and our testing ended up giving us some great shots with good color and texture reproduction alike. The fear with a webcam like this is that the lighting would just be a cosmetic feature that wouldn’t appear photos, but the Angetube significant affected how well lit my face was on all of its settings.
Audio is a bit more mixed, with my voice coming across clear but quiet in recordings.
The Angetube streaming webcam also comes with a microfiber cleaning cloth.
Aukey is more well known for making some of the best chargers on the market than it is for making webcams, but at a typical $55 price with frequent sales, its 1080p Logitech c920 clone is one of the better budget options people have.
It helps that this comes from a company I’ve heard of before making this list, and while it’s not exactly on par with a Logitech, the Aukey webcam’s image quality beats most of the other contenders on this list while remaining competitive on pricing. Colors were a little warmer than real life in normal lighting conditions, but the angle for my shots was nice and wide while texture was impressively accurate.
This camera also has a few features the c920 lacks, namely its robust vertical tilt and 360 degree horizontal swivel. Audio recorded on its built-in microphone was clear and loud, though a little sharp and prone to picking up background noise.
If you already own a Raspberry Pi and don’t mind some installation, you can actually use it to create your own makeshift webcam. We’ve written a guide for this process here, but the general idea is to combine any recent-era Raspberry Pi, any Raspberry Pi camera module, and a microSD card with the Raspbian OS installed on it, then connect it to your PC either through USB or ethernet/Wi-Fi, depending on your Raspberry Pi board.
We have recommendations for the best possible performance, of course- the Raspberry Pi Zero/Zero W’s ability to connect to a PC through USB will help the camera’s frame rate, and the official Raspberry Pi Camera Module V2 will help with low-light performance- but this is easily the most customizable option on our list. With shops either selling out of certain products or selling them for far higher prices than usual, the ability to substitute alternatives or even use parts you might already have lying around is a definite plus.
Unfortunately, the downside to this option is that it is definitely a project. While tech-oriented readers might appreciate being able to get an inside look into how their webcam works, folks just trying to show up on work meetings with a simple plug-and-play solution may not appreciate the hassle. Also, because most Raspberry Pi camera modules don’t come with mounting brackets, you might have to get creative when it comes time to connect your new homemade webcam to your monitor.
Most folks reading this list already have small cameras in their pockets plenty capable of carrying them through video conferences. So why aren’t we using these instead of searching through nearly sold-out stock for webcams?
Probably because, while it’s possible to take a video call from your phone on a number of apps like Facetime and Google Hangouts, some home-workers prefer to sit at their desk and take them on their monitor. Still, that doesn’t mean you can’t use your phone’s camera for your input.
Apps like EpocCam on the app store and IP Webcam on Google Play allow both iPhone and Android users to use their phone as a webcam on their computer, whether through USB (EpocCam) or Wi-Fi (EpocCam and IP Webcam). Both have free options, although EpocCam requires an $8.00 payout for HD resolutions, so you can try before you buy.
Both apps are the most used and well reviewed phone-to-webcam options on their respective stores, so you can be sure you’re not settling for a knock-off. Although, while EpocCam’s setup is fairly straightforward, IP Webcam’s is a bit more involved. The tradeoff is that IP Webcam gives you all the features a casual user would need for free, with the premium version only adding UI customization and Tasker integration to the mix.
Still, both options are cheaper than buying a new webcam, and can be set up in about a half hour or so without any new gear or need to leave the house.
If you’ve got a DSLR, you can even go a step further and buy a $50.00 SparkoCam license to use it as a webcam by connecting it to your PC using the cable that came with it. There’s also a free version available, though it slaps a pretty large watermark on your video input.
We’ve written in detail about how to set up all these options here. Unfortunately, as far as mounting your phone to your monitor, you’re on your own.
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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