Best Webcams 2021
As the world changes and working from home becomes a new normal, webcams are more in demand than ever before.
Companies nationwide are trying to replicate the face-to-face meeting as closely as possible, with varying degrees of success from the range of webcams available on the market.
Vloggers, influencers, gamers and many other professionals who rely on visual and audio communication can also benefit from the use of a carefully chosen webcam.
We reviewed several webcams, including bestsellers, products new to the market and trusted brands, to bring you an overview of the best options to suit your needs and budget.
We decided that the Logitech C922 Pro Stream webcam was our top choice of webcam for 2021, providing an all-round reliable and high-quality experience at a reasonable price.
The Logitech C922 Pro Stream Webcam
A sleek and high performing webcam that ticks all the boxes
The Logitech C922 Pro Stream was an easy choice for our top spot. Don’t be fooled by its very reasonable price point: the audio and visual performance and outstanding customer feedback reflect the high calibre of this camera.£94.99 from Amazon
The Logitech C922 offers two different streaming qualities with a choice of either 1080p/30fps or 720p/60fps. This choice means that you can balance your speed of processing (and therefore how smoothly your video broadcasts), with the quality of resolution, to suit your needs.
As it was designed to appeal to gamers, this product provides a high frames per second (fps) capability, which results in a smooth video motion.
When used as a virtual meeting tool, either resolution setting should be adequate (and switching between the two is a useful feature that makes this camera suitable for both work and play).
As it is equipt with autofocus and instant light correction, this intelligent camera can compensate for any less-than-perfect lighting in different rooms in your home.
Two microphones, visible at either side of the camera, capture your voice clearly and keep you sounding natural.
Some online reviewers have commented that their microphone quality was lower than expected but, on balance, we think it still performs well for a webcam within this price bracket. However, it might be worth considering other options if you have a particular need for crisp sound; for example, if you’re performing or recording music.
The Logitech C922 Stream Pro is designed to work with all devices including tablets, laptops and desktops and across multiple interfaces including Windows, Apple and Linux.
It’s a plug and play device that connects into an HDMI port and is compatible with Windows 7, 8 & 10, MacOS x 10.9 or higher, Xbox One, Chrome OS, and Android Vs 5.0 or above.
The webcam is secured by the click mount which attaches to the top of your device. A tripod is also supplied to help you to set up the perfect angle. We found both methods effective and sturdy.
The webcam itself also looks good, with a neat black exterior that isn’t distracting when not in use.
Overall, the performance, reliability, ease of use and quality of output of the Logitech C922 Stream Pro is brilliant and earns it our top choice position.
Logitech takes both first and second place in our best webcams of 2020.
This model, the StreamCam, offers slightly better features than our top choice, but has a price tag to match.
The StreamCam can film in 1080p resolution while also maintaining a 60fps speed. This results in ultra-smooth visuals at a standard so high that it’s probably the maximum that most internet bandwidths can comfortably handle. It even has built-in image stabilisation to reduce image shake.
The field of vision is 78 degrees, comparable to most similar webcams on the market.
From an audio perspective, the microphone has a noise reduction filter and can be used in stereo or dual-mono modes for a clear, crisp sound.
The webcam is secured with a monitor clip and a tripod adaptor is also included (but no tripod).
The online reviews for the Logitech StreamCam are very complimentary, and the step up in quality compared to other webcams is certainly noticeable.
Due to the impressive features, neat look and outstanding performance, we named the Logitech StreamCam as our runner up best webcam of 2020.
The higher cost reflects its superior performance, but we think that, on balance, this webcam will mostly serve a select corner of the market, particularly those who require seamless streaming.
The Meeting Owl Pro revolutionises video conferencing with its 360-degree field of view and motion sensors that track whoever is speaking, automatically focusing on them and amplifying their voice.
Newly released into the UK and European markets after finding success in the US, the Meeting Owl Pro is an exciting product from a company that uses artificial intelligence to aid remote working.
The webcam offers an image resolution of 1080p, with the camera capturing a five-metre radius, allowing for a fully immersive experience.
Owl Labs has designed this smart webcam to recreate the interactive and responsive nature of a face-to-face business meeting or conference.
From the initial unboxing (which has a feeling of unpacking an Apple product), you know you have a quality device on your hands.
Set up was incredibly easy, with a power source at one end and a USB connection at the other; this really is a plug and play webcam.
Owl Labs says it is instantly compatible with popular video conferencing software including Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams, and when we tested this with Google Meets, it ran smoothly with no issues.
The generated display is unlike any we’ve seen from other webcams. The top of the screen displays a full 360 view of the room in which you are filming (if you were seated around a table, all attendees would be visible). Below this is the main screen image which shows the person or people involved in a conversation.
So, for example, if two people around the table were having a back and forth discussion, they would take an equal share of the screen, the camera focusing automatically on them, adjusting lighting and zoom as they move closer to or away from the Owl.
This capability seems perfect for broadcasting a meeting to remote attendees, or for showcasing a product virtually. There is a slight delay while the camera moves to catch up with your movement, but all things considered, we don’t think this poses too big of a problem.
The layout and quality of the display mean that it’s easier to pick up on non-verbal cues, and interactions definitely feel more natural than with other webcams.
This webcam successfully bridges the gap between real life and virtual working.
The Meeting Owl Pro is a speaker as well as a microphone, so unlike the other webcams we reviewed, you don’t have to rely on your laptop speaker (which is often not particularly good quality). The audio is excellent, with the use of smart mics to pick up and amplify even quieter voices.
The glaring drawback, however, is the price. At £999 this is by far the most expensive option we reviewed.
To be fair, the features offered by the Meeting Owl Pro by far surpass anything provided by other webcams, and that’s reflected in the price.
On balance, the technology and capability of this advanced webcam impressed us, and we think it’s deserving of one of the top spots in our best webcams of 2021.
Although it might not be right for vloggers or gamers, we recommend the Meeting Owl Pro for corporate organisations or larger virtual meeting requirements.
Why Use a Webcam?
Although most laptops come with built-in cameras and microphones that provide a basic streaming and videoing facility, purchasing a separate webcam can really take your video up a level.
For those who rely on video conferencing, streaming or content creation as part of their job, a good piece of kit can make a big difference.
Of course, built-in webcams do have their uses, and for rudimentary video calling, they can suffice. However, they rely on the user having the right filming conditions such as adequate lighting and suitable positioning and are usually quite basic in functionality and performance.
Many external webcams offer automatic focus and lighting options and have a better quality microphone to keep your sound clear and crisp and eliminate background noise.
If you’re self-conscious on camera, knowing you can rely on your webcam to find the perfect lighting and focus settings can be one less thing to worry about.
You can also position an external webcam to find the best angle, rather than being restricted by the often-unflattering angle forced upon you by an integrated laptop camera.
Important Features to Look for When Buying a Webcam
A good webcam is an investment. Prices can vary significantly and it’s important to look out for the particular features that will ensure your chosen camera meets your needs.
An online gamer will have different requirements than a corporate employee who must chair virtual meetings, for example.
We put together this list as a guide to help you know what to look out for:
Resolution and Framerate
A higher resolution gives a clearer, sharper image to keep you looking good as you’re streaming.
Bear in mind, though, that the higher the resolution, the more internet bandwidth needed. The sweet spot is an image you’re happy with that doesn’t cause stuttering.
A 1080p resolution is ideal in most instances.
The framerate refers to how many frames of video are shown per second, this determines how smooth the video motion looks.
Look for a 30fps as an absolute minimum. Most webcams we reviewed offer a 60fps rate which is ideal.
Automatic Image Settings
A good webcam will adjust its image settings as necessary as you move around to keep you clearly in focus at all times, even when you move towards or away from the camera.
Some webcams also have automatic light correction to compensate for changing lighting.
Check whether the webcam works with the device you have, whether that be a laptop, desktop or Apple product.
Also consider things like the attachment mount, wire length, and size and weight of the webcam.
A webcam description will list the systems it is compatible with so whether you’re loyal to Apple or are a Microsoft fan, double-check the system requirements before investing.
It’s also worth reading reviews to find out how a webcam performs on your interface.
Although some manufacturers state that their product is compatible with a range of interfaces, in practice, many users find that they are, in fact, better suited to one in particular.
Often, this just means that the full software and support packages aren’t fully accessible on the system that is less favoured, but it’s something you need to be aware of before you buy.
Webcams can be expensive, especially at the top end of the range. Make sure you’re looking at webcams that are within the same price bracket for a fair comparison.
We’d advise buying the best available within your budget as the additional features and step up in quality do give a better video experience.
Field of View
Most webcams offer a 78-degree field of view as a minimum, but this can vary so check before buying.
A wider field of view is useful if you plan to have someone else on camera next to you.
The mount will depend on which devices the webcam is designed to attach to.
The size and shape of the mount can vary and online reviews are a good source of information on how secure an attachment is.
Some webcams come with tripods included, some just with tripod attachments.
Accompanying brand software provides additional features for your camera.
You will usually download an app or tool that works with your webcam to enable you to edit your video, create content and more.
Different brands offer various options for up-levelling your recordings for a professional look, or for adding some creativity to your videos with stickers, animations and filters.
Many webcam brands offer added extras to try to stand out from the crowd. How appealing these are to you will depend on how you intend to use your webcam.
Some of the features can be especially useful for gaming, vlogging or conducting meetings.
Everything Else We Looked At
We looked at a variety of webcams to compile this review and we thought some were worth a mention as good additional options to consider:
The Razer Kiyo has its own light ring with adjustable brightness to ensure the perfect lighting for your video call.
The image resolution options are 1080p with 30fps or 720p with 30fps, which means this webcam is an ideal choice for gaming and streaming live games, but would also be adequate for video calling.
There are no standout features on the Razer Kiyo but it does seem to do its primary job pretty well and is worth considering when reviewing your options.
The only Microsoft webcam to make our list is the LifeCam HD-3000.
This webcam offers a widescreen, cinematic video recording option and has TrueColour technology that provides bright and colourful video and adjusts to suit the lighting of your room.
The image resolution is lower than most we have reviewed, at 720p and 30fps, but this should still be sufficient for most peoples’ video calling needs.
The unidirectional microphone with noise cancellation is a useful feature. However, it does look very small in comparison to the microphones we’ve seen on similar products, and the quality isn’t all that great.
This webcam is certified by Skype as a compatible product (but as they are both parts of the Microsoft family, that’s no big surprise).
This webcam is limited to a fixed focus of between 30 and 150 cm so it needs to be positioned at a suitable distance to obtain a clear picture. As most users will use the adjustable mount to clip it to the top of their laptop or desktop screen, this won’t be an issue, but it’s worth bearing in mind.
Overall, this is a middle of the road product at a reasonable price, probably best suited to those on a budget who only need basic video call functionality.
The Logitech Brio earns a mention as the webcam with the highest image resolution out of all the products we reviewed.
An impressive 4K ultra-HD experience offers an image that is as clear and crisp as it could be.
The processing speed and smooth video motion from this webcam make for an impressive video capability but, upon further investigation, it seems that the framerate is reduced to 30fps when using the 4K setting, so you do have to compromise motion smoothness for a top-level resolution.
A USB 3.0 port is also a requirement to achieve the 4K ultra HD effect.
As well as automatically adjusting light settings to keep you looking good even in extreme lighting, the Logitech Brio Ultra HD also has an adjustable field of view to capture a broader image.
As with other Logitech cameras, video editing and adjustments are possible via the Logitech Capture software.
The Papalook PA452 is a good-looking webcam that offers good, basic functionality at a middle price point.
With a 1080p resolution and a widescreen option, the video output is ideal for video calling.
The microphone has noise cancellation to keep sound clear, and the quality was found to be very good.
The plug and play startup seems to work smoothly and this webcam is compatible with most modern Windows software.
The thing we love about the Papalook PA452 is that it does exactly what it says it will. It’s a good camera that performs well with minimal issues or complaints.
It’s a fair price and we think this would make a solid purchase for someone who wants a reliable webcam without all the bells and whistles.
At a Glance Comparison
|Make & Model||Field of View||Video Quality||Audio||Other Features||Summary||Price|
|Logitech C992 Stream Pro||78 degrees|
1080p/30fps or 720p/60fps
|2 x microphones||Tripod included||Great all-rounder with excellent reviews||£94.99|
|Logitech StreamCam||78 degrees||1080p/60fps||Noise reduction filter. Stereo or dual-mono sound||Can record in a vertical position||Perfect for social media users, excellent performance overall||£116.78 (usually £139.99)|
|Meeting Owl Pro||360 degrees||1080p||Smart mics for clear sound and built-in speaker||Displays the full room and focuses on the person speaking||An outstanding webcam that takes video conferencing to the next level||£999|
|Razer Kiyo||81 degrees||1080p/30fps or 720p/60fps||Minimal information available||Inbuilt light ring for a flattering image||Designed as a gaming webcam but with quality that makes it a viable option for video calling too||£99.99|
|Microsoft L2 LifeCam HD||Widescreen cinematic recording available||720p/30fps||Noise-cancelling, but not a great quality microphone||Plug and play, Skype certified||Good for those on a budget||From £29.99|
|Logitech Brio Ultra HD||65-90 degrees||4K/30fps or 1080p/60fps||Minimal information available||Extremely high-quality resolution||More expensive than most but does have superior image quality||£306.14|
|Papalook PA542||65 degrees||1080p||Noise-cancelling mic that gets great reviews||Auto low-light correction with a glass lens||A great webcam that does what it says it will||£64.99|
Investing in a webcam can take your video calls, gaming or vlogging to another level.
Choosing the right webcam for your needs can be tricky as they offer a wide range of features designed to work for different purposes.
Often, the higher-priced and top-level webcams are overkill for the average user, especially if remote working with the odd virtual meeting is your only requirement.
We’d suggest you identify precisely what you will be using your webcam for before buying the best available within your budget.