With all of us spending enormous amount of time on video calls, web cameras have become essential part of our lives. Any built-in camera on a laptop or a monitor, is usually of very poor quality. Due to the form factor, they are simply too small to have decent image quality or any of the advanced features. Owning something better is a good idea, if you use it every day. But it’s not easy to know what is worth your money.

From the very start, we need to admit that if you are going for the best quality, nothing can compare with a conventional photo camera (DSLR or mirrorless), repurposed as a web camera. And many people do have such setups. Unfortunately, it can be extremely expensive option, so it’s not for everybody. At the end of this review, we do mention a Sony camera we love that is more expensive than the web-cameras, but still quite affordable, if you are interested.

This category was actually a big original motivator for starting this website. There is incredibly large number of utter garbage on the market and what was most infuriating is that most review websites are pushing Logitech products. It’s infuriating because Logitech has stopped innovating with web cameras pre-pandemic. Their webcams are OK, compared to avalanche of lesser known brands, but they are also terribly uninspired and technically outdated. Pretty much none of them are AI-enhanced, or have modern features.

Thankfully, there are much better options, couple of which we recommend here.

Head to Head Comparison

We tested many products in this category. Here are some that we actually liked. The prices indicated are the ones on Amazon at the time of writing this review.

Model AI Enabled Wide Angle Resolution Price
Insta360 Link Yes Yes 4K $299.00
Elgato Facecam Yes Yes 1080p60 $149.99
Dell UltraSharp HDR 4K Yes Yes 4K $179.99

Now, without further ado, let’s get to which one is the best.

And the Bestest is…

Insta360, in our opinion, is the most intelligent webcam currently on the market. For an all-in-one solution, with great quality and powerful features such as versatile modes, gesture control, AI tracking and others, there is nothing better that we currently would recommend.

Product Link

Great Budget Pick

Elgato Facecam is our favorite pick in more affordable sector. It has better Price, great quality, and rich features. That said, Dell is also a wonderful option, and some may even prefer it.

Amazon Link

We love this intelligent camera. Quality is great, it has all the modern capabilities such as: adjustable field of view (a must have!), privacy cover, auto-focus, auto-aperture, and many others. And if you own NVIDIA’s graphic card, Elgato will tap into its capabilities providing powerful features such as a virtual background in any video-conferencing app, even the ones thay may not support it.

Also Great

We la-la-love Dell Ultrasharp HDR 4K webcam. As a matter of fact, it could have easily been our top choice.

Amazon Link

Dell hit a home run with this one. Sony STARVIS CMOS Sensor is second to none, and with features such as 4K video, HDR, IR Sensor, Proximity Sensor, and privacy cover you know you are well taken care of. AI-enabled Auto Framing keeps you at the center of the screen, and is another example of this being a modern webcam with everything that you’d expect from one.

Comparing to Elgato, there are some advantages and disadvantages. Elgato doesn’t have auto-framing, camera’s artificial intelligence following your movements and keeping you in frame, but Dell doesn’t have Elgato’s built-in support for NVIDIA effects, such as backgrounds. It should be noted, however that if you don’t have a powerful NVIDIA video card (e.g. on a laptop), or are using one of many video conferencing apps that have their own support for it, you may not need camera’s support of such features. We did also find Elgato’s software to be easier to install, use and it generally seems more performant, compared to Dell’s.

Best Webcam Alternative

If you’re willing to invest a little more, the top “webcam” option in 2023 isn’t a webcam at all. Instead, consider using a conventional camera equipped with a large sensor and a high-quality lens. Many have converted their mirrorless and DSLR cameras into webcams using an Elgato Cam Link 4K.

However, if you don’t already own a DSLR or a mirrorless camera, we recommend the Sony ZV-1 priced at $650 or the Sony Alpha ZV-E10 at $799.99. The latter boasts superior quality, a larger sensor, and the ability to switch or upgrade lenses. Keep in mind, to use these cameras as a webcam, an uninterrupted power source, such as the $19.99 Watson CBA-S1, is essential. Without it, these cameras may frequently shut down, either due to battery depletion or for battery preservation, even when connected to a USB-C that attempts to charge the battery.

Both cameras excel in performance, have impressive autofocus and include the convenient “product showcase” mode, a feature that allows camera to seamlessly switch focus away from your face to an object you bring close to its lens, automatically detecting the object you are trying to showcase while streaming/recording a video. Focus returns to your face once you are done showcasing the product, without any need for you to manually adjust focus on the lens.

Additionally, these cameras support the UVC (USB Video Class) protocol, meaning they can connect directly to a computer using a simple USB-C cable, eliminating the need for the Elgato Cam Link 4K. This results in a savings of $99 and a more streamlined setup. Priced at $650 and $799.99, ZV-1 and ZV-E10 are more affordable than many mirrorless alternatives, even though majority of those do not support the convenient “product showcase” functionality.

Lastly, for those looking to elevate their streaming or vlogging game, ZV-E10’s interchangeable lens allows upgrading to an array of far superior lenses.

Brand Price Focal Length 35mm Equiv. Max Aperture Weight Filter Size
Sony E 11mm f/1.8 $548.00 11mm 16mm f/1.8 6.4oz (181g) 55mm
Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN $399.00 16mm 24mm f/1.4 14.29oz (405g) 67mm
Sony E 15mm F1.4 G $750.00 15mm 22mm f/1.4 7.8oz (219g) 55mm
Sony Zeiss Sonnar E 24mm f/1.8 ZA $798.00 24mm 36mm f/1.8 7.94oz (225g) 49mm
Viltrox AF 23mm $329.00 23mm 35mm f/1.4 9.18oz (260g) 52mm

One such lens is the fantastic ultra-wide Sony 11mm F1.8 lens, a vlogging gem for around $500. While priceless for some vlogging situations, the ultra-wide format may be too wide for other vlogging and majority of studio setups, even after considering the ASP-C crop. In which case Sigma 16mm f/1.4 is an excellent, narrower option at $400. It stands out, especially when compared to the similar Sony E 15mm F1.4 at $750.

Many studio setups, for individual streaming and webcasting, will work better with even narrower lenses. Sony Zeiss Sonnar E 24mm F1.8 at $798 is the premium, breathtakingly high-quality option in this format. For a more budget-friendly alternative that still surpasses the kit lens, the VILTROX 23mm f/1.4 AF is available for as low as $250.

Please keep in mind that for vlogging use-cases, when you may be walking or running, ZV-E10 has video image stabilization feature, but it will further crop the frame, requiring wider lens. Image stabilization is not needed for stationary, studio setups and you should disable it in settings, to avoid cropping.

Holding your camera up

If you are going to use a mirrorless camera as a webcam, you will need something to either elevate and hold it over your desk or to attach it to your monitor, for the same purpose. For desk-attached mounts we like the SmallRig Camera Desk Mount Table Stand , but for monitor-mounted solution (more convenient for sit-stand desks) we also have had great experience with the LenTok DSLR Monitor Camera Mount with suction cup.

Why You Should Trust Us

It's actually quite straightforward: we do not (repeat, do NOT) sell our opinions. We're not owned by any large corporation, we aren't accountable to any profit-driven Wall Street stakeholders, and our motivation for starting this venture stemmed from genuine care. Every time we sought to make an informed purchase, we consulted freely available and once reputable websites, now owned by large media conglomerates, or specialized review websites that required a paid subscription. We found that despite the authors boasting impressive degrees and purported expert knowledge, their recommendations were often lackluster, to put it politely. We even developed an inside joke, based on our repeated experiences, that whatever these websites recommended served as a useful guide for knowing what to avoid. Alas, it didn't help much in knowing what to purchase.

Fueled by this frustration, our website was born. We offer our sincere opinions and recommend products that we personally own, enjoy, or would recommend to our friends and family. Nothing more, nothing less. What you receive here is the unvarnished truth from your fellow consumers. And that is a promise we never intend to break

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