In 2020, getting hold of one of the best webcams suddenly went from niche concern to being a key part of lots of people's home working setups. These cameras deliver an integrated audio-video unit that is perfect for team meetings, briefings and staying in touch with friends and family – and you can mount them anywhere, so it's easier to put them at a comfortable height for long meetings.
With that in mind, we've created a guide to the best webcams on the market today, with options for every budget, from cheap webcams that do the job nicely for less, up to premium 4K webcams.
We've also got a range of webcam options in terms of form and functionality. Some of these top webcams can present in 4K resolution, while others offer tiltable and rotatable heads, granting flexibility when on a call in terms of what you display. Each webcam here also delivers good audio quality, as we feel that is an absolute pre-requisite of any good webcam purchase.
What to look for in the best webcams
The biggest difference from budget webcams to more expensive models is resolution: the cheapest webcams will do 720p HD (1280x720 pixels), while going mid-range will take you up to 1080p Full HD (1920x1080 pixels). If you go elite, you can get a 4K webcam (3840x2160 pixels). It's not really necessary to go beyond 1080p, if you're mostly using the webcam for video conferencing, because by the time it's all compressed over the internet, the fine quality will be filed off anyway. But if you want to be recording yourself at the highest possible quality, then sure – go 4K!
More expensive webcams will also be able to record at faster framerates – 30fps is the minimum you want, with 60fps making for a smoother and more realistic looking recording (though, again, when video conferencing, the internet connection speed of people involved may make this moot).
We're also looking for webcams with good built-in autofocus and auto-exposure, which is pretty standard, mercifully. It means that even as the light changes throughout the day, you won't need to worry about looking off.
Good forward-facing microphones are vital too, naturally. Separated stereo mics are preferable for clarity's sake over video conferencing, though lots of people will use headsets anyway (and streamers will have a mic setup for sure), so it's less important than video quality overall.
It's great if a webcam has good software you can use to tweak how it works, particularly for streamers. We also want to make sure you can just plug and go and everything still look great, though, because lots of people won't be into fiddling with the settings. And, of course, we're looking at what will work on both Mac and PC.
Best webcams: the list
The Logitech C922 Pro Stream is, overall, the best webcam for most people in our opinion. It's one of Logitech's newest webcams, meaning you're getting the latest tech, and that helps in a bunch of ways, including making you look better in less-than-stellar lighting, which is often the case in home offices. It also delivers 720p/60fps streaming, which means you get high-fidelity and smooth video results while on a call, where supported. And it comes with some really neat extra features, too.
These features include a background removal function, which is great in terms of protecting your privacy at home, low-light correction, camera lens autofocus, and proper stereo audio. The C922 Pro Stream also delivers colour correction functionality as well.
The 78° field of view should work well for most people – it means it'll take in your head and torso for a comfortable view as if you're across the table, rather than a close-up of your head. But it's also not so wide that the mess in the corners of your office will be in shot.
In terms of design, the C922 Pro Stream looks fine – it's quite businesslike, but it's inoffensive, and should fit on your monitor no problem, though it can also easily be mounted on a separate mini tripod, if you prefer.
Crucially, though, to get our best webcam for most people nod, it does all of this at an affordable mid-range price point. You can go cheaper and still good image quality, and you can go more expensive for 4K quality – but we think a great balance is struck here.
It works with Windows 10 (plus 8 and 7), macOS 10.10 or later, ChromeOS and Android.
For shoppers on a budget, the Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000 is a great choice. It delivers a mix of 1080p recording and 720p live video calling, a flexible head that can rotate 360 degrees, a variety of mounting options including on a tripod, a wideband microphone and autofocus function, and access to Microsoft's TrueColor system, that alters exposure dynamically to maintain best possible image quality.
Aesthetically it isn't the most attractive camera, but considering the package it delivers in terms of hardware and features, at this price you really can't complain. 30 frames per second is fine, and the ability to capture still images from it at 4MP resolution a small extra boon. A great choice for budget webcam shoppers.
Made for the streaming age, but just as at home for videoconferencing, Logitech's USB-C camera is a very modern take on the webcam. That even goes down to its design, which is all matte plastic and fabric, just like half the coolest new tech in 2020.
In terms of image quality, you've got Full HD 1920x1080 streaming here at up to 60fps, which isn't a common feature. You can even rotate the camera easily so you're broadcasting in portrait without cropping.
The USB-C connection makes it perfect for ultraportable laptops with that port – particularly the likes of the MacBook Air, which has only that port. But it does many that if you have a computer with only boring old USB-A ports, you'll need an adapter to use this webcam (or should just choose another, maybe).
It has electronic image stabilisation built in so that you can actually grab it and move it without things looking horrible, it as a high-quality dual-mic setup for clear audio, it can be mounted on a tripod, and Logitech's software gives you loads of control over the look. It works on Windows 10 and macOS 10.14 and above, and is geared up with support for various live-streaming tech, as well as video-chat services – this is very much a webcam for the new age.
The Microsoft LifeCam Studio isn't the most attractive webcam aesthetically, but it is well priced and delivers 1080p resolution recording, 720p video calling, a wide-angle lens, and a quality wideband mic that delivers strong audio.
In addition, the LifeCam comes with Microsoft's TrueColor colour correction system, helping you look your best on call, while its head can rotate a full 360 degrees.
If money isn't a concern then the Logitech Brio Webcam should be top of your best webcams to checkout list. That's because it not only delivers an Ultra HD 4K resolution as well as HDR, but also because it is Windows Hello compatible (allowing you to log-in to your computer through biometrics) and comes with 5X HD Zoom function, autofocus, dual omni-directional mics with noise cancelling, and an external privacy shutter.
One other neat feature delivered by the Brio Webcam is its adjustable field of view, with the user capable of selecting 65, 78 or 90-degree viewing angles. This is great as if you need to hold group video calls with more than one person in the room, then the Brio can deliver, while equally if a tight image angle is needed for just a head and shoulders perspective, the Brio can also deliver.
For a quick catch-up with colleagues, poor lighting for video at your desk doesn't really matter (and some of the cameras here are good at handling that anyway), but if you need to make a video presentation where you really look professional (or if you just want to look actually good on camera, which is fair enough) you need to sort your lighting.
The Razer Kiyo has a ring light built into it, around the camera lens. Ring lights are a favourite of streamers, Instagrammers and the like because they give you an even light from a single source – no positioning hassle required, and no awkward shadows.
The camera itself is good too, including Full HD streaming or 720p, and while you can leave it to manage the colour balance itself, you can also customise things like the white balance, if you know what you're doing.
As time goes on and more and move crucial external meetings happen online, good lighting is going to become something people start expecting you to think about – get in early with a webcam that costs the same as most other mid-tier cams, but that solves the problem totally for you.