This guide deals with TOP-5 best webcams for streaming, their types and the essential properties that should be taken into account when buying a product. You will learn peculiarities of using the device in this area, such as the need for intermediary software operating as a miniature broadcast studio. Find out the benefits these products offer, including that they operate with more devices, take up little space and are energy efficient.

Like it or not, cameras are an increasing part of daily life. Of course, in this case, we’re going to look past the paranoia justifiably brought about by the apprehension of “cameras, everywhere”. There are legitimate reasons to find that uncomfortable and to be paranoid about the concept of privacy just not being what it used to be. There are merits equally, to cameras being helpful for safety, and criminals having nowhere to hide.

But, enough of that debate. Let’s talk about those times when cameras are a welcome part of our existence. Anyone my age or older, remember the old science fiction depictions of video phones, able to not just transmit voice, but a quality image of the other party. Surprisingly, camera phones have existed for some time, albeit with reduced quality and frame rate.

Today, the Jetsons or Star Trek video phone exists, and we pay it little heed! With applications like Skype, Discord, and Facebook, and with technologies like smartphones, and our subject of choice today, the webcam, we have video phones like the ones long ago portrayed in such science fiction.

This honestly is a consistent trend. Pocket computers? Video phones? Communicating in real time with the whole world? Universal translators? Yeah, we’ve got all that and more. Flying cars, holograms and robots are still a fantasy for now, but give it time!

Today, though, we’re looking primarily at one of the more positive uses of this technology – streaming. In this brave new world in which we live, live streams are something anyone with a decent camera, a decent computer, and a decent internet connection can do. Those with the right personality, act, and content can even make a living doing this. Don’t think it’s a cake job, as many failed Twitch and YouTube personalities did, but it can be done.

Streamers cover a wide range of topics and content, the most popular being games. “Let’s Plays”, as the genre is known, are one of the most-watched and most profitable types of online live streams. Not all let’s play personalities use a “face cam”, some famously being just audio, but the standard does include a webcam.

The thing is, not just any old cheap webcam will do, for high-end streaming. You need something with a good lens that can handle lighting, and capture high-definition imagery. You don’t want to stream with a “potato cam”, as low-definition, low-framerate cameras are jokingly labeled. Today, we’re going to look at the important things to consider with webcams (with streaming in mind), and look at some of the best ones on the market for a reasonable price.

What You Will Learn from This Guide:

How Do Webcams Work for Streaming?

We’re going to just gloss over the inner mechanics of a digital camera itself – suffice it to say it has a series of photosensitive capacitors and diodes that capture signals and digitize them with onboard circuitry. There will also be a microphone present on many of them, though serious streamers will have a far superior microphone or microphone headset they’ll use.

For streaming, there will be intermediary software (such as XSplit or OBS). This software does a lot more than just capture the webcam input and rebroadcast it. It works as a miniature broadcast studio, allowing you to place screen and camera captures into framing, as well as placing graphics, chat displays, and statistical feeds (viewers, subscriptions, game-specific feeds).

Proprietary software is used by some, such as large live events (SGDQ, AGDQ), usually Node.JS interfaces that honestly aren’t that hard to develop with some basic Java/JS knowledge.

From this, an IP is synchronized with the Twitch, Picarto or YouTube interface, to broadcast. It’s all very easy and intuitive to do, though more advanced layouts and effects are of course more challenging to set up.

What are the Types of Webcams for Streaming?

There aren’t that many variations in webcams themselves, but rather capability/scope. They all follow a basic form factor of being able to clip to a monitor or to a tripod or other fixture, with a small, powerful lens. Most are either USB or Bluetooth, the former being a better choice due to speed and power concerns.

Variations in form factor are primarily a more flat (usually a better design), or spherical (classic webcam shape). The largest variation is in resolution capacity, with most cheap webcams doing a very basic 720p or 1080p. Though these are sharp resolutions by most streaming standards, resolution alone isn’t all that makes for a good computer. Ability to adapt to lighting, and produce something not washed out and ugly, is where megapixel cameras with large buffers come into the picture (pun intended).

What to Look for When Buying a Product?

There are several qualities, a couple of which we just lightly touched on, that are very important when buying a webcam for streaming. When something is live, there will be a delay between capture and receiving the feed on a viewer’s monitor, but this delay is never more than a minute usually. This doesn’t allow a lot of time for postprocessing to fix the quality of the capture, as a lot of this time is eaten by the encoding of the composite sources, and relaying it across the watchers.

  • Resolution – You want at least a 3-megapixel camera, if not more, with a resolution of 1080p or higher. Even if your viewers are watching at lower resolutions for bandwidth or computing limitation purposes, it is better to provide a high-definition source that scales down, than a low-definition source scaled up (or limiting viewers which have the convenience of high-quality streamed content).
  • Lighting/Saturation/Hue Adaptiveness – This is a big one, and it’s something people don’t take into consideration usually unless they have some experience in photography or cinematography going in. Lighting can make or break a video, with too bright or too dark causing IR static and washed out imagery. Similarly, something with very responsive, smart hue and saturation correction can prevent inconsistent quality if lighting or motion changes occur.
  • High-Framerate – This is another thing people often forget to double check when using video capture equipment. A low-framerate camera will cause either lag/skip in the feed, or a lot of very bad ghosting (multiple images or motion blur). You want a camera that can handle a 60fps speed. It’s better to provide 60fps downscaled to 30fps or 24fps (24fps being the standard for traditional television and cinema) by the viewers. This usually results in some blur interpolation to drop these frames, which is a lot more natural than straight dropped frames that cause staggering and hiccupping.
  • USB 3.0 – This may not be an option if you’re using an older computer, but that’s a bad idea itself for a host of reasons. USB 3.0 is significantly faster than previous versions, making 60fps data feeds of a very high resolution very possible on a modern machine. Older USB connections may result in buffering and staggering.
  • Zooming – You will want a camera that can do some degree of telescopic zooming, which allows you to get a better image of yourself without having to fight positioning. This zooming needs to not come at the cost of resolution or processing time. Fortunately, most cameras have this figured out at this point.

My Personal Experience

Well, this is the first product I’ve written about here that I have never actually owned myself. I’ve always been one personally a bit averse to cameras, not really liking my picture taken, let alone to be recorded in videos. I’m a private person online, willing only in recent times to do voice chat with those that know me pretty well. While I’ve always wanted to make YouTube videos, it was the animation that I focused on, never putting my face out there. Streaming on camera is not for the shy or bashful!

However, I do have a good bit of experience working with these, having helped a friend for some time back in LA, with his streaming efforts, and having helped several of my more elderly friends here to get theirs working so they could do streaming (yes, I am serious, I know senior citizens that enjoy this hobby), or just to Skype with their grandkids.

That said, for Skyping or the like, simply mounting one of these onto the monitor works just fine, though you have to remember that if you make eye contact with the screen, it may look like you’re looking away a bit, to the other person. For streaming, this is usually a terrible idea, and you’ll want a proper tripod stand for your camera.

My friend and I fought hell trying to get a monitor-mounted camera to point at him properly, and it just didn’t work out. Since he didn’t have time to wait for the tripod we ordered to arrive, as he’d scheduled his first stream well before that (oops), I had to build a stand out of PVC pipe and duct tape.

It worked for his first stream, but during his second (two days later), the thing fell apart because he had really cheap, low-gauge PVC. It made a mighty POP!, and then the camera fell to the ground broadcasting a very obscene and shocked swear from him and myself alike.

People thought he’d been swatted (an insidious thing trolls do to streamers that should cost them half a century in prison), or that he’d actually been shot by someone until we addressed it about an hour later. It’s funny in retrospect, but it wasn’t funny then.

The lesson to take away here is, make sure you have all the proper equipment your camera and efforts need, before scheduling any streams. If you need a tripod and a boom mic, get them ahead of time, and do a dry trial run before you actually begin broadcasting to the masses. A lot of people may be forgiving of growing pains, but it’s best to be on top of things right out the gate. Streaming isn’t the easiest thing in the world to do – you need to understand framing, lighting, and of course, how to have a strong presence on camera. I would lack the latter of these myself.

TOP-5 Best Webcams for Streaming

A review of TOP-5 best products on the market within the price range from $30 to $200 will help you to make the right choice. The majority of these models have 1080p resolution, however, there is an ultra HD model offering up to 4K resolution. The items differ in compatibility, the speed of autofocus and post-processing. The strength of material matters as well because any camera may drop on the floor by accident.

High-End Webcam for Streaming | Logitech C922x Pro

Logitech C922x Pro High-End Webcam for Streaming: photo

With Logitech, you can expect a certain level of quality with peripherals. They make the best mice, keyboards, gamepads, and some of the best cameras. This C922x Pro is in the same family as the cameras used by several of the best-known YouTube and Twitch streamers, I happen to know this for a fact.

Some have fancier equipment, but the ones that do, started out with something like this, because much fancier than this, and you see the price skyrocket. For those starting out, not really turning much, if any, profit yet, then this is the scope that’s best to start with.

Features

  • Resolution: HD 1080p (30fps), HD 720p (60fps).
  • Compatibility: Windows 7+, Mac OSX 5+, ChromeOS, Android, Linux, Xbox One, Playstation 4, TVOS.
  • Auto-Focus: Yes.
  • Onboard Post-Processing: Yes.
  • Chroma-Keying/Background Replacement: Yes.
  • Stream Auto-Config Availability: Twitch, YouTube, Picarto.TV.
  • Connectivity: USB 2.0/3.0.
  • Onboard Audio: Stereo HD Audio.
  • Works with Tripod: Yes.
  • Telescopic Zooming: Yes.
  • Hue/Saturation Auto-Adjust: Yes.
  • OBS/XSplit Auto-Config: Yes.

Performance

This Logitech solution is very easy to get working with the standard software and platforms widely used in streaming. It does have an HD audio stereo microphone, but it’s not a great idea to use this for streaming, as a better, directional microphone is always better than a parabolic capture like this.

Those starting out with streaming, who want to have a really good quality image with lots of polish, right out the gate, will find this unit to be well worth the initial cost. It doesn’t like extremely dim lighting, however, so you will want to do some lighting tests and set up some good auto-profiles for it before you stream for the first time.

Overall Rating: 9.5

Pros Cons
  • Full-featured.
  • Fully compatible. 
  • Logitech quality. 
  • Easy to use.
  • It’s not cheap.
  • It has a very lackluster buffer.
  • Real-time scaling can cause frame loss.
  • Dim, angled lighting can confuse it or add noise.

Conclusion

I am more than comfortable recommending this to new streamers who want to start out with some really quality equipment.

Logitech C922x Pro: Check the current price

Lit Camera for Streaming | Razer Kiyo

Razer Kiyo Lit Camera for Streaming: photo

This Razer is used by a couple well-known Twitch Streamers who like to use a dark setting with some directional lighting, rather than ambient lighting of their surroundings. Unlike the Logitech, this does allow for some more environmental dynamism and does help the chroma-keying (not built in) to be better-handled by OBS or XSplit.

Features

  • Resolution: HD 1080p (30fps), HD 720p (60fps).
  • Compatibility: Windows 7+, Mac OSX 5+, ChromeOS, Android, Linux, Xbox One, Playstation 4, TVOS.
  • Auto-Focus: Yes.
  • Onboard Post-Processing: No.
  • Chroma-Keying/Background Replacement: No.
  • Stream Auto-Config Availability: Twitch, YouTube, Picarto.TV.
  • Connectivity: USB 2.0/3.0.
  • Onboard Audio: Stereo HD Audio.
  • Works with Tripod: Yes.
  • Telescopic Zooming: Yes.
  • Hue/Saturation Auto-Adjust: No.
  • OBS/XSplit Auto-Config: Yes.

Performance

This one has slightly less onboard bells and whistles, focusing more on dynamic lighting capture than on post-processing. This means you’ll need a decent GPU and CPU to allow OBS or XSplit to do this post-processing for you. This isn’t the end of the world these days, and it does actually mean you have some better on-the-fly control over this processing and shading.

One thing to remember with light source cameras like this is, if you use any amount of makeup, it will possibly be shiny in the light. This also goes for perspiration or oily complexion, so you will want to tend accordingly to these issues.

Overall Rating: 8

Pros Cons
  • Light source.
  • Great picture. 
  • Great compatibility.
  • Light can be glaring.
  • Light can show off skin problems.
  • Requires most processing to be handled post-capture by the source computer, this requiring a beefier GPU (that may already be handling a powerful game).
  • Autofocus is a bit slow, which may cause occasional, random blurry moments if not calibrated before the stream begins.

Conclusion 

For those who need some directional light due to wanting to keep the background dark, and this is an aesthetic some go for if their surroundings aren’t right, or if they prefer horror games, then I am comfortable recommending this camera to them. For regular users with even light, not as much.

Razer Kiyo: Check the current price

Ultra High-End Camera | Logitech BRIO

Logitech BRIO Ultra High-End Camera: photo

This is Logitech’s highest-end webcam, capable of 4K streaming at 60FPS (if the computer can handle it). This is what the biggest names in streaming on Twitch and YouTube use, as it can provide a nearly cinematic quality of the picture, at a resolution exceeding what streaming platforms generally even do.
It’s not cheap.

Features

  • Resolution: Up to 4K at 60FPS (bandwidth and processing permitting).
  • Compatibility: Windows 7+, Mac OSX 5+, ChromeOS, Android, Linux, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, TVOS.
  • Auto-Focus: Yes.
  • Onboard Post-Processing: Yes.
  • Chroma-Keying/Background Replacement: Yes.
  • Stream Auto-Config Availability: Twitch, YouTube, Picarto.TV, Discord, Skype.
  • Connectivity: USB 2.0/3.0.
  • Onboard Audio: Stereo HD Audio.
  • Works with Tripod: Yes.
  • Telescopic Zooming: Yes.
  • Hue/Saturation Auto-Adjust: Yes.
  • OBS/XSplit Auto-Config: Yes.

Performance

This is about as high-end as you can get without moving to a cinematic digital camera (DSLR or the like). If you want the best you can get, then this is hands down the camera you want. However, you better be serious about streaming, because this puppy isn’t cheap, to say the least.

However, you can’t really get a picture any sharper than this one, and it doesn’t drop frames when it has to auto-adjust like some other cameras. It actually provides a higher resolution than most streams will output, but as we said, it’s better to have too high a resolution, than too low of one, and downscale rather than limit the resolution available.

Overall Rating: 10

Pros Cons
  • Light source.
  • Great picture. 
  • Great compatibility. 
  • 4K resolution. 
  • Steady framerate. 
  • Good onboard buffer. 
  • Speedy post-processing.
  • Very expensive, meaning if you’re unsure of your future in streaming, this may be a bit of an excessive purchase.
  • You may have to downscale on your side before broadcasting, which could fight with some of the less optimized modern AAA games out there.
  • It’s a tad fragile, if you drop it, the lens could be knocked permanently out of alignment.

Conclusion 

This is the top of the line for people who know they’re taking it seriously. This is probably best as a second camera for people who’ve seen a future in their streaming and are ready to dedicate themselves more to it. As a first camera, it may be a bit much.

Logitech BRIO: Check the current price

Decent First Camera for Streaming | Supertemblor

Supertemblor Decent First Camera for Streaming: photo

This webcam is really the most ideal for those just starting out, who want to test the waters. It’s very compatible, but the picture only does 30FPS at a limit of 1080p.

Features

  • Resolution: 1080p (30FPS).
  • Compatibility: Windows 7+, Mac OSX 5+, ChromeOS, Android, Linux, Xbox One, Playstation 4, TVOS.
  • Auto-Focus: Yes.
  • Onboard Post-Processing: No.
  • Chroma-Keying/Background Replacement: No.
  • Stream Auto-Config Availability: Twitch, YouTube, Picarto.TV, Discord, Skype.
  • Connectivity: USB 2.0/3.0.
  • Onboard Audio: Stereo HD Audio.
  • Works with Tripod: Yes.
  • Telescopic Zooming: Moderate.
  • Hue/Saturation Auto-Adjust: No.
  • OBS/XSplit Auto-Config: No.

Performance

This is the first camera for those who hope to achieve more in the long run. It provides a good enough picture, though it lacks a lot of the accouterments of fancier ones, and the resolution is just standard HD with a limited frame rate.

Overall Rating: 7

Pros Cons
  • Affordable.
  • Decent enough picture.
  • Works well with middleware programs for processing.
  • Low framerate.
  • Average resolution.
  • No built-in postprocessing.
  • Tiny buffer.

Conclusion 

For the streamer just starting out, who wants to make a decent impression on a budget, and is aiming for greater things to come, I recommend this as a good way to cut your teeth on the medium.

Supertemblor: Check the current price

Affordable Hobbyist Camera for Streaming | AUKEY

AUKEY Affordable Hobbyist Camera for Streaming: photo

This camera provides a decent enough picture but is definitely not suited for those wanting to go pro, but who enjoy this as a hobby. It’s very affordable, making this the one for those who just want to play around with streaming, but aren’t that serious about it as a “career”.

Features

  • Resolution: 1080p (30FPS).
  • Compatibility: Windows 7+, Mac OSX 5+, ChromeOS, Android, Linux, Xbox One, Playstation 4, TVOS.
  • Auto-Focus: Yes.
  • Onboard Post-Processing: No.
  • Chroma-Keying/Background Replacement: No.
  • Stream Auto-Config Availability: Twitch, YouTube, Picarto.TV, Discord, Skype.
  • Connectivity: USB 2.0/3.0.
  • Onboard Audio: Stereo HD Audio.
  • Works with Tripod: Yes.
  • Telescopic Zooming: Moderate.
  • Hue/Saturation Auto-Adjust: No.
  • OBS/XSplit Auto-Config: No.

Performance

This makes a decent enough picture, but it’s prone to skipping and dropped frames here and there and relies entirely on post-processing software to doctor it up beyond its raw quality. This makes it fine for hobbyists, but shouldn’t even be the first camera for serious would-be streamers.

Overall Rating: 6.9

Pros Cons
  • Affordable.
  • Decent enough picture.
  • Works well with middleware programs for processing.
  • Too low resolution for serious streaming.
  • Likes to drop frames.
  • Relies entirely on middleware programs for effects.

Conclusion 

I’m fine recommending this to hobbyists who aren’t serious about profitable, career streaming. But, for anyone else, no.

AUKEY: Check the current price

Comparative Chart of Effectiveness of Webcams for Streaming

Products Features

Logitech C922x Pro

• Resolution: HD 1080p (30fps), HD 720p (60fps).
• Compatibility: Windows 7+, Mac OSX 5+, ChromeOS, Android, Linux, Xbox One, Playstation 4, TVOS.
• Auto-Focus: Yes.
• Onboard Post-Processing: Yes.
• Stream Auto-Config Availability: Twitch, YouTube, Picarto.TV.

Overall Rating: 9.5

Razer Kiyo

• Resolution: HD 1080p (30fps), HD 720p (60fps).
• Compatibility: Windows 7+, Mac OSX 5+, ChromeOS, Android, Linux, Xbox One, Playstation 4, TVOS.
• Auto-Focus: Yes.
• Onboard Post-Processing: No.
• Stream Auto-Config Availability: Twitch, YouTube, Picarto.TV.

Overall Rating: 8

Logitech BRIO

• Resolution: Up to 4K at 60FPS (bandwidth and processing permitting).
• Compatibility: Windows 7+, Mac OSX 5+, ChromeOS, Android, Linux, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, TVOS.
• Auto-Focus: Yes.
• Onboard Post-Processing: Yes.
• Stream Auto-Config Availability: Twitch, YouTube, Picarto.TV, Discord, Skype.

Overall Rating: 10

Supertemblor

• Resolution: 1080p (30FPS).
• Compatibility: Windows 7+, Mac OSX 5+, ChromeOS, Android, Linux, Xbox One, Playstation 4, TVOS.
• Auto-Focus: Yes.
• Onboard Post-Processing: No.
• Stream Auto-Config Availability: Twitch, YouTube, Picarto.TV, Discord, Skype.

Overall Rating: 7

AUKEY

• Resolution: 1080p (30FPS).
• Compatibility: Windows 7+, Mac OSX 5+, ChromeOS, Android, Linux, Xbox One, Playstation 4, TVOS.
• Auto-Focus: Yes.
• Onboard Post-Processing: No.
• Stream Auto-Config Availability: Twitch, YouTube, Picarto.TV, Discord, Skype.

Overall Rating: 6.9

FAQ 

What is the best webcam for streaming?
One of the Logitech.

Can I use my smartphone as a webcam for Xbox One?
No.

Can I use my DSLR as a web camera?
Yes, but it’s not recommended.

Where to put a webcam for streaming?
That depends on your desired framing. Never on the monitor.

Why is my webcam lagging?
You’ve got too much postprocessing going on, your GPU can’t handle it plus the game, or the USB connection is too slow. If your upstream is choked, that could be the culprit as well.

Pros & Cons of Using These Products

Pros

  • Much easier to set up and use than a high-end cinematic camera.
  • Works with more devices.
  • Takes up less space.
  • Uses less power.

Cons

  • They have minimal buffers.
  • They can be very costly.
  • They use a USB, which can be slow.
  • They can’t really be repaired.
  • They can be fragile.
  • They’re not good for capturing pre-recorded video.

Conclusion

If you want to stream, there are a lot of things to master, not just the camera technology. However, if you’re a hobbyist or serious about streaming live, one of these will certainly suit your needs. Happy streaming!