How to Choose a Webcam: 6 Steps - MakeSureHow
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While many computers have webcams built in, not all do. Built-in devices are not always satisfactory; not all integrated webcams are conveniently placed for all users, and most integrated webcams have very small optical apertures and poor light sensitivity. If you intend to use your webcam to record video for playback on a television, or you want to do very high-definition video chatting over the Internet, an external webcam is usually the best choice. If your computer doesn't have a webcam at all, an external one may be your only choice.

Steps

  1. 1
    Resolution Comparison: Like digital still cameras, webcams are compared by their megapixels. VGA resolution -- 640 pixels by 480 pixels -- is 0.3 megapixels, and is the standard for most instant messaging services on the Internet. The next step up is 1280 pixels by 720 pixels, or 1.3 megapixels, with some cameras able to record at full HDTV resolution, or 5 megapixels. As the megapixel count goes up, so does the price, but not terribly steeply. Megapixels are less important in a video camera. Compressed VGA digital video takes about 100 kilobits per second of download speed and the same amount on upload speed – which is close to the limits for low end DSL service. High-definition webcams require about four times the bandwidth, while a full 1080p video chat would require 16 times that bandwidth. If you're using the camera to record video for later editing, higher resolution is better.
  2. 2
    Connection Mechanism: The vast majority of webcams use a wired USB 2.0 connection. USB 2.0 is more than fast enough to handle video. Some webcams connect wirelessly by Bluetooth, but cost a bit more than a standard USB connection. Bluetooth connections can also suffer some image and connection degradation due to radio-frequency interference, but offer a lot more convenience when it comes to moving the camera around while shooting video.
  3. 3
    Integrated Microphone: Many, but not all, webcams come with integrated microphones. The more professional you want your video recording to look, the better off you'll be with a dedicated, separate, microphone. If your webcam purchase is budget constrained, you may face a choice: is it better to have the microphone in the webcam (and thus always with you when you have the webcam set up), or separate, in a headset or on the table? A webcam with an integrated, low-quality, microphone is sufficient for Internet chatting, and will be cheaper than a webcam and headset. The headset solution will sound much better.
  4. 4
    Instant Messaging Client:While less common than it was a decade ago, there are cameras (like the Microsoft Lifecam VX) which only support one instant-messaging network. Before making a purchase, make sure that the camera works with the instant-messaging networks you want to use, and make sure the camera's features are supported by the version of the instant messaging client you use. For example, as of October 2012, only Skype version 5.8 and later supports full 1080p video chatting.
  5. 5
    Mounting Hardware: Check for a threaded hole on the bottom of the camera that allows you to mount it to a tripod. For professional-looking videos, you need to mount your camera on a tripod, rather than clipping it to or dangling it from your computer monitor. Using a tripod lets you set the camera angle precisely, and adjust the monitor height to what's easy for you to read and react to, without having to compromise on camera position.
  6. 6
    Purchasing: Before deciding on a purchase, find online reviews of the model you're considering and read them carefully. Visit a local electronics store and play with a floor model. Remember that stores are typically lit more brightly than homes, so the picture will likely be better than what you'll get at home, unless you invest in studio lighting. If price is your primary concern, check out online vendors. As a general rule, sticking to leading brand names like Logitech and Gear Head won't steer you astray.

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Categories: Digital Cameras

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