Video streaming has become an increasingly popular medium, with thousands of hours streamed daily, and for some, a full-blown occupation. And it’s also a powerful tool to engage with your audience, build loyalty, and scale your influence. Today’s popular streaming platforms have plenty of incredibly successful creators with lucrative careers and a loyal army of subscribers. So justifiably, you may see the potential as well. And if you want to join their ranks, having the right kit and tool belt is the perfect starting point.
If you’re new to the world of streaming, you’ve likely already discovered that an ordinary webcam built into a laptop is far from outstanding. And while some standard webcams are capable options for live streaming, they’re far from ideal. Not to mention, a good camera is what separates a forgettable stream from a memorable one. So you’ll quickly outgrow them if you want the best for your audience. Thankfully, a dedicated streaming camera will surely do just that. And it’ll step up your production quality and give you an edge amongst your peers. And it’ll also give your viewers a more personal connection to what’s going on during your stream. And to you, the creator.
Table of Contents
Now whether you’re streaming video games casually or vlogging, the camera is the second star in the show. But, choosing the right camera for streaming will be complicated. There’s an enormous abundance of options for this purpose. But, not all are created equally and deliver on the factors needed most. Not to mention, many of these cameras are modestly priced, similarly capable, and all promise the best image quality. With that, in today’s post, we’ll cover a detailed guide on the cameras available, best practices, and the factors to consider while looking around. And we’ll also cover the best streaming cameras on the present market.
The Mevo Start brings powerful pan, tilt, and zoom functionality to the streaming community. It uses a 10800 sensor and 78º field of view that streams at 1080p 30 FPS.
Mevo Start is a purpose-built device that’s designed with streaming in mind. But, it also offers a dedicated and highly user-friendly smartphone app called Mevo Mic. You can control its pan, tilt, and zoom in the app, giving a second operator the appearance during recordings. Or put it on autopilot mode, and have the app use face detection and smart scene analysis to choose the most exciting shots for you. But, it also provides extensive picture adjustments, presets, and full manual control. Crucially, however, the Mevo Start becomes one of few devices with an included Wi-Fi module. This allows it to connect to a phone’s hotspot or Wi-Fi network for streaming on the go. But, with a battery life of 6 hours on a single charge, it’s no slouch. Other bonuses include a microphone input, a MicroSD slot for simultaneous backup, three spatial processing microphones, USB-C, and a tripod mount.
Overall, while expensive, Mevo’s Start bears the hallmark design principles of the original Mevo Plus. But, as the second-generation model, it catapults the line further. And it now becomes the world’s first all-in-one mobile streaming solution. So if you’re looking to stream on the road, this is the best option around.
Take your content forward and stream in 60 FPS with true to life details with Logitech’s StreamCam. The StreamCam uses a 1080p sensor with a 78º field of view, which streams at 1080p 60 FPS.
This webcam comes with OBS, Twitch, and XSplit support from the get-go. No setup is needed. The device itself is also supremely adjustable. Not only can you change the pan and tilt. But, it also converts from landscape to portrait orientation, letting it produce the 9:16 vertical video format. But, crucially, it supplies 60 FPS, which becomes a key advantage over the competition at its price point, mostly lacking this feature. And the camera also provides smart autofocus with AI facial tracking to ensure you’re always in focus. Logitech also adds their Capture software offers manual control, presets, Chroma key, filters, and more. Other bonuses include a tripod thread, a 3-month XSplit license, dual front-facing microphones, and a one-year warranty.
Overall, Logitech’s Streamcam bundles excellent software and functionality into a jack of all trades tool. And it becomes an outstanding choice for creators with USB-C-equipped devices wanting to simplify the guesswork of streaming.
Logitech Brio Ultra HD Pro
Make 4K portable with Logitech’s Brio. And it’s their most advanced webcam to date and one that packs leading innovations. Brio uses a 4K sensor and a 90º field of view lens, which streams at 4K 30 FPS, 1080p 60 FPS, and 720p 90 FPS.
Brio brings Logitech’s RightLight 3 and HDR functionality to the market, a rarity. These features combine to automatically adjust the camera’s settings to ensure outstanding quality, no matter the lighting condition: direct sunlight, low light, backlight, no problem. The device also sports an IR sensor for Windows Hello and dual Omni-directional microphones with noise cancellation technology. Plus, you can even change from three fields of view, from 65º for close-ups or 78º and 90º for wide angles. Other bonuses include a detachable cable, a tripod thread, a privacy shutter, a 5X zoom, a carrying case, and a three-year warranty.
Sure, most platforms today’s don’t support 4K resolution. But the future will be. And Logitech’s Brio raises the bar by bringing 4K and HDR to the masses. And it’s the ideal option for creators looking to future proof their setups and catapult you ahead of the curve.
Take your streaming to a professional level with the Razer Kiyo. The Kiyo uses a 1080p sensor and an 81º field of view lens, which streams at 1080p 30 FPS or 720p at 60 FPS.
Razer designed Kiyo with streaming in mind, unlike most webcams that are aimed at teleconferencing. So they’ve stripped away all the unnecessary elements. And, instead, it brings an innovative design with a daylight-balanced ring light. So forget about purchasing external lights to get a decent result. Instead, adjust its brightness to get flattering lighting anywhere. This device is also fully compatible with XSplit, and OBS from the get-go. And it offers manual camera adjustments, customization, presets, and profiles. Other bonuses include an omnidirectional microphone and a tripod thread.
Overall, Razer’s Kiyo is innovative and removes the inherent difficulty involved with streaming. It’s a Windows-only device, however. So it’s not fully accessible to all creators. Even so, it’s an ideal choice if you want a comprehensive and straightforward workflow solution that ups the production value.
Logitech C922X Pro
Logitech’s C922 Pro is designed for streamers, and it’s the best all-rounder at this price point. It features a 1080p sensor 78º field of view, which streams at 1080p 30 FPS and 720p 60 FPS.
The C922 boasts dual omnidirectional microphones to capture brilliant stereo audio for clear, realistic, and natural-sounding audio. It also offers Logitech’s Capture app with a full suite of features to customize your stream with transitions, overlays, or adjust the camera’s settings. Additionally, it features Auto Light Correction and HD autofocus, both combining to fine-tune the camera to various lighting conditions for razor-sharp videos. Other bonuses include a 3-month premium XSplit license, a tripod, and a 1-Year limited warranty.
Overall, Logitech C922 is the best all-around option, and it’s understandable why it’s so popular. It offers the latest improvements and serves as an excellent option for streamers across a variety of applications. But one that’s not overly expensive, so as to make it out of reach for even beginners.
Buyers Guide & Tips
What cameras can I use for streaming?
When deciding the specific camera that best suits your streaming setup, you’ll first have to determine what kind of camera meets your needs. You have one of three major camera styles. Below is a brief guide on each and their ideal use case. But, know, each has its strengths and weaknesses.
- Webcams: While most laptops have one built-in, they’re rarely good. And buying an external webcam that uses a larger sensor, sharper lens, and a quality microphone will provide a substantial upgrade in quality. Compared to other camera styles, webcams are the most affordable and the default choice for beginners looking to adventure into streaming. Additionally, they’re also easy to use and offer plug and play set up with all the popular platforms. The only downside, however, is that most will struggle to produce quality images in low light. Others will become entirely crippled. So adding an affordable LED light to your setup or supplementing it with natural light when possible is a wise move. Even so, webcams are a solid choice given their ease of use and affordability.
- DSLR and Mirrorless cameras: If you already own a mirrorless or DSLR camera, there’s a high likelihood you can stream with it. These cameras are often the go-to choice for content creators, filmmakers, and established videographers. But, they’re much more complicated to set up and use. As such, they’re not the ideal option for beginners looking to get started immediately. But, they will significantly improve the production value and image quality of your streams. And they do provide unrivaled flexibility in lens configurations to get the exact look you want.
- Camcorders: While many use DSLR or mirrorless cameras, camcorders are a powerful option for live streaming. These cameras are inherently designed for long format video recording. As such, they offer a clean HDMI, excellent battery life, and easy integration with popular streaming platforms. And for this reason, they’re the next easiest to use, outside of webcams. However, they’re quite expensive and still require additional equipment for setup, so they’re usually out of beginners’ reach.
How to stream with a mirrorless or DSLR camera
To do so, you’ll need a camera with clean HDMI output, which allows the camera to output an uncompressed video signal to an external device without showing on-screen information, namely the current video settings. Not all cameras have this option, but you’d be surprised by how many do. You can find information detailing your camera’s HDMI capabilities in its owners/users manual.
From here, you’ll want to check if your camera has unlimited runtime. Most cameras have limitations on how long they can record, typically 30 minutes. But, when you output via HDMI, some cameras do remove this limitation. But, if it doesn’t, this limitation will terminate your stream once the time elapses, and you can’t deactivate this function. So you will need another camera, sadly.
Next, you’ll want to investigate a continuous power solution for your camera, be it USB battery bank, d-tap battery, or an AC adapter. This will ensure it stays powered throughout the stream and doesn’t die accidentally, as most of these cameras have relatively low battery life. Some cameras don’t allow continuous charging while in use, so it’s something to research.
But outside of these three factors, you can easily use your existing camera to stream. All you need now is a capture card to interface between the camera and computer.
Why get a webcam camera?
A dedicated webcam will improve the quality of your streams and simplify your workflow. While most laptops have built-in cameras, they’re far too blurry. Additionally, many have small lenses, strange colors, and film at an awkward angle. As such, they’re a minimum if you’re a beginner looking to get started, but you’ll quickly outgrow this setup.
Instead, a dedicated webcam solves these issues while also offers more flexibility in framing. Some even have built-in lights, and many offer microphones to improve quality further. So, they’re a worthy investment that ensures you connect with your audience.
But, that said, if you want the best image quality or the best for your audience, then consider a DSLR or mirrorless camera. These will provide unmatched image quality and lens flexibility.
Streaming vs. non-streaming webcams
Let’s cover the two types of webcams before going forward.
Today’s webcam market separates into two categories, either streaming or non-streaming. Live stream-oriented cameras offer more features geared towards content creators, including high-end microphones, LED lights, and powerful software applications. But, as such, they’re often more expensive, ranging around $250. However, the main distinction between these two webcams is whether the camera streams at the resolution it records. Not all cameras that record in 4K can stream at this resolution. Instead, they record at 4K, for uploading later, and streaming 1080p or lower. And this fact becomes the critical separator between these cameras. Instead, streaming cameras are solely optimized to stream at their native resolution.
Can webcams work on both desktops and laptops?
Some manufacturers orient their webcams toward desktops users, while others toward laptops. The intention behind the device will ultimately determine its size and weight. But, in general, webcams can work for both devices. Though you may need to purchase additional accessories.
For desktops, you want a steady webcam that sits comfortably on the desk. However, setting it on a tripod is helpful here to place the camera at eye level. Otherwise, it’ll be slightly lower and not as flattering.
For laptops, you want something lightweight that has a secure mount and also tilts. But, ultimately, a tripod will be best, so you can also set it at eye level.
Either way, whichever style fits your setup will depend on whether you have a laptop or not. Otherwise, both types become identical in the end.
Do I need a high-end computer to Livestream?
In general, no. Most modern computers have powerful enough processors that can handle both streaming and webcams simultaneously. And multitasking these days is far easier. But, that said, it depends on what you’re streaming and the resolution your camera records. So, for video game streaming, you may end up needing a more robust setup. But, as long as your computer can handle the game or application you’re using and the streaming software, then it’ll work fine. There’s no reason to purchase a new computer or update your hardware otherwise.
Do I need 4K to stream?
While most manufacturers are moving toward 4K, 1080p still reigns as the standard for streaming platforms. And today, only a handful of platforms support 4K resolution. So, while 4K is a way to future proof your setup, it’s not necessary quite yet. But, go for it if your budget allows it.
What’s the best webcam placement for live streaming?
You want the webcam level with your eyes. This could mean mounting it directly on an external monitor for desktop users. But for laptop users, you’ll want to consider purchasing a tripod so you can get the proper height.
How to choose the best webcam camera?
Picking the right webcam for streaming is much like picking any suitable camera. And the same factors that ultimately determine a camera’s quality also apply to webcams. Thus, you’ll want to investigate several factors beforehand. Below is a list of these factors.
Webcam Resolution and Frame Rate
In the streaming world, 1080p full HD is the standard. But, if you plan on also recording and editing videos, then 4K would be best. A 4K equipped webcam would improve your image quality and provide more room for cropping. But, if you don’t plan on editing whatsoever, there’s no need for 4K. Additionally, most streaming platforms don’t support this resolution either. And most streamers don’t have an internet supplier that provides enough bandwidth to stream without stutters. As such, it’s unnecessary.
One area to consider, though, when looking at various cameras is the frame rates they support. Frame rate determines the smoothness of the videos. And a webcam that shoots at 60 frames per second (FPS) will provide more realistic and natural movement in your videos. But, while helpful, this is also not a necessary option for most. So look for webcams that stream at 1080p 30 FPS. Or 60 FPS if you do want the added realism.
Do I need a 4K webcam?
To reiterate here, no. The added resolution that comes with 4K helps create sharper videos, but not streams. There aren’t enough platforms that support 4K resolution, and the internet demand it causes to record in real-time is too high. Skip the 4K, and look for bonus features instead.
The webcam’s lens determines the amount of light it captures and its field of view. It’s particularly important if you don’t have good lighting. But, not every manufacturer specifies the details about the lens. Even so, most lenses have an aperture ranging from f/2 to f/2.8. These numbers represent the aperture’s size, and the lower the number, the more light the lens captures. The best practice here is to find a webcam with the smallest aperture possible. Otherwise, you’ll want to purchase additional lighting. You can find information about the lens on the manufacturers’ website. And when comparing between two options, use this as a factor to determine which is best. But, if you’re planning on streaming in a bright environment, know this isn’t quite that important. Most webcams have little difficulty when streaming in enough light.
But, something that may be important is the camera’s field of view. The field of view is how wide, or narrow the camera’s view is. And it will alter how you frame yourself. Ideally, you want a field of view that’s wide enough to capture yourself. But not so wide that it catches too much of the surroundings and becomes distracting. But, this is personal taste. In general, webcams have views that range from 60-90º, where 90º is a wide field of view. So choose the best angle for your style.
Lower-end webcams have fixed focus lenses, which only keep you in focus at a set distance away. This distance is something the manufacturer pre-defines, and it only works if you stream from a particular distance from the camera. So, essentially, it forces you to stay in the sweet spot at all times. Otherwise, you’ll become blurry and difficult to see. And for this reason, we don’t recommend these models as they are too difficult to work with.
Instead, mid-range models include autofocus. This lets their lens automatically adjust the focus to ensure you’re always clear and in focus, regardless of the distance. And you can entirely forget about having to stay at a set distance. As such, they’re more flexible, easier to use, and the recommended option.
Audio quality is essential to streaming. Thankfully, most webcams include built-in microphones to improve your sound quality. Ideally, look for a webcam that offers a built-in stereo microphone, which picks up your voice and some room noise for a natural sound. You can find this information on the manufacturer’s listing.
Automatic brightness and color correction
You want a camera with accurate colors and automatic brightness adjustment. And the camera should compensate for the ambient light in your environment. But, it should also provide manual control as well, so you can make changes, if needed.
But outside of that, a feature to consider for streaming is automatic background deletion or Chroma Key. This allows you to cut yourself out of a green screen, replacing it with whatever you’d like and creates a more 3D look.
Webcam clips or stands
Every webcam needs a sturdy attaching system. And the clip that’s included should be well made for easy repositioning over the pan and tilt of the camera. The same applies to the desk stand or tripod that’s included. The stand should be sturdy enough to hold the camera. But, also flexible enough so it can swivel and tilt. On this front, also look for webcams that include a tripod thread so that you can attach a desk tripod. Doing so ensures the webcam is at eye level.
Do you need special webcam lighting?
You don’t if you have ample natural light. But, if you don’t have a lot of light, then yes. Some webcams do have built-in LED lights, though. So looking for an option with built-in lighting will help reduce cost. But otherwise, you’ll want to invest in the appropriate lighting setup. Most streamers use ring lights, as they’re affordable and easy to use. But, find something that fits your particular needs and budget.
Last Updated on September 22, 2023 by Photography PX Published January 29, 2021