Built-in webcams in laptops and AIO (all-in-one) desktops generally offer very poor imaging and recording quality, which is why most streamers opt for external webcams. Not only do the standalone hardware offer much better photos and videos, they also offer clearer audio for teleconferencing and streaming. So if you’re unhappy with your laptop webcam or want to upgrade to a new high-res webcam, you’ve come to the right place. That’s because we’ve rounded up the 5 best 4K UHD webcams for streaming and teleconferencing right now.
Best 4K UHD Webcams For Streaming and Teleconferencing (2021)
Along with the best 4K UHD webcams, we are also listing a few affordable 4K webcams in case you don’t want to splurge the extra cash for the premium models. We will also tell you what to look for when buying a webcam and discuss if 4K webcams are worth the premium right now. Finally, we will also tell you how to use your humble smartphone as a webcam on your computer. So without further ado, let’s check out the best 4K UHD webcams for streaming and video-conferencing you can buy right now.
What to Look for When Buying a Webcam
Goes without saying, the most important feature of a webcam is the quality of images and video it captures. For modern digital cameras, a high-resolution sensor and high frame rates are a starting point for good image quality. Typically, the higher the resolution, clearer the image, and higher the frame rate, smoother the video. The type of lens (preferably 6-layer glass instead of plastic) also affects webcam performance, while the sensor size, field of view (FOV), codec support and platform compatibility are also things to watch out for.
One feature that often gets overlooked by webcam buyers is the microphone quality. Omni-directional mics, which record from every direction around the camera, typically improve the audio quality by an order of magnitude. Some premium webcams also come with motion-sensors, which can turn a webcam into a security system. While some models come with this feature built-in, others let you download software to enable it. Another desirable aspect is a wide viewing angle. You should ideally pick something that offers a 90-degree FOV, but anything less than 75-degrees should be strict no-no.
Finally, not every webcam works with every computer or operating system, so always check if your PC or Mac is compatible with the webcam you’re thinking of buying. If your computer is new, it might be compatible with most webcams in the market, but you might run into compatibility issues if you’re using an older computer. While you might still be able to run your new webcam on an older Windows PC, you’ll have to be doubly careful if you use Mac, Linux or a Chromebook.
Are 4K Webcams Worth the Upgrade?
Having a 4K UHD webcam definitely gives you bragging rights, but as of now, the only practical reason to buy a 4K UHD webcam would be to future-proof your purchase. That’s because widespread support for 4K streaming hasn’t yet become commonplace, largely because of bandwidth issues and a lack of support from streaming services.
Of course, you can always upload your 4K recordings to YouTube, but it’s not of paramount importance for video-conferencing or streaming, because without native support from the OTT app or the video sharing service, the stream quality would be automatically compressed.
That said, more and more apps, services and device-makers, are adding 4K support with every passing day. So buying the best 4K webcams for streaming or teleconferencing now would ensure that your hardware won’t be outdated in the coming years.
Beware of Fake 4K Webcams!
The one truism that holds true for 4K webcams is “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. Just like other electronics like SD cards and USB flash drives, there are numerous fakes available in the market, all trying to take advantage of the fact that there are not too many genuine 4K webcams from reputable brands. It doesn’t help that the organized webcam market is frozen in time, what with an 8-year old model, the Logitech C920, continuing to remain the most popular offering in the category.
As for the fake 4K webcams, these are ultra-cheap no-name devices that promise 4K videos, but often don’t support anything more than SD resolution. The quality is also typically not much better than that of standard laptop webcams, thanks to an abundance of noise and zero color correction. Finally, they also often advertise a 90-degree field-of-view, but hardly deliver anything more than 60-degrees. So if you think you’re getting a great deal, either online or offline, on a generic 4K UHD webcam that promises high-res recording for a sub-$50 price-tag, think twice before pulling the trigger.
Best 4K UHD Webcams You Can Buy
Here, we have compiled a list of the best 4K webcams for streaming and teleconferencing you can buy right now. We have included both premium and affordable devices to ensure that everyone gets an option irrespective of their budget.
1. Logitech Brio 4K Webcam
The Logitech Brio has been the best 4K UHD webcam for a while now. It has been the go-to webcam for the vast majority of streamers and broadcasters who need the added resolution for their streams and video recordings. Users praise its white balance, color saturation, and low-light performance. It is also the only webcam in this list that supports HDR recording. Along with the standard optical sensor, there’s also an infrared sensor in the Brio, making it fully compatible with Windows Hello, Microsoft’s facial recognition feature for Windows computers.
The Logitech Brio comes with a premium glass lens, and its Right Light 3 technology automatically adjusts exposure and contrast to compensate for glare and backlighting. It works with a vast number of streaming software, including XSplit and OBS on Windows and Swift Capture on Mac. Some of the notable features offered by the camera includes up to 5x digital zoom and three FOV (field of view) options while maintaining HD resolution.It is compatible with a wide array of popular video meeting apps, including Zoom, WebEx, Blue Jeans, Facebook Messenger and more.
- Pros: 4K HDR @30fps, Photo and video quality, Color accuracy, Low-light clarity
- Cons: Buggy auto-focus, Expensive
- Compatibility: Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows 10, Mac OS 10.10 or higher, Chrome OS Version 29.0.1547.70 and higher
Buy from Amazon: ($199.85)
2. NexiGo N950 Pro 4K Webcam
The NexiGo N950 Pro 4K webcam is another stellar offering in the segment. It comes with a Sony 8.5MP sensor that records at up to a 3840×2160 Quad HD resolution at 30FPS. The webcam supports up to 5x digital zoom while maintaining UHD resolution to capture a wider or narrower field-of-view (FOV) according to your choice. It also comes with built-in dual omni-directional stereo mics with noise cancellation to provide clearer audio during teleconferencing and streaming games. It also comes with automatic low-light correction to provide image clarity even in dim lighting conditions.
The NexiGo N950 Pro 4K webcam is a plug-and-play device that works out-of-the-box with an USB 2.0 connector and without the need for any additional driver installation. It comes with a privacy cover that prevents hackers from spying on you and gives you peace of mind. It also has a tripod-ready clip that makes for easy setup, while its convenient foldable design allows you to easily take it anywhere. The NexiGo N950 Pro 4K webcam is compatible with Skype, YouTube, Facebook, Xbox One, OBS, Zoom, WhatsApp, Yahoo, MSN, Android, IPTV and more.
- Pros: Sony sensor, Easy setup, Brilliant autofocus
- Cons: Mount does not swivel left-right (only up/down), Relatively expensive
- Compatibility: Windows, Mac (check exact system requirements and compatible models on manufacturer’s website)
Buy from Amazon: ($139.00)
3. Amcrest 4K Webcam
The Amcrest 4K webcam is for folks who want 4K streaming at an affordable price. It is powered by a ⅓ 8MP 4K CMOS image sensor and 4.5mm wide-angle lens for a wide, 75-degree viewing angle. It offers 4K UltraHD video @18fps and 2K videos @30fps. The webcam comes with a built-in noise-reducing microphone for enhanced stereo audio, which allows for clear and natural sound recording. Like the earlier model, this one is also plug-and-play on Windows, which means your computer will detect and support this device out-of-the-box without the need for any additional driver installation.
The Amcrest 4K HD Webcam comes with a privacy cover that shields your webcam when not in use, thereby preventing hackers from spying on you. It provides security, privacy, and ease of mind. Another notable inclusion is a mounting clip and ¼ tripod thread, so that you can use it on just about any surface. The Amcrest 4K HD webcam supports a whole host of applications, including Skype, YouTube, Android TV, Zoom, Windows Live@Messager, Gmail, WeChat and more.
- Pros: Image quality, Low-light clarity, Affordability
- Cons: 4K at only 18FPS
- Compatibility: Windows 10, macOS and Android
Buy from Amazon: ($59.99)
4. DEPSTECH 4K HD Webcam
The DEPSTECH 4K webcam comes with an 8MP 1/3” Sony CMOS optical image sensor, and supports video recordings at up to 3840x 2160 @30FPS. It also has low-light correction and autofocus to ensure that your videos are always sharp and clear. The webcam comes with built-in dual noise-reducing microphones that can filter out background noise automatically for better audio clarity during video-conferences and streaming. The DEPSTECH 4K webcam is a plug-and-play USB device, which means it can be just plugged into a computer and used instantly without the need for any additional software.
The DEPSTECH webcam comes with a privacy cover that shields the lens for your privacy and security. It also helps protect the lens from dirt and debris to ensure your video always remains crystal clear. The webcam comes with a flexible and adjustable clip that supports 360-degree horizontal adjustment and 180-degree vertical adjustment. It can also be mounted on a tripod for a more convenient setup. The DEPSTECH 4K webcam works with most streaming, recording and video-conferencing software, like Skype, Zoom, OBS, Face Time, Facebook, YouTube and more.
- Pros: 4K@30FPS, Decent autofocus, Wide-angle lens, Affordable
- Cons: Microphone struggles to pick up voice from more than 3 feet
- Compatibility: Windows XP（SP2,SP3)/Vista/7/8/10, Mac
Buy from Amazon: ($59.99)
5. Gnolkee 4K Webcam
The Gnolkee 4k webcam has a 1.33-inch 8MP CMOS image sensor and a 6-layer, 110-degree wide-angle glass lens for better image clarity. It supports HDR and offers automatic adjustment of exposure and contrast to compensate for glare and backlighting. The device comes with omni-directional dual sound-absorbing and noise-reducing microphones that pick up voices while blocking out white noise in the background for a clearer audio experience. The Gnolkee 4K webcam also comes with a detachable privacy protection cover to safeguard your privacy when not in use.
Like most webcams on this list, the Gnolkee 4K webcam is also a plug-and-play device, which means there’s no need for additional drivers to use it with your PC. It also supports a wide range of apps and OTT services, including Zoom, Skype, YouTube, Twitch, Facetime, OBS, Facebook Live and more. The device comes with two detachable USB-type C cables (5.9 feet and 3.3 feet) to meet your different needs. Gnolkee also offers 30-day money-back guarantee and 12-month free warranty for the product.
- Pros: HDR, Light correction, Broad compatibility, 110-degree wide-angle 6E glass lens
- Cons: Struggles with exposure and white balance, Relatively expensive
- Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, Chrome OS
Buy from Amazon: ($109.99)
Use You iPhone or Android Smartphone as a Webcam
You may be planning to splurge on a webcam, but do you know that you can also use your smartphone as a webcam? If you’re just starting out as a streamer and are hesitant about dishing out a pretty penny for a brand new webcam, this is by far the most cost-effective way of improving your stream quality. This is also worth considering if you are thinking about upgrading from your awful laptop webcam, because in most cases, the videos from your smartphone will be way better than the quality of the built-in webcam in your laptop.
Goes without saying, the eventual quality of your stream or images will depend on the quality of your smartphone camera. However, given that most premium and mid-range smartphones these days have way better (primary) cameras than the vast majority of laptops in the market, you can expect your streaming quality to improve significantly by using your smartphone as a webcam. So if you want to give that a go, check out our guide on how to use your smartphone as a webcam for streaming and video-conferencing.
Stream in Style With the Best 4K Webcams You Can Buy
Standalone webcams are an absolute necessity for professional streamers because of the abysmal quality of the built-in modules. What’s more, they are also the only choice for DIY PC builders for streaming games on Twitch or YouTube. They also make for much better quality streams when it comes to Zoom calls or Skype chats. So whatever be your reason for buying a standalone webcam, take your pick from the list above and let us know which one you chose and why.