Work Better: Computer Cameras for Crystal Clear Zoom Calls and Webinars
Upgrade your built-in lens for a better picture.
Let’s be honest, your computer or laptop probably already comes with a built-in video camera, but if you’re using an external display, your correspondent can find themselves looking at the top of your head, or the side of your face when you’re on a call. That’s where external computer cameras come into their own. Connected to your system via USB, they allow you to place the camera in a location that is convenient for you—and frequently give a far better picture and sound than the tech that’s built-in.
While there doesn’t tend to be the same division between computer operating systems as there once was, it’s worth checking whether the camera you have in mind is designed specifically to work with your computer. Some will only work with Windows and so if you’re running a Mac, although you might be able to get it to play nicely after downloading other software, it won’t necessarily be the fuss-free, plug-and-play solution you’re after.
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For the clearest and smoothest picture, there are a few numbers that you want to look at—for a start, the resolution, the higher the number, the sharper the picture. 1080 pixels is quite standard for a computer screen and should be adequate. But you also want to check how many frames per second (fps) the camera can capture—again, the higher the number, the better the image, but 30fps should be fine for most. It’s also worth bearing in mind that if you’re on a video call, the quality of your picture will also be affected by your bandwidth—even the best camera in the world can’t compensate for a poor internet connection.
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Thinking about how you’re going to use your camera will also help narrow down your choices. Will it just be you on a video call, or are you likely to be joined by colleagues or family? If there are going to be several of you, it’s worth seeking out a camera that has a wide-angle lens. That means you’ll avoid the awkwardness of having to crouch on top of each other to ensure that you’re all in the shot.
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