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The best webcams for streamers and zoom calls, tested

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Webcam buying guide: Ars choices, from affordable to extravagant

Anete Lusina

Webcams are having a moment. With video chats and teleconferencing becoming a normal facet of life in a pandemic-ridden world, having a device that presents you in your best light can be invaluable.

The best webcams will dramatically improve your online presence over the intermediate cameras built into most laptops, whether you’re working from home, video chatting with family, teaching online classes, or streaming on Twitch. The best part is that most webcams are plug-and-play, allowing you to instantly improve your video quality.

There are countless webcams on the market today, ranging from affordable options designed for the basics to feature-rich models that can cost hundreds of dollars. Some work best in daylight. Others render colored LED backgrounds more accurately or produce flattering skin tones. Some recording at super sharp resolutions like 4K, which can be nice, but it’s not essential. The video quality you’ll get will still heavily depend on the lighting and general composition of your surroundings, but some webcams will still make sharpening less of a hassle.

To make it easier to find the model that’s right for you, we’ve tested a number of highly rated webcams. Here are our top picks, ranging from a budget option to a more professional all-in-one setup, all of which we’ve evaluated in a variety of lighting scenarios.

An affordable option

Creative Live Cam Sync 1080p V2: $30 at Amazon

Features at a Glance: Creative Live Cam Sync 1080p V2
Dimensions 3.3 × 2.3 × 2.4 inches (83 × 58 × 60mm)
Weight 0.2 pounds (96g)
Link USB2.0
Sensor CMOS
Field of view 77 degrees
Opening f/2.4
Focus range 19.7 inches (50 cm) to infinity
Supported resolutions 1080p at 30 fps, 720p at 30 fps
Microphone Dual integrated
Application Creative app (Windows only)

The compact and ultra-lightweight Creative Live Cam Sync V2 probably won’t be your go-to solution for high-quality streaming or recording, but it’s a good budget all-in-one at $30. For that low price, you’re still getting a camera that shoots at perfectly competent 1080p resolution at 30 frames per second (fps) and with a 77-degree field of view.

In natural light, it picks up details with precision and autofocuses smoothly. We found its image quality to be better when natural light from the side was used. Under these conditions, the camera gives dimension to faces and avoids washout. That said, it would be useful to have image controls in Creative’s app, for example, to fine-tune white balance and tint since skin tones are quite green.

You can mount the Live Cam Sync V2 directly to your monitor, or attach it to a stand or tripod if you have one, and plug it in using the included USB 2.0 cable. Like most of our picks, it doesn’t require any software downloads, so you can use it instantly.

If you’re a Windows user, Creative’s companion app lets you change a few more settings, though these all apply to audio quality, not video quality. For example, you can enable VoiceDetect, which automatically turns your microphone on and off during a call. You can also manually change your voice and ambient noise level or let the camera adjust them automatically.

The camera has a subtle white light to show when in use and a basic privacy cover that won’t come off. The webcam has a built-in microphone; Its recording quality is acceptable for calls, although the sound was slightly hollow even in a small carpeted room. Still, it’s good enough if you need an all-in-one webcam for work or personal calls.


  • App included for audio configuration
  • Decent microphone
  • Acceptable video quality in most lighting scenarios
  • low price

The bad

  • The app has no image settings
  • Poor build quality