How to choose a webcam
To see old friends or relatives in important moments of life are at this time thousands of miles away - it's better than just talking on the phone. And modern Webcams make it all possible. In addition, special web-cameras allow you to watch at any distance for the territory of the house or children during their absence.
Today, almost everyone knows how to use the program Skype. But not everyone can choose the most suitable for a particular purpose of the web camera, though, it would seem that complicated? So let's deal with the question - which Webcam is better to buy for you.
Types and form factor of Webcams
Unambiguous classification of the web-cameras do not exist. There are desktop cameras and built-in to laptop or tablet, IP cameras, wireless and gaming. Mainly they differ in the clip, resolution, quality of optics and data transmission, although expensive IP cameras (aka network, usually used in security or system LiveCam) may also have extended the range (to shoot at night, in the infrared).
But more importantly, in contrast to the "serious" camera, the web-camera not have a clear criterion for image quality. The only reliable way to find out whether the webcam - is suitable-turn it on and check. And at the same time to evaluate the stability of the software also impossible. Leading manufacturers provide support for universal programs common to all models (such as EasyCam), but problems, especially with cheap cameras, are possible.
One of the main criteria for choosing any photographic technique is the resolution of the matrix, the parameter that is responsible for the clarity of the image. For webcams, this parameter starts at 0.3 Mp (320x240 pixels). Commercially the maximum occurring values – 5 megapixel (2592х1944 pixels). And these numbers are constantly growing. Do not buy a camera with a matrix resolution lower than 1.3 MP, otherwise the image will be blurred, especially in low light conditions. Although such resolutions cannot be compared with the characteristics of "real" cameras and even cameras built into some smartphones, but the quality of images is often not very different. When creating a webcam, engineers do not have strict dimensional limits and should not think about energy saving, so the lower resolution is compensated by other parameters. So even the cheapest devices provide enough resolution for video conferencing.
Another important parameter - is the type of matrix. Unlike serious photographic equipment, Webcams rarely have CCD-matrices. Although these matrices provide less noise, they are quite expensive. Therefore, it is believed that for Webcams used mainly for communication on the Internet, enough CMOS-matrices. In most cases, this is the case, but if you plan to use a camera with facial recognition programs, it is better to take a low-noise CCD. Or at least evaluate the quality of the pictures on the eye before buying.
The level of quality of optics of any type of camera is also responsible for the quality of the picture. In the top cameras, and sometimes in the budget, set high-quality glass optics, such as Carl Zeiss. Data on the installed optics are rarely indicated in online stores or in the description of the device, but are necessarily mentioned in the reviews and on the packaging of such devices (see photo).
Video frame rate (fps) – a parameter that should be approached with caution. The frame rate of modern Webcams ranges from 9 to 90 Hz. Low frame rate, which is less than 30 frames/s – and yours interlocutor on the other side of the Internet connection will see moving objects as in a slide show. But high frame rate and low speed Internet connection will make communication impossible due to the need to transfer large amounts of video data. Thus, if you intend to talk on the network, for example, via Wi-Fi, it is better to show modesty and not chase the increased smoothness of the video.
Additional options of Webcams
Built-in back-light and zoom are useful, but do not take them seriously - these additional features cannot replace the good lighting and lens of a professional camera. However, they show good build quality of Webcam. Auto-focus can be useful if you plan to take photos with the camera or often move it, knocking down the optimal distance to the subject. Some manufacturers add into the software functions effects of various shooting Sepia, black and white, etc. To communicate via Skype this functionality is rarely used, but again, can be useful in photography. Although in this case, image processing applications give better results.
The fact that the web camera is significantly different from conventional photo cameras. First of all-the lack of serious and expensive electronic "stuffing". It is assumed that all its functions will be taken over by the computer. However, there are beginning to play their role two other differences – rather narrow bandwidth and the dependence of the camera from the software.
A narrow transmission channel means the fact that in conventional photo and video equipment information is transmitted from the matrix to the processor "at a small distance" and over a wide bus, and in the webcam - through a universal and therefore not too efficient USB. Software dependency means that all Webcams require the installation of their own applications and drivers to work. And since camera manufacturers, and most importantly, the developers of operating systems will not agree on common protocols and compatible codes, not every camera still works with all operating systems.
Better quality models, especially on a long cord - a solution for home photography and video, for example, for Amateur chronologies and records of holidays. For the same purpose, it is useful to take a webcam with a quick photo button that allows you to "catch a frame" without accessing the SOFTWARE. In addition to USB, such devices can be connected via WiFi or Bluetooth, although the latest models are very expensive, work unstable and therefore not widely used. A special class of cameras – network. They have their own IP address, so you can connect to them via the Internet. Such cameras are usually used either for installation on the streets, for shooting attractions, wildlife, showplace etc., Or in the rooms of young children. In the latter case, the Webcam allows parents to watch the children while at work or on a business trip.
Modern such devices, can have not only a built-in high-quality mono microphone, but also a stereo. There are also cameras on the market that transmit stereo images, i.e. 3D, and even with the function of mechanical tracking of the user's face (see photo).
The camera mount should be chosen based on where it will be used. There are the following types of installation of Webcams:
tabletop. The camera is mounted on a regular stand. It is convenient if there is a lot of space on the desktop;
fastening on the "clothespin". The camera "clings" to the monitor;
the combination of these two mounts;
hanging mount-used for web surveillance cameras.
Conclusion: which webcam is better to choose
To sum up, when choosing a webcam for high-quality shooting, the most important thing is:
corresponding to the resolution of the matrix, optics and" iron " inside the device. A specific set of chips in any description of specification is not specified. But the presence of additional functions and especially "their" memory for storing images requires a good hardware filling. So even if facial recognition is not needed, its support is a good sign;
the quality of the microphone-it not only affects how pleasant communication will be, but also indicates the overall level of Assembly of the device;
connect at least USB 2.0 and even better – USB 3.0;
compatibility with the OS with which the Webcam will be used.
A good idea to make inquiries in advance about how this particular model interacts with video editing applications – Sony Vegas, VirtualDub. The logic is the same as in the case of additional functions – the more stable the camera works in different programs, the better the code of its drivers is written and the less often it will be "capricious". In addition, if the Webcam will be used not only to talk on the Internet, but also, for example, to maintain a home chronicle, the use of professional applications with many functions is preferable to those that come with the camera.