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Webcams: High-resolution cameras for video communication
Webcams are cameras that are used exclusively in conjunction with a computer for video communication, streaming or for selfies, among other things. Today, webcams are standard equipment for tablets and laptops. As technology advances and the mass accessibility of broadband Internet, video communications are gaining in popularity in both the private and commercial sectors. High-resolution webcams are used for video chats, surveillance tasks, video conferences, education and gaming. Banks with online services use webcams to simplify the process of identifying new accounts. In this case, the identification takes place in direct video telephony with an employee of the institute. In addition to the actual camera, webcams also have an integrated microphone, gesture control or even a 3D facial recognition system, depending on the model. The following parameters must be observed for the correct selection of a webcam:
The resolution of the webcam
The resolution of a webcam is an important indicator for the image quality of the transmission and of photos. The higher the resolution, the sharper and larger the image. A high-resolution model is especially recommended for use in multi-party video conferencing.
The following resolution formats are offered:
- 640 x 480 pixels VGA
- 1280 x 720 pixels: HD webcam
- 1280 x 1024 pixels: HD webcam
- 1600 x 1200 pixels: HD webcam
- 1920 x 1080 pixels: Full HD webcam
- 3840 x 2160 pixels: 4K webcam
- 4096 x 2160 pixels: 4K webcam
The frame rate of the webcam
In addition to the image resolution, the frame rate is an important aspect that must be taken into account when purchasing a webcam. The frame rate is expressed in images per second.
The higher the frame rate, the smoother the image transmission will fail. A modern webcam should transmit at least 30 frames per second to allow a smooth video transmission.
The field of view
The field of view of a good webcam is 90 degrees. Some models have the ability to change the field of view with a manual or automatic pan and tilt function. The pan and tilt function is recommended, for example, for monitoring applications and video conferences. With the zoom function, the focus can be adjusted to desired objects and displayed in high-resolution quality, whereby the sharpness range is set automatically to motives and objects. The quality of the zoom function is influenced by the number of megapixels and the available optical and digital zoom. A digital zoom enlarges the image via the camera's software and not optically via lens drives. Optical zoom, on the other hand, uses lenses, was a better quality. The number of pixels indicates the total size of the image and the pixel density. The digital zoom function benefits from a higher number of pixels.
Auto focus and face tracking
The presentation of the subject in the correct sharpness is an essential criterion for a qualitative video chat. Modern webcams have a built-in auto focus, which shows the subject clearly regardless of the distance and without additional help.
With face tracking, the webcam captures the face of the other person and automatically swivels in the direction of the person speaking – this is especially useful for video conferences.
The webcam microphone
Notebooks are usually equipped with a microphone and speakers. Desktop PCs, on the other hand, emit sounds via the monitor and have only one interface for connecting a microphone. Depending on the application, it is recommended to purchase a webcam with integrated microphone. Especially in multi-person video conferences and large conference rooms, the built-in microphones or speakers of a notebook are not always sufficient to provide adequate volume and record sound quality. In this case, you should use a webcam with a high-quality microphone. In large conference rooms, advanced microphone functions such as noise and echo suppression are worthwhile in order to enable optimum audio transmission. Alternatively, one-ear headsets with Bluetooth connectivity are ideal for delivering the same audio and voice quality to every listener in a conference. In a 1-to-1 call, the integrated microphone in the notebook or webcam is usually sufficient.
Screen mirroring and connectivity to other devices
The "Screen mirroring" function allows the transmission to be played back synchronously on other devices. Some webcams can transmit images to the desired device via a WLAN connection. In addition, it is possible to connect devices via HDMI and USB and to mirror the image transfer.
Before purchasing an external webcam, consider where it will be installed. The webcam can be easily attached to the PC monitor, notebook or television with a clamp holder. Alternatively, you can position the webcam in the desired location with a stand.
Webcam remote control
On some models, a remote control for camera and hands-free systems is included and makes it easier to use the following functions:
- Switching on or off
- Answer and end calls
- Tilt or pan the webcam
- Sound settings (volume and mute)
- Adjust the image quality
In addition to a functional webcam, there are a few other prerequisites for a successful video chat:
Fast and constant Internet connection
The most common reason for failed video sessions is a poor Internet connection. Verify that you have sufficient bandwidth to obtain good to very good quality video transmission. Otherwise, unless it breaks down completely, the transmission may be of such poor quality that communication becomes almost impossible.
Suitable chat program
Only a chat program can be used to start a transfer with the desired chat person. The mostly free chat programs, such as Skype, are easy to install and sometimes even pre-installed on the computer.