Streaming is a big business for people doing things like gaming, podcasts, ASMR or just chatting. In fact, one of the bigger fields on Twitch outside of regular gaming is the “Just Chatting” (RIP IRL) category, where streamers have built a following of people, and tune in to hear their thoughts and random chatter.
Looking at some of the bigger streamers, in most cases, people like Tfue, shroud and Ninja are among the top, with viewer counts and followers in the millions. More recently, both Ninja and shroud have moved over to Microsoft’s streaming platform known as Mixer.
What to Look for in a Webcam for Streamers
While you may not be able to make it to the millions of viewers yet, maybe it’s something that you aspire to do one day. When looking through the list of streamers, the very best, all the way down to those people who have 100 concurrent viewers or less, all of them have professional setups.
That’s not just different layouts and screens on their streaming software, but professional-grade microphones, webcams, headsets and so much more.
With a webcam, what you’ll want to have is something that’s capable of streaming output of at least up to 1080p. Certain features like digital zoom, autofocus and high frame rates are common and almost necessary when looking at cameras. Some will even opt for 4K streaming, and while it may not be mainstream as of yet, it’s sure to get to that point in the near future.
With resolution, usually, it goes to show that the higher is better. However, there’s no point in dropping thousands on a webcam that’s going to crank up the res, only for you not to use it. You’ll want to look for 720p at a minimum, with 1080p and perhaps even 4K being the standard.
With frame rate, you don’t want your viewers to see a choppy version of you, so you’ll want to look for a webcam capable of streaming at over 30 frames per second.
It’s good to have an autofocus on the webcam because if you happen to show something closer to the camera, you’ll want it to autofocus on what you’re holding, and then when you take it away, auto-adjust back to you in front of the camera.
Field of View
The field of view is the area that the lens of the webcam will capture. If it’s just you, sitting in a chair, you can get away with a small FOV, but if there’s a group of you, you’ll need a wide-angle lens.
Make sure that your low-light performance on your webcam is good. There’s nothing as bad as streaming in 1080p, only to have a webcam that can’t pick you up nicely in a room that isn’t well-lit. If this is the case, you’ll have to brighten your room up.
Keeping Microphone and Webcam Separate
Usually, most streamers won’t look to mix their video and audio, and will have a separate camera or webcam when compared to their microphone, and that’s not a bad thing.
It’s good to keep your microphone and your webcam separate. You may think that you can save some money by combining the two, but the fact of the matter is, you’ll never get the right kind of audio that you need for streaming with a webcam. It’s fine when you’re chatting to your family across the country on Skype, but for streaming, you’ll want independent devices.
A Market Dominated by Few Brands
Luckily the webcam market is not yet dominated by a large number of brands, and whether you’re in the market for something amazingly special or something that’s just going to get you over the line, Logitech and Microsoft generally have you covered.
They’ll usually have USB-powered microphones with built-in audio, but disabling that audio is the first step in any successful stream.
The C920 is widely considered to be one of the best all-round mics for Twitch streamers. It’s relatively cheap, reliable and does all the basics right.
It wouldn’t be a gaming peripheral without Razer being involved. It’s KIYO is pricey, but offers good image quality and its own light ring, which sheds some light on your face without looking inauthentic.
Microsoft has a really cheap webcam that can capably stream at 720p. There are a few teething issues with it such as overly powerful white-balance, and an awkward and troublesome stand, but for the price, it’s well worth the worry.
Logitech decided that the C920 needed a big of an upgrade and brought the C922 out, which has a few extra features on top of the C920. This one can stream at 720p in 60fps, has the ability to remove backgrounds, and also has a more advanced low-lighting quality. It’s a little more expensive, but it’s well-worth the money.
The BRIO is a 4K webcam that also can stream 1080p at 60fps. It has a 90-degree field of view and an easy-to-use stand that allows for a quick setup. The only downside is that the BRIO is expensive.