This question depends on the context of the situation. Your laptop camera (i.e., the camera built into your laptop) can function as a webcam. The purpose of a webcam is to capture images in video or picture format and feed them into a computer or network. Thus, your built-in camera can, technically, be a webcam. However, when most tech people refer to webcams, they mean the external webcams that increase the camera quality.
How to Use the Webcam on Your Laptop?
Using the webcam on a laptop can look different for people based on the type of computer they have. For example, accessing and using the built-in camera on a Windows laptop is different from a Mac. To use the camera in your Windows, you typically have to press the “Start” button and then select “Camera.” From there you can use the camera as you see fit. As for a Mac, you can use your camera for applications that request access to your camera. All you must do is indicate that you wish to turn the camera on. Built-in webcams often need permission from you to switch on. That means you must indicate in your privacy settings that an application or a network/software can use your camera. Otherwise, it can be an invasion of privacy. An external webcam goes through the same privacy permission process. However, it may require a few additional steps to set up. Still, you get better quality with an external webcam.
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How to Improve the Webcam Quality on Your Laptop Webcam?
There are a few things you could do to try and improve the imaging quality of your built-in camera:
- Update the software
- Adjust the screen resolution
- Adjust the video settings
- Try to improve your location (lighting, background, etc.)
Ultimately, if you cannot fix your camera in a few simple steps, you should invest in an external webcam for a laptop. It is much more hassle-free and is made specifically to provide a high-quality visual experience. With that being said, let’s take a look at some specific reasons to switch your built-in camera with an external one.
Common Reasons You Need to Switch from Your Laptop Webcam
Cameras that come with a laptop often deliver a blurry quality to them. This is often due to how many other functions the device must perform, like store data, send and receive information, and maintain a connection to the internet. As a result, all this energy and power could take away from the imaging quality you would hope to have.
Failure to Display Images
Sometimes, built-in cameras can give out completely. There is not one specific reason for this to happen, and that makes it all the more frustrating. If this happens, you know it is time to convert to an external webcam.
A major issue with laptops’ cameras is that they can potentially get hacked. The chances of this happening are low, yet it is still a concern for many. If you find yourself in this category of people, then you may already know that creating makeshift camera coverings can look unappealing and can be tricky to remove when you actually need to use your camera. A webcam is a great alternative to this concern.
Are Webcams Better Than the Laptop’s Built-In Camera?
This depends entirely on your perspective, but there are certainly many more benefits to a webcam than there are with a built-in camera. An external webcam guarantees better quality because that is its sole purpose—to deliver stunning visual quality that beats your original camera. Though it can be easier to stick with your laptop’s camera—and may save you a few bucks—purchasing a webcam is definitely a must for anyone who works a lot with their computer for video imaging or is a stickler for camera quality. if you are on a budget you should also consider reading my review for the best webcam under $60.
What to Look for in Your External Webcam for Laptop?
Resolution and Frame Rate
Perhaps the main reason for buying a webcam is for its video quality. This is where the action happens! The resolution is the measurement that determines the clarity. Therefore, a higher resolution means that you get a better image quality. Resolution is measured by the number of pixels featured on the screen in one shot. The standard high definition is 1280 x 720 pixels—which is also referred to as 720p. Full high definition is 1920 x 1080—also known as 1080p. Finally, ultra-high definition is 3840 x 2160 pixels—or 4K. These are the more common resolutions on the market. The frame rate is the measurement that displays how many still images can be found in a video file. Frame rate is measured using frames per second (fps). The most common is 60 fps, which delivers seamless footage. You may also come across 30 fps, which is ideal for webcams with a higher resolution, like 1080p.
Glass Lens or Plastic
The difference between a glass lens and a plastic lens can make a big difference in quality and cost. Obviously, glass is a more expensive material than plastic, but it provides a clearer image. A plastic lens has the same function as a glass one, but it is a bit cheaper. If you rely on the image quality of your videos, then a webcam with a glass lens is worth the extra expense. However, a plastic one is not going to cause harm.
Field of View
The field of view for a webcam measures the width of the area that the camera can capture. Therefore, a webcam with a larger FOV can capture a greater width of imaging. You find that the FOV is measured in degrees, like 60, 78, and 90. A 60-degree field of view captures about one person or object directly in front of the computer—much like a normal laptop camera. A 78-degree field of view is a little wider with the ability to capture about double of a 60-degree FOV. A 90-degree FOV is even wider. Many people use this for presentations that require a whiteboard or visual elements.
Your standard laptop webcam may have the ability to autofocus but may take a few seconds longer than desired. A webcam can adjust the lighting and the focus so that you or any other subject is the center of attention. While there is no measurement to determine how well a webcam performs this function, the webcam often specifies its ability to autofocus and how fast.
Laptops are extremely mobile devices that people can take anywhere. So, if you get a webcam for laptop, you should expect it to be just as portable. Most webcams are perfectly portable, but some go above and beyond by offering added support or convenient clips that prevent slippage. Additionally, you probably do not want a bulky device to lug around as you are on the move. Thus, the size is something to consider as well.
Your laptop may have a built-in camera, but because of its position, it may not have the sound quality you want. Many webcams have this noise-capturing feature, but some do not. If this is something you definitely need in your camera, be sure to look for a webcam that has a mic. Plus, they often provide better sound in your videos or your streams, which is just another reason to invest in an external webcam. here you can learn how to test your webcam microphone
The Eight Best External Webcams for Your Laptop
Now that you have an idea of what you may want and what to consider, let’s take a look at the eight best webcams for your laptop