Even in 2017, $100 webcams still have pretty crappy video quality. They have tiny sensors that don’t pull in enough light. Here’s the output from the best Logitech webcam out there, the ~$100 C930e:
Ugh. Faded, bad colors. Instead, check out how a GoPro Hero looks as a webcam:
Awww, yeah – what a difference. Here’s how to make it happen:
- Buy a GoPro Hero 5 (around $400) – if you’re only using this as a webcam, don’t buy the more expensive GoPro models. The webcam video only uploads 1080p video anyway, so any higher resolution doesn’t really help.
- Luxebell Skeleton case ($40) – so you can mount it to a tripod and have the power & video cables plugged in.
- LimoStudio Table Top Tripod ($10) – because you really want the GoPro at exact eye level
- HDMI to MicroHDMI cable (around $7)
- Magewell XI100DUSB HDMI USB3 Capture (around $300, comes with USB cable)
- You totally don’t need this, but my blue background in that shot is Rosco Chroma Key Paint, which is like green screen paint but it’s blue. Much more spouse-friendly.
You don’t even have to install anything. Webcam apps just immediately recognize it as a webcam, like Skype:
Same thing with FaceTime, Google Hangouts, GoToWebinar, and WebEx.
Should everybody go this far? Of course not – but when you make a living online talking to other people, you don’t want to look like a faded-out relic from the 90s.
The key is this magic little Magewell XI100DUSB. It takes HDMI and turns it into a plain ol’ webcam – so you can use this same device for any HDMI input, including your Xbox, Playstation, camcorder, you name it. Anything that outputs to HDMI can be a webcam with this. It’s not cheap – but it’s worth it.
About My Office Video Setup
If you read this far, you’re probably interested in the other gear I use:
Focusrite Scarlett Solo – lets you plug pro microphones into your computer with USB. For a microphone, I use the ElectroVoice RE20 (around $500 with mounts) because I can get right up on top of it without a noise filter, and the bass sounds fantastic. Really gives you a lot more presence than the cheesy microphones that come built into webcams & computers.
Cowboy Studio lighting kit – just $60 for 3 lights, tripods, and umbrellas. They’re not spectacularly robust, but I don’t take them out of the house, so it’s not a big deal. I put one on either side of my desk, and then when I’m doing green-screen techniques, I use one to light up the wall and reduce shadows.
LimoStudio 85W CFL bulbs – the bulbs included with the Cowboy Studio kit are alright, but in my new condo, I’ve got one wall of windows in my office. Despite thick blinds, I couldn’t light my office evenly, and these monster bulbs make all the difference. They don’t get hot when they’re on, either.