Even in 2018, $100 webcams still have pretty crappy video quality. They have tiny sensors that don’t pull in enough light. Here’s the output from one of the best Logitech webcams out there:
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 – 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 – 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:
Magewell XI100DUSB HDMI USB3 Capture:
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 that 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:
The Focusrite Scarlett lets you plug pro microphones into your computer with USB. For a microphone, I use this, but fair warning, it ain’t cheap:
The ElectroVoice RE20 lets me 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 is a great price 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. This is important though:
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.
Why go to all this trouble? Well, here’s an example end result. Good stuff.