Best Mac Webcams: Alternatives To Apple’s Low-Res FaceTime Camera

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The ‘new normal’ means millions of people around the world are now using video apps such as Zoom or Apple’s own FaceTime to chat with family and friends online. And, of course, many of us are now working from home as well, and using more business-oriented apps such as Skype or Microsoft Teams to set up video calls with colleagues and clients.

Apart from the Mac mini and Mac Pro, all Macs have one of Apple’s FaceTime cameras already built in, so you don’t necessarily need to buy a new webcam for video calls. With their low resolution, however, these cams are starting to look a little dated. (You can also use your iPhone as a Mac webcam, although this may not be convenient as a long-term solution.)

Business users in particular will want to pick something better in order to project a more professional image to colleagues and clients, while many artists and musicians vlog and promote their work on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube. Almost all Mac owners could benefit from upgrading to something that can provide a sharper image than their machine’s default camera.

With that in mind, here’s our guide to some of the best webcams for use with your Mac, complete with links to buy. For broader advice, jump down to our thoughts on what to look for in a Mac webcam.

1. Razer Kiyo – Best features on a 1080p webcam

Razer Kiyo

2. Logitech Brio – Top-quality 4K webcam

Logitech Brio Ultra HD Pro

3. Logitech C920 – Great value for money

Logitech C920 HD Pro

4. Hypercam HD – Best Budget Webcam

HyperCam HD

5. AverMedia Live Streamer Cam 513 – Best 4K webcam

AverMedia Live Streamer Cam 513

6. Ausdom AF640 – Best for business calls

Ausdom AF640

7. Papalook PA452 Pro – Affordable 1080p

Papalook PA452 Pro

What to look for in a Mac webcam

We’ve picked out five webcams worthy of recommendation above, but here’s some more general advice on what to look for.

Resolution

The FaceTime cameras included on all MacBook laptops and most iMac models are limited to just ‘720p’ – which generally means a resolution of 1280×720 (although the FaceTime camera on my office iMac only seems to record at 1080×720). That’s pretty basic in these days of HD and 4K video, so in recent months many people have decided to upgrade to a higher-quality webcam that supports HD resolution of 1920×1080, or even one of the latest 4K webcams.

Useful features

As well as providing a sharper, high-resolution video image, other useful features to look out for when buying a new webcam include autofocus, which can keep the image clear and sharp even if you need to move around a little, and brightness adjustment for when gloomier days. A wide-angle lens can be useful too, allowing you to fit more than one person into the image, or allowing business users to step back from the camera while giving a presentation or using a whiteboard.

Framerates

You should also check to make sure that the webcam can record smooth video with a framerate of 25 or 30 frames per second (fps). Some webcams can even record at 60fps, although that’s mainly for specialist tasks such as gaming and e-sports on Twitch.

Connection standards

There’s certainly plenty of choice these days, and most modern webcams will work with your Mac automatically as they just use a standard USB connection – generally USB 3.0, although USB-C is now starting to appear on some new webcams too.

Once it’s plugged in, a USB webcam should then be able to work with any suitable video software on your Mac, such as FaceTime, Zoom or Skype (although it’s a shame that Apple never got around to releasing a Windows version of FaceTime, as that puts it at a real disadvantage against its video-chat rivals). The webcam’s microphone will also appear as an audio input in the Sounds control panel in System Preferences on your Mac.

Apps

Some manufacturers also provide their own apps with their webcams, which can help with features such as brightness and autofocus, so it’s worth checking to see if the webcam provides its own Mac app as well.





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