Whether to use DSLR (regular cameras) versus actual webcams is a matter of debate among broadcasters for a number of reasons. A major factor when picking a camera for live streaming is what you want to record and the style of videos that you want to create. Outdoor vlogs vs indoor gaming or chatting streams have different minimum requirements, as portability, light sensitivity and motion capture needs are different. Where gaming is the main focus, with few IRL interactions with chat, it may not even be worth considering a fancier camera, as it won’t really affect the overall quality of your stream.
Price vs. Quality
One a basic level, webcams are far cheaper and intuitive than regular cameras and require far less tweaking and extra parts in order to get them working. They are also usually enabled with autofocus features that ensure that your will never get blurry while you’re moving around. As the resolution quality is generally lower than that of regular cameras, the files produced by webcams are smaller and easier for your PCs to process and upload without the use of a fancier CPU to keep up with the flow of hi-res files.
However, the recommended lowest pixels for decent-quality recording is 1080p, which most of the more mainstream webcams have. The pixel rates of regular cameras are usually higher and capable of handling lower lighting. They are also portable, unlike webcams that require PCs.
Regular cameras also have a fixed bitrate, so audio-syncing shouldn’t be an issue. But, many of them do not allow for adding on external voice-recording devices, which could add on extra editing work later on anyway. They do require additional hardware to connect the camera to the PC, as well as software to process it live.
So, while the quality is definitely higher, it may not be necessary for smaller home-streamers.
Another concern are the recording limits that regular cameras have. Camcorders are far more reliable in this regard and also have more zoom capabilities, but they don’t have the flexibility of buying lenses.
Basically, to get all of the features that you want will require a budget to match. So, a real video recorder would probably only be recommended to a YouTuber or live streamer with an established following, or for someone who wants to make IRL streams the main focus of their channel. This is reflected below, by our findings of the four most popular cameras among the streamers that we have analyzed.
Cameras for Live Streaming
We are only presenting four, due to the gap in usage between the Sony Alpha a6000 and the next model. It should also be noted that Logitech often sponsors streamers, which may also have impacted our findings.
The C920 is the oldest camera on this list and wins by a landslide in comparison to the other cameras mentioned here, although the next on this list does also have relatively decent representation as well. At ~$63.15 USD on average and sometimes $50 USD special, this webcam meets the basic needs of most gaming streamers who plan on focusing more on gameplay and the occasional chat, over IRL adventures.
It is capable of HD 1080p for up to 1920 x 1080p resolution, autofocus and has automatic dual stereo omnidirectional mics with automatic noise reduction. However, it is only compatible with Windows 7 and up, or Mac OS 10.10 and up. It also allows for streamers to record at 720p, which will allow for 60fps.
- Most affordable option
- Comes with a great reputation
- Full HD glass lense
Although the C922x is slightly more popular than the C922, the differences are related to extras rather than the cameras themselves which is why we grouped them together. These differences are that the C922 comes with a tripod and a free three-month trial for XSplit, whereas the C922x comes without a tripod, but does have a tripod rest and has a six-month free trial for XSplit. The base price for both is at $99.95 USD, but they’re typically on special for ~$78 USD for the C922 and ~$84,70 USD for the C922x.
Otherwise, both allow for ‘background replacement’ meaning that it should remove the need for a greenscreen, which is the only real difference in specs from the C920. However, some streamers do feel that the background replacement feature causes movement to appear a little glitchy at times. The resolution is slightly sharper, though.
- C922 – Free Tripod
- Both – Free XSplit trials (3 or 6 month)
- Background replacement
- More expensive than C920
- Background replacement might glitch
This camera is more expensive, at $199,99 USD base and around ~R160 USD on promotion. This is probably why it’s used so much less than the C920 and C922. In addition to the features offered by the C922, this camera also allows for 4k Ultra HD as well as RightLight 3 to automatically adjust the lighting.
Another feature is the ability to zoom in up to 5 times, and to adjust the camera’s field of vision between 65°, 78° and 90°. The resolution quality is better than the C920 and C922, but we advise watching comparison videos to see whether the contrast really matters to you. It is also important to note, that the C920 is plug and play, whereas the Brio requires more tweaking to get the quality that you want.
- Zoom feature
- Adjustable field of vision
- Auto-adjusts with lighting
- Need to adjust settings before use
- More expensive than others
Sony Alpha A6000
At $548 USD, this camera should probably not be purchased unless you’re an IRL vlogger or bigger streamer. After all, it does an excellent job by providing a far shaper image and superior auto-focus feature than the cameras listed above. However, the price is an investment that has to make sense. It also requires intermediary products such as a cam link connection cable to convert the HDMI signal to USB.
As for resolution, it can produce full HD 1080p, at 60fps. It provides detail that the other cameras don’t capture, and also accommodates lighting discrepancies more effectively than the other cameras do. But, again, this kind of quality isn’t necessarily crucial to content that isn’t mainly dependent on IRL content, but rather uses IRL to supplement other content. So, if you’re a small streamer, or just starting out, it’s probably better to stick with good-enough, watchable quality while you’re building your base than to throw away money that you’re not sure that you’ll earn back.
- Good for IRL and travel vlogging
- Superior images and auto-focus features
- Better auto-adjustments to lightling discrepancies
- Additional hardware and software requirements
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