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Looking for the best webcam to squeeze just a bit more quality into your stream? Well, It isn’t a webcam. Real quality comes from a Cam Link + DSLR.
Budget allowing, (Expect to spend over $600+ for this setup!) you will have yourself an amazing quality video feed, either as 1080p60, or as 4k30.
This option is not for everyone, as dropping over $600 on a setup like this is an absurd amount of money for a streamer to spend on their setup. In most cases, the Logitech C920 is more than sufficient. This article is intended for streamers who are ready to move beyond the limits of a webcam or are looking to get into 4k YouTube Video Production. The latter does not need a Cam Link or capture card, and can simply record and transfer over the files.
It is also for those who already have a DSLR or mirrorless camera handy from a photography hobby. If you are one of those people, you merely need to buy the cam link and maybe tripod.
Now you might be thinking, “Wait, couldn’t I just buy the Logitech Brio or similar webcams?”
Yeah, you could. However, I think it is a waste of money for that webcam. So does EposVox.
So if a webcam isn’t the best webcam, what is?
A Cam Link is a fairly recent addition to the video capture family. Before it was made, the options you had to use a DSLR/Mirrorless camera with your PC were limited. It usually meant pre-recording and sending the footage over via CF card, SD card, or using a bulky Capture card. And then you would still have to adjust the settings on the camera directly, vs using the built-in webcam software.
The Cam Link changed all that. It essentially is a small form factor USB capture card, but one that fools the pc into thinking the attached device is a webcam.
This method has two main advantages: Compatibility, and ease of use. Almost every streamer is familiar with the webcam software at this point, and can easily adjust the focus, exposure and what have you using this interface.
But a Cam Link is useless by itself. You need a few other things to get it working.
A High-end DSLR, or Mirrorless camera
The bulk of the upgrade expense lies here. If you are not familiar, a DSLR(Or Digital Screen Lens Reflex) is the large lensed monsters typically used by professional photographers & Videographers for making ultra-crisp high DoF masterpieces that you see the pictures of every day. If you’ve been to a fast-food restaurant, chances are the images inside the menu were taken using a DSLR or Mirrorless camera.
They typically start at around $200 (USED) and can go as high as $27,500 (As much as a new car!!!) Don’t worry, you can make do with those “Low end” DSLR’s just fine… Even the lowest end DSLR is better than the highest-end Webcam. The difference in sensor size makes all the difference.
Our Recommended Camera is a Mirrorless: The Sony A6000. Any Camera with clean HDMI out and support for wall power or a dummy battery will do the job well.
Our reasons for choosing the Sony A6000
- Clean HDMI Out
- Fantastic Video Quality
- Cheap Dummy Battery
- You will need one of these for long stream sessions. Don’t want your face cam going out mid-stream after all.
- Small Formfactor & a lightweight body, no need for expensive tripods.
- Relatively cheap by comparison to other Mirrorless & DSLR’s
No camera is complete without its lens & mounting solution
And the lens is where the cost is. Starting out, I think a simple budget lens is more than sufficient. For this, we will be recommending a Neewer lens. You can eventually replace it with different lenses if you like, but this is the cheapest lens I could find on Amazon for the A6000.
Some notes about this lens:
- It’s a 35mm form factor
- It’s a fully manual lens
- Innermost ring adjusts the aperture
- The outermost ring adjusts the focus.
- The white line between the two rings is where you read the setting.
I prefer fully manual lenses for this use case, as it allows you to dial in exactly where the focus is, and you never have to touch it again unless you move the camera physically.
If it is too wide-angle, you may want to look for a lens with a number higher than 35mm. I feel 35mm is a great start.
The final piece of the puzzle you need then is a mounting solution.
Tripods, Wall mounts, and more
When choosing your mounting solution, for the love of everything, please don’t buy a tripod head with a ball mount. Trust me, those things are a major hassle to deal with.
Our recommended Tripod is sold by KamiSafe and offers a fluid head tripod mount with a decent quality; more than sufficient for streaming.
If instead, you prefer a wall-mounted solution, you can buy this thing designed for CCTV cameras. Just be sure the screws are in the stud and you’re good to go. and Yes, I know. I just said avoid ball mounts. I Know. I’m just giving you options.
The Final option would be something like a Gorillapod. For these tripods, it is VERY important to weigh your camera beforehand to make sure this camera falls in that range. If not, you will need to buy the next step up. (It will slowly lose its position if overweight, as it overcomes the friction limit of the legs.) A Gorillapod lets you shelf mount the cameras with ease.
Let’s not forget the lights. Buy Lights before you buy this setup.
We’ve got an in-depth article about lighting you should read to decide on a lighting solution for this monster “Webcam”.
Proper lighting can make even the best DSLR’s or Mirrorless cameras look bad; you need good lighting no matter what format you go with.