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The best 4K webcams for 2021

With more people telecommuting and working remotely, investing in a quality webcam can make you stand out — you can still look sharp for that virtual meeting. But unless you have the latest laptop, the built-in webcam won’t quite cut it to leave a memorable and lasting impression.

And while many 1080p webcams deliver great results, upgrading to a 4K webcam will give you more control, like better zooming through digital cropping, smart A.I.-powered tricks, and impressive HDR image quality that will make you look good in any kind of lighting.

Logitech’s Brio 4K webcam tops our list for its ease of use and its technology, but the other models aren’t far behind.

Jump to: Logitech Brio 4K | Dell UltraSharp Webcam | Lenovo ThinkSmart Cam | Poly Studio 15 | GoHZQ 4K Webcam | 4K webcam buying guide and FAQs

Logitech Brio 4K

Brad Bourque/Digital Trends

Why should you buy this? Solid 4K video performance and compatibility with Windows Hello for password-less logins.

Who’s it for? Perfect for home users.

Why we picked the Logitech Brio 4K:

Logitech’s Brio is a personal 4K webcam for video conferencing. At $199, it’s a solid investment that will help you stand in your meeting with its clear 4K sensor, adjustable field of view to help keep the focus on your or include more of your background to give context to the meeting, and smart HDR technology to make you look your best no matter what lighting condition you’re under. The Brio comes with a clip that attaches to the top of your monitor, or it can be used as a replacement for the built-in, non-high-resolution cam on your laptop.

Advanced features include a built-in IR sensor that can be used to log in to Windows without a password by using your biometrics for added security, an omnidirectional microphone to help you sound your best, and noise-canceling technology to tune out distracting background audio.

Logitech claims that at 4K resolution, the camera can capture video at 30 frames per second, though you can scale down to 1080p if you’re working on a slower network. And if you need ultra-smooth video performance, you can opt for 90 fps in 720p.

Dell UltraSharp Webcam

Dell.com

Why should you buy this? Superb video quality and premium design.

Who’s it for? Streamers who are discerning with their video quality.

Why we picked the Dell UltraSharp 4K Webcam:

Edged ahead by the Logitech Brio 4K, Dell’s UltraSharp webcam isn’t far behind. In fact, in terms of features, it edges out Logitech’s Brio, and Dell’s model comes with a more premium anodized aluminum design. With solid image quality and features like auto-framing, Dell’s UltraSharp only falls a step short of its rival as it lacks built-in microphones. This makes it less of a complete all-in-one solution, so you’ll either have to rely on a stand-alone desktop for audio or your laptop’s built-in microphone.

The UltraSharp Webcam makes up for the mic omission with a sleek aluminum and sharp barrel-shaped design that makes this webcam look more elevated. With 4K resolution and up to 5x digital zoom, the UltraSharp Webcam benefits from smart features like A.I.-powered auto-framing, a selection of different fields of view, autofocus, and smart video noise reduction.

To help you look your best, even in poor or high-contrast lighting, this webcam also has HDR support, and the large Sony STARVIS CMOS sensor captures more light so you’ll always look true to life. A privacy lens cap makes it suitable for home use, while the added IR sensor makes logging into Windows without a password effortless.

Lenovo ThinkSmart Cam

Why should you buy this? A.I. smarts to keep your audience focused.

Who’s it for? Perfect for offices and conference rooms.

Why we picked the Lenovo ThinkSmart Cam:

Lenovo’s ThinkSmart Cam is designed for meetings large and small. For solo video calls, the ThinkSmart Cam’s bright 4K video sensor helps show you in your best light, but when used in larger meeting rooms, the webcam’s built-in A.I. engine helps to draw the focus on the presenter or speaker. A.I. helps the cam auto-zoom and auto-frame the active speaker to keep the focus on the conversation, and whiteboard awareness helps make interacting seamless in the virtual world.

To get the most out of the ThinkSmart Cam’s A.I. features, Lenovo recommends you pair this webcam with a ThinkSmart Hub, ThinkSmart Edition Tiny, or any ThinkSmart device. It can be set up as a standalone device or even mounted to a wall or television.

Poly Studio 15

Why should you buy this? Beautiful video bar design with integrated speakers.

Who’s it for? Perfect for small offices and business calls.

Why we picked the Poly Studio 15:

While Polycom was initially known for its conference room speakerphones, the company has since rebranded itself to Poly after being acquired by Plantronics. Poly still continues its focus on making enterprise tools that help people stay connected. At $599, the Poly Studio 15 is the most expensive 4K webcam on our list, but it’s an all-in-one solution that’s packed with features unmatched by its rivals. Not only does this webcam come with a 4K video sensor for stunning video calls, but it also boasts noise-canceling microphones as well as a speaker bar to give you a great audio experience. The company calls this video solution your personal video bar.

Like other picks on our list, it comes with a stand that helps it attach to the top of a display, and the camera comes with a clear 4K video sensor that supports 4x electronic zoom, light-compensation technology to help you look your best regardless of challenging lighting environments, and smart auto-framing support. Unfortunately, though, the field of view here is static at 90 degrees, and unlike larger conference room solutions, control of the camera (pan and tilting) is manual.

The star of the show here is the audio. Poly includes its NoiseBlock A.I., Acoustic Fence, and Acoustic Clarity technologies to provide full-duplex conversations, with echo cancellation and background noise suppression with a three-element beamforming microphone array and clear speakers on the bar. There’s also a status indicator on the camera that acts as a visual indicator for calling and mute states to avoid any verbal faux pas, and the camera includes an integrated privacy shutter.

GoHZQ 4K Webcam

GoHZQ/Amazon

Why should you buy this? Affordable price and 4K-quality video streams.

Who’s it for? Perfect for home users.

Why we picked the GoHZQ 4K:

GoHZQ is proving that 4K webcams do not have to be expensive. In fact, at around $30, the GoHZQ delivers 4K resolution at a price cheaper than a lot of 1080p cameras, making it a solid pick if you need the enhanced video resolution. It’s one of our popular webcam choices from Amazon.

Advertised to work with popular platforms like Zoom, Skype, and Microsoft Teams, this webcam has many of the features found on more premium models on our list, including an 8-megapixel camera sensor that can capture 4K video, a flip-up privacy cover for home use, light-correction technology, and noise-reduction microphones. The biggest downside with this affordable pick is that frame rates at 4K are limited to 20 fps, compared to 24 fps and 30 fps on some of our more premium picks. That said, if you need smoother video performance, downscaling to 1080p delivers 30 fps.

4K webcam buying guide and FAQs

If you already have a solid 1080p webcam or have a more limited Wi-Fi connection at home, it may not make sense to upgrade to a 4K webcam right now. However, a more modern webcam does come with features that will help you look better on camera, regardless of resolution.

Many of the webcam models today come with smart HDR capture and smart lighting technology to lighten up your face when you’re on camera, and more advanced models come with auto-framing, smart tracking, and more. Be sure to check out our FAQs if you’re on the market for a 4K webcam.

Why choose a 4K webcam?

Having a webcam that supports 4K resolution will make your video calls look more cinematic. The result is that your video calls will look more professional — if you need the resolution — and you can scale back to a lower 1080p or 720p resolution if you don’t have the bandwidth or speed to handle 4K video streaming. Having a high-resolution webcam will also allow you to retain some picture fidelity when digitally cropping, which is great for zooming. This could be useful if you want a tighter field of view, like when you want to zoom in on your face.

Also be mindful that some video services will cap you at 1080p, so you may not get the full advantage out of a 4K camera. Popular video collaboration platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams top out at 1080p, while Google Meet maxes out at 720p. If you’re using these services, a 1080p camera will work fine, but if you intend on recording your content for later viewing, a 4K recording could be useful. Even a 4K feed viewed in 1080p will look better than natively captured 1080p footage, because the downsampled image captures more information.

Do I need a fast connection for 4K video conferencing?

If you’re using a 4K webcam, you’ll need an internet connection that supports at least 25 to 35Mbps on the uplink side. If you’re doing a video call in a location with slower upload speeds, you can always scale down your broadcast to 1080p or even 720p.

What should I look for in a 4K webcam?

This depends on your existing hardware setup and needs. Some webcams focus purely on the video-capture experience, like the Dell UltraSharp Webcam. These webcams are all about the video feed and don’t come with microphones, speakers, or other hardware needed to conduct a video call.

Others, like the Poly Studio 15, are full-featured offerings that bring together a capable microphone array and speakers to enhance your audio experience. If you have a high-quality external microphone and are relying on external speakers, going with the Dell would be a great decision. However, if your desktop setup is barebones and you need a microphone to conduct your calls, having integrated microphones will be crucial.

Is HDR necessary?

HDR stands for high-dynamic range, and support for HDR will only help improve your image quality. In general, if you’re shooting under ambient office lighting, you may not need the help of HDR.

However, if you’re shooting in high-contrast environments — like sitting in front of a bright window — HDR can help shine the light on you so you don’t look like a darkened shadow in the shot. Auto-lighting is also a nice feature that will bump up the brightness on your face if you’re making calls in a darker room.

What A.I. or smart features are available?

This will vary between different camera models and manufacturers, but some come with smart features powered by A.I. Larger conference room solutions will use A.I. to track you as you’re walking around the room to give a presentation, for example.

Some small office cameras for personal use come with an intelligent tracking feature as well, allowing the camera to shift focus to the active talker or presenter if you’re sitting in front of the camera alongside several other people. Auto-panning, auto-framing, and auto-zooming are some features that are trickling down to smaller cameras, but these more advanced features are mostly reserved for more premium office-centered solutions, like Lenovo’s ThinkSmart Cam.

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