There’s no “undo” in live streaming. Experienced broadcasters know that anything can happen when you go live and you need a streaming camera that’s ready in the moment.
The camera built into your laptop or mobile device is useful for making video calls to friends and family, but is limited when it comes to producing high-quality streaming content. Using an external streaming video camera unlocks higher resolution and frame rates for a detailed image with smooth, natural on-screen motion. Plus, many webcams have auto focus and light correction features so you’ll always look your best—even in less than ideal lighting conditions.
In this article, we’ll help you choose the best livestream camera for your niche—whether you’re a gamer, YouTuber, educator or influencer.
How to Choose the Best Streaming Camera
The best streaming camera works like an assistant director to help you focus on connecting with your audience. Here’s a few features to check out while you compare cameras.
Resolution and Frame Rate
Gamers are likely familiar with these terms as they describe a video’s technical qualities.
Resolution is the density of pixels in a video image. Higher resolutions produce a clearer, more detailed image. A camera set to 1080p resolution records video measuring 1920x1080 pixels. 4K video is 3840x2160 pixels.
A video’s frame rate is the speed at which images are displayed on-screen. Movies, for instance, run at 24 frames per second. And as gamers know, many AAA titles run at a locked 60fps or higher if you have the hardware.
Automatic Light Correction
This feature gives a clear, consistent exposure by automatically compensating for changes in lighting conditions. Clouds blocking the sun through your window? No problem. Automatic light correction will adjust your camera’s settings so it doesn't look like you work in a cave on your next Zoom call.
Focus refers to an image’s sharpness. If something is blurry, it’s not in focus. In streaming cameras, auto focus tracks a subject’s face to keep them in focus, even as they move around the frame.
External Audio Input
As your streaming setup evolves, you might want to improve your audio quality with an external microphone. Cameras with external audio inputs allow you to easily integrate external microphones into your workflow—a must if you record ASMR or podcasts.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s explore a few scenarios to help you select the best camera for live streaming.
Streaming at Home
For everyday streaming needs like work meetings or after-hours gaming, simply attach an all-in-one webcam like the Logitech StreamCam to your monitor or TV and call it a day.
With its sharp 1080p resolution frame rate and a liquid-smooth 60 fps, you’ll capture video in exhilarating detail. The StreamCam also includes auto focus so you’ll look sharp and a built-in omnidirectional microphone with a noise reduction filter for pure, high-quality audio.
1080p Vs. 4K
The 1080p vs. 4K question sparks a lot of online debate, but livestreamers should be concerned with just one thing: your platform’s video quality specs. Twitch supports streaming at 1080p at 60fps, meaning a 4K camera is overkill.
If you plan only to use your camera for streaming, 1080p delivers the all resolution you need to show off your skills on Xbox Live.
Action cams are popular for filming surfing highlights or clipping to a guitar headstock for a “solo cam,” but unfortunately they’re not ideal for most live streaming situations.
Action cam lenses are fixed at a wide-angle “fisheye” view that’s amazing for making skateboarding videos and ‘90s Neil Young album covers, but the over-the-top image distortion is just too radical for everyday live streaming.
If you’re looking for a portable streaming setup in anything other than “fisheye,” the Mevo Start is a great alternative to action cams, thanks to its 6+ hour battery life, low distortion lens and wireless video editing capabilities. With Mevo’s Multicam app, you can cut between multiple camera feeds and even add chyrons or other graphics for a television-quality broadcast.
Now that you’re clear on which features make the best video camera for live streaming, it’s time to log in and show your stuff. Game on, gamers. Check out our blog to learn more.