We first saw high-end 4K UHD webcams hit the market with the Logitech Brio personal webcam and Meet-Up group conferencing cam with 4096 x 2160 max resolution. Somewhere in-between, we're seeing some cheap 2K webcams that work on Mac OSX with somewhat less demanding system requirements filling the technology gap. In some ways, the 2K video specification was/is just a stopgap tradeoff from 1080p to the clearly established 4K and 5K future.
Web cameras - when capturing or streaming in Super Full and UHD modes puts more stress on your Apple laptop or desktop CPU, eat more disk space, and require a very fast, high-bandwidth internet connection for streaming. True 4K requires a USB 3.0/3.1 speed port to even function in 4K mode - but the cameras featured here can run okay on a USB 2.0 speed port like most 720p and 1080p webcams can.
Onboard H.264 video compression in HD web cameras helps reduce the data bandwidth while preserving optimal image quality. Once only featured in select, premium Mac compatible HD webcams, in the UHD era, H.264 compression is showing up on even lower-cost 2nd-tier cameras from China as shown above.
Trust me, I've bought a lot of no-name cheap webcams from China to see what 10 bucks or so gets you in a UVC - USB Video Class compliant webcam that will 'just work' on MacOS. Occasionally, there have been some pleasant surprises with sharp image quality, good light sensitivity and color response, and an 'okay' sounding internal microphone. Most however have fallen far short of that.
- Low Resolution - Not Actual HD Sensors
- Grainy Or Blurry Images
- Poor Mounting Clips
- Defective Lenses
- Hollow Sounding Microphones
- Dead On Arrival
- High Failure Rates Soon After Purchase
- Not Compatible With Mac OSX
- Lack Of Autofocus
Several of the cheap-o Mac compatible web cameras I've purchased were so disappointing -- I threw them in the garbage. When you only pay $8-$ 12 for a cam, if it's junk, it isn't worth bothering with the time and expense of returning. So my advice, if you have twenty or so bucks to spend get a brand-name webcam for your Mac like the Logitech C270 or a Creative Live Cam Chat. If you go up a notch, the Logitech C310 offers better light-management and delivers a surprisingly clear, sharp image with a decent sounding mic to go along with it.
4K Ultra HD Webcam With RightLight3 And HDR
Here's a comprehensive list of the MacOS compatible Brio webcam's technical specifications. A few things to note, especially for Apple users: Yosemite, El Capitan, or MacOS Sierra / High Sierra is needed. 4K Ultra HD mode absolutely requires a USB 3.0 speed port - so be wary of connecting it to a slow hub port or pre-2012 Mac to capture in UHD resolutions. A USB 2.0 port is fine for more conventional 1080p and 720p HD resolutions..
CPU Horsepower & Disk Space
A 2.4Ghz Intel CPU is recommended. Many lower-end Macs like the Mac mini, or MacBook Air fall way below this recommended horsepower threshold, Temper your expectations about frame-rates when capturing video in high-resolution modes. 4096x2160 Ultra-HD capture will eat up disk space on your MacBook or Macintosh desktop system faster than you can imagine. You'll want plenty of available storage on your Mac's boot drive - something that those with SSD-based Apple computers might struggle with.
Pricing & Product Codes
Brio Webcam MSRP $199.00
Current Street Price Around $159.00
Part Number: PN 960-001105
Model Number: V-U0040
Brio Webcam System Requirements:
USB 2.0 port Minimum : USB 3.0 required for 4K
2.4 GHz Intel® Core 2 Duo processor
2 GB RAM or more
Adequate HDD or SSD drive space for recorded videos
Operating Systems Supported:
MacOS™ 10.10 or higher (Yosemite minimum)
Windows® 7 (1080p only), Windows 8.1, or Windows 10
Google™ Chromebook™ Version 29.x, Platform 4319.x
Logitech's Brio Webcam Settings App for Mac:
Many of the Brio's functions and features rely on software control. Fortunately, Logitech's webcam app support for OSX is pretty decent and includes FOV settings, Up to 5xDigital Zoom, and Background Replacement options. Some features like the front IR infrared sensor are only supported for Microsoft Hello facial recognition under Windows OS.
Brio 4K Webcam Technical Specifications:
4K Ultra HD video calling (up to 4096 x 2160 pixels @ 30 fps)
1080p Full HD video calling (up to 1920 x 1080 pixels @ 30 or 60 fps)
720p HD video calling (up to 1280 x 720 pixels @ 30, 60, or 90 fps)
Plug-and-play USB connectivity
H.264 video compression for reduced file sizes and CPU overhead
90 degree field of view (FOV) with 65 degree and 78 degree optional via software
5x digital zoom in Full HD
RightLight3 with High Dynamic Range (HDR) for clear imaging in low or direct sunlight
Built-in stereo dual mics with noise cancellation
IR Infrared sensor technology
Background replacement option in settings app
External privacy lens shutter
Multiple mounting options: Included clip or 1/4"-20 tripod mount
Supports multiple connections: USB 3.0 Type A or C, or USB 2.0 Type A
Brio Camera Dimensions & Weight:
Height x Width x Depth:
1in (27mm) x 4in (102mm) x 1in (27mm)
Height x Width x Depth:
3.9in (99mm) x 1.4in (36mm) x .22in (6mm)
Webcam Cable Length
Total Camera Weight (with mounting clip)
85g - 3 ounces
Brio 4K Ultra Webcam Package Contents:
Removable mounting clip
USB 3.0 cable with Type-A connector
(Type-C to Type-C USBC cable sold separately)
Camera carrying case
Brio Peripheral Warranty Information:
Logitech 3-year limited hardware warranty
Ultra High Resolution 4K Conference Camera
Huddle-Room Voice and Video Conferencing
Ultra Wide Angle Webcam Field Of ViewWith a 120 degree Field-Of-View, the MeetUp wide-angle web camera is unusual in that respect, designed to incorporate as much of a conference room space as possible.Common webcams are typically in the 70 degree range. Other recent group conferencing cams have typically offered a 90 degree FOV.
Meetup Conference Camera Mac RequirementsThe 4K MeetUp ConferenceCam aims to deliver a complete and compact voice and video meeting solution that offers 720p, 1080p and 4K camera resolution options. 4K Ultra-HD mode requires software that supports such high resolution and a USB 3.o or 3.1 port on the host computer to handle the extra data. Remember as you move from 720p to 1080p to 2160p - the image size DOUBLES in BOTH horizontal and vertical directions. So each increment in resolution is FOUR times more pixels for your Mac and it's USB port to deal with. 720p & 1080p webcams work fine on USB 2.0 ports but 2160p needs USB 3.x. Logitech also states 2.4GHz as the minimum CPU speed on your Mac. OSX Yosemite 10.10 is the minimum up through El Capitan and MacOS Sierra.
Remote Conference Cam Control Via Remote Or IOSThe camera itself features full PTZ control: Mechanical Pan and Tilt, with up to 5z Zoom. A handheld RF remote controls all camera, audio and call management functions. An available iOS app replicates the remote's functionality and buttons so you can optionally use an iPhone or iPad as the remote control. The MeetUp conferencing camera also supports Bluetooth for call-in access to join a conference via cellphone.
High-End Video And Audio ConferencingThe MeetUp's audio system incorporates an optimized full-range speaker driver tuned to avoid clipping and help suppress echo. 3 beam-forming microphone elements with digital signal processing automatically pinpoint the person actively speaking. The MeetUp also supports a secondary table top microphone for larger conference table coverage. The camera itself listens in an 8 foot range, the optional mic extends that to 14 feet. The external microphone may be bundled along with the webcam, or available as a separate add-on accessory with an MSRP of $199.
1st USB 3.x Webcam For MacThe Brio is the first Apple compatible 4K webcam for Mac that also takes the web camera marketplace to USB 3.0 connectivity. With a Type-C USB-C interface at the camera's back, an appropriate, interchangeable cable can be used for Apple computers with either traditional Type-A USB ports or the new ThunderBolt3 / USBC ports being incorporated into new MacBook laptops and desktop systems. From what I gather, a USB-A to USB-C cable is included, but for direct USB-C to USB-C connections, a Type-C cable would need to be ordered separately.
1st 4K HD Webcam For MacFor 4K Ultra-HD webcam capture and 1080p or 720p conferencing you'll want a fairly fast, modern Intel Mac with USB 3.0 ports running MacOS Sierra or ElCapitan 10.11+. Logitech's website implies this UVC compliant web camera and it's Camera Settings app is backward compatible with USB 2.0 ports, Mac OSX 10.8 at less-than-ultra resolutions and lower frame-rates. A fast and big external ThunderBolt or USB drive is probably wise if you're planning on extensive 4KHD capture. Even with H.264 hardware compression built into the Logitech Brio webcam, Ultra-HD recording at 4096 x 2160 pixels and 30 FPS is likely to gobble disk space alarmingly fast.
Brio 4K Web Camera Review SoonI'll have more to say and do a full review of the Brio 4K USB3 webcam once I have my mitts on one. For many Mac users, a C930e or C922 will still be the best choice for personal or small business video capture and conferencing needs. But SELECT users will find the Brio's specs and features a compelling product to affordably raise the quality bar on their video production and presentation needs.
The benefits of buying an external Mac webcam with tripod mount are twofold: Image stability and precision positioning. Most Apple compatible web cameras have flimsy if somewhat usable flip-clips that all too often largely rely on gravity to cling precariously onto a computer monitor or MacBook laptop's screen. With a real tripod you can assure stable, fixed positioning that may be critical for scene continuity and a vibration-free razor sharp image during Skype sessions or YouTube video capture sessions.
There's basically 3 types of tripods:
1. Desk clamp tripods with armature or gooseneck extensions.
2. Full-size free-standing professional tripods for conferencing or staged scenes.
3. Desktop mini-tripods for close-ups and convenience.
With a design style similar to the C920, the C922 Stream Pro features a darker, black housing and mounting clip with standard tripod mount hole for the included mini desktop tripod. (The C922X 'X' model doesn't include the tripod.) Internally improved circuitry enhances the web camera's frame rates to now achieve up to 60 FPS at 720p HD resolution.1080p (which is very demanding no matter how you slice it) capture remains at 30 FPS. Both of these presume you have a very fast Intel CPU - ideally over 2GHZ. It should be noted many Apple computers like the Mac mini and MacBook Air often have much slower processors in the 1Ghz range, although Apple does support a 'Turbo' CPU up-clocking mode to temporarily ramp up the clock speed under demanding tasks when needed. On lesser Mac's you might not reach or sustain maximum frame rates possible.
H.264 video compression is supported on the C922 (as with all premium model Logitech cameras like the C930e, ConferenceCam Connect and Logitech Group.) This helps both frame rates and significantly reduces the size of the data stream or captured files saved to disk. It should also be noted that while the 920 had a Zeiss optics brand lens, the 922 makes no mention of Zeiss's trademark and like the C615 has switched to an optical-quality glass lens instead.
While touting it's optimization for Live Stream broadcasting, the 2 bundled apps/service they promote are WINDOWS ONLY. The Personify green-screen background app, and 3-month XSplit stream mixer subscription aren't supported on the Mac. However, as a UVC 1.5 spec compliant webcam rest assured it will perform admirably on Mac OSX (they recommend MacOS 10.9+) and it's settings can be further tweaked with the Logitech Webcam App or with a 3rd party program such as Mactaris or iGlasses.
The USB device specification limits reliable data transfers over a devices USB cable to around 5 meters or about 16 feet for High-Speed devices. The distance is a bit less for Low-Speed devices like keyboards and mice. An Active USB repeater extension cable can extend the webcam's distance considerably.
Active Repeater cables are available up to 100 feet. Some of the shorter one's simply reamplify and reclock the 5 volt signal coming from your Mac computer's port to extend a webcam (or any other USB device's) range. However for longer distances, you should look for USB extension cables that include a separate power-supply to adequately and reliably boost the signal. Extending a webcam with ordinary USB A-to-B extender cables will likely result in the device disappearing off the USB bus and possibly causing your video application to lock-up or crash.
For some, extending their Mac webcam via Ethernet cabling is preferred for ranges up to 300 feet. Above you see a pair of USB transceivers: One for your Macintosh's USB-A port, and the other end with a power-supply input and USB-B female socket to plug your web camera into.
Lastly, note extending SuperSpeed USB 3.0 devices (not webcams) required different, USB3 certified cabling and extenders. That's not an issue for Mac webcam users since NO web cameras made currently require nor operate at USB 3.0 speeds. All Apple-friendly UVC compatible webcams are USB 2.0 speed devices.
A quick re-test of this bargain 720p HD webcam from RocketFish led me to come up with it the best Apple compatible CHEAP webcam choice. It has a surprisingly clear and sharp image, good color balance, and a smooth auto-focus that isn't slow to respond like other cheapo AF cams I've tested. Decent-sounding microphone too. Quite a deal for around twenty bucks.
For about five dollars more, the Mac compatible Logitech C310 is superior to the cameras in it's C1XX and C2XX series range. Most notably it has a higher resolution sensor and supports RightLight2(tm) which adapts to low-light situations better than cheaper Logitech cameras without it. It's a Fixed-Focus camera with noise-canceling microphone. It's image is as good as or better than most built-in Apple iSight cameras with far greater flexibility in camera placement, angles and positioning.
When you go beyond 720p into 1080p HD mode you need A LOT of CPU horsepower AND internet bandwidth to handle a staggering amount of image data. So these 720p HD cameras have good frame-rates in every Mac video capture and conferencing app I tried. They also have a built-in microphone that sounds fairly decent - and as such are all good choices for a cheap Mac webcam with microphone solution for desktop Macs which don't come with any microphone at all, like the Mac mini and Macintosh Pro tower.
The following four High-Def web cameras have some features in common that make for an ideal streaming Mac web camera choice:
- USB Video Class - UVC Compatible With OSX 10.5+
- 720p and 1080p HD Resolution Sensors
- Optical Quality Glass Lenses
- Onboard H.264 Video Compression
- Smooth Webcam Autofocus
- High-Quality Internal Microphones
- Standard Camera Tripod Mount Hole
Ask any seasoned teleconference host and many will say the Logitech C9922 Stream Pro is the new number one choice. This top-quality premium webcam supports H.264 video compression and is optimized for streaming video at high frame-rates. It currently retails around $99 USD. It's premium Zeiss optical lens delivers exceptional image quality. It far exceeds the color accuracy and sharpness of any Apple iSight camera that might be built into your MacBook, iMac or Apple Cinema Display. Dual microphones cancel echo and noise and deliver good audio response, though many live streaming hosts prefer a dedicated XLR or USB microphone for maximum audio quality.
Comparable in video quality to Logitech's premium cameras, the Microsoft LifeCam Pro rivals the C922x with high-quality glass optics, clean sounding microphone, and tripod mount. Also notable is Microsoft's TrueColor technology for accurate color in a wide variety of lighting situations.
At the top-end, the pricier Logitech C930e has an even higher megapixel camera sensor - and most notably - a wider-angle field of view (FOV) than most webcams. The 90 degree wide angle is perhaps best for those who have 2 people sitting side-by-side during a streaming video chat since it incorporates more of what's around you in the frame. Most other consumer webcams are in the 70-78 degree FOV range which is better suited for one person at close range.
For those wanting high-quality livestream chats on a budget might consider the Logitech C615. This small, portable and folding webcam still delivers a superior HD image, has an optical quality glass lens, and a single high-quality microphone element with built-in noise reduction. At a price around $45 USD, it's an excellent value. Although it doesn't have H.264 compression, in good lighting it offers smooth, high frame rate streams.
Although all of these live stream friendly cam's feature an adjustable mounting clip, you should really take advantage of these webcam's tripod mounting hole for stability and precision placement and angles of your Skype, LiveFire, Google Hangout or YouTube Live teleconferencing session. Low-cost desktop mini-tripods are popular with streaming IM'ers, but depending on your setup, a full-size floor tripod or a desk mounted boom camera arm may be preferable.
- The trend towards handheld computing devices
- Incorporation of video recording cameras into cell phones and tablets
- Apple iMac's and MacBook's shipping with built-in iSight cams
- Market saturation since USB webcams have a long service lifespan
- Shrinking demand in general for desktop computing peripherals
Logitech remains the Go-To brand for a high-quality web camera for Mac OSX users - at a wide range of price points. Sadly, Creative Labs seems to be phasing-out of the webcam scene - and focusing on their primary market: Premium audio solutions, speakers and headsets. Ipevo continues to deliver exceptional document cameras for the business and education markets. And the industrial camera and laboratory microscope scene is clearly moving in a digital direction. Rising interest in Apple compatible wireless security, monitoring and surveiilence cams is seriously bucking the trend both on Mac OS and iOS platforms.
Of course at the low-end, China has mountains of cheap UVC-compliant USB web cameras for the low-end consumer market. It's slugging it out with mediocre webcams largely in the $10-20 range for budget-conscious buyers with lean wallets and low expectations.
Today, only THREE webcam models are listed, One, the dual-sensor 3D webcam - the SENZ3D - is only supported on the Windows platform for it's unique gesture control technology and face-sensing that might appeal to Windows game developers. The only other two suitable for Mac OSX are surprisingly low-end and midrange models - The Live! Cam SYNC 720p HD and the notably better Live Cam CHAT 720p HD - both of which are only 720p maximum HD resolution. Their high-end 1080p resolution offerings to compete with Logitech for the premium webcam market are no longer listed (but may be in-stock elsewhere). Neither of the remaining two cams support H.264 hardware video compression which select models of their 1080p HD cams did.
It's no secret the desktop computer accessory marketplace is under terrible pressure from Mobile and Handheld device popularity. No doubt demand for external USB web cameras has shrunk as more PC and Mac users use their iPhone, iPad or other iGadget to video chat with on the go. For mobile users, wireless Bluetooth speakers are now all the rage and a multi-billion dollar market. Historically, Creative Labs SoundBlaster and it's audio products are what made the company a leader in computer peripherals. Continuing to manufacture webcams for Mac and Windows desktop PC's probably isn't as lucrative as it used to be. Lastly, it's become even harder to compete with Logitech for a narrowing slice of the USB webcam market, especially given what a great range of very high-quality webcam hardware Logitech delivers to Mac and PC users.
The 1-piece ConferenceCam Connect is highly portable: All you need is a MacBook and a Wi-Fi connection to collaborate anywhere. Housed in a compact, tubular body it incorporates both a razor-sharp 1080p HD web camera with a wide, 90 degree field of view and optical quality Carl Zeiss glass lens in the upper section. It's camera supports H.264 video compression and is UVC 1.5 compliant with SVC - Scalable Video Compression to automatically negotiate the highest quality image and frame rates when available bandwidth allows it.
For audio, an omnidirectional full-duplex speakerphone with multiple noise-canceling microphones are both front and rear in the lower part of the base. A remote control for digital zoom, pan & tilt of the webcam image also features buttons for volume, mute and call control. The remote snaps smartly into the camera assembly, protecting the lens for storage and transport. NFC pairing and Bluetooth 4.0 support allows Apple iGadget and cell-phone users participating in a voice conference as well. The unit can operate for up to 4 hours on it's internal LiOn battery, or be powered / charged via the included AC adapter - or via USB as well.
It also has an HDMI video out port to display your conference on a meeting room display or projector. Direct Wi-Fi video transmission using MiraCast technology is supported on a Windows PC, but sadly not available on the Mac at this time. (MiraCast is similar to Apple's competing AirPlay standard.)
The next-generation ConferenceCam Connect hits a price-point above the very affordable Conference Cam BCC950 - which is great for individuals and sole-proprietors wanting an all-in-one remote-controlled zoom, pan and tilt camera and speakerphone solution for several participants at a street price around $200 USD.
In the corporate business-class ConferenceCam C3000e - Logitech delivers a complete, multi-piece hardware solution with a high-end mechanically controlled camera, speakerphone and webcam control base, remote, power and wiring hub for larger groups of 6 or more participants. The C3300e's pricing well-under $1000 USD sent shockwaves through many corporate videoconferencing competitor's spines: Suddenly, the proprietary $10K plus meeting room solutions just weren't that appealing anymore once Logitech entered the scene.
With a manufacturer's suggested list price of $499, the new ConferenceCam Connect strikes a midpoint in affordability while offering a complete re-think and some very awesome next-generation innovations. Portable, compact and elegant, it's optional battery-power will let you dash with your MacBook and camera in tow to the next meeting. You can have an on-the-spot video conference anywhere there's WiFi access and a laptop computer available.
Kudos to the Logitech For Business division for taking voice and video conferencing to a new level - and for keeping Apple users in mind!
USB Video Class compliance isn't just for webcams. Analog video capture gadgets, Digital video cameras, still image cameras, USB TV tuners and other video devices can leverage the evolving UVC device specification. The latest version of the spec is now at v1.5 and is incorporated into (notably) some of Logitech's most recent premium webcams for Mac and PC.
The USB-IF Video working group at USB.org is chartered with updating the current USB Video Class (UVC) specification to natively support modern encoders like H.264. H.264 is an open standard that allows highly efficient video compression techniques for reducing the use of network bandwidth as well as significantly decreasing drive storage space requirements.The USB-IF working group also addresses known limitations with the UVC Specification and adopts new features to address evolving product technologies and market demands. Area of interest to the UVC working group include:
- Native H.264 support - Flexible metadata for each video frame - A windowing API for digital sensors - Ability to set a Region of Interest in the camera's field of view - Support for additional color spaces and color depths
- QOS - Quality Of Service scaling and negotiation - Support for additional video codecs - Support for multi-view stream management - Support for scene content depth information
In terms of the latest UVC 1.5 spec, H.264 and QOS matter a lot. There so many different video devices - from cell phones to PC and Mac desktop computers to dedicated group conferencing platforms. Available internet bandwidth can vary greatly. And delivering the optimal video resolution, image quality, or frame and data rates appropriate for each device is an important challenge the UVC committee strives to address.
Inadequate light is the number one cause of poor, noisy and grainy image quality. It also leads to lower frame-rates and sluggish response as the webcam's electronic shutter operates more slowly to allow more light photons to hit the sensor before refreshing the frame. Adding a secondary, or sometimes third light source near your computer can make a world of difference.
Inaccurate webcam image color is greatly affected by the TYPE of lighting sources you choose. Incandescent and halogen lamps give off very warm and reddish wavelengths. Blue-ish LED or Fluorescent light sources may cause your webcam's image (and your skin-tones) to be more greenish or purplish. By using different types of lighting sources together, you can achieve better video color fidelity, especially during nighttime use when ambient, natural sunlight in the room isn't available. Multiple light sources such as one directly in front (Key Lighting), and one or more to the side (Fill Lighting) can minimize unwanted shadows.
Dimmers, or incandescent lamps with 3-Way bulbs can be one way of being able to quickly fine-tune lighting levels. Shades and diffusers can prevent direct lighting glare and 'blowout' of the lightest areas of the web camera's image. Bouncing lights off a ceiling or wall can help improve overall ambient lighting levels at nighttime.
Lastly, during daylight be aware of natural light sources like windows. Passing clouds on a sunny day can radically change room light levels quickly. Ideally, you don't want a sunny window of any sort directly behind you in the webcam's field of view. The camera will likely darken your image in the foreground and adapt to the background light levels instead. Backlighting should NOT be the primary source of lighting.