Gorgeous HD Video Despite Some Software Setbacks

There’s a very good chance you’ve already upgraded your at-home webcam in the last year or so, or at least have plans to do just that. The stay-at-home, play-at-home, work-from-home nature of the pandemic really put the home PC through its paces when it came to working, schooling, meeting, and otherwise communicating. Add to all that the growing number of streamers and content creators who practically live online, interacting with their community through their computers and peripherals. Now, a webcam is no longer a luxury but a necessity. It’s why relatively inexpensive but good quality cams are hard to find. That includes the Logitech StreamCam, which, as of this writing, is currently (temporarily) sold out. Here’s why it should be on your radar when it gets restocked.

I’ve written about my longtime use of Logitech peripherals before. The last time, it was to give my 10-year-old keyboard/mouse combo an upgrade thanks to the company’s Color Collection. More recently, and courtesy of our friends at Logitech, I felt that it wast time to step up my webcam game, especially with an increase in my own videogame streaming and content creation. My old Logitech C120 just wasn’t cutting it anymore (and can you blame it? The lil ball came out in 2009!), so I upgraded to the uber-popular Logitech C920 HD Pro, just before the pandemic hit. But the company has greatly improved their peripheral hardware in the last decade since that solid (and also sold out) camera came out. I was genuinely surprised to see just how superior the Logitech StreamCam was to its camera cousins in almost every way.

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Made for a modern world in which online communication of all kinds is paramount, the Logitech StreamCam is designed to be more than just a straightforward webcam. The differences are right there in the name: It’s intended to not just deliver decent video quality so you can communicate online, but to fully capture the essence of your streaming setup (and all the hard work that went into it), present your voice and visage in a professional manner for business meetings and interviews, and to make grandma feel like you’re right there in the room with her despite being miles away. The StreamCam hardware really is a leap forward in quality in all the right ways. Here’s how Logitech themselves describe it:

Take your content to the next level and share your passion with Logitech StreamCam. Featuring pristine image quality, dual front-facing microphones, versatile mounting options, and USB-C connectivity, it’s the perfect camera for broadcasting to your favorite streaming platforms—all you need to do is be yourself!

Image via Logitech

Let’s take a closer look at those qualities. First and foremost is the image and video quality the camera provides, which is competitively top-of-the-line at the StreamCam’s current $169.99 price point. I did a side-by-side-by-side comparison with the new camera alongside my previous versions of Logitech cams, and the differences were laughably clear. The C120 quality reminded me of my first digital camera (which was huge in your hands but tiny in storage space), with the C920 delivering a serviceable 1080p video quality at 30fps. But even that was easily outshone by the StreamCam’s 1080p video in 60fps.

The difference was obvious and the StreamCam came out on top by a country mile. Sure, much of that difference was due to the upgraded hardware in the StreamCam, but it’s Logitech’s bundled software, Logitech Capture, that does a lot of the heavy lifting. Automated and AI-enabled focus, face-tracking, exposure correction, stabilization and more basically mean that you can let the computer do the hard work for you; the StreamCam just makes you look your best in all possible environments. That alone is worth the cost, especially for content creators who spend a lot of time on their appearance and the setup of their framing space, because the cam could cut down on that workload quite a bit.

Logitech Capture offers simple and intuitive but also rather powerful customization settings and controls, all nestled within the software that also lets you create content, record, and even stream. It can basically take the place of other familiar software like XSplit and OBS to add overlays, filters, change video sources and formatting, almost anything you can think of. If you’re new to the streaming / content-creation game, the Logitech StreamCam plus Logitech Capture could be all you need to get you well on your way. But if you’re used to some of the aforementioned software for streaming or video creation, Logitech Capture can actually tangle things up a bit.

Image via Logitech

My only gripe against the Logitech StreamCam (other than the fact that it comes with a USB-C connection and no adapter, though you can buy that separately and relatively inexpensively) has nothing to do with the cam itself but rather its software. If I directly capture the StreamCam in OBS while streaming, I lose almost all control over the camera itself; no zooming, no exposure changes, no shifts in focus. I also get locked in to a certain orientation, regardless of how I rotate the camera itself. Only the limited control within OBS is available to me in this scenario. You can, however, run Logitech Capture to fine tune your camera control and then feed that video source (which the software acts as) through OBS to regain better control.

Here’s my problem with that setup: First of all, the Logitech Capture software sort of hijacks what makes OBS relatively easy to use, trading a one-stop-shop for one with an annex; in other words, it needlessly complicates streaming with a webcam. Previous Logitech cameras were able to be controlled within OBS as long as a line of communication was established with the Logitech software itself; Capture shifts this balance back in Logitech’s direction. Secondly and relatedly (and perhaps very specifically just for folks like me), adding this extra stress to the system might just destabilize your finely tuned setup. It sure did for me. (You can check out the specs for the StreamCam here, and I highly advise you do so, especially if you’re running an older or cobbled-together computer like me.) And even without Logitech Capture crashing the whole precariously balanced OBS setup, it introduced a desync between video and audio that simply wasn’t there when the cam itself was directly sourced into OBS. So much like with the other Logitech peripherals I’ve reviewed, it’s the software, not the hardware, that introduces unnecessary pain points.

While Logitech touted the StreamCam’s “dual front-facing microphones,” most streamers and content-creators are going to use their existing dedicated microphone or spring for one to complete their setup. That’s not to say that the camera’s microphones aren’t up to par; they’re just fine for video conferencing, casual calls, or in-game communication. And the “versatile mounting options” are indeed handy, courtesy of a robust clip that supports the StreamCam’s stout build, though you should also have a tripod in the box (I did not) should you choose to go that route.

All in all, the Logitech StreamCam does come in on the pricier side of their cam options (if you can find one at the moment), but it also offers a lot of virtual and digital tools in the box thanks to Logitech Capture. It seems tailormade for folks who have newer computers and want to get into streaming or content creation, or at least up their at-home professional game, but may feel overwhelmed by the many and varied types of software out there. If you’re just looking to upgrade your standalone webcam peripheral and are happy with the rest of your existing setup, the StreamCam is still a good option but maybe not a perfect fit. However, if you’re looking for a powerful, versatile cam with plenty of tools in the kit, a cam that you can build your home office around, the Logitech StreamCam will easily do the job, and make you look damn good in the process!

Rating: B

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