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Take Your Video Calls to the Next Level Using External Webcams

Take Your Video Calls to the Next Level: A Guide to Using External Webcams
Image Credit - The New York Times

In today’s remote work landscape, video calls are indispensable for meetings, collaborations and staying connected. But blobby, pixelated built-in webcams simply don’t cut it anymore. To unlock your full potential on Zoom and other platforms, it’s time to get serious about video quality.

That’s why more professionals are switching to external webcams. With superior image sensors, adjustable settings and advanced features like autofocus, external webcams massively upgrade your video presence. This guide will walk you through everything you need to know, from choosing the right model to optimizing lighting, angles, clothing and more for truly pro-level video calls.

Why Ditch the Built-In Webcam?

Before we dive in, let’s explore why an external webcam is such a game-changer for video calls:

  • Sharper Image Quality: External webcams boast higher megapixel counts and better light sensitivity for crisp, detailed video instead of grainy blobs.
  • Enhanced Low Light Performance: Many external webcams feature wider apertures, low light correction and even built-in LED lights to master dim environments.
  • Wider Field of View: Capture more of your surroundings for a more dynamic, engaging experience for participants.
  • More Adjustability: Fine-tune color, exposure, focus and more to craft perfect, professional-grade video.

Choosing Your Webcam Sidekick

With great webcam power comes great responsibility. Here are the key factors to consider when choosing your video call wingman:

Image Resolution

Go for 1080p or 4K for crisp details. This depends on your internet speed, but higher resolution allows cropping if needed.

Frame Rate

30fps or 60fps produce smoother, more lifelike motion. Gamers or fast-paced settings benefit most.

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Field of View

Wider angles (90-120°) showcase more background. Tighter angles (70-80°) keep focus on you.

Focus Type

Auto focus continually fine tunes for clear images as you move. Manual works if you stay stationary.

Extra Features

Face tracking, app control, noise canceling microphones and tripod mounts add versatility.

Compatibility

Ensure it works on your OS and with top apps like Zoom, Skype, Teams etc.

Budget

Entry models start under $50. High end webcams range up to $200+. Set realistic expectations.

Setting Up Your Webcam

Got your webcam? Here’s how to get it primed for video call prime-time:

  1. Securely plug into a USB port. Avoid connectors and hubs for best bandwidth.
  2. Install drivers if needed from the manufacturer’s website.
  3. Open camera software or conferencing apps to test video feed and adjust settings.
  4. Designate in Zoom/Teams/Other under video settings to make it the default.

While testing, play with resolution, field of view, exposure, color balance and more to find your ideal look. Many webcams also have downloadable software for deep customization.

Crafting Your Video Call Environment

Your webcam might get top billing, but supporting players like lighting, angles and clothing make all the difference between an average video presence and true production value:

Lighting

Proper illumination prevents dark, shadowy video. Invest in a ring light or place near bright natural light for a consistent, professional glow.

Camera Position

Place slightly above eye level and experiment with flattering angles. Having the camera too low or high distorts proportions.

Background

Curate an intentional, distraction-free background or leverage virtual ones. Make sure key lights don’t blow out the scene.

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Attire

Dress professionally like an in-person meeting, even when working remote. Avoid “loud” patterns and harsh colors that distract.

Body Language

Mind eye contact, posture and energy just like being there live. Lean slightly towards camera for engaged presence.

Making Magic on Video Calls

By selecting the right external webcam and optimizing your physical presence, you can massively amplify impact and engagement on virtual meetings, client calls, livestreams and more. So embrace your inner Spielberg to direct professional, memorable video experiences!

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About the author

Ade Blessing

Ade Blessing is a professional content writer. As a writer, he specializes in translating complex technical details into simple, engaging prose for end-user and developer documentation. His ability to break down intricate concepts and processes into easy-to-grasp narratives quickly set him apart.

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