I write this review during some troubling times that we are all facing around the world. We are five/six weeks into lockdown here in the UK, with many office workers forced to work from home to help reduce the risk of catching and spreading the COVID-19 virus. As death totals climb around the country and around the world, a similar uptake has occurred with a 200%+ boost in home-video streaming, as well as a burst in sales of video streaming cameras, selling out across various online stores.
The Logitech StreamCam is one such camera that has currently been selling very well, as people work from home, boosting their collaboration and productivity in the home office environment by communicating with work colleagues and clients via video streaming, as well as catching up with friends and family. Predominantly aimed at gaming streamers, YouTube creators and influencers streaming content to their followers, the Logitech SteamCam feels like an accessory that seems very apt in today’s current lockdown conditions.
There are many laptops today that come with front-facing webcams built-in, however, their quality can be a lot worse than the cameras found in today’s smartphones. Some laptop cameras even fail to reach 720p resolutions – I’m looking at you Apple. For many, this lack in quality may be acceptable for a casual webcam between friends, but if you are looking for something a little more professional the Logitech StreamCam has a bunch of great features to fulfil many streamer’s desires.
In the box comes the camera itself, a separate mount with a screw attachment for a tripod and a quick start guide. The camera comes pre-attached to its main on-screen mount and its USB-C cable is fixed permanently to the rear of the camera itself. I found this latter feature to be an odd decision from Logitech. Not everyone has a USB-C connection, so rather than having its USB-C cable detachable and replaceable, you’re forced to look for and buy a separate USB-A adapter if the device you’re plugging it into doesn’t have a USB-C port, or simply isn’t long enough.
Where some web cameras come in fairly small and discreet cases, the Logitech StreamCam sits quite prominently on top of your monitor, measuring 6cm x 5.8cm x 4.8cm for the camera body itself. Once you include the on-screen mount, the size of the camera soon bulks up a little more in size. Its larger size of casing helps to contain the large f2.0-3.7 1080p 60fps lens and sensor, a pair of dual front-facing microphones, an LED capturing indicator light and an AI-enabled processor that I will go more into later.
The mount looks fairly simple in its construction, but its function and stability allow you to achieve the perfect position. When perched on top of my curved Samsung CJ791 34″ monitor, the StreamCam mount was able to stay firmly in place. Once fixed, the mount also allows you to tilt the camera up and down as well as pan left and right to help to perfectly frame your shot.
Its permanently attached cable length will be borderline just long enough for some, just be sure your desktop computer or USB-C connection on your laptop is close by. It may run a little tight for floor located tower desktops, especially if you’re also mounting the camera on a desktop monitor. For me though, I was able to utilise the spare USB-C port on my Samsung monitor that was in turn daisy-chained to my MacBook Pro via a USB-C cable.
Amongst all the drab and dreary webcams that are available today, I think the StreamCam certainly looks very stylish. It’s fabric-covered front and dark grey (or white) exterior gives a very fashionable take on the more dull, bland and mostly black covered webcams of its competitors. It’s certainly aimed at the trendy youth, the streamer and the home market, and that’s no bad thing. Even in an office environment this camera will look the part and may even turn the heads of some jealous co-workers.
Firing up the StreamCam was quick and effortless. With the Logi Capture software downloaded, installed and launched, the StreamCam instantly comes to life. Its white LED indicator light illuminates behind the front grey mesh of the camera and my face was soon shown in the capture software’s preview screen – ready to record.
When you are used to the poor quality of most laptop cameras, the StreamCam’s overall video quality is impressive. Thanks to its 1080p 60fps performance I found it to be better than Apple’s own, and much lower resolution, MacBook camera. Unlike some other reviews of this website, I found the auto white balance to be very satisfactory and needed little to no manual adjustment. This might have been due to my well-lit office. I tried it out in the evening, with artificial light, and the StreamCam also seemed pretty decent, showing an acceptable level of focal range with details in the background still being picked up and lit well.
If you’re going to be using this camera in any professional capacity, it’s likely you will be using this camera with a separate external lighting rig and a dedicated microphone. The StreamCam does come with its own microphone, of which I also found to be fairly decent. The audio captured was clear and crisp. It will certainly not match the quality of a dedicated microphone, however, it was perfect for casual use in video meetings and for catching up with friends and family.
The Logi Capture software comes with a wealth of features that utilise the tech that is inside the StreamCam. From auto white balance and backlight correction, to be able to simultaneously display multiple video sources in picture-in-picture or side-by-side layouts. When using the multi-source modes you can use a second camera source or a shared desktop screen for things like tutorials or game capture footage. There are saved presets for use with streaming or recording, and you can also add text overlays and visual effects to jazz up your captured videos. There are plenty of features here to tailor your end captured result, and with very little effort you can impress anyone watching your videos or streams.
The AI processor inside the SteamCam, along with the camera’s software, allows you the ability to use face detection to crop and zoom your video to help keep your face always in frame, whilst auto white balance, exposure and images stabilisation makes sure the video you are capturing is adjusting to the best it can be in the room you’re in. There are some people that may prefer the manual route, and for you, these helpful features can all be disabled, leaving you to crop, frame and adjust brightness, white balance, colour and contrast levels manually yourself.
Files are captured in .mov format, which can be played back in QuickTime on macOS and imported easily in iMovie or upload onto your YouTube channel. I found playing back freshly recorded video on the macOS took a little waiting time before I could playback the file without issues. Playing it too soon would either not play the video at all, or at times the audio would not be heard during the video. Waiting a little while for the captured file to finish processing helped overcome this issue.
A unique feature of the StreamCam over its competitors is its ability to pop-out the camera from the mount, rotate it 90-degrees and reinsert it back into the mount to capture in portrait mode. I can only imagin recording directly in portrait mode will be for sharing on social media channels that are more suited to portrait videos, such as Instagram or TikTok. This saves on lots of post-editing time but doing it this way also limits the potential to repurpose the same content on platforms such as YouTube – without incurring nasty black side borders. Personally, I would still shoot in landscape and crop the footage instead in post.
The Logitech StreamCam retails for £138.99 on Amazon, which may price this camera out of some people’s budgets, especially when you might already have a fairly acceptable webcam poised at the top of your laptop screen. However, if you are using a desktop computer that doesn’t have a camera, or if you are connecting your laptop to a monitor, it’s likely you will not have the ability to use the built-in camera. You may also be seeking a better quality camera, so under these scenarios, I think for a fairly small extra premium the Logitech StreamCam is well worth paying that little extra for.