Category: Tips & Techniques

7 Best Webcams for Video Calling

We have tested a wide variety of cameras with VSee, and pretty much anything that works with Windows DirectShow will give you a satisfactory experience, but a few webcams really stand out for video calling with their superior image quality due to superior optics and optical auto-focus.

Logitech hd pro C920For general usage, we recommend the Logitech HD Pro Webcam C920.  It has the all-important mechanical auto-focus and runs $75-$100. It can also work for telemedicine, like this cost-effective VSee-Intermountain tele-NICU setup using 3 Logitech C920 webcams. Ubergizmo has an excellent review of the C920 with pictures comparing the video quality of several other popular Logitech webcams –  Pro 9000, C910, and C920. 

Logitech webcam Pro 9000

If you’re on a tighter budget, the older Logitech Webcam Pro 9000 (at 2 MP video resolution) is still a good camera. It has a bracket that will fit over the top of most monitors, a long USB cable that will reach the computer under your desk.  These days, you can easily find one around $50 on Amazon.

Logitech QuickCam Pro Notebooks

Logitech QuickCam Pro Notebooks

If you are using a laptop or notebook computer that doesn’t come with a built-in webcam, if you want a higher quality image than most laptops provide, or if you just want a second video feed to use with VSee’s auxiliary camera feature, you may want something smaller that will clip on the somewhat thinner laptop screen. Fortunately, Logitech squeezes the same optics and electronics from the 9000, including auto-focus, into a smaller package, the QuickCam Pro for Notebooks, (also sold as the Webcam C905) for $75 – $100.   Warning: Logitech frequently revises its naming scheme. Do not confuse the QuickCam Pro for Notesbooks with the older, inferior, QuickCam for Notebooks Pro.

Logitech HD webcam C930eFor a little bit more money, the Logitech Webcam C930e (~$130) for businesses is an excellent webcam that gives you a really spectacular, smooth HD video experience. It’s a nice choice for telemedicine with its wide 90-degree diagonal field of view and Pan-Tilt-Zoom. (However, the C920 can be adequate, too. )

Logitech Orbit AF

Orbit AF

The Logitech QuickCam Orbit AF puts a quality camera on top of a stick with remote control pan and tilt. With VSee you can click on the other person’s picture and make their camera move (support for this feature requires a VSee Exam Station ($299/mo) license.  The zoom, alas, is not optical, so as you zoom in you won’t necessarily see any more detail.

Its cousin, the newer Logitech BCC950 Conference Cam also has a 9″ stick mount for eye-level video conferencing.

Logitech webcam bcc950 conference cam

As its name suggests, it’s designed for group conferencing and has built-in omni-directional speaker phones, remote control, PTZ capabilities (*not supported in VSee), and an added 2 feet of cord length compared with the Orbit’s 6 feet. It makes nice (inexpensive) choice for room video conference calls where it can be put on the table and moved around to bring the camera closer to people’s faces. I’ve seen this camera for as low as $188, although it more typically runs around $250. Tom Keating at TMCnet did a thorough review of the BCC950 you might find useful.

* VSee does not support remote PTZ control for the BCC950.  Please see below for supported PTZ cameras or contact if you have questions.

Microsoft LifeCam CinemaMicrosoft is also in the camera business. While we’ve really liked the Microsoft LifeCam Cinema in the past, we’ve found over time that its video performance has not been consistent and its driver a bit bloated. It also claims to put out HD video at 30 fps although I couldn’t get it to go over 15 fps at 720p.  However, even at that setting the video was stunning.

PTZ Cameras for Telepresence Conference Rooms

VSee Minnray PTZ camera

Minrray 820-usb3

Finally, if you are building out a telepresence conference room and cost is no object, you should look into one of these cameras:

The first three units should start around $1,500, although you may be able to find a used one on eBay for far less. At this price point you get really high quality optics and mechanical zoom as well as pan-tilt.

What’s nice about the Minrray, PTZOptics, and Logitech cameras is that they are all USB 3.0 devices which makes for a super simple plug-and-play set up. If you go for a PTZOptics camera either the 12x or 20x version should work with the VSee Exam Station subscription; just make sure you don’t get the HD-SDI version of the camera, which VSee does not support.

The Logitech is a super lightweight camera about half the size of the others. Depending on the package you get, it may come with Logitech speakerphones.  It’s motor is a bit loud but pan-tilt-zoom is still smooth.

The GlobalMed camera is an analog camera and requires you to use the video capture device that Globalmed provides with it.

**Only the VSee customized version of the Minrray UV820-usb3 works with VSee. If you get a non-customized Minrray, you will have aspect ratio issues.

For more information about VSee telepresence system,  to see VSee’s remote PTZ feature in action, or to purchase a customized Minrray for VSee, please contact sales.

If you don’t have VSee, get it free here.

Article first posted December, 2009. Updated October 5, 2015.

VSee Tip #6 – Deleting Contacts

To delete a contact from your VSee address book, move the cursor arrow over the contact’s name until it is highlighted and right-click. Select “Delete Contact” from the menu that appears.

VSee delete contact

 In fact, you can delete an entire group in the same way, by simply right-clicking on the highlighted group.VSee delete group

* Note: the Invite Friends to VSee group can not be deleted and will always appear at the bottom of your VSee address book. You can hide this list of potential contacts by clicking on the gray triangle to the left of the group.

VSee hide contact list

More VSee Tips


VSee Tip #4 – Setting Your Status

Your VSee status tells other people how available you are for a video chat. VSee has four possible status indicators:

VSee status presence

  • green with white clock hands – Online but inactive at least 5 min.
  • green – Available
  • red – In a call
  • white – Offline or invisible

You can purposely change your status by clicking on your login name and selecting the status you want.

*Note: People can still call you even if you are busy or invisible!

vsee status menu

Currently, VSee has no way to set a custom message.


VSee Tip #2 – Audio Only Mode

VSee mute video

It’s easy to “mute” your VSee video for an audio-only conference.  Open your self-view video window and click on the webcam icon on the bottom left of your the window. If you mute the window during a call, the “muted” video setting will be saved for the next time you make a call.

Some reasons you may not want to show your video:

  • poor network connectivity – turning off your video reduces the bandwidth used in a call
  • privacy – you need to grab something from the next room and don’t want any virtual snooping happening while you’re gone
  • unforeseen issues – a giant bug is crawling over your webcam (btw, this really happened to me during a video call) or maybe you’re just having a really bad hair day.

VSee Tip #1 – Shortcuts for Arranging Your Video Windows

VSee video chat window shortcuts

Unlike most video conference services, VSee gives you tons of control over how you want to display your video windows. Click on the icon with the four tiles in the top right corner of your video window for the “Arrange Video Windows” menu (pictured above).  Better yet, try these easy shortcuts to quickly arrange your windows just the way you want.

Make video windows bigger and smaller

  • CTRL + plus key (+)  to make video bigger
  • CTRL + minus key (-)  to make video smaller

Line up video windows along one side of your screen

  • CTRL + [Arrow Keys] in the direction you want the windows to align
    • CTRL + ←   to tile left
    • CTRL + ↑   to tile top
    • CTRL + →   to tile right
    • CTRL + ↓   to tile bottom

Any window adjustments you make are automatically saved for your next call.

Save a video windows layout

You can also save a particular window order or window layout that you like to use, such as for recurring meetings. Please note that the saved layout will only apply to calls with the same number of callers as the original saved layout. Here is a quick video tutorial on how the save a video windows layout.

*Mac users should substitute CMD (⌘) key in place of CTRL, like this:

  • CMD(⌘) + plus key (+) to make video bigger
  • CMD(⌘) + minus key (-) to make video smaller
  • etc., etc.

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