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.
For 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.
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.
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.
For 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. )
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions.
Microsoft 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
Finally, if you are building out a telepresence conference room and cost is no object, you should look into one of these cameras:
Minrray UV820-usb3 for VSee** (customized version)
- PTZOptics 20x-USB
Any of these units will 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 and the PTZOptics cameras is that they are both 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 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.