Video Hardware

Video Hardware

Choosing a Camera for Live Streaming

Live streaming cameras vary widely in quality, price, and the details of how they connect to your system. The right fit depends on exactly what your live streaming goals are!

*Pricing provided is accurate at time of publishing and subject to be changed by the various retailers.*


Webcams are cameras that are built in to a computer or connected via USB. However, some are external and connect to the computer via USB. Since a webcam doesn't have its own internet connection, a computer is required to connect to a network and process the image into a format suitable for streaming.

The advantages of webcams are simplicity of use and price. The controls are simple, so using a webcam for live streaming is very straightforward.

On the other hand, webcams don't generally deliver high image or sound quality. They usually lack zoom capability, variable focus, and any ability to customize the image. For serious professional-quality video, though, you should consider other options.

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With built-in video cameras, microphones, internet connections, and the ability to run apps, a smartphone can be a handy all-in-one device for live streaming. It's possible to get a decent stream quality from a smartphone, especially from those with the highest image quality.

However, many of the same drawbacks experienced with webcams apply here. Image quality suffers in low-light conditions, and the sound quality is generally poor. Zoom and other image customizations are generally absent or basic.

While a smartphone is fine for basic consumer-level streaming, professionals will be better off with an IP camera or professional-grade camera.

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IP Cameras

These cameras have their own internet connection, so it isn't necessary to have a separate computer. While a little more complicated than using a webcam, they are much more versatile.

Since they connect via Ethernet, they can be positioned anywhere you need them. Because many IP cameras include power over ethernet (PoE), you can run them continuously. This makes them ideal for 24/7 streaming.

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Professional-Quality Cameras

The best camera quality option for live streaming is to use a professional-quality HDMI or SDI camera. You can change and upgrade lenses, use zoom, and wide-angle focus, and do all of the things you'd expect from a professional camera. One major advantage is support for XLR audio, which is the professional standard.

Of course, versatility doesn't always equal ease of use. Professional video cameras aren't as simple to use as a webcam. If you don't already have experience with them, you will have to get ready to learn.

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Knowing your audience and the purpose of your production is crucial to making the decision of which camera to use. Whether you plan to stream live video on your website or live stream an event, there's a camera out there for you!