Laptop cameras (also known as Webcams) have been in existence for over thirty years. With other hardware and software components of these laptops improving by the day, the camera seems to be trapped in time. It is even more noticeable now that we have smartphones with almost perfect cameras. As zoom meetings and Skype video calls have taken over nowadays, laptops with better cameras is highly sought after.
But, why are laptop cameras so bad even now that everyone needs something effective? This article will be sharing the reasons why your laptop cameras sucks and possible ways to improve them.
Why Are Laptop Cameras So Bad?
Before COVID-19 took the world by a storm, you had little or no need to open your webcams. Let’s face it, we all have smartphones that snap much better than a webcam. Also, no one would pull out a laptop to take a selfie in a church or social gathering! So, there was not much concern about the quality of laptop cameras.
But the Covid- 19 pandemic now makes it a necessity to make video calls and zoom meetings for organizations. So that’s why everyone now asks, why are laptop cameras so bad?
There are many reasons laptop cameras are so bad. Manufacturers like Dell, Lenovo, HP, etc., are pushing towards building laptops with a smarter appearance and high performance in terms of speed.
Also, since users seldom use the webcams, it becomes a matter of secondary concern. For example, a top-quality laptop for BBA students need to be more performance oriented other than having a good webcam
In addition to this, the thin build of recent laptops allows no space for certain hardware components.
Beside, manufacturers go for cheap components, making it easier to make sales. Since customers with high camera quality preferences are very few, manufacturers may produce laptops that will collect dust on shelves.
So, let’s consider several hardware components that contribute to the quality of our webcams. Also, I will highlight ways in which they contribute to the poor quality of your webcams.
This is the operating system of your laptop camera, which makes you able to control the camera’s features of functions. It also controls the camera’s auto-focus, image processing, exposure, and noise reduction. Unfortunately, many webcams have low firmware, resulting in their poor image quality.
2. Frame Rate
Your laptop camera has a frame rate (measured in frame per second, FPS) which represents the number of frames it can take in a second. The higher the frame rate, the better. So, good laptop cameras have frame rates in the range of 50-60 FPS. With the poor ones having 24FPS.
3. Camera Resolution
A high-resolution camera captures images with high resolution. The higher the resolution, the more details your pictures carry. A standard pc webcam has a resolution between 320*240 and 640*480. These resolutions are far too low to capture images with fine details.
4. Field of view (FOV)
A laptop webcam with a wide field of view produces images with better qualities. So, to get a good webcam, you should opt for one that has a FOV between 77-78. However, a diagonal FOV of 69 degrees can get you some fine pictures with relatively lower quality.
5. Size of camera sensor and lens
A larger camera lens and sensor allow for higher photosites, and consequently, high megapixels. This makes it possible to capture images with high resolutions.
In addition, this makes it possible to still see clearly detailed images even after zooming images in large percentages. Unfortunately, the thin nature of recent laptops allows little space for large camera sensors and lenses.
How To Improve Laptop Camera Quality?
When faced with this situation, your options are limited since you won’t dump your laptop due to a poor camera. In this case, you can either get an external camera for your PC or improve the laptop camera. You could also tweak your camera settings, or make some adjustments around you, for example, the lighting. Let’s explore this in detail.
1. Make sure there’s sufficient lighting around
An important factor you should consider when taking pictures with any camera is the available lighting. There should be sufficient lighting behind you. The backlighting helps you get a brighter image projection and avoid grainy pictures. You can use a lamp or the most recent ring lights used by Snapchat users.
You should also make sure to have some light source directed at your face, ideally behind your screen. However, you should diffuse the ray of light reaching your face using paper or tissue paper. Keeping excess light close to the webcam can blanch your image, making it difficult or impossible for the camera to focus.
2. Tweak Your Screen Resolution
Webcams are known for distorted and blurred images. If you are experiencing this, you can improve the condition by lowering the screen resolution. This helps to sharpen the image projection.
3. Increase Your Camera Exposure
Your camera exposure refers to how long your camera takes in light before capturing an image. Keeping the exposure high helps to brighten your image. So, you can take this as high as is convenient, but not too high, though.
4. Make Sure Your White Balance Looks Natural
The white balance of your camera determines how the whites in your image look. Go to the camera settings and try to move the slider to look more realistic in the camera image. Some folks recommend that you wear a white shirt, make sure that there is something white around. You can also adjust the temperature of the light (if it’s adjustable), which contributes to the white balance.
5. Reduce the gain and ISO
You don’t want your images to look grainy. So then, you have to keep your ISO and gain as low as possible.
6. Try Using Natural Daylight
If you want to get the best out of your webcam pictures, you should take your pictures in the daytime. The sunlight provides even lighting for your pictures because it provides a more natural appearance with the right balance.
7. Clean The Camera Glass
A common reason you may be having poor images is that your camera glass is dusty. You can correct this by simply wiping it with a dry piece of cotton. However, using tissue paper or any damp piece of clothing may not give you the best result.
8. Get Your Hue and Saturation Settings Right
In the settings, you will also find the hue and saturation options. The hue refers to the color tint of your camera picture. Dragging the hue slider towards max intensifies the image, and if reduced, takes away the color from the image.
The saturation contributes to the vividness of the color and light in the image. Increasing the saturation makes the colors in the image more concentrated, and the reverse happens when the saturation is lowered. The right settings will set the hue and saturation sliders somewhere around the middle.
What You Can Use Instead Of A Bad Laptop Camera?
Due to the grainy images produced by laptop cameras, several technologies substitute for this shortcoming. Luckily, you can use your phones with better and clearer cameras as an alternative, using some apps and software for connection.
You can also opt for external webcams and other normal cameras (which is a sterling option). Let’s take a detailed look at how to go about with these alternatives and their connections.
Using your mobile phones
A very handy alternative to your laptop’s webcam is your phone camera. This is because you can get a smartphone that is one-tenth the price of your laptop but still has far better cameras. The fact that it doesn’t have support for use as a webcam doesn’t mean that you can’t use it. It just implies that you will need to make use of some third-party software.
Some Android apps that allow you to use your phone as a substitute for your laptop webcam are Iriun 4k webcam for Mac and PC, P webcam, iVCam webcam, and DroidCam. However, many of these apps come with watermarks. And you may have to pay some subscription charges to get that removed.
For the ever-increasing demand for skype, zoom, and Google meet video calls, an external webcam will serve just fine. But you have to manually give your computer an instruction regarding which camera to use for any application. Another setback is that they are a bit expensive, with the best webcams costing up to $200. You can still get some for as low as $25, but average picks fall around $70 to $120.
These webcams come with native allowances to connect to your laptop using the available USB ports. Once you have it plugged, you should wait for your windows to install the appropriate drivers. Once the installation is completed, “your new hardware is installed and ready to use” pops on the screen.
You should cover or disable your webcam for security reasons when it is not in use. This is because some malware can hijack your webcam and use it to spy on you while you are busy with other activities. A very popular manufacturer of these external webcams is Logitech.
A big plus comes in when your camera’s model and make supports for use as a webcam. In this case, you use it as a DSLR. But foremost, you have to be able to plug it, and your system needs to access it. Thankfully, some camera manufacturers have produced software and drivers to make their cameras compatible for use as a webcam.
Why are laptop cameras so bad? The camera on your laptop sucks due to several possible reasons. Worthy of note is that most manufacturers don’t see the camera as a priority. Instead, the focus is on building devices with super performance and very portable size. Unfortunately, this leaves little or no physical space for the 7mm sensor that comes with good cameras.
As a result, they end up making webcams that seem to be stuck in time. So, if you are tired of using that annoying camera, you might resort to using your smartphone or an external webcam. Of course, a very big alternative is the use of actual cameras. You will also find information on using these alternatives above, so ensure that you check it.