Getting the Most Out of Your Webcam

With the Internet catching the fancy of millions and video conferencing becoming a norm, it’s now more important than ever to make the most out of your Webcam. And below is a simple guide you can follow that will help you do just that. Let’s get started!

Lighting is Everything

Using a Webcam is really nothing more than photography. It just uses moving images instead. However, the rules of photography apply to it as well, with a major one being the lighting. If the subject is properly illuminated, the image will appear brighter, sharper and clearer. In fact, if you get the lighting right, you’re already halfway done! When you’re using your Webcam, it’s important to place a table lamp, architect lamp or even a tube light in front of you, but behind the computer monitor. That way, the light will fall on your face and your Webcam pictures will be much clearer. Now, it’s even better if there’s a light falling on your face. To accomplish that, you need to either bounce the light off the wall before it reaches you or cover the bulb with white transparent paper (typing paper). Essentially, indirect lighting is what you should aim for, because direct lighting can result in over-exposed images.

Background

It’s important to pay extra attention to the background light. If it’s brighter than the foreground light, you can do one of two things. First, you can make your foreground light brighter by switching on an additional light source or by switching off the background light. If that’s not possible, it’s best to get a collapsible background screen. Go for 5×6 or 5×7, because Webcams have super wide-angle lenses and they see the edges of any backdrop as smaller than 5×6.

Placement is Key

When working with a Webcam, it’s very important to place it in the proper location. It’s best to place it at your eye level and preferably in front of you to convey your face. Doing that gives off a professional look and feel of you, particularly if you’re in a business conference setting. Therefore, it’s best to place the Webcam on top of your computer monitor. Also, to avoid looking bulbous, don’t get too close to the Webcam.

Monitor Settings

When you’re using a Webcam, it’s best to lower the brightness and contrast of your monitor to the lowest digit possible. That helps to avoid monitor glare on your face and on the Webcam itself. Also, it’s best to wear a white shirt so that you have a good white balance and color exposure. If you have an LCD monitor, remember that it emits polarized light. To get rid of an eyeglass reflection, you can place a polarizing filter in front of your Webcam.

Wait Before You Record

If you want to record or stream images live, give yourself a couple seconds before you begin recording. Also, don’t move during the recording session, because it takes time for the Webcam to set the focus and make the picture more crisp. It’s also very likely that if you put the most important information in during the first few seconds, some of it might get garbled. Therefore, after you press Play, wait a few seconds before you start moving, talking, singing, dancing or whatever you have in mind.

Audio Files

If you’re particular about the sound you get while using your Webcam, you shouldn’t rely on the Webcam’s microphone. It’s best to use a proper headset microphone or a clip-on mic. If you use the microphone on the Webcam itself, you probably won’t get a very clear sound.

If you follow all of these tips, your Webcam experience will be much more successful. Have fun!

~ Zahid H. Javali