Get connected on Skype, Zoom and Teams with our pick of the best budget webcams
With flexible home working on the rise, having access to a quality webcam is fast becoming a necessity for video calls and online meetings. While most laptops, tablets and smartphones come with front-facing cameras as standard, their image quality and controls can often leave a lot to be desired and their angle of view will usually be dictated by the angle of your screen.
Fortunately, a good quality webcam doesn’t have to cost the earth and there are plenty of dependable options at wallet-friendly prices. Below, you’ll find our webcam buying guide which highlights some key features to look out for, followed by a list of our tried and tested pick of the best budget webcams on the market.
How to choose the best budget webcam for you
How much should you spend on a “budget” webcam?
High-end and 4K webcams can easily cost hundreds of pounds but, for everyday activities like video calls and online meetings, there are plenty of budget cameras that are more than up for the task. For our guide, we’ve stuck to models that retail for under £100 as this provides a range of options that should cover the needs of most people.
Do I need a 1080p webcam?
If it’s within your budget then a 1080p webcam is nice to have but, for video calls, especially those conference calls where each participant only takes up a small square on the screen, a 720p webcam can work just fine. Additionally, resolution isn’t the be-all and end-all of image quality, and a well-rounded 720p webcam may offer more useful features than a bare-bones 1080p unit.
What about a microphone?
The vast majority of webcams, and certainly every camera in this list, includes a built-in microphone. When it comes to video calling, your audio quality can be just as if not more important than your video quality, so you’ll want to make sure any camera you buy packs a decent quality mic.
What else should I look for in a budget webcam?
Depending on how you plan to use your webcam, it can be worth paying attention to the mount it comes bundled with. Basic mounts should fit comfortably onto most monitors or laptop lids but more advanced mounts may offer tilt and rotational adjustments to fine-tune your framing. Additionally, it’s worth keeping an eye out for a mount with a tripod thread, as this can allow you to attach the webcam to a stand or camera tripod.
You may also want to look at the length of cable the webcam comes with included. While a short 1m cable should work just fine for laptop use, if you need to connect to a desktop computer that’s sat beneath your desk you’ll likely need something a little longer.
Finally, it’s worth choosing webcams with a privacy cover as this ensures your privacy, even if your computer is hacked into.
How we test budget webcams
Every budget webcam in our roundup has been thoroughly tested in-house by Expert Reviews. To do this we use the webcams across a range of different environments, evaluating how they hold up under low light conditions and checking how they cope with tricky colour casts and mixed lighting. We look at how the webcams handle image noise, render detail, manage colour accuracy and handle dynamic range. For webcams with built-in microphones, we also test to see how they perform under ideal conditions, as well as how they cope in busier office environments.
The best budget webcams you can buy in 2023
1. Logitech C270 HD Webcam: The best budget webcam
Price: £25 | Buy now from Amazon
Small, lightweight and easy to set up, at less than £30 it’s hard to go wrong with the Logitech C270 HD. Simply clip the camera to your monitor or laptop, plug into an available USB-A port and you’re all set for video calls over Skype, Google, Zoom or 720p video recordings from your desktop.
Using Logitech’s RightLight technology, the C270 automatically adjusts to your ambient lighting and the bundled webcam software also allows you to pan, tilt, zoom and keep track of your face while on camera.
The C270’s onboard microphone isn’t exactly broadcast quality but it’s acceptable for the price and offers automatic background noise suppression.
Key specs – Resolution: 720p; Focus: Fixed; Audio: Built-in microphone with noise reduction; Mount type: Clip stand, Cable length: 1.5m
2. Microsoft LifeCam Cinema: Best webcam under £50
Price: £49 | Buy now from Amazon
If you’ve got £50 to spend, for our money the Microsoft LifeCam Cinema is the best option on the market right now.
While it may miss out on Full HD video (you’ll need to move up to the LifeCam Studio for that), thanks to its all-glass lens, auto-focus and Microsoft’s TrueColor exposure controls, image quality is very good. Videos are bright, clear and skin tones look natural under most lighting conditions. Microsoft’s companion software is also useful, offering an auto-zoom feature that helps keep you nicely centred within the frame.
The LifeCam’s microphone is top-notch too and a clear upgrade over typical laptop mics or other webcams at this price point.
Key specs – Resolution: 720p; Focus: Automatic; Audio: Built-in microphone with noise reduction; Mount type: Desktop/clip; Cable length: 1m
3. Logitech C920 HD Pro: Best webcam for under £100
Price: £90 | Buy now from Amazon
When it comes to Full HD webcams, the Logitech C920 HD Pro is the best you’ll find for under £100.
With a CMOS sensor, responsive autofocus and a five-element, all-glass lens, the C920’s image quality is excellent. The Full HD video is nice and sharp, and Logitech’s automatic light correction ensures you’re always correctly lit. It’s no slouch in the audio department either, with a dual-microphone set-up providing clear sound that’s a significant step up over standard laptop audio.
The C920’s folding stand can be clipped onto just about any laptop lid or monitor or, using the tripod thread in its base, you also have the option of mounting it onto a separate desktop stand.
Key specs – Resolution: 1080p; Focus: Automatic; Audio: Dual microphones; Mount type: Clip/stand; Cable length: 1.5m
4. Ausdom AF640: The best 1080p camera for wide-angle views
Price: £56 | Buy now from Amazon
At just over £50 for a 1080p webcam, the Ausdom AF640 is already a solid Full HD option, but thanks to a couple of nifty features it manages to stand apart from other similarly-priced rivals.
While most webcams will commonly offer a 60-, 70- or sometimes 80-degree field of view, the AF640 zooms all the way out to 90 degrees. This wide-angle allows you to fit more than just your head and shoulders into your call or include several people in a single shot.
The camera’s built-in mono microphone is nothing to write home about, but video quality is nice and sharp and the camera adapts well to ambient lighting.
The AF640 ships with a standard hinged mount but thanks to a 3/4in tripod thread built into its base it can be attached to a tripod or desktop stand if needed.
Key specs – Resolution: 1080p; Focus: Automatic; Audio: Built-in microphone with noise reduction; Mount type: Desktop/clip, tripod thread; Cable length: 2m
5. Rapoo Xw2k HD 2K webcam: The cheapest 2K webcam
Price: £40 | Buy now from Amazon
Technically, 2K resolution (2,560 x 1,440) isn’t that much higher than 1080p but any extra is worth having and the Rapoo Xw2J HD 2K webcam is a pretty good product in its own right anyway.
There’s nothing fancy about it but image quality is solid, the microphone picks up your voice clearly without too much in the way of background hiss and it comes with a nice long lead and a physical cover to ensure privacy in the event that your computer is hacked. Add a tripod thread and a flexible monitor clip and you have a product that’s well worth putting on your shortlist.
Key specs – Resolution: 2K (2,560 x 1,440); Focus: Autofocus; Audio: Built-in microphone with noise reduction; Mount type: Clip stand
6. Razer Kiyo: Best budget webcam for online streamers
Price: £100 | Buy now from Amazon
Gamer-centric tech tends to carry a premium price tag, and while Razer’s Kiyo webcam does sit towards the top end of our budget bracket, if you’re looking to upgrade your streaming set-up it could be a solid investment.
The Kiyo’s stand-out feature is its built-in ring light. A light is a welcome addition to any webcam, adding a pop of illumination to conference calls and hangouts but it’s especially handy for streaming as it can keep you nicely lit even while sitting in a darkened room. Video streaming is available at 30fps in Full HD or you can switch down to 720p for smooth 60fps playback. The Kiyo is also compatible with Razer’s Synapse 3 software which gives you the ability to manually tweak the camera’s brightness, contrast and colour to taste.
The Kiyo’s only real drawback is its somewhat lacklustre microphone performance. While audio is clear it’s a little quieter than we’d like.
Key specs – Resolution: 1080p at 30fps, 720p at 60fps; Focus: Autofocus; Audio: Omnidirectional microphones; Mount type: Clip stand; Cable length: 1.5m
7. Logitech C310 HD Webcam: Another decent budget choice
Price: £36 | Buy from Amazon
Like the Logitech C270 HD we recommended earlier, Logitech’s C310 HD is a respectably specced budget webcam.
Its adjustable stand will conform to the vast majority of laptop lids, computer monitors and TVs and its 720p video output, although a little soft will work just fine for casual video calls and online meetings. Logitech’s RightSense tech is also on hand to help you manage your lighting and colour settings.
On paper, the Logitech C310 HD is pretty much identical to the C270 HD and in reality, there’s very little that sets them apart. The C270 tends to undercut the C310 and so that would be our primary recommendation but if stock is low or if sale discounts are particularly generous then the C310 is still well worth your consideration.
Key specs – Resolution: 720p; Focus: Fixed; Audio: Built-in microphone with noise reduction; Mount type: Clip stand; Cable length: 1.5m
8. Jelly Comb W10 1080p HD Webcam Pro: Best choice under £50 for colour accuracy
Price: £30 | Buy now from Jelly Comb
Its colour accuracy is the best we’ve seen in a sub-£50 webcam and it produces detailed images too. Its biggest issue stems from the autofocus, which works in the same way as a camera when adjusting for a shot – a slight zoom in and out as it seeks the right focal point. It’s a tad irritating, but if you keep relatively still and nothing is shifting around in the background then it’s bearable. Its other more minor fault is that it struggles with solid colours such as walls, with the same pixel crawl that you see in cheaper LCD TVs.
With an 80° field of view, the Jelly Comb strikes a good balance between capturing your environment and keeping you centre stage. There shouldn’t be any need to adjust your position during calls to make yourself look larger. Nor will you need a dedicated mic, with two built-in units doing a fine job – but don’t expect stereo separation, as one literally sits above the other.
Sensibly, Jelly Comb builds in a privacy cover. It’s cheap and plasticky, sliding along with all the elegance of Ann Widdecombe mid-cha-cha, but it works. Plus there’s an obvious blue LED during recordings. There are better budget options on this list, but if you would prefer to show yourself in a more saturated light this webcam is undeniably great value for money.
Key specs – Resolution: 1080p at 30fps; Focus: Autofocus; Audio: Built-in dual microphones; Mount type: Clip stand; Cable length: 1.7m