Elecom 4K webcam review: Too expensive to be budget
As the best 4k monitors become more and more accessible, one would expect 4K webcams to follow suit. But anything worth writing – or spreading – at home always tends to come with a high premium worthy only of the best webcams. There are several reasons for this, the main one being that most video call services don’t support 4K, so the use cases for a 4K webcam are still pretty niche. Still, if you want to shoot UHD video and don’t want to spend the king’s ransom, your choices are few and far between.
Enter the Elecom 4K webcam, which seeks to deliver passable 4K quality for just a of the prince ransom. While originally released for $199, it has since dropped to $149, making it slightly cheaper than MSRPs for both. Dell Ultra Sharp Webcam and the Logitech Brio 4K.
But $149 is still quite pricey, and if the drop in quality exceeds $50, this camera arguably offers less value than its more expensive peers. Unfortunately, that seems to be the case.
Originally retailing for $199 and targeting 4K resolution, HDR and [email protected] video capability, the Elecom 4K webcam is a clear contender for high-end alternatives like the Dell Ultrasharp webcam, currently a top pick on our best webcams list. . A month after its release, its price has since dropped to $149, which is for the best, as its out-of-the-box image quality is very detailed but handles lighting poorly compared to the $199 Dell Ultrasharp. .
When I took a photo with the Elecom 4K webcam in my home office with the windows open and most light sources on, the Elecom still produced a dark image, with the shadow particularly noticeable on my face. There’s little artifacting or a lot of graininess to worry about, but high-quality texture capture means little if you can’t see it.
low light room
In a low-light environment like my hallway, neither the Dell Ultrasharp nor the Elecom 4K performed particularly well. But put side by side, the images taken with the Dell Ultrasharp look like the HD remaster of those taken with the Elecom. Elecom’s images here appear grainy, dark and poorly saturated, with my face giving off an unhealthy paleness and my hair looking way too gray for my age.
One would have hoped that saturating the Elecom 4K webcam sensor with light would solve its problem with dark photos, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Both it and the Dell Ultrasharp webcam were able to capture impressive detail when I pointed them at my window, but only the Dell camera prioritized my face when it came to interpreting the extra light. Meanwhile, my face appears darker than ever in photos taken with the Elecom.
Although it has “4K” in its name, the Elecom 4K webcam also comes with some premium video features that are more likely to be used on bandwidth-limited video conferencing services than 4K. Chief among them is the ability to capture at [email protected], which can be useful when using a facecam with 60fps footage. But this camera also has auto-zoom that aims to keep you in frame when possible, plus an optional “live speaker” icon that shows an animation next to the loudest person in the room (although after some a/b testing and careful reading of ad and software tooltips, it doesn’t seem to actually mute anyone else).
In practice, the only feature that seemed to make an appreciable difference was 60fps capture, which worked flawlessly. The live speaker icon, meanwhile, mostly came across as an annoyance, as the webcam also doesn’t isolate noise from other speakers. Autozoom could be useful, but only triggered at inconsistent intervals, with little rhyme or reason. You’d better use third-party software like Nvidia Broadcast.
Testing the video also gave me the opportunity to test out the webcam’s two built-in microphones, which unfortunately made my voice muffled and distant. Despite quality footage up to 4K, don’t expect to sound to match. On the plus side, they didn’t pick up my cat eating in the background, which was more than audible in real life. It wasn’t due to any software integration, but it was still nice to see here.
The body of the Elecom 4K webcam has little style, but offers many features. Its included removable USB-C to USB-A cable is among the longest I’ve seen, reaching 85 inches when fully extended (compared to 76 inches on the Dell Ultrasharp webcam). Its wide, rectangular monitor stand fits most screens, both curved back and flat back. The only issue I had was that removing the included lens cap, which fits the webcam perfectly, means unplugging your USB cable.
There is an argument to be made that the Elecom 4K webcam, given its price, should look sleeker or include less plastic and more metal in its design. But webcams are generally not statement items. They are, by their nature, the part of your setups that others will see the least. If you’re ok with the look, that’ll suffice here.
The Elecom 4K webcam uses a very simple software suite which, however, easily changed my webcam settings even when it was closed (a surprisingly rare feature). In this suite, you can switch to HDR, adjust settings like contrast, and access four special features not otherwise present.
The first of these is an auto-image feature, which, as I explained in my video section, tends not to trigger as often or predictably as I’d like. The second, backlight compensation, is a more useful touch, helping to brighten dark backgrounds. This is technically feasible in free software like OBS, but involves playing with cursors. The simple on-off functionality here is appreciated. Distortion correction seeks to avoid any fish-eye effects when shooting at wide or zoomed-out angles, but that’s a bit of a cheat, as it just crops the image and therefore cancels out the point of shot with a wide angle.
Active speaker tracking is a bit of a weird feature, as it shows a little canned waveform animation next to whoever is speaking the loudest. Unfortunately, as I said in my video section, it doesn’t actually reduce background noise and that’s more of a novelty than anything.
The Elecom 4K webcam looks like a budget camera, and technically, compared to other 4K cameras. At the same time, it still costs $149. That’s a hefty price tag, and while this camera captures higher-than-normal quality footage, it still suffers from poor audio quality and dark footage, which isn’t a problem with its slightly larger peers. expensive. The software also claims to do more than it actually does, with nearly useless features like “active speaker tracking” easily confused with more practical offerings like speaker isolation.
It’s not a bad camera, but if you’re already spending $150, you’ll probably get more for your money by going the extra mile and getting a slightly more expensive competitor like the Dell Ultra Sharp Webcam. You’ll spend more, but the jump in quality will be so big that your dollars will go further than they would with the Elecom 4K webcam.