This 4K webcam is fantastic for streamers
When the Dell UltraSharp 4K webcam was announced earlier this year, we put it in the spotlight. We couldn’t help but point out its lack of a built-in mic, especially with its $ 200 price tag.
It seemed silly that a high-end webcam didn’t include a microphone when almost all cheaper webcams do. After testing it and comparing it to my current webcam, the decision to omit a mic still doesn’t make sense. But the picture quality is top notch – one of the best webcams in my opinion, although that is overkill for most people.
For work or school, the Dell UltraSharp webcam doesn’t make much sense considering the price tag. But if you compare the webcam to a much more expensive mirrorless camera for streaming or content creation (i.e. a camera for head shots), where you’ll likely have a separate mic from anyway, then the price of $ 200 is reasonable.
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There’s no denying that the UltraSharp is one of the most stylish webcams I’ve ever seen with its clean design, nifty mounting options, and magnetic lens cap for added privacy. The Opal C1 is just as aesthetic. Its cylindrical aluminum design is strangely reminiscent of Apple’s iSight webcam that was discontinued in 2008.
There is a 1/4 “-20 adapter bracket that works great for the SmallRig clamp bracket that I attached to the monitor. The other mount is even better. Its distinct” 7 “shape grips the top of your monitor, with the longer rear leg pushing against the rear part of the monitor for added stability. This is an awesome stand that is enhanced by the fact that it magnetically attaches to the webcam, which means you can remove the webcam at all times.
So that sounds nice, but what about the specs? The UltraSharp webcam uses a large Sony Starvis CMOS sensor, which is also used in many new webcams such as Razer’s Kiyo Pro at a similar price. The 8.3 mega-pixel camera is capable of shooting up to 4K at 30 fps or 720p / 1080p at 60 fps. It’s not the first 4K webcam to be launched, but it’s still impressive.
What’s more impressive is the Dell Peripheral Manager software for Windows, which is simple but packed with features that can tailor the camera to your liking. You can choose the resolution, frame rate and field of view (65, 78 or 90 degrees) and toggle settings like auto white balance and noise reduction. Changes are applied instantly so you can see what is working in real time. The UltraSharp is plug-and-play with macOS, but the software is only compatible with Windows, so you won’t be able to access any of the advanced features.
What struck me wasn’t the 4K or the frame rate, but two things: the automatic AI framing and low light performance. Auto-framing AI follows your face and zooms in and out to keep you centered. If you’re the type of person who likes to move and rotate your chair, the AI ââauto-framing works wonderfully. The centering isn’t lightning-fast – quick, sharp zooms would be shocking to the viewer – but rather a smooth transition. After a year of using my Canon EOS M50 mirrorless as a webcam (here is a guide on how to use your DSLR or mirrorless camera as a webcam), not having to frame myself every time I take a video calling is a great quality-of-life improvement.
The only downside to automatic AI framing is when you have a fixed background; this will change as you move around. If you’re a streamer with an organized journey consisting of Sponsored Product Placement, this can be a problem. Additionally, enabling AI auto-framing disables 60fps mode and the ability to select a specific FOV or zoom level, as it does so automatically. At least you never have to worry about adjusting the camera every time you use it.
Part of what makes AI auto framing so smooth is the autofocus; they work hand in hand. The camera was still able to follow my face and keep it in focus even in low light conditions; this is not the case with some webcams, which struggle with autofocus every time you move. As far as I know, the UltraSharp’s autofocus speed seemed to match that of my Canon M50, which has a much larger image sensor and faster dual-pixel autofocus.
Crystal clear image
The camera performs exceptionally well in low light conditions, adapting to changing lighting conditions on the fly without even a click in the software. He just takes care of it for you. When I set up both my mirrorless camera and webcam side-by-side and both cameras’ feeds were open on OBS, the Dell UltraSharp was the big winner.
I tested the cameras at night, using only ambient lighting and a hanging LED light that I turned on and off at times. My Canon M50 looked grainy and displayed my part in purple, although my LIFX beam was set to blue. The UltraSharp webcam captured me with less grain and more accurate color that was closer to the blue hues of smart lighting. The quality dropped significantly in both cameras when I turned off the overhead LED, although it was the Canon M50 that suffered the most. Granted, the 2018 Canon M50 isn’t exactly new and wasn’t designed to be used as a webcam, but it’s still a $ 600 ($ 780 at launch) mirrorless camera that’s outmatched. by the UltraSharp at $ 200.
However, it’s the daylight, not the low light, that concerns me the most. The way my office is set up, there is a large window behind me that lets in a lot of natural light, and there is a building with a white roof across the street that acts as the largest reflector in the city. world. What ends up happening is the Canon M50 can’t handle the backlit window, overexposing everything behind me to the point of distracting the video. That’s why I always have to close the blinds behind me. But it also makes matters worse because it is then too dark for a camera. It’s a back-and-forth game that ends with me in a dark room and a super bright LED handheld camera pointed directly at my face. I hate that.
It is undeniable that the UltraSharp is one of the most stylish webcams That I’ve never seen.
The good thing is that I haven’t had this problem with the Dell UltraSharp webcam. With the shades open, the UltraSharp webcam adjusted, and although my face and skin looked darker due to the exposure changes, the image was clearer and less overexposed. It’s one of those things I didn’t realize at first because it worked so easily … until I used my mirrorless device again. Side by side in this situation, the image quality of the mirrorless seemed to come from an old Motorola Razr (not the foldable screen kind).
Of course, the biggest drawback is the lack of a microphone. Like the 3.5mm audio jack, it’s something we take for granted until it’s gone. That being said, I have come. In my opinion, if you buy a high-end webcam, you probably already have a microphone of similar quality to go with it. I have had an Audio Technica AT2020 micro USB for years. I’m sure content creators, streamers, and others who want great video calling have a dedicated mic as well. It’s an extra expense that can go anywhere from $ 100 to $ 200, but the sound quality is better than the tiny microphones stuck inside webcams. The good thing is that there are plenty of microphones to choose from, but if you don’t want to spend more money, I get it. I see how this can be a dealbreaker for some. Despite this, the crisp picture quality is just too good to be left out.
Another problem (although minor): the UltraSharp heats up. It’s not something you’ll notice unless you adjust the camera often. When I pointed my heat gun at the webcam it registered 104 degrees F versus around 73 degrees F when idle. Of course, this temperature is not enough to burn you, but prolonged high temperatures could speed up the life of the webcam.
The pleasure of the streamer
At first glance, the Dell UltraSharp webcam may seem like an incomplete product to some because it does not have a microphone. This is a fair review of the $ 200 webcam, but forgot about the problem because I have a separate microphone. For the past year or so, I have used my mirrorless camera in place of a webcam for the best picture quality during video calls. I also built a webcam from a Raspberry Pi Zero W and a high quality Raspberry Pi camera; the quality is not as good, but it is small and simple.
The Dell Ultrasharp mixes up my favorite parts of the two cameras. It combines the crisp video quality of my mirrorless with the simplicity and compactness of the Raspberry Pi webcam. It also includes other features like AI auto framing, auto light correction, and intuitive software. Like I said earlier, Dell’s UltraSharp is overkill if you’re not using it for serious content production like streaming or content creation. But if you are – or plan to do so in the future – this webcam is fantastic.