Custom PC

REVIEW: Elgato Facecam

By Edward Chester. Posted

Aimed squarely at gamers and streamers, the Elgato Facecam isn’t just any webcam. The company has made a few interesting decisions about what it can and can’t do. Specifically, it doesn’t include a microphone, so it can’t be used as a conventional webcam. The logic is that streamers will either already have a dedicated microphone, or at the very least use a gaming headset for audio.

It’s a sound logic that will likely hold true the majority of the time, but this approach does also limit the Facecam’s uses. If you do want a webcam that you can also use for Zoom meetings, but you don’t always want to be restricted to a headset and haven’t yet invested in a desktop microphone, then the Facecam can’t do it.

Another interesting choice is that the Facecam has a fixed focus range. The lens is arranged so that anything between 30cm (actually as low as around 25cm in our tests) and 120cm away will remain in focus. Again, this is largely a sensible decision in the context of streaming, as it means your face and most of your on-camera shenanigans will remain in focus, with no distracting focus searching or focusing on your background rather than you.

However, for any occasions where you may want to hold an object up close to the camera, any finer details will be lost. In comparison, the Logitech C920 will allow you to focus right in on the fine writing on a box or other such details.

The Elgato Facecam's fixed focus range means it can't do closeups

In comparison, the Logitech C920's adjustable focus means it can do closeups

These considerations aside, the Facecam is a good-quality if large unit. It’s over twice as tall as the Logitech C920, and it packs in a huge lens and sensor. While Elgato hasn’t revealed the exact size of the sensor, it claims it’s twice the size of typical 1080p models, and judging by the size of the lens and the whole camera, we don’t doubt it. The front lens element of the Logitech C920 is approximately 7mm wide whereas the Facecam’s is 18mm wide.

Bigger sensors and lenses generally mean more light and better dynamic range, and that’s indeed where the Facecam shows its abilities. It trounces the Logitech C920 here, coping better with extreme differences in lighting conditions, producing more accurate colours and suffering far less from image noise.

The Elgato Facecam's large lens and sensor makes for great dynamic range and colour production even in challenging lighting

The Logitech C920 struggles compared to the Facecam in this tricky lighting

Elgato’s excellent Camera Hub software also lets you customise all manner of settings and save them to the camera, preventing the annoyance of any software from messing with your favourite setup. The 82-degree field-of-view camera can be digitally zoomed up to 4x, and the picture contrast, saturation and sharpness can all be tweaked.

The Facecam is over twice as tall as the Logitech C920, and it packs in a huge lens and sensor

Meanwhile, the exposure can be set to manual or automatic, with centre-weighted or average modes, and fixed shutter speed can be applied too. White balance can also be manually set, along with noise reduction – 50Hz or 60Hz anti-flicker modes are available as well.

The Facecam can be secured using its standard 1/4in camera stand thread, or via its foldable, rubberised mount for sitting on top of a screen. It isn’t as secure as the Logitech’s mount but it does the job, while connection to your PC comes courtesy of a USB Type-C cable.

Conclusion

The Elgato Facecam isn’t the ultimate do-it-all webcam for all users, thanks to its high price, lack of a microphone and use of a fixed focus, but it’s well worth considering if you’re prepared to pay out for a dedicated streaming camera. It delivers class-leading image quality and has just the sort of customisation options you need to reliably dial in the exact streaming image you want.

Verdict
Pricey and with niche appeal, but the image quality is fantastic for streaming.

Price
£190 inc VAT

Scores
IMAGE QUALITY 36/40 | DESIGN 16/20 | FEATURES 14/20 | VALUE 12/20 | OVERALL 78%

FACING FUTURE
+Great image quality
+Hugely customisable
+Fantastic software

HEAD DOWN
-No microphone
-Fixed focus range
-Expensive

SPEC
Dimensions (mm) 79 x 58 x 48 (W x D x H)
Weight 96g
Supported resolutions (uncompressed) 1080p, 720p and 540p (30Hz and 60Hz)
Sensor Sony Starvis CMOS
Lens f/2.4, 24mm full-frame equivalent, 82-degree FOV (diagonal), 30-120cm focus range
Connections USB Type-C
Extras Removable lens cover

From Custom PC store

Subscribe