Years ago, when I was first looking for a good webcam for streaming (and since the pandemic, tons of Zooming, etc.), everything I read led to the Logitech C920 series. I ended up getting the newest one in that line at the time, the C922x. Overall it’s been a fine camera but there were a few quirks that always bothered me. Firstly, as noted all over the internet, it has the very annoying quirk of not saving the camera settings. Streamers are always complaining that they have to tweak their cameras every time they use them. I ended up downloading a third party program called WebCamCfg which is pretty slick and let’s you save/load settings using any .txt editor to alter a .cfg file. However I was still annoyed that I needed this at all. Also there were several Logitech software suites for the camera and none of them did everything. They each did some things. I ended up settling on LogiCapture as my favorite because you can actually use the program itself as your video source (instead of the camera directly) which allows you to tweak settings, zoom, etc., while live with camera, which you usually can’t do with every other camera software suite I’ve used. Usually the camera can’t be in use by another program if you want to adjust it. But even LogiCapture did not give me the ability to turn off auto-exposure which I like to do as I like running everything manually for various reasons.
Enter the Dell Ultrasharp 4K Webcam. I had started looking for another solution and this one had sounded promising. I didn’t necessarily need 4K but I liked that it would allow me to zoom in and still be HD or higher, since I like a fairly close framing of just my head and shoulders as I have no desire to be a small person in the frame while displaying my entire cluttered room behind me. I had also considered the new Elgato Facecam and researched every other camera I came across, but decided to give this one a go.
Yes it’s pretty expensive at $199 (as is the Facecam). No it doesn’t have a mic, but I didn’t care as webcam mics are never any good so there’s really no point in having them. When it arrived, I was very impressed with the packaging. A really nice box with a magnetically sealed flap. A sturdy, long USB cable, and a monitor mount, tripod mount, and the the long tubular camera itself all made of metal which felt great. The lens cap stays on magnetically as well, and then can be switched around to the back of the camera for when it’s in use. The mounts also attach to the underside socket with magnets. Everything is really well designed. The monitor mount has a slot in it where the cable nicely passes through. The cable attaches solidly to the camera with a USB-C connection and then to your computer with a regular USB 3 connector (you do need to connect to a USB 3 port to get 4K). The Dell Peripheral Manager software is pretty great as well allowing you to tweak many settings (but only while the camera is not in use by another program) and save custom profiles. However, it also does not let you turn off auto-exposure so I still ended up using WebCamCfg. I did find it a bit annoying that the sliders had no numbers though so there was no way to know exactly what your settings were other than “about there on the slider.”
Strangely, I found it very hard to tweak things in full on manual mode to get the exposure even close to auto mode, but I eventually dialed in something I liked. I found the HDR useless, as well as the auto-whitebalance and auto-focus, as usual with most cams. It’s fine if you just don’t want to have to mess with anything but never as good as dialing them in yourself and often times obtrusive. I liked being able to choose between 3 “Field Of View” settings since as mentioned, I like a close framing so 65 degrees was pretty great. I think I still zoomed in a little bit but not much. The AI auto-framing I found useless as well. It basically zooms in a little and then tries to track your head. It’s VERY slow. I would move over and then a second or two later the framing would slowly follow me over. I couldn’t imagine this ever being useful.
Eventually I did dial in a pretty good looking picture, but I didn’t find it any better than my C922x. Just different. There was definitely more noise than I expected and overall I think I was just expecting a far bigger improvement. I most definitely could not see why this camera would be worth more than twice my Logitech. But then I came across the deal-breaker for me. The camera had what appeared to be a tiny spot that would not go away, like a dead or stuck “pixel” (though obviously cameras don’t have pixels so I guess it’s a faulty spot on the sensor or lens maybe). It would move with the camera and get bigger when you zoomed in, so I knew it was definitely the camera and not my monitor or anything else. I tried different lighting and such as well to make sure it wasn’t a weird lens flare or something. When it wouldn’t go away, I returned it and ordered a second one. I really wanted to love this camera as I did really love the feel of it and the build quality and such.
The second one came in and it seemed pretty much identical to the first in image quality, etc. I used it for about a week or two and hadn’t noticed any problems but also hadn’t scrutinized too closely as I figured if I wasn’t noticing any, they couldn’t be that bad. Then I decided to try recording a quick video. Mostly it was okay (though one clip did have a strange flickering almost like auto-exposure even though it was off), still more noise than I expected (it should be noted that I use an Elgato Keylight Air which is very bright even at 20% so the noise isn’t at all from being in a low light situation or anything). Then watching the video, I noticed another little colored dot like on the first camera. I started troubleshooting, and that’s when I noticed another, and another, and another. I put the lens cap on so the screen was totally black and that’s when I counted more than 10 little spots like this. Again, I tested to make sure it was definitely the camera and not my brand new monitor.
So back it goes, and I guess I’m just going to stick with my trusty C922x as it’s still one of the most used and recommended cameras and I’m starting to feel like I’m not really going to find anything better unless I spend a ton of money on a DSLR setup which I most certainly do not need.
I was really disappointed it didn’t work out since, as previously mentioned, I really loved a lot of things about this camera and wanted to be blown away by it. Or at the very least feel that it was as good or slightly better than my Logitech but in the end, I most definitely couldn’t live with all the weird spots and the hefty price tag.