Up My Zoom Game
December 6, 2022 7:48 AM   Subscribe

My new job has me Zooming a lot and my laptop camera set up is just not cutting it. Please give me recommendations for a light source and camera that can be attached to and used with a Dell Curved monitor!
posted by tafetta, darling! to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The right solution is highly dependent on your budget, but the Logitech cameras are a decent middle ground between the laptop camera and an actual high-end setup. I think the models I've used are out of date now, but I have had the C920 and the Brio 4K. The Brio was noticeably better but the C920 was fine. Again, neither will match a proper dedicated camera, but the price is reasonable.

For lighting I have used lights from Elgato (they have a few different options) and they were very good. This is also dependent on your budget as well as your space. You can get cheap LED panels on amazon that would probably be fine, but the Elgato products have nice stands, and a better quality of light in my experience.

All that said, after spending the first year of the pandemic highly optimizing my video conferencing setup, I realized that no one really cares if I look like a news anchor on Zoom, and the external lights (especially) and camera were adding clutter to my desk setup, so I took it all down and went back to the simple solution of built-in stuff and my normal room lighting.

I do think that if you're working at a desk it's worth having a camera in or on your main display for ergonomic reasons, but I've become less convinced that for most people it's worth spending much money or time trying to make their video quality look amazing. YMMV, depends on company culture and who you're video conferencing with, etc. If I could only optimize one thing in my setup, it would be audio, because it's much more important that people be able to hear me clearly, and I be able to hear them, than that they can see me in professionally-lit 4K UHD. So if you don't have a good headset and/or mic, I'd work on that first, and then consider video upgrades once audio is dialed in.
posted by primethyme at 8:10 AM on December 6, 2022 [2 favorites]

If you want to take the monitor (which looks like it has a very narrow bezel) out of the equation, a cheap light stand or tabletop mount are good options.
posted by zamboni at 8:13 AM on December 6, 2022

This ring light clips onto my monitor next to my webcam and plugs into my USB drive for power. It’s not expensive at all. I’ve used it many (most?) workdays for almost two years, turning it in and off for meetings during the day, and it’s been great. I can’t remember how I chose it, but it’s made my home lighting situation much better. Now that I’m back at the office, I’m thinking of getting a second since my lighting there is weird too.
posted by bluedaisy at 8:14 AM on December 6, 2022

I got a bunch of good advice here. I ended up with a Sonos Roam speaker (not what you are asking about) and the LumeCube for light. I love the light because it can recharge and illuminate at the same time, carries a decent charge, and I can move it all around on my curved monitor.
posted by Snowishberlin at 8:47 AM on December 6, 2022

I have a Razer Kiyo webcam, which has the light integrated with the camera body itself. Reviews say that the light burnt out quickly or that it is not powerful enough, but I am sitting 4-6 ft away from the camera and it lights me up just fine. The brightness level can be adjusted manually by twisting the dial around the light.

Most monitors these days have a very thin bezel, and this webcam's "lip" is designed to go over a half-inch or so bezel. To solve that problem, I simply added some felt pads under the camera so that it's left with maybe an eighth of an inch lip. It is mostly stabilized by the stand that rests on the back of your monitor anyway, so it was secure enough for me. I also think this would work well for a curved monitor, because you don't have to clip anything (clipping assumes you have straight lines, which you do not have on a curved monitor!). It simply rests on top of your monitor and along the back, the slight lip in front is just to prevent it from sliding off.

This particular camera needs a USB-A port. When I purchased it, I realized my laptop only had two ports, and they were already used by the dongles for the wireless mouse and headset. So I had to figure out how to connect it. Eventually I settled on:

laptop to monitor via USB-C
webcam to monitor's USB-A port
posted by tinydancer at 9:46 AM on December 6, 2022

I use the Logitech C920 with my Dell curved monitor and it's a perfect physical fit - it also works great and wasn't hugely expensive. I've used it with my PC and my Mac, without any issues.

For lighting I... sit in front of a window. The camera has its own lighting but it's pretty minimal.
posted by invincible summer at 10:01 AM on December 6, 2022 [1 favorite]

For lighting I... sit in front of a window.

posted by invincible summer
Disclaimer: The incarnation of the Unconquered Sun, Sol Invictus, appears as part of a paid promotion. Illumination results may vary. For additional insolation advice, please consult your local lighting professional or Seasonal Affective Disorder specialist.
posted by zamboni at 2:04 PM on December 6, 2022 [2 favorites]

For lighting I have two of these. On one either end of the top of my curved monitor. I like that I can adjust the hue from more white to yellow and brightness as well.

For the camera I have some random Logitech Webcam with this stand. I really like the stand because it's highly adjustable and doesn't cover any of the screen.
posted by CleverClover at 4:56 PM on December 6, 2022

Personally, please use a swing arm (usually used for microphones, but works great for webcams too)

And if you have the room, a green-screen background.

Add additional light source would make you look better.

Heck, I wrote a whole article about it... I'm not linking to it as that's verboten here. But it's titled "11 Free or Cheap Upgrades to Your Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, or Other Video Calls From Your PC"
posted by kschang at 7:34 AM on December 8, 2022

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