Computing

Elgato Facecam Pro: Unmatched Quality and Seamless Performance

I’m not a professional streamer, but I understand the importance of top-notch quality when it comes to creating enjoyable streams, even for casual content. If you’re a content creator who is aiming for high production value, Elgato’s Facecam Pro might be just what you need. With its 4K resolution and 60 fps capability, this webcam is among the highest-end options available, although it does come with a price tag of $299.

Design

The Facecam Pro stands out with its size. It’s the largest webcam I’ve ever come across, measuring 4.6 inches in width, 3.1 inches in depth, and weighing half a pound (or 240 grams). In comparison, Logitech’s 4K Brio webcam is much thinner, lighter, and less bulky. Surprisingly, despite its size, the Facecam Pro easily mounts onto thin monitors without any difficulty. I even managed to mount it on my ROG Zephyrus G14, a gaming laptop with an extremely thin display.

Having said that, I’m unsure if it would securely stay in place without slipping or causing the display to topple over. Thankfully, the Facecam Pro features a quarter-inch thread, a common thread found in many cameras that allows you to mount them on equipment like tripods. This thread also opens up the possibility of using the Facecam Pro as a regular camera, although it needs to remain connected to a PC as it doesn’t record footage independently.

Another notable feature of the Facecam Pro is its onboard memory, which allows it to remember customized settings. For instance, if you make changes to the settings on your Facecam Pro and then plug it into a different PC, those changes will persist. While onboard memory will primarily appeal to users with multiple PCs, it’s also useful for retaining personalized settings after getting a new PC or reinstalling the operating system on an existing one.

Image Quality

The Facecam Pro excels in delivering excellent image quality, thanks to its 4K resolution at 60 fps and autofocus capabilities. While streaming games may not necessarily require 4K resolution due to bitrate limitations and practicality (since face cams are often too small to benefit from higher resolutions), it proves highly useful for other content, such as videos uploaded to platforms like YouTube. Autofocus, of course, is invaluable regardless of what you’re recording.

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There are valid scenarios where a 4K-capable webcam becomes advantageous, even if you’re not streaming or recording in 4K. Even with bitrate constraints, higher-quality footage can still look superior to lower-quality footage, regardless of whether a video player classifies it as 1080p or 4K. Furthermore, a 4K webcam offers significantly better quality when zoomed in. Even at a 400% zoom, a 4K webcam maintains comparable quality to a 1080p webcam without any zoom applied. So, whether you’re streaming, recording videos, or attending a digital meeting, a bit of zoom might be desirable if your webcam is situated far away.

Even if you don’t intend to utilize the Facecam Pro’s 4K capabilities, the fact that it possesses 4K technology is still beneficial. Lower resolutions are downscaled from 4K, resulting in the Facecam Pro outperforming other 1080p cameras, including Elgato’s original Facecam, despite their technically similar resolutions. It’s similar to playing a game at a resolution higher than what your monitor supports. Although most of the additional details are lost, it still looks better. Whether it’s due to its downscaling algorithm or its high-end Sony Starvis sensor, the Facecam Pro unquestionably delivers noticeably improved image quality even at 1080p.

The Facecam Pro also boasts an f/2.0 aperture, eliminating the need for studio lighting to avoid noise and graininess. During my image quality testing, I only used an overhead light at night, and although there was some noticeable noise, it wasn’t distracting. However, I still recommend pairing the Facecam Pro with good lighting to fully capitalize on its capabilities.

Autofocus, the other standout feature, performs admirably. Most of the time, it provided clear focus on my face and easily adjusted whenever I moved. Although not flawless, there were a few instances where the Facecam Pro struggled to refocus after I had relocated, necessitating me to put my hand in front of the camera to reset it. However, considering that I was experimenting with customization options, it’s likely that this was a rare glitch.

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Customization options for the Facecam Pro are available through Camera Hub, Elgato’s proprietary app. This app allows you to modify essential webcam settings such as zoom, pan, tilt, focus, contrast, saturation, exposure, and white balance. While there are four presets for zoom, pan, and tilt, if you require more presets, I recommend utilizing Elgato’s Stream Deck (either the app or the physical device), which offers storage for numerous presets. Nonetheless, if simplicity is what you seek, Camera Hub will serve you well, boasting a sleek and modern user interface.

Compatibility

Officially, the Facecam Pro is exclusively supported on Windows 10 and macOS 11.0. However, I can confirm that it worked flawlessly on Windows 11, which is the operating system I utilize. It’s possible to make the Facecam Pro work on other operating systems, but certain features may be limited or unavailable. For instance, using Camera Hub on Linux might require emulation or running it within a virtual machine.

As for third-party applications, the Facecam Pro functions seamlessly straight out of the box. In OBS, the most popular streaming application, I was able to add the Facecam Pro without any issues and use it like any other webcam. The same applied to Zoom. So, you need not worry about software compatibility problems with the Facecam Pro.

I also tested the Facecam Pro’s compatibility with Nvidia Broadcast, as not every webcam is compatible with it. Fortunately, the Facecam Pro worked with Nvidia Broadcast effortlessly, allowing me to utilize all of Nvidia’s effects, including background blur and virtual green screen. The Facecam Pro particularly excelled with Nvidia Broadcast’s auto frame feature, which keeps your face centered in the frame—a perfect complement to the Facecam Pro’s autofocus.

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Price and Availability

Priced at $299, the Facecam Pro certainly sits at the higher end of the webcam market. It’s not intended for simple meetings and casual content creation. The Facecam Pro may not offer the best value proposition, even among 4K webcams, such as the Obsbot Tiny 4K, which can be found for as little as $200.

However, it’s important to consider that the Facecam Pro is the most capable webcam available. With its 4K60 capability, autofocus, excellent first-party software, and compatibility with third-party applications, it truly caters to professional content creators. From that perspective, its price is actually quite reasonable. Many 4K60-capable cameras cost significantly more—sometimes reaching four-figure price tags—and they don’t necessarily serve as ideal replacements for webcams.

Should You Buy It?

The main selling point of the Facecam Pro lies in its flexibility. Even if you’re restricted to streaming or uploading videos at 1080p, 4K can still bring benefits, and being able to maintain 60 fps without compromise is invaluable. Until 8K webcams become commonplace, the Facecam Pro can rightfully claim to be a “no compromises” product. For professional content creators and those aspiring to enter that realm, investing in the Facecam Pro can be highly rewarding.

However, for casual users, it may not be the most suitable choice. Other webcams with more practical features are available at lower prices, and even 1080p webcams can adequately fulfill their needs.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • The best Mac webcams for 2023
  • HP unveils new IPS Black monitor with one key new feature
  • The Studio Display’s poor reviews prompt update from Apple
  • The best 4K webcams
  • This $300 webcam does its best to replicate DSLR quality

OnSpec Electronic, Inc.

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