When it comes to streaming, fewer things are more important than your audio and webcam quality. It’s true – many viewers will come into a channel and leave almost instantly if they find that audio quality is subpar. No one wants to watch a stream where they can barely understand what the streamer says, or where the streamer’s mic peaks every time they get excited. The same sometimes applies when it comes to webcams – viewers might leave if they find the webcam quality so bad that they can’t see the streamer’s reactions.
Although sometimes you might be able to get away with subpar webcam quality (as long as your audio quality is decent enough to keep viewers around), most experienced streamers will still tell you it’s a good idea to improve your webcam where you can. A good webcam increases production value and makes it easier for viewers to relate to you, especially through your reactions.
Luckily, there are ways for you to improve your webcam’s quality without having to buy a new one entirely. For example, if you use Streamlabs OBS to stream, there are ways you can improve your camera within the software itself. In this guide, we talk about how you can fiddle with some of the basic cam settings and filters in SLOBS to improve your stream’s production value.
Adjust Your SLOBS Camera Settings
A couple of years ago, there was one webcam that ruled them all: the Logitech C920 (followed by the Logitech C922 Pro). It’s a fantastic webcam, especially for its extremely affordable and accessible price point. The only problem is, the C920 and the C922 Pro don’t always deliver the best looking quality, owing to a few factors. Because of this, streamers learned to fiddle with their settings within their broadcasting software just so they can make their cam quality look better.
Nowadays, there are so many new webcams on the market that offer image quality on par or even better than the Logitech C920 and the Logitech C920 Pro. But, regardless of which webcam you use, the settings and filters you add within SLOBS can make a massive difference all around.
Before we walk you through settings and filters, set up your camera through SLOBS first.
Once your camera is all set up, right-click on the video capture device and click on properties.
Clicking on properties will take you to the window where you can configure some settings that will allow you to improve your cam.
On this window, you can change some settings such as your resolution and your FPS. You’ll want to change the Resolution/FPS type to “Custom”, where you can choose the settings you want specifically.
- Resolution depends on your camera’s specifications. Some webcams only allow 720p, while others like the Logitech C920/C922 Pro can get all the way up to 1080p. If you’re only going to use a smaller camera in the corner of your screen, there’s no real reason to use 1080p. When you’re using 720p and scaling your camera down, your viewers will hardly be able to tell the difference – and you’ll help your PC out by lowering the hardware demand on it as well. However, if you often go to a larger camera size during your intermission screen or just chatting streams, 1080p may make more sense for you.
- FPS (frames per second) will also depend on your camera’s specifications. Some higher end webcams will allow 60fps, but that can be quite taxing to your hardware – especially if you stream using a single PC setup. However, 60fps allows your camera to look buttery smooth, so if you do a lot of cam-focused streams, you may want to use 60fps. Some webcams will only go up to 30fps, however (which is plenty good enough, truth be told!).
When it comes to video format, some may suggest that MJPEG might be the better choice. As for Color Space and Color Range, leaving it at default is good enough for most streamers, as it’s the filters where you’ll do the most work.
Now, within that window, if you click on “configure video,” it will bring up your webcam’s settings.
You can uncheck “auto” on the white balance and change the setting to whatever number looks best in terms of color representation.
Under the camera control tab, you can uncheck “low light compensation” and exposure so that you can set the exposure yourself. However, if your camera looks a little too dark, you may want to improve your room’s lighting. Alternatively, you can set filters to change the brightness, gamma, and contrast of your camera.
To add filters, right-click on “video capture device” and click “filters”.
The most basic filter you can add is a color correction filter (pictured below), where you can fiddle with your gamma, contrast, and brightness until you find a combination that works for you.
If your image looks a little too washed out or off-color, you can experiment with the hue shift and saturation settings until you’re satisfied.
If you’ve ever used Snapchat, Instagram, or any other social media platform, chances are you’re quite familiar with image filters. LUTs (or Lookup Tables) are basically filters that you can apply through a filter on your video capture device in SLOBS.
LUTs let you color grade your webcam, so you can add something like an “Instagram filter” to make your image quality look better. LUTs are essentially preset color looks that are directly applied to the image your webcam captures. There are many free LUTs you can find online such as in this resource. Experiment with whichever LUT you want, then move the slider (pictured below) to whichever setting you want the intensity of the LUT to be.
Other Ways to Improve Your Stream Webcam Quality
Other than experimenting with your settings to find what looks best for your camera, here are a few other things you can do to massively increase your cam’s quality.
Improve Your Lighting
Improving your lighting is one of the best ways to rapidly improve the quality of your webcam. You can improve your lighting in a few ways:
- Make sure your setup is not facing away from the light source. If your webcam is set up in such a way that your major light source (like a window or a lamp) is sitting right behind you, you will very much struggle to get a good image.
- Get a cheap ringlight. If you don’t have a big budget to work with, even a cheap 10-12 inch diameter ring light can work wonders for your cam quality. Set it up behind your webcam so you get evenly lit, and you’re good to go! Just fiddle with its brightness until you no longer look overexposed on SLOBS.
- Soft boxes are a better lighting solution due to how they diffuse light, making you look evenly lit in cinematic quality. However, not everyone has the space for soft boxes. If you want to emulate the same effect, 2 cheap ringlights (or even cheap lamps, desk lamps, whatever you have) facing a white/light cream/beige wall behind your webcam can bounce diffused lighting back onto you to give a similar effect.
Lighting has the ability to change your appearance in various ways. Experiment with lighting placement and angles until you get the best result possible. You want to aim for even lighting, avoiding harsh shadows and angles.
Adjust Your Background Lighting
Your background lighting can also make a big difference to your webcam’s quality. If you are well lit but your background is really dark, your webcam may struggle to show the best image possible. Having a well-lit background is even more important if you are using a green screen. You can use a lamp, turn on overhead lighting, or use some RGB LED strips and similar lighting gear to get a good effect. Using LED strips also allows you to make colored backgrounds!
We’ve put together a list of the best background lighting setups you can use.
Get a Better Camera Setup
Aside from fixing your lighting, the other best way to improve your webcam’s quality is simply by getting a better camera setup. This isn’t always necessary, especially for smaller streamers. However, if you have the money to spare or you think you can use the camera for other purposes, getting a mirrorless camera or a DLSR and something like an Elgato Cam Link might be a good way to get the ball rolling.
Making your camera look better often comes down to having a decent camera setup, good lighting, and good settings or filters. However, don’t forget that your background also plays a part – so make sure you aren’t showing a cluttered or messy room behind you!
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