Mac Web Camera News

Apple Compatible Web Cameras

MacOS Catalina Compatible Webcams

Webcams For Mac Catalina OS
As Apple delivers its MacOS 10.15 Catalina operating system, many folks will be shopping for an external webcam compatible with MacOS Catalina. Or, they may be wondering if their existing USB web camera will function properly under the latest version of OSX.

The UVC - USB Video Class device specification is firmly entrenched in the low-level software code of all major operating systems: Not just OSX, but Windows, Linix and Android OS as well. As such we expect that vast majority of more recent UVC compatible web cameras to work on the 10.15 version of Catalina MacOS without a hitch.

If there's any quirks about MacOS Catalina webcam compatibility, we'll note it on this website. As more app developers and end users deploy their webcams under the Beta and full release of Catalina we'll be sure to hear of particular cameras that exhibit any problems or issues.

There may be much older web cameras with outdated UVC device implementations that aren't up to snuff and may be problematic for use on MacOS Catalina, However most modern webcams should work on a Macs running Catalina just fine.

Best External HD Webcams for iMac

Shopping for an external USB web camera for iMac video capture and conferencing sessions? The best webcam for iMac depends on your intended uses. Though most Apple iMac desktop computers have an iSight or iSight HD webcam built-in to the display housing, you may be frustrated by the limited positioning and angles possible, or the iSight's less than stellar image quality.

Top Pick: Logitech Stream Pro

720p @ 60FPS - Full 1080p @ 30FPS

Currently, the latest and best selling Apple compatible webcam for iMacs is Logitech's Logitech C922 Stream Pro. It's revised circuitry allows higher frame-rates than previous generations of their 9XX series webcams for exceptionally smooth video -- even when there's a lot of motion being captured. It's predecessor, the C920 is still a great external iMac webcam choice, especially at it's now lower street price.

Logitech C920 Webcam

High Quality : Great Value

For some, the best iMac compatible webcams to consider will have a standard tripod mounting hole built into the camera's base to allow the use of a floor, desktop or gooseneck tripod for optimal camera angles and positioning. Even if you just perch the external USB HD webcam atop an iMac's display bezel, you'll still have more control over the cam's position than you would the one built in.

Mac Compatible Webcam Reviews : 10 Year Anniversary

For over a decade, has steadfastly tracked the Apple compatible web camera market. In the 1990's and early 2000's, Mac webcam compatibility was exceedingly rare and rather iffy. There were few choices that worked on a Macintosh. The vast majority of cams were Windows ONLY, and each camera needed specific software written for the sensor inside it. Back in the OS8, OS9 and OSX days, Apple's market-share wasn't big enough for many webcam manufacturers to even bother writing driver software for them. It sucked!

So, MacGizmoGuy figured that maybe the emerging voice and video conferencing scene on the Macintosh needed an ally and a Mac webcam reviews site to monitor the technology and help the use of VOIP, voice, video and teleconferencing slowly explode into the pervasive collaborative computing technology it is today. Thanks to all those who've visited or linked to this site as an online resource over all these years!

MacOS Mojave Compatibility Webcam Issues

Curious about external webcams running on MacOS Mojave? Thanks to the UVC - USB Video Class webcam standard, you'll likely find your existing Mac compatible web camera hardware should run AOK under the most recent version of Apple's OSX. It's the software you might use that may be problematic as Apple switches to full 64-Bit app support to insure adequate security at the OS level. As such, older Mac webcam settings and effects apps are likely to need an update from 32-Bit to 64-Bit support in Mojave OS.

With 3rd-party web camera apps, you might need to reinstall the latest version of the webcam software after the Mojave MacOS upgrade. With a program like iGlasses, if you don't have your installer, use the form at eCamm's site, and they'll re-email your registration info. As for other Mac webcam apps, I'll note any issues as Mojave rolls out to the Mac masses and any issues are discovered.

eCamm notes: With MacOS 10.14 Mojave, iGlasses will not show up in certain pre-installed Apple applications like Photo Booth and FaceTime. In Mojave, Apple has introduced the notion of a Hardened Runtime and Library Validation process. Sadly, this prevents hardened apps, such as FaceTime, from loading any 3rd-party add-ons such as iGlasses.

Tripods For Mac Webcams With Standard Camera Mount Holes

Shopping for a Mac webcam tripod? A few select Mac friendly webcam models feature a standard 1/4" - 20 thread camera tripod mount. Most notably, Microsoft's premium webcam, the LifeCam Studio Pro offers one. There's also several of Logitech's high-end cameras including the portable C615, the top-selling C920 and C922X models, and the wide-angle C930e. All include a 1/4" tripod camera mount option located in the base of their clip.

There's basically 4 types of webcam tripods available:
1. Desk clamp tripods with armature or gooseneck extensions.
2. Full-size free-standing professional tripods for conferencing or staged scenes.
3. Desktop mini-tripods for close-ups and convenience.
4. Wall mount web camera arm brackets.

Scissor-Arm Webcam Boom

Desktop C-Clamp Mount

Desktop Clamp Webcam Flexi-Neck Tripod

Clip-On 27 Inch Gooseneck Webcam Mount

Mini Flexible Webcam Tripod

12" Height : Bendable Legs

The benefits of buying an external Mac webcam with tripod mounting hole are twofold: Image stability and precision positioning. Most Apple compatible web cameras have flimsy if somewhat usable flip-clips that all too often largely rely on gravity to cling precariously onto a computer monitor or MacBook laptop's screen. With a real tripod you can assure stable, fixed positioning that may be critical for scene continuity and a vibration-free razor sharp image during Skype sessions, stop-motion animation grabs or YouTube video capture sessions.

External Mac Webcam Buying Trends : Down But Not Out

webcam-for-mac-interestA quick peek at Google Trends shows a slow but steadily declining interest in external Mac compatible web camera hardware. Market demand for Apple friendly webcams peaked in 2007-2009 as online chat and video capture (especially for YouTube uploads) was on a massive upswing. Other factors however are lowering overall demand for external USB webcams, so expect some consolidation in the marketplace moving forward:
  • The trend towards handheld computing devices
  • Incorporation of video recording cameras into cell phones and tablets
  • Apple iMac's and MacBook's shipping with built-in iSight cams
  • Market saturation since USB webcams have a long service lifespan
  • Shrinking demand in general for desktop computing peripherals
That's not to say there still isn't a healthy interest. Web camera's remain in the Top-10 of most in-demand computer peripherals. In particular, the trend towards higher-quality 720p and 1080p HD cameras have spurred a new buying cycle as Mac users sought to upgrade to high-definition and wide-screen video formats. There's also a compelling and ever-growing market for high-end group videoconferencing cams. They've enabled businesses to save a fortune on travel expenses and conduct multi-party video chats with premium conferencing cameras ideal for local and remote collaboration. Apple Internet marketers are leveraging Mac video marketing strategies keeping demand for high-quality webcams going strong.

Logitech remains the Go-To brand for a high-quality web camera for Mac OSX users - at a wide range of price points. Sadly, Creative Labs seems to be phasing-out of the webcam scene - and focusing on their primary market: Premium audio solutions, speakers and headsets. Ipevo continues to deliver exceptional document cameras for the business and education markets. And the industrial camera and laboratory microscope scene is clearly moving in a digital direction. Rising interest in Apple compatible wireless security, monitoring and surveiilence cams is seriously bucking the trend both on Mac OS and iOS platforms.

Of course at the low-end, China has mountains of cheap UVC-compliant USB web cameras for the low-end consumer market. It's slugging it out with mediocre webcams largely in the $10-20 range for budget-conscious buyers with lean wallets and low expectations.

Best Wide-Angle HD Webcam For Mac

Best Logitech HD Webcam For Mac
With the announcement of one of it's top-of-the-line HD web cameras, Logitech delivered the best wide-angle webcam for MacOS in it's history. The Logitech C930e HD Webcam. It's wide 90 degree FOV - Field Of View makes it easier for more than one person to fit into the video frame during a group conference call or video recording sessions. It was the successor to the very popular C920 HD webcam and raises the bar a notch further in the premium web camera marketplace. Most other webcams offer a slightly narrower FOV, typically from 60-78 degrees.

The FOV of webcams has generally increased over time. Logitech's most recent camera, the Brio 4K Ultra HD webcam has a native 90 degree Field Of View, but is changeable via software to 65 or 78 degrees if you prefer. This chart of Creative Labs webcams shows how narrow or wide-angle their various models have been over the years.

The real question for those buying a Mac compatible wide angle web camera will be if they really want the C930e's wider 90 degree wide angle perspective that the web camera delivers. This might be ideal for security and surveillance monitoring or group video conferencing. But for the majority of Mac users doing 1:1 Face To Face interactions, wide angle web cameras might include far more of your surroundings and background space than you really want.

If you want room surveillance with the W-I-D-E-S-T wide-angle field of view that's currently shipping, an alternative is the UVC compliant Genius WideCam F100 who's 120 degree view will cover more visual area than most other conventional Mac compatible USB webcams:

Wide-Angle Webcam Mac

Extreme 120 Degree FOV
Manual Focus, Stereo Mics

3rd-Party Wide-Angle Mac Webcam

120 Viewing Angle @1080p

If 90-degrees is suitable for your needs, here's some of the features of the wide-angle Logitech C930e Web Camera:

Wide Angle Webcam Lens

The C930 HD Webcam has a W-I-D-E-angle 90 degree field of view. Most webcams for Mac offer a narrower 60-70 degree FOV - Field Of View. With wide-angle cams, some distortion typical of a ‘Fish Eye Lens’ can occur. Logitech’s C930e claims to address and compensate for this issue to maintain a more accurate view of a business conferencing room or a couch full of friends or family at home. Do note however, that some folks may not like this trend towards the ever-wider wide-angle conferencing webcams. For more casual personal and adult 1 on 1 video chat, capturing more of what’s around or behind you in the room isn’t necessarily ideal, nor preferred.

USB 2.0/SuperSpeed USB 3.0 Connection

Hi-Speed USB 2.0 certified and SuperSpeed USB 3.0 ready connectivity. Full HD 1080p video calling (up to 1920 x 1080 pixels) and 720p HD video calling (up to 1280 x 720 pixels) -- Much of this depending on the CPU horsepower and internet bandwidth available on your Mac as well as the OSX video capture and conferencing applications you use.

Webcam Support For H.264 - SVC Video Compression

This Apple compatible HD camera supports hardware-based H.264 and SVC video compression, which part of the updated UVC 1.5 webcam specification. Realtime hardware compression reduces data sizes for smaller video files on your hard drive, and also addresses optimizations for negotiating the best video call performance and frame rates in single or multiparty HD conferences. This is an important advancement since the bandwidth available and packet delivery rates on internet cable, DSL, T1 and other network connections can vary between users in, and during a video conference. Bandwidth negotiation and monitoring during video chat is getting more sophisticated.

Stereo Webcam Microphones

Like the C910 and C920 cams which preceded it, the C930 features built-in dual stereo microphones as well. Dual microphone arrays can help with noise cancellation as well as deliver a more accurate aural presence to the room. In my testing with other dual-mic webcams -- yes, they really are stereo, but given how close they are in physical proximity don’t expect breathtaking ambient 2-channel audio.

Webcam Autofocus and Light Management

The 930e HD cam features super-smooth autofocus and their RightLight 2 automatic low-light correction technology that helps insure a clear image and better frame-rates in various lighting environments, even in low light. From my experience Logitech’s smooth and responsive autofocus took huge strides forward a few years back when they introduced the Mac Vision Pro. Far too many other Mac compatible web cameras have a rather ‘STEPPY’ and lagged auto focus. That can be distracting as a lesser webcam struggles to keep up and adjust to movement within the frame. Not so with the C930.

Optical Quality Webcam Lens

As with their previous premium webcam models, Logitech continues to use the awesome optical quality glass Carl Zeiss lenses for spectacular image clarity few other Mac compatible webcam brands deliver.

Webcam Privacy Shutter

A small, flip-down external privacy shutter that snaps on to the Logitech 930e Mac compatible webcam is included with the camera. However, I think an optional piece of clip-on plastic a rather chintzy ‘security solution.’ Other webcam manufacturers have used more elegant and integrated sliding lens covers built-in to the camera over the years with no separate pieces to break off or lose.

Optional Webcam Tripod Mount

Also welcomed is a standard camera tripod mount. It's integrated into the universal clip that also fits various Mac laptops, LCD screens, or sits atop CRT monitors on your desktop. Many Apple users are frustrated by the limited angles and range of, say, a MacBook, iMac or Cinema Display’s built-in iSight camera. So there’s a very healthy demand not just for external webcams for Mac in general - but some really want the stability and precision placement a tripod mount webcam can provide.

External Webcam For Mac - 360 Degrees Of Freedom

If you’re a MacBook owner like me, you’re probably a bit frustrated with the limited viewing angles of your Mac laptop’s built-in iSight webcam. Owners of Aluminum iMac’s or Apple Cinema Displays which also have an integrated HD web camera might feel the same frustrations as well. There’s a limited degree to which you can tilt the display and still see what’s happening onscreen. For some the versatility and flexibility of an external Mac webcam is a must-have for their video conferencing needs.

External Webcam For Mac
An external Mac compatible webcam can be used for a variety of needs. For teachers, presenters and others - specialized document web cameras with an adjustable stand is better than trying to hold something up and still in front of a built-in iSight camera. For business meetings, an eternal conferencing camera might be used to display products and highlight details or features of an item. For others, an external webcam with a tripod mounting option like the Logitech C920 with tripod mount might give the stability or precise placement you need.

Perhaps more than anything, adult webcam chat may be the single biggest driving interest in the flexibility of camera placement that an iMac or MacBook’s built-in webcam simply can’t provide. Don’t underestimate the size of the adult ‘naughty’ chat marketplace. Whether you think such online activity -- whether it’s Gay or Straight, between married couples or total strangers -- is inappropriate is moot. Literally millions of people across the globe engage in adult online conferencing, and for that purpose a PC notebook or Apple laptop’s internal camera is nothing but frustrating. Tilt the camera down far enough to expose your ‘good parts’ and you can’t see what’s onscreen anymore! Not all webcam chat is about smiling face to face interactions.

The last reason to possibly want an Apple compatible external webcam is to improve the image quality over what’s built into your aging iMac or MacBook. My first-generation white MacBook had a built-in iSight webcam at 640x480 VGA resolution that was notorious for having a very reddish image. (That color problem was rectified in later models.) An external UVC web camera not only gave me much more accurate color balance, but was higher in resolution and detail which easily outperformed the internal webcam.

When what’s built into your Mac isn’t good enough, consider any of the recommended HD webcams for Mac for affordable or very high quality webcam alternatives that will let you point your camera anywhere you need to.

Mac Compatible Webcam Reviews

For many years, finding a Mac compatible web camera was hard to do. The lack of webcam standards and a lack of availability of webcam drivers for Mac OSX was the reason came into existence. Apple computers didn't have any sort of direct driver support for web cameras in OS9. It wasn't until the release of OSX 10.4.x that the operating system even included basic support for an emerging webcam standard called UVC.

The UVC - USB 2.0 Video Class webcam specification has been a godsend in the years since. Not just for Apple computer users wanting easy, plug and play web cam support, but for Linux and Windows PC users as well. The need for manufacturers to write specific webcam drivers for each camera hardware type and operating system was greatly reduced as built-in low-level webcam driver support was now included in OSX, Linux and Windows Vista and beyond. It's also taken a few years as webcam makers started - somewhat slowly - incorporating UVC compliant hardware into their web cameras.

A UVC becomes the de-facto standard for Windows, Linux and Mac compatible webcams, the real challenge is choosing the best webcam for your Macintosh, depending on your needs or budget. Whether you're looking for a dirt cheap webcam to a high-end HD web camera for OSX there's a growing number of cameras available for videoconferencing or Skype, video capture for YouTube and video sharing websites, online chat with FaceTime, iChat, or on FaceBook.