The benefits of buying an external Mac webcam with tripod mount 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 or YouTube video capture sessions.
There's basically 3 types of tripods:
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.
- 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
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.
Over the years, the FOV of webcams has generally increased. This chart of Creative Labs webcams shows how narrow or wide-angle it's various models have been.
The real question for those buying this Mac compatible web camera will be if they really want the C930e's wider 90 degree wide angle perspective that this new 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 surrounding 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 that will cover more visual area than any other shipping OSX compatible webcam:
Here's some of the features of the State-Of-The-Art 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.
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.
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 XP SP2 and beyond. But it's 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.