Hi everyone, I recently calibrated some webcams to use with ARToolKit6. If you would like to know why, have a look at my article about calibrating cameras. I calibrated six different cameras and would like to give you a short feedback regarding those webcams and their suitability for Augmented Reality. Additionally, I provide you with the features that I believe are essential for an Augmented Reality webcam.
Overview of the Augmented Reality webcam
The comparing Augmented Reality webcams
For me, there are four features that a webcam needs to have to be a good Augmented Reality webcam. These are:
- High and adaptable resolution
- Clear image with good quality
- Wide field of view
I mean all depends on your requirements. For example, you won’t need an autofocus if your webcam if mounted onto a fix place and the object you would like to capture always has a fixed distance to the camera. Same is true for the field of view. If you are fine with a limited field of view, if you are fine that your webcam only captures a small view of the real world, all good. But I guess a clear video image is out of discussion :).
The Logitech C270 is a very basic webcam. It has limited mounting options which makes it hard to mount it at a fixed position. What troubles me, even more, is that it only has a fixed focus. The image quality is average and the field of view is limited. It comes with a maximum resolution of 720p.
If you have a very limited budget and would just like to toy around with an Augmented Reality webcam I guess it would do the trick. But I wouldn’t recommend it for professional usage and app development.
Logitech HD C525
The Logitech HD C525 is slightly better than the C270, especially because it has an autofocus. The resolution, however, is still limited to 720p. The big downside of this camera is that it has a very noisy video image. Because of that, I wouldn’t recommend this camera at all.
Logitech HD C310
The Logitech HD C310 has the same resolution as the C270 and C525 but a smaller resolution for photos than the C525. To me, it looks like Logitech uses the same camera chip on this model and the C525 because the C310 also has a very noisy video image. Additionally, it only has a fixed focus. If you are deciding between Logitech HD C525 and Logitech HD C310, I’d go for the C525 because of the autofocus and because it is cheaper. But if you don’t need an autofocus you are better of with the Logitech C270 in my opinion.
Microsoft LifeCam Studio
The next one in the game is a camera from Microsoft, the Microsoft LifeCam Studio. It is the only camera from Microsoft in the review and almost double the price compared to the previous models. But for that, you get quite some features.
It is possible to mount the camera to a tripod and even without that it is possible to mount it in various positions. The camera has full HD support and delivers a clear video image without any noise and comes with an autofocus functionality. Almost everything that I could wish for. It could have a wider field of view and what really troubles me is that this webcam does not come with support for MacOS. But if you are fine with Windows then this camera is definitely a good choice. And much better than the next one.
Logitech 9000 pro
As already said during the Microsoft webcam review, the Logitech Pro 9000 is not a very good choice as an Augmented Reality webcam. It has a wide angle lens, autofocus and 1080p support but the video image quality is quite bad (worse than the Microsoft one) and it is way more expensive than the Microsoft one. Also, it is more expensive than the next one, which I personally recommend as best webcam for Augmented Reality.
The Logitech C930e is the webcam to go if you look for an Augmented Reality webcam. It ticks all the boxes. The field of view is really big, it delivers a crystal clear video image in 1080p, it has various mounting options due to the very versatile stand and an option to mount it to tripods and of cause it has an autofocus and works with MacOS.
If you don’t have a limited budget and are looking for a good Augmented Reality webcam go for the Logitech C930e it really ticks all the boxes and is even cheaper than the Logitech Pro 9000. If your budget is limited and you just need a camera to get started with Augmented Reality I’d say the Logitech C270 will do the trick. If you are looking for something in the middle and don’t mind missing MacOS support go for the Microsoft LifeCam Studio.
A quick note about the Microsoft webcams. They come in an environmentally friendly, small packaging which is a real joy to unpack. Compared to the Logitech webcams which come inside a huge plastic packaging.