Choosing The Right Camera For Live Streaming
Most streamers might ask themselves “What is the best camera for live streaming?”. This is not a simple question and there’s no simple answer. Live streaming cameras vary greatly in price, quality and connectivity to other devices.
Some streaming cameras provide a higher quality video, while others are more user-friendly. The best live streaming camera depends on your needs and the type of stream you are going to run – the WpStream platform is flexible and can be used in a multitude of scenarios.
Types of Cameras for Live Video Streaming
Nowadays, a wide array of cameras are available for streamers, depending on their needs and available budget. Let’s see which type of camera from our list works best for you:
- IP Cameras
- Professional Cameras
Streaming with Webcams
Webcams are a type of camera which needs to be connected to a laptop or computer via USB. Most laptops also feature built-in webcams but streamers generally prefer external webcams. Webcams do not have their own internet connection, hence why a laptop or computer is necessary to connect to the internet and process the video into a suitable streaming format.
Webcams have several advantages, including their affordable price and their simplicity. The fact that it connects to your computer via USB means that it uses the device’s power source – so you won’t have to worry about a power source for your webcam.
But webcams also have a few disadvantages, including the fact that they are not able to deliver high quality video. Also, while most webcams feature a built-in microphone, the sound quality is not that great either – professional streamers will have to buy a separate microphone for better sound quality. While webcams have very simple controls, they also have very limited video customization options – they usually lack zooming and variable focus.
Given these pros and cons, webcams are well suited for streaming several types of videos, including lectures, conferences and others. But keep in mind that these streaming cameras generally offer lower video quality and little to no customization of the recording.
Streaming with Smartphones
Nowadays, smartphones are everywhere. Smartphones can be the perfect device for streamers on the go, with built in microphones, internet connections, specialized streaming apps and of course, high quality cameras.
Smartphones can provide high quality video for streams, especially devices with better cameras. Although smartphones can provide a reliable streaming platform, they do have certain drawbacks, just like webcams. For example, the camera is built-in and sound quality can be poor. Low light conditions can present a real problem for smartphones and zooming or video customization options are often very basic.
Generally speaking, smartphones are great for some basic streaming with high quality video. On the other hand, professional streamers should opt for dedicated professional streaming cameras or IP cameras.
Streaming with IP Cameras
IP cameras are different from regular cameras in the sense that they have their own IP address, as well as the ability to connect to the internet directly and separately from any device. Using IP cameras can be somewhat more complicated than using simple webcams, but they are more flexible and versatile.
IP cameras connect through Ethernet or WiFi and can be positioned virtually anywhere. Some IP cams also feature PoE or power over Ethernet, which means they can run 24/7. These features make IP cams perfect for many streamers – they can be used for 24/7 live streaming, permanent streaming in conference rooms, churches or online live cameras.
Using these cams for streaming live video is somewhat more complicated than setting up a simple webcam. While some support RTMP out of the box, and you may just configure it broadcast to WpStream directly, others only support RTSP (or other protocols) and one may need additional equipment to support live streaming. One slight disadvantage of IP cameras is the price – most models start from around $100. That being said, they are an excellent choice for streamers who require a lot of flexibility – the camera can be used just about anywhere, as long as it has an Ethernet connection or WiFi.
Streaming with Professional Cameras
The best cameras for live streaming are professional SDI or HDMI cams. These cameras offer the best picture quality along with a great deal of flexibility – lenses can be changed and upgraded, picture customization such as wide angle focus and zoom capabilities are also the norm with these cameras. Professional cameras also have several other advantages over the cameras we talked about in this article. These advantages include the ability to use external monitors, use filters and hot swapping batteries and storage.
These cameras are not as portable as, say, a smartphone or webcam but they can be carried and transported with ease – this means that these cameras can be used both indoors and outdoors. Given the many features these cameras have to offer, they are not as simple to use, compared to webcams for example. Most streamers will have to spend some time to learn the capabilities of their camera – but it’s time well spent if you’re looking to achieve professional quality video.
Professional cameras need a “capture device” before they can be used for streaming live videos. The capture device can either be installed on a laptop or it can be connected through USB. The capture device in this case is in fact a convertor – it will convert the data from your professional camera into a different format which can be used for live streaming. It’s also a good idea to check if your capture card works with your camera’s input. Always check the specifications of the card and software before making a purchase.
The only real downside of professional streaming cameras is, as expected, the cost. A good HDMI camera can set you back around $650 while top models can go for $1200.
Picking out the right video equipment can be hard, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience. Since different streamers have different needs, a product may work great for you and for others not so much. This article should serve as a rough guide on what types of cameras work for different needs.
Another aspect you may need to consider before making a purchase is your intended audience and the final purpose of your video.