How to Set Up a Webcam Quickly
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How to Set Up a Webcam Quickly
Not too long ago, working from home was not an option. Unfortunately for many, now it is the only choice. Are people at your job collaborating in Zoom? Does your child attend classes in Google Meet? Does your doctor need to visually see you in your next telehealth appointment to write your prescription? Is your family itching to remember what you look like? It is time to set up your webcam and we are here to help.
“Here’s looking at you, kid.” –Casablanca
When buying a web camera, here are some ideas to help you make your decision. It would be best to acquire a webcam that can take care of your sound needs even if you have a separate microphone. You can lower or disable the volume on the camera, and then re-enable it whenever you need to. Does it come with an apparatus to hold it in place? Quite often, a webcam can be fastened to a monitor. There are some that have a flat bottom to place it on a table. Then there are web cameras that can be mounted on a tripod. Do you even need a webcam? It is common for laptop and all-in-one computers to have cameras built into them. Lastly, what kind of resolution do you need? You have to pay more for higher quality resolution. A webcam with 1080 resolution capabilities is a good standard if you need to present things on video in high detail. We do not recommend less than 720 pixel resolution in a web camera.
How to set up a webcam | Plug and Play
Ideally, you plug in your web camera and it just works. Windows 10 detects it. The program or website you are trying to use can access it. If that is not the case, we recommend downloading and running the installer for your webcam from the manufacturer’s website. After this, if the webcam is still not working properly, unplug your webcam and restart the computer. Once the computer is logged back in, plug in the webcam. If the problem persists, we are going to have to dive in a little deeper.
Click on the Windows key and type Device Manager and click Enter. Once the list of devices comes up, look for your webcam. If the webcam is in the list and has a yellow exclamation point next to it, right-click on the webcam in the list and select update driver. It will give you two options. You can try both. If your webcam was in the list and did not have an exclamation point next to it, please skip down to the Accessing the Camera section to continue troubleshooting.
If your laptop or all-in-one pc has a webcam built into it, then let us figure out if it works. Is there a sliding switch on the edge of your computer near the internal camera? Sometimes, a switch like this will turn on your camera. These switches are on the computer to protect your privacy. We suggest to run the test at webcamtest.net after sliding this switch.
How to set up a webcam | Accessing the Camera
The way permissions are set up on your computer can prevent your webcam from being accessed by a web page. We suggest going to webcamtest.net to test your camera. It will prompt you for access if the webcam is locked from being used. If your camera is being detected and works in some places but not on the web page that needs to access it, we can check the site permissions. Click on the lock icon to the left of the website’s address in Google Chrome and select site settings. Click on the dropdown menu for camera, and select allow. Log back in, or refresh the page, and try again.
Once you have tried these troubleshooting steps, you would be justified in contacting the manufacturer or the support team for the website or service you will be using with your camera. Setting up a webcamera might require a third party to intervene to apply settings specific to their software.
Set Up a Webcam | Lighting
Once you are able to see yourself on camera, you might notice issues with lighting or focus. Lighting has a few easy rules to follow, but can be complicated by life. If you are sitting directly in front of your computer with the webcam mounted on the monitor and pointing at you, you should be set. Your monitor will light you up just fine for a meeting. However, if you are having issues with darkness, brightness, or focus, then you have to change some things. If you are appearing too dark, or like a silhouette, but everything else in the frame is fine–then you might have too much lighting coming from behind you. Eliminate light sources coming from behind you through various means. You can close the blinds on the windows to keep the sun from coming in. Turning off the kitchen lights while you are using your webcam in the adjoining dining room might help. Not having the TV in the background could do the trick. The safest bet for lighting is to have the light source behind the camera so it is not in the shot and shines light on the subject. Fixing the lighting can usually help alleviate auto-focus issues with your webcam.
Set Up a Webcam | Sound
Sound can be a lot harder to set up. Dealing with noise such as loud fans or air conditioners can be difficult. There are several situations that might cause feedback in your audio feed. If you are hearing extra noise, you might want to make sure your microphone and its cable is not too close to other electronic or magnetic devices. Having the webcam next to your speaker can cause a frustrating echoing feedback loop. If you have more than one microphone in the same room, all kinds of issues can arise. Since we are going for simple video conferencing from home with a single sound source, you might have to go into your audio control panel and turn down any other sound sources. Wearing headphones and not using speakers can be a wise decision to reduce extra sound going into your mic.
Advanced Webcam Techniques
There are several options for strengthening your webcam presentations. The first tip would be making sure the background behind you does not match your skin tone or any of the colors you are wearing. This makes it easier to see your gestures when your video feed is among many others on someone else’s screen. Another useful tip is to block any sound that might drown you out. If there is lawn maintenance going on outside during your telehealth meeting, you might need to relocate in your house or shield the microphone from picking up the noise. Lastly, another strong suggestion is to check the composition of your shot. Make sure the top of your head is near the top of the camera frame. If you think a thought bubble could easily fit above your head in the camera shot, you have too much head room. Make sure inappropriate items or pictures are not in view of the camera as well. Do you want to save your sessions for later viewing? You can often record your sessions and upload them to YouTube or save your Google Meet session to your Google Drive with the single click of a button.
Now that you are ready to roll camera, we wish you success in your meetings. For more information on working from home, check out our article about working remotely.