Review: Elgato Facecam steps into the light as its first webcam [Video]

Elgato is one of the biggest names in streaming accessories, but is stepping into a new field with their first webcam deemed the Elgato Facecam. Featuring 1080p60 recording through a Sony Starvis CMOS sensor, it’s packing some great features for the $200 price point. Be sure to hit the video below to see all of the details and how it compares to the similarly priced Razer Kiyo Pro. 

One of the biggest competitors to the Facecam is going to be Razer’s Kiyo Pro that we took a look at earlier this year. Typically running $200, we’re seeing it dip down to $187. Further down I’ll compare the image some but be sure to watch the video to see a real-world example of how the cameras perform side-by-side. 

Out of the box

With a simple design, there isn’t much to get out of the Facecam’s box. First up is a quick start guide and then the camera itself with the detachable monitor clip already attached. In the accessory box, we find some more literature and a USB-C to USB-A cable. 

Design

Elgato’s Facecam has a fairly large footprint but at the same time so does Razer’s Kiyo Pro. Facecam has a more wide, boxy shape that we typically see on most webcams instead of the Razer’s cylindrical shape. 

On the bottom of the camera is a threaded mount and on the back is a USB-C port. Just like the Kiyo Pro, it’s nice to have a detachable cable so you can supply your own if a little more reach is needed. 

Elgato Facecam: Video

Mounting

Out of the box, the Facecam is ready to mount on top of a monitor with the included stand. Like many other webcams, there is a simple adjustable clip that should fit most monitors and can pivot and tilt to get the perfect angle. 

Or, the monitor clip can be removed and the Facecam can be mounted on any other normal tripod mount. Elgato carries its own wide range of mounts, or you could pick up a simple tripod from Amazon as well. 

Setup

Getting the Elgato Facecam setup is pretty straightforward. Download the Elgato Camera Hub app to make tweaks to the image. Plug the camera into your computer and open up your software. When using Zoom or Google Hangouts, just select the Elgato Facecam as your input.

Elgato Camera Hub app

Within the Camera Hub app, there are plenty of parameters to tweak the image coming out of the Facecam. The camera can zoom out to a 83.2-degree field of view which makes it easy to pick up a wide room or multiple people in a single frame. The camera can also zoom in if a wider image isn’t desired. It’s a digital zoom, though, so quality does degrade as you get closer to the maximum zoom. 

Picture settings and exposure can also be controlled to dial the image into your scene’s lighting. Leaving the exposure and white balance set to auto worked well in some situations, but occasionally I needed to flip it over to manual to dial in a decent exposure for my face. Overall though, I was very happy with the image that was coming out of the Elgato Facecam.

The last panel has a noise reduction filter that can help to smooth out noisy images. It also seems to smooth out my skin and hair a little bit as well. That might be a nice feature for some or make the image appear softer to others.

Razer Kiyo Pro on left, Elgato Facecam on right

Video Quality: Elgato Facecam vs Razer Kiyo Pro

To test the video quality, I put the Elgato Facecam right up against the Razer Kiyo Pro. I think they both have some pros and cons for the similar price point. 

One difference is that the Kiyo Pro has an HDR mode that can help in tricky lighting but to get the same 1080p60 performance that the Facecam can do, you need to turn HDR off. Check out my full review of the Kiyo Pro if you want to see more about HDR.

With HDR off on the Kiyo, there are still some visual differences between the two cameras. While I generally preferred the color from the Elgato, the Kiyo performed much better in low light. There is a noise-reduction mode on the Elgato Facecam, but it smooths out the image and makes it look more unnatural compared to the Kiyo.

Low Light: Razer Kiyo Pro on left, Elgato Facecam on right

In good lighting, both cameras looked pretty sharp, though I have to give the Razer better marks for clarity. There are sharpness settings on the Elgato that you can turn up, but it didn’t seem to look quite as good as the Razer. 

When I had my studio lights on either side of my face, both cameras overexposed my face compared to the darker background. I was able to dial in the exposure to a reasonable level with manual controls. 

Occasionally, the Razer Kiyo Pro has some glitches where the camera paused for a second while the Elgato Facecam worked fine. It was also much easier to tweak settings within the Elgato Camera Hub app. When using the Kiyo pro in OBS, I wasn’t able to make tweaks through Synapse, and making adjustments, in general, wasn’t as smooth as the Elgato.

Razer Kiyo Pro on left, Elgato Facecam noise filter on the right

Overall, the Kiyo Pro looked sharper and performed better in low light, but the color on the Facecam looked better in my opinion and it also helped to minimize blemishes on my face. So, depending on what and where you are shooting, the need for low light might be more important or maybe you’re more interested in color and a smoother image. 

Focus 

One other consideration is that the Kiyo Pro can have some focus breathing. At the same time, it can focus on objects closer to the camera, whereas the Elgato Facecam seems to have more of a set focus that starts around 12 inches. But, the focus on the Kiyo Pro can be set manually as well to avoid breathing.

9to5Toys’ take

Elgato’s Facecam is a great camera. The 1080p60 image looks great, even if it is a bit softer than the Kiyo Pro. The color was impressive and the software was much easier to work with than Razer’s Synapse and worked very well with OBS to make on-the-fly adjustments. With both of the cameras being right around $200, it just depends on what your needs are.

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