Elgato Facecam fills a gap in the existing family of products that this company markets towards streamers and content creators, and it does so quite efficiently. It hits the nail on the head for features that users want with a lower investment than purchasing a DSLR and Cam Link 4K.

The Facecam marks the final piece missing from Elgato’s massive streaming ecosystem that already includes capture cards, green screens, ring lights, stream decks, microphones, and even acoustic panels.

Geared for Live Streaming

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This is a webcam that aims to become the best webcam for live streaming. It has 1080p @ 60 fps recording, plus unique features like a fixed focus 24mm lens and an app that tells you what your ISO levels are while you stream. But with that specificity of an audience comes a lack of features like HDR or 4K, which streamers tend to ignore anyway since platforms like Twitch do not support them.

Prime Lens

Elgato’s Prime Lens is all glass with an f/2.4 aperture and focal length of 24mm. With these studio-quality optics, you can record the clearest videos.

Sensor

Photographers and filmmakers rely on Sony image sensors for industry-leading performance. Elgato does it as well and has included the Sony STARVIS CMOS. It is optimized for indoor use and allows Facecam to capture extraordinary detail and less noise. This is a great solution for content creators.

Construction

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The Facecam is a slightly chunky, rectangular black box, and in the front panel a deep, curved recess that holds the 24mm f/2.4 (full-frame equivalent) lens. A blue indicator LED sits on the left side of this recess, and notches on the top and bottom edges hold a separate, lens-cap-like privacy cover that clicks into place. The back panel holds a USB-C port for connecting to your computer.

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A screw mount on the bottom lets you attach the camera to any standard tripod or the included monitor clip. The clip has a standard hinge-and-lip design that braces against the top edge and back of your laptop screen or monitor, staying in place securely. A smaller joint on the top surface of the clip lets you tilt the camera up and down, while an adjustable disc on the screw mount itself provides left-right rotation.
Measuring 79 x 48 x 58mm without the included stand, the camera is a substantial matte black unit, although at 96g it still balances nicely on a laptop display.

Resolution

The Facecam’s optimized ISP automatically corrects shadows and enhances highlights. With that, colors will be vibrant yet natural. It balances the contrast to maximize detail while minimizing noise. Whether you capture images or record videos in the day or evening, you will have impressive image quality. The advanced circuitry and innovative optics of the Facecam redefine what you expect from FHD webcams. You can no longer say goodbye to lagging footage and stream with fluid 60 fps and 1080p resolution.

Image Quality

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The video is frankly excellent. Despite missing HDR, there is still plenty of dynamic range on offer, while contrast, color, and saturation all look pleasingly natural. While there is no auto-focus to speak of, the fixed focus keeps everything from a distance between 30cm and 120cm nice and sharp, while the 83-degree viewing angle provides chest to torso framing even at close quarters.

While it may not technically resolve the fine detail of a 4K webcam, the uncompressed artifact-free feed, in combination with solid noise handling, means that the quality difference is not as stark as you might think. Textures on clothing and hair are all clearly defined, and the image holds up even when the lighting conditions are far from optimal. Running at 60 frames per second, motion is silky smooth, too.

Facecam removes at least one round of compression from your feed and should provide your streaming host of choice with a cleaner source from which to work.

Software and Manual Exposure Controls

Elgato’s Camera Hub software brings DSLR-like fine-tuning to the Facecam. For casual video calls, this level of granularity is overkill and so there is always the option to leave everything set to auto. For serious broadcasters, however, Camera Hub allows you to dial in all sorts of streaming-specific settings.

Standard picture adjustments are available, including the field of view tweaking (through digital zoom), contrast/saturation/sharpness sliders, and anti-flicker. The Exposure section by default lets you choose between center-weighted and frame-average automatic exposition. Unchecking the Automatic setting provides full shutter and ISO exposure controls, letting you dial exactly how you want the camera to shoot you based on the lighting.

While either automatic exposure mode works well enough, the ability to tweak exposure like a regular camera is welcome. White balance also offers your choice of automatic and precise adjustments, with a color temperature range of 2,800K to 12,500K.

Another interesting addition is the inclusion of onboard memory. Once you have dialed in your ideal camera settings, you can store your adjustments on the camera itself. This allows you to recall your settings even if you have reinstalled the app or hopped over to a different machine. Elgato’s Facecam is also a plug-and-play solution in case you lack permission to install the driver.

BYO Mic

The Elgato Facecam does not have a microphone. The logic of this is sound, at least for aspiring streamers and anyone serious about clear audio. Even the best webcams do not sound as good as a USB microphone or headset boom mic, and we recommend using either of those devices with any webcam, especially for recording and streaming.

Part of the Elgato Ecosystem

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Elgato has long been a brand making moves in the streaming space, starting with their HDMI video capture and recorders called the game capture. Through that, as you might imagine, they became popular with content creators and streamers.

Since then, they have doubled down on that niche, designing a whole content creator ecosystem. They then created the stream deck, a customizable panel with digital buttons, which took the streaming world by storm. Notably, during the pandemic, people took to live streaming what would ordinarily be live events, and so people who would normally not even consider live streaming took it up to bring their events to people at home.

They also branched into lighting where they released a high-quality app controllable ring light as well as a light panel. The new USB podcast and streaming mic, the Elgato Wave 3, aims to take on a podcast favorite, the Blue Yeti.

Verdict

With high-quality uncompressed video and true granular control via the Camera Hub software, Elgato has made an excellent debut into the premium webcam market with the Facecam. For a decent middle ground between a standard webcam and a full-blown DSLR setup, however, the Facecam is a solid competitor.
There are certainly more advanced—and more expensive—options out there, just as there are cheaper webcams that must make several cuts to reach that lower price. Facecam is an alternative that knows its audience. If you already have audio taken care of, and simply want a quality picture to accompany live streams, video calls, product unboxings, etc., Elgato Facecam slots perfectly into about any setup.

Pros

  • Strong image quality (great 1080p / 60fps output)
  • Powerful software with lots of control
  • Fixed focus lens

Cons

  • No HDR or 4K
  • Lacks autofocus
  • A microphone is not built-in