What Are Webcam Frame Rates?

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Updated September 16, 2022

Whether you’re looking to reconnect with old friends or need something for work, acquiring the best webcam can be a life-changer. But before purchasing the first device to cross your path, it’s good to understand the basic specs, as it affects the overall quality and price. Below, we’ll answer the question: what are webcam frame rates, and why do they matter?

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Webcam frame rates are measured in how many pictures the camera captures each second.
  • Most devices have a default webcam frame rate of 30-60 FPS, but many have multiple FPS settings depending on the need.
  • Higher video frame rates create a smoother video feed but require greater processing power.

If this topic feels like it’s too far ahead of you, don’t sweat. We have more articles for beginners who may be wondering what a webcam is. You might even be interested in our picks for the best webcams for vlogging or direct comparisons between models such as the Logitech C922 vs C920.

Insider Tip

Check your lighting and internet connection if you are recording a high FPS video. Both of these things affect the overall frame rate.

Explaining Webcam Frame Rates

Webcam frame rates are measured in frames per second (FPS). FPS tells you how many pictures the camera snaps per second to create the moving image. If you look at the specs of a webcam, you’ll see varying numbers in terms of frame rate, which indicates how many pictures are recorded. Therefore, a webcam with 60 FPS means the device takes 60 photos of the video feed every second.

So that’s frame rates in a nutshell. Still, it’s also essential to know how the different frame rate levels affect overall video quality, consistency, and price.

How FPS Affects Image Quality

As you might imagine, a higher FPS results in a smoother feed. Most budget webcams have a low 30 FPS rating, although you can find older models that go as low as 15 FPS. Higher-quality models get up to 60 FPS, with some reaching as high as 120 FPS. Some high-end webcams allow for variable FPS settings, meaning that you can change the frame rate depending on your needs at the moment.

Warning

Plugging multiple devices into a computer’s USB ports often reduces the maximum frame rate.

When it comes to video quality, models with a low FPS may suffer from issues that make it look like your webcam is flickering. For most applications, such as Zoom meetings, a 60 FPS rating is more than enough. A higher FPS, like 120, is only necessary to create high-definition video files for streaming and other such uses.

And, as you might imagine, the higher the FPS, the more you’ll pay for the webcam. So always consider what you need before spending more on the higher quality.

STAT: The average webcam will record video at 30-660 FPS, but the best webcams record up to 120-260 FPS. (source)

What Are Webcam Frame Rates FAQs

Does a higher frame rate always mean better quality?

While it's generally safe to say that higher frame rates produce better quality--things like internet connection, lighting, and resolution all play a part in video quality.

What is the most important thing to look for when buying a webcam?

Always keep your primary purpose in mind when choosing an external USB webcam. For example, prioritize reliability and a high-quality device if you are a live streamer. On the other hand, for those using a webcam for basic video calls, you don't need to worry so much about the specs and can focus more on affordability.

Can you increase the frame rate on a webcam?

Some webcam settings offer multiple FPS rates. Also, you can increase the frame rate speed by lowering the resolution.
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