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