There have been three types of webcams in the recent past. The mediocre camera, the mediocre, but good for the price camera and the smallest category, the good webcam. The average teleconference requires little of their camera quality. They don’t need to spend the big bucks. The beginning streamer can get by with something simple. So many people still use the Logitech C920, one of the OG webcams on the market.
The next level of streamer, which is growing every day, asks something more of its camera. They recognize that their stream, YouTube Channel, video podcast or whatever is a business and that they are the face of that business. They recognize that the need to stand out is a large one and one that comes at a cost.
People are making a big leap in this technology, often jumping right to a DSLR/Mirrorless Camera with a capture card or even an Action Cam like the GoPro to get the look they want. But for people who are just going to set up the camera at their desk, you are quite literally leaving a lot of money on the table.
Enter AVermedia with their Live Streamer Cam – PW513. Before ever plugging it in, you notice a lot of key differences between the camera and many of its industry predecessors. First, it is big. It’s easily a third bigger than most, leaving a lot of room for the hardware and sensors required for decent quality. The second is the size of the lens, also considerably larger than most of its competitors, which gives it a number of advantages that we will discuss shortly.
The webcam comes with the typical accoutrements, including a built – in mount to put the cam at the top of your monitor or mount to anything with a standard 1/4” thread for mounting on a tripod or any other number of mounts for your desk. The camera can swivel or tilt with a great deal of freedom, really opening up the placement of the webcam at your setup.
The camera has an 8MP resolution and is capable of 4K/30fps or 1080p/30 or 60fps. It sports a Sony Exmor R CMOS sensor, a fixed-focus F2.8 lens with a 94 degree field of view, allowing for a very wide shot of your room. It has built-in microphones (though I recognize that few people will use them as an audio source) and comes with a detachable USB-C cable.
For a streamer, the image out of the box may seem a little disheartening, but don’t panic. Webcams are often made to compensate for some less than ideal lighting situations, so popping some lights on leads these cameras to overcompensate, and you appear pretty washed out. This is all fixable with a few adjustments/colour corrections.
“The AVerMedia Live Streamer Cam PW513 gives you the leeway needed to make the necessary adjustments to make you look great on screen.”
While you may say “If I pay this much for a camera, it should look great out of the box,” I would respond by saying that even the most expensive Mirrorless Camera will require some colour correction to make it just right. The AVerMedia Live Streamer Cam PW513 gives you the leeway needed to make the necessary adjustments to make you look great on screen.
While it doesn’t have all the detail of more expensive options, it is still very colour accurate (when adjusted to your lighting setup) and, to a more self – conscious (read: old) content creator like myself, the slight loss of detail smooths out that skin just a little. It delivers a much better picture than the vast majority of the webcams on the market.
The camera takes another step up when you install AVerMedia’s CamEngine software. Within the software, you have a much nicer looking version of the camera settings (compared to that Windows 95 looking version that opens in OBS), advanced features such as smoothing and skin tone adjustments and some AR filters a la Snapchat to give your face a little digital character.
The CamEngine also gives you a custom ePTZ (Pan, Tilt, Zoom) virtual camera where you can create multiple framing setups using the digital zoom and switch between them smoothly by clicking on the thumbnails. You also have a noise reduction filter at your disposal should you need to clean up some digital noise, but that shouldn’t be an issue if you are lighting things properly.
The best part of the software is its collaboration with Nvidia’s Broadcast software, allowing you to create a virtual background. Without the use of a green screen, the software separates you from your background and allows you to put up an image, a solid colour or make the background transparent. You can also add a blur to the background, helping to mimic the depth of field effect of a DSLR or Mirrorless camera.
At $169.99, the AVerMedia Live Streamer Cam PW513 comes in at the same price as the newer Elgato Facecam. The quality of the camera’s image itself is top-notch and perfectly comparable to its challenger. It gets slightly edged out by Elgato in the software department due to the Camera Hub’s ability to fine tune more of the picture similarly to a mirrorless camera. But the camera/software combination provided by AVerMedia is well worth the money.