Webcams have a lot to live up to with recent advances in putting video on your PC. High-end cameras can be hooked directly into your PC via a capture card, so someone with the budget has a big advantage. Webcam manufacturers have come back as of late with some pretty great offerings, providing good quality and software to improve the overall experience.
A more recent step in webcam evolution has been the introduction of AI to the hardware, allowing for a new level of functionality. Among the companies going this route is OBSBOT with their Tiny 4K PTZ Webcam, with their offering of webcams with AI Tracking. It allows the camera to keep you in the frame and even follow you around when you move about.
The Tiny 4K is one of two cameras in OBSBOT’s Tiny series of cameras, the other one being a 1080p version of the camera. The quickest way to tell the difference between the two just by looking is that the 4K has a red ring surrounding the lens.
The Tiny 4K offers a 4K/30fps or 1080p/60fps resolution, 4x digital zoom and a 2-axis gimbal to facilitate its PTZ (Pan, Tilt, Zoom) movement. Also included in the box is a magnetic camera mount, power supply and a USB-C to USB-C Cable with a USB-C to USB-A adapter, maximizing the number of ports available to the webcam.
The magnetic mount is more than strong enough to firmly hold the camera in place even with a little unforeseen jostling. The camera can also be mounted directly to a tripod or other mount with a ¼” interface. I do wish that the camera was able to be powered via the USB-C cable, however, as an extra cable just makes things messier when it comes to your cable management.
While the OBSBOT Tiny 4K can be a plug and play webcam, it does have software available to control various aspects of the camera, including manually controlling the gimbal should you want to lock off the camera in one position and not have it follow you. You can also manually control the zoom and focus of the webcam. A cool feature that they added is the ability to create 3 presets, allowing you to create setups all over your space and, at the press of a button, you can automatically move the camera to each setup with the appropriate angle, zoom and focus.
“While the OBSBOT Tiny 4K can be a plug and play webcam, it does have software available to control various aspects of the camera”
Sure, there are plenty of manual controls on this camera, but there are a lot of automatic functions as well. Autofocus can be enabled, as can face focus and face-auto exposure, ensuring that when you are on the move, the main focal point (your beautiful mug) always looks its best. HDR is also an important feature, especially for those in rooms with uneven lighting (particularly backlighting). The feature (which stands for High Dynamic Range) will improve the exposure on your face without completely blowing out the background lighting.
You can also access, via an additional purchase, a remote control (priced at $39.99 USD) that will allow you to control any of the features that the app can do, only out of the reach of your keyboard and mouse.
Hot Keys can also be enabled, allowing you to use any of the controls with the software minimized. Gesture controls can also be disabled for those who don’t want to accidentally make the wrong gesture and zoom in on themselves.
Gesture control is an important and powerful part of the OBSBOT Tiny cameras. Simply put your hand up and you will see the LEDs on the base of the camera turn blue as it recognizes you. When the lights go green, the Tiny 4K will follow you as you move around. The AI Tracking is quite responsive and not jerky at all. It never seems to be trying to play catch up with you, but rather moves as if it is predicting your movement. Performing the gesture again locks the camera allowing you to leave the frame and not feel like Skynet has activated.
A gesture extending your thumb and forefinger (making an L) is the command to zoom in and out with the camera. In the app, it defaults to 2x zoom, but can be altered to go anywhere from 1.1x to 4x digital zoom. Performing the gesture again returns it to its original position. The zoom works nicely and moves slowly and smoothly rather than crash zooming into an extreme closeup.
“…It never seems to be trying to play catch up with you, but rather moves as if it is predicting your movement.”
The camera quality is quite nice, it uses a Sony 1/ 2.8” sensor. Out of the box, it looks a little washed out, but with a little colour correction, you are in great shape. The picture detail is quite nice. It is a little below the standard of some other webcams on the market (as its price is more about its other features than the camera itself), but has a perfectly nice picture. The better your lighting, the better it will look, so light yourself appropriately.
At $269 USD, it may be a little out of range for certain webcam users. Its uses for at-home learning, business presentations and other non-content use cases make the Tiny 4K a wonderful camera, but is it worth the money for them? I would make the argument that the 1080p version (priced at $199 USD) is a much more reasonable option for the casual user.
As for content creators, who is this for? I would argue that any streamer or YouTuber that stays stationary doesn’t need to get the Tiny 4K as they are not availing themselves of the features that boost the price tag. The small corrections that the gimbal will make for a sitting streamer will be more annoying than helpful.
But for a more mobile creator, let’s say a cooking or exercise creator, the camera’s features become a lot more valuable. The ability to trust that the camera is keeping you in the frame while you are not monitoring yourself (you could be sautéing or doing a sun salutation. Maybe both, if you are unique) is wonderful, and the ability to use presets can have you focused on very specific things on your set.