3/30/15
8:03 am

The Logitech C920 Webcam

People ask me about the camera I use to record these tutorials. I have been using the C920 for the last two years and find this inexpensive webcam to be better than some other expensive and more cumbersome solutions. It uses H.264 compression in the camera to allow it to send 1080p video over USB2. It works with any Mac and most apps. See a quality comparison between the C920 and the MacBook's built-in FaceTime HD camera.

Video Transcript
Hi, this is Gary with MacMost.com. On today's episode I want to talk about the camera I use to film these tutorials.

I'm often asked about what camera I use to film these tutorials. It has changed over the years. In the beginning I was using a Sony HD camcorder a lot that used Firewire to record directly into the Mac. I like recording directly into the computer rather than going to tape or a SD card first. It saves a lot of time. So for years I used the Sony 1080P camera that did a great job.

Then I wanted to upgrade to a better camera so I upgraded to a Canon camcorder that cost north of a $1000 and it output HDMI, not Firewire, so I had to get a card for my MacPro that would take HDMI as input and then I was able to record directly to my Mac as well. It was a rather expensive solution but it worked just as well and maybe even a little better.

So what I really wanted was a very simple camera without all the extra camcorder parts of using tape or a SD card or something like that that just went straight into my Mac. I was using a MacPro so using one of the FaceTime cameras wasn't really an option.

What I found was this camera. It is the Logitech c920. I'm not usually a fan of the Logitech products. A lot of them have had compatibility issues with the Mac and they don't tend to support their products very long. You can get one and then the next update of Mac OS10 it doesn't work anymore. But in this case I really like this camera for several reasons.

So the main thing is how it handles video even though it is a USB device. See the problem with USB, particularly USB2, is that it is not quite fast and stable enough to pipe HD video over the little cable into your Mac. That is why a camera built into your Mac usually works a lot better for HD.

However what the c920 does instead of piping full raw video, or something close to it, over the cable it compresses it first in the camera to H.264 which is kind of the native format for QuickTime and using in Final Cut and iMovie and things like that. So it is compressing it on the camera so it is sending the compressed stream over USB2 meaning you can get 1080p video even though it is a USB2 peripheral.

I also like the fact that it is relatively cheap. It costs about $75 now. It used to be over a $100 a while ago. That is why I bought a second one because it was so cheap and I wanted to have a backup. So compared to the $1000 camcorders I was using before it's super inexpensive.

Now despite the fact that it is Mac compatible a lot of people complain that it really isn't. That's partially because the software doesn't really give you access to all the features it does on Windows. I don't use the Logitech software that comes with it. Instead I use the webcam settings app. I talked about that in a recent episode. I will include a link in the notes to this episode at MacMost.com.

Using that I can access all the different features of the camera and I can make really good recordings that rival those expensive cameras I used before.

Let's take a look at a comparison. I'm going to use both the FaceTime HD camera and the c920 hooked up to the same MacBook and you can see for yourself the difference in quality.

So this is me using the FaceTime HD camera built into my 13 inch MacBook Pro from 2014. So here I am using the c920 hooked into the very same MacBook Pro. I'm using QuickTime player to record in both cases. I'm using the microphone in the c920 in this case and before I was using the internal microphone. So you get a good comparison between using all of the MacBooks' native stuff and using the Logitech camera instead.

So one catch is that the c920, and I thing all external webcams, don't work with iMovie directly. In other words you can't use that button in iMovie to record video directly into iMovie. You simply have to use another app like say QuickTime player, like I'm using, to record video and then import that video into iMovie.

So it's not that you can't use iMovie with it. It's just that you have to use it in a slightly different way. The c920 works find with all the other apps I've tested. Things like FaceTime and Skype and web based apps, all sorts of other things the c920 always appears as an option for me.

So is the c920 the best solution for recording on your Mac. Well, the best would probably be a very expensive camera setup. But this is certainly the best value that I've ever seen and it is compact enough for you to travel with it anywhere. If you use video for teleconferencing a lot it certainly is worthwhile to get this camera because it seems to be significantly better than using FaceTime on your Mac.

If you record videos like I'm doing it is definitely a lot better plus, of course, you can aim it where you want because it is independent of the screen on your Mac.

Now there are some newer models like the c930 and some other things from Logitech. I haven't tried those. I've stuck with this one since it works so well. But you can find this one for sale. I'll put a link to it at Newegg.com. You can also find it at other places like Amazon.com. All the prices seem to be about the same.

So if you are looking for a better solution for recording video on your Mac give the c920 a try. It is what I've been using for the last several hundred episodes of the MacMost tutorials.

You can get the C920 at NewEgg, Amazon or many other online retailers.

Comments: 2 Responses to “The Logitech C920 Webcam”

    FoolishCop
    3/30/15 @ 12:44 pm

    Gary, you forgot to post the link to the Webcam Settings app in the show notes! (S’okay, I have the app anyway :) )

    I recently started using the C920 to record some video and found that after some initial hassles with it, it’s a great camera though proper lighting really helps in getting the best image onto the screen.

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