Today's best webcams aren't just useful for boring conference calls; there are now some high-quality cameras out there that you can use for serious content creation, be that creating YouTube videos or Twitch streams. If your webcam is something you use a lot, especially if you're now working from home, then you probably need some great software to go with it. Best of all, in most cases you won't have to pay a penny.
Free and easy
Do you need third-party software when there's a camera app built right into Windows 10? It's not the most feature-packed app, but if all you want is something to take some photos or capture some quick video clips, it's there, and it's free. You can also access any resolution and frame rate that your webcam is capable of shooting at. It's a simple case of plug and play. And no download necessary.
The only downside to NVIDIA Broadcast is it's only available for RTX GPU users. But that's because the app uses the power of the GPU combined with NVIDIA AI magic to do all manner of wonderful things. Specifically for webcam users, you can blur, remove or replace your backgrounds, denoise your video and apply an auto frame filter that will keep you in the center even when you start moving around. If you can use it, this is an essential part of your toolkit.
If you want features and lots of them, YouCam 9 by Cyberlink is the best app around. It isn't free, but you can try all its features for 30-days first. After that, it costs, but the basic feature set remains free. The major selling point of YouCam is the creative control it gives you if you're a YouTuber or streamer. It's also perfect for business use since it integrates with apps like Skype and Google Meet.
For Logitech cameras
If you use a Logitech webcam, this is all you need. It works with all recent webcams from the company. It has built-in customization and studio tools, things like text overlays, built-in broadcast capabilities, and full control over resolution, frame rate, and settings like exposure. And it's free, so there's absolutely nothing to lose.
Debut is a little more complex than some of the other apps on this list, primarily because it's more than just a webcam tool. It can also be used as a screen recorder for your PC and combine your webcam with that as an overlay. You can record video, photos, and audio and change all the necessary video quality settings, color settings, add text, timestamps, and much more.
Why does a great app need to be on your PC? Webcam Toy is a web app that can be accessed on any computer in any browser. It's simple but allows you to capture images and videos while having some fun at the same time by adding some goofy effects. It's free, lightweight, and doesn't need any form of install.
Streamers and Creators
OBS is far more than just a webcam app, popular among streamers the world over. In essence, it's a potent broadcast application that allows you massive creative freedom. There are several community-generated plugins to further enhance the experience, and you can also capture and stream, use multiple video devices, and a lot more. OBS can now act as a virtual camera, too, allowing you to easily use it for functions like video conferencing in other apps as well.
XSplit VCam was originally targeted at streamers, allowing them to blur the regular webcam background to add that extra touch of quality to their streams. But it's grown way beyond that, though it still does allow blurring and background replacement and can be used in basically any app that supports a webcam. The icing on the cake is the companion mobile app that lets you use your phone as a webcam with ease.
Have you ever thought your video conferencing was too dull? Snap Camera can change all that by adding one of an absolute mass of lens filters to your webcam. It's made by the same company as Snapchat, so it's basically Snapchat on your webcam. It's free to use, supports all the major video conferencing services, and is very, very silly.
Plenty of good choices
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Whatever you need to use your webcam for, there are plenty of apps out there to help you get what you need. If all you want is basic snapshots and video recording, then why not make use of the Windows Camera app built into your PC. It'll recognize any webcam you have connected, along with supported resolutions, and while basic, it gets the job done.
More advanced users will find apps like YouCam 9 and Debut Video Capture more to their tastes, though, likewise with OBS Studio and its virtual camera feature. Whether a creator, a streamer, or merely wanting to put together the best quality business calls, both are packed with more advanced features that offer greater scope and control when using your webcam.
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine