As the whole ‘working-from-home’ thing became a thing the built in camera on my laptop decided that it was a good time to die. And because everyone else had a need to buy a webcam there was a bit of a shortage, that meant that I ended up with a perfectly functional stop gap. Recently Anker entered the webcam and conferencing gear, were offering a decent discount, so I decided that now was the time to upgrade to their new PowerConf C300.
The camera has been marketed as a webcam that will work as well in the conference room, as it will in the home office set up. And it does that by having a really wide angled lens built in, which then uses clever internal image processing to optimise the output putting your face in the centre of the frame. Another feature that it talks up is the the auto-focus which will automatically swap focus on objects held up to the camera in “just 0.35 seconds”.
That’s the talk… in my step-up the camera excels in mixed lighting conditions. My basement flat is almost always dark, and camera returns a really clear shot without extra help. Previously I’ve needed to have extra lights on around me so that I wouldn’t just come out grainy. The light balance on the camera is great, and it’s nice not to have to have the extra lights in my face.
The auto tracking feature works - it keeps me in frame when I move about. It’s a bit laggy at point, but I’ll get over that. I don’t move around that much! Where it does get confused is when there is activity in the background - I’ll be talking on the camera, my wife walks through the background and suddenly the camera automagically zooms out and tries to put us both in shot. That’s just trying to be a little bit too clever and not quite making it.
Where the lagginess really comes to the forefront when trying the close up object autofocus. I don’t doubt that when the camera internals realise that there is an object in front, it will swap the focus quickly… it just takes a long time to clock that there is something there! However, in all reality I’ve never had to use this functionality. I tend to sit in front of the camera and talk, rather than wave objects.
A small win that I am really thankful for is that the cable between the webcam and the computer is detachable, and therefore replaceable. With the home office set up being picked up and move around, the cables are getting a lot of wear at the moment, and knowing that the weakest part of the camera can be replaced quickly and cheaply is reassuring.
My reflections are that the webcam is good, but a couple of rough edges away from making it excellent. I think it is expensive (especially without the early discount). It’s certainly a massive upgrade from the previous camera which ‘did the job’, the video quality is good, head tracking in handy, but has room for more polish.