Webcam Upgrade Woes

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What I thought was going to be a simple webcam upgrade has somehow turned into a project from hell. Given COVID, I have been working from home since March and spend several hours a day in video meetings for both work and to see friends and family. I mostly use my desktop and have been using an old Logitech Quickcam 9000 that I bought years ago. As I enjoy a nice clear image, and would like to offer the same to those I am meeting with, I picked up a couple of small LED panels that I use to light my face when I in a meeting. This has helped, but I recently had the idea to upgrade the 9000 as it tops out at 720p/30fps (not to mention the fact that I had to return a Surface Pro that I was issued for volunteer work with an organization and it had a very nice built-in camera). I spent a lot of time looking at reviews and seeing more videos than I care to count. I was going to splurge for something like a Logitech Brio or Streamcam, but ended up with the newest version of their 1080p/30fps workhorse models, the C920s. The Streamcam had amazing images on the video reviews as well as the Razer Kiyo (but not the Brio for the most part), but since I was mostly going to use this for meetings, I thought the C920s would suffice.

Most reviewers recommended tweaking the settings in software for best results, as I suspected, and a number of streamers recommended using OBS software to do so. I ordered the cam from BestBuy and it arrived yesterday. I am not certain if the challenges mostly lie in the software, the hardware or my expectations, but this has been a big and especially frustrating disappointment. I used the 9000 with standard Windows driver and hoped to start from there with the C920s and then tackle the software adjustments. First off, the unit seemed to be somewhat nearsighted, and it turns out that this is not an uncommon complaint about the whole C92X family. I immediately loaded up OBS to start tweaking and had limited success.

Next I decided to try using Logitech's software. It turns out that Logitech has no less than three software programs to control camera settings, and each is a bit flawed and lacking. And depending on how you identify the camera, you get recommendations. None really allowed me to get a better handle on the AF issue, or allow me to find a decent manual AF setting. I have tried a combination of OBS and Logitech software and the controls are still not easy to tweak, as changes to one setting can cause problems in another.

I am tempted to return the camera and try another model, but they are hard to come by and I am not sure if I have the patience to do this all over again. I am also wondering if my expectations are unreasonable. Many, but not necessarily all, of the samples I see look quite crisp and clean. I just cannot say that this is consistent with my model. More lighting does seem to help, but there is a limit to what I can do on a regular basis. Does anybody have a C920s (or C920) that can share their experiences? I cannot believe that this is the sate of webcams today. I am surprised that somebody like Apple has not offered up a premium model. When I use FaceTime with a friend on her old iPhone, she looks crisp and clean and sharply focused. I know that camera phones are a cut above webcam models, but surely there must be some room for something better and reasonably priced.

--Ken
 

Growltiger

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I have three of the C920 plus two C270 and am something of an expert on the subject. The Logitech software is a mess, they keep changing things and there is no site I have found that gives good advice. I have used all three lots of software and have found a good and easy answer.

First, here are my notes to myself:
-----------------------
Logitech C270 and C920
LogiCameraSettings_2.10.4.exe is the latest version.
Use Logitec Camera Settings to control focus, white balance etc.
If run first other programs cannot use the camera. If run after other programs it still works but does not show the camera output.

Logitech Capture
Capture_2.02.155 is the latest version.
Supports C920 but not the C270.
Do not use Logitech Capture as there is a large lag so the video is much later than the audio.
To use it, run it, adjust the settings and then run Zoom or Skype. Select Logi Capture as the camera instead of the C920.

OLD
lws280.exe is the old software.
After installing run the program.
Open the Webcam Controller.
Close the main program.
The Webcam Controller remains open and can be pinned to the taskbar and can be opened when running Zoom etc.
-----------------------

So my solution is to simply use LogiCameraSettings. I have it pinned to my taskbar. Before using the webcam I run it and set the zoom etc, set the white balance to manual and the autofocus to manual, and adjust them exactly. Then I close it. It does remember the settings, but it forgets them when the computer is rebooted.

The C920 autofocus likes to focus on the nice sharp background like a bookcase and not on the blurry human. So I always use manual focus.

You mention it is nearsighted, that is true. I think what happened is that they "solved" the autofocus issue by making it focus no further away than fairly close. They did this by simply turning the lens in its mount duing manufacture so it doesn't go to infinity. To be fair their solution works fairly well.
But being a perfectionist I have adjusted all my cameras to turn the lens to that it can focus on infinity. They now focus anywhere from infinity to extremely close and work perfectly.
If you want instructions on how to do this ask me. Of course you risk breaking them. I'm not good at DIY and my hands are not that steady but I managed it.
 
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Hi Richard,

Thank you for your detailed response. It seems that we have both went through the gamut of Logitech software, although I have also tried their GHub which is supposed to retain settings when the machine shuts down. You assessment of the focus issue makes me feel better knowing that I am not making this stuff up. Unfortunately, the manual AF settings that I have tried all seem less than ideal. And, I am terrible at breaking open technology and tweaking bad designs, and having watched several videos on this one confirms that I do not want to attempt the hack. But, your confirmation also tells me that trying another C920s will probably not be much better, so I may choose to exercise my ability to return/exchange and try out a less problematic model like the Razer or the Streamcam. Both showed quite sharp focus on many videos that I watched. Those two models are out of stock, so I may try out the C920s and see what folks on the "receiving end" think.

Thanks,

--Ken
 
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One more thought. Have you looked at OBS? It is often recommended and seems to offer a lot more control over the cameras. I am not sure if the settings are persistent, or how it fully interacts with programs like GHub and Camera Settings, but it is worth a look, and it seems to have a small footprint.

--Ken
 

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One more thought. Have you looked at OBS? It is often recommended and seems to offer a lot more control over the cameras. I am not sure if the settings are persistent, or how it fully interacts with programs like GHub and Camera Settings, but it is worth a look, and it seems to have a small footprint.

--Ken
I had not even heard of OBS, so thanks. I'll try it.

The manual AF works perfectly, but requires a delicate movement of the slider to get it set correctly. It helps if you are wering glasses to give it something sharp edged to show the exact focus.

I think you are sensible not to try to fix the focus to infinity issue. It isn't that easy. On one of them I had to cut a supporting plastic stick and on another I had to use a bit of glue after my hand slipped, but they were all successfully modified in the end with no sign of damage. It is crazy to do it really, after all why on earth does a webcam need to focus on infinity anyway? Well one might want to aim it out of the window to show the view, and yes I did want to do that a few times.

I will be interested to hear your experiences with other webcams. I saw a Zoom session to a Logitech Brio the other day and the quality was superb. I think that model is a lot more expensive - I think I got the C920's quite cheaply - that was before the virus.
 

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If you are striving for a more professional setup then there are four more things - I have done only the first three.

1. Regarding lighting, that is the most important. I struggled with this for some time, it just didn't look right. After some experiments I found that the best solution was to have a room with more business-like lighting, so all the room lights are "Cool white" (4000K) instead of the normal household "Warm white" (2700-3000K).
Then add a ring light - this makes a huge difference. (Apparently this is what all those influencers use to demonstrate makeup tips on YouTube.)
I found a really good one which allows you to set the brightness and the colour temperature! So it is a lot more expensive than a basic one. This is a link to it on Amazon UK (I expect you could find it on amazon.com): https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07R7PDJBF
I set the ring light to 3200K and set the webcam white balance to 3275K, so all the direct light is warmer than the background light and the webcam setting matches that.
Black out the windows so you get a consistent result, day or night.
The end result is a very flattering glowing colour without any harsh shadows.

2. Microphone. Webcam mics are never that good compared to a proper mic. I chose the Blue Yeti USB mic. You do need a quiet room as it is incredibly sensitive. But the voice quality is amazing, it sounds like a professional recording studio. https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00N1YPXW2

3. Headphones or earphones etc. If you have the sound coming out of speakers you can get feedback, automatic muting and so on. This is down to personal choice. Bose make some very nice "Quiet Comfort" ones.

4. Background. Unless you have a lovely backdrop, perhaps a bookcase with books demonstrating your genius and good taste, and not the more likely cluttered mess or worse a kitchen where the washing up is piled up, you can put up a green screen. Once you have your green screen the fake backgrounds in Zoom work perfectly, and no one will know. Then you download that bookcase photo and look impressive.

I realise all this is expensive. But if it is for work and you want to impress, you can be more professional than anyone else, so it could be worth it.
 

Butlerkid

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If you are striving for a more professional setup then there are four more things - I have done only the first three.

1. Regarding lighting, that is the most important. I struggled with this for some time, it just didn't look right. After some experiments I found that the best solution was to have a room with more business-like lighting, so all the room lights are "Cool white" (4000K) instead of the normal household "Warm white" (2700-3000K).
Then add a ring light - this makes a huge difference. (Apparently this is what all those influencers use to demonstrate makeup tips on YouTube.)
I found a really good one which allows you to set the brightness and the colour temperature! So it is a lot more expensive than a basic one. This is a link to it on Amazon UK (I expect you could find it on amazon.com): https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07R7PDJBF
I set the ring light to 3200K and set the webcan white balance to 3275K, so all the direct light is warmer than the background light and the webcam setting matches that.
Black out the windows so you get a consistent result, day or night.
The end result is a very flattering glowing colour without any harsh shadows.

2. Microphone. Webcam mics are never that good compared to a proper mic. I chose the Blue Yeti USB mic. You do need a quiet room as it is incredibly sensitive. But the voice quality is amazing, it sounds like a professional recording studio. https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00N1YPXW2

3. Headphones or earphones etc. If you have the sound coming out of speakers you can get feedback, automatic muting and so on. This is down to personal choice. Bose make some very nice "Quiet Comfort" ones.

4. Background. Unless you have a lovely backdrop, perhaps a bookcase with books demonstrating your genius and good taste, and not the more likely cluttered mess or worse a kitchen where the washing up is piled up, you can put up a green screen. Once you have your green screen the fake backgrounds in Zoom work perfectly, and no one will know. Then you download that bookcase photo and look impressive.

I realise all this is expensive. But if it is for work and you want to impress, you can be more professional than anyone else, so it could be worth it.
I don't really know what you guys are talking about :confused: however my husband uses a Yeti microphone for all his video narrations and LOVES it. Sound quality is excellent.
 
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I have OBS and am planning to use it to start live streams. I connect my Z7 to my iMac via an mini-HDMI to USB cable and a cheap $20 capture card. It makes my Z7 an HD web cam. The challenge is the batteries drain FAST. I had to purchase the TetherTools power option that provides a false battery in the battery compartment with a pigtail that connects to a power adapter for constant power. It’s works great!
 
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I have OBS and am planning to use it to start live streams. I connect my Z7 to my iMac via an mini-HDMI to USB cable and a cheap $20 capture card. It makes my Z7 an HD web cam. The challenge is the batteries drain FAST. I had to purchase the TetherTools power option that provides a false battery in the battery compartment with a pigtail that connects to a power adapter for constant power. It’s works great!
I managed about 2 hours on my Z6.
 

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I've taken a look at OBS. It is possible to use it to set the C920 camera settings, as a tiny part of all it does. But that settings window looks suspiciously identical to the settings window in the old Logitech lws280.exe software and offers nothing more than that.

OBS looks good for livesteaming etc but doesn't appear appropriate with the issue here and LogiCameraSettings remains the best solution.
 
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I've taken a look at OBS. It is possible to use it to set the C920 camera settings, as a tiny part of all it does. But that settings window looks suspiciously identical to the settings window in the old Logitech lws280.exe software and offers nothing more than that.

OBS looks good for livesteaming etc but doesn't appear appropriate with the issue here and LogiCameraSettings remains the best solution.
I agree. Its not a tool for simply making adjustments to your webcam. It is a live streaming app.
 
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Apologies for not responding sooner, but it was a crazy day at work yesterday. Let me give two brief answers to the posts above.

First, I have a Samson mic that I use which is certainly better than any of the webcam mics, so I am good to go there. Regarding lighting, I have two LumeCube panels available, but mostly use one perched on the top of my monitor. If lighting is important, then I put one on each side of the monitor. I also have a large window with southern exposure to my right facing me so I can use that when appropriate. And, I also have a Cree 5000k LED lightbulb overhead. I do not have a backdrop, but the area behind me is fine for general business right now.

Regarding software and settings, I agree that OBS is mostly for recording, but it did offer the ability to fine tune the camera. The problem with OBS and every other piece of software, with the possible exception of GHub is that the settings are wiped out after rebooting. And, the actual settings in OBS are also wiped out, not just ignored. I even tried to install LWS280 even though the software said that the camera is incompatible. It did provide me with the same controls, but those were also wiped out at reboot. GHub is supposed to correct that, but it has terrible controls and you cannot turn off the low-light compensation or auto exposure, and those are both causing major IQ challenges. LWS also stated that the cam is uisng UVC drivers, but I d not believe that is anything that I can change for this model (it is the newer C920s, not a C920). So, I am feeling like this is a problem that may not be easily solved.

--Ken
 

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... So, I am feeling like this is a problem that may not be easily solved.
--Ken
The settings are lost at a reboot. The settings are retained between running the program once, closing it completely and running it again. So they are being stored somewhere. If we knew where that was we could capture that data and reload it automatically before the program runs after a reboot.

Until we find a proper solution I simply run LogiCameraSettings and quickly check the settings are correct, then close it. If I do need to adjust them, it only takes a moment. But I would love to solve it.
 
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The settings are lost at a reboot. The settings are retained between running the program once, closing it completely and running it again. So they are being stored somewhere. If we knew where that was we could capture that data and reload it automatically before the program runs after a reboot.

Until we find a proper solution I simply run LogiCameraSettings and quickly check the settings are correct, then close it. If I do need to adjust them, it only takes a moment. But I would love to solve it.
Agreed. This also has me wondering if I would be experiencing the same issue with the Razer Kiyo. I believe it also uses UVC drivers for maximum compatibility. And their solution to obtaining manual focus is to use OBS! I cannot believe that this is so messed up, especially with the explosion of video usage this year. I can say that my Surface had a decent, well behaved camera, and that my friend always looks good on FaceTime, despite using an old iPhone. Very frustrating, especially since I enjoy having a nice crisp images of the person I am talking to. It makes a big difference, especially during COVID.

--Ken
 

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I have been searching for a solution. There are dozens of people who think they found a way using various methods, although many then admit it doesn't always work. And I don't want to add software like GHub or OBS if I can avoid it. I like to keep things simple.

But I think I may have found a solution. I will work on trying this as soon as I get a chance, but here is the link in case you want to try it. Basically it is a tiny program that captures the current settings and can also restore them - exactly what we need.
https://blog.minsangk.im/2018/09/22...-pro-stream-webcam-not-saving-video-settings/
 

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It works! Problem solved.
  1. I went to: https://github.com/SuslikV/cfg-cam
  2. and on the right side clicked on WebCameraConfig 1.0 to download it. It is a tiny program.
  3. I set the camera settings as I want using LogiCameraSettings.
  4. Then I ran this command (ignoring the warning that it is unsigned): WebCameraConfig --savedev
  5. This created the file cam_sett.cfg
  6. I looked at this file and it has the settings, easily understood.
  7. Then I rebooted.
  8. I ran LogiCameraSettings, without changing anything, and could see all the settings had been lost as expected.
  9. Then I simply entered the command, this time with no parameters: WebCameraConfig
  10. Then I ran LogiCameraSettings again, and now all the settings were back to how they should be.

Now I just need to work out a convenient way to make it run WebCameraConfig every time I boot the computer. The easiest way is probably using Task Scheduler.
I only ever need to run it with the --savedev parameter if I change the settings I want, and I will do that manually using a command prompt.

Here is what my cam_sett.cfg file looks like:
/ WebCameraConfig settings file
Device #1
\\?\usb#vid_046d&pid_082d&mi_00#6&245e9a5f&2&0000#{65e8773d-8f56-11d0-a3b9-00a0c9223196}\global
HD Pro Webcam C920
VideoProcAmp_BacklightCompensation=0 [Manual]
VideoProcAmp_Brightness=128 [Manual]
VideoProcAmp_Contrast=128 [Manual]
VideoProcAmp_Gain=156 [Manual]
VideoProcAmp_Saturation=128 [Manual]
VideoProcAmp_Sharpness=128 [Manual]
VideoProcAmp_WhiteBalance=3320 [Manual]
CameraControl_Exposure=-6 [Manual]
CameraControl_Focus=25 [Manual]
CameraControl_Pan=0 [Manual]
CameraControl_Tilt=0 [Manual]
CameraControl_Zoom=121 [Manual]
---end of the device #1
 
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I am still in the middle of a crazy day at work, but I will try to look into this in more depth tonight if I can.

Thanks again, Richard,

--Ken
 

Growltiger

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I worked out how to make Task Scheduler make it run automatically. It all works perfectly. If you have any problems at all please let me know.
Project completed.

Below is my exact configuration of Task Scheduler. You can easily tweak it to whatever folders you use.

Use Task Scheduler to make it run WebCameraConfig every time I boot the computer or login.
Create the folder C:\Programs\WebCameraConfig
Place WebCameraConfig.exe and the saved file camera_sett.cfg in the folder.
Run Task Scheduler.
Create task called WebCameraConfig
General
- Name: WebCameraConfig
- Description: Restore webcam settings
- Run only when user is logged on
Triggers
- Begin the task at logon, of any user
Actions
- Action: Start a program
- Details: C:\Programs\WebCameraConfig\WebCameraConfig.exe
- Start in: C:\Programs\WebCameraConfig (you must fill in this field, otherwise it won't find the .cfg file)

(Note that you could create multiple .cfg files if you wanted and have different bat files to choose which configuration you wanted. You would use the --profile parameter followed by the filename.)

Thank you for raising this issue and inspiring me to find a solution for this niggling problem.
 

Growltiger

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Returning to your original problem of accurate manual focussing. It really does focus very accurately, but you need something distinct to be able to see clearly when setting it, and you need a large enough image to see it as well. I wear glasses and I can focus on the metal edge of the glasses with great accuracy. The window size in LogiCameraSettings is good enough. Since you will normally be sitting in the same place, you should only really need to do this once, since the exact focus setting can now be retained.
If you suddenly need to focus at a different distance, just run LogiCameraSettings at any time and adjust the focus. It will revert to your standard focus setting next time you reboot, or you can manually run the task in Task manager.
 
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