I know from working in Microsoft Teams during the pandemic that there are three things that really help your presence in an online meeting – a good microphone, a good camera and good lighting. This is not a new discovery but the increase in video calls has made more obvious than usual.
Many people rely on the equipment built-into their laptop and it’s very much a mixed bag. Some laptops having good built-in cameras and microphones and others are really bad. But where it so often goes wrong is with the lighting: I’m sure we’ve all seen calls with ghostly people sitting in gloom or haloed angels blinded by the light behind.
Simply adjusting seating position can often yield immediate results – don’t sit with a window behind you – but if a bit of extra help is needed all round, then take a look at the Papalook PA552. It’s a fixed focus HD (1080p) webcam with a built-in light ring and dual noise-cancelling microphones. This will improve matters no end for those long on-line meetings.
The Papalook PA552’s light ring has adjustable brightness levels to give good facial lighting even in the gloomiest of offices. The built-in DSP chip works with the ambient light to cleverly ensure the best picture exposure for the 30 fps 1080p webcam. It’s a 90 cm fixed focus, which is ideal for “at desk” video calls and the 75° viewing angle means you can get two people in the picture, though that would clearly breach current social distancing guidance. The glass lens ensures a high-quality image without blur and distortion.
For the audio, the dual omni-directional automatic noise-cancelling mics are designed to filter out external and background noise, focussing on the speaker and making voices sound natural and clear.
If the PA552 and its ring light doesn’t appeal, take a look at the Papalook PA452 and AF925. The PA452 has a modern metallic look and the camera itself has a larger aperture meaning that it will work better in low light conditions. There’s a PA452 Pro version with adjustable focus if additional flexibility is needed. The AF925 is an all-black affair but has the benefit of auto-focus which is useful in circumstances where the subject moves around.
The PA452, PA452 Pro and AF925 are all available from Amazon with prices starting at GB£69.99 and US$79.99