Since we’ve all started working from home, the demand for webcams has skyrocketed. If you own a laptop (or can use an iPad or something) then you’ve got a solution right there. It doesn’t look amazing but it’s there. Then there’s those of us who have towers with monitors that don’t come with a webcam, and that’s where some companies like Canon and Fujifilm sprung in to action and developed tools for which to use your more professional cameras as webcams (although I couldn’t get my XT-3 to work just quite yet).
Even if you have a laptop, some have the need to appear more polished and professional and want to get a nicer webcam. When I ended up needing one, they had literally all been snatched up, interfaces like the Elgato included, and the ones that were available were gouged up to $200-400. Well, as luck would have it, Lumens wanted me to review the VC-B10U just in time, and use it I did.
The Lumens™ VC-B10U is a high-definition ePTZ camera specifically designed for small meetings, classrooms and distance learning. It supports USB 3.0 and is plug-and-play with just one USB cable. Thanks to its built-in TV mount it’s easily installed on the TV or on the screen, and equipped with a 120° wide viewing angle and can even enlarge to 3x magnification, attendees appear clear. In addition, it has a built-in microphone, best suited for distance learning or videoconferencing.
So, to start, I plugged the camera in and they’re right: it just works. OBS saw it, Skype saw it, Adobe Character Animator saw it (I had always wanted to try it and did some streaming as a test) and everything looked great. Really great actually.
The 120° viewing angle is like a 12mm lens on a full frame camera. It’s wide. By comparison the 78° viewing angle on the popular Logitech HD webcam I tested it against is more like a 28mm lens. Punched in to the same frame (which is about 2x), the VC-B10U still looked better by a noticeable amount with less noise and more accurate color, especially in the shadows. This comparison was intentionally made in “mediocre” testing conditions where it wasn’t dark but it wasn’t a well-lit room either.
This webcam truly is plug-and-play too, the remote (which I genuinely, really love) makes it so you can adjust the crop/move it around, make it brighter or darker, zoom in and out, and toggle 1-6 (or 1-64 using the software) presets so you can, for instance, have all 6 chairs in the conference room set to a number so when someone talks, the “host” can just press their number and the camera will snap to that person. To save presets, you just set the frame, click “preset”, and then the number you want to assign it to. Easy enough, and I love that you can just adjust on the fly instead of having to open a program. Anyone can do that.
In terms of audio, your mileage may vary. You can actually hear someone at the back of the room (I tested at 12’) if they’re talking at pretty average, non-raised volume. It’s difficult, but it’s clear enough to just turn up the volume if you needed, or simply ask the speaker to… speak up. Acoustics will also affect it, but my suggestion for an actual conference room would be to get one more more additional mics set up. I should note that the other webcam I tested sounded roughly the same.
The VC-B10U seems to be one of the more premium webcams available, and that means a premium price tag of $400. The Logitech I compared it to retails at (best I can tell) around $80, pre-gouge. For the purpose it’s built for (conference rooms) it’s a no-brainer. For the individual, it depends on your use. The VC-B10U is a very high quality, no-hassle webcam, but if you’re just having happy hour with your friends, maybe save up for that nice IPA you wanted.
SPECS & DETAILS
Sensor — 1/2.3” 12 MP CMOS
— 3264×2448 10 fps
— 3264×1836 10 fps
— 1920×1080 30 fps
— 1280×720 60 & 30 fps
— 960×540 30 fps
— 640×480 30 fps
— 640×360 30 fps
Aperture — f1.8
View Angle — 120° (Diagonal), 110° (Horizontal)
Minimum Object Distance — 50 cm
— 2x for 1080p (1920×1080)
— 3x for 720p (1280×720)
— 4.8x (640×480)
Digital Zoom — 8x
USB 3.0 (USB 2.0 Compatible)
White Balance — Manual / Auto
Exposure Control — Manual / Auto
Back Light Comp
2D Noise Reduction
— Main Unit : 120g
— Main Unit & Shelf : 180g
Lumens ePTZ VC-B10U Camera, USB 3.0 - Black