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Last Updated · February 23, 2024

All You Need to Know About External Cameras/Webcams for Laptops

external camera for laptop

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, working from home has become a new trend and video conferencing is becoming an important part of our work. Inevitably, the frequency of using laptop cameras has also increased. "Should I invest in a high-end external camera/webcam for my laptop or stick with the built-in option?" It seems that many people have such doubts. If you are one of them, this article may help you make the right decision.

Part 1. Is an External Webcam Better than Laptop Camera?

In most cases, the answer is yes. An external webcam has superior performance and functionality that an embedded webcam does not have. The following is a chart that compares external webcams with built-in webcam for your information.


Built-in Webcams

External Webcams


Due to space constraints, embedded webcams always come with small components, which may affect the camera performance.

External webcams usually have better performance with higher-quality components.


There is no room for a lens stack, reducing the image quality.

Come with a multi-piece lens stack to improve the image quality dramatically.

Light Sensitivity

Can NOT fine-tune in low-light environments, resulting in poor image quality.

Some can fine-tune in low-light situations, resulting in higher-quality photographs.

Sound Quality

The sound quality depends on the quality and location of the embedded microphones.

Some come with built-in stereo microphones to provide a high-definition audio experience.

Focal Length

With limited focal length, close-up photographs will not be as sharp.

Some webcams have Auto Focus and can vary the lens' focal length to ensure that the subject is always in focus.

Field of View

Limited field of view, more suitable for one-on-one communication.

Provide a broader perspective, allowing for multiple participants.


Usually located at the top center of the screen and mobility is limited.

The external design offers more installation options: on the desk, laptops, or a tripod.

Part 2. Should I Get an External Camera for My Laptop?

"Should I get myself an external video camera for my laptop?" After getting familiar with the difference between built-in laptop cameras and external webcams, it's time to settle on the one that best suits your needs.

The video quality of external webcams is generally higher, and they come with several more capabilities than those found on built-in models. However, some people may get satisfied with the basic webcams integrated into their laptops. They only use their webcams sometimes, so it would be enough for them to use the ones with their laptops.

If the image and voice quality is your top concern, you'd better get a high-end external laptop webcam with a microphone. It will better meet your needs than an internal webcam due to the wide-angle lens, dual microphones, and superior Auto-focus feature it offers. If you use a camera often for work or to talk to friends and family and you're unhappy with the quality of the webcam that comes with your computer, you should strongly consider buying an external webcam. It all depends on your needs.

Part 3. Which External Webcam Is Best for Laptops?

There are advantages to adding an external camera to a laptop, although many laptops come with one already. Investing in a quality webcam is a great idea, regardless of whether you intend to use it for video conferences, educational webinars, home video podcasts, or informal conversations with family.

Most external webcams for laptops have progressed to fulfill the requirements of an ever-evolving market. They all have their strengths and weaknesses. Talking about the best external camera/webcam for laptops, here we recommend OBSBOT Tiny 2 webcam as the first choice. It's the best budget AI-powered PTZ 4K webcam with innovative auto-tracking and auto-zoom.

  • 4K Ultra HD Resolution & HDR: Equipped with a 1/1.5'' CMOS sensor with a 4K lens, OBSBOT Tiny 2 is capable of 4K@30fps and 1080P@60fps videos, ensuring that users can capture any moment with rich clarity and authentic color tones it deserves.
  • AI-powered Auto Tracking with Auto Zoom: With a powerful AI algorithm, OBSBOT Tiny 2 can always keep up with you to capture your movement and stay focused on the center of the image. Moreover, the face Focus option will automatically adjust the bokeh to make your face clear and bright.
  • 4x Faster Focusing: Stay in focus and never miss a moment with OBSBOT Tiny 2's lightning-fast focusing capability. With speeds four times faster than conventional webcams, it ensures sharpness and clarity in an instant.

  • Advanced Gesture Control: You are able to control the webcam with three simple gestures.
  • Hands-Free Voice Control: Control the OBSBOT Tiny 2 with just your voice, even if your hand is full.
  • Beauty Mode: Enhance your appearance effortlessly with Beauty Mode. This feature offers customizable settings to refine and perfect your look, providing a polished and professional appearance for your video calls or content creation.

Part 4. How Do I Connect My External Camera to My Laptop?

Most external cameras/webcams come with a USB cable. You can use it to connect the webcam to your laptop. However, the connection method for different cameras may vary. Here we take the OBSBOT Tiny 2 webcam as an example to introduce how to connect an external camera to a laptop.

set up external camera for laptop

You can follow these steps to connect an external camera like OBSBOT Tiny 2 to your laptop.

Step 1. Please use the USB-C cable provided. Connect each end of the cable to your webcam and an available USB port on your laptop. You can also use the USB-C to USB-A adaptor provided if needed.

Step 2. Installing the OBSBOT webcam software via this link. After clicking, it will start to install on your laptop, please give it a few seconds to finish the installation process. After that, you can start using your webcam for any purpose.

Part 5. Why Is My External Webcam Not Detected?

A broken webcam could result from faulty hardware or missing/outdated drivers. Also, it could result from problems with your privacy settings or issues with your antivirus software.

When Windows detects new hardware, it normally installs device drivers automatically. However, if you recently switched to Windows 10, you may need to update your hardware drivers manually. Because some Windows Store apps only support newer webcam models, your older device may not work.

Besides, Windows 10 includes a feature that turns off the camera. Turning off your webcam while not in use is an excellent way to safeguard your privacy. However, if you mistakenly enable this functionality, it can cause issues.

How to Fix a Webcam Not Working?

If you want to troubleshoot and get the external camera for your laptop working again, follow the steps presented below.

  • Verify that your antivirus settings are correct. Webcams are occasionally susceptible to interference from antivirus software. Examine the program configurations to determine whether or not your antivirus software is preventing the startup of your camera.
  • Ensure the device is connected correctly. You can occasionally resolve the issue by jiggling the cable or disconnecting and then re-plugging the device in question.
  • Ensure that the USB port on your computer is in working condition. The computer itself can be the source of any connection issues. Try to plug something else into the USB port to make sure the port is not broken or improperly mapped.
  • Check to see that the appropriate device is active. Applications may become confused about which camera to utilize if the device has both a built-in camera and an external webcam plugged in at the same time. Check the application's settings to locate the option to choose the device you want to use and then use that.
  • Talk to the person who made the product. Regarding cameras attached to your computer, you can find additional instructions in the user manual or on the manufacturer's website. A wide variety of manufacturers provide troubleshooting programs that examine the settings unique to the device.
  • Reinstall or update the driver for the webcam. If the driver for the webcam was out of date, the device could not function properly.
  • Make adjustments to the system settings for your webcam. There could be a setting on the computer that doesn't let the webcam work right.


That's it. Will you dispel some of your doubts about the external cameras/webcams for laptops after reading this post? If so, then our work has not been in vain. Additionally, if you need an external webcam with a microphone for better video quality, try using the OBSBOT Tiny 2 webcam.