New features in the Amcrest 4k AWC897 webcam
Amcrest has released 7 different webcam models as of writing. I've reviewed 4 of them and they all have something uniquely wrong with with either their microphone audio, blurry focus, fisheye distortion, or color balance.
The specifications indicate Amcrest may have addressed these issues with this new AWC897 UltraHD webcam (affiliate link). It has an 8MP image sensor now and 75 degree field of view, which, when paired with the 1/3.2" image sensor should eliminate the fish eye distortion.
You video below goes over setup and reviews the webcam in greater detail.
Amcrest AWC897 4k UltraHD Webcam Tech Specs
- 1/3.2" 8MP CMOS image sensor
- 4k resolution (3840x2160) at 18fps
- 1440p (2560x1440) at 30fps
- 1080P (1920x1080) at 30fps
- 75 degree field of view
- Internal mic
- USB 2.0 Plug and Play
- Physical privacy cover
- 5'9" USB cord length (permanently attached)
The CMOS sensor has much higher megapixel resolution than the AWC201-B and AWC195-B I've previously looked at which should lead to more detailed image, but the 1/3.2" image sensor is smaller, about the same size as an iPhone 5.
Though this camera is 4k it can only record or stream in that resolution at 18fps which is lower than the 24 or 30fps you'd need for smooth video. However, 30fps is supported at 1080p and 1440p which is what I'd be using anyway. Most of my video conferencing software is normally capped at 1080p or 720p so I hope to just get the highest quality when being used there.
The upgraded image sensor should work well for Zoom meetings, Skype, Google Hangouts, and provide a clear image in normal room lighting.
There should not be a fisheye effect in this camera. The image should be cropped to your head, shoulders, and immediate background at around 32" away without distorting your face. There is no variable focus, it's fixed, so you need to position the camera about 30-34 inches away so you don't appear blurry.
For the privacy conscious, there is a physical privacy cover included.
Lastly, there is a 1/4" tripod mount on the bottom of the webcam for tripod mounting if you don't want to use the clamp mount to perch it on your monitor or use it for other applications like 3D print monitoring with Octoprint/Octolapse.
Installation and Setup
This is a plug and play webcam so Windows 10 will detect and install drivers for the camera once you plug it into a free USB port on your computer. It will appear as
USB 2.0 Camera under
Sound, video and game controllers in your Device Manager.
No additional software comes with the camera to adjust brightness or contrast. You can use the Windows 10
Camera app, to adjust the brightness and resolution settings. Software like OBS (Open Broadcast Studio) let you manually adjust the resolution, brightness, contrast, and other image-related settings as well.
For the most part though, the camera will automatically adjust and you just need to select the
USB 2.0 Camera as your video source when you are in your conferencing app (Zoom, Skype, MS Teams, Hangouts, etc.) to use it.
Video and Audio Quality and Performance
In the Amcrest AWC897 webcam review embedded at the top of the article you can see how improved the webcam is over the other models. The colors finally look normal. My skin tone is more natural and there is no more fisheye distortion with the lens they are using.
The image is was sufficiently bright under normal room light. With supplemental light it was actually too bright, but for most home offices this should look really good. For best performance, with any camera, try to ensure you aren't backlit. For example, don't sit with a bright window behind you. You can usually improve things light unflattering shadows by adding a front-facing light (affiliate link) instead of relying on overhead lighting.
Comparing the 1080p video against previous models, the AWC897 colors weren't washed out, but still wouldn't compare to something like an expensive DSLR or mirrorless camera's depth. The field of view was similar to my DSLR with a 24mm lens on.
As improved as the video quality is--the audio is still awful. Amcrest has yet to pair their webcams with a decent microphone. Previous ones have sounded too quiet or muffled. This time they seem to have overcompensated by setting the gain and treble way too high making everything way too loud and blown out.
You'd want to pair this with an external microphone for professional sounding calls or meetings.
The AWC897 UltraHD webcam is my favorite Amcrest webcam so far. They've improved on all my complaints on the older models in the areas of color, resolution, and focus. Unfortunately, they still can't get the microphone correct.
With the pairing of the webcam with an external USB mic you'd have a very good budget setup for remote work meetings or kids doing home schooling or remote learning.
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