A Complete Guide on What a USB Camera is

With the advancement in technology, there are several camera connection methods with one of the most common being the USB. In recent times, the essence of the USB has been seen diversely. Hence the reason why we will be breaking it down for you in this post, discussing everything you need to know.

History of USB

USB, which stands for Universal Serial Bus, was first introduced in 1996 by a few American companies, including Intel Corporation, IBM, and Microsoft Corporation. It’s meant to serve as a simpler method of connecting hardware to PCs. Before this invention, a PC normally had one or two serial ports, mouse & keyboard ports, a parallel port, and probably a joystick port.

 

A USB port served as a standardized method to connect a variety of devices while providing significant advantages in speed over other connection methods.

 

At first, the adoption of USB technology was slow. This was a result of the fact that computer manufacturers were slow to integrate USB ports into their machines. Peripherals manufacturers, on the other hand, were also slow to introduce USB products to the market. To make matters worse, when the technology was first released, operating systems only offered a limited amount of support.

 

However, the story changed in 1998, after the first generation of Apple Inc.’s iMac was introduced into the market. This action by Apple effectively forced other manufacturers to follow the standard. Since then, several devices, including cameras, webcams, printers, scanners, and keyboards make use of USB.

What is USB Camera

USB Camera
Source: Telycam

This is a camera that functions by plugging it to a computer through a USB cable. The feeds from the camera are transferred to the computer where a software application allows you to view the pictures and also transfer them to the internet.

 

The software you use can be set to show images on a time interval using the FTP (File Transfer Protocol). And it can also be set to provide a live feed.

 

When FTP is used, the images are static and are updated on a regular basis at intervals of one minute, one hour, or even longer. Well, they are very simple to set up, but the image delay makes them far less interesting to watch than a live show.

What is USB Cable Used for

USB ports Cable
Source: Pinterest

Nowadays, USB ports are built in numerous devices, hence the application of USB cables. Ranging from webcams, TV receivers & video recorders, digital camcorders, and personal computers, USB cables are used for connection purposes.

USB Webcam

USB webcam
Source: Telycam
Webcam is one of the numerous devices in the USB video class (UVC) to support the application of USB cables. In fact, USB webcam is currently the most popular UVC device. With this device, video transmission can be made from different locations. It’s most used in remote workstations.

TV Receivers and Video Recorders

USB cables are used in the recording and sending of video feeds to TVs, websites, and other platforms for live stream and playbacks.

Digital Camcorders

Just like cameras, digital camcorders are used to record and send videos through the use of USB cables.

Personal Computers

All PCs produced nowadays are built to have ports to support the USB cables used in doing several purposes, such as sending and receiving files.

What is USB Camera Used for

USB cameras are used for several purposes in numerous institutions,especially used for video conference.  Below are a few of the scenarios where they are mostly applied.

Sporting and esports Commentary

USB camera to record Sporting and esports Event
Source: iStock

Location barrier is one of the reasons why people are not physically present for esports and sports activities. Sports and events need visual coverage for record matches and the convenience of people at home. Sports commentators use USB webcams to connect their commentary and the sports & esports match process, which provides the best experience and feeling to sports lovers and game lovers.

USB conference camera for Online Education

USB webcam for Education Online Livestream
Source: Telycam
Since the occurrence of COVID-19, learning outside the classroom has become a norm, especially with the availability of USB cameras for live streaming and recording classes.

Enterprise Video Conference

Businesses use USB video conferencing cameras to make the administration of their businesses easier as meetings, pitches, and conferences are recorded, as well as conducted in real-time, featuring stakeholders from all parts of the world. Staff located aside from the office can also be contacted and communicated.

House of Worship Webniar

The houses of worship, including churches and mosques are not left out of the digital world as they make use of USB cameras for religious video conference services. Religious workers can be brought together and discuss with USB cameras. USB PTZ camera allows religious professionals to conduct a webinar despite they are in different locations.

Telemedicine Video Conferencing

With the aid of the USB telehealth cameras, medical practitioners are able to offer advanced telemedicine solutions and hold meetings amongst themselves even from different locations.

Politics Video Conference

When it comes to Online International Summit or national summit, the USB conference cameras provide premium audio-visual solutions wherever council members are, they can easily join meetings and partake in decision-making. Journalists and newsmen could also be easy to connect with people for news and interviews, no matter where they are. Our USB webcams and USB PTZ cameras enable more effective collaboration and communication than ever before.

Courtroom Video Recording

Trial sessions and court orders are more regulated and fair when they are being recorded as every injustice is traceable. As a matter of fact, the USB camera allows you to document the proceedings of the trial and be useful when you need to have a meeting with an unavailable witness.

What are the Different Types of USB Connection

Discussed below are the different types of USB ports used in connecting cameras.

USB 2.0

Another name for the USB 2.0 version is hi-speed USB. It was introduced in October 2000 as an updated version to the earlier USB (1.1), hence providing improved functionalities with better speed. It’s used to connect several peripheral devices, like keyboards, printers, scanners, mouse, external hard drives, network adapters, mobile devices, digital cameras, etc.


USB 2.0 has various features, such as plug-and-play integration and the capability of transferring files between devices with less protocol. Its advent led to less specialized cable production and lower volumes of electronic waste, as well as offering better convenience and flexibility to users. It can go as far as delivering a transfer speed of 480 Megabits per second. However, it’s less efficient at power management.

USB 3.0

Another name for the USB 3.0 is SuperSpeed USB. It was first introduced in November 2009 as an updated version to USB 2.0. Providing faster speed, USB 3.0 supports the data transfer rate of 5Gbps. Unlike USB 2.0 that could only handle traffic in one direction, this version has a dual-bus architecture, allowing the bus to read and write at once.

 

Also it has improved features like decreased power consumption, backward compatibility with USB 2.0, better power management structure, etc.

 

In addition to the several advantages provided by the USB 3.0, the cables are slightly thick, which guarantees their durability. However, it’s quite expensive.

USB 3.1

Also known as SuperSpeed+, USB 3.1 was first introduced in 2013. Its performance capability is twice that of USB 3.0 and can transfer data at the rate of 10Gbps. Also, it’s backward compatible with USB 2.0 and USB 3.0.


It’s arguably the most common USB, providing numerous benefits, such as increased speed, flexibility, portability, and so many more.

USB 3.2

The USB 3.2 is very similar to the earlier version (USB 3.1). The only difference is that it has a total capacity of transferring data at the rate of 20Gbps. Meanwhile, this is made up of two 10Gbps lanes working together.

Features and Advantages of USB Webcam

USB webcam 1
Source: Pinterest

Here are a few of the numerous features and advantages of USB webcams.

Attachments and Quality

These webcams are always accompanied with a stand or hooks for putting them on a flat surface, shelf, monitor, or other places. They feature high-quality lenses that allow you to get crisp and clear images.

 

Similar to built-in webcams, USB webcams come with application programs that let you choose which directory to save videos and still images. You can also choose from a variety of color, sound, focus, and other settings.

Portability

USB webcams are less likely to overheat as they have larger casings, allowing heat to disperse quickly. They are portable and you can remove one from a computer and connect it to another computer either laptops or desktops.

 

To increase the distance of your USB webcam to your computer and provide a wider field of view, you can attach it to a USB hub. This is perfect when you want to capture the whole space during a meeting or other events. You can also use it when you need to record a large group of people during a video conference.

Low Cost and Compatibility

The price is low and it’s now the standard configuration. Users don’t need to have much expertise to install it; the technical threshold is low. It can be quickly installed without a dedicated driver.

 

USB webcams are compatible with several platforms, including Mac, Linux, Windows, as well as some gaming systems like the Sony PlayStation.

Automatic Tours

This is an in-built function that allows the camera to automatically move between a series of preset positions. The movement can be paused at each preset for some time. The tour will continue until manually stopped or altered by another controller.

Disadvantages of USB Webcam

Below are the disadvantages of USB webcams.

Reflection Sensitivity

A shortcoming of USB webcams is sensitivity to light reflection. While some other professional cameras are capable of controlling reflection, USB webcams are not very suitable in environments with imbalance lighting.

Not Suitable for Long Distance

Due to the length of the USB cable, this webcam cannot be used for a long distance. Generally, the cable is only 10 meters long. But this can be extended by using a USB hub

How to Use a USB Camera on Computers

 Now setting up a USB camera on computers becomes an easy thing. Depending on the type of camera either webcam or PTZ, all you have to do is to follow the steps that will be discussed below.

How to Use a USB Webcam on Windows 10

Connect Your Webcam to the Computer

It’s either the USB cable is attached to your webcam or it comes with a separate USB cable. To start with, plug the USB cable into the USB port on your computer. For laptops, the USB port will be located by the side of your system, but for desktops, it will be at the back and/or front of the CPU.

How to Use a USB PTZ on PC

Step 1: Connect Your PC with your PTZ

Using the USB that came with the PTZ or a compatible USB, connect your personal computer with the PTZ camera.

Step 2: Open the PTZ Joy Controller

Once your USB camera is connected, open the PTZ Joy controller. Then, click on the CAM 1 icon, and click Set. By now, you should have control of your USB PTZ camera through the Virtual Joystick on the Main Panel.

How to Install and Set Up USB Camera

There are different ways USB cameras can be installed. The choice of the best option depends largely on the purpose, such as the field of view, zoom in, etc.

 

Below are the most common ways to install your USB camera.

Wall Mounted

USB PTZ camera wall mount method
Source: Telycam

With this, the USB camera is mounted on the wall with the use of hooks and a stand. By doing this, the camera is held in place while performing its function optimally.

Ceiling Mounted

USB PTZ camera ceilingl mount method
Source: Telycam

This is regarded as one of the best methods of connecting a USB camera as it is fixed to the ceiling and controlled to cover a wide area. With this, your camera can be operated to conveniently cover the whole room.

Lay flat on a tripod

USB PTZ camera setted in a shelf
Source: Telycam

The USB PTZ camera can be mounted on a tripod stand to control image height and angle. With this and PTZ controller, you can navigate your usb camera remotely with no hassle.

How to Control USB Camera

Controlling USB cameras is made possible with the help of some devices and software that are discussed below.

IR Remote Control

IR Remote Control for USB camera
Source: Pinterest

This is an important tool that’s not just used to control the USB camera, but also to set it up. It features shortcuts for easy navigation but it’s plagued with short distance coverage. It can’t function properly over a long distance.

Joystick Controller

Joystick USB PTZ camera Controller
Source: Telycam

This is a remote control keyboard that allows you to operate your camera’s features and functions with the press of a button. It’s ideal for live streaming and it makes controlling many camera’s functions easy.

Third-Part Control Software

There are specifically built USB camera control software programs like OBS, Livestream Studio, Wirecast, vMix, mimoLive or Tricaster that are designed to control the functionality of USB cameras from a separate computer. With this, every control can be made with the press of a few buttons. iOS/Android Control App and OBS plugin could also control USB cameras.

Hardware Controllers

Another way you can control your USB camera is with the use of hardware controllers, such as mouse, keyboards, serial joystick, etc. With these, you can navigate and monitor the movement of your camera.

USB vs. HDMI: What are their Differences

USB and HDMI are the two most common major terms in audio and video connections. Without a solid understanding of their functions, they can be confusing. To make proper justification to the USB vs. HDMI confusion, we’ve highlighted below the differences between these two connection cables.

  • USB is an acronym for Universal Serial Bus, while HDMI is a short form for High Definition Multimedia Interface.

  • A USB is primarily used to provide a standard connection interface for PCs and consumer electronic devices. An HDMI, on the other hand, provides an interface between audio and video sources.

  • With a USB port, USB devices can be connected with each other and transmit digital data over USB cables. HDMI, on the other hand, supports standard, enhanced, or high definition video, and multi-channel digital audio just on a single cable.

  • A micro USB can be used to charge a camera, mobile phone, or e-reader. It can also be used to transmit data straight to your computer through the USB connection on each gadget. On the other hand, a mini HDMI is used for audio and video purposes only. It cannot be used to charge gadgets or transfer data.

Some of the USB Webcams Available in Telycam

If you need a USB webcam to add to your PC setup for a better audio-visual experience, check out these options in Telycam Webcam PTZ – a leading USB camera manufacturer.
1080p USB conference webcam
Source: Telycam

This is a premium USB 3.0 video conference camera that delivers 4K ultra-clear images to provide an immersive conference experience. It’s very versatile, working with several conferencing software, totally plug and play, and user-friendly.

Features

  • 4K sensor and lens to produce sharp images with realistic colors.
  • 15x zoom with a wide field of view angle of 85-degree to capture the details in the room.
  • Balances the light conditions, presenting crisp and clear images.
  • Easy and smooth control.
  • Suitable for various installation ways, such as wall, desk, tripod, or upside down in-ceiling mount.
4k USB conference webcam
Source: Telycam

This is an all-in-one unit that integrates a standard camera, microphone, and speaker for a superb face-to-face video conferencing experience. It has a 120-degree field of view that captures all participants in the room in high definition. Thanks to the audio algorithm, every word spoken will be heard clearly.

Features

  • 4K ultra high-definition image.
  • 4x zoom with a wide field of view of 120-degree to capture every detail in the room.
  • Auto framing.
  • Built-in microphone and speaker.
  • Various installation ways.

How to Choose a USB Camera

Regardless of what you need the camera for, these are the most important things to consider when choosing.

Mounting

Check for the possible ways the USB camera can be mounted and compare if it will suit your needs. While the USB PTZ camera might be suitable for wall, and ceiling mounts, what you need might be a USB camera that can be set on a tripod or desk.

Lens

There are two types of lens – plastic and glass. The glass lens is more expensive but produces a much greater quality of images. Also, the bigger the lens, the better the image quality.

 

The lens is a determinant of how much light gets to the sensor. The more the light hitting the sensor, the clearer images will be in low lighting.

Privacy

If you get hacked and your camera is connected through USB non-hardware connection, it can be switched on to see you. Regardless of what your camera is meant for, ensure that it has a lid and covers the built-in lens on your computer.

Lighting

The best way to deal with potential lighting issues is to choose a USB camera that has autofocus and low-light correction. If the room doesn’t get enough light and you would rather not put together a bunch of lamps, it’s advisable to invest in a USB camera that can deal with that through internal configurations.

Field of View (FOV)

This is dependent on what you are using your camera for. A camera’s field of view is what the camera can see. The larger the FOV, the more area that will be captured. There are several of them, ranging from 60-degrees, 78-degrees, 90-degrees, 120-degrees, etc.

Resolution

This simply has to do with the clarity of the image captured. A clear picture is always the best. And it’s important to note that for digital video, resolution and frame rate work together. While most cameras have 1080p resolution, nothing beats 4K. For frame rate, you should choose anything more than 60fps to get the most natural look in a video.

Other Questions

How to Use USB Cables for Longer than Standard Lengths

USB cables have their boundary when it comes to length, making them unusable in certain situations. However, the camera wiring can be increased by using USB extension cables like Telycam extension cable 41, 42, 43, and 45. They can help elongate the range of the USB up to 100 meters.

Why is a Dedicated USB Card Recommended for Each Camera

Well, connecting a camera to a compatible USB port will work, but the performance could be compromised. USB chipsets are as well subject to differences that can affect performance. This can in turn manifest as a delay to camera response or reduced speeds or dropped frames.

Conclusion

Following the popular use of USBs for connecting diverse devices, including cameras, several advancements have been made for the best performance. In this post, we’ve discussed everything you need to know about USB in relation to cameras, including how they can be set up and how to choose them. Telycam is a professional PTZ camera supplier, if you need to source USB cameras for video conferences or live streaming, feel free to contact us, 4K ptz camera for live streaming are also available in Telycam.

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