closing tag is in template navbar
Time Factors Watches



TZ-UK Fundraiser
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 50 of 56

Thread: Better Zoom and MS Teams calls

  1. #1
    Grand Master AlphaOmega's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Trinovantum
    Posts
    10,618

    Better Zoom and MS Teams calls

    Hi all

    It looks like I will be chairing more calls. Oh yes.

    At the moment I use a cheap Dell laptop with a built in camera.

    Not great.

    If I wanted to improve the quality of the picture and sound, what would be the best way? Hoping to keep any investment below £100. Realistically I may buy another laptop at some point, so perhaps I should just do that instead.

    TIA

    AO

  2. #2
    After reading a recent thread on here on trying to reduce the field of view, I came across this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NY8wWo_VBs. Lots of tips on improving things, especially lighting and background. Buying a new laptop might not sort your issues, so it's worth seeing what else you can do to improve things first.


  3. #3
    Master
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    England
    Posts
    1,671
    Have thought about this too.

    However, by buying a better camera and better microphone, I felt it would improve what others could see or hear of me...but would not improve what I see or hear of them (which largely would depend on their quality of camera and microphone and perhaps my speakers / monitor to a smaller extent). In the end I left as it was.
    Last edited by Boss13; 19th January 2021 at 12:51.

  4. #4
    Grand Master AlphaOmega's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Trinovantum
    Posts
    10,618
    Thanks for the links, Hugh.

    Boss, yes I've put up with poor quality for ages too. Thought this thread would help me do something about it.

  5. #5

    Red face

    For your budget, I'd recommend this webcam with built-in microphone. £100 in Argos. :)

    Razer Kiyo HD Desktop Streaming Webcam


  6. #6
    For my wife's zoom/ skype calls, we have set up a larger PC screen and a Logitec 270 web cab connected through the laptop. It seems to work just fine and with a larger screen, it can be placed further away from you , with the camera perched on top of the screen, meaning that one appears to be actually looking directly at your caller rather than looking a bit distracted.

    https://www.logitech.com/en-gb/produ...60-001063.html
    Last edited by notnowkato; 19th January 2021 at 12:55.

  7. #7
    Master
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Cambridge, UK
    Posts
    1,557
    If you've got one of the compatible interchangeable lens cameras (some point and shoots also work) from Nikon, Sony, Olympus and Fuji (maybe also others) you can get excellent performance by using the manufacturer's beta webcam software.

    Have a look on the camera manufacturer's website to see if your model is supported - they're mostly fairly recent ones (I've got a Sony and an Olympus that work). Lots of YouTube videos there to tell you how to set everything up.

    It's then free, although you'll need to support the camera properly so it doesn't expensively fall over. If you're doing a lot of videoconferencing you'll be better off getting a so-called 'dummy battery' to power the camera - my Sony one cost around £20 from Amazon.

    That video looks to have sensible advice - so many people appear as fuzzy silhouettes via a hopeless laptop webcam in 'up-nostril view' and with cluttered office backgrounds, even in professional meetings. I invested in a simple dull-grey photo background sheet to hide the clutter in the study, and I use my daylight balanced battery-powered LED light (another £20 from Amazon) to give some soft front light, and the effect is MILES batter.

    Using the Sony webcam software with a full frame mirrorless camera body and fast 55mm prime lens allows a much narrower field of view and throws the background nicely out of focus. The camera auto-focuses on me with the face-tracking feature set.

    I'm running at standard HD resolution (around 1080p) and that is perfectly good enough to look head and shoulders above most other people's images. I believe all laptop cameras run at 720, and the lenses, field of view etc on most stand-alone webcams under a couple of hundred quid are pretty rubbish.

    It is possible to run a DSLR/mirrorless camera setup at 4K, but that's overkill unless you're making high-quality recorded videos and it might overload the connection: you also need to add an Elgato CamLink adapter, £100 for a real one.

    Anyone having trouble with setting up a Sony camera is welcome to PM me and I can send links to the web & YouTube resources I found useful.

  8. #8
    Grand Master AlphaOmega's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Trinovantum
    Posts
    10,618
    ^Great, that's exactly what I was hoping for as a slightly non-technically literate amateur. Time for some experimentation.

  9. #9
    Master Alansmithee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Burscough, UK
    Posts
    8,820
    Quote Originally Posted by AlphaOmega View Post
    ^Great, that's exactly what I was hoping for as a slightly non-technically literate amateur. Time for some experimentation.

    If you decide to go for a separate camera and microphone - this microphone is a belter for the price:

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Directional...1060608&sr=8-9

  10. #10
    Grand Master AlphaOmega's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Trinovantum
    Posts
    10,618
    ^Thanks A, your timing is perfect. I was just putting a few things in my Amazon shopping basket.

  11. #11
    Master
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    NW Leics
    Posts
    6,572
    I have a Logitech C920 webcam (currently £90 on Amazon) and a Samson Meteor USB mic (about £75). Works nicely in moderate natural light. Decent bandwidth connection needed of course.

  12. #12
    Master
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Hertfordshire
    Posts
    2,194
    Blog Entries
    1
    Whilst good video is helpful, getting the audio optimal will help more for enabling your audience to understand you.

  13. #13
    Craftsman
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    London
    Posts
    877
    I use the Logitech c920 webcam too and it works well, far better than the internal camera on my laptop. I also found that using a large external monitor really helps to make the calls feel more natural and interactive, since you are not looking at tiny images of the other participants.

  14. #14
    Grand Master AlphaOmega's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Trinovantum
    Posts
    10,618
    Yes, I think a mike will be next. May as well, seems like video calling won't return to 2018 levels again.

  15. #15
    Master
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Cambridge, UK
    Posts
    1,557
    Quote Originally Posted by monogroover View Post
    I have a Logitech C920 webcam (currently £90 on Amazon) and a Samson Meteor USB mic (about £75). Works nicely in moderate natural light. Decent bandwidth connection needed of course.
    Six months ago decent webcams like that were all either “currently unavailable” or £250+ on Amazon. That was what prompted me to set up my Sony camera (at a cost of £20 for the power supply).

  16. #16
    Grand Master AlphaOmega's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Trinovantum
    Posts
    10,618
    My new web cam is excellent, thanks to this thread.

    All my faults are shown in glorious technicolour.

    Only thing is, the laptop mike is awful.

    Any recommendations for something cheap that will be an improvement?

    TIA

    AO

  17. #17
    Master
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Cambridge, UK
    Posts
    1,557
    I use a Rode clip-on cabled mic, but I do a lot of videoconferencing professionally now and you can probably get something that’s a lot better than your laptop for less money, plus maybe with a Bluetooth connection. Mine’s very good, though, and now around £57: search on Amazon for “RØDE Lavalier GO Professional-grade wearable microphone”.
    Worth mentioning that one of the main advantages of the better mics is that they’re very good at rejecting competing sounds and avoiding feedback from your speakers. Always worth testing whatever system you go for to make sure it’s OK in your particular environment: my Rode is excellent for that.
    Last edited by drmarkf; 25th January 2021 at 15:36.

  18. #18
    Master
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Coming Straight Outer Trumpton
    Posts
    8,265
    Quote Originally Posted by AlphaOmega View Post
    My new web cam is excellent, thanks to this thread.

    All my faults are shown in glorious technicolour.

    Only thing is, the laptop mike is awful.

    Any recommendations for something cheap that will be an improvement?

    TIA

    AO

    Quote Originally Posted by Alansmithee View Post
    If you decide to go for a separate camera and microphone - this microphone is a belter for the price:

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Directional...1060608&sr=8-9

  19. #19
    Grand Master AlphaOmega's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Trinovantum
    Posts
    10,618
    ^Thanks Dr. Mark, appreciated.

    Capt'n, thanks for the prompt, that is very kind, I missed that and will put £10 in the fundraiser as a thank you.

  20. #20
    Master Alansmithee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Burscough, UK
    Posts
    8,820
    Quote Originally Posted by AlphaOmega View Post
    ^Thanks Dr. Mark, appreciated.

    Capt'n, thanks for the prompt, that is very kind, I missed that and will put £10 in the fundraiser as a thank you.
    Another option currently cheap in the amazon warehouse:

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Trust-Strea...s%2C156&sr=8-1

    or if you want a headset:

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Logitech-H3...%2C176&sr=8-20

  21. #21
    Grand Master AlphaOmega's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Trinovantum
    Posts
    10,618
    ^Perfect. They have suggested a headset as well. Top stuff, A. Thanks.

    Appreciate the help, donation made.

  22. #22
    Master
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Coming Straight Outer Trumpton
    Posts
    8,265
    Quote Originally Posted by AlphaOmega View Post
    ^Thanks Dr. Mark, appreciated.

    Capt'n, thanks for the prompt, that is very kind, I missed that and will put £10 in the fundraiser as a thank you.
    Apologies if my post sounded terse, I was trying (poorly) to multi task at the time

  23. #23
    Master
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Brum
    Posts
    2,048
    This is a great mic for little money https://www.wexphotovideo.com/boya-l...phone-1746119/

  24. #24
    Craftsman
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Glasgow
    Posts
    669
    My setup is Logitech 920 and Jabra Speak 510, never had any complaints about video or audio quality

  25. #25
    Master
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Sunny Grantham, UK
    Posts
    5,948
    Blog Entries
    1
    I have heard good things about the Camo app (if you have an iPhone)

  26. #26
    Grand Master AlphaOmega's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Trinovantum
    Posts
    10,618
    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Morgan View Post
    Apologies if my post sounded terse, I was trying (poorly) to multi task at the time
    It was perfect timing, I'd missed it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Maris View Post
    This is a great mic for little money https://www.wexphotovideo.com/boya-l...phone-1746119/
    Thanks Maris.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by J J Carter View Post
    My setup is Logitech 920 and Jabra Speak 510, never had any complaints about video or audio quality
    Quote Originally Posted by thenikjones View Post
    I have heard good things about the Camo app (if you have an iPhone)
    Great, I'll check those as well.

  27. #27
    Master Alansmithee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Burscough, UK
    Posts
    8,820
    The most important thing about Teams that most people miss is that when you set up meetings is going into "meeting options" and unclick "allow attendees to unmute" - then claim there is something wrong because nobody else can speak and call the meeting to a close.

  28. #28
    Jabra are fantastic for sound (both mike and speaker).

  29. #29
    Grand Master AlphaOmega's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Trinovantum
    Posts
    10,618
    Quote Originally Posted by Alansmithee View Post
    The most important thing about Teams that most people miss is that when you set up meetings is going into "meeting options" and unclick "allow attendees to unmute" - then claim there is something wrong because nobody else can speak and call the meeting to a close.
    Noted, that's something I'm likely to do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt8500 View Post
    Jabra are fantastic for sound (both mike and speaker).
    I need to buy kit for the children too, so that sounds good.

  30. #30
    Grand Master Mr Curta's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Mainly UK
    Posts
    13,482
    Wait until one of the other participants goes out of shot to answer the door or something, take a screenshot of their room, set it as your background and then see how long it takes anybody to notice.

    It doesn't improve the quality of the picture or sound but it does improve my enjoyment levels.
    Last edited by Mr Curta; 14th February 2021 at 11:20.
    Inform - Educate - Entertain

  31. #31
    Grand Master AlphaOmega's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Trinovantum
    Posts
    10,618

  32. #32
    Master
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Suffolk
    Posts
    1,016
    Brilliant advice on here, thanks everyone.

    Re Mics though, which one of these two recommended might be the better buy ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alansmithee View Post
    If you decide to go for a separate camera and microphone - this microphone is a belter for the price:

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Directional...1060608&sr=8-9
    or

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Trust-Strea...56&sr=8-1&th=1

    Thanks very much

  33. #33
    Master
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Coming Straight Outer Trumpton
    Posts
    8,265
    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Curta View Post
    Wait until one of the other participants goes out of shot to answer the door something, take a screenshot of their room, set it as your background and then see how long it takes anybody to notice.

    It doesn't improve the quality of the picture or sound but it does improve my enjoyment levels.
    Daz workplaice bullyin I’m gonna see human resorses

  34. #34
    Grand Master AlphaOmega's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Trinovantum
    Posts
    10,618
    I'll just leave this here...


  35. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by AlphaOmega View Post
    Noted, that's something I'm likely to do.



    I need to buy kit for the children too, so that sounds good.
    I got a spare one from the office which my eldest uses for school and he finds it much easier to hear, so well worth it.

  36. #36
    Grand Master wileeeeeey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    N/A
    Posts
    10,524
    Is the general consensus a wearable mic is the best mic solution?

    I bought my wife the Jabra 510 USB puck but it isn't that good at home as it won't integrate fully with the overall computer, just Teams. Wouldn't work in Zoom at all even when selected in the settings. The USP is portability, not great WFH.

    I bought some Bose speakers for myself and I really like them but she would need a mic with that setup. Any recommendations?

  37. #37
    Grand Master AlphaOmega's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Trinovantum
    Posts
    10,618
    Hi wileeeey I bought the mic AS recommended and it's great. Just plug and go, quality is excellent.

  38. #38
    That’s weird Wiley, I have the same and it works really well with all platforms I use (Teams, WebEx, Skype, Zoom). I’m sure you have, but worth checking the main sound settings if not.

  39. #39
    Grand Master wileeeeeey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    N/A
    Posts
    10,524
    Thanks guys. I have the separate mic in my basket while I research it a bit more. Not sure how it'll work with separate speakers and picking up just voice or if you need a hub of some sort to make it work.

    All laptops at my wife's work are locked down beyond belief. Bluetooth is disabled, nothing nornal works, they see everything as a security risk. You'd think they were working for MI5 and not just a website. I'll double check her settings tomorrow in case it's all user error as I have to admit on Friday I took her word for it.

  40. #40
    Master
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Cambridge, UK
    Posts
    1,557
    I get very good results and rejection of extraneous sounds with my Rode Lavalier plug-in mic, but before getting that I also found a Jabra UC Voice plug-in headset with boom mic to be excellent (but I wanted to get away from looking like a call centre drone!).

    Several people I know who do podcasting use plug-in desk mics on stands, with pop shields etc, and I suspect they're best for ultimate quality.

  41. #41
    Master Alansmithee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Burscough, UK
    Posts
    8,820
    Quote Originally Posted by drmarkf View Post
    I get very good results and rejection of extraneous sounds with my Rode Lavalier plug-in mic, but before getting that I also found a Jabra UC Voice plug-in headset with boom mic to be excellent (but I wanted to get away from looking like a call centre drone!).

    Several people I know who do podcasting use plug-in desk mics on stands, with pop shields etc, and I suspect they're best for ultimate quality.


    I do - I like to pretend I'm a hospital DJ. 😂

  42. #42
    Camera: Apeman A80 action camera with Cvivid Lens 72 Degree. The Apeman can be used as a webcam, and takes 12mm lenses, so there are quite a few lenses available. On a moveable camera stand. I think that my DIY document camera uses the same lens. Decent for the price.

    Microphone: Behringer XM8500 (dynamic, for voice) run through a SSL 2 audio interface. On a boom.

    But, the big thing for me (teaching and meetings) is that today I got a new monitor. BenQ 25" (16:9) Designer Monitor (PD2500Q). 2k resolution. It replaces a basic ViewSonic 24" (16:10) 1920x1200 that I got used in 2016. What a difference! The increased resolution is wonderful. Enough room for a Teams meeting window and a document at the side. It will be better for photography as well, I suspect.

    Best wishes,
    Bob
    Last edited by rfrazier; 9th March 2021 at 16:35.

  43. #43
    Grand Master Carlton-Browne's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Berlin, London and sometimes Dublin
    Posts
    13,566
    Quote Originally Posted by rfrazier View Post
    Camera: Apeman A80 action camera with Cvivid Lens 72 Degree. The Apeman can be used as a webcam, and takes 12mm lenses, so there are quite a few lenses available. On a moveable camera stand. I think that my DIY document camera uses the same lens. Decent for the price.

    Best wishes,
    Bob
    Hello Bob

    I'm interested in your use of the Apeman - does it function out of the box as a webcam or do you need to run something like OBS Studio to manage the input into your video conferencing application? Also, I assume no issues with lip sync?
    Die Zeit verwandelt uns nicht, sie entfaltet uns nur.

  44. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by Carlton-Browne View Post
    Hello Bob

    I'm interested in your use of the Apeman - does it function out of the box as a webcam or do you need to run something like OBS Studio to manage the input into your video conferencing application? Also, I assume no issues with lip sync?
    It works straight out of the box, although I changed the lens, and generally use it with OBS.

    When teaching, I generally use it with OBS so I can also use a secondary document camera at the same time. When doing the latter, I have the Apeman) output in a corner showing me, and the output of the document camera (a DIY jobbie) as the main output. The document camera is used like a whiteboard and/or powerpoint like output[1], but which allows me to write on the "slide". Roughly, I have a camera point to a piece of paper with preprinted stuff on it, which I can annotate, or whatever. Since OBS lets me change "scenes" with a click, if I don't need the document camera output, I use the Apeman output (showing me) as the main output, e.g., when in a meeting. The actual "camera" being used is a virtual camera (v4l loopback) showing whatever I output with OBS.

    When we did admission interviews in December, I used the Apeman without OBS. This was simply to reduce the changes of any technical glitches, given that the interviewees were spread out all over the world, and there was a very tight schedule.

    No one has said anything about lip sync.

    [1] For slides, I use LaTeX beamer presentation slides, printed to paper.

    Best wishes,
    Bob

    PS The Apeman is an A80. I don't know whether other models can be used as webcams. I think that the A79 can be, but I'm not sure.
    RLF
    Last edited by rfrazier; 22nd March 2021 at 21:43.

  45. #45
    Journeyman Hattori Hanzo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Leeds, UK
    Posts
    172
    OP is using your smartphone not an option. This is something already designed for voice transmission and cameras in them are very good.

    When we've had to use teams for meetings I always use my phone and a Bluetooth earpiece with built in mic. I then have free reign of the laptop as well.

  46. #46
    Grand Master Carlton-Browne's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Berlin, London and sometimes Dublin
    Posts
    13,566
    Quote Originally Posted by rfrazier View Post
    It works straight out of the box, although I changed the lens, and generally use it with OBS...
    Thanks Bob for the comprehensive reply. On the basis that I'm likely to use such a device 98% as a webcam and only 2% for strapping to the dog's back when he's swimming I think I'll forgo the cost of a GoPro.
    Die Zeit verwandelt uns nicht, sie entfaltet uns nur.

  47. #47
    Here's a picture of the document camera. Very agricultural. Works perfectly.

    Disassembled a cheapo 1080p webcam.
    Replacement lens with a narrower FOV.
    Kludged together stand.
    Spare led strip light in a bit of plastic cable trunking covered in cloth hockey stick tape.
    12V 1A led driver.
    Spare buck converter to smooth out the power in order to eliminate flickering.
    Dimmer.




    It is one of those cases where the idea was to make a prototype, experiment with it until everything works correctly, then make it nice, but, in the end, can't be bothered. :)

    Best wishes,
    Bob

  48. #48
    Grand Master Carlton-Browne's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Berlin, London and sometimes Dublin
    Posts
    13,566
    Well, my attempt to use the Apeman didn't go quite as smoothly. The camera would only display properly in Teams/Zoom/Skype at the lowest possible resolution and a week with their so-called help desk ended with a terse message that it's really only intended as an Action Cam and they don't support webcam usage. I'm assuming that either your use of Linux or OBS made a difference for you, Bob, as it certainly doesn't work out of the box as was hoped. Given I managed to get €20 off the low price I'll be happy to keep it for taking some underwater pictures of the dog when the weather improves.

    Thanks to some pointers from a member here (you know who you are!) I actually ended up building a webcam using a Raspberry PI following the guide below and 1st impressions are quite good - at the moment I think I've got it running at something like 720p but the additional optics certainly make for a sharper image. I intend to do some tweaking when I get a moment - probably to see if 1080 can be achieved - and I'm also thinking about getting a slightly wider lens. 4K isn't even technically possible on the current Raspberry hardware but it's something I will definitely keep on the roadmap. I think the next area for investigation is lighting - probably some LED panels I can clip to my monitors.

    This is the build I'm on at the moment:

    https://www.jeffgeerling.com/blog/20...usb-webcam-100



    I had a go at this version but ran into some technical issues that I didn't have time to fully troubleshoot. When I get a minute I intend to have another go on a spare SD card.

    http://www.davidhunt.ie/raspberry-pi...as-usb-webcam/

    What I like about the Raspberry PI option is the ability to tweak the config using ssh or VNC.
    Die Zeit verwandelt uns nicht, sie entfaltet uns nur.

  49. #49
    Grand Master wileeeeeey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    N/A
    Posts
    10,524
    This looks interesting. Should be a decent camera for WFH and not loads of money, just in time for us to all be dragged back to the office. Speaker looks interesting too, wonder how it compares to the Jabra puck.

    https://www.theverge.com/22381422/mi...s-release-date

  50. #50
    Master
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Coming Straight Outer Trumpton
    Posts
    8,265
    CB

    This may (or may not) be of interest I noticed a direct to usb board that allows native use of pi cams and seems to allow for resolution adjustment etc.

    https://thepihut.com/products/hq-cam...kaAqmbEALw_wcB

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

Do Not Sell My Personal Information