Resolution / FPS: 2K QHD / 24, 30 fps; Full HD / 24, 30, 60 fps; HD / 24, 30, 60 fps
Sensor brand: Sony STARVIS
Field of view (FOV): 65 or 78 degrees
HD digital zoom: Up to 4X
Auto-light correction: Advanced Digital Overlap (DOL) HDR, Video Noise Reduction (3D + 2D)
Auto white balance: Yes
Facial detection auto exposure (FDAE): Yes
AI auto-framing: Yes
Privacy cap: Magnetic
Dimensions (Diameter x Length): 44mm x 92mm
Mic: Noise-reduction mic, range 3m
Connectivity: USB-A (2.0 and above)
For the camera-shy and skin-conscious among us (myself included), the Dell Pro Webcam packaging comes emblazoned with an ominous threat: 2K QHD video.
However, open up the pack and what greets you is an unassuming black cylinder with a cable sticking out of one end and a magnetic lens cap covering the other. Not so threatening then. But the prospect of turning on the video and finding a landscape of crater-deep scars and wrinkles still lingered.
Look. In today's tech-mad world, slugging it out among the best MacBook webcams or indeed the best webcams overall means that you, a humble webcam looking to make it in the world, must have no fear of vain people's fears and sensitivities about their ageing faces and emerging wrinkles. And if you're really clever, you find ways to flatter those same, hopelessly self-conscious manbabies. And that's what the Dell Pro Webcam has done.
Dell Pro Webcam review: Design and build
The Dell Pro Webcam, like stated earlier, is an unassuming-looking black cylinder. On the front you'll find a large Sony STARVIS lens with a magnetic lens cap that both serves as a privacy cap and for dust, sun and scratch protection, and on the back is the attached cable, which has a USB-A connector on the other end, compatible with any USB-A 2.0 port and above.
On its underside, you'll find the universal mounting clip, which has a grippy surface for stable pinning against the backside of your monitor or laptop, and usefully there's also a tripod mount drilled into the clip.
It's extremely light, but the plastic casing still doesn't feel cheap or flimsy, and the cylindrical design means it will fit effortlessly into a backpack or laptop bag pocket without any bits sticking out awkwardly, making this an ideal webcam to take with you on a business trip or for hybrid working. It's not the most exciting-looking thing on my desk, let's be honest, but it's how it makes other things look that matters more here, I guess.
Dell Pro Webcam review: Features
The Dell Pro Webcam may not look exciting, but on the inside there's a whole host of engaging tech. First up, there's the camera. Using its proprietary STARVIS sensor, Sony has equipped the camera with a 2K QHD video capability, autofocus and up to 4x digital zoom. The aperture is fixed at f2.0, suitable for the usual distance between the camera sitting on a monitor or laptop and its subject in front of it.
And to counter the challenge of rooms and offices that are either poorly lit or having windows with bright glaring light that can easily bedazzle lesser cameras, the Dell Pro comes with Advanced Digital Overlap (DOL) HDR and Video Noise Reduction (3D + 2D) to help the subject appear bright and clear, even sitting next to or in front of a window with bright intrusive light. The Auto White Balance and Facial Detection Auto Exposure help with this too, and when you use the Dell Peripheral Manager, you can choose from four profiles to suit you, Default, Smooth, Vibrant and Warm.
I usually sit next to a large window in a home office with a single overhead light, and found that the Warm profile did wonders in making me stand out from the background, while the Vibrant profile helped me when sitting in darker rooms without any bright light source.
There is an omnidirectional mic included, but that has to be activated using the Dell Peripheral Manager application, which must be downloaded from the Dell Support website. If you are working on an employer-issued computer, this will possibly throw up an IT-permission roadblock that must be cleared further than 5 minutes before a video meeting (speaking from experience here...).
And then there's the AI auto-framing feature, which has the camera lens follow you around like a moving eyeball and keep you centred in frame if you move around. This being a stationary camera, this range is obviously limited, but with that and the auto-zooming feature, it means it will smoothly and effortlessly follow you around if you lean back or forward or move to the side during a meeting, freeing you from the self-conscious pressure of staying still (or close to that) during video meetings or presentations.
Dell Pro Webcam review: Performance
In short, I've absolutely loved using this camera. The picture quality is miles ahead of my laptop's native camera, is a vast upgrade for a MacBook camera and the temperature profiles will flatter my withering features to an impressive degree.
The AI auto-framing feels like a cool novelty at first, but what I found through repeated use is that it made me less self-conscious of my placement, freeing me up to communicate without having to be constantly aware of my physical position As many of us know in the Zoom Era, VCs can often feel like a performance as much as a conversation due to the fact you're being filmed and can usually see yourself as you're talking, so for me, this feature actually helped me be less anxious about the prospect of a video call than before.
The mic is perhaps the most pedestrian tool in this compact box, but it does its job well enough, although if you're using the camera for interviews, recording for podcasts or the like, I do recommend getting a bespoke external microphone.
Dell Pro Webcam review: Price
The Dell Pro Webcam has an RRP of £155.99/$134.99, which is on par with many competing Full HD webcams, and this one definitely has most of those pegged on quality. You can also get 4K cameras at this price-point though, so if you're looking for resolution above intuitive features like the auto-framing and the easy portability, you'll still have options at this price point. But it feels like a reasonable price tag for such a great camera, and with discounts often available on Dell products, you can get this webcam for less if you're patient or timing-savvy.
Should you buy the Dell Pro Webcam?
If you want a pro-level webcam that brings great picture quality and has advanced features like temperature profiles and detailed picture adjustments, along with auto-framing and auto-zoom, you'll struggle to get one for under £100/$100 (a durable one from a respected brand, that is), so that puts the Dell Pro Webcam right at the front of your queue. The only slight drawback here, and it is very slight indeed, is that the mic doesn't have the same wow factor as the picture quality does, but it's still perfectly serviceable. All in all, then, the Dell Pro Webcam is an absolute quality option.