The Logitech C910 features astonishing visual quality thanks in no small part to the RightLight image correction algorithms embedded in the camera's firmware and drivers. RightLight does an impressive job managing the camera's exposure, color balance and saturation, doing its best to ensure a face is always visible. The following photos demonstrate the camera's ability to compensate for a variety of lighting conditions with all settings set to automatic.
Monitor lighting only
The C910's color management is also nothing short of phenomenal. The automatic white balance did an excellent job making sure images didn't appear too warm or cool for comfort, and the default color intensity was also to be commended. Oversaturation only posed an issue when all of the room's lights were turned off, but even then the C910 still managed to keep the blue graininess to a minimum. Framerate expectedly suffered in low lighting as the exposure was turned up, but remained fluid enough to hold a video conversation.
Now, there are manythings that don't deserve the title of HD, but thankfully the C910 isn't one of them. The Carl Zeiss Tessar glass lens and native 5-megapixel image sensor are fantastic for picking out the fine details, even going so far as to make me self-conscious about my clogged pores. Autofocus was equally impressive, keeping things sharp and never going crazy like the Microsoft LifeCam Cinema's focus did at random intervals.
The high resolution does have its limits though, with some video light noise and compression visible at full crop. This could perhaps be attributed to the webcam's lossy MJPG compression at high resolutions, required to maintain a decent framerate whilst fitting within USB 2.0's tight bandwidth limit of 480Mbps. This leads me to believe that the next generation of Logitech cameras will either employ a USB 3.0 connection, or perhaps a H.264 hardware video compressor, similar to what we're seeing out of FaceVsion's camera line. Only time will tell.
So how does the overall value of HD come into play? Well for one, the widescreen picture coupled with a 78-degree wide angle lens make it easy to include the entire family in a video chat. Skype, Logitech Vid, Windows Live Messenger 2011, and now even Google Chat all make use of widescreen aspect ratios, so a HD camera is a particularly good investment.
The 1080p resolution, however, is only ever handy in the case of taking photographs or uploading videos to YouTube. Even then, this is limited to 15fps when the Logitech Drivers are installed, so don't expect to replace your digital camcorders anytime soon if you're serious about broadcasting from home. As far as video conferencing is concerned, 1080p is a no-go. To date, there's no popular video conferencing program capable of streaming 1080p, including Logitech's own Logitech Vid software.
720p is bit more manageable but still poses a challenge, requiring an internet connection with a 1Mbit upload. This is out of reach for many American households, where cable and DSL providers have tried their hardest to convince us that 512kbps is sufficient, only ever increasing speed if there's increased competition from a newcomer like Verizon FIOS. If you're living in the USA, check out http://broadband.gov to see the options available in your area.
When the Webcam C910 first came out, there was much chagrin over its lack of Skype HD certification. Previously, Skype would only certify webcams with a H.264 onboard video encoder, though it appears as though that requirement has since been relaxed and the C910 is now on Skype's certified list. This means that Skype will stream 720p at a pleasant 24fps with the C910, though you'll need to wait a minute or three before the resolution switches from VGA, if it ever switches at all. Skype still has room for improvement in this regard, but that's Skype's problem to deal with, not Logitech's.
The C910 HD Pro Webcam's framerate will naturally vary dependent on camera's exposure setting, along with the resolution and codec being employed. For the video geeks reading this, the C910 natively supports YUY2 and lossy MJPG codecs when used as a UVC camera with the Microsoft drivers. Installing the Logitech drivers will convert these into I420 and RGB24. Below you'll find a table I've compiled with a few of the C910's supported resolutions, along with the framerates achievable by each codec at that resolution.
One of the most-touted features of the Logitech C910 HD Pro Webcam is its dual microphones, allowing for stereo audio recordings at up to 16-bit 32kHz. The microphones are extremely sensitive, able to pick up speech a fair distance away and keep things intelligible. The sensitivity of the microphones can be a problem however, if only for their being too sensitive. There's a constant hum picked up by the mics, and every keystroke is made to sound like an old Model M keyboard.
Thankfully, the hum can be completely eliminated by enabling RightSound, Logitech's branding for noise filtration and echo cancellation. RightSound does a fantastic job doing what it was designed for, though my voice did sound slightly compressed with it turned on, but no less clear and understandable. There is one ultimate disappointment to RightSound however, and that's the lack of stereo processing. Yes, despite all of Logitech's boasting about dual microphones in the C910, RightSound downmixes everything into two channels of identical monaural sound.
Excellent picture quality
Shorter, improved mounting clip
Professional aesthetic design
Clear speech when RightSound is active
720p at 30fps
1080p at 15fps (24fps without drivers)
Motion recording with audio
No hardware H.264 compression
RightSound is monaural only
USB cable is only 5 feet long
Logitech Vid only supports calls up to 720p
Promoted 3rd party face recognition is buggy, insecure
As Logitech's latest flagship webcam, the HD Pro C910 delivers impressive video at smooth a smooth 30 frames per second up to 720p, making it a surefire bet for anyone concerned about image quality even in the worst of lighting conditions. This webcam definitely gets recommendation for its picture quality. Audio quality was equally clear and impressive, though only when the RightSound filtration was enabled lest there be a dull hum.
The C910 also boasts 1080p with its new 5MP image sensor, though the lack of 1080p-capable video chat software and limited frame rate make this a niche feature. The stereo microphones are also called into question, downmixed into monaural sound whenever the noise filtration is active. This leaves the C910's glass element lens as the only compelling feature over Logitech's cheaper Webcam C510, and you'll have to decide for yourself whether or not the lens justifies the $20 premium.