Home Home & Office Best Budget Webcam? Hikvision DS-E12 1080p Budget Webcam Review

Best Budget Webcam? Hikvision DS-E12 1080p Budget Webcam Review

by Samuel Goh
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Hikvision DS-E16 1080p Webcam

With a set budget of about S$50, I went in search of the best budget webcam for about S$50. And no, you need not spend S$50, S$20 might just be all you need!

So in the last 16 months or so, Zoom (insert your most frequently used video conferencing platform here) meetings had become an integral part of the day-to-day of the work-from-home (WFH) workforce. It was in one of these Zoom meetings that I realized my Microsoft Lifecam Studio, a Full HD 1080p webcam, can only output up to a maximum resolution of 720p in Zoom (I was wrong…… more on that later).

I was unwilling to shell out S$150 for a Logitech C920 HD Pro webcam (S$149 from Shopee at the time of post), which I had previously gotten for the wife some time back.
Despite already around for a couple of years (long years in the tech world), the Logitech C920 HD Pro is still widely regarded as the holy grail of webcam which it comes to work.

Hence the search for a good wallet-friendly budget webcam! Will I be able to get anything decent at this price point? Read on to learn more about the Hikvision DS-E12!

Did you know that the highest resolution on video conferencing platform is only 720p?

Yes you heard me right, only 720p! Whether you are talking about Zoom, Cisco Webex, Google Hangouts, BlueJeans or Microsoft Teams. None of the video conferencing platforms support beyond 720p – not for the free or basic paid versions as far as I know.

So yes…… I spent money to fix an issue that technically didn’t exist.

Overview of the Hikvision DS-E12 Full HD budget webcam

Hikvision DS-E12 1080p webcam mounted on monitor
Hikvision DS-E12 1080p webcam mounted on monitor
  • Brand / Model – Hikvision / DS-E12
  • Maximum video resolution – 1920×1080
  • Frame rate – 30 fps
  • Focusing mehtod – fixed
  • Onboard microphone – yes, omnidirectional noise reduction microphone
  • Field of view – 88.7 degrees
  • USB connector and cable length – USB A, 1.5m
  • Camera lens cover – no
  • Tripod mounting – yes
  • Plug & play (USB Video Class [UVC] compliant) – yes, no software required.
  • Price – CNY 109 (about S$22) | You can buy at: Taobao
    *The same webcam can be found on Lazada and Shopee but they cost S$30+ to S$50+.

Build quality

Side profile of the Hikvision DS-E12 1080p webcam
Side profile of the Hikvision DS-E12 1080p webcam
The Hikvision DS-E12 webcam is light as hell - only 90.3g!
The Hikvision DS-E12 webcam is light as hell – only 90.3g!

Material – The Hikvision DS-E12 webcam isn’t built like a tank – it is all plastic.

Weight -As light as a feather (only 90.3g) and ultra portable, the Hikvision DS-E12 is good for days you need to work outside of home / office and need to bring along a webcam for that higher quality image output.

Considering the super wallet friendly price, I find the build quality of the Hikvision DS-E12 to be very reasonable.

Image quality

No image quality comparison is justifiable without an actual side by side image comparison with another webcam.

I have here the Logitech C920 webcam and the Lenovo T480 built in webcam. I won’t be commenting on the comparison between the Hikvision DS-E12 and the Lenovo T480 built in webcam as any external modern day webcam, can produce better quality output than the built in laptop webcams.

Image quality between Hikvision DS-E12 webcam and Logitech C920 webcam
Image quality between Hikvision DS-E12 webcam and Logitech C920 webcam
Image quality between Hikvision DS-E12 webcam and Lenovo T480 webcam
Image quality between Hikvision DS-E12 webcam and Lenovo T480 webcam

Colour accuracy – Comparing the image quality between the three, the colour of the Hikvision DS-E12 is a lot more saturated with a tint of red. This resulted in a less accurate representation of the real world. This is really distinct when you look at my skin colour on the Hikvision DS-E12 (and no, i am not that tanned / burnt) vs the Logitech C920.

Field of view (FOV) – The Hikvision DS-E12 has a larger FOV at 88.7 degrees, vs the 78 degrees FOV of the Logitech C920.

For a business settings, I find the Logitech C920’s tight FOV a lot more suitable as it brings the focus to you, the speaker. This should not be a major concern, since it can be resolved by shortening the distance between the Hikvision webcam and the subject, bringing the subject closer to the webcam to occupy a larger real estate on the image.

If you are shopping for a cheap webcam for family video calls, the Hikvision DS-E12 will suit your requirement well.

Sound quality

When it comes to the mic, I don’t recommend anything that is built-in – especially in a business setting.

But you know how life loves throwing us curveballs at times? Can you recall a time when your Jabra headset / Apple Airpods (or whatever you use for Zoom meetings) decided to run out of juice at the most critical of moments?
This is where a good backup solution might just save the day.

(Note: Recordings were taken in a small room, with a fan running in in the back. This is to simulate the common meeting room settings – quiet(er) environment with low noise in the background (if any). Recorded via the voice recording program on my Windows PC)

First off, the sound quality of the mic on the Hikvision DS-E12:

Sound recording via built-in mic on Hikvision DS-E12

WOW WOW WOW! I am f#$king impressed by the sound quality from this thing.

The voice output from the Hikvision DS-E12 is really clear and doesn’t have that robotic feel that typically follows the low-quality implementation of built-in mics.

The fan running in the back was also not picked up. I think this has to do with the noise-reduction feature of the built-in mic. I wanted to call the bluff on this one but damn! They proved me wrong.

Sound recording via built-in mic on Logitech C920

While the Logitech C920 did not age when it comes to image quality, the built-in mic showed its age.
Well beaten by a built-in mic on a webcam priced several times cheaper, I don’t think Logitech can complain about this one.

The voice output from the Logitech C920 was slightly muffled, but still well audible.
The fan in the back was also picked up by the voice recorder. It was very very audible and was vying for attention with my voice.

Sound recording via dedicated Boya PM700 mic (Stereo mode)

And lastly, sound recording from the Boya PM700 is also included to provide a reference to how my voice should sound when captured from a dedicated microphone.

Audio output from the Hikvision DS-E12 sound distinctly less natural when put alongside the Boya PM700. Background noise from the fan was however quite well managed by both mics.

This is a simple call – plus 1 to Hikvision for sound quality!

Verdict – Yay or Nay? Is The Hikvision DS-E12 The Best Budget Webcam?

if you only have a S$20 today and want to get the best budget webcam S$20 can buy, this could just be it!

Assuming that this is the last S$20 ever and there is no budget for an external ear phone with mic or external mic. This is also where the Hikvision DS-E12 can tide you over with it’s noise reduction microphone, until you have enough money to upgrade to better equipments.

You are getting a lot of value – hell lot, for just S$20 – 1080p Full HD output, 88 degrees FOV and omnidirectional noise reduction microphone. And for S$20, I can live with the less than accurate colour reproduction from the Hikvision webcam.

Do you think this is the best budget webcam in the S$20 range? Or is there a webcam you recommend in the S$20 or below S$50 range? Let me know! I want to take a look at it!

Thanks for reading!

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