Fixing Elgato Facecam exposure problems

I bought an Elgato Facecam after watching a few glowing reviews, and I'm a bit disappointed with it (and also, with some of the reviewers). The image quality is good - for a webcam - but it's still obviously a webcam, and a very large step down in quality from the HDMI output of the GoPro Hero 9.

On the positive side, the high frame rate (60 fps) is really smooth and there is almost no lag on the output, which means you don't need to apply a syncronisation offset to the audio in OBS studio (on the Hero 9 there is a large and obnoxiously variable delay). You can take the stand off to access a standard mounting thread, so I put mine on a mini tripod/ball head, which is just great.

The main issue with the Facecam is that the out-of-the-box / automatic exposure settings are terrible. The problems are:

  • The image is over-exposed and highlights are blown out (one wonders how they could not notice).
  • The camera does not handle uneven lighting conditions well.
  • The automatic white balance is off, with colour temperature erring towards the cool side.
  • The 'noise reduction' feature looks like a Gaussian blur, don't use it.

You can fix most of these problems using Elgato's Camera Hub software, which offers a lot of control over image quality. But you will have to tweak it whenever lighting conditions change, such as day/night. This would be a lot less of an issue if the camera allowed you to save multiple profiles.

  • If you use automatic exposure, adjust the compensation value down to avoid over-exposed highlights, or set it manually.
  • The camera requires even lighting, so if you are side-lit (say from a window) you will need a fill light on the other side to even things out.
  • Manually adjust the white balance to achieve a more natural look.

I kind of expect a webcam to work out of the box and the Facecam does a significantly worse job on automatic exposure than my venerable Logitec C910, which has it's own issues.

The reason I moved away from GoPro as a webcam was to avoid having to fiddle with things, but if you've got a Hero 9 it will do a much better job than the Facecam, if you invest in a $10 knock off HDMI-to-USB capture card and a cable. The only area where I would say the Facecam is an improvement is the low latency.