To optimise video quality from your webcam you need to address three factors:
Quality of the webcam itself
Quantity and direction of lighting
A good quality Internet connection
A High Quality Webcam
The best webcams have at least 1.3Mp image resolution, support 30 frames per second (fps), have a glass (not plastic) lens, auto focus, and preferably a built-in microphone. The newer plug-n-play USB webcams are particularly useful as there is no software to load. As the name implies simply plug them into a USB port prior to opening your browser. Then open your browser and your computer will recognize it. It resolves one potential headache of having to load software drivers.
Unfortunately webcams built into netbooks and laptops are not always the highest quality (outside of the Mac), and often are only 0.3M pixel resolution. Internal webcams are also prone to breaking from repeated opening and closing of the clam shell. When purchasing an external webcam make sure it is supported by your operating system.
Clear the browser cache. – The #1 thing you can do to improve the image quality of your existing webcam is to clear the browser cache. Why? After extended use the browser cache can become full, negatively impacting webcam fps. It is a good practice to empty the cache every so often and whenever you are getting poor webcam performance. Here's a link to instructions on how to empty browser cache. http://www.wikihow.com/Clear-Your-Browser's-Cache Also make sure your computer is not working on other tasks (such as scanning with an anti-virus software) and that you minimise the number of other open browser windows.
Lighting can dramatically affect the quality of your webcam video image. Improved lighting will not only improve image resolution, but it also helps greatly in showing better colour. If your video looks dim, grainy or washed out, adjusting the location and brightness of your lighting will improve the quality. The following common problems may be caused by poor lighting:
Dim Video – There isn’t enough light in your room. Try turning on more lights, or move to an area where there is more light.
Dim Image – This could be caused by having a bright light source behind you. Never sit with a window behind you. If you can’t avoid it, at least cover the window with curtains. The webcam can adjust its sensitivity to the background instead of you. Try positioning yourself so the light shines on your face.
Grainy Video – Usually this is due to a low quality camera, but it can also be made worse by not having enough light. To compensate for the lack of light, cameras often adjust their sensitivity which creates more grain or “noise” in the image. Try turning on another light or sitting closer to and facing the light source.
Choppy video – This can be caused by not having enough light in your room, but can also be caused by not having enough bandwidth. Try turning on more lights and if you still have the problem, read the section below on Bandwidth.
Washed Out Image – This is usually caused by a light that is too intense (example: having a light shine directly at your face). Try dimming the light, or reflecting the light off a light colored surface, like a white piece of paper on your desk.
Even if you have a high speed cable Internet connection your bandwidth can be less than the “maximum” and may vary during the day. Factors that influence the amount of bandwidth you have available includes other traffic on your network, the number of other people using your shared Internet connection, and whether you are downloading or streaming videos. Below are a couple of measurements of your connection speed that will influence your video quality:
Downstream Bandwidth – This is the amount of Internet bandwidth coming to your computer. You should have at least 384kbps downstream bandwidth to ensure good quality video recording.
Upstream Bandwidth – This is the amount of bandwidth you have going from your computer to the Internet. You should have a minimum of 192kbps upstream bandwidth; for the best quality video.